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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

May 7, 2011 at 10:11 PM

Time to be concerned again after only third loss in 11 games for Mariners?

If you missed Geoff Baker Live! tonight, we began the show with an update on David Aardsma going for that MRI and played a clip of manager Eric Wedge discussing it pre-game. And what show would be complete without my views on Bobblehead Nation? Somebody asked me which of the team’s slumping hitters I thought might be cut first. Someone wanted to know who the next young starting pitcher poised for a breakthrough is in the M’s system. Someone asked about whether the M’s should move the fences in to help their hitters. Another asked me about the M’s and Prince Fielder.
On to the post…
Here comes the tough part of this job. Because it has been a really fun ride for the Mariners the past 11 days or so. The team has won eight of 11 and — for all I know — could add to that with a fourth straight series victory tomorrow.
So, there isn’t a whole lot to complain about from a won-loss perspective.
Nope, it’s some of those other, long-term things that just keep needling and refuse to go away. Like the offense.
The M’s have scored just 21 runs since heading into Boston eight games ago. Do the math and it ain’t pretty.
Yes, the M’s scored 24 runs in three games at Detroit, which was a really nice stretch of play.
Except that they had barely managed three runs per night in the 23 contests prior to that. And now, in the eight games since, they are doing even worse than in the first 3 1/2 weeks of the season from a scoring perspective.
So, no. Nothing much has changed with the offense aside from some individual stat lines creeping up and down and the emergence of Justin Smoak. Ah, yes, Smoak. As we said a few nights ago, it’s been all Smoak and Mirrors for this offense, with Ichiro playing the part of the mirrors.
After that?
Michael Saunders is hitting .178. Jack Cust .194. Brendan Ryan — who is picking things up — is at .196. Milton Bradley is down to .206. Chone Figgins is at .217.
Yes, some guys are on the upswing, but that’s far too many regulars sitting south of .220 and the Mendoza Line.
Normally, I wouldn’t care much, since this is supposed to be a rebuilding year. But the past week or two, I’d heard M’s fans getting excited about the possibility of actually competing in a mediocre AL West this year.
Well, again. That’s going to be tough when what you normally do is score three runs per game. The M’s somehow managed to get through the past eight contests with a 5-3 record. And that’s kept the offense thing obscured. But you can’t hide a terminal problem like this forever. It took a three-day hiatus in Detroit and now it’s been back in force for over a week.

We’re now five weeks plus into the season. Some guys are going to have to pick it up because the time to get into the groove of a season has come and gone.
If not for the continued setbacks of Franklin Gutierrez and David Aardsma, we might have already seen some moves by now. We haven’t yet. And a six-man bullpen could save the jobs of underperforming hitters a while longer if Eric Wedge decides to implement it down the road.
The team needs another center fielder because Wedge told me today that he won’t be using Gutierrez every day in center. Maybe only three or four times a week to start.
That means Michael Saunders — who made some fantastic defensive plays in center tonight — might be kept around longer even though his hitting totals have been horrendous in an 0-for-20 slump. Saunders is the best option this team has in center other than Gutierrez.
So, that will keep him here and give him more of a chance to finally break though.
But that thing about contending? It’s going to be tough with hitting like this. You can afford to carry Saunders if he plays like he did defensively tonight. But not on the same team that has so many other liabilities at the plate.
I’m not going to bother with quotes here tonight, because there wasn’t anything said that was all that worth repeating. Eric Wedge chalked it up to a lot of balls dropping in for the White Sox — and they did indeed drop in — while the hitting was non-existent.
Pretty accurate description.
We’ll lay off individual guys for now. Not Doug Fister’s finest hour, but he had plenty of company.
So, in short, yes, the M’s should be concerned. Their offense continues to perform at an unacceptably low rate. The pitching has — for the most part — been superb. But there have still been too many defensive lapses, even after a few tightly-played games of late.
A lot of work remains to be done. The fun times may still be ahead. But this team is not out of the woods yet. And unless this offense gets some bats going, the next losing streak may be as close by as the next set of balls that keep dropping in front of or between fielders.

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan, Chone Figgins


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