Shoplifter's Row

Did you guys seriously just steal a jolly rancher - USA TODAY Sports

Fear the heart of the order as they might steal a Laffy Taffy and perhaps a pepperoni stick but probably won't kill anybody.

Introduction: Hi there. I'm Scott. I've been writing around "The Net" (with that girl from the bus) for the better part of the last decade. You may remember me from such previous sites as Pro Ball NW and Absolutepunk.net, although probably not the latter, and probably not at all. Thanks for having me.

The 2013 Seattle Mariners offense is going to be more entertaining than the soul crushing boredom we've had in the past few years. The team's fascination with corner outfielders and guys who should be playing 1st base or DH is at an all time high, and most of them carry some sort of power threat. It's evident that Raul Ibanez still has some notable power left, Michael Morse killed a satellite yesterday, Kendrys Morales has plenty of pop when he isn't being Bill Gramatica, Jesus Montero could benefit from the fences, and Jason Bay could make this team so we can spend too many words talking about him and what he could but probably won't be. One thing seems certain, the Seattle Mariners are going to funk more blasts.

As Geoff Baker notes today, the team is going to possess an actual middle of the order worth paying attention to for once, and that's not insignificant. For once opposing pitchers are going to have to strategize around a group of hitters. A whole group! In Seattle! Sure, they can probably exploit the generally terrible plate discipline of Morse and Montero, but general discomfort!

The heart of the order is likely going to be some mix of Michael Morse, Jesus Montero, Kendrys Morales, and Justin Smoak. 44% of a lineup consists of a heart! Let's ignore the fact that all 4 of those players should probably be playing DH or 1B and talk about offense. While believing in Smoak's ability to turn it around is a good way to fill your summer with regret, there is at least a semi-viable threat of home runs from the 3-5 spots, and plenty of room for improvement. Even if Smoak and/or Montero disappoint, the 3/4 part of this lineup, as Baker notes, is a bigger threat than we've seen under Z's regime. It's going to be fun. In recent years, as soon as the M's fell behind the game often felt over, especially at home. There's a lot of hollow narrative spouted about falling attendance, but some of it rings true. It's hard to imagine having a section of the lineup to look forward to, to anticipate their upcoming at-bats. For at least a few months, the Mariners are going to have that. And from an irrationally non-analytic standpoint, we're going to enjoy watching pitchers squirm, or at least adjust their cup in discomfort. Take that.

The Mariners offense isn't fully evolved. There's a lot of development that needs to happen in order for it to be truly fearsome, and for the first time in years it doesn't seem like an impossibility. We're a long way from getting an offense that could be called murderous. But this is a gang of miscreants that's hanging out at the mini-mart for too long. They may or may not steal something. And there's a chance it could be more than the Twizzlers. It could be a whole box of raspberry Fig Newtons. You might think about using the silent alarm but realize it's not worth the trouble. You probably won't have to grab your shotgun. But at least you have to pay attention. That's a welcome change.

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