Well, I'm at Safeco Field today, after a nice cross country flight that took me from LaGuardia Airport in New York, to Cincy for a quick layover -- no I didn't see Ken Griffey Jr. boarding a plane to Seattle - to Sea-Tac, where I saw Miguel Cairo there - no he wasn't being shipped out to another team. Anyway my day started at 3 a.m. Eastern time and I did managed an hour nap on the plane and an hour nap in Tacoma.
So if my writing is a little off and more mistake-filled than usual, that's my excuse. Anyway some of you may wondering if it commitment to the job that brought me up to Safeco on a travel day. Well, sort of. I will admit that as a kid I grew up cheering for the Boston Red Sox. It kind of started after Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. I really didn't care for them, but I just remember the look on Bill Buckner's face walking off the field at Shea. I just felt sorry for him and I remember cheering for them in Game 7. And from there, I just kind of liked the Sox. I was a big fan of Mike "Gator" Greenwell - don't ask me why, but I have 234 Greenie cards, and even his rookie probably isn't worth the cardboard it's printed on. I'll get more to this later, and the trend of the Sox fans taking over Safeco.
One thing I did do on the trip was grade the suckfest, err, road trip.
Six games, six losses, a multitude of runs, a multitude of mistakes, is there any question what the grades for this road trip are going to be.
Hmm, let's take a line from Animal House.
The Mariners are now 18-33 with a firm grip on last place in the American League West, and perhaps more frustrating – the worst record in the American League.
To be fair, the Mariners actually scored some runs over the six games - 27 runs, which is just over four a game. But let's not kid ourselves. Things like Detroit's pathetic bullpen and Richie Sexson's meaningless two-run home run in the eighth inning of a nine-run game helped the overall numbers. But in terms of playing good offensive baseball, the Mariners were below sub-standard. I can remember at least two times where they had a runner on third with less than two outs and failed to score him. One thing to remember though. Because the Mariners were constantly down by a plethora of runs, they weren't able to do much in the way of manufacturing runs and being aggressive, instead having to stay back and hope for some walks and homers, which we all know they aren't good at.
Let's see the Mariners gave up a gajillion runs, only twice did a starter make it past the fifth inning, and that was Silva and Washburn going six in the road trip's last two games. In all the Mariners gave up 61 runs on the road trip for an ERA of 11.44. That span of pitching dropped them into a tie with Detroit for the worst overall ERA in all of baseball at 4.96.
But it was the matter in which the pitchers gave up the runs. The pitching took their team out of the game almost immediately. The Mariners would be down five, six sometimes nine runs before the fourth inning. Those type of shellings are hardly morale builders. And the bullpen wasn't much better. Sure most of the games were basically out of hand when they came in, but Sunday's meltdown was bad. Sean Green cannot walk Derek Jeter. He just can't. Make Jeter beat you, but don't walk him. He's the lead-off hitter. And Arthur Rhodes has one job – get lefties out – and he couldn't do it. Yes Bobby Abreu had a nice at-bat, but when you're one job is to come in and get one left-handed hitter out and instead you give up a double that scores a run. It should be deemed failure.
When the pitchers weren't giving up earned runs, the defense was tossing a few unearned runs out as well. Jose Lopez's booted ground ball at second on Saturday led to two runs and turned a manageable deficit into an impossible one. Lopez had a couple of bad fielding miscues. Wlad Balentien still has some trouble at the hard line drives hit to him in left. Raul Ibanez is simply not going to get to certain balls. His range is that far gone. And Adrian Beltre continues to add to his error total this season - 8 total. Hell, even Ichiro isn't exempt in this. He over ran a ground ball in the outfield, and couldn't come up with a tough catch in center yesterday. I'm chalking up J.J.'s error to poor judgment of the situation. Like he said, he got caught up in the moment and when you've lost five in a row, that play seems like a good idea, when really it is the opposite.
Why? Because I really didn't know if it was going to stay in tact for the whole trip.
First of all, I liked that general manager Bill Bavasi backed John McLaren, while blaming the players. He's right - there's a lack of leadership and accountability in the clubhouse and some players have developed a sense of tolerance of inconsistence play. That's not to say they want to play sloppily, but that mistakes just don't' bother them as much as they should. But Bavasi seemed unwilling to take any responsibility for it. Yes, he said that ultimately it's his responsibility. Still, he's questioning the character and competitiveness of the players he brought in. I would think that's something he might want to have done a little research on before signing a guy. You check a player's health, you scout his baseball abilities, perhaps inquiring as to a player's personal make-up might be instructive. Or with someone like Bedard is he willing to overlook certain things because of the baseball talent.