No, I’m not nuts. Well, at least not in regards to that headline. This refers to the fact that baseball season has started and we get another year to cheer on the Mariners.
I have been involved with a fantasy baseball league for several years, now, so the beginning of the year is always exciting. We will be drafting our teams on April 11. I’ll give an update here when we’re done to let you know how I make out.
I actually think there’s some optimism for the M’s after two pretty bad years. The defense looks fantastic. Beltre and Sexson at the corners are solid defenders. Lopez has moved to second and actually looks like he’s feeling comfortable there. Betancourt at short is magic. You really have to watch him a while to understand just how good he is. And, he’s only 24.
In the outfield, Ichiro is still Ichiro. Ibañez is average as a defender, but he doesn’t leave a huge hole in left. Reed is turning into a heck of a center fielder. I heard that he trains with Darin Erstad in the offseason. It shows.
Finally, my new favorite player is Kenji Johjima. He’s our starting catcher and is here fresh from Japan. He has been hitting well, catching well, and thrown out a few baserunners already. Such fun.
The offense looks pretty decent with some pop in most of the lineup and some great contact hitters at the top and bottom of the order.
The pitching, as always, is the question mark. Moyer is always good for 15 or so wins. Piniero has the skill, but can be a head case. Washburn showed some good stuff and should eat up innings. Meche is another head case and Hernandez has amazing stuff, but he still has some lessons to learn. The bullpen is shaky at best after Soriano.
Bottom line: It’ll be a bumpy year, but I don’t think we’ll be at 90+ losses again. This team is better than that and it should show in the record. The really good news is that the team is young and shouldn’t change much for a couple of years. They have a chance to become very solid without a lot of churn.