Last week, I wrote my predictions for the 2013 Mariners, trying to stay as close to the current roster as possible. In this one, I will talk about what I hope the team looks like, with FA and trade additions included. I’ll try not to get too crazy, and be semi-realistic, but at the same time give you guys an idea of what I want out of this offseason. Anything that isn’t changed with be taken from my other article.
1) Dustin Ackley, 2B
He has been here most of this season, and I expect the same thing in ’13. He will have to improve though, and if he doesn’t, he should be dropped. I expect him to bounce back.
2) Michael Saunders, LF
Saunders had a solid season this year, and was one of our better players. I think he deserves the 2 spot, and fits well there. If Guti struggles or gets hurt, Saunders could move to center, and he will probably see some time there in ’13 no matter what.
3) Jesus Montero, DH/1B
Montero has not in the middle for most of the year, and I don’t see that changing next year. He will have to improve on his rookie year, and hopefully improve his power. You could put him anywhere from 3-5, I just think having a righty here makes more sense. He could see time at catcher and 1st also, depending on how the rest of the team shapes up, and how Smoak looks.
4) John Jaso, C
Jaso is the man, and with Olivo on the way out, he should see most, if not all, of the playing time that he was forced to share with Miggy. He leads the team in just about everything that matters, and comes up huge when it matters. He could drop to 5-6 against LHP, as he is hitting .114 in limited time against them this year. We could see Zunino here towards the very end of next year, but that’s far from a guarantee.
5) Jonny Gomes, RF/DH
Gomes is just one of the low cost options the Mariners have to improve the offense, as I discussed here. He has been great this year, as seen in his .373 wOBA and 141 wRC+. He would most likely replace the Wells/Thames experiment in RF, if Smoak falls apart again, he could play DH with Montero at 1st. I would like to see us spend a little more money, or give up something in a trade to fill this spot, but Gomes is a nice, cheaper alternative. He definitely won’t fix the offense though.
6) Kyle Seager, 3B
While Seager has put together a solid sophomore season, and has improved his OBP up to a respectable .319, he has been a little over-hyped due to his RBIs, which should not be used when evaluating a player. Still, he has a .742 OPS, and will probably finish with around 20 home runs. I think he is lock to start the season at third, and I think he will play well.
7) Justin Smoak, 1B
I can’t believe I typed that. Smoak keeps hanging on by a thread with his timely hitting. He has been on fire this month, and it’s hard to give up on him right now. Matty went further in depth on Smoaky here, but I’ll just tell you that he has a .435 wOBA, 5 homers and 187 wRC+ in September. And for some reason I am letting that outweigh the .282 wOBA and 81 wRC+ overall this year. Don’t ask me why, but I am. Now, that’s not to say if we were able to trade for a Billy Butler or Allen Craig that we should turn it down because we have Smoak, but I don’t think we pursue a replacement through trade very hard. Plus, as I’ve said many times, I expect a Zunino, Montero, Jaso trifecta a catcher, 1st and DH.
8) Franklin Gutierrez, CF
Guti scares me. He gets hurt way too much (albeit some freak things), which makes me wary of giving him the job. And even when he is healthy, you never know what you are going to get. He was great in his first year, then below-average to poor in the next two. And while has been decent this year, his injuries make him hard to read. I think he is better than Trayvon/Wells/Thames though, so I’m giving him the start.
9) Brendan Ryan, SS
For lack a better player, and because he is a BOSS defensively, Ryan gets the nod to start the year. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Nick Franklin over take/split time with him at some point, but Ryan will be the guy to start the year. If he can muster up a lowly .230 average, he would still be crazy valuable because of his defense.
This is pretty obvious and self-explanatory. Felix is one of the best pitchers in the game, and has a shot at the Cy Young. Look forward to having him at the top of the rotation of years to come.
2) Jason Vargas
Vargas is not a very good pitcher, but Safeco has become his best friend. He isn’t horrible on the road, thanks to our defense, but his 4.70 FIP suggests he is a below average pitcher. He will have arbitration next year, but I think he will lock him up for 2-3 years, something I am not sure I want. If we end up bringing on the fences, it will show in Vargas’s numbers. He will still be our #2.
After spending the beginning of the year rotting in the pen, and the middle in long relief, Iwakuma has been lights out as a starter. Like Vargas, he has been helped by the park and defense, as seen in his 4.68 FIP. Since becoming a starter though, he has posted a 2.84 ERA, 7.58 K/9, 83 LOB% and a respectable 4.27 FIP. He isn’t a guy I want long term, but I see us giving him a couple more years until the Big 3 are all up and ready. He has certainly earned a rotation spot for ’13 at least.
Erasmo has been injured a lot this year, and we haven’t been able to get a good read on him. He has spent time in the bullpen and the rotation, and think his 3.49 ERA and 3.59 FIP has earned him a rotation spot next year.
Let me explain. I realize he has pretty bad in AAA, but that’s exactly why I said this. He would probably have to dominate in Spring Training to get this spot, and I hope he does. I would like to see him prove himself in AAA first, but if he pitches well enough to earn this spot, then I want to see him here. If not, then I would take anyone but Noesi. I’m sick of 0-2 hangers/meat-fastballs that result in homers. Maybe we look at Jeff Francis on the cheap, and hope he pitches better than he has this year, long enough to hold it down for Hultzen.
This team is pretty similar to last year, and probably isn’t a contender yet, especially in our division. If the young guys keep improving, and the teams plays how it did in the 2nd half, we should have a winning record. As long as we see an improvement next year, I think the season is a success. 2014 is the season to really keep an eye on though