Jey Young/ Ball Boy Blog
Is it time to temper expectations? Is it time to look towards 2023? Is it time to move on to a new manager? Is the plan still working? In today's post, I will answer all these questions and more that you and I are both asking about the Seattle Mariners.
The Seattle Mariners finished the 2021 1 game shy of breaking the longest playoff drought across all professional sports: NBA, NFL, MLB, NFL, MLS, and WNBA. The expectations were high coming into 2022 as many fans, analysts, and experts alike had this 2022 Mariners team winning the AL West AND making the playoffs.
The Mariner's early returns on the following bets tell part of the story that has gone wrong this season. As of June 16th, heading into the night's game against the Angels, the Mariners sit at 28-35, in 4th place in the AL West, and 11.0G out 1st. However, only 2.5 games out of 2nd, but6G out of the 3rd Wild sport with roughly 99 games to go. I am talking about the bets: Kyle Lewis would be ready to go earlier than he was, Jarred Kelenic's 2021 September performance was a sign of things to come, and Mitch Haniger would stay healthy and repeat performance. Haniger being healthy was necessary as his bat is missed; he was pacing for 45+HR at the time of injury, and I am confident he would be pacing Aaron Judge for the AL MVP.
The bets that haven't worked out continue: C Luis Torrens' bat was legit and sustainable, and repeat career years for Jesse Winker, Adam Frazier, Drew Steckenrider, Paul Sewald, Casey Sadler, and Cy Young winner Robbie Ray.
Out of all those bets, the following players are injured and underperformed: Mitch Haniger went on the Covid-IL on April 15th; as he was preparing to return, he got a high ankle sprain. Kyle Lewis took the amount of time expected to return, then caught a tough break, got hit in the head, and was out with a concussion. Casey Sadler got hurt in spring training. Drew Steckenrider and Jarred Kelenic both struggled and were optioned to AAA. SP Matt Brash was named the Mariner's opening day 5th starter and struggled out of the gate, holding back Geroge Kirby for five starts, as Brash was also optioned and has been converted to a reliever. Adam Fraizer has not received regular playing time at 2B and has struggled. Winker has been moved all around the lineup and has yet to get going. Abe Toro has shown that he is not the Mariner's regular utility INF. However, he has been somewhat unlucky. Robbie has not adjusted to Seattle quite yet.
We have two other managers fired due to poor performance, so let's begin there to see what the problem might be. The Mariners have 5 All-Stars, a potential RoY in Julio Rodriguez, and the reigning Cy Young, winner. The two managers fired were Joe Maddon(Angels) and Joe Girardi(Phillies). Scott Servias took over at the helm of the Mariners in 2016 and held a 466-467 record as the Mariners manager. Since 2020, if we compare to the likes of Maddon and Girardi, he is 145-140 and missed the playoffs in 2020 and 2021 by one or two games. Girardi was 132-141 and Maddon 130-146 at the time of the firings.
The problem likely isn't Servias. However, we may have seen peak Servias in 2021 with his 2nd place finish in Manager of the Year. The Mariners are young; Servias isn't old as he is 55yo. However, we have seen in 2022 that the poor decision-making with the poor lineup manipulation, poor choice of pitch-hitters when he is changing pitchers, and the use of data to win games has been highly questionable.
The Mariners need a new voice; 1B coach and former Mariner Kris Negron went 4-1 while Servias was out with Covid. Negron was 78-52 in his first year managing in 2021 with the Mariners AAA affiliate, the Tacoma Rainers. The Rainiers also won the AAA West's West Division. Could Negron be the answer? Could another former player like Mike Cameron, Ichiro, or Joey Cora(currently serving as the Met's 3B coach). Could it be a former manager like Joe Maddon, Mike Schildt, or another name on the open market? The answer is that the Mariners relieve Servias of his duties, roll with Negron for the rest of the season, and see what happens.
The rotation as of May 27th has been fantastic. Chris Flexen 23.2IP, 3.04ERA. Logan Gilbert 25.0IP, 1.44ERA. Marco Gonzales 25.1IP 2.84ERA. Geroge Kirby 17.0IP 2.65ERA. Robbie Ray 17.0IP, 3.71ERA. Overall 108IP, 32ER, 2.67ERA. The record since May 27th, 10-8. It's not the rotation so much up to this point.
The bullpen in June has been an issue: Andres Munoz 6.0IP, 4.50ERA. Sergio Romo 4.2IP 15.43ERA. Matt Festa 3.2IP 7.36ERA. Roenis Elias 2.2IP 6.75ERA. While the likes of Penn Murfee, Paul Sewald, Diego Castillo, Erik Swanson, and Anthony Misiewicz have all done their part thus far. As a pitching staff, they have allowed 57R, and opponents hold a .221OBA
The month of June for the offense has brought a team .222/.319/.373 with a .691OPS for the team. The Mariners have been undisciplined at the plate with 124K-57BB. The following M's have played in at least 11G this month and have been getting on base at an elite clip- Eugenio Suarez .387, Jesse Winker .372, Julio Rodriguez .373, JP Crawford .370, and Dylan Moore .480. While the OBP numbers aren't awful, the offense has only scored 52R as a team during June.
The offensive problem for M's are that Ty France is 12-56 in June, Toro has a .157OBP, and Frazier has a .193OBP, and with Toro being a typical DH and Frazier being an everyday player expected to get on base at the top of the order, and with the best player in France slumping slightly, cap it off with Kyle Lewis still dealing with a concussion the offense needs HELP!
Let's wrap off this 2022 Mariners talk up with some of the positive things and bets that have hit this season. Julio Rodriguez, the leader for the AL Rookie of the Year, has shown to be a day-one star and has played, in my opinion, Gold Glove-caliber defense in CF. Eugenio Suarez has bounced back since late May, especially in June. Ty France and JP Crawford have put together All-Star-worthy nods. At the same time, George Kirby has shown to be an absolute fixture in the Mariners rotation. Jarred Kelenic is showing that he is finding it again and is having fun playing, making mental adjustments and body language adjustments in 22G at AAA. He has a .304/.354/.598 slash with 6HR.
With just under 100G to go and 6G out of the Wild Card, the Mariners still have a chance to make the playoffs with a strong remainder of June and the rest of the season. Temper expectations slightly; don't look towards 2023, the plan is still working, and yes, the Mariners need to change the manager position. If the M's want to finish this season at 90W again, they need to 62-37 the remainder of the season to have a legit shot at the end of the drought.
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