Game 34, Rangers at Mariners
If the Mariners don’t manage to cut into the Angels’s lead in the next week or two, I get the feeling that there’s going to be a lot of finger pointing going on as to who’s responsible for the team’s awful fortunes, and there’s a very good chance that we’re going to see the new guys, called up to help the franchise, blamed for not turning the team around.
That’s too bad, because they don’t deserve it. Let’s compare where things stand right now just in terms of production.
Balentien’s hitting .238/.238/.524 in his 21 plate appearances. But Wilkerson was hitting .232/.348/.304, so every game he’s playing that Wilkerson doesn’t is an improvement just on offense.
Jeff Clement, new semi-DH, is hitting .176/.300/.176 in 20 plate appearances.
Jose Vidro, the old DH, hit .192/.248/.298 in 113 plate appearances. As a side note, to get to Clement’s line: -3 singles, -1 double, -1 walk (sort of).
In terms of overall contibutions, here’s their VORP: Vidro, -4.1, Clement, -1.2. Clement needs to suck as badly as he’s sucked for another 18 games before he’ll have hurt the team as much as Vidro already has.
If you want to portion out responsibility, start with the players who have really stunk up the place. Johjima, as much as I’ve been a fan, has been horrible (-7.1 VORP). Bloomquist still can’t hit, and managed to get over thirty plate appearances (-2.6 VORP). Miguel Cairo’s awful ten plate appearances (-1.8 plate appearances) hurt the team more than Clement has so far.
And that’s not even getting into who isn’t playing up to expectations or salary. Or the team’s defense, which has been bad.
The rotation’s been pretty good, though Batista and Bedard have disappointed to different degrees. Putz hasn’t been himself, and the bullpen’s been a real weakness so far, along with bullpen management.
Which brings us to the topic at hand. It’s not fair to blame Clement or Balentien if the team doesn’t come back to be competitive. They don’t fill out the lineup cards, forget who’s in the bullpen, or run the game. They didn’t assemble the roster, or hire the manager. They didn’t hire the GM who hired the manager.
Blame, if you’re going to hand it out, should flow upwards from the new guys who’ve only been playing for few games to the architects of the season, roster, and franchise.
But it’s too early yet for blame. Let’s wait a game, at least. And hey! There’s a game in an hour!