CHICAGO — The Mariners are rolling, with 13 victories in their last 17 games, after completing a three-game sweep in Houston.
The schedule provided the club with an open date Thursday in Chicago, but there’s no day off here at The News Tribune, where we play every day. So we sent out a call on twitter for questions.
You asked. We’re responding…
@kylehead8: what chance do you give Kyle Seager of making the ASG...he's got the numbers but not the big name of Beltre or Longoria..
I’ve got a Seager piece coming out in Friday’s paper. (Tease: The Mariners think he can still get a lot better.)
As for your question…I think it’s possible he gets an All-Star summons but believe it’s unlikely. It’s not that he’s not deserving. But the Mariners already have two locks in Robinson Cano and Felix Hernandez.
All 15 clubs have to be represented on the 34-player squad. The math works against Seager. (The same goes for Fernando Rodney, who leads the American League in saves.)
@bj_haley: has there been any indication it's working and ownership is willing to open their wallets?
General manager Jack Zduriencik is on the record as saying he expects to make a deal before the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline. At minimum, that suggests he’s been green-lighted to explore possibilities.
But…seeing is believing. Multiple sources say Zduriencik had deals in place with Nelson Cruz and Kendrys Morales before ownership nixed them. Both players then signed elsewhere.
Me reading tea leaves? Yes, I think the Mariners will try to make a deal.
@colinokeefe: Lloyd made another comment (to USA today) about lack of offense. How much is he pressuring FO/ownership for a little help?
It doesn’t really work that way. (Do you pressure your boss or the owner of your company?)
What happens is, in regular conversations, McClendon (like any manager) gets asks what he thinks he needs. His answer, I suspect, have been pretty consistent: He needs an impact right-handed bat.
@dajpearl: Will Mike Zunino win the Cy Young for his pitch framing?
He could certainly have a hand in helping Felix Hernandez win the award for the second time. Not just because of his pitch-framing, either.
Zunino also excels at blocking pitches, which makes Hernandez (and other pitchers) more willing to bury a pitch when the situation calls for it.
@cpet96: Is there any chance Paxton makes a contribution this year?
Well, he’s already beaten the Angels twice. That’s no small thing if you look at the standings and want to dream about postseason possibilities.
Will James Paxton make a further contribution? I think there’s every reason to be optimistic. I would guess he’s pitching at Tacoma on a rehab assignment by the middle of the month.
So figure — loosely — that he should be ready to rejoin the big-league rotation around Aug. 1. Could be a little sooner.
@wellyeahtono: Any chance smoak doesn't make it back?
I don’t think it’s a slam dunk that Justin Smoak returns to the 25-man roster when his rehab assignment expires. He has an option remaining.
@bigduck1015: will matt kemp be traded this year or maybe the off-season and would he be a target for the #mariners
The Dodgers are overloaded with outfielders. So, sure, there’s reason to believe somebody gets moved. That somebody could be Kemp.
The Mariners have always liked Kemp, and he offers the sort of right-handed bat that fills their biggest need.
All that said, he’s owed $107 million over the next five years (in addition to whatever pro-rated amount remains on this season’s $21 million salary).
Adding Kemp, even if the Dodgers eat a sizable portion of that salary, would be a mega-deal. I’m not saying impossible because the needs match up. But that’s a lot of money for a guy with an injury history.
@001010110: So-called "good" problem, but what to do about Smoak and Hart? Would be disinclined to mess with lineup, unless for big bat.
Addressed the Smoak issue above. But it’s hard to imagine that Corey Hart, barring a setback, doesn’t return when his rehab assignment expires.
The Mariners are currently operating with a three-man bench — usually catcher John Buck, utilityman Willie Bloomquist and outfielder Cole Gillespie.
You need a backup catcher. And Bloomquist adds the sort of versatility that allows you to go with a short bench. (He’s also on a two-year guaranteed deal.) Gillespie (like Hart) is a right-handed-hitting outfielder.
So what do you think?
The Mariners could clear space by sending down a pitcher, but I don’t see an obvious candidate. Brandon Maurer’s promotion seemed a short-term thing at the time, but he’s pitched well.
I think McClendon likes an eight-man bullpen because it permits him to keep everyone rested. And check the numbers: McClendon has proved a master at handling this bullpen. So far, anyway.
@itsyoboyos: is smoak going to be optioned to triple-a after his rehab stint?
That’s a possibility. (Not a prediction, but a possibility.)
@blaketolle: are we gonna make any moves to buy at the trading deadline
As noted above, Zduriencik expects to make a move. But actually making a move — and I’m not being flip here — requires that two teams agree.
Lots of clubs still see themselves as contenders. Many are looking for the same thing. It figures to be a sellers’ market. Making that deal isn’t as easy as it seems in the living room, the corner bar or the press box.
@kennyocker: Why are you tweeting at 1 a.m.? #mariners
I don’t know where you’ve been going for news, but the light’s always on at the TNT. Walk toward the light.
@mitchelljustus: when should smoak and hart be back? What was the mariners record this time in 2001?
That’s two questions, but OK.
Rehab assignments are limited to 20 days for non-pitchers. Smoak started his clock on June 18, and Hart on June 21. So the deadline is rapidly approaching on both.
The Mariners were 60-21 on the morning of July 3, 2001. They were 62-23 after 85 games.
@hollywoodheffne: with James jones success in the first 57 game do you are him as a part of the #mariners future or trade bait
Right now, he looks like the next Willie McGee. (I’ve also heard Juan Pierre comps. That’s not McGee, but it’s not bad.) So why wouldn’t he be viewed as part of the future?
That said, nobody is untouchable when it comes to possible trades. Nobody.
The price for some players might be off the charts. And those players are often characterized untouchable. But they aren’t, really. There’s a price for everybody. No exceptions.
@johnskrocki: who's the most likely player you see us trading for?
Impossible to say because who knows who else is looking for what players and what they might be willing to offer. I’ll give you a “type” that seems likely: White Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo.
He’s available, and he’s a right-handed bat with pop. And the price shouldn’t be ruinous.
That doesn’t mean the Mariners are going to get Viciedo. Chances are, they won’t. But he is the type of player I’d expect them to look to acquire.
@joshthowell: When Paxton returns, who's the odd man out? Elias and Chris Young are both pitching great.
That’s a great question…and I don’t know. It might not be either one. What if Taijuan Walker gets shelled a couple of times? He might back to Tacoma. (And, no, I’m not expecting him to get shelled.)
I can tell you how clubs look at these situations, though. They let it play out. They don’t make the decision until they need to make it.
Sometimes, they don’t even discuss possibilities until a move is imminent to avoid pre-judging the situation. (This is what often happens, too, in regard to the final few roster spots in spring training.)
The reason is simple: Things happen. Players get hurt. Players struggle. Maybe a trade happens. Paxton’s return, loosely, should occur near the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline.
The point is situations arise that often make the decision an obvious one.
If you’re asking whether I see an obvious odd-man out at this point, I don’t.
@politicgame: I want to know what Chris Young would have to do in the 2nd half to be a contender for Comeback Player of the Year.
If his second half is anything like his first half, I think he’d be a tough candidate to beat.