ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Mariners: Too much can go right to dwell on what’s gone wrong

May 26, 2022, 10:27 AM
Mariners Kyle Lewis, Julio Rodriguez...
Julio Rodriguez celebrates a home run with Kyle Lewis vs the Athletics on May 24, 2022. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The start of the 2022 season hasn’t gone to plan for the Mariners.

Rost: Looking at the Mariners at the quarter mark of 2022 season

After a 90-win campaign a year ago, the Mariners find themselves 18-27 and sitting in last place in the American League West after an alarming series loss to the Oakland Athletics.

ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan has said repeatedly over the last few months that he’s bullish on the direction of the franchise, but has the team’s recent struggles done anything to diminish that optimism? He joined Seattle Sports 710 AM’s Mike Salk Show Wednesday and discussed with guest hosts Mike Lefko and Michael Bumpus.

“I am standing steadfast in my belief that the Seattle Mariners are not as terrible a team as we see them right now,” Passan said. “And I’m not doubling down, I’m not tripling down. All I’m saying is that this is a very bad version of this team right now, and I still do not believe that they are a bad team.”

Passan said the return of 2020 American League Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis is a big boost and that the team has played better defense overall than he anticipated.

The bullpen, however, “has been a problem” after being a strength of the team last year, Passan said.

“I will acknowledge that. Maybe I was believing a little too much in the early results in the bullpen,” he said. “A bullpen that doesn’t necessarily have a veteran presence there (with) established guys who have had multiple years of success, which really is the true sign of a good deep bullpen.”

Passan thinks Seattle’s lineup, which doesn’t contain many “world beaters,” has enough good hitters to be productive, especially given the development and recent play of rookie outfielder Julio Rodríguez.

“Ultimately, it’s going to come down, I think, starting pitching,” Passan said. “Can Logan Gilbert keep it up? Can George Kirby be the George Kirby who’s striking out guys and not giving up hits in addition to not giving up walks? Can you get Chris Flexen from 2021 back? Is Marco Gonzales going to be the mid-rotation-type guy, or is he going to be the back-end sort?”

Passan believes the Mariners still have “a lot of areas” for improvement, but he’s still not ready to wave the white flag when looking at the direction of the franchise, or even the 2022 season.

“I’m really not trying to hold onto something that I know is a lost cause here, I’m just not trying to abandon something when things are bad,” he said. “Because I don’t think this is a team that’s worth abandoning at this point – not at this point in the season. Yeah, maybe we have this conversation later in June or in July. But right now, there’s just too much that can go right, I think, to dwell on the many things that have gone wrong.”

Listen to the full conversation at this link or in the player below.

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