Scouting the 2004 Mariners: OF, DH, Bench

In the finale of this four-part series, we'll take a look at one of the strongest and weakest aspects of the 2004 offense. The outfield and DH will provide solid all-around play but the bench won't provide much in the way of hitting. Check out what you can expect from the M's in 2004 in this story, open for all to read, at InsidethePark.com.

In the finale of this four-part series, we'll take a look at one of the strongest and weakest aspects of the 2004 offense. The outfield and DH will provide solid all-around play but the bench won't provide much help for the team.

Raul Ibanez (671 PA, 608 AB, .294/.345/.454, 18 HR, 90 RBI, 90 R)
Raul Ibanez was originally drafted by the Mariners in the 1992 draft. He spent parts of five seasons with the team before catching on with the Kansas City Royals. As a Mariner, Ibanez was never able to really get it going. Blessed with a sweet left-handed swing, the change of scenery to the Land of Barbeque allowed him to bloom into the player he was expected to be. He is a good fastball hitter but could improve by spreading the ball around the field a little better. His defense in left field is very solid, perhaps better than would be expected of him.

Ibanez is going from the AL's most hitter-friendly park in KC to one of baseball's premier pitcher's parks in Safeco. However, the right field fence is league neutral for lefty pull-hitters so Ibanez' numbers won't suffer as much as expected. His HR total in 2003 was hurt slightly by his change in GB/FB ratio. He went from 1.06 in 2003 to 1.17 in 2003, not a large change but enough to have some affect. Unlike his extra base hits, his 2003 AVG and OBP are nearly identical to his 2002 numbers. He still shows the ability to make contact often, but his power appears to be headed in the wrong direction.

If the M's are going to like the signing of Ibanez, he needs to prove that his 2003 was more of a down year than a sign of aging. Generally, the first thing that goes is the bat speed so if the XBH continue to drop and the strikeouts rise, it could lead to a quick decline. I'm going to give Ibanez the benefit of the doubt and expect him to post a very similar line to last year. But he needs to be watched closely.

Projected 2004 line: 685 PA, 625 AB, .295/.350/.480, 19 HR, 5 SB


Randy Winn (660 PA, 600 AB, .295/.346/.425, 11 HR, 75 RBI, 103 R, 23 SB)
Randy Winn did all that could have been expected of him in 2003. He hit a few homers, stole a few bases, hit for average, and played very good defense. He was also one of the few Mariners to not fade in the second half. In fact, he was amazing in the second half, hitting .330 with 9 HR. The M's did a nice job of signing him to a new contract for the near future.

Winn's 2002 and 2003 were nearly identical, only the XBH and BB rate differed. His drop in extra base hits can be attributed to moving from Tampa Bay to Safeco, and sheer luck has to be factored in as well. Winn appeared to have altered his hitting approach for 2003 becoming more aggressive. The only thing he had to show for that was a drop-off in walks and the number of pitches-per-plate-appearance.

The toughest challenge for Winn in 2004 will be center field. He is being asked to fill the defensive shoes of Mike Cameron, and that's not an easy task. Winn doesn't have the quick reactions or great routes that Cameron has. However, he should be at least a league average defender thanks in part to his speed. Offensively, he should play at least as well as last year and since he is just 29 years old, he could be posting similar seasons for the next few years

Projected 2004 line: 675 PA, 610 AB, .297/.340/.450, 28 SB, 13 HR


Ichiro Suzuki (725 PA, 679 AB, .312/.352/.436, 13 HR, 62 RBI, 111 R, 34 SB)
Ichiro is the catalyst for the Mariners. When he is hitting well, the team is nearly unstoppable. Defensively, he is possibly the best right fielder in the game. His speed, routes, reactions, and arm strength are all outstanding tools. He has the ability to hit for average, some power, and steal bases. However, one skill that Ichiro does not have mastered is endurance.

The past three seasons, Ichiro has posted a combined first half line of .351/.398/.470 compared to a second half line of .299/.342/.402. A similar change is also seen in his SB totals, 75 vs. 46. His GB/FB ratio changed dramatically in 2003. It was 2.48 in 2002 and 1.77 in 2003. When Ichiro struggles, he tends to be late on pitches, causing him to pop up.

Ichiro has averaged 730 PA per year the last three seasons. If he is to stay strong throughout the year, that number needs to be dropped under 700. One game off every two or three weeks, preferably before or after an off-day, should be enough to help him at his best. Keep an eye on Ichiro's running as an indicator of an upcoming slump. If he is getting thrown out often or just not running when he should, he may be getting tired and a slump may be on the way. Defensively, Ichiro will help soften the blow of losing Cameron. He will cover the excess ground in right-center which will allow Winn to cheat towards left.

Projected 2004 line: 690 PA, 650 AB, .330/.375/.445, 45 SB, 15 HR


Edgar Martinez (603 PA, 497 AB, .294/.406/.489, 24 HR, 98 RBI, 72 R)
It is simply amazing what Edgar Martinez has been able to do during his career. What is more amazing is what he has done since he turned 40. He easily outperformed the likes of Hank Aaron and Willie Mays. Only Ted Williams has been near what Martinez has done. He showed what he was made of in 2003, playing nearly 30 games with a broken toe.

Martinez actually played more games in 2003 than he had in either of the previous two years. He has lost very little hitting ability and didn't lose much power. He has averaged 25 HR per 162 games played throughout his career. In 2003, he had 27 HR prorated to 162 games. His doubles have declined significantly only because of a lack of speed. Those would-be doubles are now singles for Martinez. He still possesses outstanding plate discipline, walking in over 15 percent of his PA and averaging more than 4.3 pitches per PA.

Martinez could, and in my opinion should, be inducted into the Hall of Fame in the near future. There is not much more to say about Edgar that he doesn't already say with his bat. Consider 2004 to be Edgar's farewell tour because in all likelihood, 2004 will be his last. Enjoy the show. There may not be anything like it for quite a while.

Projected 2004 line: 550 PA, 450 AB, .305/.405/.480, 22 HR


Willie Bloomquist (220 PA, 196 AB, .250/.317/.321, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 30 R, 4 SB)
Bloomquist has become exactly who the Mariners wanted him to be, Mark McLemore. He can play every position on the diamond with the exception of catcher. He is solid at all positions, has speed, and can put the ball in play. He'll continue to be the ultimate utility player for the M's, giving people days off and filling in if someone gets hurt. Bloomquist is a very valuable commodity.

Quinton McCracken (226 PA, 203 AB, .227/.276/.271, 0 HR, 18 RBI, 17 R, 5 SB)
McCracken was acquired for Greg Colbrunn in a questionable move by M's management. However, McCracken will be useful off the bench. He has good speed and has the ability to play all three OF spots. He will primarily be used as a pinch-runner and will compete with Bloomquist for the starts when Ichiro needs a day off. Bloomquist and McCracken are the only two guaranteed of a bench spot to begin the year.

Dave Hansen (159 PA, 135 AB, .244/.358/.333, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 13 R)
Hansen was picked up from the Padres in the Jeff Cirillo deal. Throughout his career, he has served as one of the best pinch hitters in baseball. Hansen is best used in a situation where a base runner is needed due to his outstanding walk rate. He will compete for a bench spot in spring and will likely win it.

Ramon Santiago (507 PA, 444 AB, .225/.292/.284, 2 HR, 29 RBI, 44 R, 10 SB)
Santiago was acquired from Detroit in the Carlos Guillen deal. He was a starter for much of the 2003 in Detroit, but in Seattle he will be no more than a back-up middle-infielder. He can play solid defense at both 2B and SS, but at this point in his young career he has very little offensive ability. He will strictly serve as a defensive replacement if necessary and insurance incase of an injury.

The outfield defense was probably the best in baseball last year with two Gold Glove recipients. This season the defense will be downgraded but the offensive output will likely be a notch better. The bench will be the weakest part of the team. It will be very versatile but provide very little offensive help. With solid players at every position, the bench might not need to be utilized much. However, if someone gets injured for a significant period of time and a trade can't be made, the M's will be hurting. If everyone stays healthy and plays to their ability, the outfield and overall team will be very strong in 2004.

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Starting Pitchers

Relief Pitchers

The Infield Starters

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