The Mariners of the past have been largely bad. But while there is no joy in failure there is honor in honesty. And there have been very few Mariner teams that have started the season with anything other than an honest representation of their own tepid mediocrity. The April W/L over the years:
That's 1 year in 11 that the team has managed to navigate the season's opening month winning more games than losing. No false hope. No interesting winning streak that gains national attention only to quickly do what the Astros sure as hell better do this year. Just 11 years of the Mariners being straight up with you. "Hey, yeah. We're kinda bad. Wanna hang out for the next six months?"
It is amazing to think that if the Mariners had received only one firm punch to the nether regions these past few days rather than two they would have finished the road trip 5-5. That sweep in Texas feels months ago. Probably due to the other sweep in Texas.
That intro tangentially brings me to my topic: The 2015 Mariners, who went 10-12 in April and have gone 1-5 since. This team was supposed to be different. It is different in the sense that it has more talent, has suffered more walk-off losses (seriously
6 5 already this year. More than all of 2014.), and different in that while they currently find themselves in last place Fangraphs' playoff odds still have them within 5% to win the division of the team currently in 1st.
Unlike past years where defeat came about as a sort of manifest destiny it has taken a lot of things going very wrong for the Mariners to get in their current situation. Hisashi Iwakuma is hurt/was bad, the position players have taken turns hitting like a pitcher, the bullpen is inhabited by the ghostly specter of Paul Spoljaric, the defense has featured heaping portions of Nelson Cruz, etc.
Some of these things we can reasonably expect to improve over the natural course of time. Others may be broken and in need of repair/upgrade. The challenge is knowing which is which, and figuring it out quickly. The season is only ~17% done but the Mariners have chewed their way through the majority of their buffer zone. A few more nibble and they'll get all the way through the insulation and bite right into that live wire and then everything after that is darkness.
So my question is which of these flaws is most critical and least likely to regress towards something more positive? What would be your first fix for this team?