General manager Jack Zduriencik isn’t ready to give up on the Mariners, but he intimated Thursday in The News Tribune he is concerned with the underperforming bullpen and mediocre offense.
The 11-17 record might be most alarming. After being heralded before the season as a team with the talent to make a deep playoff run, the Mariners entered Thursday last in the American League West, seven games behind first-place Houston.
“I still believe this is a good ballclub, and I do think we’re going to get this turned around,” Zduriencik told beat writer Bob Dutton. “But we’ve said this for a long time. Guys aren’t on scholarship. Guys have to produce.
“If you believe you’re a good ballclub, and I think these players are, then you have to produce.”
Despite the off-season addition of Nelson Cruz, who has an MLB-leading 14 home runs and 26 RBIs (second behind Giancarlo Stanton), the Mariners aren’t scoring much. The offense ranks 13th in the AL with 3.64 runs per game.
Despite RHP Felix Hernandez (1.73 ERA) getting off to the first 5-0 start in his career, the Mariners aren’t pitching well. The staff ranks 10th in the AL with a 4.31 ERA. Much of the blame falls on the bullpen, which has an AL-worst 1.47 WHIP (walks and hits, per nine innings pitched).
Another problem: Converted left fielder Rickie Weeks (.208 batting average in 19 games) and outfielder Justin Ruggiano (.158 batting average with zero RBIs) have yet to contribute much after they were acquired this off-season to add thump to the lineup.
“I even said in the winter time, that as high as the expectations were, it’s really all about players producing,” Zduriencik said. “So no matter what your history is, you have to come out and live up to your potential.”
Zduriencik, who received a contract extension last season, insisted this roster is built to win.
“We’ve proved that we can perform,” Zduriencik said. “A year ago, our pitching was very good. Some of those guys aren’t performing to that level.
“We’ve added to our offense (in the off-season), but some guys have started a little bit slow. All right. That’s understandable. I think you have to be patient and understand that happens.”
Evaluation of the roster is ongoing. Zduriencik isn’t against making a trade or continuing to tinker.
“We’ll continue to look at it,” he said.
In the past week, reliever Yoervis Medina and Tyler Olson were optioned to Triple-A Tacoma, Brad Miller lost his starting shortstop job to Chris Taylor and relievers Joe Beimel and Mark Lowe made their 2015 big-league debuts.
The Mariners begin a nine-game homestand Friday, starting with a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field.
Zduriencik says it’s time for players to address why they’re struggling and change it.
“If you’re underperforming, you’d better figure out why,” he said. “It’s a nice club. I don’t think anybody disagrees, but there have been parts of it that have let us down. It’s time to tighten the belt, and let’s get rolling.”