The taste the Seattle Mariners invoke can best be described as stale. First they had great pitching and terrible offense. Now they have average offense and sub-par pitching. The necessary recipe for success hasn't married, and the club is on their way to another losing season.
The Mariners don't necessarily need a superstar to replace Ichiro and complement Felix Hernandez, but it's time to revamp the offseason game plan and find a spark. The roster coming into this season looked better than it had in years, with potential to challenge for a playoff spot. But injuries happened and the pitching went south, resulting in inconsistent play.
Here are three reasons the Seattle Mariners need a face-lift this offseason.
All stats via ESPN.com
In recent years, the Mariners have been remembered for having great pitching but mediocre hitting. Safeco Field, largely a pitcher's park at the time, hampered Seattle's power numbers and made it increasingly difficult to score runs.
Now that the dimensions are smaller, the pitching staff has fared far less positively, increasing their collective ERA to 4.33 compared to 3.76 last season. The biggest issue has been the bullpen, which has a 4.53 ERA and 16 blown saves, far inferior to last year's 3.39 ERA and 19 blown saves all season. The ups and downs of closer Tom Wilhelmsen have been the crutch of the bullpen's struggles, as he now finds himself playing for Triple-A Tacoma.
Meanwhile, the offense improved in some ways, but completely fell off in others. Last year's home run total has already been eclipsed with 33 games to play, thanks in part to Safeco's shrunken outfield but also to a higher quantity of power hitters.
Run scoring has improved slightly but still ranks 13th in the American League, and there's nearly no movement on the base paths.
|Runs per game||3.82||3.94|
|*2013 stats are through 129 games|
The Mariners need players whose skill sets fit the ballpark. It's smaller but can still eat balls in the alleys and help a hitter to a triple.
Average attendance for Mariners games has increased both home and away, but the team ranks last in total average attendance for a second straight year at 56.8 percent.
No team enjoys playing in front of small crowds (except maybe the Tampa Bay Rays), and filling the stands to watch a losing team is a tall task. Seattle needs another household name like an Ichiro or a Felix Hernandez. He might be in-house, he may be elsewhere.
But the fact remains: Talent gets people in seats.
A problem with fan loyalty can be attributed to a high turnover rate, especially with well-known players. Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse were two familiar names brought in this offseason, but Morse has been hurt for most of the season, which started out as well as it could but will end up very pedestrian. His contract expires at the end of the season, and it's unclear as to whether or not he'll be back.
Morales has been the Mariners' most consistent bat but also has an expiring contract. Morales was just picked up on waivers and could be traded within the week, according to Jon Morosi. If he isn't, the Mariners will make a run at him, but he'll likely receive some lofty offers from around the league that will be hard to compete with.
Baseball's a pressure-filled, high-intensity game—but life-threatening instances shouldn't happen.
I think when you have intensity and passion and you care so damn much, to a fault maybe, and you're doing that all day long, eventually it's going to catch up to you. I think that's where it ended up with me.
Reducing the stress factor is easier said than done—but always appreciated.