2008 Outcome: 61-101, 4th place in the AL West
What They've Lost: Raul Ibanez, JJ Putz
What They've Done: Traded for Franklin Gutierrez, Endy Chavez, and Aaron Heilman (JJ Putz deal), signed Russell Branyan
The Mariners are also rumored to be in the Ken Griffey Jr. "sweepstakes" as well as considering moving Adrian Beltre (the Twins are rumored to be potential trade partners, maybe sending Michael Cuddyer back to the Mariners).
Needs: A little bit of everything. Pressing needs at first base and corner OF. The Putz move also throws their bullpen into disarray.
Free Agent Signing/Trade Prediction: As mentioned before, the Mariners are rumored to be in both the Ken Griffey talks as well as potentially trading Adrian Beltre. For my money, I find the Griffey move more likely even though the Beltre move makes sense for the Mariners.
Young Player to Make 2009 Impact: The easy choice would be Felix Hernandez, the 22 year old stud that headlines the Mariners' rotation. However, seeing as I don't consider him "baseball young" anymore, I'll go with Wladimir Balentien. Balentien torched AAA pitching as a 22 year old 2007 (.291/.362/.509) and should get plenty of playing time this year on a Mariners team that doesn't seem to be close to contention.
2009 Outlook As Of Now: Meh. I guess they'll field 9 players, but there's nothing to get really excited about here. Ichiro is a fun player to watch, overrated or not, but he can't carry an entire team. The loss of Ibanez takes 23 HRs and an 835 OPS out of the lineup. If the Beltre move does happen, the Mariners will have lost the only two players on last years squad to eclipse 20 HRs.
The Mariners are toying with moving Jose Lopez (.273/.303/.398 career) to first base, although one would imagine that Russell Branyan would see some time there as new manager Don Wakamatsu has stated that Jeff Clement and Kenji Johjima would both see time in the lineup with Clement occupying the DH spot.
Franklin Gutierrez and Endy Chavez give the Mariners a defensive boost, but their bats are nothing to get excited about - Gutierrez career: .258/.307/.383; Chavez career: .270/.311/.369.
The pitching staff has King Felix (2008: 9-11, 3.45 ERA, 200 2/3 IP, 175K, 80 BB) and then a lot of question marks. Erik Bedard is a fine pitcher, but the question will be whether he can stay healthy (15 games in 2008). Jarrod Washburn and Carlos Silva make up the backend of the pen, which leaves a lot ot be desired. The pen loses JJ Putz, putting Brandon Morrow (3.34 ERA, 5 starts, 45 games, 64 innings, 75 Ks, 34 BBs in 2008) into flux. He would like to start, but the Mariners would like to slot him in at closer. Aaron Heilman may be able to step in to the starting rotation or the pen. The Mariners would be wise to use him this year in the role that they envision is his ultimate destination as 2009 will be a lost season for Seattle.
Hottest Thigh Association: Samus Aran
I couldn't find anyone else and Nintendo owns the Mariners. Cut me some slack.
Picture courtesy of Samus Central