Never Forget To Be Patient

Jeff Sullivan · May 16, 2013 at 3:50 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

(Game thread posted just below)

The Mariners are about to get underway in New York, and starting for Seattle will be Hector Noesi. The last time Noesi started in New York, he gave up five runs in seven innings, with five hits in two-strike counts. That was a game that got a hell of a lot of people frustrated. But this isn’t by design — Aaron Harang is a little bit hurt — and this also isn’t a post about Hector Noesi. Because another guy starting today for the Mariners is Brendan Ryan, at shortstop.

It was early on April 24 that Brendan Ryan was benched in favor of Robert Andino. From the linked article:

Just to clarify, I asked Wedge point-blank whether the pair were flip-flopping roles — Andino the starter and Ryan his backup.

“Yeah,” he said. “What I’m going to do is take it day-by-day, week-by-week and month-by-month, quite frankly,” Wedge said. “And I’m going to give Robert a chance to play and see where he takes it. I liked what I saw with his work and his approach this spring. I don’t feel like it’s been as good here in-season.”

The news caused a stir, because Ryan is better than Andino is. They’re basically identical hitters, in that they both suck, but Ryan’s a spectacular fielder while Andino’s an okay one, so in terms of overall value, Ryan comes out ahead, almost unquestionably. A lot of people didn’t understand why the Mariners were going to make themselves worse. It’s not like Andino is some kind of prospect. He’s 29 years old. He hasn’t been a prospect for more than half a decade.

This is going to be the Mariners’ 19th game since that news was delivered. Over that course, Andino has started at shortstop seven times, while Ryan has started at shortstop 12 times. The day-by-day breakdown, from oldest to newest:

  • Andino
  • Andino
  • Ryan
  • Ryan
  • Andino
  • Ryan
  • Ryan
  • Andino
  • Ryan
  • Andino
  • Andino
  • Ryan
  • Andino
  • Ryan
  • Ryan
  • Ryan
  • Ryan
  • Ryan
  • Ryan

It’s not like Andino’s been hurt. He just started a couple times in a row in place of Dustin Ackley, who might be working on something on the side. But where it looked like Andino might take over as the Mariners’ regular shortstop, Ryan looks like the starter again just a few weeks later. He hasn’t earned it by hitting. Ryan hasn’t started to hit. But Andino also hasn’t hit, and this was probably more about trying to get Ryan to relax and take a step back.

Which is fine. With this move in particular, it’s not necessarily like the Mariners were ignoring Ryan’s defensive value. If the Mariners didn’t realize how much Ryan can do in the field, he wouldn’t still be on the team. I think the Mariners just wanted to give Ryan a break, which would be in their longer-term best interests. Ryan gets frustrated easily, and the Mariners don’t need for that frustration to consume him. Picking Robert Andino over Brendan Ryan for a little while isn’t the same as picking Andino over Ryan, just.

More generally, I think it’s important not to overreact to news like this. Sometimes a player needs to be dealt with, even if his numbers are better than those of his backup. I think a common, kind of similar issue is the matter of the opening-day roster — people spill a lot of emotion over who does and doesn’t break camp, even though the roster is constantly changing. A guy who makes the bullpen might be out of a job a week and a half later. It’s good to have opinions, it’s good to have analysis, but it’s important to be patient. Criticize what you want to criticize, but don’t get overly critical until it’s actually warranted. Until a bad situation has played out for too long.

I guess this is along the same lines as the post I wrote the other day, about young players getting days off. I don’t really trust baseball managers on their strategy, and I don’t really trust them on their analysis or interpretation of statistics. If there’s one area where I do most trust managers, it’s on the day-to-day handling of personalities. They have to decide when a guy needs a day and when it’s right to push him, and while they won’t always be right in what they do, that’s where they have the biggest information advantage over an outsider. That can’t be ignored, or overstated. There’s a reason I seldom complain about lineups.

Too often, people act like a controversial bit of news is a big deal. Few things are big deals. It’s always fine, and downright encouraged, to think critically, but try to save the strong words for when they most make sense. Have patience, in sports and in everything.


17 Responses to “Never Forget To Be Patient”

  1. scraps on May 16th, 2013 4:04 pm

    Boy, have you set up yourself for apoplexy from the USS Mariner’s Comment Knowledge Squad.

  2. Logan Davis on May 16th, 2013 4:06 pm

    Jeff, I love how all of your articles provide advice for life in general rather than just baseball analysis. That’s the only part of your writing I actively try to emulate.

    I agree that Ryan’s benching likely had nothing to do with his level of play and that Wedge realizes his value, but I think the real reason is one you didn’t address. According to one of Divish’s chats last week, Ryan was supposed to do extra cage and BP work to help get out of his slump, but didn’t. Wedge probably had to make a show of benching him – even though he knew he wouldn’t actually be reducing his playing time by much – just for the sake of clubhouse politics and “accountability”. Turns out baseball jobs, just like real-world jobs, are often influenced by office politics.

  3. Bodhizefa on May 16th, 2013 4:30 pm

    I guess my only issue with being patient is that neither Ryan nor Andino looks like a big league player at this point (nor does Dustin Ackley, for that matter). In my opinion, the Mariners should be looking to cultivate an atmosphere where worthy players get playing time and crappy players are benched, demoted, or released. None of the aforementioned three are worthy of playing time at this point, and I, for one, would love to see what Nick Franklin and possibly even Carlos Triunfel (even though I know he’s never going to amount to much, he still may be better than Andino) is capable of right about now.

    If the M’s absolutely have to wait till the Super 2 deadline (whenever the heck that is) for Franklin to get the call, I guess I can be patient for that. But if he’s not up at that point, that’s when I start busting out the pitchforks. And if Ackley is still struggling at that point, you’re darned right I think about demoting him at the same time.

  4. gopilots70 on May 16th, 2013 4:50 pm

    Yeah to the pitchforks!!

    With all of the discussion about Brendan Ryan, of which I have been a willing and vocal participant, there is another thing that has concerned me more lately. Dustin Ackley.

    On Saturday, Ackley got a key hit in a late inning situation against a very tough lefty reliever–Sean Doolittle. So being one who believes, or at least usually sees that managers love to ride these “confidence builders”, I expected him to be in the next day against the lefty Millone, who, as Dave or Marc or Jeff accurately pointed out, is hit pretty well by lefties. Nowhere to be found. Off day on Monday and out of the lineup again against CC.

    I still have not lost hope about Ackley. He just hasn’t looked that bad to me. He is a very good defender and improving. He is much more valuable, according to Fangraphs this year than Brendan Ryan. I just don’t get it. I do agree with Jeff’s comments about manager’s knowing when a player needs a day off.

    I like how they are handling Montero. I just think that Ackley should be in there every day because he is a good defender and while the numbers are not good he has not looked overmatched at the plate. And he is hitting better than anyone who subs for him.

    The most chilling quote from today’s excellent lead by Jeff about Ryan is Wedge’s “going to take it…month to month”. It seems that we are in for a long ride with the Brendan Ryan situation.

    Sharpen those tines!

  5. gopilots70 on May 16th, 2013 5:19 pm

    If Jack would have gone ahead with the first Jesus Montero trade, Hector Noesi would be throwing a shutout right now. No wait, we wouldn’t have Hector. Maybe it would be Zach McAllister on the mound. And then Justin Smoak wouldn’t just be on the bench, he would be in Round Rock.

  6. smb on May 16th, 2013 7:38 pm

    At least the pitching is starting to reward my patience…and Brendan Ryan not hitting isn’t exactly new to me, even if it’s gotten appreciably worse this season.

    And nice of the Mariners to take pity on the bball fans among us and give us a win over the hated Yankees. I’ll take that and smile anyday!

  7. The Dreeze on May 16th, 2013 10:15 pm

    We’re playing over .500 baseball when Morse and Saunders aren’t hurt. What is all this complaining?


  8. Bryce on May 16th, 2013 10:23 pm

    You really had to mention that Morse and Saunders aren’t hurt? Now they’ll probably have a massive collision in the outfield tomorrow and knock each other out for the season.

    If Hultzen hadn’t have gotten hurt this team would probably be that much more interesting right now.

  9. Westside guy on May 16th, 2013 11:20 pm

    Not only does the health of Saunders and Morse correlate with the team winning games, but they are playing 1.000 baseball on those days they out score their opponents.

  10. henryv on May 17th, 2013 7:32 am

    Be patient…

    Eric Wedge will be fired soon.

  11. eddie on May 17th, 2013 7:42 am

    It may just be my ‘magination (running away with me) but it seems that Wedge benches the guy who is hitting the best. And the feel-good story of Montero hitting a home run in each of Felix’s games to provide the margin of victory? Montero was benched Felix’s last start.

    It’s like he can’t handle success. Like poor Alex Liddi hitting grand slams on two consecutive days in spring training and the next day being sent to minor league camp. (“We can’t have that here, son.”).

  12. terry on May 17th, 2013 7:51 am

    Geoff Baker is a troll.

  13. Westside guy on May 17th, 2013 8:25 am


    They’re in second place. This organization exhibits little evidence that they look at anything that wasn’t already en vogue back in the days of Kennesaw Mountain Landis. So why would they fire Wedge?

  14. stevemotivateir on May 17th, 2013 8:43 am

    Wedge won’t be fired any time soon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if both he and Jack were dismissed after the season if they fail to produce more wins than losses. I would hope they’re both dismissed even if they do finish with a few wins over .500.

    This team is likely to go through another major overhaul this offseason (if not before). What has Jack done that shows he’s the right guy to put together a ML team? And what has Wedge done to show he can lead them?

    We’re treading water with our outfield options and using oxygen tanks (possibly in the literal sense) to keep everyone functioning.

    This is a team held together with duct tape.

  15. spuuky on May 17th, 2013 10:23 am

    Also, never forget to be thankful that Josh Hamilton isn’t roaming our outfield for the next 6 years at an astronomical fee while hitting .215.

  16. henryv on May 17th, 2013 10:32 am

    Here is what is going to get Wedge fired:

    Iwakuma pitches back towards what he probably should, or worse.

    Morse starts striking out more, again, and stops hitting home runs.

    Seagar struggles, especially against LHP. Smoak and Ackley keep being mediocre.

    Ibanez and Morse in the same outfield.

    Felix has a couple bad starts in a row.

    If a couple of these happen, all of a sudden, you’re talking about a 2-3 week period where you might win 2 or 3 games.

    Remember, just because we’re riding high now, doesn’t mean that this isn’t the exact same team that started May. Eventually this team is going to go into a tailspin, again. 3/5 of this rotation doesn’t really “belong in the major leagues”, and hoping to remain a .500 team with a large negative run differential isn’t particularly likely, unless, apparently, you’re the Orioles last year.

  17. Westside guy on May 17th, 2013 11:06 am

    I hope you’re right, Henry – but I worry that you’re not.

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