While Mariners fans ponder Clint Nageotte's future and Jarrod Washburn's present, let's dig into the mailbag. Here are this edition's selected questions:
G'day from Australia. I am a rabid Mariners fan living in Australia. I guess teams are not allowed to divulge injury details, but do you know roughly when Chris Snelling is expected to be able to play again? Also, I know he has had a shocking background of injuries, but do you reckon he figures at all in the Mariners' plans for the future?
-- Dan K., Canberra, Australia
Word from the Mariners is that Snelling is in Arizona rehabbing from the torn anterior cruciate ligament and subsequent reconstructive surgery in his left knee that ended his 2005 season prematurely. The recovery time from injuries like these varies depending on the player, and given the fact that Snelling has already had the same operation on the same knee in 2002, one would think the Mariners will be extra careful this time around.
That said, with the normal recovery rate from this injury, it's possible that if everything goes as planned with Snelling's rehab, we could see him on the field sometime in 2006, but probably not until at least the All-Star break.
As for the team's plans with Snelling, it's hard to gauge because the Mariners still haven't gotten the chance to see him for even half a season. In addition to the knee injury at the beginning of 2002, Snelling missed all of 2004 with various injuries to his hand, wrist and elbow.
We do know that the Mariners are big fans of his plate discipline and his ability to hit to situations. Snelling hit .370 for Triple-A Tacoma in 2005 with 50 runs scored, 17 doubles, two triples, eight home runs and 46 RBIs in 65 games. He played in 15 games for the Mariners, hitting .276 with one homer and one RBI.
I know it's a big "if", but if he is healthy, would it make sense to trade Jeremy Reed for someone like Bronson Arroyo, and then ask Ichiro Suzuki to move to center and Snelling could start in right? I have heard rumors of the trade for Arroyo, and I think Arroyo is a great pitcher and it would be a good trade for the M's, but who will fill our third outfield position (assuming the M's signed Everett as a DH and not an outfielder)?
-- Ronald K., Olympia, Wash.
I've been getting tons of emails about potential Reed trades, but Reed's still a Mariner and I think that's the case for a good reason: The team still loves his defensive ability and most likely thinks he'll hit at the Major League level sooner rather than later.
If the Mariners decided they wanted Arroyo or Matt Clement and had to trade Reed to get one of those pitchers, they'd definitely be leaving a big hole in the outfield, particularly from a defensive standpoint. Snelling is not an option right now because of the knee injury, and while it would appear that Ichiro could handle center field just fine, that would leave you with Matt Lawton or Mike Morse in right.
There was some speculation that the club's acquisition of Lawton was a natural precursor to a Reed deal, but GM Bill Bavasi said Lawton was signed for depth purposes, and that makes more sense. Lawton seems to be more effective in a limited role.
Morse hadn't played outfield at any level before trying left in very small doses last year, so handing him the right field job seems like a major stretch, too.
In other words, those trade rumors were probably just rumors and here's one opinion that Reed will most likely be the Mariners' center fielder on Opening Day.
How can the Mariners have the heart and soul that is sadly missed when both Edgar Martinez and Bret Boone left? The team can replace these people with bodies, but who is left to lead the team?
-- Greg J., Seattle
Part of the Mariners' difficulties in 2005 was the fact that it was a team searching for an identity, with a new GM (Bavasi), a new manager (Mike Hargrove), two new sluggers (Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson), and, yes, a big leadership void left by the retirement of Martinez at the end of the 2004 season and the trade of Boone in the middle of 2005.
Heck, even Dan Wilson retired in 2005, taking away the last connection to the great Mariners teams starting in 1995 and culminating with the record-setting 116-win 2001 season.
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But that year of adjustment is over, and you'll see that there are plenty of leaders already in place. Jamie Moyer is invaluable with the pitching staff and in the community. Everyone in that clubhouse looks up to him. The same goes for Eddie Guardado, whose infectious energy overflows in the locker room.
With a year in Seattle under their belts, Beltre and Sexson should be more vocal leaders, and then there are the quiet, lead-by-example guys like Ichiro and Raul Ibanez, who teach young players a lot simply by showing up every day and working.
Looking into your crystal ball, will lefty Matt Thornton be in the Seattle bullpen in 2006? At times he looked solid and other times he struggled mightily.
-- Brad S., Wisconsin Rapids, Wisc.
Thornton, who turns 30 in September, still has a couple of good things going for him. No. 1, he's out of options, meaning the Mariners risk losing him if they send him to the Minors. No. 2, he's still left-handed and throws very hard, which means he still has time to "figure it all out" and become a nasty big-league reliever.
Those are reasons he'll probably make the team out of Spring Training, barring injury, although the acquisition of two young relievers, Marcos Carvajal and Luis E. Gonzalez, could make the situation interesting. Carvajal is a hard-throwing right-hander with upside and Gonzalez, a lefty, was a Rule 5 pick by the Colorado Rockies from the Los Angeles Dodgers system who came to the Mariners in the Yorvit Torrealba trade.
This means Gonzalez has to spend the entire 2006 season on the Major Lague roster (either active or disabled list) or will be offered back to Los Angeles for $25,000.
As for all of 2006, that remains to be seen. If Carvajal and/or Gonzalez are pitching a lot better and showing more upside than Thornton, it wouldn't be surprising to see Seattle make a change in the bullpen.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.