The 2014 Seattle Mariners are a .500 team… if all cynical projections go as expected
The M’s on paper right now are about a .500 team, pending other additions by other clubs.
All this assumes that no surprise players emerge from the farm system, and that no other key contributors are added. Given who is left on the free agent market, it is also highly unlikely that other teams will add a player that substantially alters the current balance of MLB power.
And most of all, it assumes that no player overperforms or substantially underperforms. All projections assume a typically disappointing performance from disappointing players.
This assumes they don’t add a catcher, they give substantial reserve action to Jesus Sucre, and that Mike Zunino continues to struggle in his 2013-like like fashion at the plate (225/290/385 like).
This of course presumes Robinson Cano is the everyday 2B and produces (290/360/485).
This assumes Justin Smoak is once again the regular 1B and he continues to be maddeningly inconsistent at the plate (230/320/410).
This assumes Nick Franklin is not dealt and subs in at multiple spots off the bench (240/310/380). This also assumes Willie Bloomquist is his usual Bloomquist self subbing at multiple spots (260/305/345), and that Abraham Almonte is the 4th OF (250/320/370).
This assumes Brad Miller remains the SS and is somewhat productive at the plate as a regular (265/330/410), as is Kyle Seager at 3B (260/330/415).
This assumes LoMo and Corey Hart split duty in LF and DH, and are both somewhat productive over most of a full season (250/330/430 on aggregate).
This assumes Franklin Gutierrez is not productive, and/or gets hurt again.
This assumes Dustin Ackley is for the most part your regular CF, and continues in large part to hit balls right at fielders (250/325/365).
This assumes Michael Saunders is your everyday RF and like Smoak continues to be maddeningly inconsistent at the plate (230/315/380).
This assumes a rotation of Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Erasmo Ramirez, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, with about 150 IP from other guys as needed. It presumes Erasmo, Taijuan and Paxton might be 1.5 win pitchers with strictly monitored workloads that can each offer 140-150 IP.
This presumes Danny Farquhar closes and the key setup guys are Tom Wilhelmsen, Yoervis Medina and Charlie Furbush. It presumes Farquhar is the only pitcher worth one win or more out of the pen, meaning all the other relievers are anywhere from unremarkably effective to awful.
This presumes the team defense is about 5 to 10 runs below average.
Obviously, any of this not going according to the template changes the results.
The 2012 Orioles were projected to suck. The 2013 Pirates were not projected to contend. For a team to surprise, they have to be projected not to contend. The Mariners could outperform expectations and contend. They could lowball expectations and lose another 90 games. There is a lot of room for them to exceed expectations and blow people away.
Let’s hope the Mariners can surprise some people, in a good way, and become the big story of 2014.