Sunday, March 24, 2019

Seattle Mariners 2019 season preview



           The Seattle Mariners won 89 games last season, but once again, missed the playoffs. Those three words: missed the playoffs, have been common for the Mariners, as they have not made the playoffs since 2001, the longest drought in the MLB, NHL, NFL and NBA. That drought will likely stand in 2019, as the Mariners and GM Jerry "Trader Jerry" Dipoto traded many of their best players, trying to contend in a few years.

           Offseason additions: LHP Yusei Kikuchi, DH Edwin Encarnacion, OF Mallex Smith, OF Jay Bruce, OF Domingo Santana, C Omar Narvaez, RHP Hunter Strickland, RHP Anthony Swarzak, SS JT Crawford, RHP Cory Gearrin, LHP Zac Rosscup, 2B Shed Long, RHP Tyler Danish

           Offseason subtractions: RHP Edwin Diaz, LHP James Paxton, 2B Robinson Cano, DH Nelson Cruz, C Mike Zunino, SS Jean Segura, LHP James Pazos, OF Denard Span, RHP Alex Colome, RHP Nick Vincent, OF Guillermo Heredia, RHP Juan Nicasio, RHP Adam Warren, RHP Erasmo Ramirez, OF Ben Gamel, UT Andrew Romine, C Chris Herrmann, OF Cameron Maybin

           Rotation
The Mariners traded top starter James Paxton to the Yankees, leaving Marco Gonzales as the Opening Day starter. Gonzales had a 4.00 ERA in 166.2 innings. They signed lefty Yusei Kikuchi from the Japanese league, where he had a 2.81 ERA over eight seasons. Former ace Felix Hernandez fell even more, to a 5.55 ERA. Entering his age 33 season, Hernandez has already fallen. Mike Leake led the team with 31 starts last year, and had a 4.36 ERA. Wade LeBlanc pitched 162 innings with a 3.72 ERA. Justus Sheffield, the Mariners top prospect who was acquired in the Paxton trade, should see time.

            Bullpen
The Mariners lost what seems like their entire bullpen, including Edwin Diaz, Nick Vincent, Alex Colome, James Pazos, Juan Nicasio and Adam Warren. Hunter Strickland is the closer, after making 14 saves last year for the Giants. Chasen Bradford is the best returning reliever, after a 3.69 ERA in 46 games last year. Lefty Roenis Elias had a 2.65 ERA in 51 innings. Anthony Swarzak, acquired in the Diaz trade, is injured to start the season. Lefty Zac Rosscup made the team out of Spring Training. Cory Gearrin comes in after a decent 2018 with three teams. He had a 1.99 ERA in 68 games in 2017. Nick Rumbelow, Matt Festa and Brandon Brennan get the last three spots.

             Catching
The team traded 20 home run hitter Mike Zunino to the Rays. In a separate deal that saw Alex Colome go to the White Sox, the team acquired Omar Narvaez. Narvaez had a .794 OPS last season, much better than Zunino. David Freitas is the backup.

             Infield
Both middle infielders, Robinson Cano and Jean Segura, were dealt. Dee Gordon played outfield in his first Seattle season, but will move back to second now. Gordon stole 30 bases last year. JP Crawford, a former top prospect acquired for Segura, didn't make the team. Tim Beckham, who had a career year in 2017, went back to his previous form in 2018, hitting .230. He is the shortstop, for now. Kyle Seager survived all the trading, probably due to his contract. He will start the season injured. Ryon Healy can play first and third. He'll play first when Seager returns, but third without him. He hit 24 home runs last year. Jay Bruce had never hit below 18 home runs before 2018, when he hit nine. He is an outfielder, but will play first base for now.

               Outfield
The Mariners' best player now is Mitch Haniger, who hit 26 home runs with a .859 OPS in 2018. He plays right field. Mallex Smith, acquired for Zunino, hit .296 with 40 stolen bases last year. Domingo Santana didn't play much for Milwaukee last year because of their strong outfield, but hit 30 home runs in 2017.

                DH/Bench
The Mariners acquired DH Edwin Encarnacion, who has hit at least 32 home runs since 2012, hitting over 40 twice. Freitas is the backup catcher. Infielder Dylan Moore broke camp with the team, as did first baseman Dan Vogelbach, who hit four home runs last year.

                 Lineup
CF Mallex Smith
RF Mitch Haniger
3B Ryon Healy
DH Edwin Encarnacion
1B Jay Bruce
LF Domingo Santana
C Omar Narvaez
SS Tim Beckham
2B Dee Gordon

                   Rotation
Marco Gonzales (L)
Yusei Kikuchi (L)
Felix Hernandez (R)
Mike Leake (R)
Wade LeBlanc (L)

                   Bullpen
Hunter Strickland (R)
Chasen Bradford (R)
Zac Rosscup (L)
Roenis Elias (L)
Cory Gearrin (R)
Nick Rumbelow (R)
Matt Festa (R)
Brandon Brennan (R)

                    Bench
C David Freitas
INF Dylan Moore
1B Dan Vogelbach

                     Additional Information
Ballpark: T-Mobile Park
Manager: Scott Servais
GM: Jerry Dipoto
World Series Championships: 0
2018 record: 89-73

                       Steal of the Decade
The Mariners brought in shortstop Jean Segura before 2017 to bolster their offense. Segura had hiy 20 home runs and stole 33 bases in 2016 for Arizona. The Mariners acquired Segura, pitcher Zac Curtis and outfielder Mitch Haniger for pitcher Taijuan Walker and shortstop Ketel Marte. Segura hit .302 with 21 home runs and stole 42 bases over two seasons for the Mariners before a trade to Philly. Curtis didn't allow a run in 4.2 innings, then was traded to the Phillies in a separate deal. But Haniger was the real steal. Entering 2019, Haniger is the best player on the Mariners after hitting 26 home runs with a .285 average and .859 OPS, making his first all-star team. In return, the Mariners traded Walker, who will miss most of 2019 and missed all but three starts last year, but has a 3.49 ERA since the trade. Marte has grown into a decent shortstop, and is like Segura lite.

                       Prediction
The Mariners had a good team. But their pitching wasn't good, so they decided to unload. Now, the Mariners don't look like a good team. They aren't the worst team in their division, but by no means the best.

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