Look at what the Mariners have on their roster and it’s relatively easy to come up with a starting rotation for 2010 – Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Brandon Morrow, Jason Vargas and Ian Snell.
The question is, is that the rotation you want next April?
Not if you want to contend – and the Mariners clearly do. Not all those pitchers will make the rotation, and by April not all will be Mariners.
Seattle has interest in bringing two veteran free agent lefties, Jarrod Washburn and Erik Bedard, back to the fold. That doesn’t mean it will happen. Contract demands will be the largest factor, and the Mariners aren’t about to overpay.
Trades are a possibility, but young arms don’t always work out. Getting Luke French from Detroit, for instance, didn’t wind up helping Seattle’s rotation.
Of all the young arms the Mariners have, only two – Rowland-Smith and Morrow – have attracted much interest. The team could dangle French, Doug Fister, Snell and Vargas on a trade hook all winter and not get a bite.
So expect the Mariners to try to add a veteran or two, both in the rotation and the bullpen, if for no reason other than providing depth. Consider the rotation of Felix, Rowland-Smith, Morrow, Vargas and Snell – where do you go if one or two of those pitchers go on the disabled list?
When Seattle led the American League in earned run average last season, it was nothing short of one-year miracle produced by manager Don Wakamatsu and pitching coach Rick Adair. Asking them to turn tap water into chablis two seasons in a row is foolish.
Yes, Seattle needs offense this winter. To get back to 85 wins – or beyond – the Mariners need more pitching, and they know it.