Saturday, February 20, 2016

2016 Mariners Baseball - "I'm Buying"

The 2016 Seattle Mariners. Not a year for a slogan such as "Sodo Mojo", but more like "Under Construction", or "Under New Management". With new General Manager, Jerry Dipoto and Manager Scott Servais taking the helm, it proves to be a season where many fans will take a wait and see approach before buying into the new plan.

The "Plan" from my understanding is an approach to playing fundamental baseball again, not much different than the plan that Jack Z and Eric Wedge set out with which seems like ages ago. The difference? Now the fundamentals are going to be laced with the type of atmosphere that makes you want to hold hands with your teammates and sing around a campfire. Dipoto and Servais both have talked at length about building teamwork and getting the players to buy into the new Mariner way. Servais has even gone as far as to say that this new plan includes ample time for the players to get to know each other.

This could be a positive for all of us. As pitchers and catchers are set to report to camp, I can honestly say that I have no idea who this Mariner team is. I paid attention to every off-season move, I know the names, but this team didn't happen organically like we are used to. This team was not developed with just a couple moves each year that led us to today's roster. This team received a massive overhaul and the majority of it happened in about a week's time.

The 2016 roster should be a sabermetricians dream. Not that we have the perfect position player or perfect hitter for every spot in the lineup, but DiPoto has finally put together a roster that should play to Safeco Field a lot better than the swing and miss offense that we've seen thrown out there in the past few years. It may be a year that we see less home runs, but could see more runs as a whole as the Mariners look to push more and more guys on base. This by, speed, more balls in play, limiting strikeouts and playing smarter.

There may be a lot more moving parts to this year's starting lineup than we are used to. We may see more platoons than we have seen in the past. Left field could see Franklin Gutierrez and Seth Smith while right field could see a combination of Nelson Cruz and Nori Aoki. The battle for first base platoon with Adam Lind will be fun to watch this spring, but I cannot see Jesus Montero beating anyone in a foot race let alone landing a spot on the 40 man roster by the end of Spring Training. My bet would be on Korean baseball star, Dae Ho Lee. Of course, he has to prove that he can hit Major League pitching, but with an opt-out clause set for the end of March, I would bet that he finds his way to the MLB level. Montero on the other hand, is out of options. He is also a Jack Z product. This doesn't mean anything at all, but it is safe to say that there is very little stock left in Montero. Dipoto has nothing to lose if Montero doesn't make it, where Jack Z did.

What we do know as fans this year are the familiar faces of Felix Hernandez, Kyle Seager, Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and Hisashi Iwakuma that will surely help us in our quest to fall in love with this team just as easy as all the others. As for the new guys, it doesn't take much more than their first home run or their first "W" in the books for us fans to fall in love, give nicknames, buy jerseys, etc. Remember Fernando Rodney.

As fans, we rise and fall with this team, and in a season that is beginning with so many question marks, it is safe to say that these players, new or old, really need to buy into everything that Servais and Dipoto are selling. In my opinion, it all comes down to wins and losses. If the Mariners are winning and having fun, it will make it a lot easier to buy in. If the losses start to pile up, the last thing that some players will be thinking about is having fun and staying positive.

The book looks good by the cover. A faster team with better defense and that will put the ball in play and get on base a lot more. I can get behind this.

Here's to a positive year! Dipoto, Servais, here's to hoping that your plans are genius and the playoff drought for this Seattle Mariners team is over. I'm Buying!