The 2009 season is almost behind us and the Mariners have gone their separate ways for the winter after bringing winning back to the organization. The '09 season was a success in many ways, but a lot of work needs to be done during the offseason to continue the improvement. As always, the Inbox will be here each week, so if you have a question about the team, we'll do our best to answer it.
Adam Moore did really well in the little amount of playing time he received with the Mariners late in the season. Now that Kenji Johjima has returned to Japan to finish his career, do you think there is a possibility of him making the Major League roster next year and maybe even starting?
-- Dallas B., Seattle
Moore definitely is the Mariners' catcher of the future, but I'm still not sure if the future is now, or a year from now. In light of Johjima's decision and the four surgeries Rob Johnson faces, I would think that Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik will be pursuing at least one veteran catcher via the trade market. There appears to be a good chance that Johnson, who has had one of two hip surgeries and still faces wrist and elbow repairs, would be ready to go for Spring Training. But that is no guarantee.
The Z-man's job just became a little more difficult.
It seems to me that Adrian Beltre was a lot more successful with the Dodgers when he batted with runners in scoring position than he has been with the Mariners. Is that true?
-- Brad M., Bellingham, Wash.
That's a good observation. During Beltre's five seasons with the Mariners, he batted .254 (189-for-744) with runners in scoring position. He had 43 doubles, 21 home runs and 278 RBIs in 715 games.
During his 966-game career with the Dodgers, Beltre batted .274 (235-for-858) with 37 doubles, 37 home runs and 360 RBIs.
He has discovered, the hard way, that Safeco Field is a lot tougher for a right-handed hitter than Dodger Stadium.
With openings for a left fielder, third base, and one or maybe two pitchers in the market for next season, of these which do you think will be the top priority of the GM to sign?
-- Jerrod D., Tacoma, Wash.
With the starting rotation seemingly pretty set with up to seven candidates, and the bullpen rock-solid as well, it would seem to me that one of the first orders of business this winter is to find a left fielder with run-production capabilities.
Neither Bill Hall nor Michael Saunders demonstrated that he could be that player. So unless someone from the Minor Leagues steps forward -- someone like Mike Wilson or Greg Halman, Zduriencik could be pursuing a power-hitting left fielder.
Jason Bay comes to mind, but if the Red Sox really want him back, they have more financial leeway than the Mariners. That being said, I would like to see the Mariners make a full-court press on the slugger.
Is there a place where we can look to see players' contract status? Such as salary, years left on his contract, etc.?
-- Sue G., Portland, Ore.
I have received mixed reports, but for my money, Cot's Baseball Contracts appears to be the most reliable that I have been able to find on the Internet.
Have a question about the Mariners?
E-mail your query to MLB.com Mariners beat reporter Greg Johns for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
Why haven't the Mariners used Ichiro in a batting position that could produce more RBIs? It seems obvious to me that instead of his 30 or 40 RBIs he could very well have 100. This seems like a no-brainer to me. What do you think?
-- Len J., Olympia, Wash.
Ichiro is one of the best leadoff hitters in the Major Leagues and he would rather bat first than anywhere else in the lineup. The fact that he is the only player in MLB history to have nine consecutive 200-hit seasons tells me that he is just fine where he is.
I am not sure that even if the Mariners wanted Ichiro to become a power hitter that he could do it effectively during an entire season. To me, moving him into a place in the lineup he doesn't want to be would be a no-brainer mistake. After all, you don't take a heart specialist and suddenly make him a brain surgeon.
Who is the Mariners' all-time hits leader?
-- Samuel B., Everett, Wash.
Edgar Martinez still ranks No. 1 in franchise history with 2,247 hits, but Ichiro could move into first place with one of his typical seasons in 2010. Ichiro ended this season with 2,030 hits, leaving him 217 behind Martinez, arguably the greatest hitter in franchise history, who, by the way, is eligible for the Hall of Fame this year for the first time and I plan to vote for him.
Martinez had 7,213 official at-bats in his career, compared to Ichiro's 6,099.
What is a "utility player?" I'm just trying to get into the lingo of it all. I like Matt Tuiasosopo and would like to get your opinion on his professional abilities.
-- Karen M., Savannah, Georgia
A "utility" player is someone who doesn't usually start a game but can play several positions. Mark McLemore and Willie Bloomquist are generally recognized as the best utility players in franchise history.
McLemore, by the way, despised the term "utility player" and would tell me that he was "a full-time player without a full-time position."
As for the second part of your question, I like Tuiasosopo's future and hope he gets a chance to become the starting third baseman if Beltre departs 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.