We realize that we've been slacking a little bit here at Mariner Magic. There are plenty of excuses, but the biggest reason is simple: the Mariners aren't that interesting to talk about right now. Once the season is over, we will have plenty of discussion about the future of the M's, free agent pickups, etc. But we need to find more to talk about for the next month. More importantly, we need reasons to follow the Mariners at all. Here a few things I think are worth watching:
Do I need to elaborate?
2) The Bullpen
The 2006 bullpen stands to look a lot different than this year's. That's pretty clear. The Seattle P-I noted this last week. Villone is already gone, and I don't see Shiggy or Nelson coming back. That leaves Thornton, Mateo, Putz and Guardado as the only members of the bullpen that spent most of 2005 on the big league roster. I personally hope Thornton is gone. Sure, he's a lefty and he throws hard. But the guy is 29, has poor mechanics, and has shown no signs of being able to put anything consistent together. I may be able to be convinced that he's worth another shot, but I think he should be on a short leash.
However, there are some arms that should get some good work this September. The first is George Sherrill. He's had a couple of rough outings, but it will be interesting to see if he can develop into a good lefty-setup guy. Another is our favorite Ninja, Rafael Soriano. Also from the P-I, he's should be up early this week. The big story of that article is a third reliever, Scott Atchinson. Let's see if any of these guys can give us hope for a strong bullpen in 2006.
3) Joel Pineiro
Ah Joel. We had such high hopes for you. So inconsistent this year, but it seems like he may be coming back around. USS Mariner did a nice analysis on how we shouldn't quite get our hopes up though. His last start against the Yankees was very good, and I think it's worth watching to see what he does down the stretch. The rotation for 2006 is in shambles, but Joel being able to be the 3rd or 4th starter would help with that.
4) Adrian Beltre
He's been a big disappointment this year, but has shown some signs of being the player we hoped he would be. From April to June he had 6 HRs and 36 RBI. In July and August he put up 12 HRs and 40 RBI. His .288 BA, .336 OBP, and .538 SLG in August are also encouraging. Not earth-shattering numbers, but a definite improvement. Let's not forgot he's only 26 and about to enter his prime years. A strong September would be nice to see.
5) The middle infield
This has already
been discussed here, but it's still worth watching.
Yes this season has sucked. Yes football season has started. But there are still some reasons to follow the Seattle Mariners before the offseason talk heats up. Any other ideas?