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In the last 48 hours the Seattle Mariners have lost two games, scored two runs and wasted one fantastic pitching debut from a rookie.
Is this 2007? Or 2012? Or 2017? Or….You get the picture. It’s been a long 20-plus years of playoff futility for the team just up the I-5 Corridor, but 2022 is supposed to be different. Led by young stars like Julio Rodriguez, Jarred Kelenic and Matt Brash, many publications around the country actually picked Seattle to end the longest postseason drought in professional sports.
Through five games, the Mariners are 2-3. Is it time to worry? Mariners beat writer Corey Brock from The Athletic stops by to give us an update about where the M’s stand after the first week.
Is this a year to pay attention to the kids or to actually go all in as a playoff supporting fan?
You can do both. I think we started to see signs of this last year when the Mariners somehow won 90 games despite having one of the worst offenses in baseball. You remember that final series against the Angels? Three games. Three sold out crowds. I think people are starving to come back out and support a winner. There’s exciting young players and they made a trade in spring training that hopefully will improve their offense.
I think it'll be a wildly fascinating year. I mean, I can't sit here and say today that the Mariners will win 90 games again. In fact, I don't think they will. But with the expanded playoffs, I think there is certainly a greater opportunity for them to get into the postseason.
I think these guys are trending upwards and there might still be a move or two to make here with this group. They may have to go out and get another bat. I thought they were a bat short coming out of spring training. You don't want to read too much into these early results, but I still think scoring runs might be a little bit of a struggle for them.
But again, I think the pitching is really good. So we'll see where this leads them.
When you first started at The Athletic you really dove into the rebuilding of the Mariners farm system. Where do you see it now that those young players are at a point where they’re being called up to the big leagues?
The farm was pretty bad before they went down the rebuild path and they’ve acquired a lot of young players over the last three or four years. Some have panned out — some haven’t — and I think generally the farm system has gotten a lot better. They’ve drafted very well. There was a stretch there where they took three college pitchers with their first pick — Logan Gilbert, George Kirby and Emerson Hancock — and what it’s done is, by building your farm system up, it can not only help you at the Big League level, but you can end up using some of those assets to get you win-now players.
And that’s what they did.
They traded Brandon Williamson, one of their top left-handed prospects, to the Reds in February for Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winkler, and there still may be more trades coming. I think a lot of people in the industry really think a lot about the Mariners prospects, some of which they have no intention of trading and rightfully so. But there are still a few people and a few players that they can move.
When you’re not the Dodgers or the Yankees or the Red Sox, these competitive windows are pretty finite. When it opens a little bit and you get your foot in the door, you better take advantage of it. I think they view their window as now — this year and next year. They already brought up Kelenic and Gilbert last year. Julio Rodriguez is here now. Matt Brash had a big year in the minor leagues last year. So they have some guys.
Now, can those guys help them or indirectly help them by being a part of a trade? I seem to think that [General Manager Jerry Dipoto] will go out and get a bat. You can’t do that in April and May when teams are just kind of settling into their lineups and want to see what their guys can do. But I do think this roster could look different, maybe even dramatically different, by the end of the season.
For more from Corey on the Mariners, listen in the podcast player above or find us over on Apple or Spotify.
— Tyson Alger