Ninety-three wins took the American League West last season, and 83 wins was good for second place – so how does the division shape up in 2007?
Probably not all that different, at least mathematically. Looking at all four teams in spring training, 93 wins seems like a lot for any of them and probably impossible for more than one.
Right now, the Mariners look like an 84-86 win team, and that will keep them close in the West. It won’t win it, but it will get Seattle out of the cellar for the first time in four years.
The Mariners have issues, and if everything went right – the way it did in 2001, for instance – this team might win another handful of games and contend. If things break wrong, they still look good enough to finish above .500 for the first time since 2003.
Yes, Seattle has issues: a right-fielder who looks like an injury waiting to happen, a bullpen that doesn’t guarantee J.J. Putz will get enough save opportunities and a No. 5 starter who looks like, well, like Jeff Weaver.
The Athletics have issues, too. As do the Angels. The Rangers are the Rangers – they will score runs by the half dozen and give them up just as they always have.
The season may depend on the patience of both fans and ownership.
With their schedule, if Seattle is .500 on May 15, it will have done quite a job – they play too many playoff-caliber teams early to break away in the West in April or early May.
Patience has become as rare as winning streaks.
This is a better team than it was a year ago, and there isn’t a great team in the division. If the Mariners grow into a good team, they’ll contend.
Unless they under achieve, they’ll be in the mid-80s late in September.