Seattle Mariners preview: Bringing in the old could help out the young

Photo of the Kings Court at a Seattle Mariners home game.
The King’s Court will be around for at least seven more years to cheer on Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners. (Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners tried to convince Josh Hamilton to bring his talents to the Pacific Northwest. That didn’t work. Then they tried to trade for Justin Upton. The outfielder gave it the thumbs down. Instead the Seattle Mariners traded for Los Angeles Angels DH Kendrys Morales and brought in two former Mariners: Michael Morse and Raul Ibanez. They also signed Jason Bay, who is hoping a change of scenery will do him good after what can only be described as an abysmal tenure with the Mets.

The M’s flashiest move ended up being for one of their own. The Mariners wrapped up Felix Hernandez, one of the top pitchers in the game, for seven years to the tune of $175 million. This should help squelch the annual midseason trade rumors that always swirl around King Felix … for the moment.

Seattle Mariners lineup

With the new additions, the Mariners have finally established a decent veteran presence around their young guys. The question is whether or not those young guys are finally going to fulfill the promise they showed as prospects.

Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero need to progress instead of taking steps backwards like they did in 2012. Smoak and Montero adopted some bad habits last season and hacked at a lot of bad pitches. Smoak did seem to benefit from a little time spent in the minors last year and both he and Montero are having a good spring. Ackley, however, is still struggling.

Ultimately, all of the Seattle Mariners’ hitters, young and old, should benefit from the fences moving in at Safeco.

Seattle Mariners rotation

King Felix is the obvious front man followed by Hisashi Iwakuma, who the M’s extended for two-years after a solid 2012 season. After that the Seattle Mariners rotation is very “meh.” For a farm system that has a stockpile of good young arms, the Mariners will settle on a cast of also-rans to fill out the rest of the rotation at least for the start of the season. Veterans Jeremy Bonderman and Jon Garland were added to the mix this spring, but only Garland seems like a real threat to crack the rotation.

They do have pitching prospects Erasmo Ramirez and Brandon Maurer in camp. Ramirez hasn’t looking especially sharp, but the real concern is whether or not he’s ready for the workload of big league innings.  As for Maurer, he has pitched well in the Cactus League—0.90 ERA in 10 innings—but most likely will also find himself in Tacoma to begin the season.

  1. Felix Hernandez
  2. Hisashi Iwakuma
  3. Joe Saunders
  4. Blake Beavan
  5. Jon Garland

Seattle Mariners opening day lineup

  1. Michael Saunders RF
  2. Franklin Gutierrez CF
  3. Kyle Seager 3B
  4. Michael Morse LF
  5. Kendrys Morales DH
  6. Jesus Montero C
  7. Justin Smoak 1B
  8. Dustin Ackley 2B
  9. Brendan Ryan SS

Seattle Mariners prospect watch

The Mariners are filled to the brim with prospects who are on the cusp of being ready for the majors, including catcher Mike Zunino, and infielders Nick Franklin and Brad Miller. Besides Ramirez and Maurer, they also have pitching prospects  Danny Hultzen and James Paxton all of whom have the potential to be ready if needed for a midseason call up. Top prospect Taijuan Walker will continue to develop in double-A this year.


The best move for the Seattle Mariners was not one made by them, but one made by the brain trust at MLB: Moving the Houston Astros from the National League Central to the American League West. This means the M’s play a lot more games against a very young team that is not expected to be very good.

The 2013 Seattle Mariners certainly are an improvement on the 2012 version, but do they have the potential to be this year’s Oakland A’s and surprise the critics with a playoff run? Probably not. The Texas Rangers and Anaheim Angels are just too tough. The best Seattle can hope for is not being cellar dwellers and finishing fourth in a pool of five instead of fourth in a pool of four.

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