Mariners Insider

And there you have it, the 2011 season

Post by Larry Larue / The News Tribune on Sep. 28, 2011 at 10:32 pm with 8 Comments »
September 28, 2011 10:32 pm

They began the year beating Oakland in back-to-back games, 6-2 and 5-2, and the Seattle Mariners closed 2011 by being shutout in consecutive games by the same Athletics.

Yes, Virginia, the Mariners say they’re a much improved team than the one that broke camp back in March.

And now, that season has ended. At 67-95, the win-loss record was an improvement over the 61-101 of last year, though too many numbers didn’t change.

Seattle’s .236 team average in 2010 was the worst in baseball. And their .233 average this season was, well, the worst in baseball.

New manager Eric Wedge ran through 18 rookies this year – 12 of those made their big-league debuts. There were gems like Michael Pineda, Dustin Ackley and Mike Carp, young bullpen arms in Tom Wilhelmsen, Chance Ruffin and not-quite-so-young Steve Delabar.

There were rookies with potential – Casper Wells, Alex Liddi, Kyle Seager - and an acrobatic shortstop in Brendan Ryan. Without David Aardsma all year, the Mariners made a closer of Brandon League, who saved 37 of Seattle’s 67 wins.

Not all those new faces will be back. There will be trades. No team that endures three losing seasons in four years can sit pat, and Jack Zduriencik knows the baby steps of 2011 must get bolder in 2012 – and being dead last in the American League in average, hits and runs won’t let that happen.

For the first time in the history of Safeco Field – and the first time since 1992 – the Mariners drew fewer than two million fans this season.

The team has the making of a rotation, the start of a fine bullpen, a few players who can help at the plate. But Ichiro batted 59 points below his career average. Miguel Olivo led the team with 19 home runs and 62 RBI. Seattle’s designated hitter position produced a .226 batting average.

The off-season begins now. Feel free to commence lending the team advice. Right now, they’re in no position to ignore it.

Leave a comment Comments → 8
  1. With all the young guys the M’s had this year, they needed a positive veteran presence. They had none. That should be a priority on Z’s list.

    Oh, and NOT getting a new hitting coach. It seems like the M’s have had a new one every year since ’02. They need some consistency.

  2. Wow, Larry, you really boiled it down.

    I’d expect The Kids to get better. That’s the first time I can remember that the Mariners have had (seemingly) legitimate prospects whose natural baseball maturation should result in improved performance at the major league level. Perhaps a couple of them will “break out”. Consequently, I’m not absolutely sold that they need to move MANY pieces this winter.

    The offense is obviously unacceptable. They (still) have to get some power from 1-2 of the traditional positions – LF, RF (good luck), 3B, DH, 1B. I think 2012 is a big year for Carp and Smoak, and that both of them should play pretty much every day at LF/DH/1B. Time to find out if those guys are The Future or not.

    Unless there is some reason to believe Gutierrez is going to start resembling a major league hitter again, you have to replace him with Robinson or somebody else (Wells?). I think 3B is critical; I’ve given up on Figgins, and am utterly unconvinced that Seager solves the problem because he is basically a middle infielder, power wise. Either Liddi steps up or they have to get a real major-league quality 3B with power. Keep Seager; he is this generation’s Willie Bloomquist, but with a better bat.

    I don’t think that most closers have very long periods of effectiveness. Trade League while his value is high. Teams that lose 95 games do not need an elite closer.

    While I do not think it will happen this offseason, it is time for Ichiro to save face and return to a hero’s welcome in Japan, perhaps as a player/manager. It has been a treat and a privilege to watch him play for the Mariners, but it is obvious that his skills have eroded, and that building around a light-hitting RF has not resulted in enough victories to satisfy him or the fans.

    I’m surprised and disappointed about attendance. Apparently, they have to win more often or lower ticket prices. I’ll be over here holding my breath.

  3. flyingdutchman says:

    One year below his average and you’re ready to cast Ichiro aside. Good lord, what a fan you are. If he has another season like this, then maybe you can spout your mantra. Otherwise, the man should be given the chance to see how he responds to his down year. His skills eroded over the span of 1 year? I don’t think so.

  4. Re Ichiro, I’m tired of the blather. Looking at it objectively, he’s going to be back and hitting first again next year, unless the M’s pick up a proven bat and can move Ackley to leadoff, or pick up a leadoff hitter. And please, Fig me no Figgins.

    Here’s a simple idea: if three of ‘em–the whole lineup, I mean–can hit consistently better, they’ll all hit better as a result. Nobody protected anybody for an extended period of time in 2011, although Smoak, Carp and Olivo all had brief good hitting streaks. I’m not counting on it, but I’m not counting them out either.

    Felix, League, Pineda, and for a shorter period Wilhelmson–those guys earned their money this year. Vargas was a positive at the end, and he’ll be needed.

    In the long run, I’ll remember 2011 as the year we lost Dave and Rick (the Peanut Man, which isn’t a big enough sobriquet for him.) If it turns out to be the year they started to turn the corner, well, I’ll take it. But it’s not obvious to me at this moment, despite what Wedge and Zduriencik are telling us.

  5. The problem with an aging Ichiro is the 18 mil on a team that’s watching payroll.

  6. The problem with a 100 degree day is that it’s too hot. And that observation also adds nothing useful to this discussion

  7. wabubba67 says:

    Ichi-GO

  8. oldiecoach says:

    Olivo more than negated his 19 hrs., with all the “passed balls” he had.
    I will admit….he does have a good arm….he throws to right center better than most catchers we’ve had.

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