TMS MLB Preview 2009: Seattle Mariners

2008 Season: 61-101 (4th in AL West, worst record in AL)

SO LONG: 3B Willie Bloomquist, 2B Miguel Cairo, P R.A. Dickey, OF Raul Ibanez, P J.J. Putz, OF Jeremy Reed

WELCOME: 3B Russ Branyan, SS Ronny Cedeno, OF Endy Chavez, OF Ken Griffey Jr., OF Franklin Gutierrez, P Tyler Johnson, P Garrett Olson, 1B Mark Sweeney, P Chad Cordero

PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Ichiro Suzuki RF
2. Jose Lopez 2B
3. Adrian Beltre 3B
4. Jeff Clement DH
5. Russ Branyan 1B
6. Ken Griffey Jr. LF
7. Franklin Gutierrez CF
8. Kenji Johjima C
9. Yuniesky Betancourt SS

Starting Rotation: Felix Hernandez, Erik Bedard, Brandon Morrow, Jarrod Washburn, Carlos Silva, Ryan Rowland-Smith
Setup: Randy Messenger
Closer: Mark Lowe/Roy Corcoran/Chad Cordero

Man, it's a good thing the Mariners got rid of J.J. Putz in the offseason, 'cause (whew), what role would he play here? Over the winter, the Mariners went out and made the necessary moves to assure that they would finish no higher than fourth place in the AL West. Normally a contending ballclub will bring in an aging veteran to provide the experience and clubhouse leadership necessary for a playoff push. So why did the Mariners bring in Griffey, especially considering how hard he fought to leave that city in the first place? Sentimental value does not garner W's. He essentially replaces Raul Ibanez, so that's a solid step in the wrong direction. Did Griffey pick Seattle over Atlanta so he could hide a little more easily from the media? If Griffey's name were to ever be linked to steroids, and we're not implying that it is, would we be numb to another fallen hero of his caliber? Griffey was baseball in the 1990's. Now he has his opportunity to ride off into the sunset.

Willie Bloomquist has finally departed Seattle. I can't believe Bloomquist is only 31 years old. It seems like he's been playing for 20 years. Hopefully Mark McLemore will follow him out of town.

Outside of Felix Hernandez, this is a piss-poor pitching staff. Erik Bedard is lumped in there until he shows us something. Ryan Rowland-Smith? What, did he get married and start tacking on his wife's maiden name? Garrett Olson was kind enough to drop by Chicago during the offseason, albeit for only a few days. With the Cubs luck, Heilman will go on the DL for the season in May, and Olson will become an All-Star. Well, probably not, but the Mariners have to send someone to the All-Star game, right?

Here's one for you: Richie Sexson did not compile the stats that Seattle desired, and they released him. He of the 306 HR in 4,928 career AB, hitting .218 at the time in Seattle. Who did they replace Sexson with? Russell 'F-ing' Branyan: 133 HR in 2,000 career AB, a lifetime .230 hitter. Absolutely brilliant. You ate $6 million on Sexson's contract, and the following season you went out at signed essentially the same player. They deserve to have the worst record in the AL for two consecutive years.

Mr. Sexy Time: Instead of a player, we're giving this to new manager Don Wakamatsu. In the hiring of Wakamatsu, the Mariners are finally breaking the half-Japanese managerial barrier that has long plagued Major League Baseball. The drunk hobo (Wikipedia) tells us that his mother is Irish-American. We can therefore paint the picture that Wakamatsu enjoys eating sushi, drinking Guiness, watching Godzilla movies, and getting into fistfights.

The Bernie Madoff Award: Can you believe it's already been five years since Adrian Beltre put up those gaudy numbers during his final year in Los Angeles? A .334 batting average, 48 home runs and 121 RBI. He parlayed those numbers into a $64 million deal with Seattle (which thankfully expires after this season. Since he signed the contract, he has not hit more than 26 homers, has not eclipsed 100 RBI, and has not hit over .276. The Seattle district attorney should bring a grand larceny case against him. From here on out, contract years for players should be referred to as their "Adrian Beltre Year".

The Old Yeller Award: The residents of Seattle and the surrounding metro area. We commend you for your sticktoitiveness in light of having to put up with the worst team in the American League last year; sitting through an equally dour season from the Seahawks; the loss of your NBA team; and acting as a sacrificial lamb by employing Ty Willingham under the false pretense of him being a "good" coach. On one hand, we should put you out of your misery, but on the other hand, it couldn't possibly get any worse than this.

Further Reading:
U.S.S. Mariner
Lookout Landing

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