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News » Seattle Mariners Roster Report 2009-03-29


Seattle Mariners Roster Report 2009-03-29


Seattle Mariners Roster Report 2009-03-29
The Mariners were hurt -- or helped, depending on your point of view -- by the World Baseball Classic this spring, with 11 players off at the WBC. Only in the last week have the pieces begun to come together so that new manager Don Wakamatsu and new general manager Jack Zduriencik can assess what they have. Overall, the starting pitching looks good, the bullpen looks weak and the offense and defense seem improved. But all the pieces haven't been together long enough to make a rational call.

ROTATION:

1. RHP Felix Hernandez

2. LHP Erik Bedard

3. RHP Brandon Morrow

4. RHP Carlos Silva

5. LHP Jarrod Washburn

ROTATION ANALYSIS: The depth of the rotation is good for a change, although most of the faces are the same. Hernandez is solid and getting better yearly. Bedard is recovered from shoulder surgery and throwing hard again. Morrow can throw harder than either, but he's never been a full-time starter as a pro, so he's going to have to prove himself once he gets over having a sore right forearm this spring.

Silva came to camp having lost 35 pounds and threw well in the World Baseball Classic until taking the loss for Team Venezuela in his final WBC start. Washburn, like Silva coming off a horrible year, has not had a winning record as a Mariner.

With Morrow unlikely to be ready to begin the season as a starter, he figures to begin the season at Class AAA to build up arm strength before rejoining the rotation. Meanwhile, that gives LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith a chance to open the season in the rotation, and he could displace Silva or Washburn if one of those two veterans doesn't get off to a quick start.

LHP Garrett Olson, a starter last year in Baltimore, has promise and is waiting in the wings should the Mariners need to add a starter, but he's had a rotten spring (12.90 ERA through March 26) and hasn't secured a spot for himself.

BULLPEN:

RHP Miguel Batista

RHP Roy Corcoran

RHP Mark Lowe

RHP Randy Messenger

RHP David Aardsma

LHP Cesar Jimenez

BULLPEN ANALYSIS: The Mariners head toward the start of the season with no pitcher having stepped up to take the closer's job. Batista, Corcoran and Lowe were given the best crack at it, but all three have had spring ERAs above 5.00.

Messenger got off to a fast start, but he's been knocked around plenty of late. Which leaves Aardsma as the most productive (2.45 ERA) of the short relievers, although it's not clear that he'll win the closer's job.

Manager Don Wakamatsu said he doesn't like the idea of a bullpen by committee, but he might be forced to live with one until May, when newly signed RHP Chad Cordero, the former Washington Nationals closer, is due to come off the disabled list.

Jimenez is seen more as a middle and long reliever than as a situational lefty. LHP Tyler Johnson could be the situational lefty in time, but he hadn't pitched during Cactus League play through March 26 as he recovers from shoulder surgery, so he will probably start the season in the minors.

LINEUP:

1. RF Ichiro Suzuki

2. 2B Jose Lopez

3. LF Ken Griffey Jr.

4. 3B Adrian Beltre

5. 1B Russell Branyan

6. DH Mike Sweeney

7. C Kenji Johjima

8. SS Yuniesky Betancourt

9. CF Franklin Gutierrez

LINEUP ANALYSIS: This being his first season, it's not clear if manager Don Wakamatsu is someone who likes to go with a set lineup or if he likes to tinker. But the fact is, he's going to have to tinker with this lineup.

Much will depend on the legs of Griffey. The idea is to have him play most of the time in left field, then use him as the designated hitter when necessary. That means Sweeney would have to come out of the lineup when Griffey is the designated hitter, but Sweeney could play some first base in place of Branyan, depending on matchups.

Betancourt has hit a ton this spring (at least one hit in each of his first dozen starts), but he has got to show that he's the defensive player he was a couple of years ago and not the error-prone Betancourt of 2009.

Lopez has hit behind Ichiro frequently the last couple of years, and while he has had success there, look for him to be moved more into the middle of the lineup if he hits like he did a year ago.

Johjima had a great WBC in helping Japan win the title, and the Mariners need to see that Johjima and not the one who struggled to keep his head above .200 last year.

RESERVES:

C Jeff Clement

INF Ronny Cedeno

OF Endy Chavez

OF Wladimir Balentien

RESERVES ANALYSIS: Clement has struggled so much this spring that he could find himself back in the minors for a spell, replaced by C Jamie Burke, the backup each of the last two seasons. Cedeno, who was with the Cubs last year, has impressed with his defense and could see plenty of playing time, particularly late in games. Chavez is the top defensive outfielder and Balentien has power and could force his way into the lineup if he hits like he has this spring, when he has posted a .400 on-base percentage and .644 slugging percentage.

ROOKIE WATCH: RHP Shawn Kelley moved from low Class A to Class AA last year and showed the Mariners plenty this spring, including getting a couple of saves. 3B Matt Tuiasosopo batted .404 with extra-base power and figures to be up for good some time during the season. OF Mike Wilson hit five homers during the spring, and his power has not gone unnoticed.

MEDICAL WATCH:

LHP Erik Bedard (left shoulder surgery) appears to be fully recovered, although he battled problems with a sore muscle behind his right hip during the spring.

3B Adrian Beltre (left shoulder and left thumb surgery) couldn't play in the WBC because of his rehab. And he just returned to the lineup after taking six days off to rest his shoulder.

LF Ken Griffey Jr. (left knee surgery) has slowly worked his way back into left field and doesn't have any unusual soreness on the days after he's been in the outfield.

LHP Jarrod Washburn (back) is showing no ill effects from the injury that cost him most of September last season.

LHP Tyler Johnson (shoulder surgery) has been slow to recover. He's been throwing but not in Cactus League games, at least not yet. As a result, he could wind up starting the season in the minors as he rebuilds his strength.

1B/DH Mike Sweeney (knee surgery) is moving around reasonably well, which was what the Mariners needed to see to make him their designated hitter this season.

C Jeff Clement (left knee surgery) didn't have his mobility impaired this spring, but he didn't have a very good Cactus League season, either.

RHP Chad Cordero (torn labrum) signed with the team during the spring but won't start the season on the roster -- he's not ready. He could be ready by May, however, and then would be a competitor for the closer's job.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 29, 2009

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