Diving into the depths: Seattle Mariners

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Seattle Mariners
Rotation
1. Felix Hernandez
2. Cliff Lee
3. Ryan Rowland-Smith
4. Ian Snell
5. Luke French
6. Garrett Olson
7. Doug Fister
8. Jason Vargas
9. Yusmeiro Petit
10. Ryan Feierabend
11. Gaby Hernandez
12. Andrew Baldwin
13. Dan Cortes
The Mariners have five legitimate options for the fifth spot in their rotation, but I can’t say I’m particularly fond of any of them. I still think it makes a lot of sense for the Mariners to go out and grab an upside guy, perhaps by re-signing Erik Bedard. It’s their only remaining need, and they should have the cash left to get something done.
Bullpen
1. David Aardsma
2. Mark Lowe
3. Shawn Kelley
4. Brandon League
5. Sean White
6. Jason Vargas
7. Yusmeiro Petit
8. Garrett Olson
9. Chad Cordero
10. Doug Fister
11. Cesar Jimenez
12. Anthony Varvaro
13. Kanekoa Texeira
14. Ricky Ortz
15. Josh Fields
The Brandon Morrow-for-League swap was controversial, but I think it could pay real dividends this season. I see League as the Mariners’ best reliever.
The top five should be locks, and Vargas figures to have a spot unless he’s in the rotation. After that, the Mariners will have to decide whether they prefer Petit’s ability to eat innings or Olson’s ability to serve as a second lefty. Alternatively, they could bring in a veteran lefty, perhaps Joe Beimel.


Catcher
1. Adam Moore
2. Rob Johnson
3. Josh Bard
4. Eliezer Alfonzo
First base
1. Casey Kotchman
2. Mike Carp
3. Jose Lopez
4. Tommy Everidge
5. Jack Hannahan
6. Brad Nelson
Second base
1. Jose Lopez
2. Matt Tuiasosopo
3. Josh Wilson
4. Chris Woodward
Third base
1. Chone Figgins
2. Jack Hannahan
3. Matt Tuiasosopo
4. Josh Wilson
Shortstop
1. Jack Wilson
2. Josh Wilson
3. Chris Woodward
There’s really no chance of Carp sticking as a backup, but he should get a crack at the first-base job if Kotchman fails to deliver. The alternative would be to have Lopez move to first, something he’s made clear he doesn’t want to do.
Left field
1. Milton Bradley
2. Michael Saunders
3. Ryan Langerhans
4. Ken Griffey Jr.
Center field
1. Franklin Gutierrez
2. Michael Saunders
3. Ryan Langerhans
4. Corey Patterson
Right field
1. Ichiro Suzuki
2. Michael Saunders
3. Ryan Langerhans
4. Corey Patterson
Designated hitter
1. Ken Griffey Jr.
2. Milton Bradley
3. Mike Carp
4. Tommy Everidge
5. Brad Nelson
If Saunders impresses this spring, it’s possible he’ll win the left-field job, pushing Bradley to the DH spot and Griffey to the bench. That’s probably the ideal scenario for the Mariners. Even if Saunders doesn’t win the job outright, it’d make sense to keep him around and give him three or four starts per week over Griffey and Bradley.

The Nats are sniffing around for relief pitching help

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The Nationals began the year with Blake Treinen as their closer. That didn’t last long, and now Koda Glover seems to be Dusty Baker’s man in the ninth inning. He earned a save for the second consecutive game yesterday. Glover has been pretty darn good in the early going, posting a 2.35 ERA and striking out six batters and walking only one in seven and two-thirds. That obviously a small sample size, and anything can happen. If it does, Baker has Shawn Kelley as an option.

Not many household names there, which is probably why the Nationals are reported to be interested in the White Sox’ David Robertson and Alex Colome of the Rays. That report comes from Jim Bowden of ESPN, who also notes that the A’s have a number of guys with closing experience on staff and are likely to be sellers too. The David Robertson thing may have more legs, though, given that Mike Rizzo and Rick Hahn pulled off a pretty major trade in the offseason. If you know a guy well, you call that guy first, right?

As far as problems go this isn’t a huge one. The Nats sit at 13-5 and, as expected by most prognosticators, are in first place in the National League East. The Cubs had some questions in the pen this time last year too. They had the luxury of trying to figure it out before making a massive trade for a closer. The Nats do too, and likely will. But expect them to be a part of any trade rumor conversation for the next couple of months.

 

The big flaw in modern ballparks

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Travis Sawchik writes about the post-Camden Yards generation of ballparks over at FanGraphs. The ones everyone loves because they’re nice and clean and friendly and are full of amenities. And that’s true! They are nice! But they all have a huge flaw: unless you’re in expensive seats, you’re too far away from the action.

Sawchik uses cross sections of ballparks — available at Andrew Clem’s website — to show that fans sitting in the upper decks of ballparks are way higher and way farther back than they used to be at many old ballparks such as Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, Old Comiskey, Tiger Stadium and Ebbets Field.

A lot of this has to do with an admirable impulse: to eliminate the beams which obstructed the view of many seats in those old parks. If you want to move that upper deck closer to the field, you have to have the beams because one can only achieve so much via cantilever effect. But that’s not the only impulse and probably not the primary one. More expansive lower bowls — which feature more expensive tickets — push the upper deck back and up. As do the luxury suites and club level amenities in between the lower and upper decks. Exacerbating this is the fact that most newer parks are built on vast tracts of land with few architectural constraints. If you can sprawl, you will, which leaves the most affordable seats in the land of binoculars.

I don’t agree with everything Sawchik writes here. He spends a lot of time talking about how much better neighborhood parks like Wrigley Field are and how it’d be better if newer parks were built in neighborhoods. I agree, neighborhood parks are ideal, but the fact is, most places don’t have mass transit like Chicago does. In most cities you have to have a place for 40,000 people to park.

That’s a quibble, though. Mostly, it’s a good look at an important thing most folks overlook when they praise the new parks. Important because, if you don’t have an enjoyable experience at the ballpark, you’re not likely to come back. And if you’re not fortunate enough to be able to buy expensive tickets, you may not have a great experience at the ballpark.