Some not-so-random thoughts on the Mariners heading into Texas

Since we can't readily change the players involved in this latest stretch of Mariner ineptitude -- at least not in a way that's likely to change the results on the field -- the ire of Mariners fans everywhere has turned to the two most high-profile candidates: Manager Mike Hargrove and GM Bill Bavasi.

You already know how this blogger feels about Hargrove -- and that was before the sweep at the hands of the Angels, for which I think Hargrove was largely blameless -- but Bavasi seems to be drawing the most fire as of late. As late as this morning, I wasn't sure what good getting rid of Bavasi right now would do; after all, there's not really a blockbuster trade out there to be made that's going to make this team appreciably better.

But I think I've come around to the dark side -- with one caveat. His replacement has to come from outside the organization.

What this organization needs is a shake-up from a forward thinker not tied to current personnel and unafraid to cast off ineffective players, a la Tim Ruskell with the Seahawks. Promoting from within -- which (shockingly) it sounds like the organization probably would do, according to Times writer Geoff Baker (it's at the end of the post) -- makes absolutely no sense. If they're already in the organization, and they're hired on an interim basis, all they're likely to do is continue business as usual.

I mean, seriously: If I'm hired for a job that I know is a tryout, am I likely to make a lot of bold moves, the kind that might actually produce some real results? No way. I'm playing it safe while trying to convince Chuck and Howard I deserve the gig long term.

Replacing Bavasi immediately with an outsider might actually lead to some of the following long overdue moves:

  • Firing Hargrove.
  • Designating Julio Mateo for assignment and replacing him with an arm such as Sean Green or John Huber. Neither could do worse than an overweight sloth who now has allowed all five runners he's inherited this year to score.
  • Moving Jeff Weaver to the bullpen as a situational righty and replacing him in the rotation permanently with Cha Seung Baek. Last season, righties had an OPS roughly 250 points lower against Weaver than lefties. A bullpen move might also improve his velocity. If he doesn't like it, release him or trade him and eat the salary.
  • Hiring a manager that might actually realize that 1) Putting a slow guy who hits groundballs in roughly 50 percent of his at bats in the No. 3 hole is a bad idea; 2) Using your bullpen in the most effective way possible in any given situation is a good idea; 3) Allowing lefty Ben Broussard -- .848 OPS against righties last year -- to play in place of Vidro or Jose Guillen (.162 average, .189 slugging against righties this season) from time to time is a good idea; and 4) Convincing Ichiro at all costs that stealing 50 bases -- something the team needs for it to win, but something he won't ever do if he only attempts one stolen base every 14 games -- is a good idea. (By the way, congrats, Ichiro on that one steal. We'll celebrate the next one sometime in May.)
I think you see what I'm driving at here. An immediate move also would give the new GM ample time to become familiar with the organization heading into what is likely to be the biggest firesale this team has seen in some time.

You might as well get used to the fact that Ichiro is leaving, people, and I'd rather not have the guy who traded away Freddy Garcia for Jeremy Reed (back to AAA after flaming out in the majors), Mike Morse (still in AAA) and Miguel Olivo (cut loose after two miserable half seasons and now fairly productive with the Florida Marlins) making the deal that could either net some serious major league talent or set the organization back years. (I could have picked any number of bad deals Bavasi has made, by the way, but that's the biggest midseason deal he's made.)

The next GM should not have to spend all of next offseason trying repair any more damage done by the Bavasi's latest botched deals. So let's get on with it already, and get this franchise finally moving in the right direction.

Other things of note heading into tonight's game:
  • Cha Seung Baek is officially going to start tonight's game. MLB.com's Jim Street says it's not yet known what move the team will make to make room for him, since it's apparently unlikely Felix Hernandez will be heading to the DL. UPDATE: Felix is on the DL, reported first by Geoff Baker. No other moves.
  • Gotta love things in A's land. Pitcher Brad Halsey is ripping the organization after not being called up to make a start. Said Halsey, who apparently might be heading for some arm problems, "It's all just a business decision, because if I came up and pitched Tuesday and then had an MRI and had to go on the DL, they'd have to pay me major-league DL money. It's such a mom-and-pop organization." A mom-and-pop organization that advanced to the postseason five times in the last seven years, racking up four division championships along the way. Why can't we get a mom-and-pop organization around here? Really?
  • The News Tribune's Dave Boling likes what he hears from Mike Blowers as the color analyst on TV broadcasts, and so far I have to agree: "he’s got a cadence that suits baseball, and his delivery has a homespun, summer-evening-on-the-porch tone. It’s a little as if they’d brought into the booth the guy in the Motel 6 ads who used to promise to 'leave the light on for you.' Pretty clean and straightforward." I'll admit, just about anything would have been an improvement over Dave Henderson and Dave Valle, but Blowers shows some real potential to be one of the better ones in the game.
That's it for now. I'll check back in hopefully later tonight to break down the game that hopefully ends this dreadful losing streak.

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