It's another lengthy Twitter mailbag featuring questions and answers about the Mariners acquiring starting pitcher at the trade deadline, the situation at back-up catcher, what the hell is wrong with Seattle in these last three series, fly-fishing and more.

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DENVER — As the Mariners limp into the All-Star break, the Twitter mailbag is getting stronger each week.

It’s the quality of the questions and willingness of the answerer that has kept the mailbag from trying to do too much. Just have a good approach and the rest will take care of itself.

It’s a team effort and it wouldn’t be where it’s at without the help of the weekly questions from real Twitter followers trying to go out and do their part and stay within themselves and do the little things.


Per Major League Baseball rules, a player that is on the disabled list can’t be chosen as a replacement for the All-Star Game. So Paxton couldn’t have been selected since he’s on the 10-day disabled list with lower back inflammation.

Everything that the Mariners and Paxton are saying is that the back is a minor issue, just some back spasms and inflammation. As someone who has dealt with that issue, the spasms don’t feel minor at the time. They can be quite painful. The muscle relaxants — depending on their strength — can be quite useful and enjoyable. They can make C-Span entertaining.

The placement of Paxton on the 10-day disabled list was more about roster maneuvering and using the All-Star break to an advantage than the severity of the injury.

The Mariners had planned to use the break and the days before and after it to give Paxton essentially 10 days off from throwing in a game. Even before the back issue forced him out of his start on Thursday, he wasn’t scheduled to start again until  July 24 coming out of the break. If the back progresses as expected, he’s eligible to return on July 24. So it works out the same. If this issue had occurred in middle of June or August, there’s a good chance he wouldn’t have been placed on the disabled list.

Still, even if it is a minor issue, it’s something that should be monitored. It’s not something the Mariners or Paxton can afford to have linger or worsen to the point that a longer DL stint is needed late in the season.

With the Athletics surging, the Mariners won’t be able to coast to a second wild card spot. They need to perform and they need their best pitcher. In their ideal world, Paxton returns healthy from the DL, he helps spur them back to a more comfortable lead over the A’s and is able to be put on a schedule to start the American League wild-card game.

I’m not certain the starting rotation is a lock to be upgraded at the trade deadline for a handful of reasons.

Yes, the Mariners have two members of the rotation — Paxton and Felix Hernandez — on the disabled list with back issues. But both DL stints were more of a product of the calendar and the All-Star break than the injuries.

With Wade LeBlanc’s contract extension for 2019, they now have all five starters under contract for next season. And removing one from the roster for another pitcher could get complicated.

Obviously, Hernandez has been their least productive starter this season. He’s 8-7 with a 5.13 ERA in 19 starts. Neither he nor the Mariners know what to expect from start to start. Fans may be frustrated by that inconsistency, but it pales in comparison to what manager Scott Servais, pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre and Hernandez feel about that uncertainty.

Unless there is an injury, it seems unlikely the Mariners would go out and acquire a replacement-level starting pitcher for the rotation. They have that guy in Erasmo Ramirez returning from injury. It has to be a serious upgrade.

Much like the offseason, there is growing demand for the Mariners to add a “front-line” starting pitcher to bolster the rotation. But it seems unlikely that a pitcher like that is readily available. Despite making 4,566,342 trades with the Rays, it doesn’t seem like general manager Jerry Dipoto has the prospects to pry away Chris Archer (3-4, 4.41 ERA) from Tampa. Even in the midst of a down season that’s featured some injury issues, Archer is a front-of-the-rotation starter.

There were reports of the Mariners’ interest in Rangers lefty Cole Hamels, though sources have said that interest was greatly overplayed. Dipoto checks in on every player and will never toss away any proposal immediately.

But Hamels is 34 with a 5-8 record and a 4.36 ERA this season and owed over $10 million for the remainder of his contract.

There are people in the Mariners upper-level management and ownership group that aren’t fans of rental trades like Hamels or Toronto’s J.A. Happ. That’s another hurdle.

That doesn’t mean Dipoto won’t do anything. That’s not his style. It’s possible he could add to the bullpen. Another right-handed reliever with strikeout potential would be an ideal fit and another lefty with a strikeout pitch against left-handed hitters could be useful.

Well, from a selfish standpoint, I’d like them to acquire Max Scherzer because I think he would be a blast to cover and write about. He’s a fierce competitor that produces results, a respected teammate with endless daily enthusiasm and a great interview with perspective on the game and self deprecation.

Of course, it’s never going to happen.

Well, they’ve now lost three straight series with Saturday night’s 4-1 defeat at Coors Field, which features losses in seven of their last 10 games. The offense has been inconsistent. If not for Ryon Healy’s one-game offensive explosion of five RBIs, they’d have lost eight of 10 games. They have four wins the three series, they’ve scored more than four runs just once.  The pitching hasn’t been quite as good, which isn’t unexpected since they are playing teams with better offenses.  They’ve allowed four or more runs in eight games of the three series.  Mike Leake has had a couple of clunker starts. Felix Hernandez, before he got hurt, wasn’t particularly effective and James Paxton wasn’t himself. Also they’ve let one and two-run deficits become four and five-run deficits because of weak middle relief. When the Mariners were rolling, they always stayed in games. And even games they were down, they had chances to win late. They aren’t doing that. They aren’t keeping victory within reach. The wins aren’t decisive and the losses aren’t close.

To be fair, the Rockies are better than their record indicates. Their first five guys in that order are really good and it feels like they can’t get Charlie Blackmon, Trevor Story or Carlos Gonzalez out. Even with the all the injuries, the Angels are capable of scoring runs, particularly at home.

Seattle’s margin for success is slim. You don’t need run differential — now at a -1 —  and the baseball pythagorean to tell you that. But the metric provides further verification. If you’ve watched them consistently this season, you’ll know that they have to play at high level for success. They simply aren’t deep or talented enough to get away with playing sloppy or inefficient and still win games.

That’s an interesting question and a little myopic only dealing with Cruz. But let’s expand. I don’t hate interleague play like some purists, but I will say the novelty of it has worn off over the years. Still, I do like the variety it brings and the chance to see some of the stars of the National League in person and traveling to some of the NL parks.

Favorite NL players to watch in person :

  • Nolan Arenado
  • Max Scherzer
  • Javy Baez
  • Clayton Kershaw
  • Paul Goldschmidt

Best NL cities/stadiums for games

  • Denver
  • Pittsburgh
  • San Diego
  • San Franciso
  • Philadelphia

As for the designated hitter, I have no problem with it going to the NL. I like the DH. I’ve grown up with it. It’s a recognizable position. And a career spent mostly at designated hitter should still get you into the Hall of Fame. Oh wait, Frank Thomas, Paul Molitor and Jim Thome already have been voted in.  I don’t see the DH coming to the National League happening. But if you told commissioner Rob Manfred that it would somehow speed up pace of play or attract younger fans, he’d change it tomorrow. I don’t like seeing pitchers hit. I don’t like seeing pitchers do anything athletic other than pitch.  And the risk of them getting hurt while hitting or running the bases isn’t something that seems completely worth it.

It doesn’t sound like anything is imminent with the naming rights. Chairman John Stanton thought they would have something in place before the end of this season. But sources have said that isn’t really materializing as expected. There’s interest, but nothing close.

Perhaps some local businesses have decided that spending that much money on naming rights for a field isn’t a wise investment. I can definitely see where a business wouldn’t want to make an investment like Safeco did when the stadium opened. And the Mariners should be picky as well. You want a real commitment for at least 10 years. The last thing you want is to be like Oakland and constantly changing stadium names every few years.

And if the Mariners can’t find a match with a company with local ties, then they should just move forward with Mariners Field or SoDo Field. Actually, that sounds like the best option.

But I get the money aspect of wanting a naming rights deal. If someone was willing to pay me $500 a month to wear a shirt with their company logo or name on it to every game I covered, the only question I would have before doing it would be,  if I could get more than one in black.

I’m on the road a lot and I always stay at Marriott properties, but I’m not reaching your level. But I will say that I sleep better in hotels than I do in my own bed, which may be sad, depressing or expected. You could probably get your own hotel with that many nights.

With spring training, the season and other commitments, I’m on the road for about 150 days for work. Throw in other stuff like trips back to Montana or visiting family, and I’m probably home about 150 days a year.

There are people that travel more than I do. Like anything, you just kind of get used to it. You learn how to travel and how you want to travel. Achieving status with airlines or hotels makes life much easier on the road. I have no advice to offer to anyone when it comes to physical health. You try to play for the tie when it comes to eating and working out. But I’m getting results similar to the 2008 football season for Washington and Washington State.

That’s a great question. Obviously, my mom’s cooking is my favorite. I used to love going to Guy’s Steakhouse in Lolo when I lived in Missoula. But it changed owners and names and I haven’t really liked it as much. When I do return to Missoula now, I make sure that I eat some Gumbo-laya at the Dinosaur Cafe and Nalivka’s Pizza in my hometown of Havre.

To quote a sentence from Norman Maclean’s “A River Runs Through It and Other Stories”

“One great thing about fly fishing is that after a while nothing exists of the world but thoughts about fly fishing.”

My dad taught me how to cast in our front yard at age 10. And that’s only way I’ve ever fished since then. Baseball season doesn’t allow for much time.

I don’t see it as a priority for the Mariners. And I’m not sure of any catcher that might be available that would be worth investing in, particularly when it’s just as a back-up. Chris Herrmann can work an at-bat. With so many guys that like to swing at pitches early and often and always, having a guy like Herrmann that can work a walk and is a left-handed hitter has some value.

Of the ways to bolster their roster, it doesn’t seem like that’s a pressing issue.