Tagged: Seattle Mariners

2010 Seattle Mariners Preview

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seattle-mariners-logo.jpg2009 Record: 85-77, 3rd AL West

2009 Prediction: 62-100, 4th AL West

2010 Prediction: 2nd AL West

 

Impact Player: Ichiro Suzuki

Impact Pitcher: Felix Hernandez

Top Prospect Player:
OF/1B Dustin Ackley

Top Prospect Pitcher:
RHP Michael Pineda

 

Manager: Don Wakamatsu, 2nd Season
(85-77, .525)

                            

Significant
Acquisitions
: 1B Casey Kotchman,
3B Chone Figgins, OF Milton Bradley, C Josh Bard, OF Eric Byrnes,
1B Ryan Garko, LHP Cliff Lee, RHP Brandon League, RHP Kanekoa
Texeira

Significant Losses: 1B/DH Russell Branyan, 3B Adrian
Beltre
, 1B Mike Sweeney, C Kenji Johjima, OF Endy Chavez, UTIL Bill Hall,
RHP Miguel Batista, RHP Chris Jakubauskas, RHP Brandon Morrow, RHP Carlos Silva

 

I recently received a comment on this site which was very appreciated.  The person who wrote it commended me on the
accuracy of last year’s previews. 
Although I was fairly accurate, my luck ran out in the AL West.  As you can see at the top of this post, I
predicted the M’s to finish with 100 losses last season which couldn’t have
been further from what actually happened. 
I wasn’t close on the Rangers either…just to let you know (also, check
the archives to see who I had winning the NL last season…you may take back
your comment).  The Mariners exceeded
everyone’s expectation in 2009 turning a 100-loss effort in 2008 into an 85-win
effort in 2009; the biggest single turn-around in the majors.  In spite of this, the Mariners weren’t
satisfied sticking with the status quo and were perhaps the most active team
during this offseason.  The shocking
acquisition of Cliff Lee gives the
Mariners perhaps the best 1-2 punch in baseball along with Felix Hernandez.  The
Mariners have more than enough to contend in the AL West and could very well
end up the victors.

 

Pitching

Felix-hernandez.jpg

Hernandez is still only 24 (I know, crazy, eh?) and is
likely to get better than he was last
season; which if you watched any baseball in 2009, you know is hard to do.  Hernandez went 19-5 with a 2.49 ERA finishing
2nd in Cy Young voting.  He
has to be mentioned along with Greinke and Halladay as one of the best pitchers
in baseball.  And now the M’s have
somebody to help out King Felix in the rotation.  Lee was brought in for the organization’s top
pitching prospect, Canadian Phillippe
Aumont
and two other mid-level prospects in what could be the steal of the
offseason.  He is himself an ace and has
proven he can pitch in the AL, winning a Cy Young with Cleveland in 2008.  Last year, Lee went 14-13 with a 3.22 ERA and
would have had more wins if he wasn’t pitching for a terrible Cleveland team
for the first half of the year.  He also
was nearly unhittable in the postseason, helping the Phillies win the NL
pennant for the second year in a row. 
After those two, the Mariners are kind of thin for a team expecting to
contend.  Erik Bedard is back after signing a one-year deal and the M’s are
hoping he’ll deliver on the promise he once showed with the Orioles.  He’s still hurt though, and might not be back
until mid-season.  Australian lefty and bullpen
standout Ryan Rowland-Smith will get
a shot at landing a permanent rotation spot, and Ian Snell who was acquired from the Pirates last July should get
the fifth spot.  Young options Doug Fister (awesome name) and Luke French will both get shots at
starting until Bedard is healthy.

 

David Aardsma
seemingly came out of nowhere to grab 38 saves last year as closer and
returns.  The M’s should be careful
though, he was 27 last year and late-blooming closers rarely last long.  Mark
Lowe
has an outstanding arm and should be the primary setup man and could
even close if Aardsma relapses and the team shipped out former top-pick Brandon Morrow to the Jays for a minor
league outfielder and Brandon League.  League has one of the most tremendous sinkers
I’ve ever seen.  Not many people can
throw a 98-mph sinker.  Sean White was terrific last year and
is back in middle relief and Shawn Kelly
should also grab a spot.  The only
lefties who are major-league ready are starters (Garrett Olson, Jason Vargas,
Fister, and French) so they might fill out the rest of the ‘pen, although Rule
5 pick Kanekoa Texeira has electric
stuff and will be given every opportunity to stick with the big club.

 

ROTATION

Age

B/T

Felix Hernandez

24

R/R

Cliff Lee*

31/2

L/L

Ryan Rowland-Smith

27

L/L

Ian Snell

28

R/R

Doug Fister

26

L/R

 

 

 

BULLPEN

 

 

David Aardsma (CL)

28

R/R

Mark Lowe

26/7

R/R

Brandon League*

27

R/R

Shawn Kelly

26

R/R

Sean White

29

R/R

Kanekoa Texeira*

24

R/R

Garrett Olson

26

L/L

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

Erik Bedard – Injured
until mid-season

31

L/L

Jason Vargas

27

L/L

Luke French

24

L/L

Chad Cordero

28

R/R

*=newly acquired

 

Lineup

ichiro-suzuki.jpg

The Mariners finally got the idea that aging sluggers in a
pitcher’s park doesn’t work.  They
grabbed defensive-first players with gap power such as Franklin Gutierrez and concentrated on good pitching.  Although it worked from the standpoint that
they finished with 85 wins, the Mariners were still dead last in the AL in runs
scored.  Seattle hopes the solution is
speed-demon Chone Figgins.  More on that in a bit.

 

The outfield, and this team, goes as Ichiro Suzuki goes.  Suzuki
is probably the best contact hitter of this generation and if he’d played his
full career in North America, he might have been close to breaking Pete Rose’s
all-time hit record.  Ichiro finished
with a ridiculous .352 average last year (second only to Joe Mauer) and shows no signs of slowing down.  He’ll start in rightfield where he’s probably
better than anyone else defensively. 
Gutierrez is one of the best defensive centerfielders in baseball and
should finally win a Gold Glove this year. 
He’s not bad with the stick either after hitting .283 with 18 and 70
RBI.  Milton Bradley was acquired from the Cubs where he had become
dead-weight after only one season.  The
talent has never been a question, but the attitude is horrendous.  If he behaves, he’ll be a huge asset to this
team.

 

The star of the infield is Jose Lopez who is average defensively but is one of the better
hitting second basemen in the AL.  He had
25 homeruns and 96 RBI last season. 
Figgins is the third baseman but can play just about anywhere.  He hit .298 last season and led the AL in
walks with 101, which directly contributed to a fantastic .395 OBP.  His patience and speed (42 stolen bases in
’09) is what makes him one of the best leadoff men in baseball.  The amazing thing is that the M’s already
have a great leadoff man in Ichiro.  With
those two at the top of the lineup, scoring runs should be a little
easier.  Jack Wilson will start at shortstop and is a terrific fielder, but
leaves something to be desired at the plate. 
At first, the Mariners signed both Casey
Kotchman
and Ryan Garko who will
likely be a lefty/righty platoon.  They
are virtual clones of one another, but Garko has a bit more power.  The catcher will be a competition between Rob Johnson and Josh Bard.  Johnson has the
inside track due to his defense.  The DH
will be Seattle-legend Ken Griffey
who postponed retirement for one more year. 
He isn’t what he used to be, but he’ll still provide this team with some
much-needed pop and leadership in the clubhouse.

 

On the bench will be the off-day first baseman, one of the
catchers and fourth outfielder Eric
Byrnes
who looks to resurrect his career. 
Byrnes plays the game harder than anyone and is a former 20/50 man.  Infielder Jack Hannahan will battle with Matt
Tuiasosopo
, Josh Wilson, and Chris Woodward for the final bench
spot.

 

Pos.

 

Age

B/T

RF

Ichiro Suzuki

36

L/R

3B

Chone Figgins*

32

S/R

LF

Milton Bradley* (DH)

32

S/R

2B

Jose Lopez

26

R/R

DH

Ken Griffey Jr. (LF, RF)

40

L/L

CF

Franklin Gutierrez

27

R/R

1B

Casey Kotchman*

27

L/L

SS

Jack Wilson

32

R/R

C

Rob Johnson

26/7

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

BENCH

 

 

INF

Jack Hannahan (3B, SS)

30

L/R

C

Josh
Bard*

32

S/R

OF

Eric Byrnes* (LF, CF, RF)

34

R/R

1B

Ryan Garko*(LF, RF)

29

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

1B

Mike Carp

23/4

L/R

OF

Michael Saunders (LF, RF)

23

L/R

OF

Ryan Langerhans (LF, CF, RF)

30

L/L

INF

Matt Tuiasosopo (SS, 2B)

23/4

R/R

C

Adam
Moore                  

25/6

R/R

INF

Josh
Wilson
(SS, 3B, 2B)

29

R/R

OF

Corey
Patterson*
(CF, LF)

30/1

L/R

C

Eliezer Alfonzo*

31

R/R

INF

Chris
Woodward*
(3B, SS, 2B)

33/4

R/R

1B

Brad
Nelson*
(LF, RF)

27

L/R

*=newly acquired

 

Many people are saying the Mariners will finish with 90+
wins this year, but I don’t buy it.  They
are a good team, but I’m not sure they have the starting depth or the lineup to
win more than 90 games.  They will
compete, like everyone else, in the AL West and could very well win it.  Another bat in the middle of the lineup and a
healthy and effective Bedard will go a long way to making Seattle one of the
league’s best teams, whether or not either of those things happens is yet to be
seen.

Final Prediction:
85-77, 2nd AL West

A trade of Brandons may be a crucial one for young Jays

The Jays are about to finalize a deal with the Seattle Mariners that would send right-hander Brandon Morrow to Toronto and righty-reliever Brandon League as well as a prospect to the Northwest.

I think I like this Anthopoulos guy.  He made a deal for Halladay that was better than anything I was expecting and now is prepared to pull off this deal which I think is a great one for Toronto.

brandon_Morrow-763026.jpg

This may be the most important trade of this offseason for Toronto as it pertains to the 2010 season.  The players the Jays got in the Halladay deal will likely not see significant Major-League time until at least 2011, but Morrow is a different story.
Brandon League.jpg
I’ve always liked Brandon League, his stuff is great, but he just hasn’t put it all together yet and maybe a change of scenery is needed for him to realize his potential as an elite setup man in this league.

Morrow on the other hand is a former 1st round pick who is also looking for a change in scenery.  He can start, he can work in middle relief, he even has the stuff to close.  I think it would be a shame to put his talent in the bullpen, however.  I imagine the Jays will put him in their rotation and hopefully he blossoms into the player the Mariners thought he’d be when they drafted him.  His numbers at the Major-League level aren’t bad, but he has at times been phenomenal.  I’m excited to see where his ceiling is.  I think he can be a number 3 starter on a good team, capable of 12-15 wins annually.  

Looks like the day is finally here

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The day
every Jays fan has been quietly dreading for a couple years now is finally
here.  With the news that Roy Halladay
has agreed to a contract extension with the Philadelphia Phillies, the trade
for the ace of aces looks to be final. 
The best pitcher to ever don a Blue Jays uniform will be displaying his
wares for another team, another city, halladay-757029.jpganother country.

 

This should
be, without a doubt, a day of mourning for all Jays fans, but fear not my
beleaguered comrades; the future is still bright.  And Halladay deserves the chance to pitch for
a winner; he’s earned that much.  Let’s
face it: The Jays won’t be contending any time in the near future and Harry
Leroy Halladay should not waste any more of his prime years pitching for a mediocre
team.  The Phillies will be a World
Series contender again in 2010 and on behalf of Jays Nation, I’d like to wish
him good luck in getting that coveted ring. 

 

Rookie GM
Alex Anthopoulos appears to have made a deal that ensures the Jays will bounce
back.  The Phillies ship their own ace,
Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners for a package of prospects that gives them
both the financial flexibility and the replenished farm system necessary to
make the trade for Halladay.

 

So here are
the unconfirmed details as of right now:

 

To Philadelphia:

To Toronto:

RHP Roy Halladay

$6-million cash

RHP Kyle Drabek

OF Michael Taylor

C Travis d’Arnaud

 

To Seattle:

To Philadelphia:

LHP Cliff Lee

RHP Phillippe Aumont

OF Tyson Gillies

RHP Juan Carlos Ramirez

 

On top of
that, I’m being told as I write this article that the Jays may turn around and
send Taylor to the A’s for corner infielder prospect Brett Wallace.  Wallace, a former first-round pick of the
Cardinals, was acquired by the A’s in July in the Matt Holliday deal.  Confused yet? 
Me too.

 

drabek.jpg

The blue
chipper the Jays get in this deal is without a doubt, Drabek.  Son of 13-year Major League veteran Doug
Drabek, Kyle was regarded as the top pitching prospect in the Phillies
system.  He was drafted in 2006, 18th
overall and has tremendous stuff.  There
are some concerns with his arm, but he appears to have fully recovered from the
Tommy John surgery he had last year and by all accounts appears to be better
than before he went under the knife.  He
was also arrested in 2005 for public intoxication.  The charges were later dropped, but some
question his maturity.  I, personally,
don’t put much stock in things like that; he was 19 at the time.  We all do stupid things at that age.

 

Drabek
consistently throws between 92-94 mph with his fastball which has great tailing
action and can reach back and hit 97 when he needs to.  His mid-80’s slider has tremendous bite and
he has a curveball that rivals anyone’s in baseball.  He’s also working on a changeup but needs to
maintain his arm-speed for it to be a truly effective pitch; he did make
strides with it toward the end of last year. 
Drabek was a shortstop in high school and is a plus athlete.  He also seems to be developing a strong work
ethic; something that could separate him from his contemporaries.

 

arnaud.jpgTravis d’Arnaud
was a sandwich first-rounder in 2007 and is projected by many to be a starting
catcher in the future.  The Jays have
lost some faith in J.P. Arencibia and Brian Jeroloman, their two “catchers of
the future” so d’Arneau will serve as a motivator and could fuel a
position-switch for Arencibia.  Scouts
say he could develop 20 HR-power if he cuts down on swinging at bad pitches and
is above-average defensively.

 

If the Jays
retain Taylor, they will have one of the most physically imposing prospects outwk6_MichaelTaylor.jpg

there.  At 6’6″ and 250 pounds, Taylor will
likely put up monster power numbers and has a .312 career average in the
minors.  His size would suggest a long
swing and a high number of strikeouts and his defense leaves something to be
desired, but the bat would be a big plus.

 

brett-wallace.jpgIf the Jays
are indeed planning to send Taylor to the A’s for Brett Wallace, I think that
could end up being the most important part of this deal.  Wallace has tremendous upside with the bat,
but struggles defensively wherever he plays. 
He’s currently a third-baseman, but will likely end up at first.  At 6’1″ and 245 pounds, Wallace may battle
weight problems in his career and some say that could lead to a lot of knee and
back issues.

 

Overall I
believe Anthopoulos did a nice job in this trade and hopefully it will be one
of a few moves that will turn the franchise around in the next couple of years.

 

As for
Halladay; it was a pleasure watching him pitch for the last 12 years.  In my opinion there’s no better pitcher in
baseball, and he’s definitely the best pitcher to ever play in Toronto.  I will always be a Jays fan, but I might find
myself cheering on the Phillies quite a bit in the next few years.  Thanks Roy.

GRIFFEY!!!!!! *Falls to knees and shakes fists at the Gods*

Well, he went back to Seattle…mere minutes after I published the Braves preview, stating how I thought Griffey would be there, he signed in Seattle.  I don’t have the energy to go re-write it, so it stays.  ‘Tis the reality of writing previews when there is still a lot of movement to be had.

The Marlins will be done and up tomorrow afternoon.

OH…and thank you to Julia for adding me to her favourite blogs.  When I get some free time, I’ll add some links of my favourite MLBlogs and there’s no doubt that Julia’s will be there…even though she’s a Red Sox fan and she just quietly rooted for Scott Downs to be put on the DL.  JUUULLIIIIAAAA!!!!!  I shake my fist at thee.

Come on, Griff

Okay, I’m a massive Ken Griffey Jr. fan.  But dude’s gotta make a decision here.

Griffey is still undecided about whether or not he’ll return to Seattle or play in Atlanta. 

The thing is, I’m waiting to write the Braves preview until he decides.  Of well, I’ll just write it now and update it tomorrow if he signs.

GOD, damn future-Hall-of-Famers taking their sweet-*** time.

Griffey, Glavine, the Mariners, and the Braves

On Wednesday, I will be releasing a preview of the ’09 Atlanta Braves.  Normally I write the previews a few days in advance so if something comes up (like, say, crippling food poisoning) I have material to post.  I am going to wait to write the Braves preview, however, because there are two possible free agent acquisitions that could drastically alter how that team looks.

Last week, a story surfaced that linked Ken Griffey Jr. to the team he started his career with (and played his best years with), the Seattle Mariners.  Griffey stated in his return to Seattle in ’07 while playing KenGriffeyJr.jpgfor the Reds that he would like to finish his career with the Mariners.  He thought he owed it to the fans that treated him so well. 

Personally, I have always been a massive Griffey fan.  With all the steroids floating around the majors, Griffey’s name has never been mentioned.  Never.  Having said that, there is little doubt that Griffey is the best home run hitter of our generation and if it weren’t for injuries, we wouldn’t be talking about Barry Bonds or Alex Rodiguez breaking Hank Aaron’s home run record because Griffey probably would have destroyed it long ago.  People have criticized Griffey for having thin skin and getting injured too easily, but the fact is, he has always been one of the classiest players on the field; loved by teammates and fans alike since the day he broke into the league as the 18-year-old son of Ken Griffey Sr.  He has the most beautiful swing I’ve ever seen…it’s mesmerizing.  I would love to see Griffey suit up with the M’s again, but I also want to see him win a world series before he retires and the Mariners simply don’t have a Popsicle’s chance in hell of doing that.

So, where will Griffey sign?  He’s been linked to the Mariners, yes, but he has also been in talks with the Atlanta Braves.  The sentimental pick is obviously Seattle, but let’s look at this realistically.  Atlanta is an hour flight from his home in Orlando; the Braves have a better chance at winning than the Mariners…a much better chance; and Griffey has always wanted to play for Braves manager Bobby Cox.  Yes, the Mariners need a middle-of-the-lineup presence, but they should be spending their time developing guys like Wladimir Balentin, not dolling out playing time to a 39-year-old when you’re team is not likely going to contend.  The deal doesn’t seem to make sense for the Mariners.  I think Griffey signs with the Braves in the next few days.

T1_0805_oldglavine.jpgThen there’s Tom Glavine.  Glavine is 43-years-old and is coming off of major shoulder and elbow surgery.  Yes, he will be in the hall-of-fame someday, as will Griffey, but I’m not sure this guy has much left.  The Braves could use a fifth starter but would likely have more success from a younger option…and they have lots of those.  Tommy Hanson, for instance, is thought of so highly that the Braves flat-out refused to talk to the Padres about acquiring Jake Peavy because they wanted Hanson in return.  Hanson is only 22 and hasn’t played higher than AA, but what better time than now to give him a shot at making the Braves.  If Glavine is there, he has no shot; and neither do Jorge Campillo, Jo-Jo Reyes or Charlie Morton, three other pitchers who many think could be solid starters. 

The Braves have already offered Glavine a contract, but I don’t think that was a wise move.  I think they did it mostly for sentimental reasons, but they let John Smoltz go…why do they feel the need to suddenly get sentimental over Glavine?

In summary, I think Griffey signs with Atlanta and plays a left-field platoon with Matt Diaz and I think Glavine also signs in Atlanta despite the fact that it seems like a bad idea.

’09 Preview — Seattle Mariners

mariners logo.jpg2008 Record: 61-101, 4th AL West
2009 Prediction: 4th AL West

Impact Player: Ichiro Suzuki
Impact Pitcher: Felix Hernandez
Top Prospect: Greg Halman, OF

Significant Acquisitions: OF Franklin Gutierrez, INF Ronny Cedeno, DH/1B Russell Branyan, OF Endy Chavez, P Garrett Olson, P David Aardsma, P Tyler Walker
Significant Losses: OF Raul Ibanez, INF/DH Jose Vidro, OF Jeremy Reed, INF Miguel Cairo, INF Willie Bloomquist, P J.J. Putz, P Sean Green, P R.A. Dickey

The Seattle Mariners had an awful year last year but they did manage to do something that no other team in major league history had ever done before: Lose 100 or more games with a payroll of $100-million or more (their’s was $118-million).  While I’ve talked about how good teams like the Twins, Rays, and Athletics have done with no money, the Mariners are proof that money doesn’t always buy championships.  The M’s are slightly younger this year and have trimmed some of the fat that led them to their 101-loss ’08 campaign, but don’t expect a whole lot of improvement; at least not this year.

Pitching
Erik Bedard was supposed to bring this team back to the post-season; at least that was the hope of Mariners’ management when they acquired him from the Orioles, but the Canadian-born pitcher was injured a lot last year and only threw 81 innings, he’s back this year at the top of the rotation along with the phenom, 23-year-old Felix Hernandez.  It’s hard to believe that Hernandez is only 23 considering he seems to have been around forever, but he’s still a young pitcher.  It appears as though he’s ready to take the next step and if this team can provide him with any offense he could start to put up the Cy Young-type numbers people have expected from him for a long time.  Outside of those two, the Mariners have at least 6 pitchers vying for the remaining 3 spots.  One of the front-runners appears to be Brandon Morrow who had a 3.34 ERA in ’08 mostly pitching out of the bullpen and the M’s believe he’s ready to assume a starter’s role.  Veterans Carlos Silva and Jarrod Washburn were a combined 9-29 last year and have to prove that they can still pitch at the major-league level, if they can’t they might receive their pink slips by the end of Spring Training.  A trio of young lefty hurlers are also in the mix:  Aussie Ryan Rowland-Smith has been brilliant in the bullpen and will attempt to secure a spot in the rotation; Ryan Feierabend has struggled at the major-league level so far but has great stuff and a great arm; and Garrett Olson was traded twice in the off-season and ended up in Seattle with an outside shot after pitching 132.2 innings in Baltimore last year.  If Rowland-Smith or Morrow fail to make the rotation, they will assuredly receive spots in the ‘pen.

The Mariners decimated an already unsteady bullpen in the off-season by shuffling off arguably the top two hurlers they had in ’08.  Sean Green and closer J.J. Putz were both traded to the Mets in that 12-player, 3-team deal that took place at the Winter Meetings.  What’s left, if you consider that Rowland-Smith and Morrow will likely start, doesn’t look very capable of holding leads.  But bullpens are funny like that, they might end up being the best in baseball…you just never know.  26-year-old Mark Lowe and off-season signing David Aardsma appear to be the top candidates for closer and Roy Corcoran is back after a solid ’08.  The team inked middle-reliever Tyler Walker from San Francisco and will also give a shot to aging vet Miguel Batista.  Getting left-handers out could be a challenge as it looks like a number of young unproven lefties will hope to fill the role.

Rotation (Handedness/Age on June 30, 2009)

  • Felix Hernandez (R/23)
  • Erik Bedard (L/30)
  • Brandon Morrow (R/24)
  • Ryan Rowland-Smith (L/26)
  • Carlos Silva (R/30)

Bullpen

  • Mark Lowe (R/26) — CLOSER
  • David Aardsma (R/27)
  • Tyler Walker (R/33)
  • Roy Corcoran (R/29)
  • Miguel Batista (R/38)
  • Jarrod Washburn (L/34)
  • Cesar Jiminez (L/24)


Lineup
The Mariners were not good offensively last year and with the departure of Raul Ibanez things don’t look to be getting better; even if Ken Griffey Jr. makes his return (although it looks as though Atlanta has a better chance at signing him right now).  The Mariners are reportedly also talking to some other free agent outfielders so there’s a possibility this preview will be out-of-date pretty soon.  For now the outfield consists of Ichiro in Right (who’s still one of the game’s best hitters and still runs very well), another one of the players acquired in the Putz deal in Franklin Gutierrez in Center, and a battle between youngster Wladimir Balentien and veteran Endy Chavez (who was also acquired in the Putz deal) will take place in the spring for the Left-fielding job.  Chavez, however, is an ideal fourth outfielder because of his ability to play all three positions very well.  In the infield, Adrian Beltre returns at Third and although he may never again hit 48 home runs, he has become a consistent major-leaguer.  At Short is defensive prodigy Yuniesky Betancourt who is also becoming a competent offensive player.  At Second, Jose Lopez finally had his breakthrough year becoming maybe the team’s best all-around hitter.  Lopez hit .297 with 17 HR and 89 RBI in ’08.  At First will likely be a platoon between veteran slugger Russell Branyan and up-and-coming youngster Bryan LaHair.  Branyan will most likely also split time at DH with catcher Jeff Clement.  Clement, should also see his fair share of innings as catcher, although his offensive ability has developed much faster than his defensive ability and a position change may be in the cards for him.  Kenji Johjima will look to rebound after a sub-par campaign as the team’s number one catcher.

On the bench, the M’s made a deal for underacheiving infielder Ronny Cedeno who comes over from the Cubs and utility-man Tug Hulett might also secure a spot.  The Mariners may carry three catchers with Clement expected to see a lot of time at DH; Rob Johnson should be that third catcher.

Lineup (Handedness/Age on June 30, 2009)
  RF  Ichiro Suzuki (L/35)
  SS  Yuniesky Betancourt (R/27)
  2B  Jose Lopez (R/25)
  3B  Adrian Beltre (R/30)
  DH  Russell Branyan (L/33)
  CF  Franklin Gutierrez (R/26)
  1B  Bryan LaHair (L/26)
  C    Kenji Johjima (R/33)
  LF  Wladimir Balentien (R/24)

Bench
 INF  Ronny Cedeno (R/26)
UTIL  Tug Hulett (L/26)
 OF   Endy Chavez (L/31)
  C    Jeff Clement (L/25)
  C    Rob Johnson (R/25)

Outlook
The Mariners will be hard-pressed to make it out of the basement of the weak AL West, but they could do it if Erik Bedard is healthy, Brandon Morrow and Ryan Rowland-Smith pitch as well as starters as they did as relievers, Ichiro stays motivated, and a few of their young bullpen arms defy the odds.  All of that happening seems unlikely and the M’s still have a lot of fat to trim before they can get a whole lot better.  Final Prediction: 62-100, 4th AL West.