Happy opening day!

The long winter is over. All of the speculation and talk can come to an end and baseball can once again be played on grass and dirt instead of paper.

Unlike the expectations of a season ago, these Mariners enter the 2011 campaign with low expectations. No one expects them to contend, and perhaps that will play in their favor. Not in that they’ll actually contend, but that they can relax and work to get better without a microscope on their every move.

I’ve had them penciled in for 70 wins as an official prediction, but that number will likely sway one way or the other depending on several factors that play out during the season. If they have several players have career years, maybe that number balloons closer to 80. If they have another season filled with under-performance, well, let’s not speculate on that.

One thing we can take from last season, if you’re into that whole glass-half-full mentality, is that things can’t get worse. With so many players having wretched seasons, you almost are forced to expect regression to the mean and improvement.

The chances of this team shocking the world are incredibly low. If they’re going to do it, though, these are the keys to achieving that success.

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