The thing is: I don’t think there’s a way to positively spin this. The best you can do is give it a Not Negative spin, which is that: it happens to the best of them.
There’s no reason to be excited Jarred Kelenic is being sent back down to the minors, after hitting a whopping .096/.185/.193, with 2 doubles, 2 homers, 8 walks, and 26 strikeouts in 23 games (over 83 at bats). The alternative is: he’s great right from the get-go! And who wouldn’t want that? Who wouldn’t want Kelenic to tear the cover off the ball from his very first game and laugh all the way to the bank at all the people who doubted he was ready when he said he was ready?
I guess the only thing that came to my mind was that he’s a cocky little shit, so maybe a little humble pie wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for him to be eating. But, that’s really only a positive for his everyday life. When he’s on the field, and at that plate, I think you WANT him to be a cocky little shit! You want him to walk with that swag everywhere he goes between those lines! You want him to talk trash and give entertaining post-game quotes, it makes baseball – one of our most-boring professional sports – fun!
There’s an impulse to want to say, “Here we go again, the Mariners fucked up another one of their can’t-miss prospects.” I’ll admit, it’s hard for me not to come out with both barrels blazing. This fucking organization is so fucking God damned inept … BUT, in this one instance, I don’t think that’s true. I don’t think they rushed him like they clearly did with Mike Zunino, Dustin Ackley, and some of their pitchers through the years (Brandon Morrow being jerked around from starter to reliever comes to mind). Jarred Kelenic has proven every step of the way that he’s too good for the minors. And, where it matters most – his mental make-up – is clearly off the charts. While it feels idiotic to put him as your leadoff hitter from his very first game, even then I don’t think they gave him anything that was too big for him to handle. If they had “hidden” him as a 7-hole hitter from Day One, I don’t think his batting average would be any better today. Who knows? I could be totally off-base. But, I think this is just one of those things.
He wasn’t ready this time. I expect Jarred Kelenic will be ready next time.
Sometimes you just need an opportunity to reset. I understand – as I think we all do – how difficult life can be when you’re overwhelmed, your mind is racing a mile a minute, and it’s a struggle just to keep your head above water. With everything feeling like it’s happening all at once, you become overstimulated, and it fries your brain a little bit. It’s nice, in those cases, to just get away from whatever it is that’s dominating your focus, think about literally anything else, and just breathe, without the lights constantly pointed at you.
I don’t care how great your mental make-up is, look at what Jarred Kelenic has come to represent: the next big hope for one of the most hapless organizations in Major League Baseball history. The guy that is supposed to lead the charge out of the 20-year playoff drought and get us to our first-ever World Series. The tentpole for this great rebuild back to respectability. That’s a lot to carry on one kid’s shoulders. Besides that, I’m sure he wants to be great for himself, and for his career, to be the superstar that he feels he was always destined to be. It’s hard not to want all of that RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND.
But, baseball has a way of knocking you down. It’ll be very interesting to see how he responds when he gets his next opportunity.
If you’re one of those fans who is freaking out about Kelenic being a bust, just go ahead and slow your roll. He’ll be fine. Probably. I mean, no one really knows, I guess. But, if you were a believer before, one month of shabby play shouldn’t deter you. My hunch is: he’ll go to Tacoma for a month, do fine, get called back up, and be much better than he was in his initial call-up.
Years from now, we’ll forget all about this unpleasant little first stint in the Majors. Hopefully it’s because he’s going to All Star Games every year, and not because he’s totally flamed out.