The 2010 Mariners were all pitching and defense, but no offense. The 2011 Mariners aren’t much different. The loss of Cliff Lee has deflated their staff from great to good. The additions of Jack Cust, Miguel Olivo, and Justin Smoak should help the power numbers, but Olivo and Cust aren’t going to improve their league-worst batting average.
This is a rebuilding team. They’ve added some interesting pieces, and brought in a new manager. Dustin Ackley will make his debut before the All-Star Break, and that will certainly help, but they’ve also lost enough players to render them uncompetitive once again.
It should be fun to watch them eat up every ball that comes their way, but it will be tough to watch them do just about everything else.
Key Additions: Miguel Olivo, Jack Cust, Justin Smoak, Brendan Ryan, Eric Wedge
Key Losses: Cliff Lee, Milton Bradley, Casey Kotchman, Jose Lopez, Brandon Morrow
C: Miguel Olivo
1B: Justin Smoak
2B: Brendan Ryan
3B: Chone Figgins
SS: Jack Wilson
LF: Michael Saunders
CF: Franklin Gutierrez
RF: Ichiro Suzuki
DH: Jack Cust
1: Felix Hernandez
2: Jason Vargas
3: Doug Fister
4: Erik Bedard
5: Michael Pineda
CL: David Aardsma
Critical Players to Success:
Erik Bedard: Bedard was once considered the top young pitcher in baseball. People thought he would turn out to be a perennial Cy Young winner in the future. Now that his future is here, the best way to describe him is probably, ‘washed up.’ If he can have a solid, injury free season, the Mariners probably won’t be the joke of the league anymore; just the division.
Justin Smoak: The Mariners might have used shady tactics in acquiring him, but that doesn’t change the fact that getting Smoak was quite the coup. He will be in Seattle for a long time, and he’ll be the centerpiece of their future. If he performs like he did in the minors, he’ll be Seattle’s biggest offensive threat.
Dustin Ackley: Ackley holds a lot of promise with his bat. He won’t fit into the defense-first philosophy that much of the team has, but it seems like the Mariners are trying to get away from that philosophy, anyway. If Ackley can get on base the way everyone expects him to, facing Ichiro, Ackley, and Smoak at the top of the order is actually a pretty daunting task for opposing teams.