I sent some questions about the Mariners to Jeff Sullivan from Lookout Landing, SB's Seattle Mariner's site and he was nice enough to answer them:
Can you explain the Jack Wilson thing to me? Is he likely to play this series?
Jack Wilson is back in the lineup Monday night. He took himself out of last Wednesday's game after making errors on consecutive plays at second base, and as you can imagine, that rubbed the coaching staff the wrong way. But Wilson and Eric Wedge had a talk and now he's out of the manager's dog house, at least for the time being. He'll be on thin ice, but I'm thinking we'll look back on the incident as a blip instead of a recurring concern.
Would we have a quick scouting report of the starting pitchers we are going to see?
Felix Hernandez goes tonight, and you probably don't need a report on what he brings to the table. He'll be followed by rookie Michael Pineda, who spots a mid-90s fastball and throws a sharp slider, but struggles to locate his changeup and can therefore be exposed by lefty hitters. The series closes with Jason Vargas, a southpaw changeup specialist who's basically a harder-throwing Jamie Moyer. He's a flyball guy who's suited well for the ballpark.
Brandon League is currently the interim closer while David Aardsma rehabs from hip surgery, and he's still as inconsistent as he's ever been, posting worse numbers than you'd like to get from a guy with his weapons. He isn't a bad reliever, but he isn't the reliever he was on 2009, and for that reason he's been a disappointment.
What do Mariner fans think of manager Eric Wedge?
It's obviously far too early to say anything declarative about Wedge - he's only had nine games at the helm. He's certainly focused on the big picture and he's maintaining a stern but positive attitude, which is nice. He handled the whole Jack Wilson situation well in my estimation. He's a better and more direct communicator than Don Wakamatsu was. We'll just have to see what Wedge is up to if he gets another few months of this ineffectiveness.
The Mariners have been a little offensively challenged. Can they expect to improve much? Who is under performing?
Obviously the team won't maintain an OPS under .600 forever, and Ryan Langerhans won't finish with 50% of our home runs. We're still waiting on our first dingers from Justin Smoak, Jack Cust, Milton Bradley, and Miguel Olivo, who constitute the middle of the order. So more runs will be plated when the ball starts leaving the yard. But this is never going to be a juggernaut, and there's reason to believe the Mariners will have the AL's worst lineup if, say, Bradley can't rebound, and Cust continues his downward trend, and Smoak has a rough time adjusting. The ability is there to average more than four runs a game, but the evidence that this unit will ever work efficiently is still lacking after a week and a half.
Is there anything else use Jay fans should know about the M's.
The Mariners have lost seven games in a row, and they haven't looked real good doing it. With that said, four of those games were decided by one or two runs, and with arms like Felix and Pineda on the mound, the possibility is there that the M's could win this series while scoring just four or five times. Both of those guys have clear shutdown potential. I'm not optimistic, but I'm hopeful, and if nothing else, the first two games of the set should be a treat for fans of both teams to watch. Nothing taps into a baseball fan's heart quite like a 96mph fastball.