Randy Lind at Mariner's Game

Ichiro is back with the Seattle Mariners

Ichiro is back.

Some people are happy to have Ichiro back on the Mariners, some people aren’t so thrilled thinking it’s a ploy to sell tickets, and some people couldn’t care less one way or the other.

Personally, I think it’s great! A sure-fire, first ballot, Hall of Famer back on our roster! Don’t get me wrong. I understand, at age 44, he won’t be a regular starter. I’m sure, though, he will fill in admirably between all of our regular outfielders getting injured (which seems to be all too often these days). He will truly be a PEST on the bases, batter’s box, and outfield for opposing teams. I’m sure he still has some pretty spectacular plays left in him that we are fortunate to witness live in our hometown.

 

 

Time will tell how he and the rest of the team perform this year.

 

This will be an exciting Mariners team to watch. 

With a batting lineup that includes all-stars like Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager, leading the way, they are capable of just about anything on any given night. Promising “youngsters” like Jean Segura, Ben Gamel, and Mitch Haniger have shown signs they are capable of being top-notch players. They have even made a case of being on the verge of stardom. The only thing that seems to have held them back is issues with staying healthy. Though Robbie and Nelson are getting into the twilight of their careers, they still have plenty of POP in their bats and is there anyone smoother out there in the field than Robbie?

It will be interesting to see what newcomer Dee Gordon offers. He has a proven track record of upper echelon base stealing and batting skills, but that was in the National League and at a completely different position (2B/SS). Can the Mariners really pull off converting a career (albeit short) infielder into a centerfielder all in the name of adding batting average and speed into their lineup? All of the early signs are leading to “YES”. 

 

Imagine if you will….

…an opposing pitcher facing a lineup of speedsters (Ichiro and Gordon) on the pads and having to stare down Cano, Cruz, and Seager back to back! Throw in Segura who can artfully spray the ball all over the field and supply some pop, Gamel and Haniger, who can hit with power and accuracy and you’ve got a pretty imposing offensive lineup.

Looming at the bottom of the order (usually) is catcher Mike Zunino. Mike calls a heck of a game, and his pitchers seem to have confidence in, and respect for, him. We’ve all seen him send the ball screaming, like a HORNET, out of the ballpark with sporadic consistency at times. The problem is the bulk of the time he is consistently mediocre, at best, at the plate. I hate to say that because he seems like a great guy who tries hard and does and says all of the right things. There is always room for a guy like that on any TEAM, especially with his great defensive skills and the positive presence he provides in the clubhouse and on the field. I’m rooting for Mike to have a breakout year and prove all of the naysayers wrong!

 

Pitching

This is the biggest question mark of the entire team. With King Felix getting older, and seemingly more and more fragile, I’m just not sure we can rely on him to win more than 8 or 9 games. Let alone stay healthy for any amount of time in order to make a difference. He’s been great and he’ll go down in the books along with “The Big Unit” Randy Johnson. 

James Paxton: “The Big Maple” has as much potential as any pitcher in the league. He has proven that he can be a dominant pitcher, yet he has not proven that he can stay healthy. If we can keep this guy on the mound, I can see him winning a Cy Young while leading us into the playoffs.

Mike Leake: I liked what I saw from this guy last year. He’s a tough competitor and capable of eating up a lot of good quality innings while giving his team a chance to win. Though not an ace, nor overpowering pitcher, he is a tenacious and relentless pitcher who seems to eat through opposing bats like a TERMITE. I propose this should be his nickname “The Termite”! He reminds me a lot of a former great Mariner pitcher, Jamie Moyer.

Middle relief and closing pitching is a complete toss-up in my opinion. There are so many inconsistencies and unknowns that I’m just waiting to see.  This and health issues could be the Mariners demise this year.  However, if we can find some diamonds in the rough (or some opals at least) perhaps we can give it a go!

 

My predictions

Ceiling season wins prediction-                                                                                                91 games
Injury-plagued season wins prediction                                                                                     76 games
Probable season wins prediction                                                                                              82 games

 

Thanks, Ichiro! Can’t wait to see what you have left in the tank!   

Let’s Go Mariners!

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