It’s a new season, so I’m going to start writing these series previews again. Last year I only made it about a month before other stuff got in my way. I’ve got a thesis to write and a cross-country move to pull off this summer, so it may be a little thin on coverage here and there, but that’s a ways off right now. Right now it’s a brand new season.
The opening series for 2009 pits the Twins against the Seattle Mariners. So far the Twins and Mariners are tied in the standings on the season, both with the best record in the AL. This will be the last opening day for the Twins in the Metrodome, they are currently 7-7 in opening days at the Metrodome, but have won 6 of the last 7 times they have started the season at home.
The Mariners and Twins have both had some issues with injuries this spring. The Twins are, as we all know, without Joe Mauer for the beginning of the season. The Mariners are also without their perennial MVP candidate, Ichiro is out for a week or two recovering from a bleeding ulcer. Combine that with the loss Scott Baker for the Twins and you can see how easily preseason predictions can be thrown off the mark. In the Mariners case, inaccurate preseason predictions would be a good thing, because pretty much everyone has them struggling this year. One can always find reasons for optimism, but the DL stint for Ichiro certainly doesn’t start things off on the right foot.
The biggest (by biggest, I mean most discussed) acquisition for the Mariners this offseason was the homecoming of Ken Griffey, Jr. He’s not terribly young at this point, and it seems he would be ideal for the DH role, but it seems inevitable that Mariners fans will see him out in the outfield this season. Without Ichiro, the Mariners only have 3 other outfielders on the roster, so I’m sure we’ll see him in the outfield in this series. Mariners fans are a little wary of what to expect from Griffey, but they are certainly not looking forward to seeing him face Liriano (I assumed Ibanez didn’t do well against Fuentes – and after looking it up, Ibanez struck out in his only at-bat against him in 2006 – it must have been epic)
— PITCHING PROBABLES —
Liriano v. F. Hernandez
Blackburn v. E. Bedard
Slowey v. C. Silva
Perkins v. J. Washburn
Reading the Mariners blogs, across the board people write and discuss the prospects for Felix Hernandez and Eric Bedard this season, meanwhile Silva and Washburn are pretty much dismissed as bloated contracts left over from the previous front office. It’s interesting to note that in their last outings Hernandez and Bedard combined to give up 15 runs in 10 innings. Of course, it was spring training and it was on April 1, so we can’t draw any real conclusions (nor can we rule out some elaborate April Fools Day prank).
The only Seattle pitcher in the rotation that the Twins won’t face is Ryan Rowland-Smith, who ended up there because Brandon Morrow essentially refused the job in order to become the team’s closer. The reason that’s remarkable is that it leaves the Mariners bullpen without any left-handed pitchers. New manager Don Wakamatsu has said that he isn’t overly concerned with matchups, with this move, it appears he may be serious.
Here’s some info on Chris Jakubauskas, a rookie who will be one of the right-handed relievers expected to shut down Morneau and Kubel in the late innings.
And with that the 2009 season begins. Go Twins!