Originally written on SeaTown Sports  |  Last updated 11/2/14

                                                                                       Photo Credit: Kitsap Sun

Below I have listed 5-1 the most important things that have happened so far in Peoria for the Mariners this year. I will make my best attempt to stay positive, but if you have been a die-hard M’s fan over the last decade you will know that’s not an easy thing to do. Here we go!

5. Figgins moves to leadoff, Ichiro to 3rd in lineup

I know this happened right at the beginning of Spring Training and has been beat like a dead horse, but come on? When this thing flops with Chone leading off how long will Manager Eric Wedge let this thing run out? Figgins has given me absolutely no reason in the last couple years to start him in the leadoff spot. Our payroll is already down from previous years, why can’t we just scrub that saved money and cut this guy already? Ichiro on the other hand will be an interesting attempt at moving a perennial All-Star lead-off hitter into the power slot. I don’t see many homeruns, but if Ackley gets his at bats in the 2 hole; and drive the ball to the gaps which he is capable of, Ichiro should have ample opportunities to drive in runs.

4. The “Core Four” made leaps and bounds

Who is the “Core Four” you might ask? None other than Paxton, Walker, Hultzen and Ramirez. These guys not only hung with big leaguers in real game situations they excelled. Paxton and Hultzen are drawing praise for their poise and unearned experience while Taijuan Walker with his raw talent and athleticism is getting compared to Doc Gooden; cranking his fastball up to 95 mph with a 72 mph curve…NASTY. Even though these young men shined, they are still young men; with recent cuts, Erasmo Ramirez is the last of the “Core Four” to be on the Major League squad surprising everyone. Wedge weighs in on his outlook of Ramiriez here. He is only 21 years old and had success in a partial season at Tacoma last year and was amazing in the Venezuela Winter League. Keep an eye on these men closely as they will be the bedrock for the Mariners for years to come.

3. Veteran FA additions aren’t making most of opportunities

Maybe this is the baseball gods’ ways of letting the kids play. I’m not sure, but for some reason or another some of the veteran offseason acquisitions need to kick it into high gear for the remainder of spring to erase some question marks. First off, Carlos Guillen retired. Fine, gives more reps to Seager and Kawasaki (both have been doing pretty well I might add.) Kuo has just been a train wreck. His command is all over the place and his MPH is down. Kevin Millwood has been, well, a 38 year old Kevin Millwood. And SP import Iwakuma just turned in a “decent” start. If some of these guys don’t turn it around, a lot more of the “kids” will be getting opportunities…but is that a bad thing?

2. Montero is as advertised, Noesi bidding for a rotation spot

I wrote a piece when the Pineda for Montero and Noesi trade went down, and I still stick to my guns when I said Zduriencik made the right move. With a small sample size Jesus Montero is catching games and smacking the ball around the yard. Even most of his outs are hard hit line drives. So far in 5 games he has hit .400 with 6 RBI’s, 1 HR, and 2 2B for a 1.108 OPS. Yes, I am just a wee bit excited. What’s even more exciting is that Hector Noesi has been one of the more solid Starters so far this spring, giving up only 1 run in 5 innings of work. He may be the guy that pushes Beavan/Millwood out of a rotation spot. It should be a good competition for the weeks to come.

1.King Felix 20lbs lighter and Loves Seattle…

Not only does he love Seattle, but ALL FIVE of his pitches are his best pitches. Ok ok, I may be reading just a little too much into this, but this type of interview right here is what gets me excited for baseball again. Felix didn’t need to lose 20 lbs. He has a Cy Young on an inexperienced team that struggles to score runs. Look at other guys who have won Cy Young awards only to get out of shape, (C.C. Sabathia). After last season he decided he needed to come in this year in even better shape. That’s one hell of a competitor if you ask me. Watch this clip and be excited for the months ahead.

I am off to Peoria Wednesday morning to catch some Mariner games through Sunday. Stay tuned as I will have a write up when I return about my adventures in Arizona!

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