If it sounds like we are jumping the gun on voting for team awards for the 2005 Mariners - we are. …
Bavasi's Dilemma: Who is a Keeper?
Richie Sexson: The Mariners signed Richie Sexson this past off-season to a 4-year, $50 million deal, hoping he would add some power to the lineup. So far Richie has earned every penny. Sexson has met everyone's high expectations by leading the team in home runs (22) and runs batted in (73). The 30-year-old's power numbers are equally impressive when compared to the rest of the American League.
Sexson leads all AL first basemen in OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage), and is sixth in the AL in home runs and runs batted in. On top of his big bat, Richie is also a very solid defender at first base.
Raul Ibanez: His numbers may not be as exciting as Sexson's, but Ibanez has provided a consistent left-handed bat with flashes of power out of his designated hitter role. His .294 batting average and 104 hits both rank in the top 3 for DH's. Ibanez is one of the few Mariners that has overachieved with his high batting average and 13 home runs, earning him the coveted third spot in the batting order, three places up from the sixth spot where he began the season.
Ibanez has shown value defensively as well, filling in well in both left field and first base. He has a year-and-a-half left on his 3-year, $13 million dollar contract, and the Mariners would be wise to let Ibanez continue to work in Seattle for at least the final year of that deal.
Ichiro: The face of the franchise is having his worst season ever. So why keep him? Because his worst season ever is still enough to be an All-Star and lead his team in batting average, runs and stolen bases. Not to mention his jaw dropping catches and bazooka arm that make him one of the best defensive players in the game.
Julio Mateo: At 27 years of age, Julio is the youngest man on the Mariners solid but aging bullpen. Mateo has shown that he can pitch in any situation, often coming in early for long relief one night and then coming in to shutdown the opponents meat of the order on another night. It may not be the most glamorous role on the team, but Mateo's 2.88 earned run average is not something the Mariners want to lose if they are going to win in the future.
Adrian Beltre: In 2004, Adrian Beltre hit a league-high 48 home runs to go along with a .334 batting average and 121 RBI. This past off-season, Mariners fan's dreams came true when Seattle gave this young slugger the biggest contract in team history. Unfortunately, Beltre has not been anywhere near the pace he set in 2004. Here we are in the second half of the season and he has just 11 home runs to go with a modest 47 RBI, while his batting average is down to a mere .256 through July 24. Adrian Beltre is the only guy on this list who is no where close to meeting his expectations. So why keep him? He still has a great glove at third base and at just 26 years of age there is still plenty of time for his best years to come - as a Seattle Mariner.
With five untouchables and a slew of expendable parts, GM Bill Bavasi has a lot of decisions to make.
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