March 4, 2010

STRANGE AS IT SOUNDS...:

Optimistic Mariners Ready for Run at Angels (TYLER KEPNER, 3/04/10, NY Times)

Few teams open the exhibition season with more optimism than the Mariners, who won 85 games last season, then signed the free-agent infielder Chone Figgins and traded three prospects to the Phillies for Lee. They extended the contracts of center fielder Franklin Gutierrez and shortstop Jack Wilson, both defensive standouts, and locked up the ace starter Felix Hernandez through 2014.

Considering that the Mariners had the best earned run average in the American League last season, at 3.87, improving pitching and defense at spacious Safeco Field has made Seattle a serious threat to the Los Angeles Angels in the A.L. West. But there could be a problem.

“You’ve got to hit, either way,” Lee said, dryly. “You’ve got to score runs or the game’s never going to end.”

The Mariners scored only 640 runs last season, the fewest in the league. No team had ever won as many games while scoring so infrequently. The Mariners did not re-sign first baseman Russell Branyan, who led the team in homers with 31, trading instead for Casey Kotchman, a better defender.

“There’s not a general manager in baseball who wouldn’t take a 3 or 4 hitter if they knock on his door tomorrow, and I would be one of them,” Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik said. “Certainly you’d be happy to add 30 home runs to your lineup. But in the grand scheme of things, you either score runs or prevent runs, and we did a pretty good job last year of preventing runs.”

Zduriencik addressed the offense with Figgins, who led the league in walks for the Angels and will bat second, behind Ichiro Suzuki. Batting third will be Milton Bradley, the left fielder acquired from the Chicago Cubs for starter Carlos Silva.

The Mariners’ fate could rest largely on Bradley.


...one difficulty for them is how good the AL West is, with 4 teams that can win it. But they do have very good pitching, including a secretly filthy bullpen.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 4, 2010 7:36 AM
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