Last March, Matthew started a series called “Y2010M!” (standing for Your 2010 Mariners). It provided the reader with information on players from the 2010 Mariners. It seemed like a logical thing to do at the time. The Mariners were supposed to be good, and there was more optimism in Seattle than there had been in quite a while. This season didn’t work out though. Frankly, Y2010M’s suck. In fact, you probably don’t want to call them yours. I don’t want to call them mine. While next season will certainly be a little better, it can’t get much worse, it isn’t something that we should be extremely excited about. Playoff chances will be slim and the casual fan probably won’t enjoy watching as the young players progress next season. On the plus side, the Mariners could have about 3 legitimate candidates for Rookie of the Year. Because of that reason, I am led to 2012. The Mayan’s aren’t the only ones predicting big things that year. Unlike the Bavasi years, there is actually hope in the future now. Z has put good prospects in the system and the future looks much brighter than it did when he took over. Yes, I know the future doesn’t make the present any more bearable, but at least there’s some hope. So, lets take a way too early look at your 2012 Mariners.
The starting rotation is the place where we know the least about so I’ll start there. Obviously, you have Felix as your ace. I don’t need to say anything about him because he’s awesome and everyone should know it. Then, almost as certain, we have Mr. Pineda. Pineda is a top 3 prospect in the Mariners system and is a top 30 prospect in baseball. He is better than everyone in Seattle’s rotation right now, aside from Felix. No one’s a safe bet, but Pineda is about as close as they come. He is one of those rookie of the year candidates.
After Pineda, it gets a little blurry. There’s Vargas and Fister, who are very solid back of the rotation guys. I think Vargas stands a better chance to still be around in there just because he has better pitches. That’s not to say Fister isn’t capable. He could be a very good 5th starter. That leaves the 2nd, 3rd, and/or 4th spot in the rotation open (assuming Felix is the ace, Pineda is either the 2nd or 3rd starter, Vargas at 4th or 5th, and Fister maybe at the 5th spot). So, who will fill either one or two spots? I wouldn’t be surprised to see an innings eater (like a Kevin Millwood) added via free agency. But, there are several options in the system.
Ryan Rowland-Smith has been much better in Tacoma lately but I wouldn’t count on him. Same goes for Luke French. There’s Mauricio Robles, who has more upside than both of those guys but has a longer way to come. Robles was acquired in the Washburn trade and has the upside of a 3 starter. He’s a short little guy who throws pretty hard and is left-handed. He has high strikeout rates but also has high walk rates. If he can learn to control his stuff, I think he’ll be in the rotation at some point. If not, he may be moved to the bullpen. Nick Hill was once highly thought of but he’s struggled this year. There are also this years draftees but counting on the starters by 2012 isn’t a very good bet.
The 2012 rotation will depend on the emergence of Pineda and the ability to sign or trade for a veteran. If Pineda is as good as we think, the rotation could be quite good.