Based on the overwhelming coverage of football news in recent weeks, you may not realize baseball is coming, and soon.
Believe it or not, baseball is less than a week away — real, live, meaningful baseball.
If you’re at all like me, you’re counting down the hours until Felix Hernandez takes the mound nearly 5,000 miles away in the confines of the Tokyo Dome to unveil the curtain on the 2012 MLB season.
I don’t know why, but each spring I feel such excitement and glowing optimism for a team likely destined for failure.
Perhaps it is just a matter of having an off-season to recover from the preceding pain of each season. You know the old saying, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’.
The Mariners are like that girl you love and look forward to seeing, but continues to upset you all the while.
However strenuous the relationship during the past decade, we’ve stuck together. And this spring, my optimism feels much more warranted than the blind love of the past.
The lineup now looks much more formidable, err — promising, with three-heralded prospects in the heart of the order.
Justin Smoak gets a pass on last season because of injuries and the mid-season passing of his father. This is still a guy who was the centerpiece of a trade two years ago for pitcher Cliff Lee, and a guy who has been compared to New York’s all-star first-baseman Mark Texiera.
For the uncertainty that comes with Smoak, no one should worry about Dustin Ackley.
Expect more of the same from the former number two overall pick in his sophomore season. Ackley will hit for average and a little power, and should prove to be a perennial all-star second baseman for years to come.
I’m most excited for newly acquired catcher and designated hitter, Jesus Montero.
That’s mostly because the unknown is exciting, but I do know this kid can hit. Look at any prospect list and Montero tops the charts, not for his glove but his uncanny ability to hammer the ball. In fact, the 22-year-old is already being compared to a young Edgar Martinez, something that should get Seattle fans salivary glands pumping.
The three young sluggers head a lineup riddled with potential talent including the up-and-coming Mike Carp, Kyle Seager, and yes, even Michael Saunders still could be good. The problem with these role players, and even the pitching on this team is the uncertainty that clouds over them.
Being the scarred lover I am, I know I cannot indulge myself with dreams of every single player reaching my expectations. That’s why, though excited, I proceed with cautious optimism in 2012.
Going forward I believe the Mariners do have a solid foundation for future success. In the immediate future, the team’s outlook is still stained by the word ‘if’.
If Ichiro is able to redefine himself as a number three hitter, if Chone Figgins can return to his 2009-self, if Franklin Gutierrez can stay healthy, and the hitting prospects live up to their full potential this team will be awfully fun to watch.
We will find out soon enough if this team can remain afloat in a division that now features some of the best talent in all of baseball. However, I’m here to warn you that this team has its fair share of flaws, but stay tuned because this relationship is headed in the right direction.