I’m waiting for the regular season start in about 30 minutes. Who are these Mariners and how good, or bad, are they? I guess we’re about to find out.
I am excited about the beginning about the season. It’s baseball; I love baseball. And these are my Mariners, and win or lose, soar or stink, I will always love them, like a repeatedly rebuffed lover, who just can’t figure out what he needs to do to make them love me back.
Here’s what I’m anxious to see:
Felix and Marco
Tonight we’ll see if Felix Hernandez is a different pitcher. He’s an emotional guy, there will be a sell-out, emotional crowd. Will see a new Felix. Will he pitch to contact, be economical with his pitches, or will he reach for a strike-em out fastball he no longer has? An effective Felix is critical, but equally important is a healthy Felix.
Jerry Dipoto traded away highly considered prospect Tyler O’Neil for Marco Gonzalez in 2017. Honestly, I didn’t think much of Gonzalez. But, further removed from Tommy John surgery, Gonzalez has looked great. Yes, it’s only Spring Training, but if he can be the guy he’s seemed, with a good fastball, cutter and slider, he will be a very welcome surprise for a pitching staff that isn’t very highly thought of.
Everyone has lamented the weakness of the starting rotation and praised the quality of the Mariners lineup from top to bottom. Last season the M’s scored 750 runs, fewer than 2016, and seventh in the American League. They’re going to need to score more if they have any hope of making the playoffs. There are lots of players on this team who could be difference makers at the plate. But I’m putting my money on Dee Gordon and Jean Segura to bust things loose, and drive pitchers crazy. That would be the most entertaining option.
Healy vs. Vogelbach
For the next two weeks I’ll be playing close attention to the performance of first baseman Ryon Healy compared to first baseman Daniel Vogelbach. Healy was injured through much of spring training, while Vogelbach simply exploded and had one of the best spring training performances in the last decade of the Cactus League. Both players came over in trades of valuable pitchers and my hope is the man who plays best before the M’s need a fifth starter will be the one who sticks with the team. I hope Vogelbach gets enough of an opportunity to show whether he can hit consistently at the major league level or not.
How do I think this team will do? I’m not super hopeful. I’m thinking anything north of .500 is good. Making the playoffs is possible, but a long shot. There are just too many good teams at the top of the AL.
Felix is getting ready to throw his first pitch. Time to go.