Regular Articles

Regular Season Record: 78-84 (Last in the AL West)

Home Park: Safeco Field (moderate pitcher's park,
though the degree of this is often overstated)

New Faces:
Jose Guillen (RF) - FA (WAS)
Miguel Batista (SP) - FA (ARI)
Jeff Weaver (SP) - FA (STL)
Chris Reitsma (RP) - FA (ATL)
Arthur Rhodes (RP) - FA (PHI)
Jamie Burke (C) - FA (CHW)
Sean White (RP) - Rule V (PIT)
Sean Burroughs (3B) - Minor League FA (TBD)
Jose Vidro (DH/IF) - Trade (WAS)
Horacio Ramirez (SP) - Trade (ATL)

New Places:
Rafael Soriano (RP) - Traded (ATL)
Chris Snelling (DH/OF) - Traded (WAS)
Emiliano Fruto (RP) - Traded (WAS)
Eddie Guardado (RP) - Traded last July (CIN)
Jamie Moyer (SP) - Traded last July (PHI)
Joel Pineiro (SP/CL??) - FA (BOS)
Gil Meche (SP) - FA (KCR)
Greg Dobbs (UT) - FA (PHI)

Projected Starting Line-up:

Ichiro! (CF)
Adrian Beltre (3B)
Raul Ibanez (LF)
Richie Sexson (1B)
Jose Guillen (RF)
Jose Vidro (DH)
Kenji Johjima (C)
Jose Lopez (2B)
Yuniesky Betancourt (SS)

Projected Bench:

Ben Broussard (DH/1B)
Jeremy Reed (Fourth OF)
Willie Bloomquist (UT)
Jamie Burke / Rene Rivera (BC)

Projected Starting Rotation:

Felix Hernandez
Jarrod Washburn
Jeff Weaver
Miguel Batista
Horacio Ramirez

Projected Bullpen:

J.J. Putz (CL)
Chris Reitsma (SUR)
George Sherrill (SUL)
Arthur Rhodes (MRL)
Jon Huber / Mark Lowe 2nd Half? (MRR)
Julio Mateo (MR)
Jake Woods / Brandon Morrow / Ryan Feierabend / Cha
Seung Baek (SWING)

The Skinny:

From the outset last season, the success of the
starting rotation rested mainly on the broad, but
inexperienced shoulders of Felix Hernandez. When he
showed up to spring training last year out of shape
and immediately came down with knee soreness (perhaps
from putting so much extra weight on those young
joints), his first half was already shot. Before the
all-star break, Hernandez sported an ERA over 5, a 6-8
record and a high HR rate. Other than a little
gopheritis and a notable lack of stamina, the rest of
his numbers remained encouraging (high GB/FB, low LD%,
extremely high K/BB and K/9, and strike %). In the
second half, Hernandez recovered part way, dropping
his HRs from 15 in the first half to 6 in the second
half, increasing his IP counts and lowering his
already low walk rate. Hernandez reported to spring
training this year in outstanding physical condition,
and says he feels lighter and more explosive on the
mound.

What Went Right:

Jose Lopez finally established himself as a major
leaguer in the eyes of his frustratingly short sighted
manager and was on the all-star team. Yuniesky
Betancourt started off with too many errors and mental
mistakes on defense but by the end of the season he
was looking more and more like the Ozzie Smith clone
scouts had been raving about on defense - he also
managed to sport a .300 BA for about 5 1/2 months of
the season, finishing at .284. Kenji Johjima needed
just 2 months to adapt to major league pitching,
hitting a rather empty .266 through May 31st and
finishing with 18 HR and a BA north of .290. Gil
Meche had a career year, his last as a Mariner, though
he still battled inconsistency. J.J. Putz emerged as
one of the two or three best closers in baseball,
posting a mind boggling 109/13 K/BB and proving to be
somewhat of a rubber arm, pitching in nearly 80
innings.

What Went Wrong:

Carl Everett was an unmitigated (and unfortunately
predictable) failure as the Mariners' DH and his
replacements, which cost the Mariners a couple of
promising prospects, proved equally futile. No team
had worse production from their DH slot. Jeremy
Reed's offensive struggles continued, and this time,
he took them into the field with him, where he went
from outstanding to pedestrian with the glove. And
then he broke his hand and was out for the rest of the
season. His replacements didn't hit much either,
though Adam Jones (the Mariners' best prospect) did
show good poise and maturity for a 20 year old. The
good news is that this prompted Ichiro to finally move
to CF and that move was made permanent when the Ms
signed Jose Guillen to take over in RF. Julio Mateo
got entirely too much playing time in close and late
situations, Mark Lowe tore up the AL and then his arm,
Joel Pineiro was perhaps the worst SP in Mariner
history other than Jeff Fassero ('99), and the
Mariners disappointed yet again.

Strengths in 2007:

Two words - Felix Hernandez. Mark my words, this is
Hernandez' year to take the AL by storm. The Mariners
will need him to step up and be the ace of this
otherwise average-solid rotation. Offensive depth is
also a big plus this year assuming Vidro and Guillen
stay healthy and the Mariners get something from
Beltre and Sexson that remotely resembles their
monetary value. The line-up is filled from 1 through
9 with average to good to outstanding bats. There are
no obvious weaknesses. Team defense will also be
strong in Seattle this year with Lopez and Betancourt
working well together, Ichiro patrolling CF, where his
skills will be infinitely more valuable, and Beltre
and Guillen both possessing above average defense to
round out the diamond.

Weaknesses:

The rotation is still full of question marks despite
the free agent spending spree. Jeff Weaver is coming
off his worst season as a pro, Horacio Ramirez hasn't
been able to stay healthy and his K/BB is awful, and
don't even get me started on his consistently high
HR/Fly%. Vidro and Guillen have both been hurt a lot
lately and are in decline as a result, and there are
open slots in the bullpen to be worried about.

Keys to Success:

Felix. Felix. And more Felix. No really, what the
Mariners need is consistency from the four starters
who aren't potential Cy Young winners, and for Felix
to go out and compete for that first CY. If they get
dominance from the "King" and solid mediocrity from
the rest, they have a great shot at the AL West.

Prediction:

The Mariners will be somewhat agonizing to pull for
this year. They'll have streaks and slumps that make
you want to pull your hair out and swallow it. Their
manager won't be doing what's best for the team most
of the time (he's among the worst strategic managers
in baseball and not much of a judge of talent either),
and their hack-master offense, largely devoid of
patient hitters and heavy on batting average, will run
hot and cold and struggle against quality pitching.
And in the end, they'll still wind up in a neck and
neck race with Anaheim (and possibly Oakland they
they've definitely taken a step backwards this year
without Thomas and Zito), and have a great shot at the
post-season for the first time in a long time.