I sent a few questions off to Jeff from Lookout Landing, SB Nation's great Mariner site and he was nice enough to send me some answers back (thanks Jeff). Since I'm sitting at the airport waiting to board the plane I thought I'd post it. He's a bigger Adrian Beltre fan than I figured he'd be.
1. You guys have a new manager this year, I know nothing about Don Wakamatsu, what are his strengths and weaknesses?
Don always keeps a cool head, he's helped to bring together what was once a famously divided clubhouse, and he's been good about maximizing the outfield defense, by which I mean keeping Griffey out of left and then making Ryan Langerhans the everyday starter for a little while. So those things are neat. On the other hand, there have been several occasions on which he neglected to pinch-hit in the later innings (most often with Griffey), which tends to get on our nerves. Truthfully, though, it's just hard to complain about him. Given a different bullpen, I'm sure he would've made some decisions that didn't go over very well, but this is a guy who for most of the season hasn't had a single left-handed reliever. Take away the lefties and managers have limited opportunity to get unpleasantly creative.
2. Who has been the biggest surprise for the Mariners?
The nod either goes to Russell Branyan - who's become one of the premier pure power hitters in the league - Franklin Gutierrez - whose offense has blossomed before our very eyes - or Jarrod Washburn - who, albeit lucky, has legitimately improved himself in 2009 at the age of 34. To date, these three guys have been instrumental in the team's playing decent baseball.
3. We are coming up to the trade deadline. Are the Mariners buyers or sellers? Is there any move you think is likely to happen?
This would've been a better question before the Indians used us to clean their dirty cheese graters. We're sellers. We got clocked, and now we're sellers. Washburn is the most likely guy to be moved, and there have been rumors circling about his landing in Milwaukee prior to his scheduled start on Tuesday, but there are other possibilities as well, like Branyan and Brandon Morrow. Having Erik Bedard and Adrian Beltre on the DL doesn't really do our GM any favors.
4. Is Adrian Beltre ever going to be worth his contract?
Beltre signed a $64m/5yr contract in late 2004 and has been worth every penny. Defense. Defense defense defense. He's like our Alex Rios.
5. My youngest son's favorite player is Ichiro, is he going to the Hall of Fame? He's 35 now, any sign that he is slowing down?
Yeah, he's going. No question. As far as signs of decline are concerned, I don't know what to tell you. He still makes contact all the time, he still runs well, he still beats out a ton of infield singles, he still plays good defense...his footspeed isn't what it was when he first broke into the league, so I guess that's one sign of decline, but he's still one of the top runners in baseball, so who cares? Honestly, I feel like Ichiro will slow down only when Ichiro wants to slow down. There's not a single thing Ichiro could do that would take me by surprise.
6. Canadian Erik Bedard is hurt again, what's happened? Is he likely to pitch again this year?
Not sure what's up with him yet, but the team is calling it shoulder inflammation. He went on the DL earlier this year and got an MRI that came back pretty clean, but people seem convinced that there's still something in there. It seems like he should be able to come back in a few weeks, but with Bedard, who the hell knows? Erik Bedard could hurt himself texting.
7. Which reliever do you want on the mound with the game on the line?
David Aardsma. In a lousy bullpen (ignore the ERA), he's the guy that stands out head and shoulders above the rest. I don't know how it works but his belly-high fastball in the center of the plate just keeps throwing hitters for a loop. They have to catch on eventually, right? Right? You might see for yourself what I'm talking about, but then on the other hand we suck right now and you very well might not.
8. Anything else us Jay fans should know about the Mariners? And what food should I try at the park this week?
If we beat you, you'll be annoyed. We are not a team that you play, lose to, and think "yeah, I can see how that happened." It's like the Angels if the Angels were worse. As for food, I'm not all that familiar with Safeco since I live in San Diego, but you should get a dog outside on the street and buy some garlic fries when indoors. Get a couple beers, too. The selection isn't spectacular, but it's better than most ballparks.