The term “cleaning house” refers to someone or something that cleans out a “house” to open up needed space. This term can be applied perfectly to the Seattle Mariners 2019 offseason. Southpaw James Paxton? See ya in the Bronx. All Star SS Jean Segura? Have fun in the city of brotherly love! 11 year vet Nelson Cruz? Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Robinson Cano? Don’t you know the Mets are his new home? You get the point. The Mariners team that Seattle began to know and love over the years is gone. It is time to welcome in new faces and press the reset button. The question now becomes, how long will it now take until the Mariners are ready to compete?
Although the Mariners cleaned ship over the last few months, one familiar face you can expect to see in 2019 is Mitch Haniger. Haniger, a 28-year-old from Mountain View, California, is a guy you may want to pick up on your fantasy team. He is a dude who hits for power, can get on base at a high rate, and will give you 110% every time he steps onto the field. Haniger is coming into the spring looking to carry momentum with him from a season ago, as he had an absolute monster year. He finished his 2018 campaign hitting for a .285 BA, had a .366 OBP, slugged 38 doubles and drove in 93 runs. Haniger was also selected to his first career all-star game in July and finished in the top 12 of MVP voting. The thing that makes Haniger so special, is his ability to grind out at bats and make pitchers sweat. In a year that is sure to feature it’s fair amount of downs, Haniger looks to provide a bright spot for the Mariners in 2019.
One of the new faces Mariner fans can expect to see in 2019 is major league vet, Jay Bruce. Bruce, the 31-year-old Texan, was acquired by the Mariners by lieu of a trade during this year’s offseason. During his 11 seasons in the majors, Bruce has played with 3 different teams and has hit 286 career home runs. He has also been selected to three all-star games and has won 2 Silver Slugger awards. Bruce spent last season with the New York Mets in which he hit for a .223 BA, slugged 18 doubles and drove in 37 runs. It is clear that Bruce’s career is winding down, and with such a lack of production in 2018, it is hard to predict what we will see from Bruce this summer. I don’t necessarily think that this is a downgrade for the Mariners, but to say that he is going to make a huge impact for this Mariners team this season, would be a stretch.
As we shift to the Mariners pitching staff, there are two guys I would primarily like to focus on. Starting with Marco Gonzales, the Mariners are ready to move on from the King Felix era, and this is the guy they want to lead them. Although King Felix is still in this rotation, he does not have the stuff he once had and is not expected to produce like he so often used to do. Instead, the Mariners are now leaning on Marco Gonzales, a 27-year-old southpaw who has a mean hook. Gonzales showed an array of promise in 2018, finishing the season with a 13-9 record, a 4.00 ERA in 166 innings pitched. The one thing that concerns me about Gonzales is that he has a tendency to get wild and when shit hits the fan, boy it hits the fan. Overall however, I think Gonzales will have a solid season and continue to take steps to become the next ace of this Mariners staff.
Complimenting Gonzales in the Mariners starting rotation will be long time MLB vet, Mike Leake. Leake a 31-year-old from San Diego, has struggled to find consistency throughout his major league career. In 9 seasons, Leake has compiled a career ERA of 4.03 to go along with a career record of 93-87. These numbers are average at best. Leake has also never made an all-star game, nor win an award during his time thus far in the majors. Last season, Leake finished the year with a 10-10 record to go along with a 4.36 ERA. These numbers just lack to impress and to ask Leake to be a two, is quite sad. I do not expect much at all from Leake in 2019 and think he will continue his extremely bland career come this summer.
Can we expect the Mariners to compete in 2019? I don’t think so. I feel that they have a bland pitching staff that features some washed up arms to go along with a mediocre offense at best. I can see this team winning at most 72 games this year and if they do that, they should consider it a success. The Mariners are going to experience losing for the next few seasons and are going to have to go through what we in the business like to call a “rebuild.” If they stay patient however, this team will see the light of day before they know it, in hopes of one day making their first ever World Series appearance.