The Mariners will host the Cubs at Peoria Stadium for the Cubs’ first night game of the spring this evening, so this is a good day to look at the team the Cubs will take on in two different series this year.
Since he took over as Mariners GM in September 2015, Jerry Dipoto has become known for his constant trading and signing of free agents. Just look at all the transactions the Mariners made this past offseason:
OMG wait we’re not done yet...
It’s nearly impossible to get an exact count, and apparently the Mariners are still trying to trade Edwin Encarnacion, but that’s at least 15 new players on the Mariners’ 40-man roster and minor-league invites to camp, including former Cub Zac Rosscup and a bunch of other guys and...
Based on this depth chart, the Mariners will have new players in starting positions in 2019 at shortstop, left field, center field and catcher, with at least two new rotation starters and a new closer.
And this is for a team that won 89 games last year and was a wild-card contender.
Domingo Santana, over from the Brewers, is pretty good; he’ll be the new left fielder. The Mariners had to take the remains of Jay Bruce’s contract to send Robinson Cano to the Mets, and Hunter Strickland takes over for the departed Edwin Diaz as closer. Mallex Smith is a good center fielder and can steal some bases. Seattle will find out if Omar Narvaez can be an everyday catcher. There are 14 relievers listed on their depth chart, so they’ll have some competition in camp for those spots.
I just don’t get Jerry Dipoto, ripping down what was a pretty good team last year. How do you maintain any consistency that way? Who knows? Maybe it’ll work.
And then there’s Ichiro, now 45 years old, supposedly in the proverbial “best shape of his life” as he prepares for what are likely the final two games of his big-league career, back in his home country of Japan against the Athletics on March 20 and 21. The Mariners (and A’s) will be permitted a 28-man roster for those two games, so Ichiro will likely play in both of them. I hope Ichiro has a great sendoff, and five years from now perhaps the largest crowd ever will descend on Cooperstown for his induction.
The Cubs travel to Seattle’s T-Mobile Field (new naming rights deal!) April 30 and May 1, and the Mariners will come to Wrigley September 2-3.