I frequently read a Mariners blog called Seattle Sports Insider whose primary author likes to ask a simple question when talking about building a roster: Can I win my next pennant with this player? It’s really the only question that matters. It’s also fairly subjective. Two intelligent people can always disagree about how good a player is or will become, and different people have different ideas on how to put together a team. Still, I thought I’d run through the Mariners’ roster and give my opinions on where they stand here. I’ll cover what I expect the 25 man roster to be, along with a few players who might figure prominently in the near future.
C Rob Johnson- Yes as a backup. No as a starter without an incredible amount of improvement.
C Adam Moore- Yes. Here’s where it get tricky. Some people might always answer no to all prospects. I’m looking at what we can reasonably expect them to develop into. If the M’s next pennant is this year, he might be a weak link; in the future, I think he’ll be a solid starter.
1B Casey Kotchman- No. I have similar hopes to Andrew for a semi-breakthrough year for Kotchman, but even that production would mean they’ll need a lot more than they should expect at other positions.
2B Jose Lopez- Yes. Not my favorite player, but still a good package at second. I’d give a less enthusiastic yes at third, if the recent switch holds.
SS Jack Wilson- Yes. I covered this pretty thoroughly in the Y2010M! post. Not ideal, but the defense makes him a yes.
3B Chone Figgins- Yes. Easy yes wherever he plays. I think he’ll have an even bigger impact than Cliff Lee this year.
CF Franklin Gutierrez- Yes. One of the best centerfielders in baseball if he continues to improve with the bat at all. Maybe even if he doesn’t.
RF Ichiro!- Yes.
OF/DH Milton Bradley- Yes. Always the potential he becomes a huge no, but even in a down year last year, he hit okay, and he has potential for a huge season.
OF Eric Byrnes- No. If he doesn’t start a ton and plays around the level of a few years ago, he’s a good backup/spot starter this year. Nothing more.
OF Ryan Langerhans- Yes, as a backup. Good defense at every spot, occasional power. A fine fourth outfielder. No good argument for why he gets a Yes and Byrnes a No. Just personal bias I guess.
LF, 2010 Mariners- No. Anyone have a clue how this position will really look this year? I don’t, but I think it will look pretty different by the all star break.
1B Ryan Garko- No. Maybe he’ll be better than I expect, but I want a back up right handed 1B to kill lefty pitchers, instead of just being better than Casey Kotchman against them
INF Jack Hannahan- Can’t decide. Solid defensively, plays everywhere, doesn’t hit. I’ll say no, but really it’s more of a who cares.
DH/Mascot Ken Griffey Jr.- For this year, yes.
Felix Hernandez- Yes
Cliff Lee- Yes
Ryan Rowland-Smith- Yes, but needs to stay healthy and consistent. Ideally he’d be down down the rotation a bit.
Ian Snell- No. Maybe he’ll put it back together, but is anyone feeling good about him?
Doug Fister- No. I talked about this earlier. Basically, I think the 5th spot will be fine, but I don’t have much faith in any one guy for the whole season, and that’ll be reflected here.
Luke French- No.
Jason Vargas- No. Although I feel better about him than the others, especially as a lefty in the bullpen.
David Aardsma- No. At least, not as closer. Maybe he’ll be fine, but I just don’t know that I’d want him closing out the world series.
Mark Lowe- Yes, but needs to break out this year.
Brandon League- Yes. I’ll join the bandwagon and proclaim him the next relief ace.
Shawn Kelley- Yes, if he’s back from surgery.
Rest of the Bullpen- Yes. Won’t go through each player, but the end of the bullpen compared to most should be pretty good. I’d like a shut down lefty though, even though Wakamatsu says he doesn’t like playing match-ups very much.
Prospects Close to the Majors I Feel Confident Speculating On
Dustin Ackley- Yes. Read here.
Michael Saunders- Yes. I see him as a late bloomer who’s already pretty good. I’m curious to see what his retooled swing will do for him. I’d love it and wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the primary LF starter by June.
Matt Tuiasasopo- Yes. Maybe it’s the optimistic Husky in me, but I think he could put it together soon in a big way. I think he’s starting at 3B with Figgins at second in 2011.
So, there you go. Interestingly, I gave a lot of yeses, but I don’t think the Mariners can win a pennant with this team. I think a lot of the yeses are marginal and would look better with a few more stars around them. I’m not crazy about the way the roster is put together and think they need at least one more offensive piece. I’d love to hear arguments or your own lists, so please comment away!