26 January 2012

The Top 10 Questions for 2012

10. What is going to happen to Adam Moore?

A - He'll start the year in the minors. Moore has had it rough and the acquisition of Montero hasn't really made it any better for him. Unless something happens, Jaso bombs, Olivo gets traded or either Olivo or Jaso gets hurt than Moore is probably destined for the minors once again.

9.  Is the roster set, or will the Mariners make another move?

A - Unless the Mariners are just completely loading the cannon for 2013, then yes, they are going to make another move. The Mariners could still use another pitcher, but I don't think they are going to go that route. I would expect another trade, although I don't have a clue with whom, because the Mariners are so tight lipped these days...

8. Will the Mariners move Chone Figgins before opening day?

A - My gut says no. I think it's going to take more than a good spring to convince another team to take on Figgins. He is a useless player right now. His defense is terrible and his bat, well, we are all familiar with his bat. I don't think it matters how much of his contract the Mariners eat, if Figgins isn't a Mariner on opening day it won't be because of a trade.

7. Will Ichiro rebound from a career worst season?

A - It's a big one and is a difficult question to answer. His .295 BABIP was a full .56 points lower than his career average suggesting he may have suffered from poor luck, but Ichiro saw slips in every offensive and defensive metric, suggesting he may just be aging. I believe Ichiro will rebound. I wouldn't expect anymore .330/.370/.420 seasons out of him these upcoming years, but I don't think we'll be seeing another .270/.310/.335 season either. Color me surprised if we don't see another 200 hits out of Ichiro in 2012.

6. What will the Bullpen look like?

A - Ah yes. Locks include Brandon League, and George Sherrill, with Chance Ruffin and Shawn Kelley being near locks. But after that it's all open. You've got Tom Wilhelmsen and Steve Delabar who are probably going to make it, and either Noesi or Furbush being in it for long relief. That makes 11 in case you're counting. The Mariners have one completely open spot, which could go to anyone, maybe someone who doesn't even pitch. I don't know if the Mariners will go with an 11 man pitching staff to start the season, but even if they do, 11 man staffs generally don't last the year. My guess is that your pen will look something like this.

CP - League
LOOGY - Sherrill
SR - Ruffin
SR - Kelly
SR - Delabar
MR - ???
LR - Wilhelmsen
LR - Furbush/Noesi

5.  Can Jesus Montero catch?

A- Sure he can! He is a baseball player isn't he? Baseball players own gloves, therefore it is reasonable to believe they can catch right? In all seriousness, no he can't... not right now. But he is going to get every opportunity to prove he can. The more I think about it the less I believe Montero will stay at catcher, even if his defense drastically improves. Catching is harsh on a players body and has been known to shorten careers and drain offensive numbers. Montero is going to catch in 2012, but I doubt he does beyond this year.

4. Does Danny Hultzen make the team out of spring training?

Not anymore. Had the Mariners not recently signed Millwood I would have said yes, absolutely. It would have taken a pretty terrible spring from Hultzen to keep him from making the opening day squad. As it stands now, it's going to take a disastrous spring from Millwood in order for Hultzen to make it. From a financial and player control standpoint, this is a better plan. As long as you can squeeze the last little bit of juice out of Millwood, why not? You'll get an extra year of team control out of Hultzen.

3. Does Franklin Gutierrez's weight gain mean anything?

A - Yes! If you don't know anything about IBS then you should read up. Ever tried doing anything strenuous with diarrhea or cramping? How about trying to swing a bat with severe joint pain or swelling? IBS can be disastrous on the body and it clearly had taken it's toll on Franklin. Skills don't just crash and burn like they did in Gutierrez's case. This can't be a bad thing. Expect bigger things out of Guti in 2012.

2. Will Justin Smoak live up to expectations?

A - Yes. Well I certainly hope so. I believe in Justin Smoak's April. He had a helluva year in terms of on the field injuries, and off the field he lost his father to cancer. It's easy to turn baseball players into charts and numbers and forget that they are human, yet a number or average isn't always going to explain a problem. I haven't given up on Smoak, and neither should you.

1. Will Jesus Montero live up to the hype?

A - I already covered why Montero will likely be unfazed by the dimensions of SafeCo, but asking whether or not Montero can live up to the enormous hype attached to him is another question entirely. Montero is going to hit, but he probably isn't going to hit as well as people want (at least not in 2012). He probably isn't going to hammer 40 dingers and drive in 120 runs. So will Montero live up to the hype? I guess that depends on your expectations. Montero is going to hit, and he is going to hit well, but don't expect monster numbers from him just yet. He still has to grow.

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