By David Miller @DavidMillerRant on March 18, 2014
When the Seattle Mariners signed second baseman Robinson Cano to a record contract, they signified that they wanted to win and they wanted to win now. Of course if it was that easy then every team would win every season. Obviously they have a good second baseman but there are a few questions on this Opening Day roster. Will the pitching staff be okay in spite of injuries? Will the youngsters suddenly be better this season? Only time will tell.
Manager Lloyd McClendon has already called Ackley his starter in left field. Wherever they want to put him, his .432 average, one homer and 10 RBI this spring certainly suggest he is ready to breakout somewhere.
Almonte is probably not a guarantee to start everyday but McClendon likes what he has seen from him. He is a switch hitter and even though his batting average leaves something wanting, he has driven the ball well. He could be a good option at the top of the order if he is able to get on base.
The great spring that Saunders is having is something that should make every Mariners fan feel great about the upcoming season. If he can get his bat going on a strong regular basis this year, Cano might be a support player instead of the only offensive option he could end up being.
Seager has been struggling to get going this spring but that shouldn’t really worry anyone. When the flag drops on the season he’ll be the Seager he always is for this team. This year he will have a lot of assistance and therefore might produce even more than ever before.
There is a battle for starting shortstop between Miller and Nick Franklin. It is a good battle that is said to be going down to the final days of Spring Training. We can probably look at some numbers and give a good prediction that Miller will win the starting job. Both are at least good defensively which puts the offensive plus of Miller’s spring a little ahead of Franklin.
This certainly isn’t a surprise. Cano is not quite hitting .700 this spring but close to it. He hasn’t hit any homers but that is probably a good sign. If he is just willing to put wood on the ball and be a good hitter like usual, he will be all that the Mariners hoped he could be.
It seemed possible at one point that the Mariners might want to trade Smoak but as the season gets closer and Smoak is producing at a nice level, he seems more necessary as a Mariners player. There are so many things up in the air about the performance of this team. If Smoak can produce some level of consistency he will be a great returning addition.
This is the season that Zunino takes over behind the plate for real and for good. He will have a good supporting veteran behind him but he looks good on all sides right now and should be fine to great when the season starts.
During the line-up that seemed to be a preview of McClendon’s likely everyday line-up Morrison was slotted as DH. While he can play first base and some outfield spots, if they have to stick him at DH to get his bat in the game they are likely to do it. He could see time nearly anywhere but a standard infield spot, catcher or pitcher.
Buck is one of the better additions this team made in the offseason because he can play the veteran back-up catcher role very well. Also he knows how to swing a bat and take care of his teammates both in and out of the game. He seems to be a good player and great guy for the M’s and it was a good move to bring him in.
Bloomquist couldn’t be happier about returning to the place where his career began. The Mariners should be stoked to get a great utility infielder that can play all of the positions well. He is great for the job.
Hart is a huge question mark at this point. He is supposedly health but has not played well as of yet and the Mariners are being very cautious with his knees. He is likely to at least get a long look at the start of the season either at DH now and then or even subbing at first and pinch hitting. When it comes down to it though, he needs to produce or this team has other options.
Though sometimes teams like to send the young player who does not win a position battle back down to the minors to get regular at-bats, I would be surprised if the Mariners sent him down. He is a good player who can play many infield spots and is versatile to be used in a few ways.
Though Miner could be a risk to add to the bullpen he also is a veteran presence who has been around. That could be a valuable plus to have on this staff. He is having a solid and healthy spring as well.
Beimel is having a very good spring as well. He will fill one of the important left-handed slots in the ‘pen most likely.
Medina is not only a good option out of the bullpen, he is one of the best options they have right now. As a matter of fact he is having the best Spring Training of just about any arm on the staff right now.
Though he lost the closing gig last season, Wilhelmsen came to Spring Training ready to contribute in whatever way he could. The fact that the closer spot is filled already should be a load off of his mind and could lead to a much improved season.
Because he was part of the closer-by-committee group in recent years, Farquhar should be a plus option to be relied upon in the later innings without the added pressure of wondering if he is closing or not.
Furbush is another solid late inning option as well as the best lefty available right now for McClendon. If this bullpen is able to carry a solid load, Furbush really could play a big role.
All of the weight that was on many other bullpen arms last season will all rest on Rodney this year. He is accustomed to the role of course and should be very good at doing it. It is vital for any bullpen to have a leading member for the ninth inning and now the Mariners have that.
The signing of Baker became very important with the injuries that are affecting the Mariners rotation right now. His spring has been good and he could be one of the more important additions to this team if he can carry a starter’s load early on at least.
Beavan is a starter who might not have been a guarantee for the Opening Day rotation without injuries but he could be one of the big reasons they make the most of the time. His spring has been great with a 2.13 ERA over 12.2 innings.
With a 2.08 ERA over 13 innings this spring it looks like Paxton is ready to carry a heavy load this year too. There could not be a better time for it of course with the injury situation being what it is.
If anyone wonders why Ramirez is going to get a rotation spot early on they should only look at his numbers. During 2014 Spring Training he has a 1.42 ERA over 12.2 innings.
With the injuries to two main starters the Mariners might want Hernandez to walk around in a bubble until the season starts. He has been solid and healthy so far and of course is a vital part of this team always but especially right now.
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