Chat wrap: Worried about Ichiro declining?

Jun 1, 2011, 3:26 PM | Updated: 3:44 pm

Mariners 5
Ichiro is hitting .276 this season. (AP photo) staff

A few highlights from the live chat with Shannon Drayer during the Mariners-Orioles game on Wednesday:

JasonNYC: Shannon, love your work. Recently moved to NYC from Seattle, so I follow the M’s through your blog even more now. What’s your feeling on Ichiro? A lot of people seem worried he’s “aging” (aren’t we all?) and on the decline. He always slumps at some point. Any reason to think things are different this year?

Shannon Drayer: Thank you. As I type this Ichiro gets a hit. Worrying about aging at this point of his career is legit. It is going to happen someday. The concern is in the way he has been making the outs. He is pounding the ball into the ground rather than driving it. His line drive rate has been steadily declining for the last few years and that is a concern because he is going to slow down and he isn’t going to be able to leg things out like he traditionally has. When he is convinced of this he will change his game. He told me this two years ago. He adapts. The question is, is this a prolonged slump that he will pull out of or is it time to change his game?

The other thing that is somewhat disturbing is his play in the outfield. He simply isn’t covering the ground that he used to. Good to see the skipper put him at DH to give his legs a break today. We will see more of this.

Daron wonders how much longer the Mariners can afford to keep Michael Saunders on the big league roster. Daron thinks Saunders’ defense is above average, but calls his .168 batting average at this point of the season “unacceptable.”

Drayer: This is an interesting problem. His offense is certainly not big league-caliber right now but as a late inning defensive replacement or a guy that can go in and lay down a bunt or pinch run I think he actually has a lot of value and can really help a winning team. For his development I think it would be best to get him down to AAA to completely overhaul the swing and approach but for now there is a need for him on this team, just not as an everyday player.

BobinEverett wonders whether the Mariners will try to trade for a power hitter like David Wright if they’re still in contention at the All-Star break, or if they’ll “stick with the youth movement and not give up our best young talent.”

Drayer: I think they will go for something in between. They will not trade A-level prospects or players but could trade B-level guys. Erik Bedard could be a possibility if the pitching remains strong. Maybe someone out of the bullpen. Maybe a lower level prospect that is more of a project.

Chris From Bothell: Is Figgy doing anything specific on his off days? Extra cage time, specific drills, extra rest? Or is he going out of his way to keep his routine exactly the same?

Drayer: The routine is pretty much the same but he is not having to save anything for the game. Maybe a little more time in the cages, soft toss. He has an extensive routine and already does more than most before games.

You can see the entire transcript of the chat here.

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