Article Written By: Manny Alcala
2013 Record: 71-91 (4th place in AL West)
Key additions: Robinson Cano, Fernando Rodney, Logan Morrison, Corey Hart, John Buck, Willie Bloomquist.
Key losses: Raul Ibanez, Kendrys Morales (unsigned), Joe Saunders (unsigned), Oliver Perez (unsigned), Carter Capps.
Most important players for 2014: Robinson Cano, Felix Hernandez, Logan Morrison, Corey Hart, Dustin Ackley, Hisashi Iwakuma, Fernando Rodney, Kyle Seager.
The Seattle Mariners have made some noise this off-season. Not only were they able to sign the best free agent available in the market this season in Robinson Cano, they also recently signed free agent closer Fernando Rodney. With these moves, Seattle has surely found their everyday second baseman and their closer.
Cano is the best second baseman in the MLB. He earned a 7.6 WAR last season leaving him atop of every other second baseman in the league, having a one point difference from the runner up Matt Carpenter. Cano is not only a great hitter, but also plays above average defense which explains why his WAR is as high. Although $240 million dollars over the span of 10 years seems like a lot of money, the Mariners were in a position where they had to do something big in order to begin to turn their team around.
Fernando Rodney will give this team confidence when giving the ball to him in the 9th inning to close out ballgames. We can’t forget what an amazing year he had in 2012 when he saved 48 games and had an incredible 0.60 ERA in 74.2 innings of work. Last year Rodney was a little more human as he had a 3.38 ERA, but he still saved 37 games.
In a 2013 season where the Mariners used different pitchers to close ball games like Danny Farquhar and Tom Wilhelmsen, this season Seattle will find a lot more consistency in the 9th inning with Rodney, while Wilhelmsen and Farquhar can be great set up guys.
They say that if you pitch after Felix Hernandez you will be underrated, that is the case with Hisashi Iwakuma. Iwakuma is a great pitcher who doesn’t get much attention. You pretty much know what you’re going to get with Felix Hernandez, he is the ace of the staff and one of the best pitchers in the league. Putting Hernandez and Iwakuma back to back has the potential of being one of the most successful one-two punches in baseball this season.
A lot of Seattle’s success will also come from the rest of their rotation which features very young, but also very promising pitchers. Erasmo Ramirez, James Paxton, and Taijuan Walker will most likely round out the rotation. All three of them had already gotten their feet wet in the bigs and now are ready to take the next step forward.
The acquisitions of Corey Hart and Logan Morrison might be just as important as the Cano addition. These two players will serve as great compliments to Cano. Hart is a great power hitter, but he didn’t play at all last year because of an injury. The Mariners are hoping they got the same Hart as before his injury. As for Morrison, the Mariners think that a change of scenery will help him plenty. He showed some good signs with the Marlins, but being on a losing team all of his career might reflect why some of his numbers are low. If Lo-Mo is motivated with this new opportunity, he will be a very valuable player for the Mariners.
The Mariners are ready to have their first winning season since 2009, they added some important pieces and should have enough pitching to get them there. As of right now the Mariners show potential to possibly finish in third place of their division. Expect them to be in a battle for one of the two wild card spots, but it might be a long shot for them if things don’t pan out to perfection. A winning season seems to be likely though as it will be a good sign for things to come in the future for Seattle.