On the surface, the Mariners seem like a team who’s poised to break out of a slump. The guys over at U.S.S. Mariner listed four reasons for optimism, two of which, were based on offensive numbers that were simply too low for the team not to improve.
The Mariners are hitting .228 as a team with runners in scoring position (dead last in the AL) and have a .309 OBP (also dead last in the AL); and Adrian Beltre is hitting a mere .244. On the flip side, the team slugging average is slightly less than the league mean, which means they’re at least putting some of those at bats to good use; and…
Adrian Beltre has a .239 batting average on balls in play despite a line drive percentage of 20.5%. His career BABIP is near .300, and considering how well he’s hitting the baseball, there’s no reason for the ball to continue to find fielders gloves at this rate. Beltre’s skillset makes it likely that his performance will improve as the year goes on.
But then, a team that was built around pitching, hasn’t exactly been lights out, hovering near the cellar in ERA, and batting average against. Eric Bedard, who was supposed to be the key addition to the rotation, has been inconsistent at best, as has been King Felix (although his 3-5 record is more due to lack of run support than anything else).
So what can you expect the Mariners to do now that we’re entering June and they’re 10+ games out of first place? Well, for the purposes of this exercise, you’d say they need hitting. Especially when you have a Miguel Cairo over Richie Sexon mini-controversy going on (oh and not to mention, the release of Brad Wilkerson after only one month of services).
Barry Bonds’ name was floated around as a possibility before the season began; but given the recent legal proceedings against the slugger, it’s a long shot. There are rumors the M’s are looking at Scott Hatteberg and of course, there was that idea about one Ken Griffey Jr. returning to Seattle next season (which could be hastened if the M’s decide to shake things up mid-season).
Other than that, if they don’t make things interesting by the trading deadline, then I guess the Mariners need to think about rebuilding (or at least, purging bloated contracts… then again, they go and sign Johjima to a 3-year, $16 million deal).