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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

March 24, 2010 at 1:22 PM

A negative Mariner outlook from Ken Rosenthal

The Mariners have gone from being the chic pick in the AL West to all of a sudden having a lot of people wondering if they’re as good as everyone thought.

I wrote last Sunday about some of the warning signs and question marks cropping up. Ken Rosenthal of FOX takes this same approach in a column today. The headline pretty much tells the story: “Despite stellar offseason, M’s face trouble.”

It’s a good, sobering piece, notable for this quote from Jody Gerut of Milwaukee about his former teammate, Milton Bradley: “Seattle’s the chillest town there is. If you can’t find peace playing the game in Seattle or San Diego, it’s time to hire a full-time Sherpa.”

Rosenthal quotes a scout questioning not Bradley’s attitude, but his skills, which this anonymous fellow says are declining:

“I’m afraid he can’t play anymore,” the scout says. “He has some holes in his swing. The fastball right over the hands, he can’t get to it (batting) left-handed. The hole above his hands has gotten bigger.”

Sorry, I don’t buy that. This is a guy who led the American League in OPS at .999 just two years ago, and is still relatively young (he turns 32 on April 15). I don’t think he’s going to lose it that quickly. I wouldn’t judge him on a few spring-training at-bats.

That said, I think some of these concerns are very real, as I’ve already written. I don’t think I’ve ever been as unsure about a team’s prognosis as I am the Mariners this year. I can envision a scenario in which everything clicks and they win 90-plus games. I can envision a scenario in which everything unravels and they lose 90 games.

I’m leaning more toward optimism than pessimism, but the Lee injury, in particular, changes the dynamics. They really, really need him to come back quickly, because the rotation beyond Felix is not very imposing without Lee.

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