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2009 M's: Good To The Last Drop

Felix HernandezFootball is here, so it is easy to forget about the baseball season. It is especially easy since the Mariners likely aren't on their way to the postseason. However, the Mariners are almost as interesting to watch as ever. Here are some reasons to keep a close eye on the team in the midst of all the pigskin coverage:

  1. I'll give you three reasons why in one fell swoop. After tonight's victory against Tampa Bay, the Mariners are 79-72 on the year. Three more wins secures a winning record. They have 11 games remaining. At this point, a winning season is a highly attainable goal, but no less remarkable. This team is looking at improving by more than 20 wins, which teams just don't do. A winning record, even if it's just 82-80, would be a big deal.
  2. There is no guarantee Ken Griffey Jr. is coming back. He has been better than his .218 batting average suggests, even if his clubhouse contributions aren't considered. However, he isn't getting any younger. The M's face a challenging decision with him if he wants to come back. Enjoy him while he lasts, which may be only another week.
  3. Felix Hernandez is in the thick of the AL Cy Young discussion. Today, the M's announced that he will get an extra start on the last day of the season. A separate post on Felix's chances may be warranted in the near future, but it's pretty clear him, Zack Grienke, or CC Sabathia will take home the honors. A few more wins would really help Felix's chances.
  4. Matt Tuiasosopo's performance in the next week could have a profound impact on the offseason. If he earns some trust from Don Wakamatsu, he will be a more viable option to start somewhere on the infield. That could mean that the M's don't re-sign Beltre or Russell Branyan. Or (what I think is more likely), if they get both of those players back, Jose Lopez could be shopped around. He should have trade value, especially with the season he has put together at the plate. No matter what, Tui's performance in the next week will have an impact on the team's offseason plans.
  5. Every start matters. What will the 2010 rotation look like, outside of Felix Hernandez, and probably also Ryan Rowland-Smith? It's anybody's guess. The competition is already underway. Brandon Morrow and Ian Snell both have the stuff, but lack control. Fister lacks stuff, but has the control. Guys like Jason Vargas, Luke French, and Garrett Olson are somewhere in between. They all will be in the conversation in spring training, but strong finishes from any of them won't be forgotten.
Of course, the end of the season would be more excited if a playoff berth was on the line. There is no way around that. Still, the 2009 Mariners will be interesting to watch until the final pitch. There is a reason to watch every game the rest of the way, and not just to imagine what the future might look like. Besides, I know I need something to forget those Frank Gore runs from last Sunday...