When your computer is running slow, sometimes all it needs is a couple of outdated programs deleted and a quick re-start.
The Mariner brass looks to be doing just that with the offense this winter.
Here are 10 reasons why the Mariner offense will be much-improved in 2013:
1) Hitting coach Chris Chambliss exits stage left, replaced by Dave Hansen.
Look no further than Matt Kemp’s dramatic improvement over the last two seasons (finished 2nd in MVP in 2011, was on pace to win MVP in 2012 before injuries struck) as proof that former Dodger hitting coach Dave Hansen knows what he’s doing.
2) The Miguel Olivo experiment mercilessly comes to an end.
Since returning to the M’s in 2011, Olivo has made fans nauseous, batting .223 with an almost unfathomable .248 on-base percentage. Olivo will not be back in 2013 (Allow yourself a giant sigh of relief).
3 and 4) The catcher-designated hitter combination of Jesus Montero and John Jaso looks to be a formidable duo.
Rated the fifth best prospect in all of baseball in 2010, Montero could be the right-handed beast the Mariners have been looking for since the days of Jay Buhner. The 22-year-old hit .322 against lefties and .295 on the road in his first full season, finishing with 15 round trippers and 20 doubles overall. Based on his track record in pro ball, the Venezuelan has the potential to be a .300 hitter with plus power. He’ll need to improve his plate discipline (29 walks in 553 plate appearances in 2012), but the fact that Montero hits to all fields and his strikeout rate isn’t out of control bodes well for his development.
The left-handed swinging Jaso was arguably the Mariners’ best hitter in 2012. Acquired last November, the former Tampa Bay Ray posted a .394 on-base percentage and slugged .456, leading the team in both. In contrast to most hitters, Jaso has walked more than he has struck out in his career.
Translation: John Jaso is a disciplined hitter who can really put a charge into the pitches he chooses to attack.
5) Third baseman Kyle Seager can rake.
The former North Carolina Tarheel led the team in doubles, home runs and RBI in 2012. The batting average in his first full season was .259, and if his .328 mark in the minors is an indicator, Seager should gravitate toward becoming a .300 hitter at the big league level sooner rather than later.
6) Dustin Ackley will bounce back.
Although Dustin Ackley had a rocky 2012 season (.226 average, 124 SO), the other UNC grad in the lineup has been learning on the job. Remember, the 2nd overall pick in 2009 only played a season and a half in the minors (while learning a new position) before being called up. While he struggled to find a rhythm this past season, Ackley has proved to be a natural hitter over the course of his career. Odds are, he’ll make adjustments this offseason and be ready to go in 2013.
7) OF Michael Saunders looks to be coming into his own.
Saunders made strides in 2012, finishing one home run shy of the 20-20 Club while raising his batting average nearly a hundred points from 2011. The Victoria, BC native must cut down on his strikeouts (132 in 2012) and work towards using the whole field, but he’s only 25. Baseball statistician and historian Bill James believes a player’s prime falls between the ages of 25 and 29. If that holds true, the Mariners may have something with Saunders, as long as he becomes more consistent; he’s quite the streaky player.
8) Mike Carp has displayed a brawny bat when healthy.
After batting .276 and bashing twelve home runs in limited duty in 2011, injuries hampered Mike Carp this past season. With Smoak struggling and Ichiro unlikely to return, Carp, who hit fifty bombs at Tacoma in 2010-11 combined, should be given a shot to win either the first base job or an outfield spot in 2013. All that was needed was an opportunity, and Mariners fans hope that he realizes his potential this year.
9) GM Jack Zduriencik has cheese to spend with Ichiro off the books.
That $17 million can be stretched to grab a few veterans to bring these young hitters along or be used towards landing a big-time name like Josh Hamilton. Either way, it’s a nice chunk to have in the bank.
10) The M’s only need to score 0.5 more runs per game to become a contender.
Consider this. The Mariners averaged 3.82 runs per game in 2012 and finished fourth in the AL in runs scored on the road. Oakland and Baltimore averaged 4.40 runs per game, and they both made the playoffs. Detroit scored 4.48 on their way to the World Series.
Can the Mariners score a half of a run more per game in 2013? If big Jesus Montero has anything to say about it, they sure can.