Friday, July 20, 2007

Mariners Winning with Mediocrity

It has been a wonderful half season watching the Mariners this year. After winning 116 games in 2001, the team fell into the doldrums. Lou Piniella left, along with his demand for execution. Many of the role players that were so important to the team's success - guys like Mark Mac Elmore and Mike Cameron - left or retired. The team signed disappointing free agents like Jeff Cirillo and developed few key guys. They hired a manager in Bob Melvin, who came from a team that bought players and let them play - never the style of the Mariners or of Piniella. They didn't play, nor did he. This year, though, there is a new feeling. They have a team that is mediocre at the plate, but so balanced that the bottom third drives in nearly as many runs as the middle third of the order. They have no guy who comes through nightly, but eight or nine guys who come through pretty regularly. They have only one guy - Ichiro - hitting .300 (though Vidro is next door at .298), but they have seven hitting better than .270. The bullpen is lights out with five guys, with JJ Putz perfect at closing out wins thus far. Two-out hitting is strong, and the team moves base runners up consistently. The defense has been good, but not exceptional. All together, it adds up to a team that wins more than loses, comes back to win often, and gives fans the feeling that they are never out of the game. I wouldn't bet the farm on this team winning any particular game, but they seem to be a pretty good bet to win most any series (even if it is 3-2 or 4-3). Though there are few feeling better in sports than when your baseball team is making a run like the Mariners made in 1995 or 2001, I am more than happy to have a team like this to watch. Good, but not great. Winning through consistent team play. Never out of it. Add to this the outstanding experience that is Safeco Field in any weather, and it is a good summer for a Seattle baseball fan.

1 comment:

Michael Burt said...

And, they just lost their fifth game in a row since my post. I must resist the urge to mention the Mariners...

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