Projecting the 2008 Seattle Mariners

Put free agency aside. Throw away all those trade scenarios. Imagine a world where contract negotiations and free trade were all about draft picks and fans swapping an A-ROD rookie card for an Ichiro and a Jeff Clement rookie.

2008 Lineup
1 I. Suzuki, RF
2 J. Reed, LF
3 A. Beltre, 3B
4 R. Sexson, 1B
5 J. Clement, C
6 K. Johjima, DH
7 A. Jones, CF
8 A. Cabrera, 2B
9 Y. Betancourt, SS



Ichiro's extension is the only prediction to be made here. The rest of the projections assumed the farm system rather than trying to predict free-agent signings.

Ichiro, at 35, will still be effective enough to keep around and to pencil in at leadoff.

Jeremy Reed slides to left to make room for Adam Jones, who will have to earn his way onto the roster, but has the tools and skills to do just that.

Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson will be in the fourth year of their deals. For Sexson it's the final season of his four-year pact in which he'll play at the age of 33. Beltre will be just 29 in the second-to-last year of his contract.

Jeff Clement, at 24 and Kenji Johjima (pronounced Joe-jima, not Joe-jeema, accent on the first syllable)will likely be sharing the catching duties as well as the DH gig. If Chris Snelling is healthy in '06 and '07, things could be interesting.

Jones may earn his way into the sixth spot in the order down the road, but at 22 he has a ways to go.

Asdrubal Cabrera played his way into the lineup, which would mean his offense was playing better than average for a second baseman, making Jose Lopez expendable.

If Pez's bat is a plus by '08, he could slide to third making Beltre the odd-man out.

Betancourt's glove holds him at shortstop, probably until Cuba receives a "estatua de la libertad" from the United States.

Other that may make a push for the starting lineup include... (crickets)

The system is void of too many promising bats, but it's just a year too soon to expect Matt Tuiasosopo to break into the show.

Oswaldo Navarro, Sebastien Boucher and Rob Johnson could crack the 25-man roster as reserves. Johnson still has a shot to become a major league starting catcher and could be included in trades when Clement has all but sealed the deal behind the dish.

Rotation
1 F. Hernandez, RHP
2 J. Washburn, LHP
3 M. Carvajal, RHP
4 J. Foppert, RHP
5 C. Nageotte, RHP


Felix Hernandez may have 680 innings under his belt by the time 2008 rolls around, but more importantly, the King may have a Cy Young and a couple of ERA titles added to his resume.

Washburn will be 34 and heading into year three of his four-year contract while the rest of the rotation has combined for just over 200 innings of big-league work through 2005 - and all three will likely begin the '06 campaign in Triple-A Tacoma.

Bobby Livingston, Yorman Bazardo, Justin Thomas and Thomas Oldham may make a push for the rotation in 2007.

Bullpen
1 R. Soriano, RHP
2 J. Putz, RHP
3 S. Kahn, RHP
4 G. Sherrill, LHP
5 J. Thomas, LHP
6 E. Fruto, RHP


The M's system has numerous bullpen candidates trapsing all over the prganization, including a group in the majors now that average an age of 27.

Soriano is the natural choice for the closer role, as long as his elbow is fully healed from the Tommy John Procedure from August, 2004.

Putz and Sherrill will serve as major parts to a solid pen in '06 and should be around in '08, also, though Putz will be into his arbitration years, like the futuristically-departed Julio Mateo.

Thomas was last June's fourth-round pick and could make a bid for a job in the starting rotation, possibly switching roles with Carvajal who has already experienced some success in a big-league bullpen.

Kahn was the M's fifth rounder in last year's draft and has already shown the stuff and the approach to be a quality reliever, potentiall a closer if he can turn his solid curve ball into an true out pitch.

Fruto was solid in Tacoma last summer and could turn himself into Mateo clone. With similar stuff, Fruto can cover two or three innings per outing and bounce back quickly.

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