Pitchers and catchers have just reported to Peoria, Arizona, which can only mean one thing: Baseball is right around the corner.
The Mariners are going to be an interesting team this year. Who knows what this team will look like when they take the field on April 1st for the first regular season match-up in Oakland?
The Mariners have invited an astounding number of non-roster spring training invites this year, at 23. Some say that if they add anymore, it may just set a record. These invites range from grizzled major league veterans, like Adam Kennedy who is hoping to earn his 13th year on a major league roster, to young guys hoping to break into the major for the first time, like 21 year old catcher Steve Baron.
While some positions are locks, many of them are still up in the air. Today, we take our best projections at the depth chart for the opening day game on April Fools Day
(*) indicates non-roster invite
Catcher appears to be a pretty locked position. Miguel Olivo was one of the big free agent signings from GM Jack Zduriencik this off season and he will be making this team barring a major melt down or season threatening injury. Meanwhile, Adam Moore seems to be the heir apparent to the position. The Mariners have been waiting for him to break through and they hope that working under a veteran like Olivo will give him the boost he needs to get him to the next level.
Justin Smoak struggled last year. In 100 at bats, split between Seattle and Texas, he bat .218 and slugged .371. He spent a little bit in Seattle after coming in the Cliff Lee deal, but eventually wound up in Tacoma where he bat .271 and bumped up his slugging percentage more than .100 points. The Mariners are going to stick with Smoak this season. He has major league experience now and had a year to prepare for what he now knows is coming. Meanwhile Carp is more than likely to return barring a sub-par spring. Josh Wilson, Matt Tuiasosopo, and maybe even Brendan Ryan could play first in a pinch, but certainly having another option would be a very favorable situation. Carp is more than likely that option
- Josh Wilson
- Dustin Ackley
- Matt Tuiasosopo
The starters are more than likely set. After the failed "Figgins to second" campaign of 2010, Chone Figgins appears to be moving back to his home on the hot corner. Taking his spot at second is young up and comer Brendan Ryan who came over from St. Louis this offseason. He is very highly touted infielder who is fantastic in the field and fits right into the Zduriencik mold (He can also grow one heck of a moustache). Jack Wilson returns for his second full year in Seattle and will try to stay healthy (Looks like he's already started the process). The interesting part comes in the battle for the backup. Look for The Mariners to take probably one backup, and they have three to choose from: Josh Wilson, Matt Tuiasosopo, and Dustin Ackley. Josh Wilson has been up in the majors for a couple years, staying with Seattle for the full season last year. Matt Tuiasosopo has been traveling up and down I-5 for a number of years now. He's made at least one apperence in Seattle for the past five years, but hasn't made too much of an impact. Dustin Ackley is a hot shot draft pick from last year that has shot up through the majors. He spent 82 games in AA West Tennessee before heading to AAA Tacoma. If I had to take a guess, I would say that Josh Wilson would get the nod, but it is very possible that management decides to let Ackley get a shot at the majors and gives him the nod.
Ichiro Suzuki (RF)
- Franklin Gutierrez (CF)
- Michael Saunders (RF)
- MIlton Bradley (RF/DH)
- Jack Cust (OF/DH)
- Carlos Peguero
- Greg Halman
- Carlos Peguero
- Johermyn Chavez
- Mike Wilson*
- Ryan Langerhans*
- Gabe Gross*
- Jody Gerut*
Outfield is another position that seems pretty solid. Of course the right side and center are set. Ichiro returns to try for another gold glove, 200 hit year and "Death to Flying Things" (Thanks Dave) Franklin Gutierrez returns in center. It appears right now that there will be a platoon between Bradley and Saunders with Cust able to fill in if needed. Halman is listed as the backup for center on the official depth chart, but look for Saunders to move over to fill in if needed (hopefully he won't be).
- Ichiro (RF)
- Chone Figgins (3B)
- Justin Smoak (1B)
- Milton Bradley/Jack Cust (DH)
- Michael Saunders (LF)
- Franklin Gutierrez (CF)
- Brendan Ryan (2B)
- Miguel Olivo/Adam Moore (C)
- Jack Wilson (SS)
We'll be back later to examine the extensive possibilities in the pitching staff (There are 33 pitchers in camp) and look at a potential starting rotation and see what the bullpen could look like.
As always, keep an eye right here at SB Nation Seattle as we have all the news and analysis you could ever need covered from Spring Training to The World Series.