|Someone get a hit. I'm ready.|
Hope, it seems, has the power to induce amnesia.
Most of what we read about the Mariners is realistic about their chances in 2011 with many predictions of last place, or perhaps competition for 3rd place, flirting with 82 wins. I think it's good to be realistic. But allow us, just for a few hundred words, to be unrealistic and wonder if there's a Ying to the 2010 Yang.
Since the Mariners were historically, uncharacteristically, and unpredictably horrible in 2010, could we be historically, uncharacteristically, and unpredictably good in 2011? Wait, don't answer that, you'll ruin the fantasy.
So let's ask some what if's, and dream a little. Why not?
What if Justin Smoak hits? I mean, what if he really hits - i.e. becomes that guy that was called a "switch hitting Justin Morneau." What if Smoak threw up a .275/25/95 line and played a terrific first base to boot?
What if Chone Figgins, in his glorious return to third base, gets comfortable again and starts looking like...well, Chone Figgins. He was a 6 win player in 2009 before he turned into a pumpkin in Seattle. What if he returned to his slap-hitting-high-average-scoring-runs-by-the-truck-full ways? .295, 100 runs, 40 stolen bases anyone? How about some fantastic defense for a 4 WAR season? Anyone? Bueller?
What if Doug Fister and Jason Vargas continue to have success? Fister was 2.9 wins above replacement and Vargas was 2.6 in 2010. If they could replicate that kind of success, it would certainly go a long way towards solidifying a rotation that really seems to feature an ace and four #5 starters.
What if Erik Bedard stayed healthy all year? We already fantasized a bit about Bedard's contributions to this team in 2011 back in January. But what if he finally put together the season that Seattle fans have been dreaming of for the last three seasons? An ERA in the low 3's, K/9 rate in the 8's, the #2 starter we haven't seen since a few months of Cliff Lee.
What if Olivo delivers? Could he have truly matured as a hitter since his last go-round with the M's? Can he be a middle-of-the-order power source to drive in precious runs? Can he go .260-20-70? Production behind the plate? Yes, please.
Alright, I sense your collective eye-rolling, so I'm going to stop here. But again, you can only flip the coin and come up tails so many times. At some point, you'll get heads. The problem for the M's is all of the above would probably need to come to fruition in order for them to be at all competitive for the pennant in the West, combined with assumed awesomeness from Felix and Ichiro and other contributors not laying eggs. So no, it's not likely.
But that it's not impossible makes it nothing other than Spring Training.