Results are all that matter, folks
It’s possible for the Mariners to thrive even with the Astros remaining a great team.
Seattle Mariners fans were treated to a thrilling season in 2022. For the first time in 21 years, the franchise played meaningful October baseball. Even better, the Mariners were victorious over the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL Wild Card Series.
Then came the Houston Astros and a severe dose of reality.
Houston swept the Mariners in their AL Division Series, although manager Scott Servais and his squad did put up a great fight. Still, being hard to knock out doesn’t mean much if you get knocked out in the end. That’s the harsh reality of playoff baseball.
Understandably, a stinging postseason defeat at the hands of a heated division rival has a segment of the Mariners’ fan base laser-focused on surpassing the Astros in 2023. Personally, I don’t subscribe to this line of thinking.
Wild, Wild West
The Mariners need to be more successful against the entire AL West - not just the Astros. Seattle was 41-35 against division foes this year. Compared to other clubs reaching the postseason, that’s a rather pedestrian mark.
Division Records of Postseason Teams
Blue Jays (43-33)
We know the Astros aren’t going anywhere. But the Mariners are going to face more credible competition from other division rivals in 2023. Both the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels have been active in the trade and free agent markets with the intention of contending next season.
The Rangers have been busy shoring up a starting rotation, which has been a weak link. The team’s first order of business was retaining its best starter in 2022, Martin Perez. Then, Texas signed starter Andrew Heaney and traded for Jake Odorizzi. The biggest acquisition of all has been two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom.
In Anaheim, the Angels acquired outfielder Hunter Renfroe and infielder Gio Urshela in separate trades. The Halos also signed two free agents - starter and former Mariner Tyler Anderson and reliever Carlos Estévez.
Building A Champion
To become the leader of the pack, the Mariners should be striving to field a roster capable of winning 100-plus games. Doing so makes them a tough out for division rivals and the rest of the American League.
The last edition of Mariners Consigliere suggested the front office got off to a good start this offseason. Moves made thus far have lengthened the lineup, increased roster flexibility, and deepened the pitching pool. But we all know more is needed.
Yes, outfielder Teoscar Hernández provides a potent bat. But the loss of slugging right fielder Mitch Haniger to free agency essentially makes the Hernández acquisition a lateral move rather than an upgrade.
The on-base ability and defensive acumen of second baseman Kolten Wong is nice. Still, it’s reasonable to speculate whether the 32-year-old is on the verge of age-related regression.
The Mariners have undoubtedly improved. But it’s difficult to envision how the sum of these offseason deals nudges the 90-win club of 2022 much closer to the century mark next year. That said, there’s ample time remaining for the front office to make the deals necessary to get them over the hump. This is an important factor we shouldn’t overlook.
From my perspective, the Mariners at least two bats. Based on recent comments to the media, management has a preference for a right-handed hitting corner outfielder. Someone who could potentially work in tandem with the team’s cadre of young left-handed hitting outfielders - Jarred Kelenic, Taylor Trammell, and prospect Cade Marlowe.
Bringing in a corner infielder with an established offensive résumé also makes sense. We saw how losing the bats of Ty France and Eugenio Suárez to injuries harmed the productivity of a lineup struggling to consistently plate runs in 2022.
Adding more quality and depth to the starting rotation is also worth exploring. The starting staff was impressive this year, particularly after the arrival of ace Luis Castillo at the MLB trade deadline. But from a availability perspective, the Mariners were fortunate their starters avoided health-related problems.
Does anyone expect the same kind of luck to unfold in 2023?
Perhaps roster reinforcements arrive before Opening Day. Maybe they show up next July, as Castillo did this year. But they have to get here at some point. Otherwise, Mariners fans will be anxiously wondering whether their team will reach the postseason in late-September.
Who wants to endure that stress again?
If the Mariners become a 100-win team, they’d be in the thick of the AL West race. Even if Seattle doesn’t win the division, it’d enter the postseason as a wild card capable of reaching the World Series. Let’s be honest, this wasn’t the case in 2022.
The size of the Mariners’ payroll has been a recurring theme over the air waves, on Twitter, and the blogosphere. Personally, it’s irrelevant how much money the team spends.
To me, results are all that matter, folks.
It’s time for the Mariners to deliver some in the form of a championship roster.
My Oh My…
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