If today isn’t the official beginning of spring training, at least it feels a little closer. Players will arrive in Peoria, some with their families. They will don actual cleats and uniforms. Baseball will happen between the lines in a real Mariners baseball facility. Maybe not today, but assuredly tomorrow.
And, trust me, the sun will rise a little earlier, shine a little brighter and stay out a little longer. Because, well, baseball.
I can remember no more maudlin Mariners off-season than the one passed. In fact I can’t remember an off-season in which so little seemed to happen, and it wasn’t just the Mariners.
We’ve all (i.e., I’ve) become used to frenetic Jerry Dipoto making seemingly daily deals to improve the team, and honestly there simply hasn’t been much dealing. Not even many minor league signings, releases or shuffling. Nope, Dee Gordon dealt for, Juan Nicasio signed before Christmas. All we could do was watch as other teams made deals or signed the big name free agents out on the market. Except they didn’t. Sigh.
And, of course, that lack of action gave all of us plenty to complain about. Everyone has voiced their concern the Mariners rotation and a need for one more decent body. Larry Stone of the Seattle Times and Jay Jaffe of SI.com both wrote columns in the last week identifying the weakening market for second tier pitchers like Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb, and how the lengthy, expensive commitment Dipoto publicly identified as destructive to the Mariners’ future may not be needed to sign them. And who is to say they’re wrong?
The M’s head into spring training as perhaps the fringiest of fringe playoff teams. They are a bundle of maybes and what ifs. Here are just a few of the questions I have:
- Can the rotation hold together with glue, baling wire and duct tape for 162 games and deliver a modicum of the stability lacking in 2017?
- Will Dipoto’s “wolf pack strategy” work with this bullpen in support of this rotation?
- Can Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager approach the numbers they had in 2016, or is what we saw last year who they really are?
- Does Nelson Cruz have one last great campaign?
- Have we seen the best of Mike Zunino and Mitch Haniger, or is the best yet to come?
- Can Dee Gordon make us forget Jarrod Dyson’s glove?
- Will Ryon Healy be the best Mariner first baseman since Russell Branyan?
I don’t know that I have the answers, but we’re about to start finding out. Go M’s.