Last night, baseball fans turned their heads west to watch an Orioles-Mariners game. Most of those fans were actually headline writers, drooling in anticipation of the opportunity to print the words, Orioles Get Fisted.
As Doug Fister’s no-hitter fizzled in the 7th, surely, the fans’ collective attention turned back to their favorite team. But the “M” Nation may be growing sooner than later.
They won’t do it with the longball, like Griffey, Arod, Buhner, and Martinez did in the late 90s. Instead, they’ll do it by holding other teams to fewer runs than anyone in all of baseball.
When Cliff Lee returns, they’ll have the best 1-2 tandem in the game with Felix Hernandez and Lee. Those two were good last year, but they should be even better in 2010, with the guys behind them all year.
Everybody knows about Ichiro’s prowess, but he’s not the best outfielder on the team. Franklin Gutierrez is the league’s best Center Fielder. With Ichiro and Gutierrez in Right and Center, baseballs just don’t seem to touch the ground.
They could afford to put an awful fielder like Adam Dunn in Left Field, but instead, they brought in Milton Bradley, who has been a plus defender throughout his career.
In the infield, they’ve acquired a solid glove at First Base, in Casey Kotchman. He’ll see a lot of baseballs being thrown his way, because the rest of the infield will cover some ground. Speedster, Chone Figgins, will make the move from Third base to Second, where he will spend the year turning double plays with Fielding Bible Award winner, Jack Wilson. To round out the infield, Jose Lopez will move his above-average glove to Third Base.
That’s right. Not only do the Mariners have some of the best defenders in the league, but they don’t have a single poor defender in the starting lineup.
Just imagine how much teams will be dreading traveling to Seattle when Lee and Erik Bedard come back. And they play in one of the most pitcher friendly parks in the league.
But defense isn’t the only story in Seattle. Figgins, Ichiro, Bradley, and even Gutierrez are OBP machines. And is there any player whose at bats are more fun to watch than Ichiro?
Although they don’t have the power to drive in a ton of runs, the Mariners will put plenty of men on base. As they keep the line moving, they might frustrate opposing pitchers as much as their defense and pitching frustrate opposing hitters.
So, if you’re a fan of defense, pitching, and small ball, make sure to tune into some Mariner games this year. They’re getting the job done, and it’s exciting to watch them do it.