Mailbag: Should Seattle pursue CC?

Mailbag: Should Seattle pursue CC?

The Winter Meetings are approaching, and the Mariners are making plans for the 2009 season. Roster moves are imminent, and we're here to answer as many questions as we can. So send 'em in.

Will the Mariners go after a big pitcher like CC Sabathia or Ben Sheets? They are a couple of the big-name pitchers, and the Mariners need pitching. So, do you think they will at least try to go after one of them?
-- Christian H., Shoreline, Wash.

It is my belief that the Mariners need hitting more than they need pitching, so I would expect general manager Jack Zduriencik to first and foremost find ways to bolster an offense that finished next-to-last in runs scored and slugging percentage last season.

Sabathia figures to get some out-of-this-world offers that would be far too expensive for the Mariners -- and about 98 percent of the other MLB organizations -- and Sheets sure seems to get injured every season and probably wouldn't be worth the money he's asking.

I wish nothing but the best for Yuniesky Betancourt, but I am tired of his constant mental lapses and lack of plate discipline. What about trading him for some outfield help and moving Mike Morse back to short? Morse has a great bat, is a very serviceable shortstop and plays outfield like he's got stage fright. It seems like the humane thing to do would be to give Yuni a change of scenery, and let Morse play where he's more comfortable.
-- Dale B., Ellensburg, Wash.

While Betancourt does have occasional mental lapses -- as do most players -- and lacks plate discipline, he is the best-fielding shortstop the Mariners have had since Omar Vizquel in the early and mid-1990s. It would weaken the team by trading him.

Yuni is just 25 years old and is learning the job at the Major League level. He probably always will be an aggressive hitter, but I would rather have him on my team than someone with less range in the field who walks a lot.

Furthermore, Morse has not played shortstop in several years, and would, in my opinion, help the team a lot more at first base.

Who are some of the top free-agent outfielders this year?
-- Sven A., Camano Island, Wash.

The list starts with Manny Ramirez, but the quality goes down quite a bit after that. Among outfielders that have filed for free agency: Raul Ibanez, Pat Burrell, Bobby Abreu, Rocco Baldelli, Adam Dunn, Mark Kotsay, Jay Payton, Garret Anderson and Juan Rivera.

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Three former Mariners greats -- Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr. and Omar Vizquel -- are free agents this winter. Any chance the Mariners might try to sign one or possibly two of them and bring them back to the city where they began their careers?
-- Kenneth P., Redding, Calif.

There would be a slight chance of Junior returning next season, but Johnson would both refuse to come back and not be asked to come back, and I'm not sure what value there would be in signing Vizquel. He is a Hall of Fame shortstop in my book, but Betancourt is much younger and more productive on offense.

Did Ryan Feierabend prove enough in his late-season outings that he is big league material?
-- Mike S., Kent, Ohio

Based on his performance in eight starts, a 1-4 record and 7.71 ERA would suggest the left-hander needs more seasoning at the Minor League level. He still needs better location with most of his pitches -- opponents batted .355 against him -- and 14 walks in 39 2/3 innings are too many.

Regarding the dismissal of scouting director Bob Fontaine: Why? I give a lot of credit to Fontaine for revitalizing the farm system with a ton of talented youths. Doesn't this move seem a bit rash?
-- Oliver T., Kirkland, Wash.

Whenever an organization hires a general manager from another organization, changes occur. In this case, Zduriencik made a name for himself throughout baseball with the work he did with the Brewers' scouting department, and it was only natural for him to bring a couple of his closest associates with him.

Fontaine has one year remaining on his contract with the Mariners, and he undoubtedly will land on his feet with another organization. He's good at what he does.

If Josh Fields decides not to sign with the Mariners and goes back into the First-Year Player Draft pool, do the Mariners get compensated somehow?
-- Joe N., Eugene, Ore.

The Mariners have until the week before the Draft (in June) to sign Fields. If he does not sign, then he would become Draft-eligible again and the Mariners would receive the 21st Draft selection as compensation.

What is the future for Kenji Johjima? Does he deserve another chance to start? Is he an OK backup to Jeff Clement, or should the Mariners trade him?
-- Joe G., Portland, Ore.

The manager will eventually decide where Johjima fits, but based on his final month of the season -- when he batted .333 (19-for-57) and worked well with the pitchers -- I would think he's the No. 1 catcher heading into Spring Training. Besides, the Mariners still aren't sure if Clement, who had knee surgery in September, could catch on a full-time basis.

Exactly how the catching position shakes out in camp could also depend on whether Johjima becomes part of Team Japan in the World Baseball Classic. If he plays for his country, and the Japan team advances to the final round of the 16-team event, he could miss camp in February and most of March.

Jim Street is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.