The Mariners put up a solid above .500 season last year, but let's be honest, there was no real chance of them doing well in the playoffs even if they got there. They're pitching was too weak and while everyone in their lineup could hit (everyone including the bench had a .285 or above average except Sexson and Lopez), they couldn't get on base or hit for power. Batista and Washburn are above average pitchers, but they're not #2 pitchers, they're both 3-4 pitchers. The fact that we had the weakest 4-5 pitchers in the league also didn't help. A quick solution would've been Curt Schilling, who would've given us a "veteran presence" a 1A to go with out 1 in Felix, and he could have made a good mentor to Felix by showing him when to challenge and when not to, and how to prepare for each game and season (and not be a mental midget). Schilling isn't available, so here is my plan to fix the Mariners.
First off, SafeCo is good for Left handed power hitters. It's also not a great park for hitters in general, so what do we need? Left handed hitters who get on base. Two above average such guys are available in the form of Geoff Jenkins a good left fielder from the Seattle area, and Fukudome, a lefty from Japan. We could put those guys in left and right, and this would give us more lefty batters as well as good defense in the outfield. I don't see them being superstars, but they'll be 0 to +10 runs better on defense than average, which is a lot better than the -20 from Raul and the -10 from Guillen. Raul proved that when he's not injured he is still a solid lefty hitter. So he play 1b or DH, and I'm assuming he can give us at least -5 runs at 1b, which is much better than Sexson or Broussard can do. With this team, and with Betancourt hopefully showing us that his mental blanks can be limited, we have average or above players at every defensive position. This is important especially since our pitching core isn't that great.
With this, our lineup goes like this:
Bench: Burke, Bloomquist, 4 OFer like Reed or veteran, Morse/Chen/Green?
With this lineup, we have no superstud save for Ichiro, but we do not have a single guy in the lineup who can't hit. Save for Lopez, I don't see any of these guys hitting below .280.
On to pitching. We have a number one pitcher in Felix, but we only have 2 solid veterans after that and then a bunch of prospects who could break through. Since our OF is now cluttered with guys who give us OBP and should only cost $8 million per year each, this frees us up to trade our prospects. I like Adam Jones a lot, but our biggest weakness is either a big time bat, or a big time pitcher. For this, I say we trade an assortment of Jones, Balentien, Clement, Morrow, Butler, or Tillman for Johan Santana. I'd be willing to trade Jones, Balentien and Clement just for Santana. This is conditional on us signing Santana to a long term deal for about $200 million over 8 years (fair value considering Zambrano is $19 million per year, then Santana, the leagues best pitcher should get $25 million). To do this, we trade away Sexson for whatever, and just try to clear off as much of his last year as possible. Felix might like us trading away his best friend in Balentien, but he wouldn't mind having a fellow Venezuelan stud pitcher showing him the ropes. If Santana could not be dealt for, I wouldn't mind Willis, Bedard, or Oswalt, but obviously for a much lesser price such as Adam Jones a further away prospect and a young setup man. After this, we should also sign Kuroda for starting pitching depth. With this, our pitchers consist of 2 stud pitchers, and 3 #3 or #4 pitchers in Kuroda, Washburn, and Batista, with Batista possible switching to the bullpen in the playoffs.
1. Johan Santana / Oswalt / Willis / Bedard
1A. Felix Hernandez
LRP/ Spot Starter: RRS
LRP/Spot Starter: Baek
MRP: Kameron Mickolio / Austin Bibbens-Dirks
MRP: Sean Green
SU: Mark Lowe
Closer: JJ Putz