The midway point in any 162-game season is a time to look back and look ahead, to talk about the changes made and those to come.
The Seattle Mariners are in transition, moving slowly but steadily toward being a good team after being the American League’s worst in 2010. After being swept by Atlanta, the Mariners are 39-42, on pace to finish 78-84.
A year ago after 81 games, they were 38-43 At the and finished 61-101.
If they maintain their pace, the Mariners won’t have a regular bat .300 – unless rookie Dustin Ackley does it – or a pitcher win as many as 17 games. They won’t have anyone with 25 home runs, or as many as 85 RBI. Finding the problem with the ’11 Mariners is simple.
Yes, it’s the offense.
The pitching has been dominant, top to bottom, and the defense good if not spectacular. The offense, however, is the worst in MLB. Seattle’s .227 batting average is seven points below the worst National League team – where they make the pitcher bat.
Change has come and will come again.
Ackley is now the second baseman, and his second career home run pushed his average to .300. Adam Kennedy is now the third baseman over Chone Figgins, and while Kennedy has slumped to .264, that’s still a light-year or two ahead of Figgins (.186).
Opening Day left fielder Milton Bradley is gone, and the candidates to replace him are many – Carlos Peguero (.202), Mike Carp (.200) and Greg Halman (.353) chief among them.
Closer David Aardsma was due back in May, but may not pitch this season. In his stead, Brandon League has 21 saves and a 3.48 earned run average.
The second half? Expect more changes.
Designated hitter Jack Cust (.219) has three home runs and 19 RBI. Left-hander Erik Bedard has pitched well – an ERA of 3.00 – and has a 4-6 record in large part because of the Mariners offense. Now he’s on the disabled list, and his name is in the media whisper-stream as trading deadline bait.
There are questions in center field, where Franklin Gutierrez is batting .197, and, for the first time, a huge question in right field, where Ichiro Suzuki is at .275 and on pace to score 84 times and collect 184 hits.
Small wonder manager Eric Wedge said he planned to use the day off tomorrow to go over the entire roster of his team and come back Friday ‘ready to go.’ Oh yes, after the 81st game today, Wedge is on pace to be ejected six times.