2009 Seattle Mariners Baseball Preview
The Seattle Mariners (61- 101) finished 39 games out of first place last season. Their 61 wins earned them the worst record in the American League and the second-worst mark in the majors. Although the Mariners may not be as dismal as they were in 2008, no one should expect them to finish anywhere but in the cellar.
Righty Felix Hernandez (9- 11 W/L, 3.45 ERA, .261 BAA) has an explosive two- and four-seam fastball that comes in at 93- 97 mph. The guy possesses amazing stuff that includes a power slider, two-tiered curve and listing changeup. Lefty Erik Bedard (6- 4 W/L, 3.67 ERA, .231 BAA), who is coming off an injury-shortened 2008, is a top hurler when healthy. His fastball licks at both sides of the plate and his curve is elusive. Brandon Morrow (3- 4 W/L, 3.34 ERA, .174 BAA), a righty, is a durable pitcher who maintains velocity in the late innings. Two more lefties, Jarrod Washburn (8- 14 W/L, 4.67 ERA, .268 BAA) and Ryan Rowland-Smith (5- 3 W/L, 3.42 ERA, .253 BAA), round out the rotation. The bullpen is filled with question marks. The closing role is yet to be defined.
Ichiro Suzuki (.351 BA, 68 RBI, 6 HR, 37 SB) may be an unorthodox hitter but not one else has the phenomenal hand-eye coordination that makes him one of the game's best hitters. He's as quick out of the box as anyone can be. Jose Lopez (.297 BA, 89 RBI, 17 HR) offers consistency and Andre Beltre (.266 BA, 77 RBI, 25 HR) is a true power hitter. Eric Chavez (.267 BA, 12 RBI, 1 HR) has the potential to be a capable hitter but he's had a few bad seasons. He needs to get back on track. DH/1B Russell Branyan (.250 BA, 20 RBI, 12 HR) is extremely streaky.
Overall, the infield is sound with Beltre playing a masterful third and the middle being manned by a skilled Lopez at second and a rangy Yuniesky Betancourt at short. Branyan at first can be a trip—a bad trip. The catching spot is maintained by Kenji Johjima and Jeff Clement. Johjima, the vet, struggled last season, while the younger Clement showed improvement. The outfield is outstanding with Chavez in left, Franklin Gutierrez in center and Ichiro in right.
New GM Jack Zduriencik replaces Bill Bavasi and former bench coach Don Wakamatsu is the new manager, replacing John McLaren. With a major shakeup in the front office and in the coaches' corner, Mariner owners have indicated that they definitely want to field a competitive team. They've got some good starting pitching, but Zduriencik still needs to rebuild the bullpen and find some more run producers.
Seattle will need a year or two to retool. In 2009, they'll be more competitive than they were last season but not enough to make a major difference. A young pitching staff will keep them in games.
For more info on Seattle check out the MLB website for the Mariners Clubhouse.