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2014 Outlook: Seattle Mariners

Feb 2, 2014, 12:43 PM EDT

USA Today Sports USA Today Sports

2013 record: 71-91, 4th place in AL West

Manager: Lloyd McClendon, 1st season

Estimated 2014 payroll: $82 million

Key additions: 2B Robinson Cano, OF Corey Hart, OF Logan Morrison, RHP Scott Baker, C John Buck

Key losses: 1B Kendrys Morales, OF Raul Ibanez, LHP Joe Saunders, LHP Oliver Perez

Projected lineup
CF Dustin Ackley
3B Kyle Seager
2B Robinson Cano
DH Corey Hart
1B Justin Smoak
LF Logan Morrison
RF Michael Saunders
C Mike Zunino
SS Brad Miller

Projected rotation
RHP Felix Hernandez
RHP Hisashi Iwakuma
RHP Taijuan Walker
RHP Scott Baker
LHP James Paxton

Top relievers
CL Danny Farquhar
RHP Tom Wilhelmsen
LHP Charlie Furbush

Biggest questions entering 2014
1. Who will hit besides Robinson Cano? The Mariners made the biggest splash of the winter, signing free agent Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240 million mega-contract. But Cano alone isn’t going to carry the AL’s least-productive lineup. Seattle needs another free agent addition, Corey Hart, to provide protection out of the cleanup spot. And it needs Justin Smoak, Kyle Seager and Dustin Ackley to realize their full potential and bring some depth to a lineup that looks like it’s going to have to rely on its highest-paid player too much.

2. Can Dustin Ackley play center field? Cano’s signing bumps Ackley from second base to center field, where he saw some playing time last year. The 26-year-old is going to have to prove he can man the position every day in a respectable manner; otherwise, there isn’t another obvious spot to play him.

3. Is Taijuan Walker the real deal? Any chance the M’s had of trading for David Price this winter was dashed when it became clear they were not going to deal away their top prospect in any proposal. Is the 21-year-old right-hander legit? His stats last season at Class AA and Class AAA weren’t overwhelming, but clearly Seattle sees great things in him. It’s time to find out if the organization knew what it was talking about.

  1. Eugene in Oregon - Feb 2, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    The signing of Robinson Cano notwithstanding, the Mariners are not going to challenge this season. But they have some potentially excellent young pitchers moving toward the big leagues, as well as a couple of good position players. From an organizational standpoint, not trading Taijuan Walker for David Walker almost certainly makes sense, as does not going after any more costly (in dollars and/or draft choices) free agents of questionable quality/longevity (e.g., Nelson Cruz). At this point, the Mariners have to hope/expect that Mr. Cano will continue to be a top-flight hitter in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years of his contract. The wild card, however, is that their GM is unlikely to survive another disappointing season, so he may still — as a matter of self-preservation — add Mr. Cruz. In any event, I hope to be there the last weekend in August when the Nats visit the Pacific Northwest.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 88 64 --
ATLANTA 76 76 12.0
MIAMI 74 78 14.0
NEW YORK 73 80 15.5
PHILADELPHIA 70 83 18.5
x-Clinched NL East title

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON 88 64 --
LOS ANGELES 87 66 1.5
ST. LOUIS 85 68 3.5
-----------------------
SAN FRANCISCO 84 68 4.0 +2.0
PITTSBURGH 82 70 6.0 --
MILWAUKEE 79 74 9.5 3.5
x-Clinched division title

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
FRI: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
MON: OFF
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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