After finishing with an underwhelming 71-91 record in 2013, and dropping at least 90 games for the third time in four years, there’s not much optimism regarding the Mariners organization. However, after going all in and signing Robinson Cano to a ten-year, $240 million contract, while also adding Corey Hart and Logan Morrison to their lineup, maybe there is more hope for Seattle this season. Here are 3 bold predictions for the 2014 Seattle Mariners.
1. Robinson Cano won’t be an All-Star, but Kyle Seager will.
Robinson Cano has been in the major leagues for only nine seasons, and he’s been an all-star in five of them. One of the most consistent players in the game, Cano will be counted on to carry this Mariners’ struggling average that mustered an American League low .237 average last season. Now entering his first year in Seattle, Robinson Cano faces a tremendous amount of pressure. He signed the third largest contract in MLB history and had the audacity to turn down offers from the team that gave him his first World Series ring, the New York Yankees. However, unlike in New York, pitchers will not have to fear other hitters in the lineup that Seattle has, so Cano may not get too much to hit. Additionally, Cano is used to playing in Yankee Stadium, a hitter friendly park with a short porch in right field that just might have helped his statistics a little bit.
The other key hitter in the Mariners lineup is third baseman Kyle Seager. Seager is coming off of a career year where he posted a .260 average and 22 home runs. While his batting average may not seem that impressive, but keep in mind that Seager was flirting with a .300 average for most of the season until he hit just .194 in August and .172 in September. What works best to Seager’s advantage is his incredible eye and his ability to hit inside pitches. This season, Seager will most likely benefit from hitting in front of Robinson Cano, a hitter than pitchers cannot avoid. Therefore Seager should be getting a ton to hit and should have the ability to make the most of his ability.
Now that Cano won’t be receiving millions of votes from Yankees fans, it may be hard for him to make his way to Minnesota for the midsummer classic. However, on the other hand, his teammate Kyle Seager may benefit from Miguel Cabrera‘s move across the diamond, which now creates a much weaker third base position.
2. Corey Hart, Logan Morrison, and Franklin Gutierrez will Combine for 150+ Games on the Disabled List.
The Mariners took a ton of risks this offseason by signing Corey Hart and Franklin Gutierrez and trading for Logan Morrison. All three of these players have spent significant portions of their career on the disabled list.
But really, 150? Yes, 150. And amazingly, that’s not even half as many games as these 3 combined to miss last season as they missed a total 0f 360. Most of which were due to injuries.
While he has not had too much injury trouble in the past, Corey Hart missed the entire 2013 season with knee injuries, therefore making him the most concerning. Hart will not be relied on for defense too much this year as he is slotted to be the designated hitter, but playing on a team that has three first basemen and a flurry of problems in the outfield, Corey Hart will also spend time at first base and right field.
Returning to Seattle on a one-year, incentive laden deal is Franklin Gutierrez. Gutierrez is a tremendous baseball player that any team wishes they could add to their outfield. However, he was born with paper skin and glass bones. Not literally, but Gutierrez really does have a terrible stomach problem and a disease that causes inflammation in his joints. From 2011-2013, Gutierrez played only 173 games, and his performance continued to go downhill. When healthy, Gutierrez is a 20-20 guy and one of the best defensive center fielders in the league, it is just hard to count on him to play on an every day basis going forward.
The final piece to the puzzle is Logan Morrison. Morrison originally came up as a first basemen, but converted to an outfielder upon reaching the major leagues. Troubled by defensive struggles, and of course, injuries, Morrison eventually transitioned back to a first baseman in Miami. Now that he is in Seattle, Morrison will have to spend time in the outfield, which may spark up his bad knees. He has already had 2 knee surgeries and was limited to less than 100 games in each of the previous two seasons.
3. The Mariners’ will have Two Major Award Winners.
In their 37 year history, the Mariners have had only 9 major award winners. 3 Rookie of the Years, 2 MVPs, 2 Cy Young‘s, and 2 Manager of the Years. This year however, two Mariners will bring home hardware.
One of them is fairly familiar with awards. His name is Felix Hernandez, the 2010 Cy Young Award Winner. Year in and year out, Felix is one of the most dominating pitchers in the American League. And despite his team’s record, Felix’s performance is recognized. He is a 4-time all-star who has finished top 10 in Cy Young voting 4 times in the past 5 seasons. Up until August, Felix was in the running for the 2013 Cy Young Award, but injuries and eventually poor performances on the mound led him to not even be named a disappointing 8th place finish. However, this year Felix will be the ace of one of the most promising rotations to ever go through Seattle, so it won’t be much of a surprise if King Felix pitches his way to a Cy Young Award in 2014.
The other award winner in 2014 will be highly touted prospect, Taijuan Walker. Currently the number one prospect in all of baseball, Taijuan Walker will most likely earn a spot in the rotation straight out of spring training in 2014. Once he is given the opportunity, the world is his. In just a brief preview of his talents in 2013, fans witnessed Walker mow through major league lineups with ease. In just 15 innings, Walker allowed only 6 runs while striking out 12 batters. The biggest advantage for Walker, however, may be the advice that he receives from veterans such as Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. The American League Rookie Class of 2014 does not seem too strong at the moment, so if Walker is able to pitch an entire season successfully, the trophy should be his.