The Pulse of COMC – How will the Seattle Mariners Do in 2019?

Welcome to ‘The Pulse of COMC’ , a new monthly blog series where we give our team members a chance to be heard on topics ranging from sports to pop culture and everything in between! For our inaugural flight, we’re turning our attention to our local beloved Seattle Mariners baseball team.

Following another failed attempt at earning a playoff spot in 2018, the Seattle Mariners made some drastic off season roster changes, parting ways with established superstars and key players while in return replenishing their farm system with younger talent expected to make an impact in 2020 and beyond.  The Mariners have stated that their plan is to be competitive in the future, leaving a lot of question marks for what could be a ‘results may vary’ 2019.
 
With that in mind, we asked our team to answer the following questions:
 
How many games will the Mariners win in 2019?
 
“I think the Mariners have enough upside to be a .500 team. A lot key veterans were traded away, but I don’t think this will be the 100-loss disaster a lot of people are foreseeing. I’ll put my win/loss prediction at 79-83. It’s tricky because Edwin Encarnacion and Jay Bruce add pop to the lineup, but could be traded if they perform well enough and will make it tougher to reach the .500 plateau with their absence.”  – Dieter V.
 
 
“The Seattle Mariners certainly had an overhaul of sorts, with a projected six new starters in the lineup, and do not quite have the look of a contender. However, how much did they really lose? Looking at the numbers shows you that the losses weren’t extreme. Going out was a combined 90 HR, 322 RBI, 33 SB, and a combined slash line of .263/.331/.421. The one caveat to these numbers is the fact that Robinson Cano only appeared in 80 games due to suspension and his overall production will be the toughest to replace. All in all these numbers are not hard to replace and they brought in a lot of power over the off-season with Edwin Encarnacion, Domingo Santana, and Jay Bruce while pairing that with athleticism in guys like Mallex Smith, J.P. Crawford, and Shed Long. The pitching staff remains largely the same with the exception of Yusei Kikuchi taking over for the departed James Paxton.
 
Overall I would be hard pressed to say that this team is worse, on paper, in 2019 compared to 2018 however they still have the look and feel of a rebuilding team. If they finish above .500 I would call it an over-achievement so I will make my proclamation that they finished the season with a 80-82 record.” – Kyle S.
 
“Even though the team lost a lot of fan-favorites and key producers, I look at our projected roster and I see a group of guys with plenty of high upside, but more importantly, plenty of heart and desire to play the game at a high level. I think we took a step backwards, but it won’t be as miserable as most expect. 77 wins sounds about right.” James G.
 
“Not as many as my beloved Yankees and more than my hometown Texas Rangers. Probably around 76-77″Rich K.
 
“70”Sam P.
 
“65”Darren F.
 
“Some; I mean statistically, they have to, right?”Joseph H.
 
How do you feel about the off season changes the team made?
 
“Domingo Santana was a sneaky pickup who has a few years of team control and already has a 30 HR season under his belt at the MLB level. If Kyle Seager and/or Dee Gordon return to form, the Mariners offense could be above average. Pitching is where there are some issues. King Felix has lost his crown, Mike Leake and Wade LeBlanc are #3 or #4 starters at best. Marco Gonzales is not a true ace, and Yusei Kikuchi is a #2 or #3. With no dominant starter and a patchwork bullpen, we could see a lot of runs allowed.
 
I love the acquisition of Jarred Kelenic in the trade with the Mets. He could be the future face of the franchise. If he builds on how he performed as an 18 year old, he’ll be a top 25 prospect in all of MLB heading into 2020. Kyle Lewis is finally healthy and having a strong showing this Spring. The future of the M’s outfield looks very promising.”Dieter V.
 
“How do I feel? This team robbed me of my ability to feel, long ago. Rebuilding isn’t necessarily a bad thing… but the timing and implementation of these moves… doesn’t make a ton of sense.
 
First off: Hunter Strickland is not a closer. Hunter Strickland is a moron.Secondly, How did we not trade Nelson Cruz at the deadline last year? And instead let him walk… for nothing? How much more was Cano worth after his 2017 season? Why trade Mallex Smith the first time? We ended up paying more for literally the same player we already had.I think Edwin Diaz and Mike Zunino were a larger part of the M’s 2018 “success” than most people realize. I actually like Jay Bruce and Edwin Encarnacion – it’s too bad they aren’t going to be in our lineup past June.
 
Lastly, I think it was disrespectful to Felix Hernandez and his career in Seattle, not to go for the playoffs, in the final year of his contract.  Whatever you think of King Felix… this franchise owed it to him, to try and contend… TWO front office extensions were tenured on the assumption that we were fielding a competitive team. What impact player did Dipoto acquire mid-season? Oh yeah, Cameron Maybin. To me, these off-season moves were nearly all front-office justification — for their inability to field a contender… or even, a wildcard team. It’s a lot easier to fail if you don’t give fans the expectation that you’ll succeed.” – Sam P
 
“Having been a die-hard M’s fan in the 90’s and 2000’s, it pains me to say that for almost a decade now I haven’t cared nearly as much. I used to go to a few games a season and yet I’ve only been to a couple the past few seasons. So even though five big names are gone from last season’s epic fade job, I never grew attached to them and don’t plan on doing so with this new crop of supposed high-level talent.”Darren F.
 
“The changes made were a necessary evil. The core they had proved unfit to get the team to the playoffs and being a middle-of-the-road franchise has been growing tiresome for the team and the fan-base. They needed to blow up the team and start as fresh as they could and they did that. In my eyes the off season was successful in the now but the player development department will need to work overtime to ensure it is successful in the future. Bringing in top prospects in Jarred Kelenic, Justus Sheffield, Justin Dunn, Erik Swanson, and Shed Long really stocked up a very depleted farm system that at the time only had Evan White and Kyle Lewis to hang their hats on. The front office says they built this team to compete by 2020 and I think these off season changes help the team outlook more for the 2021 season and beyond. They still lack starting pitching and bullpen arms to build on which is why I think the rebuild takes a year longer than they projected. However I am still happy with the way the off season went and feel refreshed that this team actually has a farm system to be excited about.”Kyle S.
 

“I question if we could have gotten more value out of James Paxton and especially Edwin Diaz, such as getting both Peter Alonso and Jarred Kelenic from the Mets. I think a lot of fans will be skeptical of that deal if Justus struggles out of the gate, and he probably will given the amount of run support he’ll receive during his first season at the MLB level. The Shed Long deal was the best move they made, and although I love me some Ben Gamel, I think the swap for Domingo Santana could go down as a Jay Buhner-esque level deal. Signing Yusei Kikuchi was smart, as is the flexible deal he signed, but feels like something of a consolation prize for missing out on Shohei Ohtani a year ago.
 
It physically pains me to suggest this, but if the team was truly committed to a building a winner in 2020 and beyond, they need to make a very tough decision on Mitch Haniger, because his value will never be higher. They need to buy out his arbitration years and extend him, building the offense around him as their superstar, or they need to ship him out for a multiple top prospect package that would give us the top farm system in the majors. Haniger is my favorite Mariner since Griffey, but it would be hard to feel terribly upset about a deal with a team like the Braves if it brought over Austin Riley, Cristian Pache, and Ian Anderson.” – James G.
 
“Thank you for James Paxton. We’ll take him even for 25 starts in NY”Rich K.
 
What do you think they could have done differently, or should do in order to bring a championship to the city of Seattle?

“Could the M’s have made some moves to compete for the division this year? Probably. But with an aging roster and falling just short of the playoffs the past couple years, hitting the reset button was appropriate to try and build sustained success with talented youth rather than go all-in with an older foundation that was nearing its end anyway.”  – Dieter V.
 
“Going into last season – they should have snagged a capable center fielder and at least 2 more, starting pitchers via free agency or trade. Guys like Scott Kazmir, Nathan Eovaldi, and Gerrit Cole – come to mind. Otherwise… they called have invented time travel, called Pete Caroll, and told him to run the ball… because that’s still a more likely way to bring a championship to Seattle… than this front office – winning a world series.
 
In all seriousness;  Going forward – we’re going to need  franchise caliber players at 1st base and center field, more than anything. IMO those are the positions to build championships around, and we aren’t going to compete or even crack the playoffs with trader Jerry’s flip-floppy decision making. Justus Sheffield becoming a James Paxton level ace is pretty much a necessity in this fantasy scenario”.Sam P.
 
“I think having a real plan and sticking to said plan would make a difference. Whether that is going all in or tanking to get better draft picks; in today’s world you either have to be aggressive and overpay/go for it or just start all over again. They are in that horrible middle realm.
 
And in all seriousness, they are heavily screwed by their location and they have to travel more than any other teams.  Not that this would make a ton of difference but a team either in Vancouver or in Portland is almost mandatory so their travel can be somewhat reduced. This puts the Mariners at a very large disadvantage every season.”Rich K.
 
“They need to bring in a world-class manager who’s actually won in the post-season. I miss Lou Piniella, and his balance between fiery accountability and down-home persona. People forget that in this franchise’s 40-plus years of existence, only one manager has led them to the playoffs (1995, 97, 2000-01). I’m not sure that Scott Servais is the man to lead them to the promised land in 2021 when this ‘Step Back’ era comes to fruition. Ironically, that would mark the 20TH anniversary of their last post-season appearance.” – Darren F.
 
“Commit. Commit. Commit. What are we doing here? Are we tearing it all down, as the off season moves suggested, or are we ‘re-imagining’ the roster as Jerry Dipoto recently suggested to dodge the tough questions? Commit to the tear down, grind through a couple of bad seasons of big league ball, and when the timing is right, move all-in and sign or trade for the guys needed to push the team into October.
 
Stop giving up on guys so early. Give Daniel Vogelbach 400-500 AB’s in 2019 to prove if he is a AAAA player, or a major league hitter capable of manning the DH role for years to come. Say farewell to Felix and Kyle Seager gracefully, or eat their contracts if they become too much of a detriment to the team. Continuing developing Marco Gonzales and Yusei Kikuchi into your top of the rotation pitchers, because Mike Leake, Wade Leblanc, and Felix Hernadez do not have a future in Seattle. And above all else, since we’re making wholesale changes, Aaron Goldsmith needs to take over for Dave Sims in the booth.”James G.
 
“They are going to have to follow the mold of the Houston Astros to find success and bring a championship to Seattle. The Astros developed an amazing offense and a couple starting pitchers and then went out and acquired two big time starters in Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. The Mariners need to do the exact same thing by getting Jarred Kelenic, Kyle Lewis, Evan White, Shed Long, and J.P. Crawford developed into above-average big league hitters and then add to a starting staff that should already include Yusei Kikuchi, Justis Sheffield, and possibly Justin Dunn or Logan Gilbert. The prospects they have are not only projected out to be excellent hitters but they possess above-average athleticism which will play a huge role playing at T-Mobile Park.
 
It is going to be a fine line between bust or success with these prospects but if they hit on a few of them they can certainly build on that and finish the team out through free agency. I could see a championship coming to Seattle by the year 2023 as I think it will take at least two years of seasoning for some of our top end prospects before they reach the majors.” – Kyle S.

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