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Big League Stew

Spring Snapshot: Mariners try to avoid season-long struggle

Big League Stew

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Every day in spring training until we finish the entire league, Big League Stew takes a brief capsule look at each team we visit in the Grapefruit and Cactus league. Next up is another day in Peoria, where the Mariners are trying to avoid their third triple-digit loss season in the last four years.


2010 RECORD: 61-101, fourth in AL West

BIGGEST ACQUISITIONS: With his budget already stretched thin, GM Jack Zduriencik was forced to stay relatively quiet. Catcher Miguel Olivo and DH Jack Cust were brought in to help a woeful offense while Brendan Ryan and Adam Kennedy will fill spots in the infield.

BIGGEST DEPARTURES: This might actually qualify as a plus for the Mariners. Casey Kotchman, Jose Lopez and their ineffective offensive numbers are no longer Seattle's problems.


1. Will Seattle's offense be any better? That's one of the biggest questions not only at Safeco Field but around all of baseball after the M's only put up 513 runs in 2010. Our own Alex Remington already crunched the numbers here and unless Justin Smoak turns into an actual smoke monster and Milton Bradley approaches anything resembling a full and consistent season, the M's are still going to struggle mightily at the plate in 2011. Zduriencik's plan of building through pitching and defense is a good one, but you can't abandon the entire thought of an offense, either. {YSP:MORE}

2. So are we looking at another 100-loss season? The Mariners lost 101 games in both 2008 and 2010, so they definitely know what it takes. Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA system, however, takes mercy and pegs them for a mark of 72-90, which would still be good for last in the AL West, but not bad enough to come close to triple digits. Given the Mariners' decent pitching staff — led by Felix Hernandez, a guy you might have heard of — that seems about right. 

3. When do we get to see Dustin Ackley? The smart money says that the second overall pick in the 2009 MLB draft won't make the opening-day roster because of service time issues, but with Brendan Ryan's feelings being the only roadblock, all systems will likely be go after that. The young second baseman has hit .350 with two doubles and a triple through 20 at-bats this spring and his titanic homer in a minor league "B" game has proven to be one of the most buzzworthy moments of Seattle's camp.  Figure that his eventual midseason callup will make a few headlines, too.

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4. What's with Eric Wedge's mustache? Several years into it, I still have no idea what's going on with Wedge's upper lip. I remain creeped out by it, and I do know he should probably start winning if he wants the Facebook group "People Against Eric Wedge's Mustache" to hold off on building a big chapter in the Pacific Northwest. After Don Wakamatsu was scapegoated for the 2010 mess, Wedge was brought in as ownership's conservative play in 2011 — a manager with a steady hand and prior experience.

5. Has it really been 10 years since the Mariners last won a division title? Seattle isn't one of the clubs that immediately comes to mind when you talk about struggling franchises, but it has been sneakily bad the past few years. Since winning a record 116 games in 2001 (and then posting two 93-win years in 2002 and '03), the Mariners have posted these "achievements" in the seven seasons that have followed: Five last-place finishes, two 101-loss seasons, two other 90-plus-loss years and seven total managers. Mariners fans are still a loyal sort and a base that definitely deserves a lot better than what it's been seeing.

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