Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2012 MLB Preview #2: Seattle Mariners

Greetings all, we're back with volume #2 and the soft-hitting Seattle Mariners...


C - Miguel Olivo/Jesus Montero
1B - Justin Smoak
2B - Dustin Ackley
SS - Brendan Ryan
3B - Chone Figgins
LF - Trayvon Robinson/Mike Carp
CF - Franklin Gutierrez
RF - Ichiro Suzuki
DH - Jesus Montero/Mike Carp

This is not a lineup that anyone is afraid of. Part of it is the ballpark (Safeco Field) being a place where power hitters go to die, but part of it is simply a lack of investment in offense. Ichiro is still the best player in this lineup, and while he's on the downside, he's still good for a high average and some steals. One concern I have is the commitment to hit him in the #3 hole and place Figgins in the lead-off spot, because Ichiro's power is virtually non-existent, but moreso because Figgins hasn't been a productive player in a couple years, and was an absolute disaster in 2011. The key to the productivity of this lineup is in the young guys. Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley, and Jesus Montero are all high-level prospects who have yet to fully prove themselves to various degrees. Smoak had a nice start in 2011, but finished with just 15 HR and a .719 OPS for the year, and while Ackley played very well (.766 OPS from 2nd base), his ABs were limited to 333 due to a late call-up. Montero has 40-homer power in a normal ballpark, but the centerpiece of the Pineda trade is still quite unproven. Throw in bit pieces around them and Ichiro, and this has the makings of a bad lineup of the youth movement stalls.

Starting Rotation

1 - Felix Hernandez
2 - Jason Vargas
3 - Hisashi Iwakuma
4 - Blake Beavan
5 - Charlie Furbush/Hector Noesi

We all know what Felix brings. The 2010 Cy Young winner is one of the best pitchers in baseball, and you can pencil him in for 230+ innings, 200+ Ks, and great ratios. He's an absolute beast and that's not slowing down. Jason Vargas is a pretty solid option after posting 200 innings of 4.25 ERA and decent WHIP last year, and on the bright side for them, his home/road splits are pretty identical, which is positive for a guy in that ballpark. After that? It gets ugly and questionable. Beaven was pretty solid in 15 starts last year, but is unproven, and Iwakuma has just arrived in the States, and the Furbush/Noesi duo isn't scaring anyone with Furbush (6.62 ERA in 2011) struggling so far, and Noesi with 2 career starts.


Brandon League returns as the closer, fresh off a year where he converted 37 of 42 save opps. while posting an impressive 2.79 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 65 appearances. After that, it's a little more interesting. The M's acquired George Sherrill as a lefty specialist, and he's decent in that role, and I also like the Hong-Chih Kuo signing as a guy who's coming off a horrendous year, but with a significant track record of dominant performance at the back-end. I wouldn't say this is a strength, but if League performs similarly to 2011, this shouldn't be a trainwreck.


69-93, 3rd in AL West

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