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Running down the rosters: Seattle Mariners

Feb 21, 2012, 6:18 PM EDT

Felix Hernandez Getty Images

The Mariners have finished in last place in the AL West six of the last eight years, and while their is a shining ray of hope on the way in 2013 in the form of the Astros, they’re going to have a tough time not making it seven of nine years this season.

Rotation
Felix Hernandez – R
Jason Vargas – L
Hisashi Iwakuma – R
Kevin Millwood – R
Hector Noesi – R

Bullpen
Brandon League – R
Shawn Kelley – R
George Sherrill – L
Hong-Chih Kuo – L
Tom Wilhelmsen – R
Shawn Camp – R
Cesar Jimenez – L

SP next in line: Blake Beavan (R), Charlie Furbush (L), Danny Hultzen (L), James Paxton (L)
RP next in line: Aaron Heilman (R), Josh Kinney (R), Chance Ruffin (R), Steve Delabar (R), Lucas Luetge (L)(Rule 5), Oliver Perez (L)

Faith in their ability to develop pitching (and turn reclamation projects into third and fourth starters) led to the Mariners’ trade of Michael Pineda for Jesus Montero. They still have plenty of pitching depth, but the club will likely be without a legitimate No. 2 starter until someone from the Hultzen-Paxton-Taijuan Walker group emerges. In the meantime, the Mariners figure to get solid pitching, but that’s simply not good enough given the state of their offense.

Lineup
3B Chone Figgins – S
2B Dustin Ackley – L
RF Ichiro Suzuki – L
1B Justin Smoak – S
LF Mike Carp – L
DH Jesus Montero – R
C Miguel Olivo – R
CF Franklin Gutierrez – R
SS Brendan Ryan – R

Bench
C John Jaso – L
INF Carlos Guillen – S
INF Munenori Kawasaki – L
OF Casper Wells – R

Next in line: C Adam Moore (R), INF Luis Rodriguez (S), 3B Kyle Seager (L), 3B Alex Liddi (R), 3B-OF Vinnie Catricala (R), OF Trayvon Robinson (S), OF Michael Saunders (L), OF Carlos Peguero (L), OF Darren Ford (R), OF Mike Wilson (R)

That’s not the lineup I would use, but I’m not being consulted. In my mind, Seager’s left-handed bat is exactly what the right-handed-heavy bottom of the order needs. In going with Figgins at third base and in the leadoff spot, all of the lefties and switch-hitters are getting stacked in a row. The Mariners could bat Montero fourth or fifth instead of sixth — flip-flopping him and Smoak makes more sense than the current arrangement — but I don’t know that they’re going to want to put that much pressure on him initially.

While the starting nine appears set, the bench does have some question marks. The Mariners could carry Seager if they think they’d have enough playing time available for him. It’ll probably come down to him and Guillen for one spot and to Kawasaki and Rodriguez for the other. Seager has some experience at shortstop, but the Mariners will likely want to carry a true backup middle infielder. Wells is the heavy favorite to serve as the backup outfielder. He should start over Carp in left field against lefties.

The offense will almost certainly be improved this year, probably by a substantial margin, but there’s just so much ground to make up. The Mariners scored 556 runs last year. The other 13 AL teams averaged 735 runs. Montero’s arrival, full seasons from Ackley and Carp and a rebound from Ichiro will all help, but it’s unlikely to really start coming together for the Mariners before 2013.

  1. proudlycanadian - Feb 21, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    I keep carping on Carp vs Trout. Sure, Trout is touted as one of the best things since sliced bread, but Carp will have a greater impact this season.

    • lostsok - Feb 21, 2012 at 9:34 PM

      I would be stunned if Carp did not turn back into tuna fish and Trout into caviar. And I root for the Mariners!

  2. Old Gator - Feb 21, 2012 at 7:08 PM

    Poor Ichiro.

    • Old Gator - Feb 21, 2012 at 9:55 PM

      Poor Felix.

    • henryd3rd - Feb 22, 2012 at 3:21 AM

      If $17,000,000.00 per year is poor where do I sign up for that form of poverty?

  3. florida76 - Feb 21, 2012 at 7:14 PM

    2001 was the golden opportunity for this franchise to capture their only World Championship, and they just couldn’t finish.

    • Old Gator - Feb 21, 2012 at 10:00 PM

      How long is too long to wait for a “rebuilding process” to start showing some results? They certainly are tolerant of a GM who has taken a wrecking ball to their competitiveness for the past four years. First there was the “run prevention” strategy. Yeah, that worked great – they barely scored any. When you’re into your fourth field season and the best you can do is experiment with Chone Figgins to hit leadoff, something isn’t going right.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 22, 2012 at 12:50 AM

        It takes years to undo what Bavasi did. But they finally have a young core and a great farm system, so… maybe 2014? Felix’s last year!

  4. swu32733 - Feb 22, 2012 at 1:20 AM

    Last year the M’s started with one of the best starting rotations in baseball. Now Paseda,Bedard and Fister are gone. What did they get for these pitchers? Trader Jack is the one who needs to go next. It will be another year of mediocrity for Seattle.

    • seattlej - Feb 22, 2012 at 1:14 PM

      Well, they got a guy that is pretty widely regarded as one of the top prospects in baseball and draws Frank Thomas comps, Bedard was an injury-prone pitcher on a one-year deal, so it was kind of a surprise that they got anything at all, and while I didn’t love the return on Fister, he did get a trio of useful role players and a guy that looks like he’ll develope into something useful. I guess I’m just not sure what you were expecting.

      There are certainly things to criticize Jack for, including the Fister deal (and Seattle could still “win” that one), but you also need to acknowledge the fact that he’s hit some home runs on the trade market and in the draft so far — Walker and Paxton being the two most prominent.

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