Do you expect a callup for Carlos Triunfel or Nick Franklin in the near future to take over as starting shortstop?
-- Scott H., Kent, Wash.
Manager Eric Wedge has been waiting for either Brendan Ryan or Robert Andino to grab the shortstop job and run with it, but neither has hit well in the first five weeks. Meanwhile, both Triunfel and Franklin are having strong starts at Triple-A Tacoma. So it wouldn't be a surprise to see one of the young guns get a shot if nothing changes in the coming weeks.
A year ago, Wedge finally ran out of patience with Chone Figgins at about this time. Figgins was hitting .189 on May 3, when he lost his job for good.
Ryan is a superior defender, which is why he's been given a long run despite his lack of offense, but Wedge went more to Andino two weeks ago. Since then, Andino has hit .200 (5-for-25) to put him at .169 for the year. Ryan's .141 average on the heels of last year's .194 is not a good trend, even for a Gold Glove Award candidate.
Triunfel (.319) and Franklin (.325) are certainly making strong cases for a promotion. I suspect if all things remain equal, Triunfel would get the call first since he's already on the 40-man roster and his Major League service time already began ticking when he was called up last September.
Franklin is a stronger candidate if the club waits until later into the season, since that gives him more time to back up his early season success in Tacoma, plus he could be delayed for Super Two salary arbitration reasons until late June or so.
Have there been any studies done on the effect the new scoreboard may have on wind direction at Safeco Field?
-- Jim R., Stewartsville, N.J.
No, the new board has no effect on the wind, because it's actually taking up the same position and space as the old scoreboard structure. The difference is that the video portion of the old board was just a small part of the total area, while the new structure can be entirely converted to a video screen.
Did the Mariners get a player from the Red Sox for Mike Carp or did they only get cash?
-- Ryan H., Bellevue, Wash.
The Mariners couldn't get any player compensation for Carp after they designated him for assignment before Spring Training and wound up with a cash deal. Part of the business of baseball is that other teams understand when players like Carp -- and Casper Wells -- are out of Minor League options, they can often be obtained at a very low price if they're not going to make that team's 25-man roster.
Carp, by the way, has made the most out of his minimal opportunities in Boston, hitting .406 with two home runs and eight RBIs in 32 at-bats.
If all three of Jack Zduriencik's three big offensive additions -- Jason Bay, Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales -- perform better than expected this season, who do you think would get contract extensions?
-- Patrick M., Federal Way, Wash.
That's a tricky question, because any player who performs better than expected would likely get an offer to return to the club, but that doesn't mean the player would just automatically accept. All three of those players will be free agents at year's end, and it's generally smart to see what's available on the open market.
But which of the three might actually be enticed to stay? Of that group, Bay lives in Seattle and it's not hard to envision a scenario where he'd be happy to remain with the club that helped revive his career -- if he indeed plays well all year. And Morse has spoken fondly of Seattle from the time he was reacquired from the Nationals. So if you're asking for just a gut feeling, I'd bet on those two re-signing with the Mariners before Morales, who had no previous ties to the area and is a Scott Boras client who surely will shop around. But again, that's all a very long way off at this point.
Is there a possibility of making a push to acquire Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins if the Mariners are still competing at the Trade Deadline?
-- Nick R., Modesto, Calif.
Given the Mariners were trying to trade for Justin Upton in the offseason, it's reasonable to think they'd make a run for Stanton if he's available. But every Major League team would love to have Stanton and the asking price from the Marlins is going to be over the top. Miami has said Stanton isn't available right now, and after a slow start, he's currently on the disabled list with a hamstring issue that will sideline him until June.
How long until our rotation includes three of the Big Four pitching prospects?
-- Josh O., Pe Ell, Wash.
Brandon Maurer already is in the rotation, though he needs to develop some consistency to assure staying there for the full season. But none of the heralded "Big Three" of Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker or James Paxton seems particularly close at the moment. Hultzen was making a strong push with a great start this season, but he's now on the disabled list at Tacoma for at least three or four more weeks with a shoulder issue. Paxton is 2-2 with a 5.19 ERA for the Rainiers, while Walker is 3-2 with a 1.54 ERA in six starts for Double-A Jackson.
Walker, 20, seems destined for a promotion to Tacoma before long, but he's still a ways from the Majors. Hultzen needs to get healthy, and Paxton didn't have a good spring and has yet to show consistent success at Triple-A.