710 ESPN Seattle's Shannon Drayer hosted a live chat Thursday afternoon where she wrapped up the Mariners' 2012 season and looked ahead to the winter and next season. You can read the entire chat here. Below are some highlights.
Dave asked how much Dustin Ackley's ankle injury contributed to his offensive struggles.
Shannon Drayer: Here is my post on it. We spoke to Ackley exclusively about this. Was it solely responsible for his poor offensive season? Of course not. Did it impact what he did at the plate or on the bases? I am sure it did, but impossible to tell how much.
An interesting note: a year ago it was whispered to me that one of the reasons Ackley was not in the outfield was because he had ankle problems. I never ran with it because I couldn't get anyone to confirm it but this sheds some light. My understanding of spurs are that they can be recurring so I am not sure getting them cleaned up will change anything, but those who I have talked to about a possible move after this year seem to be more receptive to the idea if necessary.
Shannon Drayer expects the M's to add a catcher to replace Miguel Olivo, who isn't expected to return next season. (AP)
Shannon Drayer: The free-agent market is light and I don't think they will be looking for a ton of help there. A true impact move would appear to have to come via trade. Jack Zduriencik said on the postgame show last night that he knows what he wants to do. He has targets but it takes two to tango. The fences will help with the bigger hitters, no doubt about it. I wonder, however, if they might look for a leadoff-type and get Ackley out of that spot.
Steven hopes the Mariners will ask Jesus Montero to improve his speed during the offseason.
Shannon Drayer: He's got a laundry list of stuff to do. They would like to see him report in better shape than he did last year. He came in a little heavy. He is to work on catching and infield fundamentals but the bulk of the work at first will come in spring training. Yes, he does have a plan to work on his running. Obviously it is a form problem. He will spend his offseason in Venezuela so there will not be much opportunity to check up on him. This is a big offseason for him. I will be very interested to see how he shows up in Peoria.
Sam thinks John Jaso is a better option than Miguel Olivo and is capable of being the full-time catcher next season while Mike Zunino continues to develop.
Shannon Drayer: A stop-gap will have to be found. I'm 99 percent sure Olivo's option will not be picked up. Problem is neither Jaso nor Montero are seen as full-time catchers and moving forward I don't think they particularly want Montero as a half-time catcher so they are going to have to find a guy who can play multiple days in a row until Zunino is ready.
Billy wonders about Ichiro's plans for next season.
Shannon Drayer: I would assume they are rapidly changing. I heard quite a bit of "there is a good chance he will retire" shortly after the trade but after a hot September and a trip to the playoffs I would imagine that would change. There has been quite a bit of talk that he could go to the Giants next year. Giants, Yankees, Dodgers and A's (believe it or not) were his choices at the deadline.
downtown asked when the Mariners will "finally get rid of" Chone Figgins, who recently said he "can't take two more years of this," referring to playing in Seattle.
Shannon Drayer: I find it hard to believe that he would be on the opening day roster next year. For the record, it would be one more year. No way they would pick up the option for 2014.
Dave wonders whether the changes Justin Smoak made to his swing will continue to pay off next season.
Shannon Drayer: What I am encouraged about with Smoak's September is that it didn't just happen. He made actual changes. He told me that he will change his offseason routine some and focus more on the swing and not just swinging the bat, if that makes sense. He wants to keep that swing going through the winter, and why wouldn't he? I am cautiously optimistic.
snuffle1upagus asked whether the Mariners will re-sign Jason Vargas.
Shannon Drayer: They don't need to as he is under contract for one more year but my understanding is there have been preliminary discussions to explore the option of an extension. Vargas is open to it and Zduriencik has said he would like to keep him.