In the This Is My Nightmare series, we'll take a look at what the absolute worst case scenario for each team would be in 2013. Think of it as the negative complement to our You May Say I'm A Dreamer series that we'll be running during our preview series.
It's actually pretty easy to envision a nightmarish season for the Mariners. This is a team that lost 87 games last season and really only added Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse, and Joe Saunders, not exactly a trio of players that will push a team from bottom feeders to champions. But things can get worse…oh, they can get worse.
Imagine a world where Seattle's offense manages to go backwards from 2012. They had a .665 OPS last season, and while an improvement seems like it would be incredibly easy to attain, it might not be a given considering the lack of impact talent that the Mariners have. All of the new Mariners hitters, from Morales, to Morse, to Jason Bay, to Raul Ibanez, either have injury issues or are old and nearing the stage of being washed up.
The younger Seattle hitters that the team returns aren't exactly setting the world on fire either. Justin Smoak has never hit in the majors (outside of during last September, which could just be a blip on the radar at the end of the day), and Jesus Montero was awful in his rookie year last season. That's not exactly awe-inspiring for future success for the Mariners. Sure, the odds are likely on their side, along with Dustin Ackley, that they'll improve. But nothing is set in stone, and after 2012, who knows what will happen? There's a very real chance that the Mariners offense lays an egg yet again, which would be a complete nightmare for the team and would obliterate any chances of them contending.
On the pitching staff, a nightmare would be any sort of injury to Felix Hernandez. If he's not healthy and good this year, the Mariners aren't winning anything. After issues with Hernandez's elbow came up in discussions about a contract extension this weekend, everyone is expecting the other shoe to drop on some sort of arm injury with Hernandez sooner rather than later. Could that happen in 2013? Sure, and that wouldn't be good at all for the Mariners, especially with his extension not completed yet, and his current contract expiring after the 2014 season. The rest of the pitching staff could end up being a disaster after the walls were moved in at Safeco Field, a move that will have an unknown impact on the team for 2013.
I think that a nightmare for the Mariners this season is relatively easy to attain. In the rotation past Hernandez, they have the mediocre Joe Saunders and the relatively unproven trio of Hisashi Iwakuma, Erasmo Ramirez, and Blake Beavan. If Hernandez went down, I could easily see their remaining rotation putting together an ERA over 5.00, which would have been inconceivable coming into the year. Combine that with an offense that has all the potential in the world to struggle, and the Mariners could be prime for a nightmarish 95 loss (or worse) 2013.