Since the blunder that sent George Sherrill, Adam "I'm not Pacman" Jones, Chris Tillman, and two others for Erik Bedard, the Seattle Mariners have played as if they were trying to win a Class 3A high school championship, not a World Series.
However, there has been a shift in the AL West.
Now the Angels are Lackey-ing a solid rotation and will lose both Vlad the Impaler and Chone Figgins. The Athletics, who, despite terrific bullpen play, are still the Athletics, and the Rangers both lack a rotation and are often injured, despite having some youth in Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, Taylor Teagarden, and Elvis Andrus. If things fall the right way in 2010, the Mariners could make some noise.
The Mariners added Milton Bradley for 250-pound load Carlos Silva, and acquired Chone Figgins to man the hot corner, and have I mentioned Cliff Lee yet?
Now all that I see wrong with Seattle is their depth at first base and a weak rotation after King Felix and Lee, and maybe a lighter-than-most bullpen. But their are cheap options out there. Chad Tracy, Aubrey Huff, Adam LaRoche, Ryan Garko, Hank Blalock, and yes, even Russell Branyan, who had a renaissance last year in Seattle, are available on the first base side.
Personally, I feel as if the Branyan train made one good stop at Safeco, and now it's time to move on. Garko and LaRoche will want starting gigs, but prospect Mike Carp is the man at first base, so no way, no how. Blalock has done well at Safeco, but for Jack Zduriencik's money, and mine, Aubrey Huff should be the guy if they decide to acquire one.
Huff has the ability to field the corner infield and outfield spots or be a designated hitter, and a one-year, $2.2 million contract will get him right now, and I'd take that deal. The Mariners could also wait for the Joe Mauer experience, if they are really going to try to sign him next year.
As for their bullpen, Randy Johnson would be a nice fit for a year. It would be nice to see the Big Unit and Junior back together, and watching them both retire as Mariners would make a lot of fans happy.
If not Randy Johnson, then Chad Bradford, Kip Wells, or even Kevin Gregg for one year would do, although Gregg is a type-A free agent, so Bradford makes the most sense to me.
As for the starting rotation, I'm looking at you Joel Pineiro. Come back to Seattle.
I think 2010 could be memorable season for Seattle baseball fans. They are a few pieces away from becoming the new Anaheim in the American League West.
The biggest of pieces might not come until after this season, when teams will get to bid on the likes of Mauer, Josh Beckett, Jayson Werth, Carl Crawford, Jose Reyes, Adam Dunn, and Victor Martinez. And you can be certain that Jack Z. gets his hands dirty with those boys.
But for my money, the Mariners will win the American League West.
Chone Figgins will be on top on the AL West again, and that will lead to other stars coming for Starbucks, Bigfoot sightings, and baseball in October in Seattle.