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AL West: Mariners Sinking
Last week in this space, I proclaimed that the Mariners were done in the division race and close-to-finished in the Wild Card as well. After Wednesday's 10-2 loss to the Yankees -- Seattle's 11th defeat in 12 games -- the Mariners blogosphere was all doom and gloom. Both U.S.S. Mariner and Caffeinated Confines confirmed that this latest setback is the death blow to Seattle's season. Now that the Mariners have reached their last day, it's time to appreciate the surprising season that was.
Here are the top 10 positives to take away from Seattle's 2007 campaign:
10. Seattle signs Phillipe Aumont. Many scouts believed Aumont was a top-five talent, but the Mariners snatched him up with the 11th overall pick. Seattle signed the 6-foot-7, 225-pound hurler just hours before the August 15 deadline.
9. Kenji's Golden Glove. Although this award is far from predictable, Johjima should be a shoe-in for the Gold Glove. The Mariners' backstop has committed just two errors all season and boasts more than a 40 percent success rate in nailing potential base stealers (29-of-70).
8. Mariner Moose still has a job. Red Sox Nation wasn't too happy after Mariner Moose's hit-and-run on Coco Crisp, but the team quickly announced that the mascot's reckless driving would go unpunished.
7. The Guillen gamble paid off. Before this season, Bill Bavasi signed Jose Guillen to a one-year, $5.5 million deal, even though the outfielder was fresh off the surgeon's table. Guillen took on a big leadership role and rewarded the Mariners with a productive season (.287, 19 homers, 84 RBIs)
6. Adrian Beltre's career has a pulse again. At this point, it's safe to say that Beltre's unbelievable 2004 season was an aberration, but at least he's starting to partially earn his $64 million contract.
5. Brandon Morrow's rookie year. As the Mariners' top pick from the 2006 draft, Morrow wasn't expected to make an impact this soon. But the hard-throwing right-hander has been a key cog in Seattle's above-average bullpen. This season is a solid stepping stone for Morrow, who could fill a spot in the starting rotation in 2008.
4. King Felix displayed notable progress. OK, so consistency was still a major issue, but let's all remember one thing -- this kid's still just 21. Hernandez looked downright dominant during stretches this season, and he could finish the season with a sub-4.00 ERA.
3. Ichiro's staying put. Seattle locked up its 200-hit machine through 2012 with a five-year, $90 million deal. Although Marlins president David Samson would disagree, I think this is market value.
2. J.J. Putz's meteoric rise. Putz quietly enjoyed a spectacular 2006 campaign, but he garnered national attention during his sophomore stint as Seattle's closer. Putz converted his first 29 save opportunities of the season and ranks second in the AL with 37 total. He'll receive a fair amount of Cy Young votes.
1. Valuable games into September. Let's be honest ... If I had told Mariners fans back in March that they would care about this team going into the season's last month, they would have laughed in my face.
Labels: AL West
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