Continuing from our season preview of the Mariners earlier today…
Is the decision to move the fences in at Safeco going to be enough to ignite the team's offense or a final act of desperation?
Desperate times call for desperate measures. It turns out the threshhold for desperation in Seattle is eleven seasons without a playoff appearance. And what could be more desperate than copying something that the lowly Mets are doing?
Sick and tired of abysmal offensive performances, the Mariners finally bit the bullet on something that people have been calling for since Safeco Field opened; they moved in the fences. In so doing, the Mariners are hoping to accomplish many a splendored thing.
First and foremost, the M's want to not be the worst offensive team in the American League. Moving in the fences will certainly help with bump up runs scored in Safeco, but it won't be a panacea. They still need guys who can, you know, actually hit the ball out near the fences, which they didn't really have last season. That, however should change… sort of… in 2013.
Moving in the fences was only part of the plan. The other more important aspect of it was acquiring some power hitters to fill out a rather limp Seattle lineup. The M's got an "A" for effort in the execution of this part of the plan, but the results were more of in the "C+" variety. It turns out that big-time sluggers aren't exactly anxious to take Seattle's money if it means watching their home run totals fall as precipitously as the rain in Seattle (it also probably doesn't help that the Mariners kind of stink). Just ask Josh Hamilton… and Justin Upton… and Nick Swisher… and Mike Napoli… and, oh well, you get it.
One could argue that moving in the fences could actually convince big name hitters to more seriously consider the Mariners as a free agent destination, but it will probably take a few years of proving that the change in ballpark dimensions actually work as expected.
And therein lies the rub. The M's did eventually land Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales as their marquee sluggers to put the fences to the test. Those guys do have power, but they aren't exactly what most would consider to be a legit heart of the order pairing and now Seattle's hopes for an offensive revival sit firmly on their shoulders.
If those two end up mashing and the less daunting dimensions inject confidence and life into the bats and bodies of Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero, then suddenly Seattle management looks like a bunch of geniuses. "Why didn't they do this earlier?" they'll say, or at least they will if the altered fences don't have an equally negative effect on the Mariner pitching staff.
Of course, if Morse and Morales bust out like every non-Ichiro batter to pass through the Pacific Northwest in the last five years, then all bets are off because nothing says, "We're all out of ideas," more than moving in the fences. Again, this is something the Mets tried first. Need I say more?
Mariners on TOC
End of Season Postmortem
Hope for the Hopeless
2013 Season Preview
You May Say I’m a Dreamer
2013 Burning Question
This Is My Nightmare (2:00 PM)
X-Factor (3:15 PM)
Top Ten Prospects (4:30 PM)