[nfbwatlk] Panic? Nah, but there are concerns in M's slow start

Mike Freeman k7uij at panix.com
Sat Apr 10 08:20:40 CDT 2010

Mariners blog
Panic? Nah, but there are concerns in M's slow start

OaWith the Mariners off to a 1-3 start in Oakland and the bats slumbering through a 6-2 loss to the A's in the series finale Thursday, is there reason to panic?
Of course not. A 162-game season is four days old, which means 98 percent of the journey remains. Anyone who freaks out after the opening series of a baseball season should be banished permanently to the bullpen.

Mariners shortstop Jack Wilson throws to first as Oakland's Daric Barton slides into second base on a fielder's choice Thursday. (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images) But are there reasons for concern? 

Yeah, I'd allow that, given what we saw in the opening set with the A's pretty much mirrors the concerns already bubbling below the surface with this Seattle club.

The Mariners won the opener behind Felix Hernandez, but then dropped three straight with the trio of Ian Snell, Ryan Rowland-Smith and Doug Fister splitting 15 innings of work between them.

Not that any of those three got lit up by the relatively punchless A's. But here's the problem. Seattle's offense wasn't good enough to pick any of those three up, totaling just eight runs in their starts.

Oakland has a decent pitching staff, but not one that should be shutting any team down like the Mariners were this week.

The ugly numbers from Seattle's offense in the opening series: a .200 batting average, just six extra-base hits in four games, a whopping 32 strikeouts and just three innings out of the first 37 with more than one hit by a team expected to be greatly improved in on-base percentage.

Not exactly a recipe for success for a club hoping to make up for a lack of power by being a pesky unit that instead keeps constant pressure on opposing pitchers.

The team's early on-base percentage of .289 is hidden only be an even-worse slugging percentage of .277, which is tough to do. Both of which trail last year's .314 and .402 numbers that ranked among the worst in baseball.

The offense will look a lot better as soon as the Mariners get to Texas on Friday night, I guarantee. Hitters always look better in Arlington than the spacious Oakland stadium. But this club is going to play half its games at Safeco Field, so there is reason to think that what we saw this first series isn't some huge aberration.

No surprise. The Mariners went heavy on defense and pitching. But interestingly, after an ugly four-error opener, it was the A's who flashed the impressive gloves in this series.

Rajai Davis was outstanding in center field for Oakland, catcher Kurt Suzuki made a spectacular sliding catch into the M's dugout on Thursday and third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff was excellent as well.

Starter Doug Fister lasted just four innings Thursday for the Mariners in a 6-2 loss at Oakland. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)Meanwhile, the usually stellar Ichiro Suzuki kicked a couple balls around in right field for the M's, Jack Wilson booted a grounder in the opener and Milton Bradley -- after making two very nice catches in left field on Wednesday -- didn't get his glove on what appeared to be a catchable drive to the wall in the bottom of the ninth that won that game for Oakland.

Catcher Adam Moore committed an error Thursday by using his facemask trying to field a bunt in the eighth, giving an extra base to a pair of A's runners, and even Franklin Gutierrez followed by not coming up cleanly with a single to center as both runners scored.

No, the Mariners haven't looked sharp even in their strongest areas. The patience at the plate so evident with eight walks in the opener dissipated quickly, Seattle totaling nine walks in three games hence.

Similarly, the three stolen bases and aggressive base running in the opener became moot when Seattle failed to get runners on -- and stole only two bases -- in the last trio of starts.

When Ichiro and Chone Figgins don't get on base -- and the two are hitting a combined .200 at this point -- the M's don't do much to challenge you.

Even the front office committed a mental error by attempting to start the season with a six-man bullpen, a ploy corrected Thursday by the addition of Jesus Colome and release of fifth-outfielder Ryan Langerhans.

But already the bullpen seems overtaxed, an odd situation just four days in against a team in the A's who won't win any home run derbies of their own this year.

If there was a positive Thursday it was that young Matt Tuiasosopo looked comfortable both in the field and at the plate in a 2-for-4 outing in his starting debut at first base. But it's going to take a lot more than that to keep the Mariners afloat until Cliff Lee and Erik Bedard arrive to bolster the rotation.

So, yeah, those are concerns. But cause for alarm? Reason for panic? 

Not unless you believe the final 158 games really aren't enough time to make some adjustments and change the tenor of a season admittedly off on the wrong foot.

Posted by Greg Johns at April 8, 2010 4:05 p.m.
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: WilsonJackThrow.jpg
Type: image/jpeg
Size: 58155 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <http://nfbnet.org/pipermail/nfbwatlk_nfbnet.org/attachments/20100410/a53dc5b6/attachment.jpg>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: FisterDougAs.jpg
Type: image/jpeg
Size: 21278 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <http://nfbnet.org/pipermail/nfbwatlk_nfbnet.org/attachments/20100410/a53dc5b6/attachment-0001.jpg>

More information about the nfbwatlk mailing list