James from Covington, WA asks:
Do the M's really have a chance to get that much better this winter? Is the money there to be spent, and will they spend it?
JAC: Yes, they do have a good shot to get better this winter. The payroll space is there and with the right players attached to those contracts, they will spend the limit. Remember, they do feel that young players such as Jeremy Reed and Jose Lopez will help the offense, but the good news is, they aren't counting on that to fix the lineup.
Cole from Omaha, NE asks:
How can Seattle afford NOT to spend more than $100 million on payroll thses days? The fans aren't going to show up for a 95-loss team every year.
JAC: They already do. After player benefits and cash going out is taken into consideration, the Mariners have spent upwards of $100 million for three straight seasons. It's possible that the club could reach that mark with pure player salaries if they deem the necessary player's to add to the roster. That is unlikely, but not impossible.
Gregg from Cincinnati, OH asks:
How good can Rafael Soriano be as a setup man? Closer? Starter?
JAC: Hard to say after he had Tommy John Surgery in August of 2004, but if he returns to form he has a good shot to be pretty dominant in the setup role. As a closer, he may develop the second pitch that would suggest he can close but you never can tell how a pitcher will react in such a role.
As a starter, he has a long ways to go, just stuff wise. Unless a pitcher has plus command of two better than average offerings and an average pitch, or has decent command of two plus pitches, they struggle the second and third times through the lineup. Soriano needs to improve his feel for a change-up and get that slider back to where he feels he can use it anywhere in the count.
Jeff from Lacey, WA asks:
What does the rest of the league's players, managers and coaches think about the Seattle organization? It seems the losses hurt the image, but everyone raves about the city and the way players are treated.
JAC: I think you answered your own question. Most seem to think it's a good town to play and live in, great facilities, fair treatment, but they are too far away from winning. But money talks, and Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson proved that last December. For the most part, other clubs adore the M's organization as a whole.
You'll get a different answer if you asked the right person about specific people inside the organization.
Jared The Geek from Oroville, WA asks:
What happens if Clement is ready sometime late next year and the M's have Johjima signed to all that money?
JAC: If Clement is ready that quickly, it'll surprise many, but it would also mean his bat is ready to hit at quasi-peak levels. He could share time with Johjima at catcher and DH, since Raul Ibanez's contract ends after 2006. The rumored money in the Johjima deal isn't exactly crippling, though.
Kurt from Krypton asks:
What are your thoughts on the long-term potential of Adam Jones vs. Jeremy Reed?
JAC: Great question, and one that will be looked into further in the latter parts of the offseason as the prospect profiles are unveiled. Reed is a more cerebral player, leaning on natural instincts and more experience to play a solid center field, make a lot of contact and play smart baseball.
Jones is a tools guy, but is making progress in all areas of development, though his transition to center field is still very fresh. His raw skills suggest he will handle the spot in time.
Reed is a safe bet with less risk but less upside. Jones could turn out to be Mike Cameron offensively, Preston Wilson defensively. If he does, he's the better choice, unless Reed reaches his ceiling, but that is far from a sure thing, too.
I'd hang onto Reed until a clear-cut upgrade presents itself. Might be Jones.
Haller from Springville, UT asks:
Have you seen the movie Major League? What did you think of it? Is it the funniest baseball movie you have ever seen?
JAC: Of course I have. The original is pretty darned funny - a classic, even. I'd say it is probably the funniest baseball movie, though I prefer The Natural, Bull Durham and Field of Dreams overall.
"Shut up Dorn, save all that energy for the field," said Tribe manager Lou Brown. "Expletive," said Willie Mays Hays. "I've been cut already?!"
Mister Thang from Edmonds, WA asks:
I'll make a bet with you. If the Mariners finish above .500 next year, I'll send you a hundred bucks. If they do not, you have to let me write a column at InsideThePark.com - and pay me for it, whatever rate you would normally pay those who cover your minor league teams. Deal?
JAC: No deal. You'd have to prove to me that your column would be insightful and well thought out. Send me a sample, say 1000 words on "why the M's have no shot to win 81 games in 2006" and if it's worthy of publishing, I'll take the bet, but instead of the hundred bucks, you have to purchase five $20 game tickets to a Mariners game and mail it to your local elementary school.
To send a question, make a comment or suggestion, E-mail Jason here.
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