Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 1/28/13
In The Outfield Headline: With FanFest wrapped up, it’s time to dive into the season ahead and the outfield spots… This season may not be as predictable as originally anticipated. Some have called Jack Zduriencik desperate and worried about his job by adding veterans like Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez, or one-year contracts like Kendrys Morales or Michael Morse. If this multitude of outfielders fighting for only three spots does nothing else, it has created some serious competition during Spring Training. The Mariners lineup could range from a young lineup with Michael Saunders, Eric Thames and Casper Wells, or have incredibly mediocre defense and good hitting with Bay, Morse, and Ibanez. Here are some potential positives and negatives for the Mariners outfield in 2013. 3 Positives Improvement Last season, the outfield group that played together the most was Wells, Saunders, and Ichiro Suzuki. (I would have lost a lot of money in disbelief that Wells played 93 games in left field a year ago). This season will bring better production from the plate. That seems like a bold statement for an OF that will play 81 games at SafeCo Field, but optimism abounds two months before the season starts. Morse, in RF or at 1B will be a good bat and platoon players like Bay, or Ibanez, will bring added power to a powerless lineup. The bat of Jason Bay could be a plus, but the D will lack for sure (Photo: Komo News) Power The 2012 M’s outfield hit less than 50 home runs (anemic, pathetic, embarrassing), if everything goes to plan Josh Hamilton alone could push that number, an improved Saunders and the rest of the Seattle OF will pass that number by the All-Star Break. Late-Inning Flexibility This seems like a small advantage, but whenever I am watching October baseball (not the Mariners, but other, good teams) there are always players that can come in late and either get a hit or play superior late-inning defense. This advantage also leads to some negatives, like the first one below. 3 Negatives Inconsistency Even if Manager Eric Wedge eventually picks an ideal outfield that is producing at their highest level, the likelihood of that group staying healthy with players like Bay, Morse, Franklin Gutierrez, Ibanez (etc) for over a week seems slim. Unless there are some trades (or perhaps releases), it will be hard to play a struggling player if they are in a slump. Say, heaven forbid, Saunders is in an 0-22 slump and Jason Bay is healthy and on the bench. Everyone will be calling for a change. The averages won’t allow themselves to even out if change is apparent every day. For this reason, I suspect a trade will be made before opening day (Gutierrez, Wells). Another player brought back in, Morse could be the pop the M’s need (Photo: nasorb.com) Defense It will be upsetting for Seattle fans and myself if the Condor (Saunders) does not play all season in centerfield. Not only is his offense continuing to improve, but also his defense is quickly becoming the best on the team. No offense to Gutierrez, but Saunders length and continued experience is propelling him forward. The addition of quality bats to the lineup will indeed impede the Mariners’ defense. Bay and Raul Ibanez are bad defenders and have been for a few years. Here’s to hoping only one of them plays at a time. Speed Listen, I will trade power for speed everyday in Seattle, the infield can take care of the speed. Aside from Saunders 20/20 potential, the rest of the players aren’t going anywhere quickly. Last Note Word out of Mariners’ camp so far is that Wells and Bay are competing for playing time in LF. This is terrible news to me, Wells is an average player that can’t keep his back foot planted when he swings-making strikeouts easier than singles while giving him some extra pop. A year ago, Saunders was prominently viewed by Wedge and was in front of the cameras more often than most fans anticipated. His breakout season then followed. If I had to guess, Jack Z is working the ‘Casper Wells may start’ angle to increase his trade value. Let’s hope it works. CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE MARINERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Jeremy Maclin goes on fantasy football Twitter rant

WATCH: Notre Dame freshman TE Alizé Jones makes awesome one-handed grab

Brett Favre spoke to South Carolina football at practice

J.T. Barrett named Ohio State captain, not Cardale Jones

Kevin Sumlin tweets joke about Steve Sarkisian

Report: Redskins 'ready to move on' from Robert Griffin III, plan to start Kirk Cousins Week 1

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Oregon starting QB added to roster two weeks ago

WATCH: Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson scores gorgeous goal

Arkansas freshman C.J. O’Grady arrested, charged with DWI

Michael Jordan’s ‘Space Jam’ uniform up for auction

Jameis Winston featured on a Publix banner

Rousey-Holm moved to UFC 193 Nov. 14 in Australia

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Fantasy football round-by-round draft strategy

Ronda Rousey's Carl’s Jr. ad

The WWE Divas Revolution is getting ugly

The NFL’s season kickoff isn’t going as planned, but plans don’t matter in the NFL

The Opening Drive: What happened to all the great Michigan tailbacks?

The 1980s Lakers represent the NBA’s ultimate creation story

The Orioles’ frustrating season

Five greatest NBA players of all-time

Finding signs of life for the Red Sox

10 NFL players set for down seasons in 2015

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker