Folks actually made today's chat enjoyable by showing up in numbers and asking great questions - so many, in fact, that there wasn't time to answer them all.
For those who asked questions that went unasnwered, here we go:
Q from Dave: Thanks Larry. It seems to me that the Ms are one of themore savvy and secretive teams right now. Did you find that the information about the Figgins move was primarily from outside the Seattle circle? Jack Zduriencik and his staff seem pretty shrewd and leak-proof. Is this true?
A: It is, indeed. Jack doesn't think talking through the media makes sense until the business is concluded, and he's brought in people around him who understand that preference. It's hard to argue against the philosophy, but it can drive a media type crazy.
Q from Dave: Do you think that the early Griffey signing was to allowhim to help work the phones? It seems to me that having a gregarious future hall of fame player like Junior could be an asset in negotiations -- even if only in an informal or oblique way.
A: There isn't a player in the game that Junior couldn't call, and while he's not out lobbying anyone, he might make his feelings known if the Mariners thought it would help. The early signing was more to take the focus off Ken - Will he return? Is Junior out? - and allow the Mariners to go about the task of improving the team.Q from Andrew: Edwin Jackson is close to be get traded. Do you think heis coming to Seattle, but we did turn them down because they were asking for morrow and kelley?
A: As Jack Z. said, 'Sometimes you talk to a team, nothing happens and then you circle back and things have changed." The Mariners have interest in Jackson. One phone call could change a 'no' into a 'yes', and a deal would be done.
Q from Chad: Could the M's go after a guy like Kevin Correia of thepadres?
A: They could and might, but at what cost? The Padres are retooling yet again, and the players they have and like might come at quite a cost.
Q from Nicholas: I thought the M's shed about 50 million from thepayroll...has the team said they could not go back to the same payroll as last year?
A: The payroll will likely be a bit smaller this year, but you also have to figure in raises for players like Felix, Gutierrez, Aardsma and others already with the team. Then, $9 million for Chone Figgins, and reserve $12 million-plus for Adrian Beltre, should he accept arbitration. The cash goes quickly, but the Mariners have enough for one big signing or a couple of smaller ones. Bet on the latter.
Q from Don: Who would you rather see at first base--Branyan or NickJohnson?
A: In perfect world, Johnson at first base, Branyan at DH. If only one of them, the Branyan of the first half of '09 - or the Johnson who played most of the season.
Q from Dave: With all the comments being made about Jose Lopez, howdoes he come back to the M's and play hard when they are trying to get rid of him and say he doesn't fit their plans?
A: Lopez understands the business, and if it's written the Mariners were willing to trade him, but don't, he'll likely shrug it off. Most players have been rumored to be in trades that never happened. Lopez may occasionally lose focus, but he plays hard.
Q from Sharpie: What kind of deal is Matsui looking for?"
A: At least three years, at about $15 per. He probably won't get it, but he won't take a lot less.
Q from Wanna be GM: Here's a recent rumor: Danny Knobler of CBS Sports says two new teams approached the Cubs about Bradley, aside from the Rays and Rangers. The M's wouldn't be interested would they?
A: No. He doesn't fit the Mariners mold, on or off the field.
Q from Nicholas: Are the M's past the Brandon Morrow experiment? Itseems his name is getting thrown around a lot. Isn't there still apossibility that he lights it up?
A: Yes, and the reason is name is out there is he's one of the few Mariners other teams covet. Morrow's arm looks good to everyone, including the Mariners. If they don't trade him, he'll start. If they do, it will be for something they value a bit more.
Q from Dave: Have you actually seen Jon Heyman or does he just orderroom service and write compelling fiction? Could we start a national rumor by slipping a piece of paper with something crazy written on it under his door?
A: Jon is here, working the lobby and talking to folks. Some of his stuff is a bit on the wild side, but that helps readership. And he's right a lot of the time, too. We could start a rumor, yes. It would take a whisper, not a slip of paper.
Q from Jeremy: We haven't heard much about Jose Lopez. But if the M'swere looking to trade him, what is your sense of the market for him?
A: A Minnesota scout today said "You watch Jose and he'll make a play and show good range and you'll think, 'Hey, he can get to that ball.' Then you'll watch three plays in a row when he doesn't. I don't know if it's focus or what, but sometimes he doesn't get balls he should." The market for Jose is not high.
Q from Kevin James: We appreciate all your great work thank you Larry! It would seem the M's should have more to spend with all the money coming off the books. Will the amount to spend you mentioned go up once Beltre declines arbitration as expected? Of course we do not have to spend it all and I am aware of raises...."
A: Adrian moving on would free up money, yes. And like most teams, the Mariners will stash a chunk away for possible deals during the season - moves at the trading deadline if they're in position to contend.
Q from Rod O: With the Cubs talking to Cameron about center field andSilva and Fukudome's contracts lineing up you think he might be an option the m's would look at tradeing for in a swap out of bad contracts. He is left handed had power in japan a good fielder and a high OBP guy. maybe toss in a minor prospect and see if they bite?"
A: Mariners would have to eat Silva's contract - and even then another team might not bite. For two years now, Silva has pitched about as poorly as anyone in baseball. Moving that commodity isn't going to happen. Not for anything.
Q from Nicholas: How soon can the M's get a shot at Tim Limcecum?
A: The two of us could come up with a trade, probably, but we'd have to send the Giants Ichiro and Felix and probably Gutierrez and Adam Moore. What do you think?
Q from Gary: There are a lot of rumors about Harden. Are the chancesgood we are making a solid move on him?
A: Seattle almost certainly will make Harden an offer. Jack Z. and his people have been asking a lot of folks about Harden, and their interest is legit. After that, it's up to Harden.
Q from herb: besides the names we have heard who would the marinersconsider for first base or left field.
A: Zduriencik undoubtedly has targets we know nothing about. Having said that, if they're not going after Bay and Holliday, the market isn't flush with talent. The Marinersw might try Jack Hannahan and Bill Hall at first, Hall and Michael Saunders in left field.
Q from Dave: Raul Ibanez did much better than some pretty big freeagents last off-season. Do you sense that the FA market might be similarwith a mad scramble of bargain contracts going into spring training?
A: More and more the past few years, good players have signed late or gone to camp with an invitation, not a big-league contract. This year, you might see Vlad Guerrero and Jim Thome still availale in January. And it's possible one or both will still be available when camp opens.
Q from Gary: KC's LF David De Jesus is supposed to be available fortrade. Any Mariner interest?that Jack and his staff haven't looked at.
A: Haven't heard his name come up, but that might be because Jack doesn't show his hand. There's on one out there 'available'
Q from Gary: Odds on Harden pitching in Safeco with the M's?
A: Chances are about 50-50. It's amazing the number of teams showing interest in Harden. That won't help the Mariners, but it doesn't rule them out, either.