An upbeat Jerry Dipoto declared the Mariners to be “as well suited as anybody to compete in the (American League) West” after retooling their roster since he became general manager in late September.
“We’ll start the season with the idea that we’re going to get to the mid-80s (in victories),” Dipoto said Thursday at the club’s annual pre-spring training media luncheon. “We’ve built the roster with the idea of getting into the mid-80s.
“If you can get in that 85-86 win zone, and then let the chips fall where they may, it’s amazing how frequently you’re going to wind up winning a lot more games than that.”
This might be the sort of pre-spring hyperbole that most clubs espouse, but Dipoto said the Mariners ticked off every item on his offseason list.
“I think we did what we said we were going to do,” he said. “I feel very confident that our game plan has been executed. Now we’re going to find out, once the season starts, how good the game plan was.”
The Mariners moved more than 50 players on or off of their 40-man roster since the end of last season, when their record was 76-86. Their projected lineup has four new starters; they lengthened their rotation and overhauled their bullpen.
“We’re probably done making significant moves,” Dipoto noted wryly. “We had a pretty good run of activity there.”
The Mariners open spring training Feb. 19, when pitchers and catchers report for physical exams at the club’s year-round complex in Peoria, Arizona. The first full-squad workout is Feb. 24.
“We talked about being more athletic in the outfield,” Dipoto said, “and I believe we are. We talked about better acclimating a ballclub to Safeco Field, and I believe that we’ve done that.
“We talked about building depth on a pitching staff, and I feel we have addressed that need to the best degree that we could. … I think we are suited to get on base at a higher clip than in the past because that’s what our players’ histories tell us.”
New manager Scott Servais echoed Dipoto’s optimism.
“I like the versatility,” Servais said. “I like the athleticism. To win, you’ve got to pitch. To have good pitching, you’ve got to defend. We got a lot better there, especially in our outfield defense.
“We are going to play a high number of one-run games. I just believe it. In this ballpark, it’s hard to blow people out or get blown out. You’re going to play tight games.
“So the ability to get on base and create consistent opportunities to score … the more athletic you are, the better chance you have of that happening. That’s why I like the club.”
Is it enough for the Mariners to break a 14-year postseason drought that ranks as the longest in baseball?
“I like playing in the postseason,” Dipoto said. “I’ve had the opportunity to do it a handful of times in my life, and it’s a blast.”
Mark it down.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners