Time for one of my last team projections. I'll be doing a projected lineup in the next couple of days. I may also be doing some player projections within the next two months before the season starts.
Right now, the Mariners will be bringing back almost the same outfield as they had in 2007. Raul Ibanez should be manning the left side once again. Ibanez is coming off of a pretty good season offensively, a .291 BA, 21 HR's, 105 RBI's, while appearing in 149 injury free games last season. His numbers were better in '06, but age is probably starting to catch up. He'll turn 36 in June, so will he be starting to break down? Ibanez is in a contract year, so should we expect a harder working Ibanez, or an Ibanez knowing that his career is about over? Ichiro. Need we say more? My favourite player is coming off of an amazing year where he hit .351, second in the AL, with 37 SB's. Ichiro got a nice five year deal worth around $100M around the All-Star Break of '07, where he hit the first ever inside-the-park home run in All-Star history, which made him the MVP of that All-Star game, and if A-Rod didn't play as well as he did, where would Ichiro be in the MVP voting? I'd say he'd have to be top 3, if he wasn't already that. Ichiro's spped, range, arm, ability to get on base, and durability have made him one of the best players in the world over the last six or seven seasons. A healthy Ichiro should make sure that there are runners on base for Beltre and Sexson. The right side is a little bit more interesting. Adam Jones appears to be the favourite right now. Jones hasn't proved too much in the Bigs, yet. He has all of the tools to be an All-Star caliber player. He only has a couple of HR's and RBI's so far in 139 career AB's. A career average of .230 so far isn't going to cut it. Maybe a full-ish season can get him going a little bit. He's done basically all he can do in the minors. Other than those three, there isn't really anyone else who is set up, at least a little bit to be a potential starter.
The other players looking for a bench job, and maybe that RF job could be Wladimir Balentine, Mike Morse, Jeremy Reed, and Charlton Jimerson. Wlad and Reed should probably be near the top of the list for options. Morse should get a good look too. Jimerson looks like he has an idea of what is going on, but he is 28, so we can't really be a 'prospect'. There will be a few other guys that may get a decen shot in the Spring, but signing a veteran free agent outfielder could be a good idea.
Jose Vidro should be back for his second try as the Mariners' every day DH. He put up some pretty good numbers last season, a .314 BA along with 6 HR, and 59 RBI. The average is great for a number two hitter, but I'd like to see a little more power from this guy. Vidro's is in the last year of his deal, so will he be back? I don't think so. Vidro probably would like more time at second, and if he has a good season, then he will probably leave for the money. Jeff Clement could be getting some AB's at DH. Otherwise, it's time to countdown to Spring Training!!