The 2009 offseason brought even more changes. The Mariners were aggressive in the free agent market, stealing away the highly sought after free agent 3B Chone Figgins from the Anaheim Angels. Figgins, a career .291 hitter, projects as the #2 hitter, behind Ichiro Suzuki. Figgins is also transitioning back to second base, with Jose Lopez moving to third. The Mariners were also involved in one of the biggest trades of the offseason, acquiring former Cy Young winner Cliff Lee from the Philadelphia Phillies. Lee has one year remaining on his contract, and GM Zduriencik has said he will “let the pieces fall where they may” concerning Lee’s contract status. The mercurial OF Milton Bradley was also acquired during the offseason, and only time will tell if this move affects overall team chemistry.
Pitching and defense will absolutely tell the tale of this team in 2010. Two out of every five days they’ll hand the ball to Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez. Hernandez, the ’09 Cy Young runner-up, and Lee form a scary righty-lefty 1-2 punch at the front of the M’s rotation. The rest of the rotation features Ryan Rowland-Smith and Ian Snell at Nos. 3-4, and possibly Doug Fister at #5 until Erik Bedard’s expected return from the DL. Jarrod Washburn is still out there as a free agent, and word is that the Mariners may have interest in bringing him back to the fold. Washburn was 8-6 with a 2.64 ERA in his first 20 starts with Seattle last season before his trade to Detroit, and with Bedard’s return still somewhat up in the air, the talk could certainly make sense. Considering that the Mariners were last in the league in runs scored in ’09, they may need all the help they can get up front.
Offensively, the Mariners will feature of lot of pizzazz, but not much punch. CF Franklin Gutierrez and 3B Jose Lopez may be the only players in the lineup capable of hitting 25+ HR’s, so Wakamatsu will absolutely be preaching station-to-station offense here. That, coupled with the cavernous confines of Safeco Field will make pitching and defense that much more important to the success of the Seattle Mariners in 2010.
Here are the questions that Mariners fans are currently asking:
1) Will Milton Bradley’s presence in the clubhouse be an unwanted distraction?
2) Can Figgins safely transition to second base and help ignite a stagnant offense?
3) Will GM Jack Zduriencik’s theory of “new moneyball” lead to success?
Many pundits are saying that the Mariners didn’t improve enough to climb above the Anaheim Angels and Texas Rangers. Zduriencik and Wakamatsu and co. will be out to prove them wrong…Have you had an opportunity to check out www.diy-sports.com/?refId=1110 yet? A great MMORPG baseball game that’s growing fast.. Check it out !!