Seattle Mariner's Preview: M's Infield Recieved a Face-Lift After 2008

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Seattle Mariner's Preview: M's Infield Recieved a Face-Lift After 2008

Continuing my series of a Seattle Mariners preview, I will now be focusing on the M’s crowded infield. Three of the four starters are the same, the change being Russell Branyan is at first base, but the biggest difference is the infield bench.



Last season the Mariners infield was the following:

First Base: Richie Sexson
Second Base: Jose Lopez
Short Stop: Yuniesky Betancourt
Third Base: Adrian Beltre
Utility: Miguel Cairo and Willie Bloomquist



As for 2009, the M’s infield is shaping up to be something like this:

First Base: Russell Branyan
Second Base: Jose Lopez
Short Stop: Yuniesky Betancourt
Third Base: Adrian Beltre
Corner Infield: Mike Sweeney and possibly Russell Branyan
Middle Infield: Ronny Cedeno


Last season the Mariners were in shambles after the Mariners released stud turned dud Richie Sexson and replaced him with the young Bryan Lahair ,who managed to hit three home runs and compile a .250 batting average.  


Now they have Sweeney with the first call, if some one is unable to play followed by Chris Shelton, Bryan Lahair and lastly Mike Carp.


Shelton was currently leading the Mariners in spring batting average before getting sent down to the Minor Leagues due to the Mariners not being able to offer him enough if any playing time.


As you probably noticed, they Mariners don’t have one guy that can play every position as they have been blessed with the last two seasons when they had Cairo and Bloomquist, but the reserves they do have are even better in 2009.


Sweeney is a five-time All-Star who comes here with a magnetic personality and with hopes of a comeback bid to his prior 2006 form. Coincidentally, he hit his first home run against the Mariners back in 1996 off of now Phillie Jamie Moyer.


Cedeno was once a top-prospect for the Chicago Cubs but the Cubs followed their trade mark move by trading away prospects for veterans, in this case it was Cedeno and Garret Olson for Aaron Heilman.


Another thing that helps Cedeno’s case is that he has a better glove built on him than Betancourt. His hitting in 2009 should hopefully improve if he follows his .290 hitting with three home runs this spring for the club.


As for the starters they are a nice bunch, but still a little risky.  


In 132 at-bats last season Russell Branyan sampled MVP candidate, Ryan Howard’s number's. He hit .250 with 12 home runs for the Milwaukee Brewers. His main problem is that last year he didn't get on base once in his 14 at-bats against left-handed pitchers.


If Jose Lopez plays 2009 like his last half of 2008 he will be hitting around .305 with 29 home runs. Add in that he bulked up for extra power and it spells disaster for any opposing pitcher.


He was ranked as the World Baseball Classics top second baseman. Athlon Sports ranked Lopez as the sixth best second baseman in 2009, ahead of All-Star Dan Uggla.


Last season Yuniesky Betancourt lacked one main ingredient that kept him from reaching his potential. That ingredient would be plate discipline, which he has recently shown us that it is one of his stronger points.


He was thrown 22 pitches in one game, remember this is Yuniesky Betancourt we are talking about, not Todd Helton. He also spent last winter practicing with now Phillies left fielder, Raul Ibanez on how to work through the counts, let's hope it has paid off.


As for Adrian Beltre, he is set for a career season, and yes I know he once hit .334 with 48 home runs. Beltre battled three injuries last season and he still led the team in home runs in where he hit 25 while batting .266. Not to mention that he won the Gold Glove award for third base for the second year in a row.


One theory works to predict Beltre’s upcoming season- contract season = career season.


If this infield can improve it's defense and stay healthy it could be among the best in the American League.

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