The 2012 opening day lineup for the Mariners against Oakland, whom they play in Japan, will be exciting. I say this with bold confidence even though I do not know who bats after Figgins, Ackley, and Ichiro.
I did not mention third, fourth, seventh, and ninth for a reason. They were Milton Bradley, Jack Cust, Ryan Langerhans, and Jack Wilson. In light of those names, the 2012 lineup looks great. Taking their places, will be Mike Carp, Jesus Montero, Ackley and- if his injury is not serious-Franklin Gutierrez. Even with Gutierrez out, whoever plays in center will round out a better lineup than 2011.
Bradley, Cust, Langerhans, and Wilson would not finish the season with Seattle. All were a bust, as could be expected, because all were either past their prime, had injury problems, or never had a prime to begin with.
I remember thinking at the time this was one of the worst lineups the Mariners had. Those four were not stop gaps, filling a void until some minor leaguers were ready. They were players available because they were not wanted by other teams.
Trading Silva for Bradley, one problem for another, does not solve a problem, it creates a new one. Cust was on the downside of his career, his power numbers having dropped sharply. Langherhans could never hit with anyone, and Wilson was past his prime and had injury issues.
The 2011 lineup won their first two games, then reality set in and we know the rest. One of the worst hitting teams in Mariner history.
All things considered the 2012 lineup by default will be better. It is a younger lineup, one that offers at least some hope for the future. I would rather watch Montero hit than Cust; would rather watch Carp play than Bradley, would rather see Ackley than Wilson.
I don’t think the Mariners can win the division, but the 2012 opening day lineup is more exciting, no matter who fills the four through nine slots.