The Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn., has 2,881 guest rooms, five grand ballrooms with a grand total of 600,000 square feet of open space, and restaurants galore.
From Monday through Thursday, some of those guest rooms will be occupied by a Mariners contingent hoping to uncover the remaining pieces of the puzzle that would enable Seattle to climb the final rung of the American League West ladder.
The Mariners are coming off their first honest-to-goodness run at a postseason berth since 2003, chasing the division champion Angels into early September and staying in the Wild Card hunt until the middle of the season's final month.
But breakdowns in the starting rotation finally caught up with the Mariners, who finished on a four-game winning streak that enabled them to finish with an 88-74 record, which was a 10-game improvement over the previous season.
At least three-fifths of the rotation, which finished 12th in the AL last season -- with a 59-62 record and 4.73 ERA -- returns, leaving two spots to be filled. How the front office staff, led by general manager Bill Bavasi, fills them could be the key to the team's success in 2008.
2007 finish: 88-74, second place, AL West.
Deals so far: None.
Players eligible for arbitration: 1B/OF Ben Broussard, LHP John Parrish, LHP Horacio Ramirez, LHP George Sherrill.
Free agents: LHP Arthur Rhodes, OF Jose Guillen, RHP Jeff Weaver.
Needs: Starting pitching. The Mariners have three-fifths of their projected rotation under contract for the 2008 season and have right-hander Brandon Morrow penciled in as a fourth. That means at least more starter must be found -- somewhere. And why not Nashville? Money doesn't appear to be an object, so if someone like left-hander Johan Santana of the Twins becomes available on the trade market, the Mariners probably would more than willing to listen -- as long as they could be assured that Santana would sign a long-term contract.
Dealing strengths: The team's greatest depth is the bullpen, where several young relievers emerged in 2007, and in the outfield, despite the loss of Guillen to free agency. Look for the Mariners to keep closer J.J. Putz, left-hander Sherrill and right-hander Sean Green on the "hands-off" list, but young relievers like Sean White, Jake Woods and Jon Huber could be available. Seattle's best pitching prospects are in the lower ranks of the Minors.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.