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Playing Pepper 2011: Seattle Mariners

Posted on March 14, 2011 at 4:15 PM
Filed Under: Playing Pepper | Seattle Mariners
Two years ago, I started a series I called Playing Pepper, where I asked questions of bloggers of each major league team about the season to come.  Not only was that informative and entertaining, it led to the spawning of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.  With spring training coming up, it's time to get back into shape by again playing a little pepper.

Seattle Mariners (61-101, 29 GB and fourth in the AL West)

It wasn't supposed to be this way.

After being lauded for their offseason moves, Seattle was expected to contend for a divisional title.  Instead, the bottom fell out and even Felix Hernandez's Cy Young season and a partial year of Cliff Lee couldn't stop the slide.

Expectations are different for 2011.  There are no postseason plans being bandied about for the coming season.  To take a look at what's to come, two Seattle bloggers weigh in.

Jeff Engles writes for Jeff's Mariners Fan Blog, so it's pretty obvious what you'll find there.  You can find out more about the Mariners by following him on Twitter or on Facebook.

SoDo Mojo is the Mariners' entry into the FanSided blog network.  Griffin Cooper is the lead writer over there and you can find him Tweeting and Facebooking.

Keep reading to find out more about Eric Bedard, who might just be the Mariners' answer to Mark Mulder.

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C70: What was your opinion of the Seattle offseason?

JMFB: The offseason it was boring due to financial constraints but I think the biggest improvement was picking-up Eric Wedge the new manager. I met him a few weeks back at the NW SABR meeting and I like his style! 

SM: It wasn't as flashy as their offseason a year ago, but that was to be expected. In 2010 it was clear that they were really going for it, but they've had to take a completely different approach for 2011. Instead of making two or three big splashes, they brought in a whole lot of small-name role players, and aside from the Miguel Olivo signing, it'd hard to really complain about any of the moves they made. The front office has known all along that this probably isn't a group of players that's quite ready to really compete just yet, and they've built the team accordingly.

C70: Will Eric Bedard make any sort of meaningful contribution?

JMFB: If Eric Bedard somehow stays healthy it will be a miracle and if he finally pitches a full year for us he is capable of being a nice #2 pitcher. 

SM: It's never a good idea to make any definitive prediction about someone like Erik Bedard, so I won't. If the Mariners can get 80 good innings out of him, I'll be satisfied, but they really had nothing to lose by signing him.

C70: What do you expect out of Justin Smoak?

JMFB: I look for Justin Smoak to hit 20-25 hrs bat 270 and drive in 80 runs unless he gets hurt and if Chris Chambliss can help him with timing the breaking ball better. 

SM: Smoak probably isn't going to reach his all-star potential in 2011, but he started to show signs towards the end of last season that he's ready to start producing for this team. It's important not to expect too much, as he's still maturing, but it's not far-fetched that he'll post 1 or 2 WAR and give us a nice little taste of what his future will bring.

C70: Is there a Mariners prospect that will make a significant impact this season?

JMFB: Two potential prospects that could make a big impact this year are pitcher Michael Pineda and Dustin Ackley the infielder. 

SM: There certainly could be. Second baseman Dustin Ackley and pitcher Michael Pineda are 1-2 on any credible Mariners prospect list, and both are expected to arrive on the big league scene at some point in 2011. They'll both fight for roster spots during Spring Training, but realistically they're both likely to spend the first couple of months of the season down in Triple-A Tacoma. Look for both of their names this Summer - Ackley is a very high percentage type of prospect, and Pineda has some amazing potential.

C70: What is your prediction for Seattle's record and divisional finish?

JMFB: In a nutshell right now I would say that we will finish last, possibly third if we win more than 75 games which is the tops I figure, and even that is pushing it.

SM: Probably somewhere in the 74-80 win range, which may or may not be good enough for third place in the AL West. At the very least, it'll be a much more bearable season than 2010 was.

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