Originally written December 28, 2012 on NorthWest Sports Beat:
3rd time in Mariners Blue It is pretty obvious that the Mariners front office realizes that something needs to change if they want to keep their jobs. When the Mariners signed Jason Bay, I thought it was something that could be worth the risk. A change of scenery could be all the guy needs to make things happen again. It bunched up the DH and outfield slots a bit, especially considering that Mike Carp is out of minor league options. But, if he stinks, and Eric Wedge cuts him out of spring training, the M’s are only out a small dollar amount where baseball salaries are concerned. The trade with the Angels was bittersweet which generally means that it was a fair trade. I don’t have confidence that Kendrys Morales will be the power bat that he was in the past, especially in Seattle where he doesn’t have any real protection in the lineup. All that being said, as well as Jason Vargas pitched last year, I don’t have much confidence in him pitching well outside of Safeco field. All in all, I think it will be a win for the M’s no matter what. Except for maybe Justin Smoak the M’s current first baseman. Unless they plan on Morales being the DH, but I feel like that has been mentioned before. So where does Ibanez fit in? Back for the third time, can Ibanez be the M’s go to guy? (Photo: CBS Sports) There were a few minor deals that couldn’t even generate enough interest for me to really care, and then the M’s did what they do best in bringing back a banged up veteran and former teammate Raul Ibanez. This move is stupid. Didn’t the M’s just drop an aging outfielder last season to make room for the development of their young players? Now they have brought Ibanez back and he is older than Ichiro Suzuki, albeit a very different player. I can maybe see it in a backup role, a veteran leader in the clubhouse is greatly needed, but they have promised him at bats. That means he will be playing in left field, first base or DH. (Is there an echo in here?) So I’m trying to get over this, by thinking of the best case scenario. Here we go. Best case scenario If the M’s season started tomorrow, in my best case scenario, I think that the lineup would look like this: 1. Michael Saunders – CF (L) 2. Dustin Ackley – 2B (L) 3. Kendrys Morales – DH (S) 4. Raul Ibanez – RF (L) 5. Kyle Seager – 3B (L) 6. Justin Smoak – 1B (S) 7. Jesus Montero – C (R) 8. Jason Bay – LF (R) 9. Brendan Ryan – SS (R) How this works in my book Saunders has the best on base percentage plus the speed to be a legitimate lead off hitter. Ackley makes good contact and knows how to advance the runner. Morales is the best hitter on the club, bar none, and you bat your best hitter 3rd as a prime RBI slot. Ibanez then would be the team’s power threat and would bat clean up. That is the role the M’s need Ibanez to fill. The reason the M’s can take a risk on Raul and not Ichiro is because Ibanez drives in runs, is good in the clutch, and has some pop. That is best case scenario. Hopefully he can perform Ibanez was the Yankee’s postseason hero last season precisely because of all of these factors. However, the Yankees had the offensive depth to be able to cover for the fact that he had a sub par year. Even with the major injuries the team faced, Ibanez was given limited at-bats. He never hit higher than 5th in the order and got most of his at-bats in the number seven slot. Coming to Seattle however, the 40 year old will be looked upon to carry big numbers. Bigger than his age that is. The best case scenario that I’m trying to convince myself of are if Ibanez can hit .260 with 28 home runs and an OPS of at least .750. If that happens I may eat my hat. The best scenario in all of this though comes from the simple fact that my mom likes Raul Ibanez more than most of the current Mariners lineup, and she has been a diehard fan since the start of the franchise.  That has to be worth something. Right? CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE SEATTLE MARINERS CLUBHOUSE AT NWSB!
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