A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE MARINERS
They've been the talk of spring training, along with Kansas City. You shouldn't get too hyped up about the spring, but they are an improved team.... Kendrys Morales and Mike Morse change the complexion of an offense that has finished last in the AL in runs for four straight years. With the fences being moved in at Safeco, I expect that streak to end.... Still, I don't think Morse is going to be a major carrier. There's a difference between being a dude and the dude. He's a dude.... I don't think Jesus Montero will ever be a good defensive catcher, and I think pressure as a catcher is going to affect his offense. His best position is DH or first base.... I don't expect catching prospect Mike Zunino, the third overall pick last year, to be in the minors too long. He can handle that staff right now.... Carlos Peguero will hit a ball 900 miles, then swing at the next 15 sliders in the dirt. He can't figure it out.... Dustin Ackley should move to the outfield; he doesn't look comfortable at second.... Felix Hernandez's new contract is dangerous. If he needs to get that extra velocity he still can, but he understands he can get by with less.... I have a tough time falling in love with short righties, but Erasmo Ramirez can throw four pitches—running his fastball up to 95.... I love their pitching prospects, especially Danny Hultzen and Taijuan Walker. Hultzen is a little more advanced, but when Walker gets there—he's only 20—he'll be there to stay. He's Dwight Gooden, Bob Gibson and J.R. Richard all in one.
2013 Projected Statistics
MANAGER ERIC WEDGE
Third season with the Mariners
LINEUPS AND STAT PROJECTIONS BY ROTOWIRE.COM
The K Meter
Percentage of 2012 plate appearances that ended with a strikeout, and major league rank
BY HITTERS | 20.8% | 23RD
BY PITCHERS | 19.2% | 18TH
Morales and Morse bring some long-awaited thunder, while the July promotions of Hultzen and Walker fortify the rotation.
More historically bad offense and a tender Hernandez elbow result in 90 losses, though not last place. (Thank you, Houston.)
Ben Reiter has more on the Mariners at SI.com/mlb
Jesus Montero has never been seen as a strong defensive catcher, and his performance as a rookie last year—seven passed balls and 19 wild pitches allowed in fewer than 500 innings; a 17% success rate throwing out stealers—did nothing to allay those concerns. With catcher Mike Zunino, Seattle's top draft pick last June, charging up the system, and very little chance the Mariners will contend in the AL West, the team needs to use 2013 to learn what it has in the 23-year-old Montero. He needs to be given most of his playing time behind the plate to either improve his skills or make it clear that he can't. Because of Montero's size (6'3", 230 pounds) and lack of speed, his only options aside from catcher are first base and DH; moving to either one would be as extreme a shift as you can make in positional value, on the order of 15 runs a season, or 15 wins in a 10-year career. The Mariners have to be sure Montero isn't a catcher before they move him to DH, and his 2012 workload behind the plate (55 starts) won't be enough to make that determination.
ROD MAR FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (HERNANDEZ)
OTTO GREULE JR./GETTY IMAGES (MONTERO)