The Mariners were prepared to make a run for it in 2010, they signed Chone Figgins and traded for Cliff Lee expecting to compete. That obviously didn’t work, so they blamed it on their manager and traded Cliff Lee for a return that doesn’t look very good. Justin Smoak would be lucky to turn into a league average first baseman, Blake Beaven gives up more contact than any pitcher in baseball, and Josh Lueke was later traded for John Jaso (the best out the 4, but they don’t even plan on starting him).
Once known for a strong rotation, King Felix is the only above average starter left on the club. Their offense in the past 2 years has been historically atrocious, they will be lucky to finish out of the cellar in 2012. With that said, they have a very strong minor league system, and with several high impact guys coming in the next couple of years, one can imagine a day where they aren’t quite as terrible.
Jesus Montero, Kevin Millwood, George Sherrill, Hong-Chih Kuo, John Jaso, Hisashi Iwakuma
Michael Pineda, Josh Lueke, David Aardsma
(all projections are using ZIPS projections)
1. Chone Figgins 77 OPS + (remember, 100 is average) 635th best in the majors
2. Dustin Ackley 110 OPS +, 76th
3. Ichiro Suzuki 87 OPS +, 356th
4. Justin Smoak 95 OPS +, 221st
5. Jesus Montero 110 OPS +, 83rd
6. Franklin Gutierrez 82 OPS +, 478th
7. Mike Carp 102 OPS +, 136th
8. Miguel Olivo 77 OPS +, 661st
9. Brendan Ryan 75 OPS +, 684th
Projected (ZIPS) Rotation:
1. Felix Hernandez-131 ERA +, 31st best
2. Hisashi Iwakuma-99, 257th
3. Jason Vargas-91, 412th
4. Kevin Millwood-84, 596th
5.Hector Noesi/Danny Hultzen/James Paxton-86, 526th/No ZIPS (My Projection for his career using his college numbers is 3.77 ERA and 10.59 K/9IP)/ No ZIPS (4.22 ERA 1.472 WHIP according to my minor league projections)
Brandon League-109, 138th
I want to say Brandon League because he made the All-Star game last year, and really wasn’t all that good. At this point, it is easy to say Ichiro, but I expect him to have somewhat of a bounce back season (he will at least be better than he was in 2011).
John Jaso. Eric Wedge, in all his infinite wisdom, is threatening to play Miguel Olivo over John Jaso. For a catcher, Jaso can mash, and while having some shortcomings defensively, he gets on base being 15th best in Weighted Runs Created out of catchers since ’09 (better than some notable names such as Matt Wieters, Russell Martin, Kurt Suzuki, and A.J. Pierzynski).
In keeper leagues, you should acquire basically all of their pitching prospects, even the ones that aren’t listed here. In previous years it may have been King Felix but I think people are starting to realize how good he is. Instead, I will go with Hisashi Iwakuma. Iwakuma was going to get a big contract with the Oakland Athletics in 2011, but that fell through, and the Mariners got him for basically nothing for 2012 after a bad year with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. If his velocity is back, we will see in spring training, he should be a very solid MLB starter for the Mariners.