Inbox: How will transition affect Mariners?

April 28th, 2016

How certain is the Mariners' new ownership group that MLB will approve the sale?
-- Debbie R., Camano Island, Wash.

Given that the new group is simply the 17 current Mariners minority owners taking over 45 percent of the team previously controlled by Nintendo -- which is retaining 10 percent of its share -- this transaction figures to be pretty straightforward when Major League owners meet at their next quarterly meeting from Aug. 16-18 in Houston.
Documents and information are already being vetted by the league, and it should just be a matter of approving the sale and new ownership point person John Stanton, who has previously met Commissioner Rob Manfred. Once MLB approves the transition, the documents can be signed and the sale finalized, at which point Stanton will replace Howard Lincoln as chairman and CEO.
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Is Lincoln still going to have any say in the team's operations? I saw that he is remaining on the board of directors.
-- Paul F., Kennewick, Wash.

Lincoln is retiring and won't be part of day-to-day operations. He will remain as one of seven members of the board of directors, a group representing the 17 minority owners that meets every month to be kept up to speed on both the baseball and business sides.
That group currently consists of Lincoln as chairman, along with former CEO John Ellis, Chris Larson, Frank Shrontz, Raymond "Buck" Ferguson, Minoru Arakawa and Stanton, who recently replaced Wayne Perry. Once the sale is completed, Stanton will replace Lincoln as chairman. Lincoln will take Arakawa's spot as the Nintendo representative on the board, and another minority owner -- former Microsoft executive Jeff Raikes -- will join the board to fill the vacant position created by Stanton's promotion.
What is the long-term plan for first base? Are you surprised by Dae-Ho Lee's hitting ability? Adam Lind and Lee seem temporary, one or two years max.
-- Allen B., Seattle

I'm more surprised by Lee's defense, honestly, as manager Scott Servais actually went with Lee in the field and Lind at designated hitter on Wednesday in the first game they were in the lineup at the same time. Lee has been working on his defense tirelessly and has good hands and instincts, but those two will remain platoon partners for the most part. As for the long term? Lee is 33, Lind is 32 and both are on a one-year deal. So I wouldn't see either as a "long-term" answer, though no team has every position locked up for multiple years.
How is Danny Hultzen doing?
-- James, Honolulu, Hawaii

According to general manager Jerry Dipoto, Hultzen is in the early stages of a throwing program at the team's facility in Peoria, Ariz., though there's no set timetable yet for his return to the mound. It's not realistic to expect Hultzen to fulfill the expectations of a high first-round Draft pick after all he's been through, as few pitchers return 100 percent from rotator cuff and labrum tears -- unlike Tommy John elbow surgery. The goal now is simply to get Hultzen back to a point where he can pitch competitively again and then see where that takes him.
Has any player besides Edgar Martinez spent his entire career (of, say, five years or more) with the Mariners?
-- Arnold D., Tempe, Ariz.

Interesting question -- that group is surprisingly small. Other than Edgar, the only retired player who spent five or more seasons with Seattle and never played for another Major League team was reliever Julio Mateo, who spent parts of six seasons with the Mariners from 2002-07. Mateo was traded to the Phillies in '07 but never appeared in a Major League game for another organization.
There are several current candidates, of course, led by Felix Hernandez and Kyle Seager, who have played five-plus seasons for only the Mariners. But their careers have not yet ended. Hisashi Iwakuma is in his fifth season with the Mariners and has yet to play for another MLB team, though he spent 11 seasons in Japan.

Do you think Robinson Cano can win an All-Star vote at second base with his current numbers? Jose Altuve has a much better batting average, but Cano is leading the league in the other Triple Crown categories.
-- Bryce G., Everett, Wash.

Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for Cano and other #ASGWorthy players
Both players are off to good starts. Altuve has six homers, 13 RBIs and nine stolen bases to go with his .330 average, so I'm sure he'll draw plenty of votes. You can't help but be impressed by Cano's power production (eight homers and 24 RBIs) to date, and I would think his .247 average will climb. Cano has a big name nationally, but after seeing how Royals fans swayed the vote last year, you never know how All-Star balloting might go. And as this story shows, there are numerous deserving candidates at that position in the American League.