The Seattle Mariners announced their Opening Day roster Friday. One thing I noticed was that despite the absence of right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, the 25-man group is clearly better than it was one year ago.

2013-Starting Rotation-2014

There aren’t any surprises here, considering what took place Tuesday and Wednesday.

Felix Hernandez, RH Felix Hernandez, RH
Hisashi Iwakuma, RH Erasmo Ramirez, RH
Joe Saunders, LHP James Paxton, LHP
Brandon Maurer, RHP Roenis Elias, LHP
Blake Beavan, RHP Chris Young, RHP

Easily there are potential and significant upgrades in the bullpen, having added Fernando Rodney and Danny Farquhar since the start of 2013.

Tom Wilhelmsen, RH Fernando Rodney, RH
Stephen Pryor, RH Danny Farquhar, RH
Charlie Furbush, LH Charlie Furbush, LH
Lucas Luetge, LH Joe Beimel, LH
Carter Capps, RH Yoervis Medina, RH
Oliver Perez, LH Tom Wilhelmsen, RH
Kameron Loe, RH Hector Noesi, RH

Robinson Cano is the obvious upgrade here, but Brad Miller at shortstop also presents a sizable upgrade to Brendan Ryan, who couldn’t hit enough top keep his plus-plus glove in the lineup.

Justin Smoak Justin Smoak
Kendrys Morales Logan Morrison
Dustin Ackley Robinson Cano
Brendan Ryan Brad Miller
Kyle Seager Kyle Seager
Robert Andino Willie Bloomquist

There is a defensive upgrade here, with Dustin Ackley acclimating himself to left field and the presence of both Michael Saunders and Abraham Almonte — adequate in center, above average in a corner for both. When Corey Hart hits right field, he may land somewhere between below average and average, but still that is better than Raul Ibanez and Michael Morse.

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Franklin Gutierrez Abraham Almonte
Michael Saunders Michael Saunders
Raul Ibanez Dustin Ackley
Michael Morse Stefen Romero
Jason Bay Corey Hart

Mike Zunino isn’t likely to light the world on fire at the plate and still has work to do defensively, but he’s light years better than Jesus Montero behind the dish and will provide a significant edge offensively, too, even though he may hit .230/.300/.400. John Buck and Kelly Shoppach may be a wash.

Jesus Montero Mike Zunino
Kelly Shoppach John Buck

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Jason A. Churchill

Churchill founded Prospect Insider in 2006 after getting his start at He spent several years covering prep, college and pro sports for various newspapers, including The News Tribune and Seattle PI. Jason spent 4 1/2 years at ESPN and two years at CBS Radio prior to joining HERO Sports in July, 2016. Find Jason's Mariners podcast, Baseball Things, right here and follow him on Twitter @ProspectInsider.


  1. I worry about Hart too, given his time away from the game and what he has shown so far. Hopefully he can get back to something reasonably close to what he was before.
    This team is significantly better than last year, offensively, defensively and with its depth. It should definitely be more interesting to watch. There will be some surprises, good and bad, there always are.

  2. Jason, I appreciated how you laid this out with the start of last year. We are stronger in EVERY category!

    We still need a lot more improvement, and do feel we are have improved to a 84-85 team at this moment. But all the injuries to the Rangers and A’s should help us to have a better start than we all were envisioning! Here’s hoping E-Ramirez and Elias can blow everyone away in April, and also to Smoak/Miller/Ackley continues to hit to opposite fields like they been doing all Spring long. If all 3 have picked this up from Cano he will be worth his weight!

    I have NEVER seen Smoak hit to opposite fields for power, and he’s been doing it consistently from both sides of the plate this entire Spring.

  3. The bullpen is a little scary, even more than the outfield and the rotation (but just because the rotation should get some immediate help from Walker and Iwakuma), but overall, it seems better than last year’s opening day lineup.

  4. This 25-man roster is still young and will need many players to perform better than they ever have to stay competitive past the ASB, but there is a depth that the M’s haven’t had since 2007 (especially with Franklin in AAA, and Iwakuma and Walker soon to come back from the DL). My biggest worry is that Corey Hart won’t stay healthy. My biggest expectation is that 2014 will finally show the M’s which of the young core want to stick in the majors, and that the silver lining will be unexpectedly good.

    Elias and Romero will be the biggest nice surprises this season.

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