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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.

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 and 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. Find Jason's baseball podcast, Baseball Things, right here.

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