It’s Opening Day! Spring Training always seems to drag on for a week too long. I guess the promise of real, this-time-it-counts baseball makes everything in March drag on and on. I’m wrapping up my 2014 season preview of the Mariners with a look at the Bullpen. I’ve already covered the infield, the outfield, and the starting rotation. If you haven’t read those yet, take a look to get the full picture of where the Mariners find themselves at the start of this year.
It was a rough year of transition for the bullpen last year. The incumbent closer, Tom Wilhelmsen lost his job after his walk rate spiked to 5 per nine innings and his strikeout rate dropped to just under 7 per nine innings. Overall, the group had the second highest ERA in the majors at 4.58 but their collective FIP was just 3.79. Perhaps it was the relative inexperience of the bullpen that drove their ERA so high when their peripheral stats tell us they should be right around league average. The majority of the ‘pen is returning with a few new faces. Let’s hope that one more year of development from our young pitchers will be supported by these new veterans.
The 2014 Seattle Mariners roster preview continues as we switch from position players to pitchers. I’ve previewed the infield and the outfield already, now we take a look at the starting rotation. In the past few days, the Mariners’ starting rotation has taken on a completely different look but the lingering question marks remain. Some lingering injuries have forced the Mariners to scramble to fill out the back end of their rotation. A few veterans who were looking to crack the rotation were in camp with the Mariners this spring ended up being cut. A veteran, who was in camp with another team, was brought in to join a pitcher who hasn’t pitched above Double-A for spots number 4 and 5 in the rotation. It seems eerily familiar to last year. This could be another boom or bust year for this position group–a common refrain for this team–as they surround a star with a group of unproven youngsters. Continue reading
Last week I previewed the Mariners infield; this week I’ll tackle the outfield. Where the Mariners have been able to develop a number of strong infielders, the organization has been almost completely incapable of developing any major league talent in the outfield. They’re hoping to change that trend this year with the promotions of Abraham Almonte and potentially Stefen Romero. Dustin Ackley and Michael Saunders are the returning incumbents and their inconsistent play has made them a pain to project. There is some upside here but this position group is clearly one of the team’s weaknesses.
Spring Training is in full swing and there’s just two weeks until Opening Day! The Mariners enter the 2014 season after handing out the largest contract to the top free agent during the offseason. Personally, it feels like the Mariners have turned a corner from rebuilding mode to win-now mode. Whether it was the right time or not is up for debate but I’m excited to see where this takes us. Just like last year, I’ll be offering my thoughts on the projected roster, broken up by position group. I’ve simplified the amount of data I’m presenting–just a personally built 2014 projection. I trust that you’re able to look up historical data on your own.
First up, the 2014 Seattle Mariners infield. A bunch of young guys out to prove themselves surround a star who will be counted on to lead this team back to the promised land. The signing of Robinson Cano brought a lot of fanfare but three of the five positions in the infield will be held by players drafted and developed by the Mariners. This organization has been able to identify and develop strong talents across the infield and this position group is now one of the strengths of the team.