Winter sucks. It's always rainy, windy, or cold. We have our sports, holidays, and gym memberships to help us cope with the lack of sunlight. So when spring training rolls around, us baseball fans get super geeked out of our minds because not only has baseball arrived, but the warm weather is right on its heels!! Everyone is in first place and will continue to be in first place no matter what happens through an entire month of semi-meaningful baseball. Nearly every player who puts on a major league uniform says they dropped tons of body fat and gained tons of muscle. There was just one player who got it backwards, Jesus Montero. For the most part though, the month of March = Optimism.
Currently, we are 2/3 of the way through March and that means 25 man rosters will start to take shape. When I look at the current lineup, the soft underbelly appears to be the cleanup spot. Kendrys Morales is stuck in baseball purgatory, Corey Hart is playing sandlot games to try and catch-up, Justin Smoak looks good so far but ehh, and anyone else just isn't a cleanup hitter. How can you possibly win without a cleanup hitter!?
A balanced lineup and good pitching... Lou Pinella's 1990 World Series Reds team managed to win with a balanced lineup and great pitching and the 2014 Mariners have an excellent chance to have great pitching.
For the 2014 Mariners to be successful, the lineup and the defense will need to resemble a hive mind. Like a pack of swarming red ants. These are the types of teams that come out of nowhere to surprise the league. This team has plenty of players who are under 28 and ripe to breakout.
I get the sense the Seattle sports community has become warped by the success of the Seahawks the last 2 years. During the Seahawks postseason run, I heard quite a bit of snarky comments when the question was raised on how well the Mariners would perform in 2014. Here's how a typical comment played out -->
"The Seahawks are a young team and they're just the best thing ever. The Mariners are also a young team but still suck. Therefore they must have bad players regardless of age because you know, Seahawks."
Fans on this site know that baseball players take much longer to become established than football players. At least most of the time. Here's my message to cynical Mariners fans. When you look at the roster and see Zunino, Miller, Smoak, Ackley, Franklin, Morrison, Saunders, Seager, Paxton, Walker, and Ramirez, keep in mind that they are all at or before the typical "baseball prime years". The best is yet to come with some of them if not most of them.
It's not a surprise that impatience is creeping into the game of baseball with regards to younger players. Football has been separating itself from Baseball in popularity and with it comes a changing mentality in your casual fan. If the Mariners were made up of veteran players the last few years, I could understand the frustration. But it's not, this is a team that actually has a boatload of talent. Hearing the word "rebuild" in baseball is almost the equivalent of getting the really bad kind of news from a doctor. The kind of news that has a long recovery. For the Mariners, that recovery is almost complete. It's a team that has a number of high draft picks on the Major league roster who I believe are in position to breakout. The last few teams have been rudderless. We have our rudder now and his name is Robinson Cano.
I look forward to a good year, even if we have a few placeholder starts for Iwakuma and Walker. Stay positive Seattle, even if April sucks.