According to the new Elias rankings (please don't try to make sense of them, on account of you can't), Gil Meche is a Type B free agent. What this means is that, if and when the Mariners offer him arbitration and he declines in favor of signing a multi-year contract somewhere else, the organization receives a compensatory sandwich pick between the first and second rounds of next year's draft, as stated by the new CBA.
Since the team finished in the lower half in terms of W/L record, their first-round pick is protected in the event that they sign a Type A free agent (Schmidt, Zito). Should that happen, they'll forfeit their second-round pick instead. Which would kind of be the last of my concerns if the Mariners actually went out and paid what it's going to take to land Jason Schmidt or Barry Zito.
Also, a little while back Chris Dial posted his AL Gold Gloves, according to the methodology linked within his article. Of note is that (A) he thinks Ichiro is deserving by virtue of his time spent in center, and (B) yet another defensive metric isn't buying the Betancourt hype. If you think about it, you can begin to understand why Yankee fans have grown so weary of hearing about UZR and Jeter's defense - the numbers simply don't match up with what they observe with their own eyes, just as is the case with our own flashy shortstop. It's not the same, but it's the first example that came to mind.
While we're on the subject, a much more accurate way of measuring defensive performance is to break it down by team instead of individual. And that's precisely what the Hardball Times does here, with values being reported as "plays (not runs) made above/below average." The Mariners came out at +2 overall, +12 on grounders and -10 on flyballs (or, if you prefer, +12 in the infield and -10 in the outfield). If I had to guess where the individuals stood off the top of my head, I'd have Sexson around -8, Lopez around -4, and Betancourt/Beltre each at +12. Might not be 100% accurate, but it makes more sense than some of the other metrics we've seen.
Anyway, let's award some Gold Gloves by team:
Best AL Infield: Detroit, +74 (that's funny to me)
Best AL Outfield: Cleveland, +48
Best AL Defense: Detroit, +56
Best NL Infield: Houston, +86 (probably all Adam Everett)
Best NL Outfield: Atlanta, +51
Best NL Defense: San Diego, +71
It's worth pointing out that fielding flies is more valuable on a play-by-play basis than fielding grounders, since the former generally go for extra bases while the latter go for singles, which means you probably have to apply some sort of weighting system in order to determine who was really the best team defense in each league, but I don't feel like messing around with that right now.
This goes a long way towards explaining why Detroit and San Diego were able to make the playoffs with what were, on the surface, relatively underwhelming rosters. 50 runs in the field are every bit as good as 50 runs at the plate or on the mound, after all, but they're much harder to notice, particularly when you're just looking a team over on paper. Also, special kudos go out to the Indians and Devil Rays, who were each about as bad in the infield as Houston was good. I don't know what -80 looks like over the course of a season, and God willing it'll stay that way for as long as I'm alive. Never leave us, Yuni.