Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
With David Aardsma looking more likely to start the season on the DL, there is little doubt the Mariners will go with a 12-man pitching staff.
There are 33 pitchers in camp with the team. Thirty three. There should be a serviceable bullpen in there somewhere among the youngsters and non-roster invitees. Predicting the seven guys that make the trip to Oakland may be a futile exercise, but here's how I think it shakes out.
Manny Delcarmen, CL : He could have himself a nice spring. Being someone with closing experience is nice. Perhaps he gets the closer role as the Mainers don't need to give the league leverage in contract negotiations, which is exactly what a handful of saves would do.
Delcarmen also chose Seattle over Tampa Bay. While that could be attributed to facing AL West hitters versus AL East hitters to rebuild value, the Mariners may have also pitched the possibility of closing while Aardsma heals.
Brandon League, SU: I think the Mariners need to use Aardsma's injury as an excuse to see what they have in League as a closer. They, of course, will need some ninth inning leads to do that, which won't come easy with this offense. However, if they can send League in to slam the door 10-plus times, it should give them a good idea. It'll also help build his stock should they not be able to find an Aardsma suitor. In the end, though, I think they pass him up for Delcarmen.
Chris Ray, SU: He's another guy with closing experience, having saved 33 games for the Orioles in 2006 and 16 more the following season. He's had his issues the past few seasons but could be a nice low-risk reclamation project. I don't know that he earns the interim closer role, but I think he could show enough to enable the Mariners not to give service time to youngsters Dan Cortes and Josh Lueke.
Luke French, LR: He could start the season in place of Bedard, then end up in the bullpen, but there's a good chance this is where he starts and stays. As a lefty, the team has options to use him as a LOOGY, in long relief against heavy left-handed lineups and as a spot starter.
Garrett Olson, LH: I'd rather see Edward Paredes from a young talent perspective, but expect Olson to be the second lefty in the pen to save service time for the youngster who could still use some seasoning.
Jose Flores, RH: A Rule 5 draft pick at the winter meetings, Flores should make the team unless he shows nothing this spring. The Mariners could toss him back to the Indians for little loss, or pull one of those fake disabled list stunts teams are known to do with these kids. He'll turn 22 in July, so he'll get the honor of wearing the pink backpack (see photo above).
David Pauley, RH: The final spot could easily go to a Cortes or Lueke flame thrower to fill the void until Shawn Kelley returns, but I think the Mariners again decide to save service time for talented youngsters and slide another guy who could spot start into the final bullpen spot.