1:15 p.m.: Carlos Silva left today’s game with mild lower back tightness. But his team leads 3-2 as we enter the bottom of the eighth, having escaped a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the seventh on that double-play ball attained by Arthur Rhodes. It’s rare to see this team pick up a teammate like the M’s have done for Silva so far, scoring twice in the seventh to take the lead. This type of stuff has been lacking all season.
11:22 a.m.: We’re back up, finally. I’ve got a ton of work to do here today and a feature due out in our paper for tomorrow, so my comments in-game are going to be sparse. I can tell you the Mariners’ coaching staff had another long meeting with GM Bill Bavasi behind closed doors today. They are not happy with the defense, which committed four errors last night. They are making some re-adjustments to outfielder positioning — hoping it will cut down on all those runners going first-to-third on singles. The outfielders will be playing more shallow than usual. If a ball gets over their heads, the attitude of the team now is so be it. They simply don’t want all those extra bags taken.
Jeff Clement is in at catcher today. Kenji Johjima and his hot bat are at DH. Jamie Burke is the odd man out. Burke has been losing some playing time. The M’s hope that Clement not having to DH all the time will help get his bat going.
On Felix Hernandez from last night. Those of you suggesting this is about me needing a quote from Hernandez to fill a story up are a tad off-base. It took twice as long for me to write that story the way I did than to simply plug in a few dial-a-quotes from the pitcher. This is about accountability. I find it hilarious that so many of you are quick to write in demanding answers for this season’s failures, but are more than willing to let players slide when they feel they don’t owe any. You’ll have to make up your minds, please. You either want answers, or you don’t. Can’t have it both ways.
This is about accountability. We hear the M’s constantly talking about how they are all accountable to one another. Then show it. A pitcher who is accountable does not leave it to his catchers to continuously answer questions about their performance. A pitcher who is accountable to his teammates does not place them at risk during a brawl by trying to continue it when he knows darned well those same teammates will never let him get within 20 feet of any serious punches.
Hernandez has not been accountable all week. To the media, his team’s staffers, or his teammates. Performance-wise, his bullpen-weary club needed seven or eight innings last night. Not six.
If it irks some of you (and a few emails are telling me it does) that I am writing this about your favorite player, then so be it. Hernandez is certainly not the worst problem on this team. We’ve already identified plenty of those on a daily basis. But Hernandez hasn’t helped his team much these last three starts when it truly mattered either. And he is 22. If a 22-year-old feels he doesn’t have to be accountable to his teammates, figuring he can just trot Burke or whoever out there to do their talking for them, or prolong brawls on the field, then what does it say about the rest of this team’s comfort level? Tells me it’s a team that’s a little too comfortable.
Who exactly are the Mariners, as an organization, accountable to? The fans? The media? Themselves? Who? If you can’t handle these questions being asked, then maybe you should stop asking me why this team has played so poorly. Want to know why the team extended Kenji Johjima for three years? Simple. Because they felt like it, OK? What’s it to you?
So, tell me…are you happy with that answer?
I’ve tried this week to give you some insight into what is actually going on in this clubhouse.
I realize, by now, as most of you have, that this offense is far worse than I’d ever imagined. To those of you who predicted that, congratulations. You were right. I was wrong. Now, let’s move on because your job is only half done.
Now, we’ve got to figure out what to do next. Do you blow this team up? Or are there a couple of pieces that have to be exchanged in order for a contender to emerge either this year (not likely) or next? This is where your crystal ball will come in real handy. And what I’m trying to tell you all is, if this team can’t even be accountable to itself, it’s going to take a lot more than simply shipping out Richie Sexson, Jose Vidro, Willie Bloomquist and whoever else is on the local “unpopular” list.
Talked to some scouts today and one of them, from an AL East team (not Toronto), described scouting the Mariners in this fashion: “You want to see a team waiting to lose every night, that’s them.”
Not quite want you wanted to hear, is it?
So, if you want some analysis that goes deeper than the obvious, some insights from the clubhouse and other stuff, you can’t cherry pick when it comes to who ends up in that analysis. You have to look at everyone. I gave you a look at what Hernandez has been like at times this season. If you think it’s OK, that he can keep doing what he’s doing, then it’s great. You have your opinion. I’ll keep writing stories with or without his quotes. But remember, this is the team you all keep asking me about. If you don’t like the answers, you might want to stop asking the questions. But don’t worry. I’ll still be here to offer up answers, whether you agree with me or not. We’re an all-inclusive shop here.
But I’d rather some of you start asking more questions than you are about the makeup of this team and the players on it. It isn’t as easy as fire the GM, fire the manager, bench Sexson…yada, yada. There is a culture involved with losing. It breeds more losing. Figuring out just who in this organization is accountable for anything — besides McLaren, who now keeps shouldering the blame for everything — is the first step towards fixing something that might be seriously broken.
And if the questions begin with a 22-year-old starting pitcher, pegged as the team’s future, so be it. They don’t have to end with Hernandez. But it’s as good a place as any to start before working your way on down the line.