The Seattle Mariners had a 61-101 record in 2008. The second worst in the majors, yet I believe the Mariners had a winning season.
The Mariners farm system might have got slaughtered in the Erik Bedard trade but the sane "no pain, no gain" comes to mind. The Mariners found new hope in players such as Michael Pineda, Philipe Aumont, Carlos Triunfel, Greg Halman, Mike Wilson, and Adam Moore.
With the continued injuries of the veterans, the rookies gave the front office a preview of things to come. Brandon Morrow and Ryan Rowland-Smith are two names that come to mind. In September we found the potential in Rob Johnson, Tug Hullet, Luis Valbuena, and Matt Tuissappo. Through out the season we saw what Bryan Lahair, Jeff Clement, Jeremy Reed, Wladamir Balentein and and others had to show off.
Back in spring when the Mariners were thought to win the west; Mike Morse dominated pitching and was to share the right field spot with Brad Wilkerson. Ichiro started in center and it was said to be perfect with one weekness which was first base. Five games in Morse gets injured. A little later Brad Wilkerson gets the boot. Then Richie Sexson and Jose Vidro.
Wladamir Balentein and Jeremy Reed found themselves with starting jobs on a team thought to go the distance.
The bullpen was solid with Roy Corcocan, Mark Lowe, Sean Green and many other noble pitchers. Nothing got by then but when the ninth inning came around we had an issue when Putz got injured. Although when he recovered we learned that Brandon Morrow is the western David Price.
The starting rotation was showing promise with Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland Smith, Brandon Morrow, and Erik Bedard putting up some legit numbers. Sure Erik Bedard was supposed to send us to the playoffs but being the only starter with a winning record is not something to make fun of.
In September it seemed like things finally clicked for Kenji Johjima and Yuniesky Betancourt. Betancourt batted .343 in September while Johjima batted .333. Great numbers for those players who struggled throughout the season.
The Mariners have all the pieces to contend in 2009. Don't expect them to stay in the AL West basement!