In the 2014 season the Seattle Mariners finished with their best record in several years. With the emergence of some young talent, and free agent Robinson Cano, the Mariners narrowly missed the playoffs. Within the last week the team made two big moves that prove that they are in Win now mode, probably for the first time in the franchise’s history.
The last time the Mariners made the post season was in 2001. 13 straight seasons without a post season appearance, and very few winning records in that time period had left the fan base in a straight of disarray. Games saw major declines in attendance; during the 2013 season Safeco Field averaged just over 21000 per game in a 47000 seat stadium. When the Mariners tied the league record with 116 wins they averaged over 43000 per game, nearly selling out all games.
During the 2014 the Mariners saw their 2009 draft pick, Kyle Seager develop into one of the top players on the team, and one of the best third baseman in the league. Seager won the Golden Glove award following his breakout season. Seager had 25 home runs and 96 runs batted in, RBIs.
The Mariners have not had much luck in the draft of free agent market in the last decade, so to see one of their first round picks live up to his potential was a welcome sight for the team and fans alike. In addition to Seager developing, the team also landed the biggest free agent in the off-season, in Robinson Cano. Cano was brought in to be a big home run hitter, and bring some life to the struggling offense. Although his home runs were not what fans wanted, only hitting 14, he still had a .314 batting average, which lead the team and was eighth overall in the majors.
After coming so close to the playoffs in 2014, rejuvenating the fan base, and having one of the best starting pitching rotations in the majors, there was a lot to be excited about if you are a Mariners fan. Fans and Seattle media anxiously waited to see if the team was planning on making some big moves in the off-season to try to win now. In early December the front office did not disappoint.
On December 1, the Mariners signed Nelson Cruz from the Baltimore Orioles to a four-year $57 million deal. Cruz let the league with 40 home runs in 2014. Cruz will help out the Mariners offense which was one of the lowest scoring in the league, and help the middle of the rotation. With Seager, Cano, and now Cruz batting in the middle of the order, the Mariners should have a decent chance to score every game.
The Mariners big wigs didn’t stop there though. On December 2, they locked up their own home-grown talent. Seager signed a 7 year deal worth $100 million. Seager was drafted in 2009 and will now be with the team until at least 2022. Only 27 years old, it is fair to think that his best years are still ahead of him.
With Felix Hernandez signing his long-term deal last year, Cano, Seager, and the addition of Cruz, it is safe to say that Seattle organization is both tired of losing, and ready to win now. The 2014 season is only six weeks over, but the excitement in Seattle is at a level that it hasn’t been in over a decade. Fans are cautiously optimistic however. The mantra in Seattle has been “Next season” since the team first reached the post season in 1995.
Commentary by Andy Lapic
Photo by Keith Allison –Flickr License