Remained one of the top defensive centerfielders in the game despite not winning a gold glove in 2002 after taking home his first in 2001. The drop-off for Cameron in 2002 came at the plate. After cutting back on his strikeouts and raising his average in the previous season, Cameron reverted back to his old ways in 2002 and hit only .239 with 176 strikeouts. Cameron struggled throughout the entire season after his 4-home run game against the White Sox in May. The Mariners need No. 44 to bounce back in 2003, as he is one of their main sources of power in the lineup. Still, even after Cameron's mediocre performance at the plate last season, Reds' general manager Jim Bowden admits that the M's still got the better of the Ken Griffey Jr. trade.
Randy Winn, LF:
Acquired during the off-season from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays as compensation for Mariners'manager Lou Piniella. Coming off the first All-Star game appearance of his career, the Mariners look for Winn to stabilize the ever-chaotic left field position. He is an above average defender with good speed and should be able to easily cover the cavernous Safeco Field outfield. Winn has steadily improved every year that he's been in the majors and batting second in the lineup between Ichiro and Bret Boone should allow him to continue in his development. He may not be the big bat the Mariners require to lift them over the top, but he'll provide a definite improvement over his predecessors.
Ichiro Suzuki, RF:
Coming off a MVP performance in 2001, Ichiro did not disappoint in 2002. Despite a slight comedown from his previous season, he still finished near the top of the league in batting average, hits, runs, and stolen bases while picking up his second gold glove in as many seasons. Ichiro seemed to tire towards the end of the season as he entered August hitting .350 but batted only .266 thereafter. Manager Bob Melvin plans to avoid that this season by giving Ichiro more rest throughout the year. More days off for the slightly-built Ichiro could spell big things for him in 2003.
Scott Smiles is a life-long baseball fan and 2002 graduate of the University of Washington. He can be reached at email@example.com.