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Opening Day Preview? Thursday, March 26, 2009

Posted by mrgenre in Mariners.
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Spring Training

Shannon Drayer clued me in first to today’s lineup, which could be an exact preview of what this squad might look like opening day.  Here’s where we’re sitting against Kansas City today in Peoria:

RF Ichiro
2B Lopez
LF Griffey
3B Beltre
1B Branyan
DH Sweeney
C Johjima
SS Betancourt
CF Gutierrez

And Felix is even set to take the mound today!

Obviously there are some issues here and there, but overall, you’ve got to like our 2009 squad.

Ichiro’s our leadoff man.  I keep hearing that nagging talk about batting third, but it’s not going to happen this season.  He didn’t even hit third in this year’s World Baseball Classic.

I have some doubts about Lopez’s effectiveness in the 2-spot, especially when he fared better in the Classic when he started later in the lineup.  In theory, he’s got the OBP to make this work out well for whoever bats third and cleanup.

Griffey batting third I just don’t get, as he seems a more natural 4 (and barely that) or 5 hitter at this point in this career.  Beltre, with his contract on the line and a great performance last year should fill in the third spot.

Beltre batting cleanup is fine, but I think he’ll spend more of the season in third when we’re a bit short on threats from this lineup.  He’s the only Mariner whose average can handle the three spot.  Now if we had Ibanez…

Branyan, Sweeney and Joh at 5, 6 & 7 could be quite a tossup if not the weakest point in our lineup.  If Branyan can hit 30 out this year, I’m fine with him at 5.  Sweeney’s looked good in camp, but I’m not yet convinced he can go the long haul.  I think he fits in better at 7.  And as for Joh, I think he’s got more 5 potential than any of these guys.  I’m not looking for him to hit for power, but this team needs to be built in a different way.  Let’s face it, we’re not a homerun threat.  We aren’t the typical power-heavy hitters that fare well in the AL.  Joh can hit the 5 spot and he can hit it consistently.  But will he?  Last year’s numbers say no.

At 8 we’ve got Betancourt, which basically makes him a weak link in a plastic chain of inconsistent hitting from this team.  I’d much rather see someone who can play great small ball hit 8, but you’ve gotta use what you’ve got.  And unfortunately right now, Bet’s all we’ve got.  8 seems to be a throwaway lineup spot for Wak.

And at 9 we’ve got Gutierrez.  I have always loved putting someone with speed at 9 to up our chance of having guys on base the second time through the lineup.  Franklin’s been quite the question mark offensively, but if he can pull off this small-ball mentality that’s being pushed in Peoria, he and Ichiro will make quite a team at 9 and 1.  I don’t even care if he spends most of his time bunting for hits!  A good contact hitter with his speed can bat .200 bunting alone.  Or maybe Ichiro will teach him that slap thing he does.

Here’s hoping this lineup gels today.  It would make quite a statement.  I’m assuming that our other main lineup option is Endy Chavez in left with Griffey snagging DH from Sweeney.  I personally think that Endy could be an effective 2 hitter, but I’m sure he’ll get knocked back to 6-8 when that switch takes place.

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