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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

May 2, 2007 at 3:42 PM

Mariners comfort cushion

Just arrived in beautiful, sunny Boston after flying all day beginning at 7 a.m. and transferring through Newark, N.J., so, don’t worry, none of you were scooping the blog by posting the Felix Hernandez info. If I’m in the air, it can’t get posted by me. Can’t say I’m all that surprised, given how the Mariners improved to 12-10 with today’s win over an offensively inept Chicago White Sox crew. But, you’ve got to give Seattle credit. The M’s keep winning the games they have to in order to give themselves a cushion of comfort that allows them to do things like what they are now plotting with Hernandez and Jeff Weaver.
As we mentioned earlier this week, as long as the Mariners stay within sniffing distance of the AL West lead, there is no need to push Hernandez back into action. Better to allow him an extra five days of rest than send him out to Yankee Stadium in front of those home run bats. So, that part of this equation doesn’t surprise me. What does, is the Mariners’ determination to keep sending Weaver to the mound. If he goes out and gets bashed around again, which is very likely given his history against the Yankees, then the decision-makers have only themselves to blame.
Yes, the Mariners are feeling somewhat squeezed right now. They don’t want to have to make a roster move in order to call another starter up from Class AAA Tacoma. They also don’t want to have to cobble a bunch of long relievers together for a makeshift start in Weaver’s place, now that Seattle will be facing offenses a whole lot tougher than what they’ve faced the past seven days. Those relievers could be needed in more than just this one game.
And this isn’t a lobby to run Weaver out of Seattle. When you invest $8.3 million in a pitcher, you don’t give up on him four outings into a season. That’s why the Mariners won’t release Weaver outright. That would truly make him a sunk cost. No, it’s better for the team to hang on to Weaver and try to get him to work his way back to previous form. But that work should come in the bullpen. And I have no doubt it will, barring a dramatic turnaround this weekend. The Mariners have yet to see anything resembling success from Weaver in a starting role. There is no track record for him to build off of. Pitchers do get lucky at Yankee Stadium from time to time and the Yanks have had their problems this season. But more often than not, it’s a ballpark and team that eats struggling pitchers alive. Once again, take a look at Weaver’s career stats against the current Yankee lineup. Abysmal doesn’t even cover it.
This move, plain and simple, is being made because the Mariners feel they are close enough to the top of the division that they can afford to sacrifice one game on Saturday. By doing it, they save their bullpen from a spot-start in case they’re needed to avoid multiple losses down the road on a very tough trip, get away with not having to make a roster move and — most importantly — give Hernandez even more time to come back completely healthy.
And who knows? The Mariners might even get lucky and win Weaver’s start. But you can bet it’s not something they are counting on.

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