The AL West for a change looks to be up for grabs for all, except the lowly Seattle Mariners who will be first on the list for this year’s preview. Last season’s hype with the additions of Cliff Lee and Chone Figgins did absolutely nothing to help Seattle become a powerhouse and ended up leaving them at the cellar of the Al West.
With the reigning AL Cy Young winner King Felix Hernandez on the mound, the Mariners are formidable, but he can’t pitch every game of course. Ichiro will always produce at the hitting end, but others will need to step up with him notably Franklin Gutierrez and Figgins. Overall though, they will be offensively challenged the entire season. But hey anything’s possible in a long season of baseball and the Mariners have a few notable prospects that could shine in the future.
Starting Rotation (09-10 stats included)
Felix Hernandez: 13 – 12 / ERA 2.27
Jason Vargas: 9 – 12 / ERA 3.27
Doug Fister: 6 – 14 / ERA 4.11
Erik Bedard: Missed entire 2010 season (2009 stats: 5 – 3 / ERA 2.82)
Michael Pineda: 1ST Year (with Tacoma Raniers last season: 3 – 3 / ERA 4.76)
Brandon League: 9 – 7 / ERA 3.42 / 6 saves
David Aardsma: 0 – 6 / ERA 3.44 / 31 saves
Probable Line Up
RF Ichiro Suzuki: .315 / 214 Hits
3B Chone Figgins: .259 / 156 Hits
LF Michael Saunders: .211 / 10 HRs
DH Jack Cust: .272 / 13 HRs
1B Justin Smoak: .218 / 13 HRs
C Miguel Olivo: .269 / 14 HRs
CF Franklin Gutierrez: .245 / 12 HRs
2B Brendan Ryan: .223 / 98 Hits
SS Jack Wilson: .249 / 48 Hits
Starting Rotation: C+ (without King Felix: C-)
Bullpen – C
Lineup – B
Overall – C +
Any kind of success that the Mariners can achieve this year will come greatly on the shoulders of “King” Felix. His pitching will allow the team to win even with three or four runs on the board. Erik Bedard should be ready to go for spring training after missing 2010 with shoulder surgery. If he’s healthy, the Mariner’s should have a great 1-2 punch in the rotation to help Hernandez’s load. The rest of the rotation is a bit rough after that.
The Mariners lineup as usual will find many of its hits and runs from Ichiro, others will need to step up big. That’s where the younger players will come into play. Michael Saunders played well in AAA Tacoma last year with a .313 batting avg. and 13 HRs and it looks like it’s his job to lose (to sporadic Milton Bradley) in left field. Justin Smoak (acquired from the Rangers in the Cliff Lee trade last season) looks to show the baseball world why he was considered one of the best prospects in the 2008 draft. The fact that Seattle is looking to Jack Cust to be their DH seems quite desperate to me. The guy either did one of three things during an at bat: hit a home run (which he rarely did), walk, or strike out (which he did a lot).