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01/21/08 4:08 PM ET

Mailbag: Why isn't Reed out of options?

Beat reporter Jim Street answers Mariners fans' questions

Spring Training begins in less than a month, and the Mariners are gearing up for the six-week training session held in Peoria, Ariz. Every camp, including this one, will be filled with question marks, and speaking of questions, we're here to answer as many as we can. So log on and send yours in.

How is it that Mike Morse is out of options but Jeremy Reed isn't? Reed has appeared in the Majors in four different seasons, but Morse has only three seasons.
-- Michael P., Lakewood, Wash.

The player-option specifications, as spelled out in the Basic Agreement between the Major League owners and Players Association, are somewhat complicated, but basically the majority of players -- including Morse and Reed -- have three option years during their professional career. During each of those years, a player can be "optioned" to the Minor Leagues as many times as the organization desires.

The Mariners optioned Morse to the Minors during the 2005, '06 and '07 seasons, and therefore he is out of options. Reed, on the other hand, has been optioned to the Minors only once -- last season -- during his professional career and therefore has two option years remaining. A player out of options must clear waivers in order to be sent to the Minors.

Do you feel that Felix Hernandez is ready to take the next step this season and become one of the top pitchers in baseball?
-- Jason G., Deshler, Ohio

If Hernandez improves as much in 2008 as he did in '07, which I believe is extremely possible, he would become one of the top hurlers in baseball. He has everything it takes, including the desire, to become a perennial All-Star pitcher. I would be more surprised if he isn't an All-Star this season than if he is.

Is there any chance Yung Chi Chen can be the main second baseman this year?
-- Steve Y., Taipei, Taiwan

As long as incumbent Jose Lopez performs close to his ability, which is All-Star caliber, Chen figures to receive more seasoning in the Minors, most likely with Triple-A Tacoma. But if Lopez falters and recently signed Miguel Cairo is too valuable as a versatile backup, you could see Chen in Seattle.

Why didn't the Mariners try harder for Johan Santana? He's had over 15 wins a season since 2004.
-- Trenton D., Enumclaw, Wash.

I am not sure how much harder the Mariners could have tried, but from what I understand, they discussed what they considered to be a quality package for Santana but never really got anywhere in their talks with the Twins, who still haven't traded the two-time American League Cy Young Award winner.

Furthermore, Santana, who has one year remaining on his contract with Minnesota, let it be known that he had no desire to sign a long-term contract with the Mariners. In other words, the Seattle farm system could have been gutted for a pitcher who would spend one year with the Mariners and that could've set the Seattle franchise back several years.

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You wrote that the Mariners acquired catcher Yorvit Torrealba from the Giants in 2005. Who did the Mariners get when he went to the Rockies?
-- Stefano G., Genova, Italy

Torrealba, acquired from San Francisco along with pitcher Jesse Foppert on June 30, 2005, for outfielder Randy Winn, was traded to the Rockies on Dec. 7, 2005, for Marcos Carvajal. The Mariners then traded Carvajal to the Rays for Minor League pitcher Jose De La Cruz on April 6, 2006. De La Cruz, a right-handed reliever, split the 2007 season with Double-A West Tennessee (1-2, 3.18 ERA in 34 appearances) and Triple-A Tacoma (0-0, 11.32 ERA in eight appearances).

Is Phillipe Aumont, the young prospect out of Canada, still in the Mariners organization and if so, how is he doing?
-- James A., Van Nuys, Calif.

Aumont, the Mariners' first-round Draft choice last June, signed shortly before the Aug. 15 deadline and pitched for the Canada Junior National Team in the World Cup instead of a Seattle Minor League club. He will report to Spring Training on Feb. 13 with the remainder of the pitchers and catchers invited to camp. I would expect him to start the season at either Class A High Desert (California League) or Class A Wisconsin (Midwest League).

Every year, as the Mariners are about to start their Spring Training schedule, we are told that the first game, a charity game against the Padres, will not count in the Cactus League standings. Given the fact that the Cactus League standings don't count for anything, why does it matter if this game is counted or not?
-- Pete L., Indio, Calif.

Many news outlets, including MLB.com, publish daily Cactus League and Grapefruit League standings, along with updated player statistics, so fans can keep track of their favorite team/players throughout Spring Training. The Mariners and Padres decided years ago to begin every spring schedule with a charity game, which essentially is a "B" game, which really has no specific rules of play.

Therefore, the charity game is not considered as an "official" Cactus League game and none of the statistics are included in the daily updates. It is similar to a Major League team playing a college team, which happens every spring in Florida and Arizona.

Who was the player traded to the Indians for Ben Broussard?
-- Hayoto U., Beaverton, Ore.

The Mariners traded outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and a player to be named later (Shawn Nottingham) to the Indians for Broussard on July 26, 2006.

I may be thinking of someone else, but was Miguel Cairo Mariners property early in his career? I recall him being acquired and then traded shortly after. Any idea if it was him?
-- Jon S., Battle Ground, Wash.

They are one and the same. Cairo was in the Mariners organization for 20 days, but never put on a Mariners uniform. He was acquired from the Dodgers for third baseman Mike Blowers on Nov. 29, 1995, and then dealt to the Blue Jays on Dec. 18 for Paul Menhart and Edwin Hurtado.

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.