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Mariners blog

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

Category: young core
June 18, 2013 at 11:47 AM

Justin Smoak tries to save Mariners, reputation of young ‘core’

Mariners need Justin Smoak to start producing right away now that he's being activated today off the 15-day DL. He's been out since late May with an oblique strain. Photo Credit: AP

Mariners need Justin Smoak to start producing right away now that he’s being activated today off the 15-day DL. He’s been out since late May with an oblique strain. Photo Credit: AP

With the news last night that Justin Smoak would be activated off the disabled list — something the Mariners will officially announce once he gets here to Anaheim — the team officially begins its last-ditch bid to salvage the 2013 season.

At nine games under .500, the addition of Smoak — with Franklin Gutierrez and Dustin Ackley soon to follow — might happen too late. But you never know when the next winning streak will start (or if a decent one ever will for this team) and the road trip still has three games remaining.

The big thing Smoak brings — assuming he won’t need a week to round back into form — is the ability to get on-base. That’s a skill that has diminished greatly for this team ever since injuries and Class AAA demotions began piling up back in mid-May.

Back when the Mariners came out of that hard-fought series in Cleveland a month ago, their team OBP stood at .312 for the season, even with Jesus Montero not performing and some players beginning to wear down.

Today, in the month of games played since, team OBP has been a dismal .283 and sent the overall OBP for the year plummeting down to .301.

The major culprit in this downward spiral has been Michael Saunders, who on May 5 had a .351 OBP and a .971 OPS and was looking like one of the better leadoff hitters in baseball. Since then, his OBP has been just .281 with a .549 OPS. Naturally, he is no longer at the top of the order.

The sheer disintegration of Saunders the past six weeks coincided with that other dip I’ve mentioned over the past month.

For those who criticize the roster makeup of this team as being flawed with too many first-base/DH types, you are technically correct.¬†As of right now there are too many of those cluttering up the nightly lineup and the addition of Smoak — one would think — would not stand to improve that much.

But that critique of the roster, while valid in a literal sense, is also flawed.

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Comments | More in young core | Topics: justin smoak; dustin ackley; franklin gutierrez; jack zduriencik

April 8, 2013 at 5:02 AM

This season will be a big test for Mariners vaunted ‘young core’ of players

The Mariners have imported several veterans to help the team improve, but it could all go for naught without the "young core" from past seasons continuing to develop.

The Mariners have imported several veterans to help the team improve, but it could all go for naught without the “young core” from past seasons continuing to develop.

ADDITIONAL NOTE 8:45 a.m. PT: If you missed my Talkin’ Baseball segment on Sports Radio KJR with host Mitch Levy this morning, you can hear it by clicking on the box below. We discussed the Mariners’ young core and other first-week observations.

Last night on the blog, one of the readers astutely pointed out that while I wrote that the team’s two top-of-the-order guys, Michael Saunders and Franklin Gutierrez, have been getting on-base at a .333 clip, the lineup as a whole is only at .299.

Indeed, this early in the season, these numbers will fluctuate from game-to-game, but I decided to look into it further, since it seemed to me that the key elements of the lineup had been getting on and hitting for the power promised.

[do action=”kjr-embed” src=”http://www.sportsradiokjr.com/player/embed.html?autoStart=false&useFullScreen=true&mid=23070113&osu=null&startButtonColor=0xffffff”/]

Two things on that:

No. 1, the older parts of the everyday lineup have been producing. This includes Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales, as well as the aforementioned Gutierrez and even Brendan Ryan.

The part that hasn’t produced up to now, with the exception of Saunders, is the team’s much-vaunted “young core” of players that has taken four-plus seasons to manufacture. Now again, I write this with the caveat that, clearly, it is far too early to make any type of call on anybody and I am not doing so today.

But just as clearly, in the fifth year of this rebuilding plan, those young players have to start delivering. This really isn’t a response to the 3-4 road trip, one in which I felt the Mariners fought hard and could have won every game in Chicago. It’s really just an early outline of what my own expectations are for the team this season beyond the predictions given a week ago.

There are no two ways about it. This young core has to make some definitive strides in 2013, both to help this team stay relevant in any playoff hunt and also to justify — yes, it’s been long enough into “The Plan” that we can use that word — what the last several seasons of utterly boring, irrelevant baseball have been about.

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Comments | More in young core | Topics: dustin ackley; justin smoak; jesus montero; talkin' baseball


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