2019 isn’t a season that is will be particularly special for the Seattle Mariners. Or is it?
General manager Jerry Dipoto has already said that he doesn’t expect much this year. In an interview with 710 ESPN Seattle he was quoted saying that, “We believe that we have gotten younger, we’ve gotten more sustainable, and while we wouldn’t anticipate that we are a threat to win the World Series in 2019 we do feel like we are better situated to do this come 2020, 2021.” So he’s saying that we have to wait another 2-3 years for the playoffs. I don’t believe that. The only reason is that I’m “that guy” who always thinks that every year is “our year.”
One should look at 2019 season as a season where the Mariners could do what the 2018 Athletics did. Not in the trade business per-say. But in a way in which they shock everyone in the league and those watching.
Bleacher Report last year projected the A’s to finish dead last in the American League West with a projected record of 72-90. Yet Oakland went on perhaps the luckiest run of any team ever seen, and what did they do? They ruined the Mariners playoff chances again.
The A’s finished the 2018 season with an impressive 97-65 record and were second in the Wild Card. What was there secret? Well, trades for one thing; but they were also young. The Mariners have done just that this season – they’ve gotten younger. This offseason has done both helped and hurt the Mariners. Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Alex Colome, James Paxton, Jean Segura, Mike Zunino, Ben Gamel, and the one that hurt the most, Edwin Diaz, have all gone.
In these trades, the Mariners have acquired both veterans and top prospects. The big prospects have come from the Diaz/Cano deal. In that trade, Seattle got veteran Jay Bruce and top prospects Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, and Gerson Batista. The other veterans acquired in trades were Edwin Encarnacion and Carlos Santana. The Segura trade also saw shortstop J.P. Crawford being acquired. Near the end of December, they also acquired Domingo Santana from the Milwaukee Brewers. Then two days into the new year Jerry Dipoto landed top Japanese free agent Yusei Kikuchi, which has helped bolster the loss of Paxton.
This ball club now has become younger and more dangerous. What Dipoto has done with these trades is monumental. He’s bolstered the farm system and he’s created a younger and hungry team. Now, getting back to this season, no one is expecting this team to win more than 72-79 games. Since I’m “that guy,” and with this young team ready to shock the world, this Mariners team has the potential to have another 89 games this year and make a Wild Card run again.
I’ve said that this Mariners team, with the talent they have waiting in a couple of seasons, have the potential to not just finally end that playoff drought. But within 10 years, this Mariners team could bring home one if not two World Series trophies! Yeah, I just said that. The current top prospects the Mariners have lying in their farm system are the secret to winning it all.
The Mariners 18-year old Dominican, the diamond in the rough, Julio Rodriguez, is expected to start the season along with Kelenic in Low-A West Virginia and could end up in Double-A Arkansas if things pan out. Kyle Lewis is expected to start the season in Arkansas. If he can stay healthy he could end up in Triple-A Tacoma near the end of the season. The key for him is to stay healthy.
The Mariners top first basemen prospect Evan White is expected to spend the bulk of the season in Double-A. Shed Long is a different story. Talk about a big pickup, Shed is expected to be Dee Gordon’s replacement at second base. With him finishing a full season in Double-A he is expected to start in Triple-A Tacoma this season. Shed was picked up in the Sonny Gray deal and what a steal it was, trading Josh Stowers for him.
Back to the majors, the team doesn’t have the best rotation, but they do have an offense that has Mitch Haniger and Kyle Seager in the lineup and they now have more speed as well in that lineup. Seager is coming off his worst season and there were talks of Dipoto possibly unloading his contract as well.
Here is my take on the upcoming season: I’d say the Mariners may win a maximum of 77 games if they’re lucky. From a fans perspective, I think this Seattle team will shock the baseball world and win 89 games and end the longest playoff drought in American sports.
The Mariners will find a way to sneak their way into the 2019 MLB playoffs, and within 10 years they’ll be hoisting up a World Series trophy. How awesome would that be?
Seattle isn’t known for being a championship city. Though over the last six years we’ve seen the Seahawks, Sounders, and the Storm win championships for the city. So there’s hope for the Mariners. Let’s just hope that if this projected winning does take place that Seattle will once again return to being a baseball town. This Mariners team are about to become perhaps the most dangerous team in the American League very soon.