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May 22, 2008 at 4:24 PM

A sweep to the basement

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Some great points being brought up in the comments section, which is a change from some of what we’d seen in recent days. So, good on all of you. I am scrambling right now, as I have a flight out to New York shortly, but I wanted to share some of the post-game happenings with you.
John McLaren is getting tired of saying the same thing every night, about how his starting pitchers threw poorly, or his fielders missed the ball, or his hitters couldn’t come though. So, as he was finishing off another description of what we all know, that the Mariners are playing lousy ball, I asked him how much longer he was going to bother sending Miguel Batista out there when he can’t get past the fifth inning. About whether he’d consider skipping him in a start or two until he can figure things out on the mound. I could have just substitued Batista’s name with Jarrod Washburn’s. In the end, I didn’t have to, because McLaren made a statement that was obviously aimed at both pitchers.
“No one likes to be skipped and whatever,” McLaren said, adding that he and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre had discussed the matter. “We’re going to look at it, not just for Miguel, but all the way around. We’ve got a couple of guys struggling. We’ll see.”
Hear what was said right here on this clip.
That’s not just a throwaway “we’ll see” because this is a serious issue for a starter and if McLaren wasn’t toying with the idea, he’d have just said no.
But this team can’t keep sending guys out there who are not even delivering performances worthy of fifth starters. Any number of replacement-level pitchers can deliver five innings. These two have not even been going that deep on a regular basis lately. They have to turn it around.
After that, we went to Batista’s locker. Today, he was talking. I know he was spoken to by team officials and some players after he’d ducked out on previous media sessions. As I said, this stuff may not matter to you. But it matters to people in the clubhouse. Anyhow, with respect to those of you who offered up suggestions on the line of questioning, I decided to go a different route in light of what McLaren had said.
Batista had just finished telling us that he thought this start was an improvement — command wise — from previous ones when he was walking guys left and right.
“My command is getting better,” he said. “After I got hurt it, was really bad. And now, when I miss, I miss around the plate most of the time.”
Yeah, OK, but some of the Tigers didn’t miss when those pitches came around the plate. Batista’s velocity was down as well. This was brought up to him and he then went on about all the nagging hurts he’s faced this year.
“I’ve been battling a lot of stuff since spring training,” he said. “My back, my foot, my back. And then I had a dead arm. It’s hard to get everything going when you’re not completely healthy.”
Fair enough. But it begs the question of how all this is going to get better by Batista’s next start. Of whether he’d benefit from skipping a start or two. He didn’t seem sure about that one. He did go back into how his command improved in this game.
“Getting my command better is one of the things,” he said. “Especially when you don’t have your best stuff, you have to make them hit the ball.”
Hear the exchange right here on this clip.
It’s not my job to stand there and argue with him. That’s what fans do on blogs. I ask the questions and he answers them. So, now you know the parameters of the next decision McLaren has to make. Will he stick with Batista, seeing that the pitcher felt his command was better? Or, will McLaren decide that improved command is not enough for a pitcher whose velocity was down and has looked pretty poor in recent weeks? It goes a little beyond “this guy sucks” or “trade that guy”. That’s kid stuff. The major leagues are for grown-ups. With professionals doing the asking and answering. You ask grown-up questions and expect grown-up answers. Anyhow, that’s why we ask the questions. Sometimes, these post-game sessions bring you something.
I’ve got to go catch a plane now, but keep on talking. This team has serious issues that need to be addressed. This team is an embarrassment right now. To itself, its fans and anyone bothering to show up for these games. Changes have to come. This organization can not just sit around watching itself get humiliated night after night. Erik Bedard might change things tomorrow in New York but it can’t just be him all the time. Somebody has to get the players to play winning baseball — or even good baseball — or the team will have to figure out whether somebody else can. And quickly. Or else, these guys will lose 100 games.
As promised, below, here’s the latest road trip video to divert you from yet another travesty of a game. I’ll walk from my hotel in the Renaissance Center, where I showed you that photo from 58 stories up the other day, over to Comerica Park. You’ll get a taste of downtown Detroit in all its splendor. From there, we’ll head inside Comerica Park, walk around the dugout a bit, then go up inside the ballpark for a look around. Hope you enjoy.

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