Mariners Insider Blog

Searching for a 40-game mark scapegoat?

Twice on the verge of beating the Cleveland Indians today, the Seattle Mariners bullpen gave up leads of 4-1 in the eighth inning, then 5-4 in the 11th in what became a 6-5 loss that dropped the Mariners eight games under .500.

Put another way, they flew to Colorado two games behind the Los Angeles Angels in the American League West - a team that just fired it's batting coach.

Forty games into the 2012 season, Seattle is 16-24, a game behind where they were last season at the same point. Given the expectations and promises of spring, this is the kind of start that costs grown men their jobs.

Not GM Jack Zduriencik, though his signing of Chone Figgins, Franklin Gutierrez, George Sherrill- and the acquisition of  Justin Smoak - can certainly be questioned. And not manager Eric Wedge. Too soon.

Mariners fans have booed Chone Figgins and Miguel Olivo, Brendan Ryan and Justin Smoak this season, and while Figgins is already on the bench it seems clear one or more players are going to be sarificial lambs, as Mickey Hatcher was in Anaheim.

And Icihro Suzuki likely isn't long for the No. 3 spot in the lineup, and if he's moved it almost certainly won't be back to leadoff, because the team likes Dustin Ackley there.

"Ichiro is one of the few veterans we have, he knows how to hit. But he’s got to hit better with men in scoring position,” Wedge said in answer to a direct question from the Japanese media.

At the moment, the starting rotation is performing well - Felix, Jason Vargas, Hector Noesi, Blake Beavan and Kevin Millwood. In the bullpen Steve Delabar has been home run hittable six times in less than 20 innings, no one seems to know quite what to do with free agent Hisashi Iwakuma.

Mostly, however, it's the hitters who are vulnerable.

Mike Carp (.132), Figgins (.182), Munenori Kawasaki (.176), Olivo (.210), Smoak (.209) and Casper Wells (.216) have all been offensive disappointments. As a No. 3 hitter, Icihro has been irrelevant, his approach no different today (.278) than in 2011, when he batted .272.

Or it could be a coach. But figure someone is going to pay for the first 40 games.