Perhaps I'm getting old, but if I'm not mistaken I could have sworn I saw former Mike Carp pinch hitting for the Boston Red Sox in both Games 3 and 4 of the World Series.
Carp in case you may not remember, spent parts of four seasons with the Seattle Mariners and for a time two summers ago looked like a potential long-term fixture who the following spring was named the team's starting left fielder coming out of spring training.
Naturally just when it seemed that Carp had finally "made" it, he injured his shoulder on Opening Day and spent the rest of the season scuffling to reclaim his job to no avail before the M's front office shipped him to Boston this past February.
Strange to think this time a year earlier Carp was on the bubble with the Mariners, and it makes me wonder which players on this year's team still on the roster may have technically played their final game for Seattle.
To this point the Mariners have already whittled down a lot of the players you would expect to see gone, including veterans Brendan Ryan, Mike Morse, Jason Bay, Jeremy Bonderman, Aaron Harang and Henry Blanco, most of whom were sent packing before the season ended.
Meanwhile, if we look at the remaining roster, who exactly is left?
To be blunt, with the exceptions of Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Kyle Seager, I'm not sure I'd consider anyone a lock to return in 2014.
Yet if you take Howard Lincoln at his word going back a few weeks ago during his one-on-one interview with Ryan Divish of The Tacoma News Tribune, it would seem his list is a little bit longer than mine:
If I go around the infield [Kyle] Seager, [Brad] Miller, [Nick] Franklin, [Justin] Smoak, [Mike] Zunino – I think that’s our future. As I look at the starting pitching, not only Felix [Hernandez], but [Hisashi] Iwakuma had a fabulous year. And we’ve got guys like [James] Paxton, Taijuan Walker and [Brandon] Maurer and [Erasmo] Ramirez – we’ve got a solid foundation there.
In total that's 11 players, which still leaves more than half the big league roster in limbo.
At first glance when I start to think of players the team may not bring back next season, I focus mostly on the veterans. Players like Endy Chavez, Franklin Gutierrez, Raul Ibanez, Oliver Perez, Joe Saunders and Kendrys Morales are one way or another too old, too fragile or too expensive.
I can't see the front office bending over backward to get any of these players with the possible exception of Morales who decided he'd rather test the free-agent market than accept the team's qualifying offer. Beyond him, everyone else will need to probably need to think twice before asking for too much money this winter if they wish to come back to Seattle.
Honestly though, I'm not sure if any of those players are worth losing much sleep over.
It's the players beyond the core that Howard Lincoln outlined and veterans that intrigue me far more.
Players that roughly make up both the M's outfield and bullpen.
While I do believe there is a fair amount of talent spread between both groups (mostly in the bullpen), it's hard to argue with Lincoln's exclusions here, as no one should be considered safe between now and the start of next season.
In the outfield I'd imagine Abraham Almonte will be given a chance to build upon his September audition, but the real question is: What do you do with either Michael Saunders or Dustin Ackley?
Going back to where we started, it's sad to think that Mike Carp's numbers this season were arguably better than both Saunders and Ackley (ESPN.com), especially when you realize that Carp did it in barely half a season of games.
Granted that's just one example, but beyond Ackley's positional flexibility, Saunders' raw tools and the fact the Mariners have no one else to play in the outfield, I still can't rule out the potential to see one of them bundled in a deal this winter.
Same goes for the bullpen with an endless cast of relievers I'd imagine Jack Zduriencik will have a tough time sorting through.
Beyond Charlie Furbush and youngsters like Carter Capps, Yoervis Medina and Stephen Pryor, I can't see anyone else as being safe here either. Names like Tom Wilhelmsen, Blake Beavan or Bobby LaFromboise could all be moved if the right deal comes along, but much like the situation in the outfield, it's hard to weigh positives versus the negatives.
Long story short, it's anyone's guess what may happen this winter. However I think it's safe to say that general manager Jack Zduriencik will have his work cut out for him in deciding who to keep and who to cut loose.
The roster we see today will likely change simply because it has to, as the team stinks and this is Jack Z's last chance to save his job.
So whether it's someone we all expect like Endy Chavez or someone a bit surprising like Tom Wilhelmsen, the time will come this winter where someone will be sent packing.
Let's just hope it doesn't come back to haunt the Mariners.
While one can argue that the loss of Mike Carp isn't significant in the grand scheme of the universe, the sad thing is the Mariners still could have used him this year.
Who knew that one team's trash would serve as a solid contributor off the bench for a World Series winner?
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!