Mariners’ singular focus in 2024: ‘Let’s win the West’

Mar 13, 2024, 8:08 AM | Updated: 12:59 pm

Seattle Mariners Scott Servais...

Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais during a game against Detroit on May 13, 2023. (Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

(Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners ended the 2023 season on a down note, falling just short of a playoff berth.

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Then, the start of the offseason didn’t exactly help as the Mariners parted ways with some popular players in cost-cutting moves. That led manager Scott Servais to traveling all around the Western Hemisphere to meet with the team’s top players and leaders.

“We’re only as good as the players, you know what I mean?” Servais told Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob on Tuesday at Mariners spring training. “You can come up with the greatest plans or rosters and all that stuff, but the players have got to play, and they have to believe in each other. They also need to believe in the organization and the direction we’re trying to go.”

That direction is very clear to Servais.

“It’s about taking the next step. We came up a little bit short last year, and everybody felt very empty when we left T-Mobile Park at the end of the year. And we don’t want that feeling again,” he said. “I really like our team. I like our chances this year of winning the American League West and not just getting in the playoffs. Let’s win the West. We were right there last year. We’ve gotta get better. There’s certainly areas (that have) room for improvement. We’re addressing some of that stuff here in spring training and how we play and how we do some things, but we’ve also addressed it in our roster. And I really like our team.”

Servais said “the bottom line” is about getting better in order to take that next step. He thinks the Mariners are very aligned about getting that done.

“The thing that excites me most is everybody’s going down the same road,” he said. “We don’t have people veering off like, ‘Well, I’m just going to focus on being an All-Star this year,’ or ‘I’m just going to focus on a contract for next year.’ We don’t have any of that going on now. That’s a challenge as the season goes on. You’ve got to keep everybody’s eyes on the prize, so to speak, and the prize is to win the AL West.”

“We have raised the bar on expectations around our team. It wasn’t that way three or four years ago. And we have,” Servais later added. “We broke the drought to get into the playoffs (in 2022), now we need to go a little bit farther.”

A big part of what could help the Mariners win the division has to do with health. That’s the case for any team, but it’s especially true of this Mariners team.

The M’s acquired a few bats this offseason, including newcomers Mitch Garver and Jorge Polanco and reuniting with Mitch Haniger. All three could provide upgrades for the M’s offensively, but they also come to Seattle with notable and recent injury histories.

“It’s really important to be proactive instead of just reacting and ‘now we’ve got an injury, how could we have stayed out in front of this one?'” Servais said.

Servais said the Mariners have a high-performance group that meets every day, and Servais and/or multiple coaches sit in on those meetings. There, they discuss planning out the week and which days certain guys should probably take off.

“You want to stay out ahead of it about a week ahead of time, which is something we’ve done in the past, but we really need to stay in tune to it this year,” he said.

What could help with those injury question marks, Servais said, is the other players the Mariners have in the mix right now.

“The thing that excites me, I think the depth of our team is as good as it’s ever been since I’ve been here,” he said. “So when you’re trying to win every game, which is what we’re trying to do, it’s really hard to give your better players a day off unless you’ve got guys you feel really good about putting in there. And I think that’s a little bit different about this club. It’s maybe not showing up right away, but the depth of our team is much different than it has been in the past. So it should afford me to give more days off to those guys.”

Listen to Wyman and Bob’s full conversation with Scott Servais at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

More on the Seattle Mariners

• Mariners Notebook: Good developments with Gilbert, Urías
• Mariners Notebook: Ryne Stanek’s take on going from Astros to M’s
• Mariners Notebook: No concern over two key bats’ slow starts
• Who 5 of Mariners’ biggest X-factors in 2024 are
• Drayer’s Mariners Notebook: Reliever updates, why Pollock is back
• Mariners Breakdown: Who is new reliever Ryne Stanek?

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