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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.

April 8, 2010 at 3:13 PM

Today’s reminder: 98 percent of the season remains to be played

The Mariners have now played four of their 162 regular-season games. As my 10-year-old son is learning in math, 4/162 reduces to 2/81, which converts to .0246913 percent of the season. I’ll round down to .02, or two percent.

That’s a roundabout way of saying what many others have been stressing today to that segment of Mariner fandom which is either on the ledge, or on the rampage: It’s still way, way too early to panic about this season.

Now, granted, that two percent has not been pleasant for Mariner fans (well, three games worth haven’t been pleasant; in other words, .0185 of the season has been bad). One way to look at it is the M’s easily could have won three out of four, considering the A’s won two games in their final at-bat. Of course, another way to look at it is they easily could have lost all four, if Kevin Kouzmanoff makes a good throw on Chone Figgins’ routine grounder in the ninth inning of the opener.

What the Oakland games did do is accentuate pre-existing concerns, such as whether the Mariners have the requisite rotation depth to survive until Cliff Lee returns, and whether they have enough of an offensive attack to get by. In that regard, panic is premature, but fretting and worrying is perfectly acceptable. Ian Snell did fine in his outing, Ryan Rowland-Smith and Doug Fister labored, and Jason Vargas is still to come. The offense was anemic, with a .200 batting average in the four games, including just six extra-base hits (two homers and four doubles) and 13 runs, with a .277 slugging percentage and .289 on-base percentage.

That’s not going to get it done, obviously. But just as obviously, the numbers are going to come up. Way up — perhaps not as far as they need to go, but the Mariners aren’t going to keep flailing like that forever, unless you believe that proven major-league hitters like Ichiro and Chone Figgins have lost it, and guys like Casey Kotchman and Jose Lopez are going to regress into irrelevance. Granted, there are some hitters in the lineup who have to prove they haven’t, indeed, lost it, and we all know who they are. But I’m not going to make that call after four games, either.

The Mariners may turn out to be a flawed team heading for a big fall. But it’s way too early to jump to that conclusion based on three bad games in Oakland.

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