Cliff Lee's five-game suspension will be appealed, and in all likelihood will be slightly reduced - to three or four games.
What that means, however, is that until the team knows when Lee is active, it must plan on opening the season with a 24-man roster - it can't fill Lee's spot while he's serving his time.
The ramifications go well beyond what the rotation will look like. If Lee serves five games, the Mariners in essence will need a sixth starting pitcher one time through the rotation - and that impacts the bullpen.
If, for instance, the rotation is Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Ian Snell, Jason Vargas and Doug Fister, the Mariners figure to need an extra arm available to pick up innings at the end of hat rotation.
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Break with a seven-man bullpen and it means you have room for only three reserves - an outfielder, an infielder and a catcher.
So figure your starting lineup like this:
- Ichiro Suzuki, RF
- Chone Figgins, 2B
- Milton Bradley, LF
- Jos Lopez, 2B
- Ken Griffey Jr., DH
- Franklin Gutierrez, CF
- Casey Kotchman, 1B
- Adam Moore, C
- Jack Wilson, SS
If those are your starters and you go with seven relievers, the only reserves heading to Oakland will be catcherRob Johnson
and one of two outfielders -Josh Byrnes
or the left-handed hittting Ryan Langerhans.
What of Mike Sweeney or Matt Tuiasosopo? Sweeney's best hope is that Lee's suspension is a short one, the team keeps an extra reliever only until Lee retrurns, then adds Sweeny to its 25-man roster.
And Tuiasosopo? He's a telephone call away in Tacoma. While Tuiasosopo is the better athlete, the better hitter, Josh Wilson has the one thing Tui doesn't have - big-league experience at shortstop.
If the plan is to rest Jack Wilson at least once a week - and it is - Josh Wilson seems the smarter move, defensively.
That leaves the seven-man bullpen: David Aardsma, Mark Lowe, Brandon League, Sean White, Shawn Kelley, Kanekoa Texeira and - throw a dart - Garrett Olson.
All predicated on Lee's suspension to open the season. Feel free to rearrange the names, recalibrate the needs. At the moment, that's your roster.