A year ago, headed into spring training, the Seattle Mariners were coming off a dreadful season with a few unanswered questions.
Ok, a few dozen, maybe.
Going into camp, the frontrunner to close for them was newcomer Tyler Walker - who was released before opening day. Wladimir Balentien and Jeff Clement were favorites to win jobs in left field and catcher. Carlos Silva was in the starting rotation.
And some how, the 2009 Mariners won 85 games.
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With less than two weeks to go before Camp 2010 opens, the Mariners have a roster with far fewer questions, though that doesn't always translate into regular-season victories.
Still, compare the team that figures to open this season with the group that opened last:
Starting pitchers '09: Felix Hernandez, Erik Bedard, Carlos Silva, Jarrod Washburn, Ryan Rowland-Smith.
Starting pitchers '10: Felix, Cliff Lee, Rowland-Smith, Ian Snell, Jason Vargas - with Bedard in waiting.
Bullpen, '09: David Aardsma, Miguel Batista, Roy Corcoran, Chris Jakubauskas, Shawn Kelley, Mark Lowe, Brandon Morrow - with Morrow closing.
Bullpen, '10: Aardsma, Brandon League, Lowe, Kelley, Garrett Olson, Sean White - Aardsma closing.
Starting infield, '09: Russell Branyan, Jose Lopez, Adrian Beltre, Betancourt.
Starting infield, '10: Casey Kotchman, Lopez, Chone Figgins, Jack Wilson.
Starting outfield, '09: Endy Chavez, Franklin Gutierrez and Ken Griffey Jr. - with Ichiro on the disabled list.
Starting outfield, '10: Milton Bradley, Gutierrez, Ichiro.
Catcher, '09: Kenji Johjima.
Catcher, '10: Rob Johnson.
Bench, '09: Ronny Cedeno, Mike Sweeney, Matt Tuiasosopo, Balentien and Johnson - with Griffey & Sweeney platooning at DH.
Bench, '10: Adam Moore, Jack Hannahan, Eric Byrnes, Ryan Garko - with Griffey & Bradley platooning at DH.
Now that you see the two rosters, what are the strengths and weaknesses - where do you feel the Mariners are solid, where do they concern you.
And what changes would you like to see made, if any. Weigh in.
Now, for a few links:
- For those who think Erik Bedard signed with Seattle because no one else made an offer, his agent said 17 teams contacted him - and Baltimore was among the teams with strong offers.
- Detroit's Miguel Cabrera, battling alcoholism, may get a six-week mentor in spring training - Andres Galarraga.
- Bill Hall spent much of the last two years in Milwaukee with Mike Cameron, and says Cameron will energize the Boston clubhouse in 2010.
- New York columnist Bill Madden evaluates the off-season remodeling of the World Series champion Yankees.
- If you haven't kept up, this will help: Paul Hoynes writes about the off-season acquisitions by American League West teams.
- How will Mark McGwire do as hitting coach in St. Louis? Lou Piniella thinks he'll be just fine.