2009 MLB Preview: #26 Seattle Mariners

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Offseason Movement: The M’s will bring back a familiar face this season after signing OF/DH Ken Griffey Jr. The club also made a slew of trades, adding outfielders Franklin Gutierrez (Indians) and Endy Chavez (Mets), as well as pitchers David Aardsma (Red Sox) and Garrett Olson (Cubs). Seattle also signed free agents Tyler Johnson, Tyler Walker and Russell Branyan.

Top Prospect: Greg Halman, OF
Some feel as though infielder Carlos Triunfel is the Mariners’ best long-term prospect and that very well might be the case, but Halman is closer to making an impact at the big league level at this point. Halman has flashed an outstanding array of power and speed and with Seattle not expected to contend this year, he could be a late season call up. Along with Halman and Triunfel, pitcher Phillippe Aumont is another prospect worthy of keeping an eye on.

The Big Question: Can Erik Bedard stay healthy?
The Mariners have some of the best pitching depth in baseball, but they need Bedard to stay healthy. The club traded promising youngster Adam Jones and pitcher George Sherrill for Bedard last offseason and all they got was 15 starts before he suffered major shoulder issues. If he can stay healthy, Bedard and “King” Felix Hernandez form a nice 1-2 punch at the top of a rotation that also features Carlos Silva, Brandon Morrow and Jarrod Washburn. The M’s might be wise to move Bedard back in the rotation at the start to get him more days rest earlier in the season.

Outlook: Don’t get it twisted – this isn’t a bad club. Well, this was a bad club last year, but the pieces are there for a contender down the road. The M’s have one of the better rotations in the AL and if youngsters Yuniesky Betancourt, Brandon Morrow and Franklin Gutierrez start producing right away, Seattle could surprise. But that’s asking a lot of those young players and unfortunately even with players like Ichrio, Griffey and Adrian Beltre, the veterans probably aren’t good enough to carry this team on their own. The bullpen is also a major question mark. New management has brought a little excitement to this club and it probably won’t be long before things start turning around on the field. But inexperience will be the downfall this year and it’s hard envisioning the M’s making a surprise run this season.

Projection: 4th, AL West

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