Pre-Spring Training Mariners Update

So much has happened since the last proper update. So much more than before!

We worked our magic to trade for Cliff Lee – a guy who’d be a Number 1 pitcher in most markets, but here makes for the best Number 2 in the game. We signed Chone Figgins to a 4-year deal, solidifying our 3rd Base defense and our 2nd spot in the batting lineup. We traded Carlos Fucking Silva away and actually GOT something for him. In this case, volatile head-case Milton Bradley, who is looking more and more like our Everyday Left Fielder (I use that term loosely, as I feel it’ll be more of a platoon thing regardless, but that he’ll probably play 2/3 of the games there). We traded for hard-throwing reliever Brandon League (losing Brandon Morrow in the process), which either helps give us one of the best bullpens in the game, or gives us some trade flexibility FROM that bullpen. And, we signed Casey Kotchman, who’s looking more and more like our Everyday First Baseman (again, probably a platoon thing; though this one looks less solidified than Left Field, as Russell The Muscle Branyan is still out there to be signed potentially).

By no means do I think the Mariners are finished, but that looks like the end of the major moves. I’d still like to see another bat or two get signed. I also seem to be the only one concerned with the back-end of our rotation. And, from what I’ve read, the Mariners have about a month and a half to get Felix signed to a long-term extension, or else we’re going to have to sit through a year or two full of trade rumors.

Here’s the deal. This year, 2010, the Seattle Mariners are going for it all. They HAVE to. This isn’t a building situation; we can’t afford to be taking steps TOWARD a World Series championship. We have to win the whole fucking thing. Right now.

Because we’re never going to be this loaded ever again.

We’ve got two starting pitchers who should both win over 20 games at the top of our rotation. Rowland-Smith should be good for 15 or so if he can stay healthy. That’s 65+ wins out of our top three starters. Now, I know it may be asking a lot, but if we can get 20 wins out of our 4th and 5th starters, and another 10 or so out of our bullpen, that gets us to RIGHT around 95 wins.

95 wins SHOULD be enough to win the AL West this year. Should be enough to win it most years, but that’s neither here nor there.

That has to be the goal. I don’t care how it happens, I don’t care about individual stats, I don’t care about team stats. 95 wins. That’s all that matters.

Get this team healthy and into the playoffs, we’ve got a very good chance with Felix and Lee to win any 7-game series in front of us.

Of course, that’s the thing. Health. Rowland-Smith is awesome, but he’s yet to play a full season as a starter. Lose Felix or Lee for any extended stretch, and kiss 95 wins goodbye.

Then there’s the bats. A LOT of good defense up and down that lineup; but somewhere along the line, they’re going to have to produce more runs than they prevent. Here’s the lineup as I see it at the moment:

Ichiro – RF
Figgins – 3B
Lopez – 2B
Bradley – LF
Gutierrez – CF
Griffey – DH
Kotchman – 1B
Wilson – SS
Johnson – C

I think I’m most unsure about Gutierrez; I could also see him batting 9th to stick some speed and pop at the bottom of the order.

Either way, Pop is not in the cards all that much. At best, you may be looking at two guys who hit over 20 homers (Lopez and Bradley), and Bradley is a stretch. He’s more of an on-base and batting average guy. This team is going to have to manufacture runs like we’ve never seen. Even that 2001 team that won all those games playing “Small Ball” had power like the ’27 Yankees compared to this year’s team.

It’s why I want to see Branyan back on the ballclub.

The dude might strike out a shit-ton, but he was on pace for 40 homers last year before he went down for the last month with an injury. For a while there, in our lean stretch in May, Branyan was our sole source of offense. He’s capable of taking an offense and putting it on his shoulders. I don’t think Kotchman is.

Kotchman is the lone question mark in this entire offseason. Jack Zduriencik has been motherfucking teflon this offseason. Signing Figgins – an on-base, stolen-base machine – trading for Lee – and not giving up the farm – offloading Silva – and getting someone who could potentially be of great help. These are GM Of The Year type moves, without a doubt.

And then he signed Casey Kotchman. That guy has shown NOTHING in his major league career. Nothing special, anyway. I guess he’s supposed to be a good defensive first baseman, which is like saying I’m a good typer. Who isn’t, you know? And he doesn’t strike out. Meaning, I guess, that he’s good at making contact (because his numbers don’t indicate that he takes a ton of walks). So, we have a lot of double plays potentially to look forward to.

Yeah Branyan struck out a lot, but he was also pretty good at taking walks. Combine that with the homers (and the threat of homers leading pitchers to pitch around him), and you’ve got someone dynamic enough to overlook the occasional 3-strikeout game.

But, we’ll see. Jackie-Z hasn’t steered me wrong yet. He hasn’t given me one real reason to question his moves. Maybe Kotchman is just what this offense needs. Maybe he’ll turn his career around without playing under the harsh glare of Boston fans and media (and Atlanta fans and media, I guess).

All I have to say is, he better. Everyone needs to pick up their games this year. Like I said before, I’ll take another decade of sucktitude if it means a Ring this year. Felix and Lee: ride the wave!

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