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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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March 31, 2008 12:34 PM

McLaren sets bar high

Posted by Geoff Baker

opening 002.jpg

A look at the Mariners going through their pre-game stretch and batting practice. By the way, some early news that could help the Mariners today: Texas leadoff man Ian Kinsler has the flu and is not in today's starting lineup. Ramon Vasquez takes his place. Kinsler could be available for pinch-hit duty. Everything is a little early today because of Opening Day festivities. That includes Mariners manager John McLaren and his pre-game media session.

"The bar has been set high, let's be honest about it,'' McLaren said, adding that he's as responsible for that as anyone. "It's been set high for all of us. The organization did their part, went out and got us some pitching. Some real good pitching. We had a good team in place to start with. We've got a year under our belt for our young players. Now we need to go out and do it.''

Hear what McLaren said in this audio clip.

opening 012.jpg

McLaren went on to talk about the importance of having more depth in the minors this season. Guys he can rely on to be called up if the team runs into injury troubles, or simply struggles through prolonged slumps. he's talking about folks like R.A. Dickey and Greg Norton, not to mention Jeff Clement and Wladimir Balentien. I expect to see all four up here at some point.

he was asked about Erik Bedard and how he's doing. McLaren was quick to note that Bedard's velocity was high, in the 90s, and that he's ready to go. It's no coincidence that McLaren talked about velocity right off the bat. ESPN baseball writer Jason Stark was on a local radio program today and mentioned scouts telling him Bedard's velocity was down by several miles per hour in spring training from what it was last season. I can tell you, McLaren does read what's written and listen to what's said on the airwaves about his team. He went on the same radio show right after Stark, so his comments today were obviously in response to what was said. We'll see how hard Bedard is throwing in a few hours.

By the way, keep those predictions coming in on the comments thread of the previous post. We're going to go back to it once the season is over. Get yourselves on the record now. It's easy to predict things after the fact.

Here are today's lineups:

Rangers (0-0):

12 Ramon Vazquez 2B
10 Michael Young SS
32 Josh Hamilton CF
9 Hank Blalock 3B
21 Milton Bradley DH
22 Marlon Byrd RF
7 David Murphy LF
15 Gerald Laird C
23 Ben Broussard 1B
33 Kevin Millwood RHP

Mariners (0-0):

51 Ichiro Suzuki CF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
28 Raul Ibanez LF
44 Richie Sexson 1B
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
6 Brad Wilkerson RF
3 Jose Vidro DH
2 Kenji Johjima C
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
45 Erik Bedard LHP

opening 007.jpg

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Posted by Bobby Ayala

1:13 PM, Mar 31, 2008

I'm in the overly optimistic crowd, and I'm going on record to predict a 92 win season an the AL West crowd.

I think it might be a little high, but I'm giving them a few extra because we should dominate our division opponents (and at least hold our own vs the Angels). We've got the pitching to win close games, but the offense to.. uh.. hopefully score enough runs for our starters. 92. Why not. I love March. :)

Posted by jujay

1:13 PM, Mar 31, 2008

Jose Guillen looks terrible today. 0-5, and watching a fastball down the pipe for a k in a game winning opportunity

Posted by AKMarinersFan

1:14 PM, Mar 31, 2008

Bedard hurt before he ever plays a game for the Mariners. That would sum it up for the Mariners FO.

Are we sure that the Mariners actually looked at his harm during his physical? Or maybe they looked at his right arm?

Posted by Bill

1:17 PM, Mar 31, 2008

Apparently some people cannot get themselves excited, even on opening day.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

1:31 PM, Mar 31, 2008

AKM - Normally your Eeyore routine is amusing, but can you just take what you'd normally post today, save it in a text file on your computer, and post it tomorrow? :) Some of us are trying to enjoy the return of baseball. Signs of spring, yo.

Posted by Anthony

1:32 PM, Mar 31, 2008

Yeah, Guillen looks really terrible. Everyone has off days at the plate jujay, have you been watching his defense? Gunned Ordonez out at home and held another runner at third with one out and the bases loaded because they didn't want to test his arm. He's the reason they're in extra's in the first place.

On Today's game, I should be there! I'm pissed that I have to follow this season on the internet and catch the occasional A's/Mariners game at McAffee or on the tube being down here in the North Bay now. Last year I was in the press box for opening day and I should be this year as well =[[[[

Posted by steve723

1:33 PM, Mar 31, 2008

I'm predicting 90 wins, just barely good enough to win the division, but we'll lose in the playoffs. Watch out for next year, though, when we've got Clement, Balentien, and another strong bat through a trade.

However, if we can package Reed and Baek for a good corner outfielder with a bat in the next few weeks, then I think the 2008 M's are going to win closer to 100! Go M's!

Posted by jujay

1:36 PM, Mar 31, 2008

Anthony- Yeah, that throw by Guillen was a rocket. I wasn't making a point or anything, just more surprised that he let that fast ball go by...I guess it was 99mph. I definately still miss him on our team

Posted by Bobby Ayala

1:41 PM, Mar 31, 2008

Here's a few more of my 2008 predictions (should this have gone in the earlier thread?):

- King Felix will have a better season than Erik Bedard, although Erik Bedard WILL be everything we hoped for and more.
- Sexon will bounce back to being respectable. I look for .30 homers and a .260 average.
- I'm not totally sold on Lopez rebounding, but I really like the kid so I hope I'm wrong.
- At some point this season Ibanez will move to DH, Vidro bench/PH.
- Either Clement or Balentien will be up by the end of the year and help contribute to the team.
- The Rangers will surprise people. And still finish third, but better than expected.
- The Mariners will score more runs than they allow this season.

Posted by KingCorran

1:57 PM, Mar 31, 2008

Mariners go 92-70, and take the AL West by at least 4 games.

Posted by fwdupfan

2:14 PM, Mar 31, 2008

I think they win 100 games and we all wonder later how in the world that happened.

Posted by El Gato Fermin

2:17 PM, Mar 31, 2008

I am predicting that this offense will be anemic. It is essentially a worse offense than last year minus Guillen and adding Wilkerson. Not to mention guys like Sexson and Ibanez are a year older and were ice cold for much of last year. (All of last year in Richie's case). We were lucky to win 88 last year when we were outscored by our opponents. We will be a .500 team this year and that is with a hopefully healthy Ichiro.

Posted by scrapiron

2:20 PM, Mar 31, 2008

Jim Thome with 2 homers on opening day. Man, that guy is strong.

"Test me for steroids all you want. As long as there ain't steroids in meat and potatoes, I'll be fine"
-Jim Thome

Gotta love a guy like that.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

2:31 PM, Mar 31, 2008

Mariners will go 81-81 (literally the defintion of a .500 ballclub)

Posted by ethan

2:40 PM, Mar 31, 2008

you guys are missing Jose Guillen???? what about CARLOS GUILLEN AT FIRST?!? one things for sure..he's no SEXSON.

Posted by Frankie

2:42 PM, Mar 31, 2008

Adam Jones went 0-3 today...

Wow I miss him!!!

Posted by knuckler

2:43 PM, Mar 31, 2008

Ms win 93 games win the west!
Felix shows everyone that he is the ace not Bedard, wins 20 games and is a Cy Young candidate.
36 Hr 110 RBIs for Sexson.
Mariners go on to defeat the Dbacks in the world series with Bedard throwing the clincher in the light dry Arizona air.

Let the wins start piling up now.

Posted by Frankie

3:00 PM, Mar 31, 2008

Ahhhhh a half hour away from the game!!!!!! :)

Posted by Maui Mariner

3:03 PM, Mar 31, 2008

You got it Frankie, good stuff!

M's will win the division with 93 wins and kick butt in the playoffs.


Posted by oregongal

3:04 PM, Mar 31, 2008

I posted my predictions a couple of days ago, so I won't repost. Interesting to see the range here. We've got three division rivals that are hard to read at this point. The A's and Rangers are supposed to be terrible, so either might surprise by doing better than expected. The Angels are badly hurt to start the season, but they're deep and crafty, so who knows?

Thank heavens this day is finally here and we can start new arguments. It's already been fun the past few days not seeing Sexson, Ibaņez, or Vidro in every post.

Posted by Frankie

3:23 PM, Mar 31, 2008

Where is my friend Cubby?

Posted by Fg

3:31 PM, Mar 31, 2008

90-95 wins

Sexon better gets 90-100 rbi's 23-27 hrs

Ibanez mostly DH after first third of season

Wlad to left

Vidro mostly PH after first third part time DH

Ichiro flirts with .400 falls back to .380's
hits 15hrs
75+ RBIS

Lopez back to 06 numbers but not exceed them

breakout year for Bentancourt

Bedard 16 wins spends a few weeks on IR for tendinitis

Felix (dont call me Fermine) 20+ wins Cy Young Candidate

Win the AL West, second place is where I think the oddity will be-A's. Angels are caught up by injuries

Come on fellas and gals its supposed to be fun and hopeful. The 'reason' used in sports is supposed to arise some sort of joy, perhaps in numbers and the ever present joy of prognostication, but if it gives you a belly full of venom-its better to be an ignant' savage, fundemental fan. Sports are one of the only places this is true and does not hurt anyone else.

Be well

Posted by GetGriffey

3:55 PM, Mar 31, 2008

Hope its not too late.

Mariners go 125 - 37

Mariners lose to Giants in WS.

Posted by knuckler

7:37 PM, Mar 31, 2008

The big thing about winning the opener. We can crow and say we can go undefeated until that first lose comes.

liked what I saw-- most of it Not the first inning home run (hello Arizona air!!!).I was really looking for a fast start from richie.

Liked the Lopez showing (so far).

liked the "game in motion " mentality.
Beltre with a good start

Is Wilkerson the answer at right field?

I know it is just one game. But it is all we have to blog on!

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