Most of the young players now receiving everyday playing time with the Seattle Mariners as the season rolls into August are just a year or two removed from college. So the continual lessons, the constant learning and subsequent evaluation of their performance shouldn’t be unfamiliar.
In fact, it should be very familiar and will only get moreso as the final two months of the 2011 regular season wind down.
While it may not seem so to the casual observer, these final 50 or so games for the Mariners will be extremely important (as were the last 25) in the growth of the franchise moving forward. For it is over these final eight weeks — and the previous four weeks since the All-Star break — in which Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik and his front office staff will be comprehensively evaluating each and every player on the roster, including most importantly, the young players who have a year or less of experience in the Show.
It is crucial for Zduriencik and his staff to make accurate assessments on the players that the organization should move forward with as cornerstones to form a strong foundation for the franchise for years to come and which ones to package off in trades. Being accurate in those assessments will not only determine the success of this franchise heading into 2012 but over the next five or so seasons as well.
An early — and albeit non-professional — evaluation of the play of this organization’s young talent shows a beginning in the forming of a strong, young nucleus. The Mariners look to have found cornerstones for many years to come in first baseman Justin Smoak (24), starting pitcher Michael Pineda (22) and second baseman Dustin Ackley (23). Mike Carp (25) a DH/left field candidate as well as starting pitcher Blake Beavan (22) look to have also claimed spots in that nucleus.
The jury remains out on young pitchers Josh Lueke (26), Aaron Laffey (26), Dan Cortes (24) and Charlie Furbush (25) but all look promising and should have future roles in the bullpen in 2012 and beyond. The same goes for position players like Trayvon Robinson (23), Kyle Seager (23), Greg Halman (23), Casper Wells (26) and Carlos Peguero (23) who have all broken in in the last 12 months.
As fans of this team, we should watch the last 50 or so games with the evaluation process in mind. There are going to continue to be ups and downs with these players and the team as a whole and we should not get carried away with either one of them. Let the players go through their peaks and valleys while rooting for their success.
Success, the organization depends on.