There's nothing else going on right now and I put all of my creativity for the early part of the week towards justifying some purchases I made while shopping yesterday afternoon, so now's as good a time as ever to review the roster we're looking at for at least the beginning of the 2011 regular season. Shown below are the roster locks, followed by the areas of probable competition. Certain injuries, of course, could change a lot of the picture, but we'll worry about injuries if and when they happen, and not before.
C: Miguel Olivo
1B: Justin Smoak
3B: Chone Figgins
CF: Franklin Gutierrez
DH: Jack Cust
SP: Felix Hernandez
SP: Jason Vargas
SP: Doug Fister
RP: David Aardsma (I know, but he'll be back soon)
RP: Brandon League
Those are the 11 players and positions I think we can enter in pen. The rest is up in the air, and will come down to the following competitions. I'm assuming the Mariners will run with a four-man bench and a seven-man bullpen.
2B: A lot of us have assumed that Brendan Ryan will begin the year at second base, with Dustin Ackley coming up somewhere around June or July. However, Adam Kennedy is a possibility as well, depending on what happens with the next position on the list.
SS: Jack Wilson's the guy with the biggest contract, but he's also a guy with a million question marks who most certainly isn't a part of the team's future. It isn't out of the question that Ryan beats him out, with Wilson either going to the bench or even getting released.
LF: Michael Saunders is the favorite, but a starting gig is by no means guaranteed, as the team has yet to be impressed. Saunders has a lot to prove, and will be challenged by Jody Gerut and Ryan Langerhans.
Bench-catcher: Adam Moore will be joined by Josh Bard and Chris Gimenez as backup options, and while one figures that Moore has the inside track, he'll most certainly have to earn it.
Bench-infield: Basically, Ryan, Kennedy, the Wilsons, and Luis Rodriguez are fighting for three roster spots. Ryan's guaranteed one of them, so it'll come down to four for two. I think this spot ends up going to Kennedy, but we could see more Josh Wilson, and Jack could even end up on the bench. It's all very complicated. I used to like Rodriguez's chances, but now he's a long shot.
Bench-outfield: For now, we have to proceed under the assumption that Milton Bradley will remain with the Mariners in the role we've long predicted. If Bradley ends up released or placed on the disqualified list or something, then the door is opened. If Saunders starts, this'll be Langerhans or Gerut. If Saunders doesn't start, this'll be Langerhans or Gerut, as I imagine Saunders would report to Tacoma. I don't think Mike Wilson or Greg Halman are serious options, although, who knows.
Bench-general: the way I figure, this'll probably be Matt Tuiasosopo or Matt Mangini, but I will freely admit that the last bench spot could really end up being anyone.
SP: Erik Bedard, Michael Pineda, Luke French, David Pauley, and Nate Robertson will fight for the final two spots. If Bedard's healthy, he's in. I don't think the team will let Pineda break camp. That would leave French, Pauley, and Robertson battling for what would ideally be a temporary fifth slot. Of them, I don't know who I'm hoping for. Pauley's probably the best, but for some stupid reason I'm intrigued by the new guy and have visions of Jarrod Washburn. Ultimately, it won't matter, because this team won't be very good.
RP: The names are more easily read in list form. Behind Aardsma and League, the Mariners should end up selecting five of the following:
They'll actually end up selecting six of them, assuming Aardsma begins the season on the DL, but he shouldn't be on the DL very long, meaning one of them only gets a temporary stay. You have to figure Cortes and Lueke have strong odds. Flores is a Rule 5 guy, and at least one lefty will get chosen, if not a pair of them. At least one of the rotation battle losers should end up in here. But I don't know how it'll shake out, and I really don't have very strong opinions on this anyway. I could argue about whether it would be better for the team to pick Denny Bautista or Charlie Haeger, but I'd rather eat this delicious grapefruit that's right next to me on the desk.