Salk: The surging Mariners are being guided by a brand new core
Robinson Canó is hurt and suspended. Nelson Cruz has been hurt and is fourth on the team in home runs. Kyle Seager is hitting .228. Félix Hernández has a ERA of 5.53.
And the Mariners are 27-19, alone in second place in the American League West Division and off to their best start in years.
My co-host Brock Huard is right about the Mariners turning over. This team now belongs to Jean Segura, Mitch Haniger, James Paxton, Edwin Diaz, Dee Gordon and Mike Zunino. Those are the guys the Mariners count on now. And players like Cruz, Seager and Félix can provide the veteran experience necessary to turn this into the team of a new generation.
Segura has had the biggest impact since Canó last played. The 28-year-old shortstop is 12 for 29 (.414) with two doubles, one triple, one homer and four steals in the seven games after Canó broke his pinkie, and he topped it all off with the walk-off hit in Sunday’s win. And yet I’m not sure any of those hits are his biggest moment of that stretch. It might be him beating everyone out of the dugout to be the first to greet Guillermo Heredia on his walk-off hit against Texas. Leadership moment for him the day Canó got suspended.
Of those new core players, three came to Seattle in trades by general manager Jerry Dipoto (Segura, Haniger and Gordon), one was converted to a reliever under Dipoto’s watch (Diaz), and two he saved from flaming out (Paxton and Zunino). That is his fingerprint.
Are we ready to extend Dipoto and manager Scott Servais? That’s something worth talking about in the coming days and weeks.
All that said, I’m still not sure I could commit to trading the future to make the postseason this year. You want to deal Sam Carlson, Evan White or Kyle Lewis? I don’t. I’d be happy to deal Rob Whalen or someone to get a spare piece to help. But right now, I don’t see how you can take Guillermo Heredia out of the lineup.
The M’s are 5-2 since Canó got hurt, 4-2 since he was suspended. Only 74 more to go.