As much as I hate to say it, the Mariner’s season is all but over. There were some bright spots, as well as some disappointments. 2013 could be more of the same, as there are a lot of young guys returning, and a few who could make their debut in the coming season. We can, for the most part, predict what the team will look like. I do, however, think that we will see a big move happen this offseason, hopefully one that propels the team up the rankings, and gets us closer to contention. I am going to give my prediction for next year’s lineup and rotation in this article, and what I hope the team looks like in another.
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
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.
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) 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.
6) Franklin Gutierrez, CF
Guti scares the hell out of me. He gets hurt way too much, 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. He has been decent this year, but his injuries make him hard to read. I think he is better than Trayvon though, so I’m giving him the start.
7) Hopefully a free agent or trade acquisition. If not, then Mike Carp, 1B
For a position that is usually super easy to fill, we sure have had a tough time filling it. Let’s face it, Smoak is not the answer, and Carp probably isn’t either. If we were to upgrade 1st from outside of the organization (Swisher, Willingham or Butler?), they would hit much higher in the order. However, in the interest of realism, I left it down here. If we are going to make a move in the offseason, this is the place to make it. Although, they could look for a guy who can play OF, so that Jaso still has a spot when Zunino is up.
Both Thames and Wells have had their ups and downs this year, and I think there is a good chance we see a platoon between them, barring a trade or signing. I have more faith in Casper to become an every day player, but this gives both guys a shot to prove themselves, and try to win the job outright. This position could end up getting us some good production, maybe more than you would expect.
9) Brenden 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 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.
Beavan is like a more extreme Vargas. He gets decent results, at least some times, despite having below average stuff, and a high 4.81 FIP. For a guy who doesn’t walk anyone, that is a pretty poor FIP. He probably gets this spot though. Noesi could bounce back, and I think he has a higher upside than Beavan, but he has been awful this year, both in the bigs and AAA. We will probably see Hultzen here at some point, assuming he pitchers like he should, and not like how he has this year.
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. Keep an eye out for part two later in the week, where I discuss what I want the roster to look like.