Two years into a five-year, $64 million contract, Adrian Beltre has produced a .262 average, 44 home runs, and 176 RBIs. However, after the All Star break in 2006, Beltre slugged .552 with a whopping 18 home runs. Does this strong second half bode well for a turn-around in 2007, or will Mariners fans have to deal with 'A-Drain' once again? This blog intends to follow the 2007 season for Adrian Beltre, and the Seattle Mariners, and promises to hold no punches.

And the 2007 season is in the books


By the looks of things, it appears that both the Mariners and the Rangers just wanted to wrap things up and head off into the off-season, lick their wounds and prepare for 2008.

In just under two hours, and backed by catcher Jamie Burke's first major league home run, Felix Hernandez came an out away from pitching his second complete game of the season. Instead, he passed the ball over to J.J. Putz, who in a two-out, bases empty situation pounded the nail shut on the M's 4-2 victory this afternoon. And thus, the Mariners 2007 season is wrapped, with the team finishing with 88 wins, far above pre-season predictions by pretty much all of the so-called "experts." For the first time in four years the Marienrs escaped from the cellar of the AL West, and for the second consecutive season, their win total increased by ten. Far and away this season was an unqualified success, and to little surprise General Manger Bill Bavasi and Manager John McLaren were offered contract extensions.

The Mariners fell from the perch atop the wild card standings with a dramatic collapse in Septemeber, to be sure. But this season the team has proved that they can compete, relying on clutch basehitting, a carousel of heroes with seemingly every night a new face providing the heroics, a young and talented bullpen ensuring that victories are preserved by the seventh inning, and a little bit of good ol' fashioned luck and moxie. These elements of the team compensated for the fact that the team's first baseman ended the season with a .205 average and a .694 OPS. OR that starters Jeff Weaver, Horacio Ramirez, Cha Seung Baek, and Ryan Feierabend combined to go 20- 29 while allowing 265 earnd runs over 367 innings for a 6.50 ERA. Somehow, with little production from one of the key offensive infield corners and nearly a quarter of all innings pitched lost to ineffective starters, the Mariners almost played their way into the playoffs.

These concerns will be addressed during the off-season, hopefully with the front office taking a long look at Mike Morse, who hit .444 in 18 major league at-bats while using up the last of his minor league options spending most of the year down in Tacoma. Morse should be given every chance to make the club out of spring training next year to help man first base. Or if the chances of Morse making the club out of spring training are slim, then the M's front office should package the Fort Lauderdale native to the Florida Marlins for left-handed starter Dontrelle Willis.

At any rate, with his 8.2 innings of dominating work this afternoon, Felix puts the final touches on an incredible season that tops the list of impressive seasons offered by various Mariners. By finishing 14-7, the young right-hander (hard to beleive he's just been 21 for a month!) made his mark that 2007 was a break-out year, accompanying that record with 165 strikeouts and a 3.92 ERA over 190 innings. His strikeouts were dow na tick from the prior season, though with a half-a-run docked from his ERA. Felix has shown that's he developing into a pitcher, usign a vareity of ptiches and speeds to keep hitters off balance, rather than the thrower who relied on leaving hitters flailing at an overpowering fastball that we had seen in the immature Felix in the couple years prior. Felix's "Coming out" party was the one-hitter he tossed against the Red Sox back in APril, stealing the spotlight from Daisuke Matsuzaka in Dice-K's Fenway debut. That one-hitter was a thing of beauty, and one of the Mariners' top 2007 highlights.

Other stand-outs on the pitching staff include Miguel Batista, who's off-season signing of a three-year free agent deal was met by grumblings from Mariner fans, myself included. Well, all the grumblers have happily proven to be wrong, as the 36-year old veteran won 16 games, becoming the first Mariner to win that many since Freddy Garcia in 2002. J.J. Putz solidified and set the tone for the dominating bullpen, and by picking up his 40th save today, J.J. tied for second in the league and also becomes the second Mariner closer to top that mark, besides Kazuhiro Sazaki's 45 in 2001.

The man this blog is named after, Adrian Beltre, had a fine all-around 2007 season, as he should definitely win his first Gold Glove for defensive excellence and had the best offensive season by a Mariners third-baseman in well over a decade. Unfortunately, by being kept hitless in four at-bats this afternoon, Beltre was kept stymied at 99 RBIs, being held without and RBI the last six games of the season. Jose Guillen was able to manage a single this afternoon, but he was also held at 99 RBIs, as he managed no RBIs in the Mariners' season-ending three-game sweep of the Rangers. Instead, the team's RBI crown ends up for the second year to Raul Ibanez, who eneded up with 105 RBIs despite having just six home runs at the ALl Star break. A dramatic second-half run increased Raul's stats, as he practically carried the team and willed it towards the playoffs during August, only to peter out and come to a dramatic collapse in Septemeber.

Another maligned off-season acquisition, Jose Vidro, became a valuable asset for the club as well, maanging to .314 with a .381 on-base percentage despite seemingly hitting into double plays every time up, snuffing lead-off hitter Ichiro's presnece on the basepaths. When Ichiro's presence wasn't being erased by Vidro, he managed to hit .351 with 37 stolen bases, while also setting an American League record with 43 consecutive stolen bases, dating back to last year. Ichiro also signed a fiveyear $90 million contract, which may have been the number one highlight of the Mariners' season.

Of course, let's not forget the new generation of Mariner offensive stars who made their presence felt this season, beginning with Adam Jones who's been compared to an in-his-prime Eric Davis. Jones hit .314 with a .586 sluggign average, knocking 25 home runs in 101 games for Tacoma before joining the big club at the end of July and hitting .242 with two home runs, including a clutch pinch-hit home-run a couple weeks back against the Ahtletics. Wladimir Balentien was named Rookie of the EYar in the PCL after batting .291 with a .509 average in 477 games in Tacoma, before hitting a double and a home run in three at-bats for the Mariners. And then there was Jeff Clement, who after hitting .275 with 20 home runs in 125 games as a catcher at Tacoma, picked up six hits in 16 at-bats for the Mariners, including two clutch home-runs the last week of the season.

With Ichiro under wraps, an emergring 22-year old ace in the hole, a bumper crop of talented players set to make their impression on the club, and a dominating bullpen, not much needs to be addressed for the Mariners to be a playoff-contending club in 2008. In fact, if there trend of improving by ten games holds, the M's would be in the hunt for home-field advantage during the playoffs if other teams' records remain unchanged....


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