July 29, 2012
In the cellar, Mariners are sellers
By MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency
SEATTLE - Now that they have moved the great Ichiro Suzuki to the New York Yankees, the Mariners are in full "seller" mode.
The problem for Seattle, last in the AL West, is that they have few chips with which to play.
Their top remaining player is 'King' Felix Hernandez, but their is no buzz surrounding his name as the non-waiver trade deadline rapidly approaches and the right-hander is not expected to be moved any time soon.
Instead, the Mariners pitcher who could draw the most interest and could be had for the right package is 29-year-old left-hander Jason Vargas, who is slated to pitch Tuesday against the Jays.
In his last start against Kansas City, Vargas went eight strong innings in a 4-1 victory. He has now won each of his past four starts, over which time he has notched one complete-game victory and has a spiffy 1.55 ERA.
On the season, Vargas, in 22 starts is 11-7 -- the 11 wins a career high -- with a 3.76 ERA, and this on a team that is dead last in the American League in runs scored.
What the Mariners need are bats of any description, and if you happen to be a power hitter, all the better.
The Mariners this season have socked just 87 home runs, which is the second-lowest total in the American League.
First baseman Justin Smoak tops the team in that department with all of 13 while third baseman Kyle Seager has driven in the most runs -- 62.
The clock may be ticking on Vargas and his time in Seattle but despite the team's struggles, he is not in a rush to leave.
"I hope that I've proven I'm worth more here," he said after his victory on Thursday. "This is a great city. I love my teammates. It's home to me."
Vargas has fit in with the Mariners after stops with the Marlins and the Mets.
"I was given a lot of opportunity here and I'm fortunate I took advantage of it," Vargas said earlier in the week.
The only knock on Vargas this season is his penchant for giving up the long ball. He has allowed 25 home runs, tops in the major leagues. Just six of those homers have come at Safeco Field, which is hardly home run friendly, with the other 19 coming on the road.
"He's just grown," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "Even in the short period of time I've been here. It's been a lot of fun to watch this guy continue to figure it out and continue to get better."
Whether his growth continues in Seattle or some other locale remains to be seen.
BLUE JAYS AT MARINERS
MONDAY 10:10 p.m. LHP Ricky Romero vs. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma
TUESDAY 10:10 p.m. LHP Aaron Laffey vs. LHP Jason Vargas
WEDNESDAY 10:10 p.m. RHP Carlos Villanueva vs. RHP Blake Beavan
The Mariners have sported a better record of late but they have been beating up the dregs of the league. Seattle has little in the way of offence as they are tied with Oakland for having the lowest batting average in the league (.231) and have scored the fewest runs. This is a series the Jays have to sweep if they have any hope of closing some ground in the wild-card race..
TThe on-and-off Jays get a break in that they will not have to face Felix Hernandez. That has to be a plus. If Ricky Romero snaps out of his funk, the Jays could sweep the series. But we"re not that bold and will predict the Jays win two of three.
MARINERS WHO'S HOT
MARINERS WHO'S COLD