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News » Seattle Mariners Inside Pitch 2009-04-06

Seattle Mariners Inside Pitch 2009-04-06

Seattle Mariners Inside Pitch 2009-04-06
The Mariners come into the season with three veterans due to become free agents at the end of the season.

There are no plans now to trade any of them -- third baseman Adrian Beltre, left-hander Erik Bedard and left-hander Jarrod Washburn -- but that could change if the Mariners struggle early in the season and fail to contend in the American League West.

Of the three, Beltre is the one the Mariners would most like to keep, seeing that third basemen are hard to come by. But he will also be the most expensive, his next contract likely dwarfing the five-year, $64 million deal he signed after the 2004 season.

Left-handed starting pitching is always at a premium, so contending clubs will be looking to pry Bedard or Washburn loose as the trade deadline nears if either is doing particularly well and the Mariners aren't in contention.

Seattle's first month won't be a snap. The Mariners have six of their first games against the defending AL West champion Angels and another three against the powerhouse Rays.

If the Mariners can come out of the first 19 games in decent shape, they've got a chance to be in contention for a while. And that could determine whether or not they will be able to hold on to Beltre, Bedard and Washburn.

THE MARINERS WILL CONTEND IF ...: RHP Felix Hernandez, LHP Erik Bedard and RHP Brandon Morrow all are healthy and all consistently give the team 6-7 innings a start. It will be tough to get that from the injured Bedard and Morrow in April, but the talent is there once they build up arm strength. The offense will need to go from last year's 671 runs scored to about 750 runs to make it all work. If things don't click, look for Washburn and the team's 2008 home run leader, 3B Adrian Beltre, to be dealt by the All-Star break.

PRIMED FOR A BIG SEASON: 2B Jose Lopez had the best season of his career last year (.297, 17, 89), then crushed the ball throughout the World Baseball Classic for Team Venezuela. He could be the extra middle-of-the-lineup presence the Mariners need.

ON THE DECLINE: LHP Jarrod Washburn hasn't had a winning season in his first three years with Seattle. A 5-14 record and 4.69 ERA last year could have been better with some support, but Washburn simply might need to have a different address to get back to his form of the early part of this decade with the Angels.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 6, 2009

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