What went wrong and when?
I'd say the What was a poorly constructed pitching staff and a lack of fundamentals among the position players.
- Yes, they suffered a bunch of injuries to the rotation, but Felix didn't look great in ST and Iwakuma was running on fumes last season. I expected at least one of them to underperform and miss a bunch of the season - turned out it was both of them.
- For as much talent as Paxton has, he's never been a healthy, reliable option for a full season. Guess he's kind of like Bedard - great talent and glimpses of greatness when he's on the field, but you know he's going to miss time.
- No one expected much out of Gallardo.
- I was excited about Smyly after seeing his starts in the WBC, so losing him hurt more than the others. I was hoping he could be the innings-eating middle of the rotation guy the team needed.
- And the bullpen was built on wild fireballers and flyball pitchers. That group was destined to give up a bunch of home runs. You just hoped the starting pitching was good enough to limit the bullpen exposure. Instead, the bullpen picked up a huge chunk of the workload - 570 innings or just short of 40% of total innings pitched.
- As far as the position players: the offense was there. I mean they hit pretty well and weren't as dependent on home runs to score as they were the year before. But, holy cow, the baserunning blunders and fielding errors! This was a team that badly needed to work on the basics, because they were tripping all over themselves all season.
As to the when...
I just felt something in Spring Training again this year. As a result, I was down on them from the get-go. I dug back into the archives and found this gem that I posted on April 6th:
This team SHOULD be good. On paper, it has all the parts needed to be good (although both the bullpen and rotation have some question marks).
But I've been burnt so many times by Mariners teams coming off a good season with expectations of improvement, only to see them sleepwalk through half the season and fall so far out of contention that we end up being major players at the trade deadline.
The "Almost There" : "Bust" cycle of underachievement gets so demoralizing after a while that you just come to expect it. Yeah, this team SHOULD be good enough to make the playoffs. And it wouldn't surprise me one iota if they produce a sub .500 season.
Somehow I just felt that we were looking at another underachieving team from Day 1.
Hopefully that lights a fire under them and they come back next season ready to play up to their potential. I wouldn't hold my breath, though.
Evan White - 1B drafted out of Kentucky. Currently hitting .277/.345/.532/.877 for the AquaSox
Gone But Not Forgotten (former adopt-a-players):
Forrest Snow - Signed a minor league deal with the Brewers. Split time between AA and AAA this season.
Alex Jackson - Traded to Atlanta, moved back to catcher and finally hit well in High-A ball. Now hitting .091/.412/.182/.594 in AA
Eric Thames - Slowed down after a hot start. Hitting .253/.373/.537/.910 for the Brewers.
Matt Mangini - Out of baseball. Now sells cigars.
Mike Morse - Back with the SF Giants but hasn't played since May due to injuries. Looks like time has caught up with him.
Jamal Strong - Let go after 2005. Played in the Yankees, Cubs and Braves systems. Now a national scout for the Cards.