Since Opening Day is right around the corner, here is how I see the M's starting the year.
1. Felix Hernandez- There is a reason he is called "King Felix." Cy Young awards and greatness is in his future. No, Yankees and Red Sox fans you CAN NOT have him when his contract is up in five years!
2. Cliff Lee- He will start on the DL and probably not start until May, but hopefully they can convince him a winner is being built here and will stay after the year.
3. Ryan Rowland-Smith- Remember his name. I have a feeling this Aussie southpaw is going to have a breakout year. Also, my favorite current Mariner.
4. Erik Bedard- Will start the season on the DL also. I don't expect much from him, but could be a steal this year if he comes back and pitches well.
5. Doug Fister- Doesn't have overpowering stuff, but is coming into his own in the big leagues.
Ian Snell and Jason Vargas will start in the rotation to start the season until Lee and Bedard return from injuries.
1. David Aardsma- Will be the everyday closer. Before last year, he had never closed. He had some blown saves and makes you sweat sometimes, but gets the job done.
2. Shawn Kelley- Made the club last year as an NRI and pitched well. Will pitch long relief or an inning or two.
3. Brandon League- Hardthrowing rightie can be the set up guy or just get guys out. Came over in the Brandon Morrow deal.
4. Mark Lowe- Will be the set up man for the closer or can be the closer if needed. Good stuff, and a flamethrower.
5. Kanekoa Teixiera- A Rule 5 pick up from the Yankees AA Trenton. Has been dominant in Cactus League. Has to stay on the roster all season or go back the Yanks.
6. Sean White- Will pitch long relief or situational spots.
Possible problem: NO LEFTIES IN THE PEN!!
1. Rob Johnson- Will be the starting catcher and get the bulk of the work. Little worried after hip and shoulder surgeries in the off season.
2. Adam Moore- Will be the back up and catch two to three days a week. Still young, and not great at throwing out runners yet.
1B Casey Kotchman- He is an excellent defensive fielder. Hoping for more consistency and pop from his bat.
2B Chone Figgins- The steal of the offseason. Is excellent defensively and can play multiple positions. He can also hit, run and score.
SS Jack Wilson- Not much in the way of a bat, but has good range at short. Had injuries most of last year, so M's fans will see an even better shortstop this year.
3B Jose Lopez- Has cut done on his propensity towards committing errors. Will be expected to be the big bopper in the line up this year.
Bench- Matt Tuiasosopo. Has the ability to play most infield and corner outfield positions.
LF Milton Bradley- Will be expected to put up decent power numbers. Should have a better year than last year. The media in Seattle won't go after him like Chicago.
CF Franklin Gutierrez- Had the best rating for defensive outfielders in MLB last year. Could win a Gold Glove this year with a repeat performance.
RF Ichiro Suzuki- What words have not been used to describe him. He can hit, run, score, catch, and throw you out. He will be in the hall of fame with an M's hat on his head.
Bench- Eric Byrnes and Ryan Langerhans. Nothing to write home about with either one, but will hopefully help when needed.
This year the duties will be split between Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Sweeney. While I think both guys are great in the clubhouse and getting fans to come out and watch, it is two roster spots that are wasted. Sweeney has had a great spring, but will it carry over? Griffey, puts butts in the stands, but is not "The Kid" anymore.
Don Wakamatsu should have won Manager of the year last year. He and his staff have instilled confidence in this team and will take them far soon.
I will always dream for big things like a World Series win, but I think we might be a year away from the playoffs. They will be competitive until the end, but will come up just short. Miracles could happen and we sneak into the playoffs though.