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One Man Believes in the Mariners

Before you ask, no, I'm not that man. Instead, the writer in question is Larry Stone, the baseball writer for the Seattle Times. He can't put his finger on why the Mariners are coming through with wins, but he seems awfully over-reliant on the team's je ne sais quoi to justify his emotionally-driven findings.

That being said, despite the fact that emotional ties to bottomless fries and a guacamole burger may have had in bringing Stone over to the hopeful side, there are reasons to think that he could be on to something with the Mariners. The trick is that it depends entirely on Seattle's pitching.

Without question, Felix Hernandez has the kind of stuff that can carry a team. His 4-0, 2.38 ERA start to the season is strong enough testament to that. Without question, if Erik Bedard is back near his Baltimore best -- and his 2-1, 2.61 ERA sure looks like he is -- he can be one of the best No. 2 starters in baseball. With a lot of questions, Jarrod Washburn could become a key third starter with the stuff to keep the Mariners competitive in the division. And hey, you never know with the likes of Carlos Silva, Chris Jakubauskas and whoever else Seattle throws out there to eat up the other starts.

That's the good news. The bad news -- and where Stone's argument falls apart -- is with the team's hitting. Quite frankly, the Mariners just can't hit well enough to keep pace with the Angels and the A's. On the team's entire active roster, there is not a single player with an on base percentage above .400. Only one Seattle batter has shown any penchant for power, and Russell Branyan -- despite six home runs -- has struck out a whopping 19 times.

Put it all together, and you've got a lineup with a couple of batters who are overachieving already and a pitching staff that will start to feel pressure to throw shutouts as the season progresses. Add in the loss of closer J.J. Putz in the offseason, and even Brendan Morrow's strong start isn't enough of a security blanket to convince most fans that this is Seattle's year.

Then again, Larry Stone isn't most fans, and he has a guacamole burger to prove it. If the Mariners are still in the AL West hunt six months from now, Stone deserves all the credit in the world for calling it first ... and maybe a Red Robin gift certificate to boot.

By Cameron Smith  |  May 6, 2009; 1:55 PM ET
Categories:  Mariners  
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Next: Talking Behind Their Back: Rays

Comments

Well, take it the next step. why's the pitching doing so much better this year than it did last year?

Hint: the answer's the same reason the Rays pitching did so much better last year than the year before that.

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | May 6, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

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