Forget Richie Sexson, Erik Bedard, Bill Bavasi and Jose Vidro – the most disappointing season by a Seattle Mariner last season had to belong to Carlos Silva.
The right-handed free agent took a four-year, $48 million deal, and was signed not as an ace or even as a No. 2 pitcher. What the team wanted, and over spent for, was an innings-eating middle of the rotation starter who could serve as an example to ace Felix Hernandez.
Silva showed up overweight and then ate himself through the worst season of his career – 4-15 with a 6.46 earned run average. After the All-Star break, he made only eight starts.
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Minor injuries, including back problems, sidelined him.
Silva was 'El Buffalo' in spring training. By the end of the year, the coaching staff was calling him 'The Rhino.' It wasn't with affection.
One year into their contract, however, the Mariners sent Silva home to Minnesota this winter with a nutrition guide, a workout regimen and an order: get in shape. That means losing weight and building muscle.
Anyone who's tried that knows it's not easy, but Silva is a professional athlete, and owes the Mariners and their fans enough to make the effort.
When the team tries to turn it around in 2009, it would be much easier if they did so with a trimmer, healthy Silva. If the man whose sinker deserted him last year finds it again, one huge problem goes away.
If he shows up too heavy, the Mariners may move him to the bullpen – they have younger, better options – but that would not make them a better team.
If Silva is to have any value, it's in the rotation.
And, should the man show up in shape and pitch well, who knows? He might either carry his weight or give Seattle the chance to trade him.