BY John Hickey 11:30AM 06/27/2011

Hickey: Mariners’ winning ways unsupported by stats

Despite winning games over the past six weeks, the offense continues to dwindle. That’s a huge problem for a team hoping to contend.

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik has big decisions to make about his offense. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Now 78 games into the 2011 season, there is some reason for fans of the Mariners to be optimistic about the direction the club is heading, right?

After all, a 16-23 start through May 15 has been followed by a massive about-face: 23-16 in their last 39 games.

Rookie Carlos Peguero was called up and has added a little power from left field, even as he struggles to hit for a decent average. Another rookie, Dustin Ackley,  was called up too, and for nine games the second baseman looks like a boost to the offense.

Yet, if you look at what the Mariners have done since bottoming out in mid-May, you wonder if Seattle is going in the right direction.

In the last 39 games, the Mariners have scored 130 runs. Not only is that not a lot of offense (3.33 runs per game), it’s actually less than their first 39 games (138 runs, 3.54 average).

The pitching has been terrific – a 2.62 ERA in the last 39 games after a respectable 3.85 ERA in the first 39 games – but how long can this run of  tremendous starts be expected to continue without help?

If the pitching falls off even a little, there is no evidence the Mariner hitters – or defenders, for that matter – are ready to pick up the slack.

Game after game, manager Eric Wedge talks about the need for more productive at-bats from his hitters. You could make a recording of what he says on any given day and it would probably play well any other day.

A case in point is this comment from Wedge (we leave it to you to guess when he said it):

“We’ve seen short moments in time where we’ve done that (sustained offense), just nothing consistently yet,’’ Wedge said. “I still believe we’re going to do it.

“These guys need to believe they’re going to do it. We’re right there, so we’ve just got to keep pushing.’’

When did Wedge say it?

After Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Marlins. It could have been after Thursday’s 1-0 loss to Washington, or last Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to the Nationals. Or after about almost three dozen of Seattle’s 39 losses.

Seattle has five 2-1 losses this season. That’s not hard to believe when you consider that the Mariners have scored two runs or less 32 times in 78 games, or about 41 percent of the time. They’ve scored one or zero runs 19 times – 19 times! – in 78 games.

The numbers are hard to believe.

Harder to believe is that the Mariners will continue to win regularly while the offense produces so little.

Will general manager Jack Zduriencik trade some of that pitching for some hitting? It would seem logical, given Seattle’s predicament, but logic may not be the overriding issue.

Jack Z’s track record isn’t long enough to make an accurate call. He’s put a great deal of hope on Seattle’s future by building up the minor league system.

Michael Pineda, Peguero and Ackley are all suggestions that this is a sound way to go.

To then turn around and trade minor league prospects – the kind that are almost always included in a mid-season deal when a team is trying to add to its arsenal, not just dump big contracts – would seem to be at odds with the overall plan.

The halfway point of the season is Thursday. The mental break provided by the All-Star game is in a couple of weeks.

That’s time enough for the Mariners to know whether their offense is going to come around. It’s clear that’s not happening.

So now is the time when Zduriencik and Co. must make decisions.

The future or the present?


YourThoughts

  • Jerry

    It would be nice if you guys could write about the latest game the Mariners played and post the box scores.  I like commentaries and all that, but when I click the baseball tab all I get is Hickey’s latest column – and it might even be a few days old.  Is this just a sports op ed page?  

  • Michael Kaiser

    Wedge–the anti-thesis of the Puget Sound-region way–is in a large part responsible 

  • Fairmontdave

    CUT FIGGINS NOW!