Seattle Mariners: Can They Now Contend?

by Brendan Panikkar | Posted on Tuesday, December 17th, 2013
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Robinson Cano

Robinson Cano was the most prize free agent in recent memory, he signed with the Mariners

The Seattle Mariners have gone on a spending spree this off-season with the highlight spend being 2nd basemen Robinson Cano. Can the Seattle Mariners contend in a division which could turn into the best in baseball given each teams additions? Maybe. Here is a position-by-position breakdown based on each teams’ websites’ depth chart. I will pick the team that has the advantage over the other and pick the best team should theoretically win the division based on the current rosters. I will rank the best positional players in the AL West based on my personal opinion.

Catcher: 1. Jason Castro2. Mike Zunino3. Geovany Soto4. Chris Iannetta5. John Jaso

The Seattle Mariners in my mind have the second best catcher in the division. However, Mike Zunino has the potential to be the best catcher in the league. Zunino is the prodigy son in the Mariners system in terms of positional players and he has the potential to be an all-star year in and year out. He is young, but should be able to handle the pitching staff of the Mariners. He will possibly pass Houston Astros catcher Jason Castro this season giving the Mariners the best catcher in the division.

1st Base: 1. Albert Pujols2. Prince Fielder3. Brandon Moss4. Justin Smoak5. Brett Wallace

The AL West is full of power at the first base position. For the Mariners, Justin Smoak simply has not lived up to the bill when they acquired him in the Cliff Lee trade with the Texas Rangers. Smoak showed some promise in 2013, but not enough for me to rank him ahead of Brandon MossThe Mariners fall behind the top players in the division in regard to 1st base. They did sign Corey Hart and traded for Logan Morrisonwho could take over for Smoak should he fail in 2014.

2nd base: 1. Robinson Cano2. Howie Kendrick3. Jurickson Profar4. Jose Altuve5. Eric Sogard

The Mariners took home the most prized free agent in recent memory when they stole Robinson Cano from the New York Yankees. Cano is the best second basemen in the game and the best in the AL West. This acquisition could be the most influential in terms of whether the Mariners succeed this year as the offense, defense, and leadership abilities. Cano will inject offense immediately for the Mariners but will the rest of the team must be able to keep up with Cano and provide him with RBI opportunities.

Shortstop- 1. Elvis Andrus2. Jed Lowrie3. Erick Aybar4. Brad Miller5. Jonathan Villar

The Mariners once again fall behind the division at the shortstop position. Brad Miller has the potential to grow and surpass Lowrie and Aybar this season. Miller has proven in his minor league career that he can bring a good average and some decent power to the shortstop position. He gets on base and has some stolen base potential. If Miller continues to grow, he will pass Aybar and Lowrie this season.

3rd base: 1. Josh Donaldson2. Adrian Beltre3. Kyle Seager4. David Freese5. Matt Dominguez

The third base position is absolutely stacked in the AL West. Third base is so good in this division that you could make a case for any of the top four third basemen to be on your team. Kyle Seager is emerging at third and could easily be one of the best in the league by years end. Seager is not quite ahead of Beltre or Donaldson, but he could make a case for himself to move ahead of Beltre or Donaldson by the end of the season. Seager is a great piece for the Mariners at the hot corner and and like many of the Mariners he is young and promising.

Left Field: 1. Yoenis Cespedes2. Josh Hamilton3. Michael Choice4. Dustin Ackley5. Robbie Grossman

Left field is a young position for all teams in the AL West. It is also where the Mariners are slotting natural second basemen Dustin Ackley. Ackley has failed to live up to the expectations when he arrived in the majors, but much like teammate Justin Smoak, he has showed glimpses of what he could become in 2013. If Ackley can live up to the hype, he could be a nice piece low in the order for the Mariners. He will not move ahead of anyone in this division in terms of the rankings.

Center Field: 1. Mike Trout2. Dexter Fowler3. Leonys Martin4. Coco Crisp5. Michael Saunders

There is no question Trout is the best player in the game and the best center fielder in this division. Michael Saunders figured to be a candidate for a breakout 2013 season after an amazing World Baseball Classic for Team Canada. However, it did not work out for him. Saunders does have a ton of potential and can contribute in a lot of ways offensively. He can grow defensively but he has some work to do. Saunders is a big X factor for the Mariners this season and needs to improve in order to help the Mariners contend in the division.

Right Field: 1. Alex Rios2. Josh Reddick3. Logan Morrison4. Kole Calhoun, 5. L.J. Hoes

Logan Morrison is one of the additions for the Mariners this off-season, but he has to prove he can rebound after a tough, injury plauged few seasons with the Miami Marlins. Morrison can play 1st base and right field, but his defense is not very good wherever he plays. He can contribute at times offensively and the Mariners must hope his bat comes through to be a worthwhile acquisition for the Mariners.

DH: 1. Corey Hart2. Mitch Moreland3. Chris Carter4. J.B. Shuck5. Nate Freiman

Corey Hart could be a great addition for the Mariners. Hart has 30+ home run potential and fits in nicely in the middle of the order for the Mariners. Hart will need to recapture his offensive form after coming off of major injuries with the Milwaukee Brewers. Hart could be one of the most underrated power hitters in the game and should be able to help Cano offensively.

Rotation: 1. Oakland Athletics, 2. Seattle Mariners, 3. Texas Rangers, 4. Los Angeles Angels, 5. Houston Astros

The Mariners boast two potential Cy Young candidates in Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. They do not surpass the Athletics due to the back half not being proven starters, but all 3 have potential to develop. There are rumors the Mariners could be interested in putting a package together for David Price. If that is the case, they would have the best rotation in the division. As of now, the Mariners need the back half of their rotation to step up behind Hernandez and Iwakuma.

Bullpen: 1. Athletics, 2. Rangers, 3. Angels, 4. Mariners, 5. Astros

The bullpen is a huge question mark for the Mariners. Danny Farquhar is the closer for 2014 barring any acquisition. While he was good in his time as the closer, there are better options out there as free agents. The bullpen could be the downfall of the Mariners this season and improvements are needed here.

Analysis:

The Mariners have boasted their offense with the addition of Robinson Cano, Logan Morrison, and Corey Hart. However, there are too many question mark players on their roster like Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders, Mike Zunino, and Brad Miller. These four have potential to be excellent pieces for the Mariners but the sample sizes for these four either are too small or have not shown enough consistency for people to believe in them. The rotation also has question marks behind Hernandez and Iwakuma. Brandon Maurer, James Paxtonand Erasmo Ramirez will all need to step and and pitch to their capabilities, which is easier said then done in the AL West. The bullpen could end up being the downfall of the team. There are too many unproven arms in the bullpen for me to buy into them. The Athletics are projected to be even better in 2014, the Rangers are always dangerous, the Angels could bounce back with an improved pitching rotation, and the Mariners do not need to worry about the Astros…yet. The Mariners have potential to take the division, but they could also still finish 4th. They need a lot to go right for them in regard to their unproven position players, bullpen, and the back half of the rotation. The proven teams in the division have a lot less question marks going into 2014. While the Mariners have made a splash this off-season, I still do not buy them as contenders quite yet. If they improve the bullpen and acquire one more proven starter, they could have a much easier time in the division. I think they will finish 3rd in the division and just miss out on a wild card spot. The division is too strong right now for a team with too many question marks.

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Brendan Panikkar
About the Author

Brendan Panikkar is a graduate of Brock University's Sport Management program. Currently, he is the Vice-President, Customer Service at North Aware. He loves all sports but baseball and football take precedent over hockey and basketball. Teams: Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Argonauts, San Francisco 49ers, Toronto Raptors

  • Garry

    With news this evening that Tanaka is being posted FINALLY…I feel Seattle will be the most aggressive, and end up matching Tanaka back up with his ex-teammate (Iwakuma). In addition to Tanaka it’s sounding like Seattle is to deep into the Price negotiations now, despite Prices’ agents comments about him not extending with Seattle.

    I really don’t think Seattle will budge and will end up keeping Walker and Zunino “if” they end up landing Price. His agents comments really didn’t to TB any justice, and TB can’t expect Seattle to send Walker & Zunino now in a package for Price. They can still offer a kickin’ package for TB. Knowing that Detroit has made Schezer avail, and Philly’s have made Lee & Hamels available, and Seattle will NOT have to send Walker OR Zunino to Detroit or Philly for those pitchers…If TB likes many of the Seattle prospects, TB will have to get a great package without Walker/Paxton OR Zunino.

    It’s VERY possible us M fans will see a rotation in 2014 that looks like:

    1. Felix
    2. One of Price OR Scherzer OR Hamels OR Lee
    3. Iwakuma
    4. Tanaka
    5. Walker/Paxton (Remember both will be on limited PC’s in 2014

    Seattle has the money to bring payroll in the $120-$140M range, so don’t be too surprised for Seattle to land 2 SPs that involve Tanaka & Price….and then…

    1. Resign Gutz
    2. Sign Balfour
    3. Sign Oliver Perez
    4. Sign Kurt Suzuki
    5. And even bring back Morales LATE in the offseason when he has NO offers

    Gutz and Morales would be very nice added RHBs without having to throw huge money at Nelson Cruz

    All the above moves would take 2014 payroll to approx $125M.

    With so many MLB ready Seattle controlled players in Pre-Arb years, and the #3 Farm System in MLB…expect Seattle to keep testing the Marlins for Stanton’s availability. Stanton is the ONLY player to acquire via trade that I would even think about sending Walker/Paxton to Miami…even if it takes until July 2014. But 1st things 1st…Sign Tanaka and Trade for one of Price/Lee/Hamels/Scherzer. We land 2 of these top SPs, we can afford to invest in a franchise longterm player in Stanton.

  • DanDad

    This article is WAY off. SUPER way off. It is difficult to give you any credibility with something like this…Also, Matt Dominguez is the #1 at third. Seager may be second. Lee or Hamels on Seattle? Nope, and Price won’t play here either…

    • Brendan

      How can you say Dominguez is the #1 at first base in the AL West? Josh Donaldson was an MVP candidate, Adrian Beltre is Beltre, Seager is emerging as one of the best 3rd basemen in the game. The only person you can have an argument for is Dominguez over Freese. But I can’t give that to Dominguez due to the history Freese has. Dominguez sample sizes are to small to infer any conclusions. Would you like to point out where else I’m way off and how you are evaluating these players? Or else my conclusion is your comment is way off and you don’t know anything.







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