Record: 14-13 (53-50 overall)
AL West Standings: LA (61-40); Rangers 3 GB; Mariners 9 GB; A’s 17.5 GB.
Top Hitter: Franklin Gutierrez has become one of the most exciting defensive outfielders in all of baseball this season, saving the Mariners countless runs with his strong arm, good instincts and unbelievable range. In the month of July his bat finally caught up to his glove, as the 26-year-old Venezeluan hit .351 with 5 HRs and 17 RBIs. Simply en fuego. Gutierrez recovered quickly from a scary collision with the wall in Detroit and continues to cement himself as one of the cornerstones of Seattle’s rebuilding project. Almost an afterthought in the Mariners’ offseason moves, Gutierrez has arguably become the best all-around player on the team and his continued maturation at the plate gives M’s fans plenty to look forward to in the coming seasons.
Top Pitcher(s): Despite the fact that he no longer plays for the team, Jarrod Washburn was clearly the Mariners’ best pitcher in July. The suddenly reborn southpaw went 4-1 with a 1.44 ERA in the month and only allowed batters to hit .185 against him. It’s unfortunate that Washburn wasn’t able to pitch like this throughout his entire tenure with the Mariners, but his improvement this season allowed Seattle to maximize his trade value, and they received two good arms in return from Detroit (Luke French–a virtual clone of Washburn, and Mauricio Robles–a young, flame-throwing lefty with exciting potential). The Mariners have discussed the possibility of resigning Washburn in the offseason, and if they are able to accomplish that, this trade will look like a real steal for Jack Zdrunciek.
Biggest Surprise: Adrian Beltre is making incredible progress in his return from shoulder surgery and is expected to be activated next week against Kansas City. Beltre dealt with bone spurs for most of the season and there was a possibility he wouldn’t play at all this year after surgery, but his return should provide a boost for the M’s over the season’s last two months providing he is fully recovered. A free-agent this offseason, Beltre will be eager to prove that he is still one of the better 3B in the game; let’s hope he does. It was fun while it lasted Jack Hanahan.
Biggest Disappointment: Lefty Garrett Olson continues to struggle in the starting rotation and may have puched a permament ticket to the bullpen with his latest stinker against Texas (3 2/3 innings, 6 hits, 4 ER, 3 HR). Olson has shown flashes of brilliance, but nothing consistent, and ended July with a 7.53 ERA. It’s unclear what Seattle’s long-term plan his for him, but it seems like Olson is best suited as a reliever (2.76 ERA out of the bullpen).
Griffey Watch: Junior got all of Seattle feeling nostalgic when he hit a two-out, two-run go ahead double against Roy Halladay over the weekend, but otherwise his July was utterly forgettable. Seattle’s DH hit .224 in the month, with only 1 HR and 5 RBIs. You can’t overlook his influence in the clubhouse but on the field Griffey is a 39-year-old at the tail-end of his career. It’s been wonderful having the Kid back in the Emerald City, but here’s hoping he hangs up the cleats at the end of the season.
Injuries: Endy Chavez (torn ACL–out for year); Adrian Beltre (bone spurs in left shoulder–early August return); Erik Bedard (left shoulder inflammation–due back mid-August); Carlos Silva (fraying of labrum, enlarged stomach, loss of any tangible baseball skills, etc.).
Welcome Aboard: Jack Wilson (a nice upgrade over the Betancourt-Cedeno disaster at SS), Ian Snell (tons of potential, will a change of scenery make the difference?), Luke French (a solid lefty, #5 starter type), Michael Saunders (does anyone want to play LF for the M’s?), Jack Hannahan (fun name, good glove, but little else), Ryan Langerhans (thank the guys at USS Mariner for this one).
Happy Trails: Yuniesky Betancourt (you won’t be missed!), Wladimir Balentien (what a strange way to spell your name!), Jeff Clement (Pittsburgh is a wonderful baseball town! Also, a small list of players Bavasi could have drafted instead of Clement in 2005: Ryan Braun, Ryan Zimmerman, Troy Tulowitzki, Ricky Romero, Jay Bruce, Jacoby Ellsbury, Andrew McCutchen), Jarrod Washburn (Where was this kind of performance the past 3 years?!).
August Schedule: 2 @ Texas, 3 @ Kansas City, 3 vs. Tampa Bay; 3 vs. Chicago; 4 vs. New York; 3 @ Detroit; 3 @ Cleveland; 3 vs Oakland; 4 vs. Kansas City; 1 vs. Los Angeles.
Overall Grade: (B) The Mariners really weren’t that bad in July, they finished a game over .500, but a three game sweep at the hands of the Indians and the continued success of the Angels all but ended Seattle’s shot at making the postseason. Although they gave up Washburn, the Mariners should remain competitive throughout the rest of the season, and it will be interesting to see if the new pieces (Wilson, Snell, Saunders, French) can become part of Seattle’s longterm plan. Wakamatsu and the rest of the coaching staff should receive high praise for keeping the M’s in contention this last into the season, and fans should be excited about what’s in store for 2010. The Mariners are certainly making strides in the right direction and will look to play spoiler to pontential playoff teams down the stretch.
Filed under: AL West, Baseball, Mariners | Tagged: adrian beltre, Don Wakamatsu, endy chavez, franklin gutierrez, Garret Olson, ian snell, ichiro suzuki, jack hanahan, jack wilson, jarrod washburn, jeff clement, Ken Griffey Jr., Luke French, mauricio robles, michael saunders, russell branyan, ryan langerhans, ryan rowland-smith, wladimir balentien, yuniesky betancourt |