Crawling Out Of The Basement? Part 3: Seattle Mariners
OK, I get it, a team that's 35-34 cant be all that bad right?
Seattle is a special case though. Coming off a horrendous 61-101 mark in 2008, the Mariners looked more lost than Matthew Fox. OK, that was a little corny, but I had to say it. The odd part is that pretty much the same team put up an 88-74 mark in 2007 and looked like they were ready to challenge the Angels in the west.
Ken Griffey Jr made his mark felt in Seattle and brought a new fan base to the Pacific Northwest. Alex Rodriguez and Randy Johnson only solidified this following. Johnson was dealt to Houston in 1998, followed by Griffey's departure in '99, and finally A-Rod leaving for greener pastures in 2000.
With a new ball park and their foundation players gone, the Mariners turned west and found a savior in Ichiro. In his 8+ seasons with Seattle, Ichiro has already broken the single season hits record and has attracted a new wave of baseball fans.
Seattle compiled a .621 winning percentage in Ichiro's first three seasons, including an American League all time best 116 win campaign in 2001. The M's have only had one season over .500 since their drubbing of opponents between 2001-2003.
Seattle had a strong offense for the most part but had struggled on the mound. In 2008 Seattle made a blockbuster trade sending highly touted prospect Adam Jones along with George Sherrill and Chris Tillman to Baltimore for Erik Bedard. Many claim that Baltimore got a steal with this trade.
After a rough 2008 season, Bedard has bounced back nicely with a 5-2 record and a 2.47 ERA. There is speculation that Seattle may trade the 6'1" lefty. However, with Seattle only 2.5 games out of first, they may be more of buyers than sellers. Bedard has proven to be a great addition to the Seattle pitching staff.
Now in his fifth year, "King Felix" Hernandez (23) leads a Mariner staff that leads the AL with a 3.59 ERA. His 98 strikeouts are good enough for fourth in the AL and his 2.74 ERA lands him in the six spot in the AL.
Seattle may sneak into the playoffs this year with their young pitching staff and emergence of Russell Branyan (.305, 16HR, 31RBI). They may be better off trading Bedard to solidify their starting line up which isn't getting any younger.
If the Angels and Rangers start to falter and Seattle keeps winning, look for the M's to add a few pieces to their lineup to make a push for the playoffs this season. If not, Seattle could make out well on the trade market with several teams desperate for a starting pitcher of Bedard's caliber.
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