What Mariners Need in 2012 Is Not Obvious

Ichiro Suzuki at bat

Image via Wikipedia

It is tempting to say the Mariners need better hitting in 2012. With a .233 batting average and on base percentage of .292 you have a long way to go. It was the worst offense in baseball.

Ichiro had his worst season at .272 and will be 38 next season. Will he be the Ichiro of old is a big question.

And Justin Smoak with his injuries and health issues still has not proven he is the answer at first. Mike Carp might be, or he could be in left next year with Smoak at first. But Carp proved he can hit and will be in the lineup in 2012.

So will Dustin Ackley. And do not be surprised if Kyle Seager is at short and Alex Liddi with his much needed power is at third. That brings up the question of Chone Figgins. Release him is my answer. Eat the contract.

There will be trades and free agents signings and the offense should improve. Well let’s hope so.

But…

The real problem is pitching which has been there strength. They have Felix and Pineda as the first two starters. Vargas could be a third if not traded for some position players.

Beavan was okay at 5-6 and 4.27 ERA. But Furbush 3-7, 6.62 and Anthony Vazquez, a late season call-up, 1-6, 8.90 in 7 starts and 13 home runs allowed in 29 innings were not impressive.  So the Mariners could be looking to find two to three starters.

Vasquez was overmatched

And the bullpen turned over during the season as the Mariners shed veterans like Laffey and Ray, trading Pauley and replacing them with more youthful arms.

Shawn Kelly returned from his arm injury pitching 12.2 innings without allowing a run. But will Lueke 6.06 and Cortes 5.91 improve? Will former bartender Tom Wilhelmsen 3.31 in 32.2 innings and former teacher Steve Delabar 2.57 in 7 innings be good stories next year? Chance Ruffin 3.86 in 14 innings?

Outside of Brandon League the bullpen is open to all comers.

If the Mariners choose to continue their youth movement with position players then pitching will once again determine their success.

Actually the Mariners need everything. But it always starts with pitching.

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