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Annual Offseason Reminder

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Whatever works
Whatever works

So it's the offseason again, and the Mariners couldn't hit again, so most everybody wants to see the M's add some hitters. Which, yeah, they should, because they need some guys who can hit. You might have missed this, but during the 2010 season the Mariners scored FIVE HUNDRED AND THIRTEEN RUNS. Opposing pitchers threw 1453.1 innings against the Mariners and posted a 2.92 ERA. Pedro Martinez's career ERA was 2.93. It'd be nice to not do that next year.

But, as we say going into every offseason, there's no sense in focusing on one or two particular kinds of improvements. Because, as we say going into every offseason, a run is a run, and a run saved is a run scored. The M's don't need to pick up some thumpers. The M's need to get better, in whichever ways they can.

I bring this up because I've seen some sentiment, here and elsewhere, that the M's are wasting their time with Hisashi Iwakuma, because what they really need are bats, and their pitching is fine. True, they do need bats. But here are next year's starting pitchers, as of now:

Virtual Certainties:

Felix Hernandez
Doug Fister
Jason Vargas

Hot Prospect:

Michael Pineda

Fifth Starter Options:

Garrett Olson
Ryan Rowland-Smith
Luke French
David Pauley

Felix, Fister, and Vargas are fine. And Pineda should be good for at least, I dunno, 120-150 innings. But that still leaves a lot of work to be picked up. And while you could make an argument for any of those four fifth starter options, each of them could pretty clearly stand to be improved upon. You can feel free to like David Pauley as much as you want, but David Pauley is never going to be a guy who should prevent you from adding another starter in his place.

Just as an example, let's say you think Pauley is a 5.00 RA guy. Find a 4.50 RA guy and, over 180 innings, that's a ten-run improvement. Ten runs is most of the offensive difference between Franklin Gutierrez's 2009 and Franklin Gutierrez's 2010. That's a big step up, and if the M's can find a cost-effective way to take that kind of step up, they should do it, no matter what form it takes.

The M's don't need offensive help. The M's need help, whether it comes at the plate, in the field, or on the mound. Try to keep that in mind and we'll see how it all looks when the offseason's over.