Growing up, I was a Seattle sports fan. Being from Seattle, this was a no-brainer. Then I moved to the lonely sports state of Idaho.
While the move was easy, going to Mariners and Seahawks game became increasingly difficult. Though, thanks to a very committed father and my willingness to give up Sunday’s to drive a total of 10 hours, we found a way to see Seahawk and Mariner games.
This love for sports is probably the same between many other fans as well, but this love can also cause great woe and emotional distress.
More distress than pleasure when it comes to Seattle sport's teams unfortunately. Though one minor piece of news brought me so much joy, that I just couldn’t wait for the start of the season.
Eric Wedge, manager of the Seattle Mariners, finally announced that Ichiro would be batting third in the lineup. Gone are the days of stranding Ichiro on either first or second after a lead-off hit. Gone are the days of finding an adequate three hitter. Gone are the days of sheer anger, you want to throw a baseball through the TV.
Well, 11 years later, and six broken TV’s later, I can finally say, the Mariners have made a good move with Ichiro.
Many people will instantly look to the glaring hole at lead-off now. Wedge has said that he would like the one hitter to be Figgins (his natural spot in the order) and the second spot to be occupied by young hitter Dustin Ackley.
Some area of concern is obviously with Figgins batting first. Why have someone who hit .188 last season bat lead-off? Why have someone who had a NEGATIVE WAR of -2.0 playing every day? (A negative Wins Above Replacement means, the back-up or replacement for Figgins actually contributed more to the team's wins than Figgins)
I reply to these very valid points with the answer that batting lead-off and second are two totally different mindsets. Figgins has always been a natural lead-off hitter dating back to his tenure with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Lead-off hitters see pitches and have to be patient at the plate. Figgins is a very patient hitter who used to walk nearly as much as he struck out.
The two hitter is supposed to be able to slap hits at a coach's call. Two-hole hitters are supposed to be able to take advantage of defensive holes caused by hit-and-runs. Plain and simple, it takes a very special hitter to be able to hit any type of catch at any point in the count at a moments notice.
I personally believe, after seeing Ackley last season, that he is much more capable at this than Figgins.
After the first three hitters, the order really depends on how well Spring Training goes. If I had to guess the order for opening day it would be as follows:
1. 3rd base-Chone Figgins
2. 2nd base-Dustin Ackley
3. Right Field- Ichiro
4. Designated Hitter-Jesus Montero
5. First Base- Justin Smoak
6. Left Field-Mike Carp
7. Catcher- Miguel Olivo
8. Center Field- Franklin Gutierrez
9. Shortstop- Brendan Ryan
Possibly the only surprise would be Mike Carp in left field.
Casper Wells is a very good young player, and so is Trayvon Robinson. Both are considerably better defensive players.
Yet, the Mariners need offense, and they need to find a way to get Carp, Smoak, Olivo and Montero all in the lineup. Which is why I believe Carp will get considerable amount of time in left, first and DH. Robinson and Wells will get their time to shine, but for now Carp needs to be in the line-up somehow.
This was possibly the 500,000th time a Mariners fan came up with a projected line-up and to be honest, all 500,000 of them mean jack-shit.
Why? Well, none of us are Eric Wedge or upper management.
So these line-ups are almost as meaningless as your March Madness brackets. Because lets face it, none of us are getting close to guessing correctly on all those games, right?