In My Book... The Seattle Mariners Are The New Tampa Bay Rays
With the Mariners newest members, they have become a team of speed, youth, young successful pitching, and a strong farm system.
Last season the Mariners had excessive tension in the club house, mostly surrounding Ichiro Suzuki. Last night they traded away the other side of the conflict—Jeremy Reed and JJ Putz.
Seattle built up the farm system and added a few veterans that will do well in a change of scenery. Aaron Heilman is a key piece for the Mariners who will help the rest of the young squad gel.
With so many new pieces, who is next to walk the plank? Adrian Beltre? Jarrod Washburn? Eric Bedard? Yuniesky Betancourt? Even Ichiro? Who decides where the line is cut in rebuilding?
I honestly believe that they will trade Ichiro this offseason. After the deals GM Jack Zduriencik has made, I think the owners might see what Zduirencik can do with a poker chip named Ichiro Suzuki.
Teams that could have interest in him are the Cubs, Phillies, Dodgers, White Sox, Yankees, and Cardinals.
If the Mariners could bring in some young, fast prospects with versatility, they would have a team that is even better than the Rays.
They now have a young center fielder that I predict will be like BJ Upton was last season. Franklin Gutierrez was the Mariners main target to acquire in this blockbuster trade.
They have Endy Chavez to put together the best defensive outfield in baseball. He has speed, agility, and several other great stats.
The Mariners young pitching received even more players, but they are not quite ready to provide immediate help.
Here is my 2009 Seattle Mariners roster with predictions of how they will do.
C. Kenji Johjima—.276 batting average with 11 home runs. After batting .333 in September, this is no long shot for Kenji Johjima.
1B. Russell Branyan—.268 batting average and 29 home runs. In 2008 he hit one home run every 10 at bats, so 29 is a very legitimate estimate.
2B. Jose Lopez—.297 batting average with 19 home runs. Lopez's continued progression shows that he can hit for average as well as knock the ball out of the park.
SS. Yuniesky Betancourt—.303 batting average and nine home runs. After you just re-read the name to make sure I'm not talking about Ichiro, look at some facts. In September he batted .343, very nice numbers. This off season he is training with Mariner MVP Raul Ibanez on batting mechanics and plate discipline.
3B. Adrian Beltre—.289 batting average with 32 home runs. Adrian Beltre has one simple formula for success. Contract Season= Career Season. With his contract ending at the end of this season, I expect him to be in a trade come the deadline.
RF. Ichiro Suzuki—.306 batting average and seven home runs. Ichiro is still a great hitter, but his main attack has switched to stealing bases, of which I predict he will get 41.
CF. Franklin Gutierrez—.267 batting average with 13 home runs. His defense is elite and he has power potential so don't rule him out of being great once entrenched in the outfield.
LF. Endy Chavez—.264 batting average with three home runs. Mainly a defensive player, but I think Chavez can do better at the plate also.
DH. Wladamir Balentein—.279 batting average and 21 home runs. He has the potential to reach these numbers and beyond.
The pitching is still being figured out, but I think Felix Hernandez and Erik Bedard will be around the 14-16 win zone and the others maybe 9-10.
Those numbers are not out of reach. Expect the Mariners too resume the fight with the Angels for the west with a new squad and plan of attack.
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