I'm just going to come right out and say it...
With the exception of Justin Smoak, our youth shows not only in lack of consistent production but also in physical presence. I'd like to cal this "the wimp factor," that is, the limitation of what can reasonably be achieved by the current Mariners roster due to a lack of intimidating physical stature.
The phrase "Young Core" has become colloquial in the Mariners media/blogosphere. I'm on board with this terminology and the concept behind it. The team is very, very young and nowhere near as good as it will/could be, in the years to come. But what we don't talk about is the apparent a lack of physical presence in young players. Dominant young players (including Felix four years ago) not only bring talent, but a physical presence to the field of play. My argument is that Dustin Ackley is just now growing into a sizable physical presence. He's thickening up and playing baseball more like a veteran. But take one look at Nick Franklin, Brad Miller, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, Mike Zunino, Erasmo Ramirez, Adraham Almonte, and Carlos Triunfel and their youth shows. Youth is synonymous with innocence, apprehension, fear, nerves and budding confidence. Baseball is a battle and these young men are daily going toe to toe with seasoned veterans and all-stars.
While our young core has definitely made a positive impact on our roster (if nothing but to relieve us of the likes of Chone Figgins, Aaron Harang, Brendan Ryan, Michael Morse, and other mediocre veterans), the fact still remains that we are young...and small...and not very intimidating.
The team's production is negatively impacted by a lack of physical presence from our young core. Until the Mariners can bring a strong physical presence and talented consistent performance, I do not forsee the Mariners fielding a team that will be evaluated as a legitimate threat to contending teams.