From what games I have watched, the Seattle Mariners are a much different team than last year. They are playing "small ball," putting a lot of pressure on opposing teams, moving the runner over, and stealing the extra base when they can. All of these components make for an entertaining team to watch.
Perhaps the biggest change for the team is the fun they are having. Ken Griffey Jr., who is now the "old man" of the team, is just as loose as he has always been and has become the vocal leader that the team has desperately needed for the last few years.
The pitching on the Mariners is still suspect but each pitcher is battling. Even the beleaguered Carlos Silva is pushing forward with great effort. They are lacking a legitimate closer and this problem will be the one area they will concentrate on this year and will definitely be a main concern before the 2010 season.
The Mariners are a young team who is buying into new manager Don Wakamatsu's philosophy of getting back to the fundamentals of the game by playing solid defense and creating runs rather than hoping for three run homers.
They will continue to make some noise but I suspect GM Jack Zduriencik will find the players to contend in 2010. Bringing Russell Branyan in was perhaps the second best move the Mariners made, the first being bringing Griffey back.
Seattle is a good team that will only get better. If injuries can be avoided and the right players brought in, especially a legitimate closer, they could be playing in the World Series in 2011.