The All-Star Break is here, and we are now at the mid-point of the 2012 MLB season. For the Seattle Mariners, 2012 has been unkind to them so far. They were hoping young offensive players would take a step forward to carry the load, and it hasn’t been enough of a step to date. The Mariners are 29th in the league team batting average at .230, and they are 30th in on base percentage at .291. They enter the mid-summer classic at 15 games under .500, 36-51. This is also the worst record in the American League, a game behind the Minnesota Twins. They are 16.5 GB of the division leading Rangers, and 10 games out of the Wild Card.
Pitching: B. The pitching, for the most part, has been good. It’s part of the fans’ frustration this season; if the Mariners could score some more runs in support of their pitchers, then this team would easily be around .500. Felix Hernandez once again made the All-Star team anchoring the Mariner staff. In 18 starts, he is 6-5 with a 3.13 ERA and is tied for the league lead in SO with 128. Jason Vargas has been a solid number two for Seattle going 8-7 with a 4.07 ERA. Vargas has been incredibly durable too, as he is second in the AL in IP with 126.0. The rotation is a little murky right now after that: Kevin Millwood has been battling injuries and two of the season opening starters, Blake Beavan and Hector Noesi, have been sent to triple AAA Tacoma. The bullpen has also seen a little turbulence when last year’s closer, Brandon League, got replaced by Tom Wilhelmsen. Wilhelmsen has held down the fort appearing in 39 games going 3-1 with 7 saves and a 2.44 ERA. In middle relief, the best performances of the first half of the season were turned in by Lucas Luetge (33 games, 1-0, 1.61 ERA) and Charlie Furbush, (32 games, 4-2, 2.21 ERA).
Batting: D. I will avoid the knee-jerk reaction of giving this team a F. But, if it’s not a F, they’re not far off. The Oakland series this weekend was a perfect example. Seattle lost two games that went into extra innings because they only put up one run. If they have scored just two runs on Friday and Sunday, the Mariners would’ve had a sweep of the A’s going into the All-Star Break. Instead, they lose 4-1 in 11 on Friday and 2-1 in 13 on Sunday. With the lack of offense, the Mariners are asking their pitchers to be perfect every night which doesn’t add up to wins. Your starting pitcher can’t feel he is going to lose if the other team puts up two runs. Some of the young players the Mariners are counting on to pull them out of this last-place funk have had solid first halves. Michael Saunders batted .257 with 8 HR and 25 RBI. Kyle Seager’s average has cooled to .243 but he has 10 HR and leads Seattle in RBI with 52. Justin Smoak leads the team in HR with 11, but he is batting a frosty .203. And, Jesus Montero, the big off season pick-up from the Yankees, has been solid, not spectacular, at .245 with 8 HR and 28 RBI.
On the Horizon. This team isn’t making the playoffs barring a major hot streak. If they won their next fifteen games, they would still be only at .500 for the season. The Mariners will actively be sellers before the trading deadline to try and bolster their sagging offense. Depending on the moves, the roster will probably look much different as the season progresses. Carlos Peguero might get another call-up; he is batting .293 at Tacoma with 18 HR and 41 RBI. The Mariners may also look at another Tacoma OF Trayvon Robinson. The main piece of last season’s Erik Bedard trade, Robinson is batting .266 with 8 HR, 37 RBI, and 14 SB. Blake Beavan, who started the season in the Mariner rotation, would probably be recalled if the pitching staff changes due to a trade. Beavan has found his groove at Tacoma going 3-0 in 5 starts with a 3.19 ERA. Top pitching prospect Danny Hultzen may also get the call to Seattle. Hultzen has struggled a little in Tacoma this season going 1-1 with a 5.25 ERA in 3 starts, but he was dominant in double AA going 8-3 with a 1.19 ERA in 13 starts with 79 SO in 75.1 IP.