PEORIA, Ariz. — A call went out Thursday on twitter for questions on the Mariners and, boy, you responded. What follows is a selection of those questions. Followed by responses.
Not all questions were answered, primarily for two reasons.
Some topics drew similar questions from multiple readers. Generally, just one example was used. Some readers also submitted several queries. A one-per-reader limit is an effort to be more inclusive.
The intention here was to provide an outlet to respond to questions that require longer answers than twitter affords. Thanks to your response, we’ll try it again next week. If interest warrants, it will be a regular offering.
Here we go:
@sw_milne: will the mariners trade Franklin/ add another veteran SP? Who do you expect to have the most production hitting behind Cano?
A lot of fans — maybe not you, but a lot — want absolute answers to questions when none are available. This is a good example. The Mariners are willing to trade Nick Franklin. And they’d like to add a starting pitcher.
That doesn’t mean either will happen.
Franklin has three options years remaining. There is no urgency for the Mariners to make a deal. If he doesn’t win the shortstop job, he goes to Class AAA Tacoma. Nothing wrong with organizational depth.
If they are offered something of equal value in an area of need, I don’t think they’d hesitate to trade Franklin. So far, that hasn’t happened.
Most people when they ask about a starting pitcher tend to want to know if the Mariners are going to sign Ervin Santana. I think that’s unlikely unless Santana’s price drops significantly.
For now, he seems to want a deal similar to what Ubaldo Jimenez got from Baltimore: $50 million over four years. I’d be surprised if the Mariners do that. So far, no other team shows interest in doing so.
As for hitting behind Robinson Cano, manager Lloyd McClendon says his working plan is to use Corey Hart in that role.
@moose57579: how much added pressure did the mariners feel to build a competitive team after the Seahawks won, did it change their plans?
The Seahawks’ success merely reinforced something the Mariners already knew (and experienced in an increasingly distant past): The Northwest can go sports crazy for a successful, exciting team.
In this case, though, I think the Mariners’ off-season push had more to do with their belief that their youthful core is ready to blossom, and that a couple of impact additions could aid that process.
@bondrkm: who do you see being the starting SS this year, & what's the likelihood of a trade? Thanks
I addressed the trade possibility above, but let me expand here: From all indications, Brad Miller and Franklin will battle this spring for duty as the starting shortstop. And the loser goes to Tacoma.
There is significant skepticism, at least outside of the organization, as to whether Franklin has the arm to be an everyday shortstop. And let’s face it, there’s a reason the Mariners moved him to second base in the first place.
But we’ll see. Miller is far from a proven commodity at this point in his career. I think Miller rates a slight edge at this point. But the emphasis is on the word “slight.”
@marinerfuntime: it bothers me that the payroll is $89m. Shouldn't $110m be more realistic, given the new tv deal we keep hearing about?
Club officials admit, albeit privately for the most part, they still possess sufficient financial flexibility to make at least one major addition. But there’s a matter of prudence, too.
If you look at what’s available and think it’s overpriced — whether in free agency or through a trade — should you spend the money just to spend it? Or are you better served to wait for something better?
That’s where the Mariners are.
You can argue that, say, Ervin Santana, isn’t overpriced. (That he’s still available, though, says no club agrees with that.) Either way, the Mariners appear more limited by what’s available than what they have to spend.
Further, the deals for Robinson Cano and Felix Hernandez make it hard to argue the Mariners aren’t willing to spend top dollar for top talent.
@nrthrvrkilla: how far away is DJ Peterson? Or some of the draft picks for the last couple years.
I have not eyeballed this, but I’ve heard Peterson is doing well in the minor-league minicamp. That’s no small thing when considering his 2013 season ended in August when he was hit in the jaw by a pitch.
If he picks up where he left off…big if…then he’s back on the fast track to the majors. He could — could! — be in the mix next year for a big-league job.
And that’s part of the reason why the Mariners are hesitant to invest multiple years in a gamble for a big bat. Big dollars over the short term is one thing. A multi-year deal for a guy with major warts? That’s a hard sell.
@cripplecreekbbq: With all the DH/1B/Outfield players they have on the roster now, have the M's taken on the Hawks mantra of "Next man up”?
The Mariners actually aren’t overstocked at 1B/DH if Corey Hart can play regularly in the outfield. Yes, that’s another big “if,” but it would leave 1B/DH to Justin Smoak and Logan Morrison.
If, however, Hart has to spend significant time at first or DH, that creates more of a jam. That’s why Hart is being so closely watched this spring.
@mrjonchimpo: how has Ackley looked so far?
Most of the attention in camp, at least for me, has been elsewhere, but that will probably change over the next few weeks because Dustin Ackley needs to be a key guy if the Mariners are to show meaningful improvement.
For now, manager Lloyd McClendon has identified Ackley as the primary left fielder, which seems reasonable after the way Ackley showed significant offensive improvement last year after returning from Tacoma.
Left field also seems a good fit, too. It takes advantage of his speed and range and minimizes what, to date, has been a suspect arm.
@greghall24: Have you seen anyone wearing any Seattle Pilots gear since you hit town? #Bouton
Nope. It’s pretty much all 12th Man gear.
@ericdubu: Has anyone asked yet what is the latest news on Morales & Santana?
@seahawk206cheez: when O WHEN is this M. Saunders experiment going to end!? And GUITIEREZ?! make it stop please
Not sure what experiment you’re talking about with Michael Saunders. He’s shown real flashes in the past, but I think he and everyone would agree it’s time for him to put everything together.
And Franklin Gutierrez pulled the plug on himself just prior to camp. He’s sitting out the season because of ongoing health issues.
@chrisrichardspd: When will MLB hire a uniform tsar? When will the #Mariners finally bring back the Trident & say bye to buttons? #Aesthetics
Ahhh…you might be right about everything you’re proposing. I don’t know. But I know this much: Don’t ask ballwriters for fashion advice. The ones you see on TV have, by and large, been cleaned up immensely.
Neil Simon is the most influential writer in baseball journalism over the last 50-plus years. He made Oscar Madison a slob. That made it OK for ballwriters to, let’s say, dress down. As a group, we take full advantage.
@2legend4: How's it looking for Romero to make the team?
Stefen Romero has done nothing to hurt his chances since camp started, but I think he needs a strong camp and for some other things to happen.
If, say, Corey Hart isn’t able to play regularly in the outfield, that creates opportunity. If Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders or Abraham Almonte really struggle, or one suffers an injury, that creates opportunity.
Barring something like that, I think Romero needs a monster camp to win a roster spot. That said, I could easily see circumstances unfolding throughout the year that could create the opportunity he needs.
@patrickkleary: What's the deal with Taijuan Walker's shoulder and should we be concerned?
Walker and club officials continue to dismiss concerns, but his shoulder soreness — regardless of whether it still exists — has put him increasingly behind other rotation candidates.
Now…if Walker gets back on a mound in the next few days and is able to get into a game within the next, say, 10 days, then it’s possible he could still break camp at the back of the rotation.
I think we’ll know a lot more a week from now.
@kj_jeller: anything about Miller? He seems like the clear choice.
As mentioned above, I think Brad Miller is a slight favorite at this point in his battle with Nick Franklin to be the starting shortstop. A slight favorite.
@a_goodwin2014: How has Corey Hart been looking in the Outfield?
Hart was slowed a tad by some back tightness, which is the sort of thing that isn’t unusual early in camp. The good thing is, so far, he’s had no problems with his knees and seems to be moving OK.
We’ll get a better look later today. Hart didn’t play Thursday in the Cactus League opener but should be in the lineup today.