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Future Is Almost Now

The Mariners went farther than sending Jesus Montero down and promoting Jesus Sucre. They also DFAd Robert Andino and promoted Carlos Triunfel to the majors. I'd imagine Triunfel will take some playing time away from Brendan Ryan, but now that Ryan's batting average is over .200 who knows! Anything is possible.

What's most interesting about all these moves is who took Triunfel's place in Tacoma. Brad Miller got promoted from AA Jackson, and will presumably be the new starting shortstop for the Rainiers.

Media attention in Tacoma will probably swirl around Montero's transition to first base, but I'm here to tell you there are way, way more interesting scenarios brewing in Tacoma right now.

Mike Zunino is the starting catcher in Tacoma. He is blocked by Kelly Shoppach at the MLB level. Shoppach was signed to be a veteran backup catcher.

Nick Franklin is more or less the starting second baseman in Tacoma, with occasional cameos elsewhere on the infield (particularly shortstop). He is blocked by a struggling Dustin Ackley.

Brad Miller is now the starting shortstop in Tacoma. He was one of the last cuts in spring training, even after Nick Franklin. He is blocked by Brendan Ryan at the MLB level.

Stefen Romero is a starting corner outfielder in Tacoma, blocked by Raul Ibanez and/or Jason Bay at the MLB level.

Andrew Carraway, Danny Hultzen, and James Paxton are starting pitchers blocked by Aaron Harang at the MLB level right now.

The pressure is mounting on Jack Zduriencik to possibly save his job. He got the M's GM job on the strength of his ability to draft and develop prospects.

The Mariners have a batch of prospects just one step away from the majors, with veterans signed as stopgaps "blocking" them on the MLB roster, and a GM feeling a bit more pressure to win, and in particular show that he is developing a core group of talent through the farm system. Context is clearly driving the Mariners in one direction: The youth movement is just about here. When players are ready, they are coming up, and I'd put that ETA at 4-6 weeks.

Here is my prediction for the Mariners starting lineup on July 1:

1. Michael Saunders, CF
2. Dustin Ackley, 2B
3. Kyle Seager, 3B
4. Kendry Morales, DH
5. Mike Morse, RF
6. Justin Smoak, 1B
7. Mike Zunino, C
8. Stefen Romero, LF
9. Brad Miller, SS

Quite frankly, the Rainiers are a more compelling team than the Mariners right now, and the fortune of their everyday players might dictate the complexion of the Mariners roster more than the performances of current Mariners. A changing of the guard is close.