Mariners Insider

Mariners Q&A…in anticipation of Monday’s season opener

Post by Bob Dutton / The News Tribune on March 31, 2014 at 11:41 am with No Comments »
March 31, 2014 11:58 am

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Here we are, opening day (well, night). At last. Seemed like a good time to send out a call to Twitter followers for another question-and-answer session.

You can follow me at @TNT_Mariners, and I’ll answer questions there on a regular basis, but some questions require a longer format. So this is a continuing feature.

Let’s get to it.

 

@marinergnome: what are your thoughts offense or defense priority when making your line up? why?

It’s not a cop-out to say both are important, although many fans (I hesitate to say most, but…) rarely look beyond a player’s offensive performance. Maybe this is an impact of fantasy leagues. I don’t know.

But every other major sport places a premium on defense. I think there is real value when I see center fielder Abraham Almonte, for example, is able to run down balls deep into both gaps.

Mariners fans, after last year, should understand better than anyone how a bad defense leads to losses in so many ways. The Mariners were, by far, the American League’s worst defensive team a year ago.

From what I saw in spring, I think there’s reason to believe they will be far better this year. Not great. Maybe only league average. But far better.

@snoopyrobinson: read SI article on Cano, how big is his entourage now that the season is starting?  

I guess we’ll see now that the season has started, but I haven’t noticed anything remarkably unusual regarding Robinson Cano in terms of an entourage for a player of his caliber.

@jimdaleske: Do you think that the Mariners will still make a trade involving Franklin or let him sit and learn outfield in Tacoma?

I don’t think anything has changed. I believe the Mariners remain willing to trade Nick Franklin if they get what they see as a return of equal value that fills a need.

My sense is the Mariners feel no urgency to trade Franklin. He’s got options remaining, and there’s nothing wrong with having talented players available if injuries occur.

As for playing the outfield…I’ll be interested to see how much he does that at Tacoma. The plan is for him to be the regular shortstop.

 

@bigredlives: are the m’s still considering signing morales? How would he fit in the 25 man roster?

I’m not saying the issue is completely dead, but I really don’t sense any movement. And until Corey Hart is ready (if ever) for regular duty in right field, it’s hard to see where Kendrys Morales would fit on the roster.

If Hart takes time at DH, as seems to be the early-season plan, that will make it hard to find at-bats for Logan Morrison. Adding Morales, even if the two sides could agree to terms, would only create a bigger logjam.

Now, one thing could change that — if Hart proves incapable of regular duty for the long term. But the Mariners will give him a lot of rope; they’ve invested $6 million in believing he can make a comeback.

@waxwing: Why does Howard Lincoln still have his job?

Wow, tough crowd. Don’t they get to lose a few games first?

@ryandivish: where’s the best place to get a sandwich in Anaheim?

This is just sad. When Ryan Divish worked for The News Tribune, he was a go-to source on the Mariners. Now…he doesn’t even know where to go for lunch.

@kipkniskern: How committed to Almonte at leadoff is Lloyd McClendon?

All indications entering the season suggest Abraham Almonte will get a long look. McClendon and other club officials like his tool set as a fit for center field and leadoff duties.

They also believe his spring numbers at the plate were deceptive.

That’s probably true, but if Almonte is batting .178 with a .256 on-base percentage, as he did in Arizona, it will be interesting to see how long he stays in the lineup.

@nkvmunoz: any word on where OF Austin Wilson will start the year?

The Mariners should be releasing their minor-league rosters any time now. In fact, if I get word today, I’ll be back with an update to this answer.

 

@turnerwingo: Will Saunders get enough playing time to show anything this year?

Michael Saunders figures to get a long look in right field until Corey Hart is ready to play there on a regular basis. If Saunders plays well, my guess is the Mariners will find a way to keep him in the lineup.

Just how well he needs to play to hold a steady job depends on how other players perform. If, say, Almonte really struggles, Saunders could easily shift to center field.

 

 

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