Unpacking the frustrations and struggles of the 2023 Mariners
Total frustration has started to leak in for both the fan base and the team after two lifeless losses against the Yankees. So how did we get here? What is next for this team? Let's take a look.
(John Minchillo / The Associated Press)
Tuesday morning had the makings of something special. The Seattle Mariners were heading to face one of the coldest teams in the league with their two best arms lined up, coming off a series win against the Chicago White Sox. Yesterday was as hopeless and frustrating as things have been in the last three seasons.
For those of you that have been reading my work for a while, I am typically not going to provide doomsday content. Back to back 90 win seasons after cold starts have mostly conditioned me to relax and let things play out, but there are a lot of reasons to be concerned.
One portion of the fan base screamed for ownership to open the pocketbooks to spend this offseason, while another was open to acquiring talent via free agency or trade. Either way most everyone agreed this team needed reinforcement through the offseason cycle.
Kolten Wong’s time has come and gone, but Jose Caballero has mostly made up for his shortcomings to make the second base spot a net neutral. Teoscar Hernández has been an upgrade over Jesse Winker and Mitch Haniger.
The bullpen acquisitions have been terrific and this team is finally healthy. The pitching staff has been fantastic for most of the season, leading all of baseball in fWAR.
The truth is the offseason wasn’t the problem. Sure, Jerry Dipoto could have gotten another bat. I have talked about the need to add offense ad naseum for months, but if the players on your team almost entirely all regress it is difficult to expect to reach the goals you have.
Julio Rodríguez has taken a significant step back, even if his Baseball Savant page doesn’t agree. Eugenio Suárez has experienced bad luck and a significant power outage. Ty France has been wildly inconsistent, and the same with Jarred Kelenic. Cal Raleigh has struggled to hit for power.
This team strikes out A LOT. It is a struggle to score runs consistently or string things together when the entire team is in the midst of either a power outage or a barrage of strikeouts. Seattle ranks 20th in MLB in wRC+ as a team with 96, a number that isn’t going to work if you have the type of goals Seattle does.
J.P. Crawford has been the most consistent offensive performer on the team, but may now be headed to the IL with a shoulder contusion. The players that were on the 2022 roster need to play better, plain and simple.
If the core of this team doesn’t turn it around then don’t expect things to change. Nothing Jerry Dipoto has done or can do will change this, the players have to play better. They have to play much closer to what the back of their baseball card suggests.
One reason I don’t often doomsday write is because I know how hard this game is, and I have experienced this team’s work in person. They have struggled mightily, but this group of players prepares to play as intensely as any in the league. They want to win badly, and bring a championship to this city.
Heading into New York the Mariners had every reason to believe this would be the start of the run that turns them into contenders. A hot two week stretch could have firmly placed this team in a buyers camp, but instead they are coming off two of their most frustrating losses of the entire campaign.
The trade deadline is rapidly approaching, and this team has done exactly nothing to insure or inspire the front office to buy at the deadline. Something needs to change soon, whether the bench is churned out for Tacoma replacements or a major leaguer is acquired via trade.
Last season the acquisition of Carlos Santana helped them spark a 14 game winning streak and one of the best seasons in franchise history. Maybe Jerry Dipoto and Justin Hollander have another card up their sleeve.
Whether or not we choose to believe it, the season isn’t over. Seattle was 31-39 on June 22 last season, and were 39-36 in 2021. There is plenty of time for a turnaround, but it has to start soon. This team has given us every reason to believe in them over the last two years, so don’t stop now.
One day at a time.