MLB Seattle Mariners

Seattle Mariners: Top 5 Offseason Needs

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5 Biggest Needs for the Seattle Mariners

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 Seattle Mariners (71-91 2013 record) were once again a huge letdown to their Pacific Northwest fans after falling off from the very beginning and finishing only ahead of the lowly Houston Astros in the American League West.

The Mariners' offense was, as usual, the main culprit for the lackluster season after only producing a woeful .237 team batting average to go along with a .306 on-base percentage and a .695 on-base plus slugging percentage. Those three offensive statistics ranked in the lower third of all of MLB.

The pitching, despite being led by Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, also struggled. As a team, the Mariners posted the fifth worst ERA at 4.31. The fences were moved in at Safeco Field, and that seemed to hurt the Mariners' pitching more than it helped the team's offense.

The Mariners payroll last season was 24th in the majors at $73.5 million. Hernandez made the most at $20,557,143, and he was the only player making more than $10 million. Iwakuma was the Mariners' best contender for a postseason award and finished with a WHIP of 1.01, a 2.66 ERA and 14 victories in 33 starts. The remainder of the staff was inconsistent. No other pitcher with more than 10 starts had an ERA under four runs. Top prospect Taijuan Walker did show signs he could be a top-of-the-line starter but only made three starts, had a 3.60 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 7.20 K/9 in a mere 15 innings. Small sample size aside, Walker will be a candidate to make the staff in 2014, but there is definitely reason to believe the watch on starters will not stop there.

Seattle, under new manager Lloyd McClendon, needs to bump up its offense first if the team wants to have any shot at competing with the Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers and a Los Angeles Angels team that should be better next season. The Astros will be the worst team in the division, but just being better than them is not the goal for the 2014 Mariners.

Gregory T. Philson is an ACC Basketball and MLB writer for Follow him on Twitter @GTPhilson, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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5. Starting Pitching

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Mariners have a very solid rotation with Felix Hernandez leading the staff and Hisashi Iwakuma coming off a near Cy Young award-winning season. Still, the Mariners have expressed interest in the direction of another starter. Matt Garza and Ervin Santana could be exactly what they need. Josh Johnson would also be a fine fit.

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4. Outfielder

H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports

Carlos Beltran would be a great pick up for the Mariners. He is a great hitter who has not displayed any sign of slipping off dramatically. He is 37, but if he needs a day to rest his knees he can be swapped out to the DH.

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3. Power

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Nelson Cruz is an obvious pick to fill the big-bat role the Mariners desperately need. Every year the M's need more home runs and never get it from anyone. Cruz has power that can translate to anywhere.

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2. Shortstop

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Mariners finally fell out of love with Brendan Ryan and traded him to the New York Yankees. Seattle is hoping to finally land a bat here. Jhonny Peralta would make sense because of his stick. Assuming he can provide the solid power numbers he has in the past, the Mariners can deal with his below-average defense.

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1. Leadership

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Mariners' new manager Lloyd McClendon looks like an odd choice because he has had no success as a lead-skipper after failing miserably during his stint with the Pirates. However, he has experience winning as a coach with the Detroit Tigers and may have a new way to handle managerial duties.