They were supposed to challenge for first place this season.
Twenty-eight games into the season, the Seattle Mariners are in last place, seven games out of first in the AL West. They’ve lost six of their last seven.
“I think the baseball gods are testing us a little bit,” said manager Lloyd McClendon following a second straight walk off loss to the Anaheim Angeles on Wednesday.
I wonder if McClendon believes in the Church of Baseball? You know, the one Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon) talked about in the movie “Bull Durham.”
I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I’ve worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn’t work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer metaphysics to theology. You see, there’s no guilt in baseball, and it’s never boring… which makes it like sex. There’s never been a ballplayer slept with me who didn’t have the best year of his career. Making love is like hitting a baseball: you just gotta relax and concentrate. Besides, I’d never sleep with a player hitting under .250… not unless he had a lot of RBIs and was a great glove man up the middle. You see, there’s a certain amount of life wisdom I give these boys. I can expand their minds. Sometimes when I’ve got a ballplayer alone, I’ll just read Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman to him, and the guys are so sweet, they always stay and listen. ‘Course, a guy’ll listen to anything if he thinks it’s foreplay. I make them feel confident, and they make me feel safe, and pretty. ‘Course, what I give them lasts a lifetime; what they give me lasts 142 games. Sometimes it seems like a bad trade. But bad trades are part of baseball – now who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, for God’s sake? It’s a long season and you gotta trust it. I’ve tried ’em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.
Baseball gods or no baseball gods, other than Nelson Cruz (,333, 14 HRs, 26 RBI) and Felix Hernandez (5-0, 1.73 ERA ), there’s not a lot to get excited about right now when it comes to the Mariners.
Annie Savoy wouldn’t have a lot of choices when it comes to finding a hitter to sleep with. Other than Cruz, Robinson Cano (.263), Kyle Seager (.255) and Seth Smith (.250) are the only players hitting above .250.
This is a bad baseball team right now. Fernando Rodney has eight saves, but a 5.56 ERA. Hishaski Iwakuma is on the DL, Taijuan Walker (1-3, 8.74 ERA) and James Paxton (0-2, 5.08 ERA) were thought to be can’t-miss prospects, and now you know why they play the games.
It’s frustrating for the fans because the franchise had such lofty expectation coming into this season. The Mariners were considered, by just about everybody, a pretty good bet to advance to the postseason for the first time since 2001.
Seattle opened the season as 12-1 favorites to win the World Series, one of the four favorites in MLB according to the sports book Bovada. The odds have dropped to 33-1 and the Mariners now own the fourth-worst record in baseball.
Is it time to panic?
The Brewers (9-19, .321), Phillies (10-19, .345) and Indians (10-16, .385) are the only MLB teams with worst records than Seattle (11-17, .393).
Catcher Mike Zunino is hitting .177 and the strikeouts (31) keep coming.
Dustin Ackley is off to another slow start, hitting .182.
The team is hitting .236 with an American League-worst .289 on-base percentage. Only San Francisco (63) has scored fewer runs than Seattle (65). That’s an important statistic, right? Scoring runs is the name of the game.
Only Toronto (109) and Boston (95) have walked more hitters than Seattle (90) pitchers. Opponents are hitting .256 against the Mariners; the league average is .251.
Seattle’s also not getting it done on defense. The Mariners are tied for 10th in fielding percentage (.982) and have made 19 errors in 28 games.
I repeat: Is it time to panic?
Will Zunino figure it out at the plate?
Will Cano find a semblance of a power stroke? He’s on pace to hit 6 home runs.
Will Smith, Seth Ruggiano and the Rickie Weeks — three off-season acquisitions — come to life. So far, only Smith has produced and his numbers are marginal at best.
Austin Jackson’s on the DL with an ankle injury, but the center fielder wasn’t getting the job done anyway.
The M’s have already started making moves. Chris Taylor was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma and is now starting at shortstop. Brad Miller is reportedly not happy about being turned into a super utility player. And if Miller is the super utility guy, where does that leave Willie Bloomquist? Can a team afford to carry two super utility guys?
What happens to the offense if Cruz goes into a slump, and you know it’ll happen at some point. What happens if Hernandez hit the wall at some point? Will others step up?
Is it time to panic?
As bad as the results have been thus far, I think it’s too early to throw in the towel. Check back after the upcoming home stand. The Marineros play Oakland three times, the Padres visit for two and Boston invades Safeco for a four-game series.