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Opening Day Roster Set

Charlton JimersonDuring the broadcast of the M's/Cubs game today, the 2008 opening day roster for the Mariners was announced. Here they are:

STARTING LINEUP
  • C - Kenji Johjima
  • 1B - Richie Sexson
  • 2B - Jose Lopez
  • SS - Yuniesky Betancourt
  • 3B - Adrian Beltre
  • LF - Raul Ibanez
  • CF - Ichiro
  • RF - Brad Wilkerson
Analysis: There is not much to say here. The lineup was for all intents and purposes set before spring training began. There was little competition here, and no surprises either.

STARTING ROTATION
  1. Erik Bedard
  2. Felix Hernandez
  3. Carlos Silva
  4. Jarrod Washburn
  5. Miguel Batista
Analysis: Much like the starting lineup, the rotation was set before spring training started. John McLaren even announced the order before spring training games began, so there was absolutely no competition all spring. To say there are no surprises here is an understatement.

BULLPEN
  • Cha Seung Baek
  • Ryan Rowland-Smith
  • Sean Green
  • Eric O'Flaherty
  • Mark Lowe
  • J.J. Putz
Analysis: This is the first place where there were a few surprises. McLaren was not sure whether he would go with a six or seven man bullpen the entire spring, and all along I thought the odds were the M's would go with seven, though any six-man scenario would include R.A. Dickey. In the end, McLaren surprised me twice, both with the bullpen and taking Baek over Dickey. Instead, the team "traded" C Jair Fernandez to the Twins for Dickey, allowing the team to keep him in AAA and not lose him. Listening to Bavasi on the telecast today, it was clear that Baek's lack of remaining minor league options was a major factor in the decision, and I am fine with that. Baek and Dickey are different pitchers, but one is not much better than the other. Preserving depth is certainly worth something, and because of that I am happy to see Baek in the bullpen.

The other interesting bullpen story is Mark Lowe. He has looked fairly sharp in spring training, and that coupled with Morrow's arm injury and overall lack of control opened up a spot for him. However, it is clear that the M's are planning on bringing Morrow back up once he is ready to go, so Lowe may have to hit the ground running to stay around.

Another player worth watching is Arthur Rhodes. He did not make the team, but he has looked good in the spring and he will continue to rehab from arm surgery. If he looks good in the minors, McLaren is going to have a hard time keeping him off the team. If either O'Flaherty or Rowland-Smith falter, he could be up soon.

BENCH
  • Willie Bloomquist
  • Miguel Cairo
  • Mike Morse
  • Charlton Jimerson
  • Jamie Burke
Analysis: I am quite pleased with this bench. Keeping one less man in the bullpen allowed for one more bench player, which opened up the space needed for Mike Morse. However, after listening to the telecast today, it sounds like the last man on was actually Jimerson or Cairo. McLaren has been so impressed with Morse's spring that he now thinks he will platoon with Brad Wilkerson. Though looking at the numbers it would make more sense to have Morse platoon with Ibanez, I like that McLaren is rewarding such a great spring training peformance.

As for the rest of the bench, there is lots of versatility and speed. Both Bloomquist and Cairo can play virtually everywhere and grab a bag when needed, but Jimerson will likely be the primary pinch-runner. It is obvious that McLaren really wants to run this year, because he kept these three players and did not keep either Greg Norton or Jeremy Reed, both left-handed hitters but not as big of threats to steal. Personally, I probably would have kept Greg Norton and not Miguel Cairo (well, if I really was running the team I never would have signed Cairo to a major league contract), but I credit McLaren for a thinking a little outside of the box and starting the season with no left-handed hitters on the bench.

All in all, the final opening day roster excites me. The Mariners rewarded the good spring performances that Baek and Morse turned in, which I really like. They also went with less proven players, like Charlton Jimerson and Ryan Rowland-Smith, over more experienced guys, like Greg Norton and Arthur Rhodes. John McLaren has a clear vision of what he wants the 2008 Mariners to look like, and he built the roster by picking the 25 guys that fit his vision best. He did not just favor experience, or just talent. This team has a good mix of both, and also has a little depth in the minors too at all positions. This is the best roster the M's have put together under Bill Bavasi.