Echoes of Columns Future
Many of you have gotten your wish, as manager Don Wakamatsu confirmed that Carlos Silva would not make his next turn in the rotation, and will pitch from the bullpen for the forseeable future. Silvaâ€™s been a divisive figure among Mariner fans since coming over after his 2007 campaign with the Twins that made him the #1 free agent pitcher on the market, signing a four year, $48m contract to solidify the rotation.
Unfortunately for him, a fan base thatâ€™s never forgiven Alex Rodriguez for taking the money and running in free agency expected so much of him it would have been impossible to meet expectations — and the backlash led to a situation where he could do no right, and went to the mound every start for a crowd that expected him to lose.
He never had a chance this season. Booing practically started after the last out of the previous game was recorded. But he did everything he could, everything anyone could have asked for. He dropped weight and adopted a new, rigorous workout schedule (which players like Ichiro are lauded for) and still they called him fat. He did everything to try to help heal a divided clubhouse by holding a party at his Minnesota home and reaching out to his teammates, and he was still mocked as fat. Silva was never given credit for the things he did well. People would rather dwell on his honest comments on the teamâ€™s problems with accountability last year than see how his sense of humor and generosity contributed to this yearâ€™s unity. And it carried into the view of his performances — even when there were encouraging signs of progress, he was met with defeatism and negativity. Itâ€™s hard to succeed under those circumstances.
But donâ€™t question his dedication. He didnâ€™t have to work so hard to get into better shape for this season — heâ€™d have been paid whether he did or not. He did it because as much as many of you would like to forget it, heâ€™s a competitor, a former rock of the Twins rotation. Remember how heavily his winless streak weighed on him, how he pitched through shoulder stiffness trying to grind out starts, and particularly think about how badly he wanted to stay in that April 25th start that ended up breaking his streak. Even the Silva so many have been so disappointed with still have his team a chance to win: the team had a winning record in his starts when he lost his rotation spot.
And while players like Ichiro are continually defended, every excuse made for their slow starts or poor performances, when Silva goes up against a fastball-hitting team he can expect mockery, not sympathy or support. If the team had been a little better about finding him good matchups, we might not even be having a conversation about whether his spot was in jeopardy.
As much as his detractors like to throw around terms like â€œsunk costâ€ itâ€™s clear from the fan treatment of pitchers whoâ€™ve done just as much damage to their chances (cough, Corcoran) that his contract was as much an issue as his performance. Itâ€™s not hard to think that if heâ€™d come to Seattle as a bargain, whether heâ€™d have been a pleasant surprise, with fans looking forward to seeing him contribute in the future, instead of the current unpleasant situation, with over two years and $24 million left on the contract, saddled with unreachable expectations the previous front office put on him.
Hopefully, he can make the right adjustments in the bullpen, but itâ€™s likely that the only way heâ€™ll find success and Mariner fans will be able to move on is for him to be traded or released and get a new start with a new team, where hopefully he can find the support he needs and find the success thatâ€™s eluded him during his time in Seattle.