The Mariners started white hot to begin the season, sweeping the Angels in Anaheim. Since then they’ve come crashing down to reality and are in the midst of a six-game losing streak. While Felix has been pitching like his prototypical superstar self, the rest of his teammates have hovered somewhere between productive and awful. Let’s do a quick check of both sides of the equation, starting with several players who have played well in April:
The former captain of the Florida Gators and son of a baseball scout still has a huge swing that leads to a lot of strikeouts but it’s also been responsible for some homers and doubles. Whiffs aside there isn’t much to complain about the potential catching cornerstone. His pitch framing, plate defense and handling of the M’s arms have been outstanding. Obviously it’s only his second year but I consider him one of the better backstops in baseball and it wouldn’t surprise me if Zunino winds up with the title of best Mariners catcher ever before everything is said and done.
Seattle made a nine-year commitment to Robinson and so far the early returns have been solid albeit not spectacular. More importantly than his numbers everyone in the organization raves about his leadership and positive influence. Over the past five years Cano has arguably been the most reliable superstar in baseball and there is little reason to doubt he won’t produce like an All-Star for at least a few more years.
Recovery for knee surgeries has been going as well as could have been expected. Hart has provided some badly-needed right-handed power to the lineup. Not being a total albatross in the outfield should be considered a bonus.
His solid plate approach from the second half of last season has carried over early into 2014. Ackley, now the regular left fielder, has been the most consistent hitter on the Mariners and his production has been rewarded with a recent promotion to the 2-spot in the lineup. His outfield range has greatly improved since his early adventures in Spring Training though it’s still below average. Ackley’s always had the work ethic and talent to be a good player. Time will tell if this is the year he finally puts it all together.
And now for a list of Mariners who are playing like, well, Mariners:
He’s Brian L. Hunter 2.0: a super fast center fielder whose athletic prowess will go wasted due to horrific plate discipline and lack of instincts. He holds the title for Most Infuriating Player on the roster, which is saying something. Why Lloyd McClendon insists on batting someone with a sub-.300 OBP leadoff is a mystery.
Only a couple years ago The Bartender was one of the surest closers in baseball. Now he’s a decent if inconsistent middle reliever. Such is the shelf life of arms with great stuff but so-so command.
His crushing mistakes in last Wednesday’s game at Texas cost Felix a win and helped spur a six-game losing streak for the M’s. Equally troubling has been his terrible plate discipline. His reckless and futile swings have demoted him from second to last in the lineup. If he regresses the M’s will have to start thinking about a more permanent solution. I wonder if Nick Franklin can handle shortstop…