Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Mariners

Hard to pin down, this team.

They managed to fatten up against weak competition (Texas, Oakland, and Kansas City) befor heading on their current road trip. The M's numbers are weak enough that I didn't take their winning streak seriously...and with Felix out, I felt like things were bleak.

So before their current tough road trip (one in Boston, four in New York, and three in Detroit), I declared the following: if the team went 4-4 or better, I'd take them seriously as contenders in the weak AL West. 3-5 meant they'd tease, but lose. 2-6 or below and I wouldn't believe they could compete.

The M's have looked dreadful for most of this trip. Sometimes their pitching (especially Horatio Ramirez) is abysmal. Frequently their batting is miserable. They can be really rough to watch.

And yet they're 3-4 on the trip. A win tomorrow and they've met my standards.

(They won't win tomorrow, of course, since it's a Jeff Weaver start. Ick.)

Still, however, things are looking up.

They're only a half game out of first.

They're .500 without Felix, which, as you'll recall, is one of my benchmarks for how to make the playoffs this year. 25-11 in Felix's starts obviously isn't possible anymore--we'll be lucky to get 28 starts out of him now. But 20-8 in Felix's starts would make us 87-75, which could win the Wild Weak West. They've shown that they can accompish the tougher part of the goal (the .500 in non-Felix starts).

A strong statement through the rest of May is absolutely essential.

Some benchmarks for the 19 games that follow tomorrow:

--Six of the 19 are against the Angels. To be a real contender, we need four of those. To be a pretender who I can't trust, we need 2 or 3.

--In the rest of the games, (three each against San Diego, Tampa Bay, New York, Kansas City, and a singleton in Cleveland), the M's must hold to my Felix/non-Felix plan. Felix will start four times: twice against the Angels, and once each against San Diego and Kansas City. We need to win three of those. In the non-Felix games, we have to go 9-6 to be serious, and 8-7 to be teases.

12-7 in those 19, including 3 against the Angels, and by gum, we'd have a pennant race here in Seattle. 11 or 10 and we're teases. 9 or less and we're out-and-out fakes.

I'm hanging in there with these guys. We haven't been in it in May in forever.

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