Will some big off season moves improve the Seattle Seahawks chances in the eyes of the MLB odds makers?
The Seattle Mariners haven't made the playoffs since 2001, and are now working under their eighth different manager since Sweet Lou Piniella departed following the 2002 season.
But Seattle made some of the biggest news of the off-season when they signed free-agent 2B Robinson Cano away from the Yankees.
That move certainly caught the attention of the bookmakers who put out MLB futures lines. So is there any value left, as far as betting the Mariners goes?
2013 Quick Review
Seattle wasn't exactly expected to light the world on fire last year, but it wasn't supposed to finish 20 games under .500, either. But thanks to an offense that couldn't score runs unless the ball left the park, a thin starting rotation and a lousy bullpen, that's just what the Mariners did.
In doing so they came up seven victories shy of their season OVER/UNDER of 78.
Over the off-season Seattle not only nabbed Robinson Cano, but also added OFs Corey Hart and Logan Morrison. Both are a bit injury-prone, but if healthy could provide some punch.
At the Bat
Seattle ranked 26th in the Majors last year in team OBP at a measly .306, second in home runs with 188 but just 22nd in scoring at 3.9 runs per game. Apparently it's hard to hit three-run homers when there's nobody on base.
They also stole just 49 bases, third-fewest in the Bigs. So they weren't too good at manufacturing runs, either.
If all goes well a lineup that includes 3B Kyle Seager, Cano, Hart, Justin Smoak, Morrison and Michael Saunders could be effective. However, Hart missed all of last season, while Morrison has missed 150 games the last two seasons, as both have dealt with knee injuries. If healthy, they could provide a kick; if not, Seattle might once again struggle to score.
New manager Lloyd McClendon was most recently the hitting coach for a pretty good lineup at Detroit. Maybe he can help these guys out.
As of this writing Seattle was expressing interest in signing OF Nelson Cruz or re-signing Kendry Morales.
On the Hill
Mariners pitching starts with Felix Hernandez, runs through their nice No. 2 man, Hisashi Iwakuma, then gets iffy from there.
Taijuan Walker and James Paxton are highly regarded youngsters, but they've got a combined career seven ML starts. Erasmo Ramirez had some moments last year, but still posted an ERA of 4.98. Former Twin Scott Baker has been signed to compete for a spot in the rotation.
Seattle ranked 26th in team ERA last year at 4.31. Hernandez and Iwakuma combined for an ERA of 2.84, while the rest of the staff accounted for the rest.
The Mariners also ranked 18th in quality starts with 83; the King and 'Kuma combined for 45 of those, the rest of the staff, 38.
Needless to say, Seattle could use some depth in its rotation.
On top of that, the M's need to upgrade a bullpen that ranked 29th in ERA at 4.58 and blew 23 of 66 save opportunities.
2014 Mariners Futures
With a couple of weeks to go before Ps and Cs were due to report to Peoria the best price we could find on Seattle to win the pennant was the +1800 offered at TopBet, while the best MLB odds to win the Series were the 33/1 offered at Bovada.
McClendon had a tough go of it his first time around as a manager a decade ago with Pittsburgh, but come on, what did he have to work with? At least this Mariners team has some potential. We could say this about a lot of teams, but if the M's can find one more quality starting pitcher, get healthy seasons out of a couple of key players (Hart and Morrison) and some maturation from some youngsters, they could contend in the AL West this season.
One problem, though; the signing of Cano has adversely affected the odds one can get on Seattle. He's a nice pick up, and Seattle has some nice young talent, but we need more than +1800 on a pennant board to entice us into a bet.