SEATTLE -- Change has been the theme of this year's offseason for the Mariners. From general manager Jerry Dipoto to manager Scott Servais to a roster now littered with fresh faces, the franchise has been largely turned upside down.For third baseman Kyle Seager, one of the Mariners' mainstays, that fresh
SEATTLE -- Change has been the theme of this year's offseason for the Mariners. From general manager Jerry Dipoto to manager Scott Servais to a roster now littered with fresh faces, the franchise has been largely turned upside down.
For third baseman Kyle Seager, one of the Mariners' mainstays, that fresh course is a welcome path.
Seager sat down with Dipoto at the end of last season and listened as the new GM laid out his vision. And he's eager now to see how the many moves -- 11 trades and five Major League free-agent signings -- play out when the team gathers next month in Peoria, Ariz.
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"He definitely stuck with the plan," Seager said at Saturday's FanFest, where many of the new faces were getting their first introduction to the Mariners' faithful at Safeco Field. "It's pretty exciting to see the transformation the team has taken."
Seattle was expected to challenge for the American League West title last year, but instead a fourth-place finish at 76-86 led to the dismissal of then-GM Jack Zduriencik and then-skipper Lloyd McClendon. Dipoto has since turned over 43 percent of the 40-man roster and talked at length of redoing the culture and thought process of the organization from top to bottom.
"You understand the business side of this," Seager said. "Ultimately we're trying to win, and unfortunately we haven't done that yet. You understand that. As soon as you sit down and talk to [Servais] or Dipoto, it's a very optimistic conversation, and you love the direction they're taking."
A big part of the push is to find players who better fit spacious Safeco Field. Dipoto and Servais talk about getting more athletic -- "I'm not sure where I fit in with that, but I like it," Seager said -- as well as controlling the strike zone better.
For hitters, that means improving an on-base percentage of .311 that ranked 11th out of the AL's 15 teams last year. Seager hit a career-best 26 home runs and posted a healthy .451 slugging percentage, but his OBP of .328 will certainly be a point of emphasis this season, and he knows it.
"I'm going to have to get better at it, for sure," he said. "That's definitely been an influence that they're talking about. And it makes sense. Everything they're saying makes sense. You look at the ballpark and everything -- the plan seems smart. Obviously it's easier said than done, but [Dipoto] has done a lot and has been very active in that regard. It's a big ballpark. It's hard to kind of rely on the home runs."
Seager has spent his offseason at home in North Carolina, quietly rooting for the Seahawks in the heart of Panthers territory and enjoying time with his wife, Julie, and their 2-year-old son, Crue. He said this offseason has been much more normal than last winter, when he was working out a seven-year, $100 million contract.
The business now has been all about baseball, training with his brothers Justin and Corey. Justin, 23, played for the Mariners' Class A Advanced Bakersfield team last year. Corey, 21, made the jump to the Majors for the Dodgers late last year and is now ranked as the No. 1 prospect by MLBPipeline.com.
Seeing his little brother in the playoffs in October with the Dodgers lit a fire for Kyle, who has yet to taste the postseason in 4 1/2 seasons in Seattle.
"He's got me a little jealous," he admitted with a smile.
The two brothers flipped roles a bit in that regard, with Kyle now asking his younger sibling what it was like instead of the other way around. And when asked what he wants to work on most this season, that's where Kyle goes first.
"At this point, it really comes down to winning," he said. "You have to do whatever you can to win. You hear guys talk about that and all this other stuff, but it's real.
"The last few years, ever since I've been up here, we haven't been in the postseason. We were really close the one year, but that's something I've really gotten a taste for. Watching my brother in the postseason was really cool. And I'd like to join him."
Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast.