With the Seahawks being officially out of the playoffs in the 2011-2012 season, the city of Seattle is left with their heads down again.
Now the focus shifts to the Mariners and their 2012 season. Over the last decade, the Mariners have struggled to compete in the American League West, and the pressure is rising.
The fans are restless for a successful team in Seattle other than the Storm of the WNBA. So the question remains, will the Mariners be able to compete in the powerful American League West?
Going by past actions and what we know about how the Seattle Mariners operate, let's just figure that the Mariners are going to stay at status quo in terms of players and additions this offseason. There may be some signings here and there, but getting the hopes up of fans for a big signing such as Prince Fielder isn't the best way to go about things. If Prince signs, think of it as late Christmas gift and just be thankful.
After the Mariners played 18 rookies in 2011, the youth is prevalent in Seattle. Mike Carp exploded onto the scene last season, won the hearts of many, and Seattle can only hope he will respond strongly again. Dustin Ackley will be an everyday part of the Mariners lineup in 2012 and his consistency will be key to the Mariners anemic offense.
Ichiro needs a huge bounce back season after struggling most of last season. Rumor has it he may not leadoff in 2012, but whatever the case may be, the Mariners need him on base. Although he is getting up there in age, he still has the ability to steal a base and create runs. Scoring was at a premium in Seattle and the Mariners can not afford to go without base runners consistently.
That being said, getting runners on base is step one. Step two is driving them in. That is where the largest problem lies, but I think Carp, Smoak and Ackley can do the job.
Pitching was great in Seattle, and you can expect that to return. Although I would love someone other than Jason Vargas in the rotation, King Felix and Michael Pineda will have to carry the load. Heads up for Danny Hultzen as well, I can see the Mariners not wasting very much time pushing the rookie southpaw through the system.
Overall the Mariners should think about playing small ball, which seems to be a lost art in professional baseball. Get guys on, move them over and drive them in. Obviously it's easier said than done, but with the lineup that the Mariners have, you have to utilize the bunt and your team's speed if you want to hang with the powerful Texas Rangers and L.A. Angels. You can not sit around and wait for the three-run bomb from a team who hit a total of 109 home runs in 2011, next to deal last in the American League.