You won't find many people who thought that the Mariners could finish with 85 wins last year. After a disastrous 2008 campaign that was headlined by the disappointing trade for Erik Bedard. After acquiring Cliff Lee and Milton Bradley, the Mariners are looking less like a third place team and more like a playoff contender.
Lee gives them the best one two punch in all of baseball now that he is the co-ace with King Felix. King Felix had a career year last year and should continue to build towards his prime. One can only wonder what he will be able to do now that he doesn't have to carry the pitching staff on his back.
The Bradley trade solidifies their offense which is already significantly better than it was at the start of last year. The Wilson trade gave them a solid shortstop and Jose Lopez is one of the best second basemen in the league. It's amazing that Lopez gets so little credit as he is a huge part of their team.
The Mariners also resigned the Kid whose doesn't even have to do that much in order for them to contend. Griffey is great for team morale and brings fans to the stadium. His average has taken a dive but the additions of Figgins and Bradley should take a lot of the offensive weight off his back.
There's been talk of Bradley being a nuisance in the clubhouse as was the case in Chicago. With the established clubhouse leaders in Griffey and Ichiro Suzuki, I don't think Bradley will be in a position to cause problems. Hopefully he has learned from his mistakes. '
The Mariners are the only team in the AL West that has shown improvements this offseason. Not only did the Angels lose Figgins to the Mariners but they also lost Lackey to the Red Sox. The Rangers and the A's haven't done anything significant and while the offseason is far from over, they have a lot of catching up to do.
Kenji Johjima's decision to leave the country only adds to the Mariners' funds. Hopefully they can use this money to make upgrades to the bullpen and back end of the rotation (you can never have enough pitching). There are plenty of bargains to be had on the market.
October baseball is within the grasp of the Seattle Mariners. The improvements they have made thus far should be enough to build on the 85 win season they had last year. The Angels aren't the powerhouse they used to be. This could be the year Griffey finally wins it all.
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