Mariners new attitude towards Hernandez reflects their desperation

Contrary to the way it might appear on this blog, I do realize that there are other sports besides college basketball.

I suppose I might be more fired up to write about the Sonics or Mariners if they both hadn't been among the worst franchises in their respective leagues over the past few years.

I did, however, run across an interesting preview of the Mariners on CBS.Sportsline.com that centered around pitching phenom Felix Hernandez. You'll remember that the Mariners have coddled King Felix at every step of his ascention through the team's farm system, reticent to push him too hard, lest they do something to harm that $200 million arm.

Apparently, they are now ready to take the chains off:

"He's chomping at the bit, and he kind of has a right to," Bavasi continues. "He's done everything we've asked him to. He's never pitched winter ball, and that pisses him off. He threw plenty of games last year where he was free and easy, walking off the mound saying, 'Man, I can finish this game.'

"He's trying to become a man, and we're not letting him. It's time to let him."

It all sounds very noble, but the cynical journalist in me has to believe that their motives can't possibly be as pure as they sound. They were killing themselves last year to ensure he didn't throw more than 200 innings combined between spring training and the regular season, and now they're talking about letting him pitch 225-230 innings, just because he's in shape and he wants to?

Let's remember: This is a regime where the GM and manager are squarely on the hotseat. Forgive me if I'm tempted to wonder why the sudden change of heart.

If the Mariners don't show improvement this season, and they ruin Hernandez's arm in the process, why do they care? They won't be around to deal with the consequences anyway. But we, the fans, will once again be left to ponder what might have been with this team that used to be the face of a model organization.

Instead, it's become the team that killed the Golden Goose.

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