Seattle Mariners: Matchsticks In A Hot Sun

Seattle MarinersCan there be a red sky and a starry night? Welcome to Peoria, Arizona—the “Valley of the Sun,” where the Seattle Mariners are currently 17-7, which is already better than last year’s 16-9 finish. They are currently running a 6-game winning streak, which includes last night’s 6-3 win over 2012 World Series Champions, the San Francisco Giants.

So why are the Mariners causing so much stir? Last year, we had one of the Major’s best defenses, so, the answer must lie in our hitters; we’ve picked up many. Looking at the AL West, I am most intrigued by the Los Angeles Angels—they stick out like a sore thumb with: Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Mike Trout, and Mark Trumbo (among others), in their line-up. Who do we have and how are they doing?

For starters, from the Angels, we garnered Kendrys Morales who last night, hit his 5th home run, and sac-flied, bringing his average to .366. He has also been named “Player of the Game” twice by Mariners writer Greg Johns. I believe that the Morales/Jason Vargas trade was a great move.

Other big hitters include Justin Smoak, who is now batting .368, with 8 RBIs. This is still .10 points short of last year’s spring training average, so let’s hope this stays consistent through the season. From all reports, he’s feeling great and hoping to get his act together; he’s getting a lot of extra support from veteran teammates and has had a positive and productive offseason. One helpful veteran to have in the dugout is playoff sensation Raul Ibanez, who in 33 ABs, is currently hitting .333. Former National now Sea Beast, Michael Morse, is leading the team in home runs, as he already has 6, which is only 2 short of the Mariners franchise record. Skipper Eric Wedge said of Morse: “He’s had a real good spring for us. He knows what he wants to do up there. He’s a smart hitter. He’s strong. He does a good job making adjustments. That’s why he’s in the middle of our lineup.”

Last year’s 2-out RBI King, Kyle Seager has had a slow start. He is just hitting .211, with 5 RBIs. Shortstop Brendan Ryan, in 24 ABs, is hitting .375. After earning MVP honor for Canada in the World Baseball Classic, Michael Saunders is burning it up, hitting a stand-up triple last night, and looking powerful in the batter’s box. I think his stats will continue to rise. Perhaps any struggles seen are due to him missing the familiar, “Eh, bra!”

Fresh approaches come in new talent. In 22 ABs, former Florida Gator Mike Zunino is batting .227 with 2 home runs and a double. His gear is already in the Mariners shop! Now in his second year, catcher Jesus Montero has a B.A. of .367, which includes 5 doubles! One of my favorites, Casper Wells, has the most RBIs on the team with 12. He has hit 2 home runs, 3 doubles, and 1 triple.

In response to the big hitters, strong Dustin Ackley (.292 average) has moved to 8th in the order. This might prove to be a fantastic opportunity for him to perform. Franklin Gutierrez is another of those great players that we hope to see shine this year. Both players are formidable, and have so much to offer—it just hasn’t happened yet for them, and something must change, or nothing will come of their presence on the field.

There are no Felix Hernandez ABs to talk about just yet!

More spring training games are now being televised on Root Sports. Tune in this week Thursday and Saturday to view the new team!

Ashley Crane is on Twitter. Follow her at @WildAshC

About Arran Gimba