Jon Garland Packs His Things
A baseball organization, in a lot of ways, is like a living being. And as with a living being, if you spend a long enough time getting to know a baseball organization, you start to get a sense of its personality. When you get a sense of a personality, you start to be able to anticipate certain behaviors. You start to feel certain ways about things, even if you can’t put your finger exactly on why. We all know the Mariners really well, and as such, I think we all expected the Mariners to add Jon Garland to the roster. From the instant Garland was signed, it felt like he had the inside track on a rotation spot. I don’t know why we felt that way, given that Garland is coming off major surgery, but it seemed to make so much sense. Garland was a veteran, and once upon a time, he was proven and durable. Eric Wedge would remember him from the AL Central. It seemed like Garland would make the team as long as he didn’t suck in spring training, and Garland didn’t suck in spring training.
Given the terms of Garland’s minor-league contract, the Mariners today had to make a decision on whether or not he’d make the team. To me, there was no question in my mind, no ephemeral whisper of doubt. Dave already posted his assumption that Garland would make it. The writers all seemed to figure that Garland would make it, and I don’t think any of us gave much consideration to the alternate scenario. It was a foregone conclusion that Jon Garland would at least begin the 2013 regular season as a Seattle Mariner. The Mariners this afternoon opted against giving Garland a roster spot.
Now, that doesn’t guarantee that Garland is gone. He has 24 hours to decide what he wants to do, but he packed his stuff and the nameplate above his locker is gone. Garland’s presumably going to work somewhere else, and the Mariners are going to have a different rotation than we expected.
Garland, at his best, worked around 87-91 with his fastball, with enough secondary stuff to scrape by. Garland, this spring, worked around 87-91 with his fastball, with enough secondary stuff to scrape by. Garland said he gave it all he had and it actually wasn’t enough. Clearly, we were all in the wrong getting ahead of ourselves, and we thought we knew more about the Mariners than it turns out we do, but even the people closest to the team have been taken by surprise by this. It wasn’t just fans who thought Garland would get his turns.
Don’t feel bad for Garland, in case you’re tempted. It’s never pleasant to be rejected, especially when you’re rejected by a team like the Mariners, but Garland’s going to find work. Teams have holes in their rotations and teams are going to experience injuries. Garland’s going to get his major-league innings and it’s not like there was any Jon Garland/Seattle loyalty at play. He was always going to be a stopgap; he just lasted even less time than expected. The bigger question is what the Mariners do now.
There are two open spots in the rotation. The competition is down to Brandon Maurer, Erasmo Ramirez, Blake Beavan, and Jeremy Bonderman. I haven’t taken Bonderman seriously all spring, but I just learned a valuable lesson about making assumptions about things I don’t know that well. The Mariners seem to like what his arm is doing. All three of the young guys have options, and Bonderman might be willing to report to Tacoma if he doesn’t make the roster. That much is presently uncertain.
The thing about selecting Maurer is the same as it was with selecting Michael Pineda: have Maurer on the roster all year and you might cost yourself a year of service time. But specifically because of what the Mariners did with Pineda, we can’t rule Maurer out. Personally, I’d just give the jobs to Ramirez and Beavan and then re-evaluate in a month or a month and a half if things aren’t going as desired. That way the service-time concerns are a non-issue and it’s not like the team could be crippled by giving seven starts or so to a potentially ineffective Blake Beavan. I’m somewhat curious about his tweaked delivery. Even before, Beavan wasn’t bad. I still can’t bring myself to trust Bonderman, no matter how hard and freely he’s throwing.
But I don’t know what the Mariners are going to do, and ultimately it won’t be a huge deal, because the Opening Day rotation generally isn’t the season-ending rotation, or even the rotation after three or four weeks. If the Mariners go with Ramirez and Beavan, great, even if Bonderman decides against reporting. If the Mariners go with Ramirez or Beavan and Maurer, great, Maurer can go back down if he struggles and if he doesn’t that’s terrific. If Bonderman gets one of the jobs, you have to think about who’d get dropped from the 40-man roster, but there are droppable players, and if Bonderman struggled he wouldn’t last long. Spring training isn’t a time when teams make long-term commitments. They just make decisions about the roster on the first day of the season.
I wouldn’t have even minded having Garland on the team, given the necessity of having pitching depth, but there’s still enough depth without him that this isn’t unwelcome news. It’s surprising news, is what it is. Will there also be surprising news about the Casper Wells vs. Jason Bay competition? I don’t know, I doubt it, I’m going to dinner.