With Chone Figgins all but announced as a Seattle Mariner, one of the questions bouncing through the lobbies in Indianapolis is this: Wouldl the team hit Figgins in the leadoff spot and ask Ichiro Suzuki to move.
Blasphemy? Ichiro has batted first almost exclusively since coming to the big leagues in 2001, with a handful of experimental lineups that had him hitting third.
Would the Mariners ask and, perhaps as importanly, would Ichiro agree to move?
The answer to the latter question is 'yes' - Ichiro would bat third if manager Don Wakamatsu asked. But will he ask? That depends almost entirely upon what happens at the winter meetings and in the weeks that follow.
If the Mariners re-sign Russell Branyan and, for instance, land another bat - left field, anyone? - the Seattle lineup might begin with Ichiro and Figgins hitting back-to-back.
The bottom line? If the Mariners believed their besst chance to score runs was to hit Ichiro third, they'd ask and he would comply. Wakamatsu's challenge again in 2010 is going to be comping up with a lineup that produces.
Ichiro hitting first, Figgins second, would put a lot of speed on base early and often. Turning that into runs is the issue, and if the Mariners don't add offense, they may have to rearrange the offense they do have.
And now, a few early links. More later:
- Gil Meche has two years and $24 million left on his Kansas City contract, and the New York Mets are among the teams talking to the Royals about a deal.
- George Sherrill, who was a setup man in Seattle, an All-Star closer in Baltimore and a setup man in Los Angeles may be traded again by a Dodgers team trying to cut payroll.
- Faced with the possibility of losing Jason Bay, the Red Sox are discussing a multi-year contract extension with catcher Victor Martinez - this after picking up his $7 million 2010 option.
- Oakland free agent Justin Duchscherer has drawn the attention of the Colorado Rockies, who have asked for his medical records. The Rockies will meet today with the agent for reliever Rafael Betancourt.