PEORIA, Ariz. — Our latest long-form twitter question-and-answer exchange on the Mariners comes as the the club, at 6-1, is off to the best start in the Cactus League.
Let’s get to it:
@djheeney: Is abe almonte going to be opening day cf.
OK, I’m not big on guessing or predicting. You can get that in lots of other forums. But I think it’s fair to say Almonte is getting a legit chance to win that job and serve as the leadoff hitter.
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If he proves capable — and he’s looked OK in both roles — it helps the lineup in many ways.
He has sufficient speed to cover ground in the outfield and, as a switch-hitter, he provides a right-handed buffer against left-handed pitchers. The projected two-three hitters are Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano, both lefties.
@stevejackman: does anything about this team stand out to you this spring after your many years of springs’?
The Mariners still have to get a lot better defensively. They've been sloppy at times but, for the most part, it hasn’t cost them. (How often do you commit five errors, as they did Monday against the Reds, and still win?)
@williemayzhaze: when do you think Morales signs? Are Mariners actively pursuing him or is it just talk?
No clue. Two things, though.
Point one, no club (not just the Mariners) seems willing to meet his price. That’s true, too, for pitcher Ervin Santana. So if you want to rip the Mariners for not signing either guy, just know fans in other cities are doing that, too.
Look, supply-and-demand capitalism is strong in baseball. That there doesn’t seem to be much of a market for either player at this point suggests they’re both still asking for too much.
Point two, all clubs typically, once they start camp, like to take a few weeks to put what they have to the eye-test. That tends to change, somewhat, in mid-March. By then, clubs realize where they need help.
Injuries can also prompt a club to reassess its situation.
Short story long, I think that’s where the Mariners are. Kendrys Morales wants more than the Mariners think he’s worth. (Same with Santana.) And they’re taking a hard look at what they already have in camp.
@moose57579: how does the m's president respond to claims that m's are out of money, when he said resources would be available?
Who is making the claims? The agents of unsigned players are grumbling because the Mariners seem unwilling to meet their asking price. Anyone else?
As noted above, those guys are unsigned because no club has been willing to meet their price. You can argue that Morales, Santana or anyone else is worth what they asking…but no club agrees with you. At least not yet.
What I get from the Mariners is that money is available…if they like the player and the price.
@bryan_smith666: too early to get fired up yet? There have been some solid performances so far
The Mariners, at 6-1, have played well. And it’s encouraging that they’ve played well early in games, when the big-leaguers get their playing time. So it isn’t meaningless.
That said, it’s far from predictive. That’s particularly true of games in early spring. For many established players, the adrenaline just isn't the same.
But if you’re a fan, why not get excited? What’s the worst that can happen? You get let down later? That’s like loving and losing. And, sure, it stings, but would you rather never love at all?
It seems to me that fans who are hopeful are always happier in the end.
@kylehead8: your best guess as to who will be the 4 starters to follow Felix after opening day…
Again, not big on guessing. But let’s assume projections are correct, and neither Hisashi Iwakuka nor Taijuan Walker are ready by opening day. Let’s start there.
Erasmo Ramirez finished last season in the rotation, so I’m guessing he has to pitch his way out of a job. I also sense the Mariners will give Scott Baker every chance to win a job.
Randy Wolf is a wild-card. The Mariners seem genuinely intrigued to see if he can make it all the way back from a second Tommy John surgery. But he’s a long-relief candidate if club officials aren’t convinced by late March.
Lefty James Paxton is a big-time candidate, and he’ll get every chance to win a job. But there’s no scholarship there. He’s got to win it. (In contrast, I think Walker, until hurt, was pretty close to a lock.)
Those four appear, at this point, to be the top tier, but the odds are at least one of them will underperform or get hurt. That will open the door for Blake Beavan, Brandon Maurer and perhaps Hector Noesi or someone else.
@mattorourke: bob, how was King Felix's velocity today?
No scoreboard gun at Camelback Ranch. Hernandez seemed pleased, though. What didn’t please him was his change-up, which he called “garbage.”
@soulman496: thoughts on who has impressed you so far from the leadoff position
As noted above, my sense is they’d like Almonte to win the job. If he fumbles that opportunity, the Mariners would look elsewhere. I think they’d really like to avoid a lineup that starts with three left-handed hitters.
@joelhamlin: Do you think Ackley has taken a step forward this year or is this just "spring training hope”?
I think Dustin Ackley took a step forward last season after returning from Triple-A Tacoma. He batted .304 after the All-Star break. If he can maintain that, he’d be a definite plus.
@bj_haley: what are the mariners looking to get back for Franklin?
First, and I know some people were skeptical, but Nick Franklin seems to be getting a real chance to beat out Brad Miller as the starting shortstop.
That said, the consensus among scouts I’ve talked to is Franklin is a reach as a full-time shortstop. One said to me today, `If you have to ask yourself if a guy can play shortstop, then he can’t.”
As for a trade, the Mariners want equal value in terms of potential. I don’t think they’re determined to fill any specific hole, but Franklin is still just 22 and a former first-round pick. That should mean value.
Wrote about this the other day: General manager Jack Zduriencik shows no urgency to make a deal. That’s not surprising. Franklin still has three option seasons.