Wedge should save Wilhelmsen
When the Mariners’ Tom Wilhelmsen is on, he is as good as any closer in baseball. No baseball player is “on” for the entire season, however. It’s the job of the manager to determine when a player is not playing up to his potential.
With Wilhelmsen, it is pretty obvious. If he is able to throw that devastating curveball over the plate, he has it. If he walks the first batter, he probably doesn’t. If he then gives up a hit to a right-hander, the first time in 34 attempts, it is a clear signal that he is not at his best.
It was at that time that the pitching coach, if not the manager himself, should have gone to the mound to talk. The conversation should have gone something like this: “Tom, you look a little hesitant. Do you think you have it tonight?” Willhelmsen: “No, it just doesn’t feel right. I don’t have my stuff today.”
Wednesday’s game was a slight managerial hiccup. If the closer doesn’t have his stuff, it is the responsibility of the manager to detect that early enough to save it for the team. Jason Bay deserved more, so did the team, and so did Mariners fans.
– Don Rogers, Camano Island
Season rapidly losing air
Perhaps it’s too early to say the Mariners bubble has burst for this season, but it appears to be rapidly losing air. Consider the following:
1) The three players that came with the most fanfare – Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, and Jesus Montero – and with a high price (a second overall draft pick, a Cy Young pitcher, and an All-Star pitcher respectively), have all struggled to even stay on the major league roster.
2) The so-called Big Three pitchers we have been hearing about in the minor-league system the last two years have yet to show any sign that they will have an impact at the major-league level.
3) The signing of veteran pitchers Aaron Harang, Joe Saunders, Cameron Loe, and Jeremy Bonderman has done little to make us forget previous mistakes like Carlos Silva and Jeff Weaver.
4) Of current outfielders, don’t expect Franklin Gutierrez, Raul Ibanez, Jason Bay or Endy Chavez to have a guaranteed spot on the roster next year. And there don’t appear to be any sure-thing replacements in the minors.
– Raymond S. Wilson, Bellevue
Manager needs to change approach
I have concerns about Mariners manager Eric Wedge. First, with no outs and a player on first, or on first and second, he seems to be relying (or hoping) that the next player gets a hit instead of managing as necessary to get the player (or players) into scoring position with a bunt or ball hit to the right side. Second, he is obsessed with lefty-righty pitching. I believe that a pitcher who is throwing well can overcome the odds associated with a left-righty arrangement.
– Don Kallander, Kirkland
Montero move is second chance
I felt nothing but confusion after reading Jim McDonald’s letter to the sports editor (“Give Montero a second chance, Backtalk, May 26). McDonald spoke out out against the demotion of Jesus Montero, and at one point praises him for “showing up every day” and “lighting up the clubhouse.” I have no idea what light he refers to, and where else would he go every day? He works here!
Being sent to AAA is not a penalty and is in no way meant to humiliate him. Letting him struggle without basic necessary skills at the big-league level can only hurt him. Not being good enough means not playing, and that leads to a lack of development during years when he needs to advance. Riding the bench – THAT is humiliating.
McDonald advocates giving Montero a second chance. A temporary stint in Tacoma is exactly that.
– Tom Likai, Shoreline
Cue up baseball replays
It is time for baseball to learn from the NFL, where coaches are allowed two challenges during a game. Why not do the same with baseball? If this rule had been in effect, Jesus Sucre would have had his first major-league hit and the Mariners might have won the game.
– Douglas Cullen, Kent
Crew, softball, golf show excellence
The most outstanding Washington athletic programs in past two decades by are rowing, softball and golf. They need more recognition for their continued excellence. It is also very rewarding that these student-athletes don’t hit the news with DUIs and bar fights. Maybe Steve Sarkisian and Lorenzo Romar should take note.
– Roger Wristen, Wenatchee
Column suitable for framing
I was going to compare Jerry Brewer to Dan Shaughnessy, Frank Deford or Rick Reilly, but instead I’ll just buy the man a beer for Monday’s column (“Mariners finally find a way to win”).
“Losing streaks are mighty stubborn. Potent, too. This one took all the Mariners had to defeat it. It required veterans visiting the fountain of youth with growlers in hand.”
Beautiful. Frame it. I want more.
– Tom Sweeney, Seattle
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