Saturday, November 17, 2007

Bavasi Seems Content

The Mariners may be closer to being ready for 2008 than many fans think. Sure, we'd love to improve on the batting lineup, adding some pop to replace the absence of Jose Guillen, but in reality it's probably not gonna happen. In a recent interview Bavasi gave no indication that any position player would be added. Unless Bill Bavasi is made an offer he cannot refuse the starting lineup should not hold any surprises:

Kenji Johjima, C
Richie Sexson, 1B
Jose Lopez, 2B
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Yuni Betancourt, SS
Raul Ibanez, LF
Ichiro Suzuki, CF
Adam Jones, RF
Jose Vidro, DH

That's what you can probably expect, though Jose Lopez is seemingly the only uncertainty. No, Seattle's not going to be signing anyone named Castillo, Loretta, Giles, Iguchi or Matsui to play second base, but I wouldn't be surprised one bit if Lopez is beat out by Yung Chi Chen or even Willie Bloomquist by the end of Spring Training.

Offensively we're looking about the same as '07. Adam Jones won't produce as Guillen did in '07, and the possibility that Raul Ibanez slips a little more looms, but a Richie Sexson resurrection could make up the difference. Defensively we are slightly better, Jones has much better range than Guillen and a similar arm. The Mariners would still be smart to get Raul out of the outfield. He may be the starting DH or first baseman after the trade deadline, depending on where the Mariners stand.

The bench is close as well. Depending on how the battle for second goes, I would expect to see Willie Bloomquist (OF, INF) and Mike Morse (LF, RF, 3B, SS, 1B) for sure. The Mariners would love to have Ben Broussard back for his left handed power off the bench, but he has garnered interest from the Texas Rangers and the Detroit Tigers. Jamie Burke should be Kenji's backup again after doing a superb job last season.

As far as the bullpen goes, JJ Putz (R) will be the closer, George Sherrill (L) and Mark Lowe (R) will likely split setup duties, with Jon Huber (R), Eric O'Flaherty (L), Sean Green (R) and Ryan Rowland-Smith (L, if he doesn't start) filling in the gaps. Bavasi would be well advised to add a veteran arm to that mix, preferably not someone named Jason Davis, John Parrish or Rick White.

That leaves the starting rotation as the only area that we need real work. Big surprise! In the same interview Bavasi twice mentioned that the Mariners want to add one starting pitcher, and have two get better. Those two: Felix Hernandez and Horacio Ramirez. Bavasi seems convinced that new pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre will right all the wrong that is Horacio Ramirez. The free agent front runners for the Mariners appear to be former Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon and Japanese import Hiroki Kuroda. There hasn't been many leads as far as the trade market goes, except that a Dontrelle Willis deal seems more and more unlikely with his value at an all time low. Look for him to be moved closer to the trade deadline.

So we're barely into the offseason and it appears that Bavasi is only looking to add one or two players.

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