Here is a roster for the Mariners. You may look at this roster and notice a few players I left off. This roster is special, this is a roster designed to maximize the number of games the Mariners win in 2012. I pray to God, Yahweh, Allah and the Flying Spaghetti Monster that this is not the roster that the M’s take to Japan. You know why? Because the M’s have a very little chance to make the playoffs or even compete for the playoffs in 2012. Not only is their 2012 team not very good but they also play in the second best division in baseball now. Suck it NL East. SO this year should be designed around getting younger players experience so they will be better in 2013 and past, when the Pujols contract looks like a terrible decision.
The first three names should not be a surprise; the King assumes his traditional spot. Vargas takes the second spot as jester and Iwakuma is the Japanese import that is recovering from shoulder surgery but has dominated Japan before. Side note, would an Iwakuma vs. Yu Darvish matchup be ridiculously over-hyped by ESPN like the Ichiro vs. Dice-K matchup was? Anyway, Millwood is a Wedge favorite from their time together in Cleveland and has the potential to be a steal in the friendly confines of Safeco. Blake Beavan is Blake Beavan. He will not turn into a CY Young candidate but is a reliable fifth starter who pounds the strike zone and is cheap. This is not a bad five, but the talent drop after Felix is kind of scary.
League will remain the closer and Wilhelmsen, who I will now refer to as “The Bartender”, will look to build on the success he had last year. Another side note, did Steve Delabar and The Bartender have contests over whose life sucked more when they were out of baseball (Delabar was a substitute teacher)? I would take Delabar in that matchup. I digress. Camp is a dependable righty from Toronto, Sherrill is returning to Seattle after some up-and-down years with Baltimore, Atlanta and Los Angeles. Speaking of the Dodgers and LA, Hong-Chih Kuo came to us from them. He used to be untouchable, and then he got the “yips” or something and couldn’t figure out how to throw the ball in the right direction or at the correct elevation. If he can figure that out and return to his pre-2011 numbers, he can be a solid left-handed option. Heilman is the last one on the list because his spot is the most up for grabs. He is a veteran reliever who actually was on the M’s before. But he got traded before he could play a game. I wonder if they made his jersey and if that’s worth anything today?
C- Miguel Olivo
1B- Justin Smoak
2B- Dustin Ackley
SS- Brendan Ryan
3B- Chone Figgins
LF- Mike Carp
CF- Franklin Guttierrez
RF- Ichiro Suzuki
DH- Jesus Montero
Now for the most depressing part of the 2011 M’s, but wait, they got marginally less depressing. I know Chone Figgins is back, but based off the irrelevant and meaningless intra squad games that have already been played, he could actually not be a black hole of suckiness. Or he could still suck and be remembered as the worst signing of the Jack Z era. Guti is back from his weird bowel problems and is in really good shape. If he can come back and actually hit the ball well, this offense may move up from worst in the MLB to maybe 25th best. But now we find out he's out until at least the beginning of the season. What a mystery. Ichiro is now batting third. His swing is now more designed around hitting line drives. That is usually a bad thing for a former batting champ to change his swing, but he’s Ichiro so I won’t judge him until tangible results are available. Finally we get to Jesus, the savior of the M’s offense. Hopefully he plays much more DH than catcher this year. It will allow him to adjust to MLB pitching without worrying about handling the pitching staff. Olivo can hopefully last one more year without exploding into dust. Ackley, Carp and Smoak all need to show some improvement from last year. Smoak especially needs to improve since his thumb issue is now resolved. And Brendan Ryan is there, good for him.
OF- Casper Wells
C/1B- John Jaso
IF- Munenori Kawasaki
IF- Carlos Guillen
Not much to say here, Jaso offers Olivo a break while not making Montero the only other option behind the plate. Wells can play every outfield spot and offer some right-handed power. Kawasaki is the back-up middle infielder; he’s supposedly a vocal player with a lot of energy, similar to Brendan Ryan, although hopefully not as injury-prone. Guillen offers some nostalgia and hopefully some pop in the corner infield spots.
People I Left Off Who Could (Should) Make It
These are the players I think should or could be on the roster over the older players. Millwood, Heilman, Guillen, Kuo all can be replaced by people on this list, but Saunders is kind of just in limbo since Wells is pretty much a right-handed version of him, but better and with more upside. The common theme between these five players is they are young and their better days are still ahead of them. Unlike the “veterans,” these players will get better with more experience at the MLB level.
This roster is not going to strike fear into the hearts of the rest of the AL West, let alone the MLB. For all of you expecting a playoff team, I’m sorry this is not the year. But be patient, the youth is there finally. Jack Z has built a strong system and in three of four years the M’s will have a team that will compete. They will have a lineup that is scary and a rotation that is outstanding. All that is needed is patience. Don’t worry, don’t panic, just be patient and the finished product will be there. Go M’s.