Seattle Mariners Opening Day Roster: Sodo Mojo Predictions
Sep 28, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano (22) hits against the Los Angeles Angels during the first inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
The Infield (plus Catcher):
Logan Morrison. In a post yesterday I gave my production predictions for LoMo, whom I expect to excel in 2015 with the starting first base job his to lose from day 1. 18 home runs and 73 RBI from the 5th year player out of Northshore High School in Louisiana.
The spot is his because he hit over .340 in the month of September and carried an offense with struggling stars in Robbie Cano and Seager. With time in defensively at Spring Training, LoMo will find his groove and solidify first base in 2015, a merry-go-round position in 2014 that was marginally productive.
Drum roll please!… Robinson Cano. Whoa, a shocking selection I know. He’s a 6-time All Star and career .310 hitter. His defense is solid at second, making tough plays look easy throwing to first base with a quick flick of the wrist.
Unless Cano gets hurt in Spring Training there’s not a chance in hell he loses this spot. Even if he went 1-for-50 in Peoria, the Mariners know his pedigree and are confident he will produce in year 2 of his $240 million contract.
Aug 18, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Seattle Mariners third basemanKyle Seager
(15) fields a ball and throws for an out during the fourth inning of a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Seager. Again, no great surprise here. The 27-year old out of UNC is under contract with the Mariners through 2021 with his recently signed 7 year, $100 million contract extension. In each of his first three MLB seasons, Seager has markedly improved year after year.
So what does that mean for 2015? More than 20 home runs, more than 100 RBI, and no late-season slump, keeping his batting average over .275.
Again, barring injury, Seager isn’t going anywhere. Yes, Patrick Kivelhan and D.J. Peterson are listed as third basemen in the Mariners minor league system, but they’re young and inexperienced and won’t take the starting job away from an All-Star.
For the second Spring Training in a row there will be a shortstop competition. And, for the second year in a row, Brad Miller will take home gold. Miller struggled out of the gate last season as the starter, and was eventually replaced by Chris Taylor midseason. But post-All Star break the left-handed hitter turned it on and made this competition a lot more interesting.
More than anything else, I think the Mariners want Miller’s power bat in the lineup. Before the M’s traded for the Smith/Ruggiano combo in right field, speculation swirled about potentially moving Miller to the outfield.
In the long run Crazy Legs could become a Ben Zobrist-type super utility guy, but in 2015, expect him to start over Chris Taylor at shortstop on Opening Day.
It’s no great surprise that Mike Zunino will be the Mariners’ starting catcher in 2015. His backup, however, is a different story. More on that in a bit. In his first full MLB season, Zunino struggled with bat speed and contact at the plate. He hit just .199 on the season with 158 strikeouts. His redeeming offensive quality was his power, as he set the Mariners record for most home runs by a catcher with 22.
Zunino had so little time transitioning from college to the minors then to the MLB. With more reps in Spring Training, and more exposure to Major League pitching, Zunino’s bat will improve. Not to mention his phenomenal pitch-framing and game-calling behind the dish.
Look out this season: if Zunino finds a stride offensively, the Mariners offense becomes that much scarier.