Originally written January 14, 2013 on NorthWest Sports Beat:
M’s Open In Oakland Opening Day vs. A’s the defending AL West champs, who will be in the lineup you ask? Spring in the air, sunshine and the smell of sunflower seeds cover the field as the Seattle Mariners prepare for game 1 of 162. At least, the weather will probably be this nice in Oakland for day one, so it will be a great way to start the season. The summer may bring changes, but the 25-man lineup is set, and this is what the Mariners lineup will look like two and a half months from now. Leadoff: 2B Dustin Ackley At this moment, if I could only have Ackley or Kyle Seager, I would take the 3B. The former # 2 overall pick is still young with a lot of promise, let’s hope he takes advantage of the leadoff spot this year with better offensive numbers. Please forgive this comment: Would you give up Ackley, Taijuan Walker, Franklin Gutierrez, and Justin Smoak for the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton? I think I would, and then bring up Nick Franklin to split second with offseason acquisition Robert Andino. 2-hole: CF Michael Saunders His defense will begin to impress people outside of Seattle. One of our better kept secrets will garner national attention when he finishes 2013 as a 20/20 player with improved batting average, on-base percentage, and continued excellence in centerfield. 3-hitter: DH Kendrys Morales Love the addition, we will see him at first base this season too, but he will play DH on April 1 and be a solid hitter for Seattle. He may not hit 30 home runs, but his consistency is needed desperately. Clean up: 3B Kyle Seager Some people say clutch isn’t real, some people need to watch Kyle Seager hit with 2 outs and men on base. Having veteran hitters around this kid will help him progress even more than last year, and the future is bright on the hot corner. 5: RF Raul Ibanez His message was clear to Seattle: He is not going to be a role player; he is going to lead by example playing everyday. Cheers Raul, I wish you the best. 6: C Jesus Montero Still younger than the majority of people that will read this article, Jesus Montero will continue to develop and his offensive numbers will improve. M’s need to give him the AB’s, and push through his inconsistency. He will prove himself soon enough. Also, his catching is not the worst ever, so that’s good. Having veteran hitters around this kid will help him progress 7: LF Jason Bay High expectations in New York, mediocre results, followed by low expectations in Seattle, here’s to hoping the results impress from day one. Injuries will keep him in and out of the lineup, 120 games would be good enough for him to perform. 8: 1B Justin Smoak Last chance for Justin Smoak, he gets 6 weeks to prove he can still play in the bigs or they turn to Kendrys Morales at first and open the DH spot for Raul Ibanez or Jason Bay. Smoak usually has better numbers to end seasons; he’ll need to produce quickly this season to keep his job. Brendan Ryan spot: SS Brendan Ryan Brendan Ryan is the easiest choice in the lineup by far. We know players like Moralez and Seager will be in the lineup, but it is unclear if they will bat first or eighth. The shortstops amazing defense and less than stellar bat make him an ideal sacrifice bunt at the bottom of the lineup. Starting Pitcher: Felix Hernandez The second easiest decision of this projected day one goes to the King. The 1% chance he is traded aside, Felix is a workhorse. A younger CC Sabathia with all the talent we know and love, expect Felix to be the best Mariner once again in 2013. Excluded: CF Franklin Gutierrez: I’ll believe it when I see it, the injury bug (plus trade rumors) will keep him on the bench on day one, and probably plenty more. RF Eric Thames: This one hurt, Thames showed promise in 2012 and may prove himself a lot better than Bay or Ibanez during Spring Training, but where we stand  now in January makes me think he’s the odd man out right now. 1B/OF Mike Carp: The second half of 2011 seems like a long time ago, a below average 2012 campaign can be explained by injuries or the unfortunate idea that pitchers figured him out. It will take an injury or porous start from someone to get another shot. Hit me back with your opening day lineup. I’d love to hear from you! Can’t wait for baseball. Cheers. CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE MARINERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
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