Seattle MarinersManager: Scott Servais
Stadium: Safeco Field
2007 Record: 88-74 (2nd in AL West)
Team Page | Roster | Schedule
2007: Batting Stats | Runs Scored (ranked 7th in AL)
|2008 FANTASY PROJECTIONS|
|OFF THE BENCH|
Disregard Ichiro's 0-for-21 Cactus League start, and pencil him in for his usual 200-plus hits. No one in baseball history has had a more productive seven-year span than Ichiro, who has had 1,592 hits since coming over from Japan. Ibanez is one of the most underrated hitters in the AL (against right-handers, at least). Beltre might never match the .334-48-121 line he put up in his last year in L.A. to earn a five-year contract with Seattle, but he still is an asset at the plate and a genius with the glove. The Mariners lost considerable clout with the departure of Jose Guillen (23 homers, 99 RBI), but they believe that if healthy, Wilkerson could approach those numbers.
One glaring deficiency of this lineup is their impatience (the M's prefer to call it aggressiveness). Last year, Seattle tied for second in the American League with a .287 batting average but was eighth in on-base percentage (.337) after drawing a league-low 389 walks. The Mariners are preaching selectivity this spring, but they did last year, too. Sexson was a huge weakness for the Mariners last year, slumping to .205 with 21 homers after going 39-121 and 34-107 his first two years in Seattle. Sexson's resurrection is perhaps the biggest key to Seattle's ultimate success.
HITTER TO WATCH:
Jeff Clement's defense behind the plate is suspect, but he's very strong with great pull power, and Seattle's park favors left-handed pull-power hitters.
PITCHER TO WATCH:
Mark Lowe has missed most of the past two years after several elbow operations, but he has been healthy and improving this spring; at full strength, he sits in the mid-90s with a solid changeup and slider behind it.
-- Keith Law, Scouts Inc.
JUST THE FACTS
• The Mariners overpaid for Erik Bedard. Or at least some rival execs think so. But he gives the M's an ace to line up in front of young Felix Hernandez.
• Richie Sexson promises to be better. After hitting .205, he's improved his conditioning. M's manager John McLaren says Sexson could win AL Comeback Player of the Year.
• They are focused on fundamentals. McLaren brought in Rich Amaral and Jay Buhner this spring to teach pitch recognition, baserunning and defense.
• Ichiro is incredible. He's just 130 hits shy of 3,000 as a pro. With another 1,408, he'll have 3K on this continent alone. And at age 34, he has plenty left in the tank.
"If everything goes smoothly for the Angels and Mariners, then the Angels are better," an AL GM says. "But if something goes wrong for the Angels -- an equalizer, like an injury -- then Seattle can take them. The Mariners are that close."
"Ichiro is beyond a national hero; he's international. He's made the Mariners Japan's team. People there wake up each morning and watch the Mariners' game on TiVo. I don't know any politician who can bridge the international gap like Ichiro does. I hope he finishes his career here." -- Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash.
-- Buster Olney
How many games will the Mariners win in 2008? Do they have the top lineup, rotation, bullpen or manager? Did they do the best job improving their team in the offseason with the acquisition of Erik Bedard? Register your vote.
We've waited a while, but with Felix Hernandez no longer under pressure to lead the staff, it's his time to break through. He'll offer top-tier talent at a third-tier price.
Jose Vidro miraculously managed to stay healthy and bat .314 last year, but he didn't offer much else. Plus, he's only DH-eligible in 2008. There's a lot of downside in him.
-- Tristan Cockcroft
Mariners fans all would agree that Richie Sexson had an underachieving season last year, but they might disagree as to why. Consider the role that injury played in Sexson's inability to deliver. He did miss 20 of the last 24 games due to a problematic hamstring. However, reportedly in excellent shape when he showed up to camp this year, Sexson is doing everything he can to put last year behind him and focus on a fresh start. And why not? Things can only get better.
-- Stephania Bell