The Seattle Mariners double-header today, like the rest of the 2011 season, is less about wins and losses and much more about determining who on this roster is going to be part of the future.
When Anthony Vasquez starts the nightcap, he'll become the 16th Mariners rookie to play this season, and that will inch them past Kansas City for the major league lead. So don't kid yourselves, this season has been about rebuilding since the team swallowed all of Milton Bradley's $13 million salary.
Four of Seattle's five-man rotation are now under 25 - Felix Hernandez, Michael Pineda, Charlie Furbush and Blake Beavan. The only one older is Jason Vargas, who's 28.
Look at most of the lineups manaer Eric Wedge is running out there and they include some combination of rooikie Mike Carp, Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, Trayvon Robinson and Casper Wells.
And, out in the bullpen, there's Tom Wilhelmsen, Dan Cortes,Josh Lueke and Chance Ruffin. All of them rookies.
With less than six weeks left to the season, some of the young arms and bats can still change the perception of what they can or cannot do. Come Sept. 1, it's not unlikely the roster will expand to bring up more young players - outfielders Carlos Peguero and Michael Saunders, perhaps, or pitcher Mauricio Robles. And 24-year-old Justin Smoak will be back.
You and the team can make some calls now, and I'd like to see some potential 2011 lineups.
Picking which rookies make your roster likely won't be nearly as hard as figuring what to do with the veterans. Ichiro and Chone Figgins, for instance, are due bout $26 million combined in 2012, and neither could be traded today without the Mariners eating a lot of salary - a stunning downturn in Ichiro's status. Franklin Gutierrez has had to get hot just to be bad. Brendan Ryan has played marvelous defense at shortstop, but not been much of an offensive factor.
Do you keep Brandon League? What about catcher Miguel Olivo - who can't really catch but has some power and is a clubhouse presence?
So play manager and GM. What's the 2012 opening day lineup? What's the roster - and did you make the changes you made?
Yeah, it's the dog days of another lost season and the wins and losses are only short term fixes for we baseball junkies. So as we serve out '11, let's talk about 2012.