The Mariners haven't had someone hit more than 40 homers in a season since Alex Rodriguez did it in 2000. That pretty much sums up the struggles they've had over the past decade and makes it pretty easy to diagnose their biggest problem: hitting for power.
Contact hitting hasn't been as much of a problem, illustrated by their perennial top-10 performance in team batting average (except for this year—their .227 average is good for last in the majors). Pitching and fielding have also been pretty solid as of late.
Since these trends have been apparent for a while now, it's frustrating that the management hasn't tried harder to find a solution to the home run dilemma. There have been attempts like Russell Branyan, Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre, but none of them produced like they were expected to.
So when Justin Smoak came to Seattle in the Cliff Lee deal last year, many fans were speculative. He didn't have an awesome 30 games at the end of the 2010 season, but the forgiving fans in Seattle were willing to give him another shot.
This season, Smoak has looked a lot better, so should the Mariners offer him a contract? Or continue to go to arbitration for several more years? Or trade him for prospects in accordance with their rebuilding strategy?
Here's a look at three reasons why the M's should make sure they hang on to him for the years ahead.