It’s hard to get excited enough about Seattle sports lately to want to write about them, so I haven’t much lately. The Mariners are in a weird spot. The season’s not over, but they need to make a run and get to .500 or so at least by the all-star break. They’re not an old team, necessarily, but they don’t have a lot of young guys who need playing time to develop. Most of their top minors talent is at Class AA right now, at best, and would be pushing it to make the club next year, especially out of spring training.
Whether the team decides to trade Cliff Lee for some young talent or not, this team needs to make moves to get better for next year. The next month or two will determine how focused on this year those moves also need to be. I’m not writing off this year yet, but let’s take a look at how the team shapes up for 2011.
Current roster guys under contract for next year will be in bold. I’ll also include minor leaguers who might provide depth, along with how soon and much they might contribute.
Note: after writing this starting pitching section, I realized this post would be a good 3,000 words, so I’m going to break it up by position. Starting pitching today, bullpen up next when I get the chance.
Luke French, Garrett Olson, Steven Shell: Triple-A filler type. Could step into the last spot in the rotation at any time and probably be okay. If you get lucky one of them gets hot for a month or year, but not likely to have a lasting impact.
Michael Pineda: The Double-A star. Best stuff in the Mariners system, could move fast if he stays healthy. Decent chance to be in the rotation at some point in 2011. Actual results if that were to happen unclear.
Mauricio Robles, Steven Hensley, Daniel Cortes, Nick Hill: Rest of the AA rotation. Less likely to see the bigs in 2011 than Pineda due to experience or talent level, but still a chance. Much more upside than the guys in Tacoma, but not as ready even for the back end of the rotation.
Ian Snell Club has a 6.75 mil. option. If it’s exercised, that means either Snell turned into Zack Greinke or Zduriencik went actually clinically insane.
Cliff Lee Who knows at this point. Team could try to resign him, but it’s doubtful he would do it during the season, and he might not fit the budget anyway. He could be traded, or they could just let him walk and take draft picks. Could still be signed after the season in either case, but that’s doubtful.
Erik Bedard This is an even bigger mystery than Lee. No reason to speculate either way until we see him on the field.
There’s Felix and a whole lot of question marks. Even if Vargas and Fister stay close to their current level all season, I still wouldn’t feel completely comfortable with them as my 2 and 3 starters heading into the year. They really need to either keep Lee or find a guy with decent upside and established success. They need a legit #2 starter, basically.