Opening day, 2006...
Let's imagine for a minute best case scenario:
RF - Ichiro - back to the .370, 40+ SB of a couple years ago
SS - Betancourt - hits about .280, moves Ichiro along, steals a few bags
LF - Ibanez - Solid .290, 25 HRs, 90 RBIs
1B - Sexson - 40 HRs, 120 RBIs
3B - Beltre - back to the .320, 40 HR, 120 RBI hitter of his last year in LA
DH - Everett - .270, 15 HRs, 60 RBIs in part of a season (see below)
C - Johjima - .300, 20 HRs, 80 RBIs
CF - Reed - .300, 5 HRs, great bottom of the order hitter
2B - Lopez - shows he can hit ML pitching consistently. .275, 15 HRs
Bloomquist - solid guy all over the place, like the Mac of old
Lawton/Borchard - good OF spark off the bench
Quiroz - provides good D playing once a week
Petagine - doesn't play much, but hits a ton when he does
Moyer - pitches at home like he did last year, pitches solidly on the road. 15 Ws, 3.50 ERA
King Felix - pitches as only he can. Sub-3.00 ERA, 190 Ks in 175 IP, 18 Ws.
Pineiro - quits being inconsistent and pitches to his talent level. 15 Ws, 4.00 ERA.
Meche - see Pineiro
Washburn - Safeco keeps him at last year's level, 15 Ws, 3.50 ERA, worth every penny of the $9M
Guardado - doesn't break down. Another solid 40+ save season
Soriano - brilliant setup guy. Sub-2.50 ERA, more Ks than IP
Putz - another great setup guy
Mateo - see Putz
Woods - great LH reliever
Sherrill - see Woods
Harris - great in long relief, spot starting role
The Mariners young guys all come through, unfortunately making Bavasi look like a genius. With the M's in contention in late July and needing a big, LH hitting OF, the M's pull a deal for FA-to-be Adam Dunn, in a deal that sees Snelling and Baek dealt to the Reds. Dunn provides a critical boost down the stretch, hitting 12 HRs in September, and 5 in the last 6 game homestand of the year, which the M's sweep to finish with 93 wins, thereby winnning the AL West by one games over the Wild Card Oakland A's.
The playoffs arrive and the M's use their pitching to quiet the Yankee bats in the ALDS, 3 games to 1. The ALCS sees them up against the upstart Indians, fresh off a sweep of the A's. Once again they ride their pitching (King Felix allows 1 R in 2 starts) to topple the Indians 4 games to 1.
The World Series sees the M's matched up against the Cardinals, but the M's prevail once again, 4 games to 2. The pitching is outstanding throughout the series, and the combination of Ichiro at the top of the order and Ibanez/Sexson/Dunn/Beltre through the middle proves to be too much for the Redbirds. Dunn has so much fun he signs on to play LF for 5 more years.
Ah Opening Day, when anything