Posted on February 24, 2009 at 11:30 AMAs the players start getting themselves ready for another season, I
thought it'd be a good idea to do the same. I contacted a blogger for
each major league team and posted them five questions. This is the
result. You can find the tentative schedule of teams here and today's main post is right here.
Filed Under: Playing Pepper
| Seattle Mariners
There was a lot of expectations for the Mariners last year. Adding Erik Bedard to a team that had been contending was expected to push them into October. Instead, every possible wheel fell off and the team collapsed into the basement.
To see if Seattle could shake off the dust and rise again, I contacted Jeff from Lookout Landing
and asked him about Bedard, King Felix and others in the system.
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C70: Will Erik Bedard rebound in 2009?
LL: There's no way to give a definitive answer here. All I can really say
is that Bedard is currently able to participate as much as any other
pitcher in camp, and that's encouraging, given fears about his shoulder
towards the end of last season. It seems like he's healthy, and a
healthy Erik Bedard is at the very least an excellent #2, but some
people are just more likely to get injured, and Bedard can only go as
far as his body will allow him.
If by "rebound" you mean "start more
than 15 games", then sure, I'll take that bet. But I wouldn't be the
least bit surprised if when he gets out of bed tomorrow morning his arm
C70: What can we expect from Felix Hernandez this summer? Will he take another step toward being a top pitcher?
LL: Again, hard to say, but we certainly hope so.
Ideally getting away from
Mel Stottlemyre's fastball-first philosophy will help a little bit,
because Felix threw more fastballs than ever before in 2008, and saw a
drop in both strikeouts and groundballs while seeing an increase in
walks. Those aren't positive trends. He needs to build more off of his
offspeed stuff if he wants to be able to reach that next level. Don't
be fooled by ERA; Felix took a step backwards last year, and needs to
reverse his direction.
Hopefully Rick Adair will be able to help.
Truthfully, though, this is something Felix needs to figure out for
himself. If other people need to tell you how to improve your pitching,
you're not a very good pitcher.C70: What's the general fan feeling about management/ownership?
LL: Excited. The whole organization got a complete identity makeover after
last season, and so far the returns have been encouraging.
The team now
has a front office that knows how to value things like defense,
sabermetrics, and freely-available talent, and while this will be
remembered as the winter in which we brought Griffey back, in truth
that's been one of the least significant moves. Jack Zduriencik and
company have taken great strides to rebuild a broken franchise faster
than anyone could've imagined. There's a portion of the fan base that
isn't on board with his philosophies or execution, but those people
will be on the wagon before too long.
As for field management, pretty much the entire coaching staff is
new, so nobody has any strong opinions either way. Don Wakamatsu has
yet to say anything astoundingly stupid, which is neat.
C70: Who is the top prospect in the Mariners system and will he make an impact on the major league level in 2009?
LL: Carlos Triunfel is the top prospect in the system, a soon-to-be 19 year
old infielder who had more extra-base hits last year than Miguel
Cabrera did at the same age. He's still a ways away from the big
leagues, though, and isn't even a great bet for a September call-up.
There's not much high-level talent in the upper minors.C70: Will Jeff Clement get a chance to be the starting catcher? Should he get that chance?
LL: He'll get a chance. As a matter of fact, the motto of the spring seems
to be "no job is certain." He'll get a chance because he deserves a
chance, because he has a lot of talent and Kenji Johjima's power
Whether or not he ends up with the job is another matter
that depends on a whole lot of factors, but with Griffey's signing,
Clement seems pretty locked into his position, at least for the time
being, and he's not going to ride the bench all season. If he starts to
swing the bat and proves that he can handle being a regular backstop,
he's going to be the starter.
I appreciate Jeff taking the time to give us some insight on the Mariners. They've got a long road back, but with a new management team in place, they are likely headed in the right direction.