As the calendar surges toward 2008, the Mariners are still in shopping mode, preferably adding a starting pitcher or two to the roster. Seattle is hoping to end a six-year playoff drought and questions abound. That's where we come in. If you have a question, send it in and we'll do our best to answer it.
With the Mariners looking for starting pitchers, what are the odds they'll take a gamble on newly released Mark Prior?
-- Daniel L., Augusta, Ga.
This has been the most frequently asked question of the past week, Daniel. From what I know, there is no indication from the Mariners that they are interested in Prior, who has not even started throwing during the offseason and probably will miss about two months of the regular season. The Mariners need pitching help sooner, not later.
I've always thought the Mariners Hall of Fame should be more visible. Shouldn't the players who are inducted have their names on the facade of one of the levels at Safeco Field or on a wall visible to all fans in the stands? I've never seen the HOF at Safeco. And is the retirement of a number a whole different honor? I would say the "Big 3," Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez, should have their numbers retired, although I know Ichiro Suzuki wears Johnson's number.
-- Craig W., Kent, Wash.
I agree that the Mariners should post the names of their HOF members -- sort of a ring of fame -- at Safeco. It would be a worthy honor for Dave Niehaus, Alvin Davis, Jay Buhner and Martinez and eventually Griffey, among others. The Hall of Fame at Safeco Field is located near the First Avenue entrance.
If No. 51 is ever retired, it will be more for Ichiro than Randy Johnson. The Big Unit probably will go into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown wearing a Diamondbacks cap. Four of his five Cy Young Awards came when he was pitching for the D-backs. If Ichiro gets into the HOF, it would be as a Mariners player.
The Mariners tendered a contract to Horacio Ramirez, who was consistently inconsistent last year and had among the worst ERAs in the league for a starter. Is there really no other pitcher available? I know that lefties are a valuable asset to a team's rotation, but just about anyone (right- or left-handed) would be an upgrade.
-- Jim H., Seattle
The Mariners have a new pitching coach in Mel Stottlemyre, one of the best in the business, and the feeling in the organization is that he can turn Ramirez into a quality pitcher. I think he deserves another chance and working with Stottlemyre could be just the thing Horacio needs to prove that last season was a fluke. I have been wrong once before but considered that a fluke.
Would Mike Morse ever be considered a candidate to play second base? With his background as a shortstop, he could have the talent. He doesn't look like the prototypical second baseman, but I think he could be an offensive upgrade to Jose Lopez.
-- Derek G., Riverside, Calif.
It is a little late in the game for Morse to be changing positions again. He already has gone from shortstop to the outfield to third base and even has played some first base. Second base probably is the most difficult infield position to play because you have to turn a double play quickly. So, in my opinion, you won't see Morse play second base anytime soon.
Will Jeff Clement be playing in the Majors next year? He hit a couple homers at the end of the 2007 season and proved he can play at that level. I know Jamie Burke was a good backup catcher, but what about Clement's future?
-- Torey J., Vancouver, Wash.
The chances of Clement being on the 25-man Opening Day roster already were good, but got even better when Ben Broussard was traded last week to the Rangers. Clement figures to become the primary left-handed pinch-hitter and perhaps get some at-bats as the designated hitter and catcher. I would not be surprised if the Mariners carry three catchers this season -- Clement, Kenji Johjima and Burke.
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Why did Jonathan Papelbon beat out J.J. Putz for closer of the year? Putz had a way better ERA and save percentage.
-- Cort D., Olympia, Wash.
Papelbon had the good fortune of playing for the best team in the Major Leagues.
Is there any chance that we could see Jason Bay in left field for the Mariners next season, have Raul Ibanez be the DH and have Adam Jones play center field?
-- Dillon C., Longview, Wash.
None of that is likely to happen, Dillon. The Pirates and Indians discussed a trade involving Bay at the Winter Meetings, but it never materialized and Pirates GM Neal Huntington said he would be more than happy to have Bay as the leadoff hitter on Opening Day. Ichiro prefers to stay in center field, so scratch that thought.
Last year, both the Oakland A's and the Texas Rangers were little threat to the American League West Division title, but it was almost expected with their rookie managers. Do you see any reason why either of them might be sudden condenders in the division?
-- Zach G., West Linn, Ore.
Nothing has happened during the offseason to make me believe either one of those teams are a threat to dethrone the Angels.
Isn't Gaylord Perry in the Hall of Fame? I think that would qualify him as the first pitcher in Seattle history to be inducted, even if he isn't in as a Mariners player.
-- Nick P., St. Louis
Several readers picked up on this. Yes, Perry pitched for the Mariners (in 1982-83), posting a 13-22 record in 48 starts. One of those wins was the 300th of his career, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991. Perry played for eight organizations during his 22-year MLB career, and I apparently lost track of one of them.
It is my understanding that the Mariners had an opportunity to let Richie Sexson go before the end of the '07 season, essentially being able to get out of his $14 million salary for '08. Why didn't that happen, as it really could've helped free up salary so the team could pursue pitching and other needs?
-- Jennifer P., Bothell, Wash.
There was an erroneous rumor that another MLB organization claimed Sexson on waivers after the July 31 trade deadline. If that had actually happened, the Mariners could have let the first baseman go and the claiming team would have been responsible for the remainder of Sexson's 2007 contract and his '08 contract. Fact is, the rumor was (as most rumors are) totally bogus.
I know the Mariners aren't likely to get Johan Santana, but I have a question. Hypothetically speaking, if the Mariners were to get Santana in a trade and immediately sign him to a contract extension, would they have to give up one of their draft picks?
-- Tara C., Walla Walla, Wash.
Any team that acquires Santana would not have to give up any draft picks. Teams receive compensation only when the player leaves via free agency.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.