When I was a kid, television was filled with westerns. Shows like Gunsmoke, Rawhide, Bonanza, and my favorite, Have Gun Will Travel were the chief entertainment on T.V. The heroes and villains almost always wore a gun belt for their .45 Peacemakers, and it was strictly the quick and the dead. Some wore two pistols. It’s always best to be prepared, especially if you can shoot from both sides of the plate. The gunfighters, whether good or bad, almost always had something else on their gun belt-a row of extra bullets that surrounded their waist-just in case they got in a tight spot and had to keep shooting.
Aside from the incredible success I’ve seen from the M’s during spring training, what’s excited me most is the number of bullets-developing players- the team has that are really showing off their talent this spring. This doesn’t mean I believe they’ll be stars or even make the major league team this year or any other year. However, there are a bunch of young guys who are having a quality major league camp. This hasn’t always been the case. The last few years there’s been very little to get excited about.
Some of the players are usual suspects-guys we’ve heard a lot about-highly drafted players like Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and Mike Zunino. These are players we expect to see in the big leagues sooner rather than later. Other players who have contributed this spring we’ve heard less about. Ryan Divish of the News Tribune has a nice article this morning about catcher John Hicks. Though Hicks will likely start the year at AA Jackson, he’s another young player knocking on the door who will provide organizational depth at a position that’s been pretty barren since Dan Wilson retired. Shortstop Brad Miller is another player coming up behind Dustin Ackley and highly regarded prospect Nick Franklin that will push the guys in front of them and provide more depth if either falter. Logan Bawcom and Danny Farquar are two pitchers out of the bullpen there weren’t a lot of expectations for, but have had some nice outings this spring. Farquar came over in the Ichiro trade last summer, while Bawcom was one of the young guys the M’s got from the Dodgers for Brandon League.
Though the M’s haven’t been very good, especially the past few years, they have been lucky. With the exception of Franklin Gutierrez, they’ve had few major injuries. Not that they’ve been good enough so you’d notice if they had. This year the Mariners have a chance to be better. It’s really important, especially if Seattle stumbles into some kind of race, they have the kind of depth that allows them to replace injured players with someone at least competent to step into a major league role if need be. From this standpoint it’s great to see the M’s have some good young players that will push one another for a shot at a major league roster spot.
The bullets aren’t ready to loaded into the Peacemaker yet, but it’s good to see them on the belt, shining and ready for future action.