BY AXEL BOADA
2013 Record: 71-91 (4th Place AL West, 25 GB)
The Seattle Mariners got 99 problems but Robinson Cano ain’t one.
Seattle locked him up with a 10-year, $240 million dollar deal back in December, which is the third-largest contract in baseball history. Toting Jay-Z as his agent, Cano walks into Safeco Field with a lot of expectations placed on his shoulders.
The Mariners play in a very tough division but they made some good moves this offseason that should make their future look a little bit brighter.
2B Robinson Cano (10 yrs/$240M)
1B/DH Corey Hart (1 yr/$6M)
OF/1B Logan Morrison (1 yr/$1.75M)
Landing Cano was huge was absolutely huge for the Mariners. He immediately gives them the offensive power the team has lacked overall for the last few years. Last year, no player hit higher than .277. Cano is a career .309 hitter and has average 29 home runs and 107 RBIs the past four seasons. One has to believe the 5-time American League All-Star will lead Seattle in every major offensive category.
Hart also adds some depth to the Mariner’s lineup. He missed all of the 2013 with a right knee injury but in the three seasons before that, Hart averaged 29 homeruns. His arrival to Seattle is also bit of a reunion with General Manager Jack Zduriencik. He drafted Hart in 2000 when he was the Brewers’ director of amateur scouting.
If I were a GM and had to pick between signing a perennial all-star or Logan “LoMo” Morrison, I would pick Morrison. Every. Single. Time. Fortunately for Seattle, the team has the best of both worlds.
Raul Ibañez: Lord Voldemort’s 29 homers last season were the most for a Mariners player since Russell Branyan’s’s 31 in 2009. The 41-year-old signed a one-year, $2.75 million dollar deal with the Los Angeles Angels.
Kendrys Morales: The DH had the team’s highest batting average and also drove in the most runs with 80. Cano has expressed his interest in getting Seattle to resign Morales (http://tracking.si.com/2014/03/03/robinson-cano-mariners-need-an-extra-bat/) but it seems unlikely since the Mariners supposedly have little to no money left to spend.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Taijuan Walker. The pitcher is the sixth-ranked prospect in all of baseball. Though it is doubtful Walker will be healthy in time for Opening Day, there is plenty reason to be excited about his potential. Last year in AAA, he had a 2.93 ERA and averaged 10.19 strikeouts per nine innings while also keeping opponents’ batting average to .217. However, Walker went just 9-10 last season in the minors. His numbers are solid but does this have the potential to be a Felix Hernandez-type situation? (Seattle scored three or fewer runs in 19 of his 31 starts last season)
Projected Opening Day Lineup
Seattle looks like a really fun team this season. Though they are missing a supplemental bat to help out Cano, the Mariners impressed a lot of people with their fervor this offseason. Seattle is not quite ready to compete for the AL West title but look for them to put up a .500 record in 2014.