2013 American League Preview: Seattle Mariners

Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE

Let's Go Tribe's look at the Indians' competition around the American League continues with the Seattle Mariners, who look to climb out of the A.L. West basement after three straight seasons there.

Seattle Mariners

2012 Record: 75-87 (4th in A.L. West), 4-4 vs. Cleveland

619 runs scored (14th of 14 in A.L.), 651 runs allowed (3rd of 14 in A.L.)

Seattle's 2012 season was marked by two major events: The departure of one of the best players in franchise history and probably the greatest single-game performance in franchise history by another Mariner great. The team was sitting on a 42-55 after their game on July 22, in last place and 15.5 games back from 1st place. It had already proven to be another lost season. In what can only be described as an act of mercy, Seattle traded future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki to the New York Yankees, where he would (unfortunately) get the chance to play in the playoffs for the first time since his first season in America.

Four weeks later, Mariners fans were given something for their troubles, when Felix Hernandez pitched the first perfect game in franchise history, striking out 12 Tampa Bay Rays along the way. The offseason saw Seattle make a series of moves, including trading away John Jaso, who was their best hitter in 2012, and Jason Vargas, who was their second-best pitcher. Neither trade brought back any substantial return for the present or future, leaving many Seattle fans unhappy.

Emotions were very different when it was announced last month that the team had agreed to a massive extension with Hernandez, which will pay him $175 million for the next seven seasons. Obviously there is a huge amount of risk involved in such a deal and it could certainly come back to hurt the team by hindering their ability to use that money on other players. Today is not the time for that, because today they have one of the greatest pitchers in baseball. As they're fond of saying at Lookout Landing, "Felix is ours and you can't have him."

Key off-season additions:

Robert Andino (2B), Jason Bay (OF/DH), Raul Ibanez (OF), Kameron Loe (RP), Kendrys Morales (1B/DH), Michael Morse (OF/1B), Joe Saunders (SP), Kelly Shoppach (C)

Key off-season departures:

John Jaso (C), Kevin Millwood (SP), Miguel Olivo (C), Trayvon Robinson (OF), Jason Vargas (SP)

2013 Payroll: ~$81 million

Projected 2013 Starting Lineup (with ZiPS fWAR projection):

Pos

Player

Projected WAR

C

Jesus Montero

3

1B

Justin Smoak

1

2B

Dustin Ackley

3

3B

Kyle Seager

3

SS

Brendan Ryan

2

LF

Michael Morse

1

CF

Franklin Gutierrez

2

RF

Michael Saunders

2

DH

Morales/Bay

2

TOTAL

19

Indian Killers:

Kyle Seager - 53 PA, .412/.434/.647, 1.081 OPS, 1 HR, 10 R, 3 RBI

Almost all of his damage against the Tribe came in one series at Progressive Field in August of 2011, when Seager went 10 for 14 with 18 total bases. Let's not have that happen again... ever... by anyone.

Jason Bay - 70 PA, .328/.400/.590, .990 OPS, 4 HR, 10 R, 18 RBI

Bay has hit like Joe DiMaggio against the Indians, but Bay couldn't hit his weight in 2012, so I wouldn't be too worried.

Projected 2013 Starting Rotation/Bullpen (with ZiPS fWAR projection):

Pos

Player

Projected WAR

1

Felix Hernandez

5

2

Joe Saunders

1

3

Hisashi Iwakuma

2

4

Erasmo Ramirez

1

5

Blake Beavan

0

RP

Bullpen

1

TOTAL

10

After suffering through some of the lowest scoring of any team of the last forty years in recent seasons, the Mariners have moved in the fences for 2013, which will lead to more balls leaving the yard and should increase offense overall. Their lineup is still fairly weak (though their team defense should be good, led by Ryan, one of the very best defenders in baseball), so while their numbers will likely go up, their true production is going to be below average.

Meanwhile, the smaller dimensions may expose what (after Felix) seems like a weak group of pitchers. Seattle does have one of the strongest farm systems in baseball right now, with strong pitchers and position players, so things should get better eventually. I expect some of those top prospects to be up by June or at least get a September call up, but it won't be enough to make a major impact on the wins and losses in 2013. At least with the Astros moving into the division, the Mariners should climb out of the basement, so there's that.

PECOTA Projection: 78-84 (4th in West), 656 runs scored, 680 runs allowed

Cairo Projection: 73-89 (4th in West), 668 runs scored, 724 runs allowed

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