Seattle Mariners Tickets – King Felix Needs Some Help in 2011

December 20, 2010


Felix Hernandez has once again been among the very best pitchers in the entire league, yet he has a record under .500 due to the lackluster team around him.  As King Felix enters his prime, he’s on a team that has had trouble pulling the pieces together amidst a slew of bad signings and players that simply haven’t worked out.  Still, the Mariners have some nice young pieces to build around and they have a stud pitcher anchoring their otherwise subpar starting rotation.  However, if the Mariners want to keep Hernandez happy in Seattle, they have to start pulling their franchise together now while he’s entering his peak years.

The season started very promising for the Seattle Mariners.  After Hernandez was a finalist for the Cy Young in 2009, the Mariners added stud pitcher Cliff Lee to their rotation, making their starting staff as formidable as any other team in the league.  Offensively, they added the speedy Chone Figgins and Milton Bradley, which seemed to be at least a moderate upgrade from 2009.  After finishing above .500 last year the Mariners figured they could make some serious noise in the A.L. West and many even predicted that they could win the division.

Despite the expectations, however, the team simply never materialized as it seemed like it might on paper.  Figgins got off to a horrible start, Milton Bradley went Milton Bradley, and Hernandez struggled out of the box without much run support to back him up.  Mariners hero Ken Griffey Jr. was even forced into retirement after he mistook the clubhouse bench for a Sealy Posturepedic.  Cliff Lee started the season on the D.L. and didn’t pitch for the Mariners until a month into the season.  By that time, the damage was largely already done as the Mariners had fallen well behind the rest of the division.  As of Aug. 12, the Mariners were an atrocious 27 games below .500, giving them the third worst record in the entire league.  For a team that has a fairly large payroll, the season couldn’t have gone much worse.

But apart from Lee’s brief dominance before being traded, Hernandez has been the diamond in the rough.  With a 2.73 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP and a fantastic strike to walkout ratio, Hernandez has been as good as almost any pitcher in the league not named Josh Johnson or Cliff Lee, yet his record was a mind-boggling 8-9 after 25 starts this season.  Though Hernandez has certainly helped sell <a rel=”nofollow” onclick=”javascript:_gaq.push([‘_trackPageview’, ‘/outgoing/article_exit_link’]);” href=””>Seattle Mariners tickets</a>, the rest of the team simply hasn’t supported him all season.

The biggest problem for the Mariners, of course, is a complete lack of power.  In a power-driven league, the Mariners are 30th in home runs, 30th in hits and 30th in runs scored.  With 70 percent of the season over with, the Mariners top homerun guy is Franklin Gutierrez with just 10 long balls.  Even Ichiro is having a sub-par season with a .311 batting average.

But all is certainly not lost for the Mariners, even though they seem destined to finish at the very bottom of the A.L. West standings this season.   In shipping out Lee at the trade deadline, they managed to get Justin Smoak away from the Rangers – a highly sought-after prospect who fills the enormous hole that the Mariners had at first base.  Though Smoak didn’t fare well this season and was eventually sent back to the minors to work on his swing, he’s still a young and talented player who should be able to eventually flip the switch to be a major part of the team.  The brightest spot, however, is outfielder Dustin Ackley, who was the second overall pick behind Stephen Strasburg in the 2009 draft.  Ackley has been tearing up Minor Leagues and is expected to be called up sometime before the end of the season.

With those pieces in place, and with King Felix under contract for quite a few more seasons, the Mariners need to find a way to get a big bat into the middle of their lineup that the offense can build around.  Gutierrez is a nice player but is not suited to be the third hitter in a big league lineup.  Ichiro, who has been one of the best players in the entire league since coming to Seattle a decade ago, also is getting up there in age and won’t have too many more years of peak play.

For a team with a sizeable payroll like Seattle, the Mariners need to start showing Hernandez that they’re building a winner that can get him the wins that he deserves.  There are reasons to be excited about the future for Seattle, with Hernandez certainly being a big factor, but the Mariners need to start pulling it together before they waste the peak seasons of one of the most talented starting pitchers in the league.



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