From Steve Sandmeyer
(1090 The Fan) – While the Mariners are not leading the pack in the AL West — nor are they within striking range of a playoff spot — the 2013 season thus far is not the disaster it was on pace to be.
Towards the end of May and in early June, things were looking grim, particularly the ineffectiveness of the rotation behind Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. On top of that, sluggish performances from Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero ultimately led to their demotions. However, the new blood brought into the clubhouse and the shockingly-hot bat of the 41-year-old Raul Ibanez has transformed the Mariners from definite deadline sellers to a team with promise in 2014.
Some of the highlights include: 14 of the Mariners’ 43 wins were comebacks; King Felix has 10 wins at the All-Star break, the most he’s ever recorded at this point in the season; and we don’t want to jinx it, but Justin Smoak may have turned a leaf in July by going 17 for 44 with six doubles, two home runs and nine RBIs.
Here are the grades Sandmeyer and Swartz have issued for the 2013 campaign (pre-All-Star break):
Steve Sandmeyer: C
It certainly didn’t help matters watching Jesus Montero and Dustin Ackley fall on their faces during the first half of the season. But, Kyle Seager continues to show he is a star in the making and Raul Ibanez somehow shed about 10 years off his playing career and is a productive power hitter again. The acquisitions of Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse are pretty much a wash – considering Morse has had trouble staying on the field and Morales has been a streaky hitter. The offense showed life during the last two weeks – but I’ll need to see them sustain something for a month or more before I get too excited.
On the mound, issues at the back end of the rotation caused an inexperienced bullpen to be overworked – not to mention an ill-timed injury to Stephen Pryor and a slump by Tom Wilhelmsen. But hopefully the All-Star break will allow the arms to rest up, clear their minds, and be more effective during the second half of the season.
All in all, this team will likely win between 75 and 80 games, the manager and general manager will have their contracts renewed, and the team will acquire more outfield help during the off-season.
Bill Swartz: C-
Disappointing, yet hopeful is the way I see the first bulk of the Mariners season. We can’t really call it the first half any more since there are just 67 games left in the schedule. Just the same, I give the Seattle Mariners a C- for what they’ve done so far.
I’m disappointed with their overall record and lack of offensive production through the month of June. Yes, there were injuries to Michael Morse, Michael Saunders, Franklin Gutierez, and Jesus Montero. Management finally had to pull the plug on weak hitting Montero, Dustin Ackley, and Brendan Ryan.
Obvious bright spots are the unexpected home run hitting of Raul Ibanez, the continued growth of Kyle Seager, and the instant contributions from rookies Brad Miller and Nick Franklin. With Justin Smoak showing signs of life and the bullpen getting back to a normal pattern, I am hopeful the Mariners can finish close to .500 for the 2013 season.
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