TACOMA, Wash. - Doubters Beware! Michael Morse continues to defy expectations with his success as…
Diamond Report: Scouting the Starting Outfield
LF Randy Winn
2004: 157 G, .286 avg, .346 obp, .427 slg, 14 HR, 81 RBI, 21 SB, 53 BB, 98 K
2005 Projection: 148 G, .283 avg, .336 obp, .431 slg, 10 HR, 72RBI, 19 SB, 55 BB, 104 K
Bat: Winn is one of the more underappreciated players on the roster, and perhaps in the league. Since arriving in Seattle, all Winn has done is produce from the second and seventh spots in the M's order. The switch-hitting 30-year-old has a tendency to start slow and heat up as the weather starts to do the same. Sound familiar? Winn's ability to carry the bottom of the order might be one of the more important aspects of the M's offense. With a new middle of the order, Winn can slide down to the seventh hole and let his natural offensive talents take over. The former Devil Ray is a tweener with the bat. He doesn't get on base quite enough to warrant leading off, and he lacks the power to hit in the heart of the lineup. The team's new additions will allow the left fielder to hit where his skills fit the best. Look for another very solid season from Winn.
Glove: Winn is solid in left field, and though he lacks arm strength, his above average range and sure-handed play make him a strong defender. Last season, Winn was stuck out in the middle of Safeco's outfield to replace one of the greatest defensive center fielders to ever play the game. The experiment failed and Winn will return to left field, where his natural skills and experience make him an asset.
CF Jeremy Reed
2004: 18 G, .397 avg, .470 obp, .466 slg, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 3 SB, 7 BB, 4 K
2005 Projection: 149 G, .284 avg, .352 obp, .429 slg, 10 HR, 67 RBI, 18 SB, 57 BB, 67 K
Bat: When the Mariners traded Freddy Garcia to the Chicago White Sox for three players, the key to the deal was Reed, a toolsy outfielder with speed and advanced plate skills. If GM Bill Bavasi had received Jeremy Reed, and only Jeremy Reed in that transaction, it would still have been a good trade for the Mariners. The left-handed hitting Reed makes a lot of solid contact, rarely strike out as he controls the strike zone, runs well, and is one of the smarter hitters the M's will send up to the batter's box this summer - even in his rookie season. Expecting anything less than .280/.330 would simply be a case of not giving Reed the credit he is due. His power will improve as he matures physically, but somewhere between 7-12 home runs in 2005 is most likely. The 23-year-old possesses good speed and could steal between 15-20 bags.
Glove: Reed isn't going to remind anyone of Mike Cameron or Ken Griffey,Jr. but he is certainly capable of helping fans forget about Randy Winn's adventure last season. Reed has the speed and physical tools to play a solid center field, but will need to improve his routes to become more than average in the spacious greens of the Safe. Without a plus throwing arm, Reed must get better jumps in order to cut down balls hit into the gaps. In time, Reed could develop into a fine defensive player. For now, the Mariners will settle for adequate - plus a few outstanding catches.
RF Ichiro Suzuki
2004: 161 G, .372 avg, .414 obp, .466 slg, 8 HR, 60 RBI, 36 SB, 49 BB, 63 K
2005 Projection: 157 G, .356 avg, .404 obp, .461 slg, 9 HR, 66 RBI, 33 SB, 52 BB, 59 K
Bat: What else is there to say about a hitter who keeps inventing new ways to counter the attack thrown at him by every pitcher in baseball. Keeping the ball away from him doesn't work. Staying in on his hands worked for a season or two, but now is a mistake waiting to be hit into the seats in right field. After April of last season, Ichiro hit over .400 for the year and the day he broke George Sisler's record for hits in a season, Ichiro sat right at Ted Williams' .406 mark, going back to the start of May. Imagine if Ichiro had changed his stance in March, instead of May.
While expectations will be high, anything less than .340 and 30 steals is a disappointing season for the game's toughest out. When ESPN's Baseball Tonight spends an entire segment on how to defend Ichiro, you know pitchers are awake all night hoping they don't face him with runners in scoring position, late in the game. Ichiro will find a way to amaze another three million at Safeco this season. Will he hit .400? Will he break his own single-season hits record? Will he hit in 57 consecutive games? Knowing Ichiro, something unbelievable will happen - again.
Glove: Ichiro's talents in right field are underrated - even by those who compare him to Roberto Clemente. Many scouts and MLB personnel have claimed they have never seen anyone play the wall like Ichiro and still cover the ground in front of him like he does. Blessed with a great arm and better accuracy, nobody runs on Ichiro these days. Nobody.
LF/DH Raul Ibanez
2004: 123 G, .304 avg, .353 obp, .472 slg, 16 HR, 62 RBI, 1 SB, 36 BB, 72 K
2005 Projection: 139 G .287 avg, .342 obp, .468 slg, 20 HR, 86 RBI, 1 SB, 48 BB, 80 K
Bat: Ibanez hit .304 last season and displayed some much-needed pop from the left side of the plate. Again in 2005, the 32-year-old will be relied upon as the lone left-handed long-ball threat. If healthy all season, the former catcher could surpass 20 home runs, while hitting in the .280 range. Ibanez limits his strike outs and hangs in tough versus left-handers. Perhaps his best talent with the bat is with two strikes and with runners on base.
Glove: Ibanez will likely be the DH for much of the season, but is a solid defender in left field. Ibanez makes up for a sub-standard range with his plus arm, and could have one of the better throwing arms among American League left fielders. If the club needs an outfield replacement, Ibanez is more than capable.