Our previous starting first baseman, Richie Sexson, left Seattle during last season (or was forced to leave). The Mariners, with new General Manager Jack Zduriencik, brought in potential starting first baseman Mike Carp (from the Mets) and Russell Branyan (from the Brewers).
But who will be starting?
Here are the candidates:
Zduriencik brought him from Milwaukee. He can hit homers, but he is way too inconsistent, hitting .250 and striking out 42 times (132 at bats). Hitting 12 homers in 132 at bats is impressive though. Branyan is the top candidate on winning the starting job.
Carp was traded by the Mets in the J.J. Putz deal. He has been hitting well in Spring Training for the Mariners, hitting .333 so far. He is still raw, so he will most likely start the season in Tacoma. Carp may win the starting job in few years.
LaHair was called up to the majors last season after Sexson's departure. He was also inconsistent during his stay in the majors, striking out 40 times in 136 at bats. His OBP is quite low, only .316. He still needs more experience.
Shelton signed a minor league contract, and was invited to Spring Training. He has been the surprise as well, already hitting three homers. He can hit real well, but once he gets stuck in a slump, he will continue that for a long time. He will most likely make the Mariners opening day roster as a back up first baseman.
Sweeny is another Spring Training invitee. The four-time American League All-Star will turn 36 in July. He brings great thing into the club house, but he is a long shot at making the opening day roster since Shelton has been hitting way better than Sweeney is.
I think Branyan is on Don Wakamatsu's plan for starting first baseman, but if other candidates can show that they are better, Wakamatsu might change his mind or try them. Shelton is the guy to watch out for. He can keep on hitting and win the starting job, if he can be consistent.