01/24/12 8:30 PM EST
Mariners brace for Prince's arrival in AL
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
New Prince of Detroit
Pitching is still the Mariners' strength, with Felix Hernandez and Blake Beavan at the Major League level, Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton leading a strong group in the Minor Leagues and Hector Noesi being included in the deal with the Yankees for Michael Pineda.But there is still some offense to get excited about beyond acquiring Montero. The Mariners certainly need outfielder Carlos Peguero to show the power that he has in the past three years in the Minors at the Major League level, but Dustin Ackley hit .273 with a .348 on-base percentage and .417 slugging percentage in 90 games after making his debut on June 17. In a couple of years the Mariners could have an exciting young infield with either Carp or Smoak at first, Ackley at second, Nick Franklin at shortstop, Kyle Seager, Alex Liddi or Francisco Martinez at third base and Montero behind the plate. Outfielder Phillips Castillo, given a franchise-record bonus out of the Dominican Republic in 2010, could be right behind. At some point, the Mariners may need to get more involved in high-priced free agents. But Zduriencik has preached patience through scouting and player development and the Mariners continue to make significant progress in that regard. They are not there yet, not in a division that includes the Rangers and the Angels, but they are committed to the process and don't appear ready to try a high-priced short cut to success. After almost three months of speculation, it was obvious at the end that a marriage between Fielder and the Mariners was never in serious danger of happening.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.