Offensive Woes Dragging Mariners Down

If the M's have any hope of getting back to respectability this season, it will have to rest on a huge offensive turnaround. Contributor Eric Yang looks at the Mariner offense as we near the All-Star break.

Mariner nation wanted more pop this offseason as well as pitching in order to win a division title. However, the front office spent most of the money on the pitching side, and with the loss of Jose Guillen in the offseason and failure of free-agent bust Brad Wilkerson, the offense has been put under more scrutiny then in the past. The blockbuster trade that included Adam Jones made fans in Mariner land cry in outrage. Coupled with the Wilkerson release, the offense is lagging behind the pitching so far this year.

Last year the Mariners had one of the league's best offenses for most of the season, and scoring runs was never a problem. The main issue was the pitching of Jeff Weaver and Horacio Ramirez that basically ruined the M's season in the later stages when it mattered most. That's why the front office went out of their way and gave up $48 million and five prospects to land Carlos Silva and Erik Bedard. They believed bolstering the pitching staff would cover all the bases, which turned out to be wrong.

Offensive grade: D+

The offense has taken a dramatic of fall from last year. Who knew that Guillen's departure would hurt this much. He took his 23 home runs and 99 RBI to Kansas City in a free agent deal this offseason and the M's have not produced the same since. Guillen also took his leadership ability and vocal skills away, leaving the team with no leader in the clubhouse. Even Ichiro is hitting under .300 and without him on base the Mariner offense staggers. But he is the least of the problems the team has offensively even though he is hitting well under his career stats.

Veteran guys like Richie Sexson, Kenji Johjima, Raul Ibanez, and Adrian Beltre have all hit under their career averages to this point. Though Beltre leads the club in homers with 14 and Ibanez and Sexson have had their moments, it has not been consistent enough. If the Mariners want any shot at getting back in the race, they have to come through in a big way, both average-wise and production-wise. Sexson is making a whopping $17 million this season and it is the last year of his contract. If he does not produce like he should, he will be let go in the offseason or maybe sooner. Same thing goes for Jose Vidro, who has a vesting option. He isn't hitting particularly well and has no speed. If the Mariners do release Sexson and/or Vidro there are a few prospects like Bryan LaHair and Jeff Clement who can fill their place.

One guy who should be helping the major league club is Clement. He is a catcher, but can DH and may be able to play first base. His bat is well suited for Safeco Field and can use the short porch in right field to his advantage. He has proven all he can down at AAA and the only way for him to develop is to bring him up now. He would give this team a boost in the offensive categories while learning the ins and outs of the major leagues.

The rest of the lineup consists of youth and flashes ability at times. Other than Jose Lopez, the team should not count on those guys just yet as they are still learning at the big league level. Lopez is having a great start, his second halves have not been a mirror image of his first. He has been the most stable bat in the lineup in the first half. He should be the Mariners' All-Star in July.

This is the American league, not the National league where pitching and strategy play a huge role in their games. If you want to win, you have to score, plain and simple. No offense equals losses.

That's why the M's record is what it is, and it will stay that way until the Mariners learn to hit consistently. The only way to turn it around is to hit and draw more walks, and if the Mariners can do that, they could possibly pull the proverbial trigger and turn the season around.


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