So when the baseball season ended last year my interest had almost completely faded in the Mariners. Every game was an embarrassment to watch and you always knew what the outcome was going to be. So what was the point in even watching? We didn't watch much the last month of the season.
During the off season I found myself checking in once in a while to see what was happening in Mariner land. Still not much interest though. But then we made some moves, singed some veteran leaders, made the JJ trade and got a handful of great possibilities in return and then of course the signing of Ken Griffey Jr. Slowly my interest grew. Slowly I started to realize I love these guys win or lose. If you can suffer through last years HORRENDOUS season then you can suffer through anything with your team. That's what makes the true fan.
So here we sit on what is Opening Day for all of baseball aside from the Braves and Phillies. Speaking fo the Braves did anyone see how Derek Lowe dominated the Phillies all night long and ruined their home opener? Anyways, I thought I would take some time to put down my thoughts and predictions for the Mariners season.
First of all let me be clear the I do not have any rose colored glasses on and I do not expect the Mariners to contend for anything this season. I am not convinced that with the health of Jr, Felix and Bedard that this team will be great. What I am convinced of is that they will be better than a lot of people think they will be.
First and foremost they have a more solid clubhouse this year. With guys like Sweeney and Griffey bringing leadership I think that its a given that things wont be like they were last year. Sweeney didn't make this team because he can still hit a baseball. He made the team because of what he brings to the clubhouse. The leadership he will bring to this team is worth far more than what he can or can't do with his bat.
A new coaching staff with a new outlook and approach. We finally hired from the outside and didn't just promote someone from within. I am eager to see what Wakamatsu can do with this young team and how the will grow under his leadership. We also have a new GM who in my opinion has made some great moves since taken over the reigns. Moves in the right direction.
The 25 man roster is set and looks like this...
Catchers - Kenji Johjima, Rob Johnson
Kenji had a terrible season last year, we are all aware of that. But towards the end of the season we saw more of the Kenji we were used to and he finished the year on a high note. He was outstanding in the WBC for Japan this year so let's hope his confidence is back and we will see a more productive at bats from him.
Infielders - Adrian Beltre, Yuniesky Betancourt, Russell Branyan, Ronny Cedeno, Jose Lopez, Mike Sweeney, Matt Tuiasosopo
Beltre is healthy going into the season and is in a contract year which can only mean good things for him and for the Mariners. Beltre is still in my opinion one of the best 3rd base gloves in the league and if he can swing that bat with some consistency he could really help this team. Lopez was amazing in the WBC and looks like he is in full stride and ready for the season to start. I expect big things for Jose this year. Tuiasospo is only on the roster until Ichiro returns from the DL. Cedeno and Sweeney will be our spare infielders and will also share DH duties with Jr.
Outfielders - Wladimir Balentien, Endy Chavez, Ken Griffey Jr., Franklin Gutierrez, Ichiro
Chavez will get to take over the leadoff duties while each recovers from his ulcer. Jr will most likely see a few games in RF as well. There may not be a lot of power in this outfield but there is a lot of speed and amazing defence. Both Chavez and Gutierrez are great fielders and will most likely help this team win some games with their defensive skills.
Relief Pitchers - RHP David Aardsma, RHP Miguel Batista, RHP Roy Corcoran, RHP Chris Jakubauskas, RHP Shawn Kelley, RHP Mark Lowe, RHP Brandon Morrow
The bullpen makes me a little nervous. Batista as always gives me fits. I mean if he is on he can me really good but if he isn't we have all seen how bad he can be. Morrow starts the season as the closer, I am crossing my fingers he does well and holds on to the job. The last thing we need is for him to lose his confidence.
1. Felix Hernandez (18 wins)
2. Erik Bedard (14 wins)
3. Carlos Silva (11 wins)
4. Jarrod Washburn (10 wins)
5. Ryan Rowland-Smith (12 wins)
What do you say about our rotation. With a healthy Felix we know what he is capable of. If he can stay healthy all year and get run support I could see him having his first 18-20 win season. It's time a Mariner pitcher was in the running for the Cy Young. Bedard needs to stay healthy. I still really like him and still think that when he is healthy and on his game he is still has the abilities to be one of the most dominant left handed pitchers in the game. Silva lost a ton of weight and all I am doing is crossing my fingers he keeps it off and can win 10 games. Washburn is someone I like but don't like. He has had terrible luck with run support the last few seasons. I guess we will just have to see what happens this year. Rowland-Smith I am really excited about. I think he has the talent to be a legitimate mid to late rotation guy and I really hope he does well in his starting role.
60-day DL: Ryan Feierabend
15-day DL: Cesar Jimenez
15-day DL: Ichiro
I have yet to really think about the numbers I project our hitters to have this season. I will come up with that later on today and post it. I don't want to guess what the Mariners record might be cause I really have no idea. But it can't get worse than last year so that's good I guess. Here is to a new season. Go Mariners!!