Manager Eric Wedge tinkered with the lineup all season. This was due to some players failing, some getting injured, and rookies breaking into the big leagues. 2012 will likely see the same tinkering.
Wedge has said that Ichiro might not be the leadoff hitter. If true and if you believe the rumors, Dustin Ackley will bat first. His onbase percentage was higher than Ichiro (.348 to .310) and he has the ability to steal bases, going 6 for 6 in 90 games.
Ichiro would bat second. With Ackley at first, the hole opens for Ichiro to ground one through the hole, sending Ackley to third. If base is empty Ichiro is like a leadoff hitter, playing his usual game.
Third would be Franklin Gutierrez, who has added 14 to 20 pounds to his frame. If healthy, this year he can be like his old self, solid average, extra base hits, and speed.
We have gone right-left-right in the first three batters, so a lefty like Mike Carp with 12 homers, 46 rbis in 290 at bats is a likely candidate. But this is also a good spot for switch-hitter Justin Smoak, who if healthy, as he was at the beginning of last season, can carry a team. Lets go with Justin for now.
I slot Jesus Montero at the DH batting fifth. If you trade Pineda and tell fans he has a great bat and can drive in runs then you have to put him in a position to do just that. If he is the real deal, 4th might be his spot, but for early season he bats 5th, getting protection-if there is any in a Mariner lineup-from Smoak at the 4 spot and Carp in the 6 spot.
In the 7th spot it is the catching platoon of Miquel Olivo and John Jaso. Wedge has said he wants to develop Montero as catcher so he will get some starts this year, and probably bat higher up.
The 8th spot is tricky for the question is who will play third base. Alex Liddi, who has power, hitting three doubles and three homers in 40 at bats, but also struck out 17 times, or will it be Kyle Seager, Ackleys college team mate, .258 in 182 at bats, but only three home runs. Or will Chone Figgins whom the Mariners are playing a lot of money, bounce back, and hit in the 280’s. If so he could bat first or second and throw the entire lineup into a new direction.
Brendan Ryan will bat 9th until shortstop Nick Franklin, one of the top prospects in baseball makes his arrival. That could be sometime this season.
Wedge likes to mix and match, give everyone some playing time. This is what you do when you do not have a lineup like Texas or Los Angeles. And my lineup is a first draft. I am sticking to it until spring training proves otherwise. Or until tomorrow.