Seattle Mariners: Can Unraveling Team Salvage Their Season?

Alex CarsonCorrespondent IIIJune 30, 2011

SEATTLE - JUNE 29:  Manager Eric Wedge #22 of the Seattle Mariners argues with home plate umpire Paul Emmel #50 after being ejected from the game against the Atlanta Braves at Safeco Field on June 29, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

No one really thought the Mariners would be hovering around .500 baseball when the midway point arrived, and that's just what they've done.

While many have continued to believe impending regression would strike, the team continued to plug away. They won would win a series from a superior team. Their pitching would continue to be amongst the best in baseball. Their offense would scrape across just enough runs to get wins.

That's all starting to change now.

In the past three sets, the Mariners took two of three from the Marlins but were swept on the road by the Nationals and at home by the Braves.

The offense has been largely to blame during that stretch, still scoring below four runs per game. You could argue that the past two games had blame to be laid on the pitchers (Michael Pineda and Felix Hernandez), but it's hard to fault this rotation on the rare days they aren't in top form.

The injury bug is also starting to bite. Erik Bedard has finally made his obligatory DL stint due to a sprained knee. It could cost him only one start thanks to the all-star break, or it could linger and cost him several. Miguel Olivo had cramps the other night and had to come out of the game, tough as he is. His replacement, Chris Giminez, immediately strained his oblique which is an injury that requires a lot of time to heal.

What else could go wrong?

Well, I don't want to jinx things but one has to wonder why Felix Hernandez was still pitching when he was north of 100 in his count during a game that was out of hand. After a massive workload from a season ago, you'd hope the Mariners would look for opportunities to give him a break.

Pineda has continued to dazzle, but there are still holes in his game that could be exposed from time to time. Let's also not forget that he's a rookie that could slump, have confidence issues or get to a point where the club feels he needs to be limited or shut down.

While Bedard's knee isn't his elbow or shoulder, refreshing news to a degree, knees are fairly important to pitching. Bedard had a pretty nasty injury to the same knee some years ago that required some time off. It's something that needs to be monitored. The injury couldn't have come at a worse time as we head into trade season. If the team falls out of the race, they may have just lost their biggest trade chip.

The bullpen has been amazing, but there is literally no one who can explain how David Pauley or Jamie Wright have performed the way they have. Over each player's past few outings, some shaky results have been seen also. Can these two continue to amaze or is the midnight regression approaching?

Eric Wedge continues to roll Brendan Ryan and Adam Kennedy out in the two and three roles respectively. Ryan's hot streak ended a month ago and should now be hitting at the bottom of the order. Kennedy hasn't gone completely to sleep, but he doesn't belong in the middle of the lineup. Meanwhile, Dustin Ackley does nothing but produce in the five hole with no one behind him to drive him in.

A double steal with a 3-0 count to Justin Smoak? Really?

Chone Figgins is showing no sign of life. Jack Cust had a one-game outburst followed by a three strikeout game. Left field is still a pit and the more at-bats Carlos Peguero gets the more it's obvious he doesn't belong in the big leagues. Smoak is struggling mightily. Franklin Gutierrez is still obviously not 100 percent and needs to get weight back on or he'll continue to hit like Jack Wilson.

Is that enough doom-and-gloom for you?

This team still has amazing pitching. They might still have just enough offense if they add a decent bat to hang around and pester Texas.

Bad stuff is piling up quick, however. Between the offense, the managerial decisions and always present risk with pitching, we should temper our expectations.

Don't scream if Jack Zduriencik doesn't pull the trigger on a blockbuster.

Adding one player won't matter a lick if 24 other players and a manager already here aren't doing their part.