The Seattle Mariners are hard to describe. One year they are getting geared up to be a playoff contending ball club, the next they are scrambling for starters.
Over the last five years, the Mariners have been almost the definition of inconsistent. Let's look at the pattern over the last five years.
2007: Come off a somewhat mediocre 2006 campaign, nothing major was expected from them, they were in the midst of rebuilding and everybody understood that, then, out of nowhere, the Mariners rally off 88 wins, For up to three quarters way through the season, they were on pace for upper 90's wins. They push the Angels all summer.
2008: The Mariners make several big splashes in free agency, signing cash-cows like Carlos Silva and Miguel Batista, off-season highlighted by the signing of big fish Erik Bedard. Expected to make the playoffs. Mariners fail miserably and lose 100+ ballgames.
2009: Similar to 2007, very low expectations, expecting almost nothing after one of the worst seasons in baseball history. Despite the lack of depth and overall talent on the squad, they still won an impressive 85 games and showed that they weren't going to be cellar dwellers.
2010: Made a lot of moves, just like the 2008 campaign, highlighted by the big-money deal for Chone Figgins. The Mariners get blown right out of the water from the very start. Never showing any signs of being competitive and was last almost the entire year.
2011: Very low expectations, in full-out rebuilding mode. Yet despite this, still find themselves just a couple games out of first place.
Have you noticed a trend yet?
Every year the Mariners are expected to just have an off-year, they take what they are given, win one game at a time, never worry because they have such low expectations, and manage to pull off a solid mid- to upper-80s win season.
But when you look at the years they are expected to compete after a busy off-season, they break down and fall apart right before our eyes.
If this trend continues, this could be the year that they make a push for first place.
And it's not like they don't have the talent to do it. The Mariners boast one of the best and HOTTEST rotations in all of baseball. There are NO weak links in this rotation.
Felix Hernandez: top-three pitcher in baseball.
Michael Pineda: Leads the league in wins, Felix Hernandez's right-hand man in the making.
Jason Vargas: Except for his last shaky start, he has been arguably the best pitcher in the rotation this year.
Erik Bedard: Showing flashes of his former self, a solid no. 4 option.
Doug Fister: Not talked about a lot, but a rock at the bottom of the rotation.
At the plate, it is no secret that the Mariners have been struggling. But if they can scrape 3 to 5 runs a game, they should be able to get by. The return of Franklin Guitierrez should help the lineup.
Nearly 45 games into the season and the Mariners are still right in the thick of it, and they are hot, hot, hot. Winning seven of their last eight and eight of their last 10.
But it's not how you start... it's you you finish.