The team had potential last year, but not exactly enough to get ahead of the Angels or the Rangers.
Trust me, this season will be different.
With some key offseason moves, including the acquisition of Cliff Lee and Chone Figgins and the extension of Felix Hernandez’s contract, the Mariners are right where they want to be heading into the start of the 2010 season.
If everyone stays healthy, the Mariners will have the best starting rotation in the AL West.
Felix Hernandez has one of the best young arms in the game and is coming off the best season of his career where he racked up 19 wins and only five losses with a 2.49 ERA.
Hernandez, followed by Cliff Lee, is one heck of a one-two punch.
Now about Lee, do I even need to go into detail about him?
I am not portraying him as a god but he is by far one of the elite pitchers in baseball right now.
He has proved himself in every situation possible and was the Phillies postseason hero last year.
Just look at Game One of last year’s World Series where Lee pitched a complete game giving up no runs, only six hits and struck out 10.
I do not see him straying all that far from last season’s success and expect to see similar results.
The biggest question marks in my mind lie with Eric Bedard and Ian Snell.
Bedard is a good pitcher but has a problem staying healthy and Snell has potential but has never really put up great numbers.
But if health is not an issue for him, I see Bedard being a solid No. 3 starter.
Hopefully, Snell will come out strong this year and show the baseball world what he really has.
Despite the fact that we have not really seen all that much from Ryan Rowland-Smith, I like what I have seen so far and only see him getting better as time goes on.
Some may consider the Angels rotation to be the top in the AL West but let’s face it: the loss of Lackey was huge and for those of you who do not want to admit it, give it up already.
When Lackey left, so did the consistency in the Angels’ rotation.
Jered Weaver did well last year but I really do not see him bringing the Angels to the playoffs.
Yes, Ervin Santana had elbow problems last season but did not do well at all and who’s to say that those problems will not linger into this season?
Joe Saunders is average, Scott Kazmir has lost it and although Joel Piniero had a good season last year, it is still iffy as to whether or not the new or old Piniero will show up this year.
If I had the choice to pick between the two rotations, I would choose the Mariners in a heartbeat.
The M’s also made some solid pick-ups in the field—offensively and defensively--with former Angels’ teammates Chone Figgins and Casey Kotchman leading the list.
It is common sense that Figgins is no Barry Bonds and was not brought to Seattle for his power, but he has an excellent glove and is a clutch player.
Kotchman does have more offensive potential than Figgins, but he is still not a powerhouse.
However, what Kotchman lacks offensively, he makes up for in the field.
He is one of the most solid defensive first basemen in the league, has a .998 career fielding percentage and has only had made only eight errors in 3,854 total chances.
With that being said, the Mariners offense will not lead the league in all categories but they will produce enough to win games.
Ichiro is always dangerous at the plate, Griffey still has something left in him, Jack Wilson has the ability to put up big numbers and so does Milton Bradley, if he manages to somehow restrain himself from some sort of temper tantrum.
So all-in-all, I like the moves the Mariners made and think they are the new team to beat in the AL West.
In case you have not already figured out my pick for the AL West, I pick the Seattle Mariners to win the division.
Stay tuned for my pick for the AL Central—I will be posting it in a couple of days.