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Updated: June 16, 2010, 2:07 AM ET

Not many bright days in Seattle

By Chris Singleton
ESPN
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What began as a slow start for the highly-touted Mariners has snowballed into an abysmal season. And it's technically not even summer yet.

[+] EnlargeChone Figgins
Harry How/Getty ImagesChone Figgins' slow start didn't help the Mariners.

The Mariners' 24-41 mark is now the second-worst in the AL and they sit 12½ back from the Rangers in the West. Who could blame Seattle fans for being excited heading into this season? They got a taste of positive progression when their club finished eight games over .500 in 2009. Then they went out this offseason and added both Cliff Lee and Chone Figgins to the roster. A Lee-Felix Hernandez pitching duo would be nearly unstoppable, and adding Figgins to an already fast and athletic lineup would wreak havoc on the bases, right?

Well, not exactly.

While Ichiro Suzuki remains a hit-machine atop the lineup, Figgins was slow out of the gates. He's starting to swing the bat well this month, but I don't think anyone expected him to hit .200 in April and .220 in May. And while Franklin Gutierrez and Jose Lopez have done a phenomenal job defensively, neither is a very imposing hitter at the plate.

Without those speedsters getting on base, the Mariners have really exposed their lack of power in the lineup. No one expected them to be spectacular in this category, but they've still fallen below expectations. Last year, Russell Branyan posted 31 home runs and provided that punch in the offense. At this point in the season, Mike Sweeney leads the club with six homers. In addition to hoping that Ken Griffey Jr. would be able to provide a threatening presence in limited at-bats, the Mariners were eager for Milton Bradley to provide an offensive spark at the start of the season. Obviously, both situations did not go according to plan.

Without run support, the Mariners pitching staff as a whole has been nothing to brag about. Lee still is solid, and Doug Fister has been a nice surprise, but that bullpen has no identity. Last season, David Aardsma was near perfect. Now his ERA is more than 5.00, and he's blown four saves. Mark Lowe, who was a good setup guy, is now out for the season thanks to back surgery. When things are up in the air and bullpen roles aren't identified, things can get messy.

But it's not all doom and gloom for Seattle. Ichiro is, well, Ichiro and Josh Wilson, who's doing a great job filling in at shortstop for Jack Wilson, is batting .283. In addition to Figgins starting to heat up, I think there's a good chance that, in the amount of games left, Bradley will turn in some respectable numbers. He's had setbacks with off-the-field stuff, but he looks good moving around on defense and he'll continue to sharpen up at the plate. There's also the possibility of getting a talented left fielder or first baseman/DH in exchange for Lee by the trade deadline. I don't see the Mariners holding on to him too long and if they can get a good player and a few prospects, why not?

I remember being in a similar situation as the Mariners back in 2002, when I played for Baltimore. We weren't expected to contend in the highly competitive AL East, but we were still trying to play winning baseball. You'll hear a lot of people say that hitting is contagious. Well, slumping is contagious too. Negative energy can suck the life out of a ball club.

When your team is down, it's easier to start looking at your individual performance. You can fall prey to this selfish ideology: "I need to get my numbers up so I can turn in a good year and be in line for the next contract or pay raise." You switch into "survival mode" -- and that can be a very dangerous thing in a team atmosphere.

The Mariners did a great job by calling a team meeting this past weekend and talking things out. I don't know what was said, but someone needs to step up and provide the ultimatum -- be miserable for the next three or four months while working on individual numbers or start doing the little things to play better as a team. The decision shouldn't be too hard.

Chris Singleton is an analyst for "Baseball Tonight."

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