On Monday, the Seattle Mariners open their 2015 season against the Los Angles Angels of Anaheim. It’s really the first time in many years that I am officially excited to see how this team does.
Last year, with expectations low, a new manager and one very high-profile free agent signing of Robinson Cano, many predictions were the Mariners would finish no better than .500 with yet another season of no playoff hopes.
Manager Lloyd McClendon, newly hired from the Detroit Tigers staff, had other thoughts. I’m pretty sure he endeared himself to Mariner fans when he stood up for Robinson Cano when a Yankee official commented on Cano’s hustle. “What’s he doing talking about my player?” has to go down as the best response to the uncalled criticism. It was almost Piniella-esque!
With the guidance of McClendon and the leadership of Cano, the Mariners came within one win of getting into the playoffs. Felix Hernandez had a record setting year and Kyle Seager proved himself to be one of the best all-around third baseman in the league with some great defense and clutch hitting.
You have to think the Mariners are going to do better this year. They finally have an official big-bopper in the #4 spot in Nelson Cruz and the line-up is pretty much set. I have concerns over the lead-off spot as well as getting offense from the shortstop position. Defensively, the Mariners are going to be one of the better defensive teams in the majors.
I was listening to the Danny, Dave and Moore show on ESPN’s 710 Sports in Seattle on the way home from work. They were doing a segment on bold predictions for the Mariners. It got me to thinking just how many games the Mariners will win this year.
Jim Moore’s prediction is they will win 100 games this year. Personally I think that’s a bit far-fetched but you got to admire Moore’s spunk.
Mariners went 87-75 last season and were in the playoff hunt until the last day of the season. With the pitching they have and a much more dependable lineup, I think the Mariners will go 93-69.
As for other predictions, such as the number of home runs Cruz will hit or if Felix will win 20 games, I don’t really want to go there.
What I want to see is that the Mariners play good, solid baseball, score more runs than the other team and get into the playoffs.
If Nelson Cruz hits only 20 home runs but gets 120 RBI’s, I’m fine with that. In fact, if Cruz, Cano, Seager and Mike Zunino all get 20 home runs each and drive in at least 80 runs each, I’d be more than happy with that production. And it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that could occur.
I believe this team is going to be special this year. With 3 bona-fide superstars in Cano, Cruz and Felix along with some superstars in the making such as Seager, Zunino, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, the Mariners have few weak spots. Add to that players in supporting roles in Dustin Ackley, Austin Jackson and Danny Farquhar only makes them a solid and deeply talented team.
They still need to play the games and with McClendon, he won’t allow them to get to full of themselves nor let them wallow when things aren’t going well.
93-69 has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?