Steve Kelley wrote a melodramatic column after the Yankees came back to win on Sunday, proclaiming the team dead in the water and holding that one game up as everything wrong with the franchise. I didn’t watch that meltdown, so the column felt like an emotional overreaction to a tough loss.
Consider this my version of that column.
First, the offense. In one of their biggest outbursts of the season, they were still bad.
The Mariners got 18 hits. 17 of them were singles. Seventeen singles. Just unreal.
They drew one walk in 52 plate appearances. That’s an approach that just won’t work.
Rich Aurilia was the only starter to not leave at least two men on base.
This sums up the offense. The M’s made a point of acquiring a bunch of impatient hacks who can’t drive the ball, and it’s no surprise that they can’t score runs. You just can’t single your way to blowouts. Screw the broadcasters and their love for little ball and moving runners along; good offenses draw walks and hit home runs. The Mariners do neither, and until they learn the value of patience and power, they are going to be a poor offensive club.
Now, the pitching. Pineiro rebounded, which shouldn’t be a huge surprise. Unless he’s hurt, he’s coming back to decency. But man, the bullpen sucks, and its exacerbated by a manager whose giant, gaping weakness is bullpen management.
Shigetoshi Hasegawa faces four batters, retires none, all score. Is this the most predictable meltdown in major league history, or does Ryan Franklin edge him out for that award? Did anyone think this wasn’t going to happen?
Mike Myers, the lefty specialist who can’t throw strikes, throws one pitch two feet inside, allows a run to score, and is yanked. Giant waste of a roster spot. Replacement level pitcher making twice the league minimum to be worse than half of the relievers in Tacoma. George Sherrill, anyone?
But the real story of tonight’s pitching debacle is the absolute insanity of the bullpen management. Apparently, Eddie Guardado is completely incapable of pitching in any situation where the team isn’t winning in the 9th inning. Letting Hasegawa start the 8th is fine. Replacing him with Mike Myers, up by 3, with the bases loaded and nobody out, well, that’s just ridiculously stupid. Yanking Myers after one pitch to bring in J.J. Putz, now protecting a two run lead, that’s managerial stupidity of the greatest kind. I like Putz, and we stumped for him to have a job in spring training. But this situation demands you try to win with your best reliever, and Guardado didn’t even begin to warm up. After Putz allows a pair of inherited runners to score and tie the game, we’re subjected to 2 innings of Ron Villone. Why? Seriously, there is absolutely no rational reason for the M’s to play 11 innings of baseball, use 4 relievers, and have Guardado not get on the mound.
Earlier today, I was ready to write a piece on why its too early to throw in the towel, why the slow start was causing overreactions, and offering some reasons to expect a turnaround. But you know what, this team stinks. And they deserved to lose this game. This is the kind of game that makes you want to root against Melvin and Bavasi, with their flaws being so obviously pointed out that one can’t help but wonder how they got their jobs in the first place. Melvin’s an awful strategical manager playing with a roster of bad baseball players with little chance of improvement. The 2004 season is just about a waste, and it’s not even mid-May. Forget trading for Beltran; I’m not sure trading for the entire AL Central would help at this point.
This is a last place team that might win 80 games if things break right. Bavasi deserves to be the shortest tenured GM in recent baseball history. An awful offseason leading to one of the most disappointing seasons in Mariner history, and it was as predicatble as it is hard to watch. Forget the optimism; it’s time to clean house.
Much longer post coming after this game, but I’m getting this in now so it doesn’t look like second guessing. Bases loaded, no out, tying run at the plate in left-hander Jacque Jones in the 8th inning, and you go to… Mike Myers. The stupidity of the closer role defined, right here. Guardado should absolutely be on the mound right now. This is the game.
From today’s Gammons:
Hats off to GM Bill Bavasi for recognizing the Mariners’ problem is that they need to get younger, more athletic and energetic. Now they have to figure out what’s going on with Joel Pineiro. “It’s not stuff or velocity,” said manager Bob Melvin. “He’s throwing with the same velocity he had last season.”
Ummmmmmm, then how about hats back on for spending the offseason making the team older, less athletic and energetic? Oooor for not doing anything with this recognition by Bavasi? And didn’t Bavasi just say a little while ago that the team was fine, it just took veterans longer to get started (which, side note, also ridiculous)?
This is like applauding Ken Lay for saying “whoops, maybe I was a little aggressive there” after the fall of Enron.
We should take our hats off for people who are smart enough to spend some time thinking about these things in advance, and avoid them.
Actually, you know what this is like? It’s like when I worked at AT&T Wireless, and they had this Circle of Excellence thing they sent the best teams on, and you could predict the teams like so:
Year X: Team that screwed up the implementation of a huge new system and worked long hours to get it into production (saaaaaaaaaaay, Siebel)
Year X+1: Team that spent the year cleaning up the horrible, business-destroying bugs the last team left in in their rush to get into production (Siebel upgrade)
Year X+2: Team working on business-wide issues involving inefficent, badly designed-and-deployed systems (Performance And Reliability team)
Year X+3: Team that screwed up the implementation of a huge new system to replace the last one that never worked right, and worked long hours to get it into production (saaaaaaaaay, Siebel 7.5)
Meanwhile, if you did a great job, thought things through, managed your timelines and budget, no matter how much money you contributed to the bottom line, there was no chance you’d go to Hawaii, because you weren’t high profile enough.
At the end of this season, will we look at a 81-81 Mariners team and say “Good job salvaging a disaster out of the catastrophe you created, Bavasi”?
Rafael Soriano was placed on the DL today with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament, or basically pain in his elbow. Spin this any way you want, but its bad. Soriano plus elbow pain is not good news.
To take his spot until Willie Bloomquist comes back, we get to watch Ramon Santiago hack away. Don’t waste your breath complaining that Leone, Strong, or Zapp should have gotten the call; no point in wasting an option on a replacement for a couple of days until Bloomquist is healthy. Santiago is just roster filler right now.
Also, thanks to everyone who sent us the quote on Bavasi in Gammons latest column. No, I have no idea what Peter was thinking either.
Finally, just as a point of clarification, the M’s don’t save a dime on Kevin Jarvis’ contract until the Rockies give him a major league contract. A minor league contract does not supercede the M’s responsibility for his major league minimum. If the Rockies eventually purchase Jarvis’ contract from Triple-A, at that point, the M’s will save the prorated version of $300,000. Odds are, even if Colorado ever does get around to bringing Jarvis up, the M’s won’t save more than $100,000 or so.