Thursday, February 14, 2008

Seattle Mariners 2008 Fantasy Team Preview


Seattle surprised a lot of people last season by staying in the Wild Card race for the majority of the season. The team was carried by its stellar bullpen, good enough starting pitching and scrappy offense. By September the team had too much going against it to keep up the solid play and faltered down the stretch. This off season they landed an ace and look to make the jump from playoff pretender to playoff contender.

Projected Positional Starters

C- Kenji Johjima
1B- Richie Sexson
2B- Jose Lopez
3B- Adrian Beltre
SS- Yuniesky Betancourt
LF- Raul Ibanez
CF- Ichiro Suzuki
RF-Brad Wilkerson
DH- Jose Vidro

Projected Starting Rotation

Ace - Erik Bedard
2- Felix Hernandez
3- Miguel Batista
4- Jarrod Washburn
5- Carlos Silva

Projected Bullpen

Closer- J.J. Putz
Middle Relievers - Brandon Morrow, Sean Green, Eric O'Flaherty, Ryan Rowland Smith, R.A Dickey

Hitters to Draft

Ichiro Suzuki- Hits .330AVG with 100+Rs and 40SB every season. After that he doesn't hit a ton of HR or drive in more than 70RBI a season. He is usually drafted in one of the first 2 rounds, and I don't get why. If he falls to the 4th or 5th round grab him, but get power early on, and build up SB later on.

Adrian Beltre- It is now obvious that 2004 was a fluke, and Beltre has been living up to some unfair expectations after that. He has hit 25, and 26HR each of the last two seasons to go along with 89, and 99RBIs respectively. He has actually gone from being overrated, to underrated. He will go into 2008 a solid middle to late round pick to play 3B for your team.

Raul Ibanez- Is surprisingly a pretty consistent .290AVG., 90RBI and 20HR bat. He turns 36 this season, and could start to decline, so don't go drafting him expecting the guy who you saw in 2006. He will be a middle to late round pick, and is consistently underrated.

Kenji Johjima- He can hit pretty well for a catcher. A decent amount of HR, AVG., and RBI combination. He is not elite, but he is solid. He is worth drafting over guys like Dioner Navarro and Carlos Ruiz. Guys who could be good, but are sleepers, who have the potential to go bust. Johjima is a proven catching commodity, who gives you what you expect to see.

Pitchers To Draft

Erik Bedard- A great two starter in an aces clothing. In my opinion the only thing that separates him from Fantasy (or reality) elite is the fact that he gets hurt every season and winds up missing starts. Last season he missed all of September, a.ka. the Head to Head playoffs. Meaning that if he was your ace, you lost him when it mattered most. Still a very good pitcher, who can dominate a game, and win games with his stuff,without having to rely on the team for huge run support. If he can stay healthy all season, he could be the best pitcher in all of baseball. Even if he gets hurt he is still a top 12-15 starter.

J.J. Putz- An elite top 5 fantasy (and reality) closer. He is dominant, and makes hitters look bad, consistently. Last season he had more Ks that IP, 40Saves and an ERA closer to 1.00 than 2.00.

Felix Hernandez- "King" Felix receives the biggest boost because of the Bedard trade. He goes from being a young #1 ace, to being a 2 starter with an ace ahead of him in the rotation now to shoulder the load. He will have less pressure on him, and his numbers show he could be ready to break out this season and take his game to the next level. I believe he will go at the forefront of the #2 type starters, but will a jump and become an elite pitcher this season.

Players to Avoid

Miguel Batista- Won 16 games last season, pitching to the tune of a 4.29ERA. Previous to that, he had never won more than 11 games in a season. He will be 37 when the season starts, and seems to have been the beneficiary of a career year last season, more of a fluke than it was the norm.

Jose Vidro- I probably shouldn't have listed him at all, because if you do draft Vidro, you deserve to lose. Vidro was once an all star 2B in Montreal, playing for the Expos playing in an i infield that included SS Orlando Cabrera. He hasn't been good the last 3 seasons, and manages to do just enough to make it seem like he has something left. He has little power, no speed and his .314 batting average was a bit of an aberration. There are better 2b and utility options available.

Brad Wilkerson- Apparently, Seattle is where former Montreal Expo stars go to die. Wilkerson had two very fine seasons in 2003, and 2004, and since then has been oft injured and mediocre. He doesn't hit for average at all, which isn't problem if you are Adam Dunn and hit 40HR season. However, Wilkerson, barely hit 20HR, in a hitter's friendly park, and doesn't drive in too many runs, after this the lack of a solid BA suddenly becomes a problem. Not sure why Seattle signed him, other than to get a "name" guy in right field, but do not be fooled.

Sleepers

Richie Sexson- Big Sexy had a terrible year in 2006 and 2007 wasn't just bad, it was an absolute disaster. Sexson, barely hit over the Mendoza line and saw his HR total plummet from 34 to 21. Sexson has the ability to hit over 30HR with 90RBI, with a batting average around .250 and there is talk of Sexson being in the "best shape in years," motivated by the fact he was so bad in 2007. Although you shouldn't read into the offseason conditioning cliche's, he should be taken late based merely on his power potential alone.
R.A. Dickey- Probably should not even be listed as a sleeper, but I have a veterin journeyman knuckleballer fettish, and Dickey fits the bill. He has bounced around from organization to organization over the last few seasons, looking for a place where he can hone his knuckleball craft. He had a huge second half in the minors last season, and will be a servicable pitcher in the majors if he can continue his success.

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