Thursday, January 3, 2008

Mariners vs Angels, 1/3/08

A crazy amount of my posts this offseason have been about starting pitchers that the Mariners have not obtained. In fact, about 63% of the posts are about said pitchers. What is sadder, that a majority of the posts on this Mariners blog are about non-Mariners, or the fact that I know the percentage of posts refering to starting pitching targets?

Either way, the likelihood that our Mariners acquire Erik Bedard or Johan Santana seems to be dwindling, at least according many writers (ye of little faith), I decided it was appropriate to discuss our current Seattle Mariners team.

I've posted many entries about how the Los Angeles California Angels of Anaheim are now miles ahead of the Mariners after this offseason, but that was assuming they would get Miguel Cabrera or backup plan Miguel Tejada. Cabrera is a Detroit Tiger, and Tejada is a Houston Astro.

So how do the Seattle Mariners and L.A. Angels stack up as of today? Let's see.

Starting Rotation:

Felix Hernandez/John Lackey
Jarrod Washburn/Kelvin Escobar
Miguel Batista/Jered Weaver
Carlos Silva/Jon Garland
Brandon Morrow/Joe Saunders

It's hard to tell what order either rotation would actually go in. For Seattle, Washburn, Batista and Silva are all pretty equal and could go in any order. For Los Angeles, the five spot could go to Ervin Santana or someone else. Either way the Angels have Seattle beat overall, as they have better pitchers in every slot. the 4-5 slots are debatable, but I still give L.A. the edge.

Position Players:

C: Kenji Johjima/Mike Napoli or Jeff Mathis - Adv. SEA
There is no doubt about this, Johjima is a top-10 catcher in the league both offensively and defensively, while this pair of Angels can't hit .250.

1B: Richie Sexson/Casey Kotchman or Kendry Morales - Adv. LAA
Kotchman and Morales don't have the power that Sexson has, but they don't need to in the current Angels lineup. Whoever the Angels go with (likely Kotchman) it's going to take a Sexson resurrection to even the playing field.

2B: Jose Lopez/Howie Kendrick - Adv. LAA, hands down
Lopez is a very fine second baseman, but Kendrick is a future star in this league.

3B: Adrian Beltre/Chone Figgins - Tie?
Figgins can hit well above .300 and steal you 60 bases, but has below average defense. Beltre is a gold glover, but can drive in 100 RBIs as well. I'm inclined to give Los Angeles the slight edge, but it's tough when you're not comparing apples to apples.

SS: Yuni Betancourt/Aybar, Izturis or Wood - Adv. SEA
It's unclear who the Angels will put at short, but I believe Betancourt slightly edges out any of them unless they decide to field Figgins there, which would be a mistake defensively.

LF: Raul Ibanez/Gary Matthews - Adv. LAA
Raul had a better offensive year, but I believe Matthews will rebound and his speed and outstanding defense will make up for any offensive woes in this comparison. The advantage is slight.

CF: Ichiro Suzuki/Torii Hunter - Adv. SEA
Hunter is an above average hitter and defender, but Ichiro is much better in both categories. It's another comparison that isn't apples to apples, so you could take another angle on it.

RF: Adam Jones/Vladimir Guerrero - Adv. LAA
Do I need to bother saying anything?

DH: Jose Vidro/Garret Anderson - Adv. LAA
Vidro is a great hitter, but doesn't produce anything. Anderson can still get it done, especially against the Mariners. With Anderson out of the outfield he should be able to squeeze in a few more at bats, too.

Possible Lineups:

Ichiro Suzuki/Chone Figgins
Jose Vidro/Gary Matthews
Adrian Beltre/Vladimir Guerrero
Raul Ibanez/Garret Anderson
Richie Sexson/Torii Hunter
Kenji Johjima/Casey Kotchman
Adam Jones/Howie Kendrick
Jose Lopez/Mike Napoli
Yuni Betancourt/Maicer Izturis

I would give the Angels an edge over the Mariners on the everyday lineup. Both leadoff men or above average, but the middle of the Angels order scares me. The Mariners don't always know what to expect out of Beltre, Ibanez and Sexson, but you know you're in trouble with Guerrero, Anderson and Hunter. Let's just be thankful that Miguel Cabrera wasn't adding in there, then there would be no contest between the two lineups. The Mariners only really stand out in the 8-9 spots.


Without getting into much detail, the Mariners bullpen slightly edges out the Angels relievers. Putz is slightly better than K-Rod, the Angels' back end guys are slight better than the Mariners but the Mariners' middle relievers are probably a bit better than the Angels'.

It's hard to say how the benches for both teams will shape up at this point. If Jeff Clement lands on the Seattle bench, I would give them the early advantage, but it's too early to tell.

All this said, I believe the Angels are better than the Mariners, but not that much. Seattle's success could rest on solid seasons from Beltre, Ibanez and Sexson, the middle of their order, and a step up performance from one of the many "number 4" starters in their rotation. Some more moves will be made by both teams, but this is how they stand as of today. I know I was pretty vague on most points, so please give me your take and start a debate! (unintentional cheesiness)

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