That was Then...
The Mariners continued their seemingly never-ending quest for offence, when they dealt away one of their top prospects in pitcher Michael Pineda for the New York Yankees top prospect, catcher Jesus Montero. The club also started the season with a very young right-side of the infield with Justin Smoak at first and Dustin Ackley at second base.
Despite the best efforts of ace pitcher Felix Hernandez, who would start 33 games in 2012, and post a 13-9 season with a 3.06 ERA, the club struggled and posted a losing record in April, May and June, which all but eliminated their chances of contending in the hyper-competitive AL West.
In July, the club parted ways with Ichiro Suzuki in his 12th season with the club, sending him to the New York Yankees. The club also benched free-agent bust Chone Figgins as they tried to embrace a full-on youth movement.
By the end of the season, the Mariners were 19 games behind the division winning Oakland Athletics and only had one player that cracked the 20 home run plateau, and that was third baseman Kyle Seager who had 20. Canadian Michael Saunders and Smoak were close, hitting 19 round trippers.
The pitching staff finished 10th-best in the league with a 3.76 ERA, but the fourth-lowest scoring offence did them in.
...This is Now
Fit for the King?
Following the club's offensive additions in the off-season, former Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez will hope to get some more run support this season.
With all respect to the players that the club added, the biggest moves the Mariners made in the off-season were locking up their ace Felix Hernandez to a seven-year, $175 million contract extension, and moving in the fences at Safeco in order to boost an offence that finished fourth from the bottom in runs scored last season.
Along those lines, the club added Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse to the middle of their lineup. Both struggled with injuries recently, but both players have a 30-home run season on their resume. The club also added free agent starter Joe Saunders to slot in behind Hernandez.
Offensively the M's will need more a consistent season from second baseman/leadoff hitter Dustin Ackley who struggled mightily in his sophomore season. With the club dealing away John Jaso, Jesus Montero will have the lion's share of playing time at catcher, but his bat which was touted to be elite needs to continue to develop.
On the pitching front, aside from the all-world Hernandez, the Mariners present a mixed bag in their starting rotation with the control pitching Saunders, under-rated Japanese veteran Hisashi Iwakuma and the young up-and-comer Erasmo Ramirez.
The Mariners will once again turn to Tom Wilhelmsen to close out games, but they do have a very good, hard tossing youngster in Carter Capps who could step in should Wilhelmsen stumble.
The West is stacked with the Angels, Rangers and A's, so - while a playoff berth won't likely occur this season - the Mariners will look to continue to develop their young corps.
Every year, we look for players 26-years-old or younger that could make an impact on their team in the upcoming season. The player might have already established himself with a regular role with the team, or he could make their mark later on in the season.
Past Picks: 2012 - Jesus Montero, 2011 - Justin Smoak, 2010 - Michael Saunders, 2009 - Wladimir Balentien, 2008 - Brandon Morrow, 2007 - Adam Jones, 2006 - Felix Hernandez, 2005 - Jeremy Reed, 2004 - Clint Nageotte, 2003 - Chris Snelling
The Mariners will need to hit better in the tough AL West.
SP Felix Hernandez is the top-ranked Mariner, at 34th overall.
The franchise begins with ace RHP Felix Hernandez and he's just a hair behind the top starters, in part because his team hasn't helped him win enough games.
After finishing strong last year, RHP Hisashi Iwakuma is a potential sleeper for this season and closer Tom Wilhelmsen ought to be above average.
When it comes to hitters, the Mariners don't have any great players, but some fine players that have potential and could provide value as a result. 3B Kyle Seager may be the most reliable of the bunch, but C Jesus Montero, DH Kendrys Morales and LF Mike Morse all have a chance to put up some good power numbers.
2B Dustin Ackley struggled last year, but has the pedigree to get consideration anyway, while Canadian CF Michael Saunders does have the power-speed thing working (19 HR, 21 SB last year). If Saunders can hit for average, he could be very valuable.