Now 78 games into the 2011 season, there is some reason for fans of the Mariners to be optimistic about the direction the club is heading, right?
After all, a 16-23 start through May 15 has been followed by a massive about-face: 23-16 in their last 39 games.
Rookie Carlos Peguero was called up and has added a little power from left field, even as he struggles to hit for a decent average. Another rookie, Dustin Ackley, was called up too, and for nine games the second baseman looks like a boost to the offense.
Yet, if you look at what the Mariners have done since bottoming out in mid-May, you wonder if Seattle is going in the right direction.
In the last 39 games, the Mariners have scored 130 runs. Not only is that not a lot of offense (3.33 runs per game), its actually less than their first 39 games (138 runs, 3.54 average).
The pitching has been terrific a 2.62 ERA in the last 39 games after a respectable 3.85 ERA in the first 39 games but how long can this run of tremendous starts be expected to continue without help?
If the pitching falls off even a little, there is no evidence the Mariner hitters or defenders, for that matter are ready to pick up the slack.
Game after game, manager Eric Wedge talks about the need for more productive at-bats from his hitters. You could make a recording of what he says on any given day and it would probably play well any other day.
A case in point is this comment from Wedge (we leave it to you to guess when he said it):
“Weve seen short moments in time where weve done that (sustained offense), just nothing consistently yet, Wedge said. “I still believe were going to do it.
“These guys need to believe theyre going to do it. Were right there, so weve just got to keep pushing.
When did Wedge say it?
After Saturdays 4-2 loss to the Marlins. It could have been after Thursdays 1-0 loss to Washington, or last Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to the Nationals. Or after about almost three dozen of Seattles 39 losses.
Seattle has five 2-1 losses this season. Thats not hard to believe when you consider that the Mariners have scored two runs or less 32 times in 78 games, or about 41 percent of the time. Theyve scored one or zero runs 19 times 19 times! in 78 games.
The numbers are hard to believe.
Harder to believe is that the Mariners will continue to win regularly while the offense produces so little.
Will general manager Jack Zduriencik trade some of that pitching for some hitting? It would seem logical, given Seattles predicament, but logic may not be the overriding issue.
Jack Zs track record isnt long enough to make an accurate call. He’s put a great deal of hope on Seattles future by building up the minor league system.
Michael Pineda, Peguero and Ackley are all suggestions that this is a sound way to go.
To then turn around and trade minor league prospects the kind that are almost always included in a mid-season deal when a team is trying to add to its arsenal, not just dump big contracts would seem to be at odds with the overall plan.
The halfway point of the season is Thursday. The mental break provided by the All-Star game is in a couple of weeks.
That’s time enough for the Mariners to know whether their offense is going to come around. Its clear thats not happening.
So now is the time when Zduriencik and Co. must make decisions.
The future or the present?