A new century.
An unstoppable team.
And heartbreak that led to 16 years of darkness.
Now that time is over thanks to the 2017 Seattle Mariners. Here’s how the playoff drought will end.
We think. Maybe?
New Faces in Safe(co) Spaces
General Manager Jerry Dipoto seemed to treat the offseason like a personal fantasy baseball team. 37 trades gave the M’s a nearly entirely new look at positions that have been in flux for years.
First base platoon of big bat Adam Lind and fan favorite Dae-Ho Lee? Gone. Not A-okie dokie for Nori Aoki, who is now an Astro. Same for "Dad," Seth Smith, shipped to Baltimore.
But with old faces departing, new names emerge to make a difference that Dipoto and second-year manager Scott Servais are looking for.
Speed speed speed.
Much has been made of the human lightning bolt Jarrod Dyson. Even at 32, the ability to get extra bases for free via theft is huge for a team that regularly strands runners in scoring position. Expect him to challenge Seahawk Paul Richardson in 40-yard dash time.
Seattle loves its games, but ‘Scrabble’ is the one that hopefully can take over the bullpen. Reliever Marc Rzepczynski was brought in to bring consonants and stability to the mid to late relief spot to set up young flamethrower Edwin Diaz to close. It’s “Zep-CHIN-ski” by the way.
Solid Core Returns
The names we *do* know are back and should be at full strength. King Felix Hernandez had hobbled at times and missed multiple starts in 2016. Fellow ace Hishahi Iwakuma also was up and down, but has Cy Young pedigree in his past, and a sweet promo hoodie coming up.
Kyle Seager, Robinson Cano, and Nelson Cruz continue to be as dangerous triumvirate as any in the big leagues. That consistency matters from your perennial all-stars.
Knowing what you have and who you can trust during these early lean times can help steady the already-twitchy fans. We know what these five big names are capable of when healthy and firing on all cylinders. They have been the lifeblood and stalwarts for a team searching to break through. When the playoffs come, they’ll be remembered for their contributions among the franchise greats.
The Kid and The Coach
While the Hall of Fame remains elusive for Edgar Martinez, the reliable hitting coach gets his own weekend of celebrations at Safeco Field. And for good reason.
Last year, the Mariners hit 116 home runs at home - second-best in the American League. Those runs matter and big swats help backup pitching that can be among the best. Edgar’s teaching and experience has already paid dividends since he came into the dugout, and so many new players can gain even more of an edge.
Then there’s Ken Griffey, Jr. His face has been back on videogame covers, the Hall of Fame, and even statues big and small at the Safe. When the echoes of the past bounce off the steel rafters in Seattle, the crushing silence of the playoff drought shouldn’t answer back.
Both players brought their own kind of magic to Seattle, and grasping at some of their charisma - and winning ways - may end the Mariners’ suffering.
It’s time to come in from the wilderness. A roster shakeup, powerful veterans, and that certain something special should make 90-plus wins possible this time.
If they don’t win it’s a shame.