Looking Ahead to ’05
I’m not going to get into a specific “what Dave would do” plan in this post. We’ll lay out our suggestions in time as the offseason begins. Instead, this is a general overview into what the team needs, broken down by section.
Bob Melvin will officially be relieved of his duties as manager of the club in the morning, and a search for the club’s new skipper will begin immediately. Expect the team to do interviews during the playoffs and hold a press conference to introduce the new manager shortly after the World Series has ended and the moratorium on transactions is lifted.
In less well known news, expect an announcement, perhaps tomorrow, that Pat Gillick will also be leaving the organization to “pursue other interests”. He has already expressed public interest in the available Washington job, and I will be surprised if he’s not the General Manager of another club next year.
There is a real possibility that the entire coaching staff from ’04 will be dismissed. Depending on who is chosen as new manager, Bryan Price could find himself being reassigned or released from his contract. If the team chooses an internal candidate such as Dan Rohn or Dave Brundage, the promotion of Rafael Chaves to major league pitching coach is a real possibility.
The team has seven everyday players under contract who are nearly guaranteed a spot on the ’05 roster, barring trades; Olivo, Ibanez, Jacobsen, Spiezio, Boone, Winn, and Ichiro. These seven will most likely occupy starting spots at catcher, first base, second base, and all three outfield spots, as well as two of the six bench spots. That leaves the team with holes in the everyday line-up at third base, shortstop (depending on who you believe about Jose Lopez’s destination), designated hitter, and four bench spots. Players such as Reed and Leone are considered possibilities, but fall more into the longshot realm, and most likely won’t make the opening day roster without some help.
The team will plan on having Moyer, Meche, and Madritsch fill three of the rotation spots. Pineiro’s health is a question mark, making him a possibility for the 4th spot, but he will not be counted on when building the roster. Franklin will likely be moved to the bullpen or traded. Expect the team to acquire two major league starting pitchers during the offseason.
The bullpen is in the greatest flux. There are seven candidates for six spots currently on the roster, but only Shigetoshi Hasegawa is going to be determined to be part of the mix for offseason planning. Guardado (for health concerns), Sherrill, Atchison, Mateo, Putz, and Franklin will all be considered possibilities, but none are guaranteed a spot in the ’05 pen. Expect the team to acquire at least one major league reliever.
Overall, I’d put the over/under on new incoming players at eight, including the most substantial changes to the makeup of the roster this team has seen in quite some time. Regarding the cinicism of fans who expect more of the past, I can only suggest that you take a wait and see approach. The regime that persuaded management to avoid long contracts and superstar players in favor of a balanced, 25-as-1 approach has lost power. Whether the “big splash” that the organization is undoubtedly going to make will be a wise one is yet to be determined, but I have no doubt in my mind that the Mariners will be among the most active and aggressive teams in the market this winter.
Starting tomorrow, everything changes. Let’s hope the changes are for the better.