Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Game 77: The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald

Before the season started, some (including myself) thought that the Mariners were the favorites to win the AL West. They added Cliff Lee, Chone Figgins and Milton Bradley to a team that finished a solid 85-77 last year. After parting ways with Figgins, John Lackey and Vlad Guerrero, it appeared the Angels' reign atop the division was in jeopardy.

Instead of being somewhat of a surprise team in 2010, the Mariners are surprisingly bad. To start, they were outscored on the year and had an expected record of 75-87, so the foundation they were building upon was somewhat shaky. Many traditional baseball thinkers doubted that their mostly-pitching-and-defense mode of roster construction could work, and so far this season - although you couldn't tell by last night's game - it certainly hasn't. They are a dismal 14 behind the Rangers just 76 games into the season, in last place in the West by four in the loss column. Three weeks ago Dave Cameron at U.S.S. Mariner summed up their season to date thusly.

The biggest culprit is their offense. The M's are in last place in runs scored, home runs, doubles and slugging percentage and second to last in batting average and on base percentage. Only two of the players in their starting lineup (Ichiro and Franklin Gutierrez) have an OPS+ better than league average. First base and designated hitter, the two positions that should be the easiest to find offensive production at, have been especially dismal, the production while occupying those roles checking in at a 42 & 43 OPS+, respectively. The reacquisition of Russell Branyan should be a boost to the former and parting ways with Ken Griffey has already helped with the latter, but it's probably too little, too late.

There's about 60% of the season left and their pitching staff has performed admirably, but it's hard to imagine that Seattle can leapfrog Oakland, Texas and Anaheim and win the division, and that's what they'll need to do because the Wild Card is almost certainly coming from the East. The Mariner's season may be sunk, but they still provide an extremely tough matchup for the Yankees once again tonight as King Felix takes on Javier Vazquez.

They might have split up or they might have capsized
They may have broke deep and took water
And all that remains is the faces and the names
Of the wives and the sons and the daughters.

Brett Gardner's wrist keeps him on the bench for the second straight night. In his stead, Colin Curtis gets his first Major League start. Jorge Posada is the DH for the second consecutive night.
Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Colin Curtis LF
Francisco Cervelli C

Javier Vazquez RHP
Ichiro RF
Chone Figgins 2B
Russell Braynan 1B
Milton Bradley DH
Jose Lopez 3B
Franklin Gutierrez CF
Jack Wilson SS
Michael Saunders LF

Felix Hernandez RHP

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