Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Batters Box Previews the M's 

Damn, the St. Patty's Day grog has gotten to me. The Batters Box, an entertaining blog, has a preview of your 2004 Mariners. The Optimist pull out the following quotes...

Mike Cameron has been regarded as one of the best centerfielders in the game for a few years now and fans of the Mariners might worry that his being replaced by Randy Winn is a bad thing for the team. If they did think that, they’d be wrong...

[Bret Boone has} won a Gold Glove 3 times, including the last two years, and unlike some who have won the award, Boone legitimately deserved them. Only Alfonso Soriano (73 Win Shares) even approaches the offensive value Boone (87 Win Shares) has had over the last 3 years.

[Raul Ibanez]... This is going to be ugly.

[Edgar]... I wouldn't be terribly surprised if Edgar got seriously hurt during the year and retired out of frustration, both with his declining abilities and the team's performance.

More pushing the illusion that Aurilia is being paid more that Guillen (remember Guillen's contract would be $3.4 million vs. Rich's $3.5 million if he didn't get hurt) For $3.5MM, the Mariners are going to get an above-average 32 year old shortstop in Aurilia. To make room for him, the Mariners traded an above-average 28 year old shortstop in Carlos Guillen, who they had just signed prior to the trade for $2.5MM. Guillen was credited with 12 Win Shares in 2003; Aurilia, 13.

Ben Davis... Ben’s other big problem is that he’s just not a good hitter. He never was. A career 241/313/368 hitter in the majors, his production isn’t that far off from where MLEs forecasted he’d be.

The Bench... There is a serious and concerning lack of depth on this team, this very old and possibly brittle team. Here’s hoping that Bavasi’s offseason spending spree doesn’t bind his hands when it comes to filling in holes.

And the final word...

Seattle is still a pretty good team. Sure, people hate Bavasi and this is an expensive squad and they’re really old and there’s few kids ready to help immediately and um, what was I saying?

Seriously, the Offense is probably even to slightly improved with Speizio, Aurilia and Ibanez essentially replacing Cirillo, Guillen and Cameron. The Defense will be similar to last year – maybe a slight decline can be expected. The Bench is severly lacking compared to last year’s, with Mabry, Colbrunn, Mark McLemore and Rey Sanchez leaving. The Rotation might be slightly weaker, with age taking a toll on Moyer and reality taking toll on Franklin but with Soriano ready to step in with help. And while the Bullpen is still quite good, it might be a slight decline over last year's version. It’s hard to make up for Sasaki, Rhodes and Armando Benitez, even if they did only have him for a short time.

In summation, that’s only a slight decline in all areas of the team except for the bench, which is now really bad, and the offense, which should be even. Considering this team “should” have won 97 games last year, my super scientific analysis leads to believer that the Mariners can go 88-74 in 2004. Of course, that won’t be enough to win squat in the AL West this year.

Wow, do I have disagreements with this. Unfortunately, my brain is too foggy to act on them. Happy St. Patrick's Day and enjoy March Madness tomorrow. Here's hoping for a lot of upsets, and I'll be rooting hard for every seed lower than 12.

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