Tempering Expectations For This Mariners Rebuild

What interests me most about the game of baseball is the long game. In football, you’ve got rosters twice the size of a baseball team, yet we see it every year: teams going from worst to first. You can turn around a football team in one offseason! But, in baseball, it takes seemingly forever (and, for an organization like the Mariners, LITERALLY forever).

I did a big, long post about the first successful Mariners rebuild. I originally wrote that in 2013, when we all were hopeful that we were in the middle of the next successful Mariners rebuild. There were so many moves made between the nadir of this franchise (2008) and the next time you could legitimately say the Mariners were in contention for the post-season (2014, when we finished 87-75, just 1 game back of a Wild Card spot) that it truly boggles the mind.

That rebuild was ultimately a failure. It produced three winning seasons between 2014 and 2018, and zero playoff appearances. Following last year’s collapse, Jerry Dipoto made a bunch of moves to jettison veterans and infuse the farm system with prospects. Our veteran holdovers include names like Dee Gordon, Ryon Healy, Mitch Haniger, Kyle Seager, Marco Gonzales, Mike Leake, Felix Hernandez, Wade LeBlanc, Roenis Elias, Dan Altavilla, and Dan Vogelbach; most (if not all) of those players will not be on this team the next time it reaches the post-season.

So, we’re stuck rooting for prospects. Rooting for potential. Rooting for the young guys to step up and prove themselves not just worthy of Major League roster spots, but ultimately good enough to get this team back to the playoffs one day (ideally one day very soon). Jerry Dipoto is staking his reputation and his job on these players. If it all falls apart like it did last time, he, Scott Servais, and a bunch of other very smart baseball men will be looking for employment elsewhere.

As I noted, we’ve been through this before. So, let’s take a walk down memory lane.

See, it can be fun and exciting knowing your team is out of it before the season even begins. First, there’s no expectations, so any on-field success you see is all gravy. Then, of course, there’s the factor of the unknown. New, young players you’ve never seen before are ALWAYS more interesting than old veterans who’ve been around for years. We pretty much know what guys like Seager, Healy, Felix, and Leake are; there’s nothing to learn about those guys. So, we pin all our hopes and dreams on the prospects. We want to see them in a Major League uniform right this minute, to pump them full of experience with the hopes that they’ll pan out immediately. This can lead to guys getting called up too early (a la Mike Zunino, Dustin Ackley, Matt Tuiasosopo, etc.) or guys just being huge disappointments.

Let’s start with the 2008 season, the aforementioned nadir. That team lost 101 games and we were all miserable. Successful players like Felix, Ichiro, Adrian Beltre, Raul Ibanez, Jose Lopez, and even Yuniesky Betancourt were no match for the suck-asses that were Richie Sexson, Jose Vidro, Jeremy Reed, Carlos Silva, Jarrod Washburn, Erik Bedard, and so on. General Manager Bill Bavasi was fired, and The Great Jack Zduriencik Rebuild was on!

2009 proved to be a welcome surprise. Franklin Gutierrez was brought over in a trade, as was Jason Vargas (Doug Fister was one of the rare Bavasi draft picks that stuck in the org and actually panned out). Ichiro was still Ichiro! Russell Branyan and David Aardsma were quality pick-ups. Even the return of Ken Griffey Jr. for a victory lap proved valuable. That 85-win season led everyone (but the stat geeks, who knew those wins were on a shaky foundation) to believe we were way ahead of the curve on this rebuild. So much so that Jackie Z decided to make a big push to go for it in 2010.

We traded for Cliff Lee! We got rid of Carlos Silva and brought back a useful piece in Milton Bradley! Our young core of starters (Felix, Vargas, and Fister) were bolstered with key bullpen additions like Brandon League, Jamey Wright, and Sean White. So, what happened? The team fell apart (ultimately losing another 101 games; in hindsight, a second go-around with Old Griffey proved disasterous) and shipped off anyone of value for prospects. Lee was flipped for Justin Smoak (among others). Our high draft pick was used on a pitcher who got hurt so many times he never made the Bigs. And The Great Jack Zduriencik Rebuild 2.0 was on.

2011 was a key year for the rebuild, as the team REALLY went for it this time. Taking a stroll through that roster is long and arduous. Ichiro, Miguel Olivo, Brendan Ryan, Chone Figgins, and Adam Kennedy were the veteran everyday players; Felix, Vargas, Bedard, and Fister were still holding down the rotation (though Fister would be swapped for a bunch of nobodies at the deadline; yet another example of a trade that totally backfired for the Mariners); and League, Wright, and David Pauley (among others) were the steady influences in the bullpen. But, the young guys were the stars of the show. 2008 first rounder Dustin Ackley was called up midseason, as was Kyle Seager. Justin Smoak was handed the first base job. Guti started his slow descent into an injured adulthood. Then, there were guys like Michael Saunders, Greg Halman, Alex Liddi, Casper Wells, Trayvon Robinson, Chris Gimenez, Carlos Peguero, Adam Moore, Mike Wilson and more. On the pitching side of things, Michael Pineda was an All Star, but then there were guys like Blake Beavan, Charlie Furbush (remember when he was a starting pitcher?), a younger Tom Wilhelmsen, Josh Lueke, Dan Cortes, Chance Ruffin, and Shawn Kelley.

Those were all the players we hung our hats on. How many of them actually panned out? You can count them on one hand. How many of them panned out for the Seattle Mariners? That number is even smaller.

2012 saw the influx of guys like Jesus Montero (swapped for Michael Pineda), Hector Noesi, Erasmo Ramirez, Lucas Luetge, Stephen Pryor, Carter Capps, and John Jaso. They were paired with the holdovers like Smoak, Seager, Ackley, Felix, Vargas, Ichiro (starting his decline) and Figgins (at the end of his miserable Mariners career).

Then, there’s 2013, with prospects like Brad Miller, Nick Franklin, Mike Zunino (a year after being drafted), Brandon Maurer, James Paxton, and Taijuan Walker. Veterans like Kendrys Morales, Endy Chavez, Raul Ibanez, Mike Morse, Jason Bay, Jeremy Bonderman, and Hisashi Iwakuma saw extensive playing time, but it ultimately wasn’t enough. The old guys didn’t do enough (and most were gone in short order), and the young guys (predictably) never panned out for this team.

So, please, keep all these duds in mind as we go forward. You’re going to hear A LOT of new names you’re not familiar with in 2019 and 2020. The team is going to tout these players as The Future; don’t believe ’em. The vast majority of these players will be more in a long line of losers that help to keep the Seattle Mariners out of the post-season.

Some guys will be promising, only to fall flat on their asses the following year when expectations are raised and other teams learn how to handle them. Some guys will be promising only to suffer devastating injuries that hinders their development. Some of those injured guys will be brought back too soon, only to struggle and lose their confidence. Some guys will just flat-out stink from the get-go. One, maybe two guys, will be okay. But, they won’t be enough. They’ll just embolden this organization to spend a bunch of money when the time “feels right”. At that point, some flashy veterans will be brought in to supplement our future “rising stars” and we’ll go through the process of “contending (for a wild card spot)” all over again.

The Mariners are never going to be the Astros or Cubs or Red Sox or Yankees or Dodgers. They’re closer to the Athletics and Rays than anything else, just a Major League farm club for better-run organizations. The tremendous amount of luck required to turn us into one of those truly good teams isn’t ingrained in the city of Seattle and its sports teams. The best we can hope for is competent mediocrity.

The best we’re going to get is just outside, looking in.

A Paragraph With The Mariners – 119

Tui is some kind of bad-ass motherfucker goin’ on right here.  Now I want you to LOOK at that box score and tell me what you see.  Because I see a guy who hit yet ANOTHER 3-run home run.  You know what you don’t see in that box score?  Sean White sucking his dick for preserving that bullshit Hold he “earned” thanks to Tui’s miracle diving catch in left field to end the 8th inning.  This bullpen is being held together with scotch tape and chewed bubble gum right now.  You know what I see when I look at this bullpen?  Brandon League and 6 guys who won’t be around next year.  By the way, in order to save any semblance of face in that Morrow/League trade, we have to make League the closer next year.  That’s just all there is to it.  He needs to be the closer and the next bucket of managerial chum needs to reinforce the edict that:  Brandon League Will Throw More Forkballs.  Anyway, way to go Tui.  I’d be a lot more impressed if you did it against the Yankees this weekend (they certainly have the ballpark for it), but then again I didn’t see anyone else on the Mariners jacking sliders for 3-run homers against Baltimore this week.  That’s gotta be good for something (29th in MLB in Home Runs … I don’t know who we just passed, but it’s in no small part to Tui’s dominance these last two games).

A Paragraph With The Mariners – 116

How do you give up 6 unearned runs in an inning?  All it takes:  one very ill-timed error by your second baseman.  If Figgins makes the play to end the inning in the 7th, Felix is somewhere around 90 pitches and in good shape to go at least 1 if not 2 more innings (I’m reluctant to say, even with Felix going 2 more, that he’d get the Complete Game, with our offense what it is).  Instead, I’ll be damned if he didn’t expend another 20 pitches just to get zero more outs.  Now, I’m more than a little reluctant to criticize an interim manager in a lost cause season such as this, but Daren Brown left the King out there about 3 batters too long.  I mean, when the guy is reluctant to throw anything offspeed to someone named Michael Brantley (hitting a whopping .203 this year in limited action), who hit a fastball up the middle for the first run of the ballgame, you know he’s probably done for the day.  I don’t know what Felix was thinking on that one, to tell you the truth.  He was ahead in the count.  I was waiting for anything, curve, slider, change.  Whiff that motherfucker!  But anyway.  I’m glad to see Sean White got tagged for the Earned Run (also in the 7th) when he gave up a homer.  I guess they stop tallying unearned runs once you make a pitching change.  Or, the official scorer realized that Sean White sucks and decided to score him accordingly.

A Paragraph With The Mariners – 111

A Triple Play???  Are you kidding me?  A 5-4-3 one at that, not one of those flukey line drive/tag-out type triple plays.  An Around The Horn!!!  You think the players came focused for today’s game?  There are all kinds of Feel Good about this 3-1 victory over the A’s.  First of all, let’s face it, it’s the fucking A’s.  I LOVE beating the A’s!  Secondly, Daren Brown: Interim Manager gets a victory his first shot out of the box.  If he was fired today, he’d have the greatest winning percentage of any manager ever.  Third on the ol’ Warm N’ Fuzzy List is Doug Fister getting his first victory since God knows when.  He went 6 and gave up 1 while only throwing 91 pitches.  I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot of those types of 90-something pitch counts the rest of the way as nobody wants to overuse guys like Fister, Vargas, and even Felix in a season that no longer matters (saying nothing of French or Pauley, who’d be hard-pressed to go past 90 pitches while still being effective anyway).  Fister is now 4-8, with an ERA under 4; something doesn’t jive here.  Finally, kudos to the bullpen for going 3 scoreless.  The Sean White Smoke & Mirror Experience rolled through the 7th; Brandon League: Shakiest Arm With A 3.10 ERA In Baseball plowed through the 8th; and David Aardsma mashed through the 9th for his 21st save of the year.  May there still be life yet with this bullpen?  I hope so; let’s release the tension of this season with a couple of winning months, with games like this.

2010 Seattle Mariners: We’re Halfway There!

Actually, we’re a little more than halfway there. At 35-53, we’re 7 games past halfway. But, shit man, this is the All Star Break, and everyone pretty much considers this the halfway point, so suck it math nerds.

35-53. Can’t say there were a lot of us who thought (when the season started) that’s where we’d be right now. In our wildest dreams, we probably imagined that record reversed; but likely we were just hoping for a few games over .500 with no one in particular running away with the division. Well, unless you’re the Seattle Mariners, no one indeed is running away with the division:

Texas: 50-38
Anaheim: 47-44 (4.5 GB)
Oakland: 43-46 (7.5 GB)
Seattle: 35-53 (15 GB)

For good measure, we’re 19 Games Back in the Wild Card race. The only teams in the AL who are worse are Cleveland and Baltimore. The only teams in the NL who are worse are Arizona and Pittsburgh.

Out of 30 teams in MLB, we’re 28th in Batting Average and Home Runs; we’re 29th in RBIs and Hits. With that, let’s get down to the business of dissecting this team.

If I were just shooting from the hip – ignoring anything related to numbers or concrete evidence – I’d say that the offense has woefully underperformed. In other news, ice is DUH. Along with that, the bullpen has downright sucked. Granted, part of that might be affected by the woefully underperforming offense creating unnecessary pressure on the bullpen because it’s unable to pad a lead of any sort. No ‘pen is ever going to be perfect; they’re going to give up hits and runs and dingers over the course of a season. Had this offense generated more big leads, then maybe the ‘pen could afford to give up some runs and not look like the bastard step-child of this team. Still, at some point you’ve got to do your job. Let’s face it, there are a lot of ERA’s over 5 on this team; and most of them are (or were) in our bullpen.

Finally, though, in my thoughtless overview of the team, the starters have been splendid (for the most part). In spite of a defense that hasn’t NEARLY been the world-beaters they were supposed to be coming into the season.

Let’s start with the Offense, as that’s the primary culprit in our ineptitude. Can you name for me the number of hitters who have played for the 2010 Mariners – whether an everyday regular or a guy with just a handful of at-bats – with a Batting Average over .300?

I’ll give you a second.

The answer is 1. Ichiro. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have Ichiro in my life every day. I imagine it’d be a day without oxygen. Here’s the breakdown: .326 BA, .377 OBP, 118 hits, 35 runs, 22 stolen bases, and 17 doubles (which is tied for the team lead … your leadoff hitter is tied for the team lead in doubles). He’s a miracle, plain and simple.

Who’s got the next-highest batting average, you ask? Try Josh Wilson at .265. He started off the season not even good enough to be in the Major Leagues, yet since being called up he’s had 189 at-bats and has the 2nd-highest batting average on the team. Good for him, but seriously that’s pathetic.

For me, the mark of a mediocre hitter is .250. Being mediocre is going 1 for 4 in every game. (for the record, I put the mark of an average hitter at .270, so it’s not like I’m harboring some kind of unrealistic goal for most major leaguers). Do you know how many of our regular players are WORSE than mediocre?

I’ll give you a second.

OK, let’s count ’em out. Jose Lopez (.240), Chone Figgins (.235), Casey Kotchman (.218), Michael Saunders (.216), Milton Bradley (.210), Rob Johnson (.205). That’s 6 out of 10 players who’ve had at least 100 at-bats, WORSE than mediocre. Not counting the likes of Ken Griffey Jr. and our plethora of backup catchers and other AAA also-rans who are no longer with the big club. All of which, mind you, are under the aforementioned threshold.

By the by, Jack Wilson is AT the threshold exactly. Guti is at .256. Mike Sweeney (with 99 at-bats and I wouldn’t be surprised if he never saw 100) is batting .263. With Josh Wilson’s .265, that means 4 guys are OVER .250.

I remember back in the day when I harangued the team for keeping David Bell around, with his perennial .265 average. Now, I’d gladly welcome a team FULL of David Bells!

All right, I’m done bashing the hitters. It’s time to look over the pitchers.

Out of 30 teams in MLB, we’re 9th in ERA and WHIP (Walks + Hits per Innings Pitched), but we’re 24th in saves and 26th in strikeouts.

Our team ERA is 3.89, which is very good. For a team. You figure, if you’re holding your opponent to less than 4 runs per game over the course of a full season, you’re likely to be IN a lot of ballgames. With a chance to WIN (if you have any offense whatsoever, which we don’t).

For an individual, I place an Average ERA at 4.00. Exactly half (9) of all the pitchers who’ve thrown an inning for the 2010 Mariners have ERAs under 4.00. That’s very good. Considering 3 of those guys over 4.00 are gone, you won’t find me complaining too much. Of course, 2 of the guys under 4.00 are gone too; including one very very good man recently traded.

Here’s how we stand with our starters. Felix is awesome, at 2.88 ERA and 131 strikeouts. If we manage to get him 10-12 more wins, he should be Cy Young calibre. Likewise, Jason Vargas is also awesome, at 3.09 ERA and 2nd on the team in Quality Starts with 13 out of 17. Douglas Fister has been an eye-opener with his very own 3.09 ERA (and a lot of hard-luck No Decisions thanks to the ‘pen). Cliff Lee was Fantastic for us and he will be missed (2.34 ERA, 11 Quality Starts out of 13). Had we had all of these guys for an entire season – and a somewhat competent batch of hitters – we’d certainly be running away with this division. Unfortunately, we only had Lee for May & June; we lost out on a month with Fister due to his Dead Arm, and their replacements have been ordinary at best to disasters at worst.

At the moment, we have for the rest of the season Felix, Vargas, Fister, Rowland-Smith (who’s been pretty terrible) and Fill In The Blank. Erik Bedard might come back, though I wouldn’t be surprised if he was inevitably shut down for the season sooner rather than later. David Pauley started a game and was okay. Luke French has dominated in Tacoma and has not in Seattle. And, of course, Ian Snell is no more.

In other words, what’s been the strongest asset to our 2010 team is sure to be much worse going forward. With the crappiness of our 4th & 5th starters, combined with the question: can Vargas & Fister REALLY keep this up over a full season? Fister’s already had issues with dead arm, and they’re talking about limiting Vargas over the 2nd half as this will be his heaviest load to date at the rate he’s going.

And now, the Bullpen. Here’s how it shakes out:

David Aardsma – Closer
Brandon League – 8th Inning Set-Up
Shawn Kelley – DL
Sean White – Crap
Chad Cordero – Crap
Garrett Olson – Left Handed Crap
Brian Sweeney – Long Relief (and surprisingly effective for a 36 year old coming off two seasons in Japan)

By the way, just because I listed “Closer” and “8th Inning Set-Up” next to Aardsma and League doesn’t mean that they aren’t also “Crap”.

There’s nothing more to really say. Aardsma has been much more hittable this year. League has a devastating split-fingered pitch he’s most reluctant to use since he doesn’t want batters to “get used to it.” So, he’s either wild or he’s hittable with his fastball/sinker. Kelley might be our most effective reliever (now that Lowe is gone) but he can’t stay healthy for a full season, so what’s the point? He’s the Mike Sweeney of our bullpen, minus about a decade. Chad Cordero ceased being a Feel-Good Comeback Story when his ERA ballooned to over 6.50 with a fastball in the high-80s. Sean White and Garrett Olson just need to go.

And that’s it. As for defense: our outfield is solid and spectacular. Short Stop has been a strength. 2nd and 3rd base have been underwhelming. Casey Kotchman is the best 1st Baseman alive, but he can’t hit his weight. Catcher is attrocious.

We’re 7 games past the halfway point and doing our damnedest to not lose 100 ballgames. At this point, losing only 99 games would be like winning the World Series. I’m not looking forward to the second half. Felix & Ichiro are the only reasons to care at all. But, even with all the losing and disappointment, you can’t say 2010 hasn’t been interesting

A Paragraph With The Mariners – 58

Raise your hand if you thought the Mariners were going to win even one game in St. Louis this week. All right, now get out. I mean it! This is no place for delusions like Hope and Winning. This Cards lineup, with these starting pitchers we’re throwing at them, and our hitters still playing like it’s March … at least we got rid of Snell. That bad apple was collecting worms by the dozens. For the sake of argument, though, if you’ll humor me for a moment. What do we have to look forward to going forward in 2010, now that Ian Snell’s Release can be checked off the list? Obviously, I think the first thing on everyone’s mind is relishing each and every last start by Cliff Lee, because that guy commands Awesome and I don’t think I want to see him go! But, of course, he HAS to go, which makes the next thing we’re looking forward to being: who will we get in return for Cliff Lee? After that, I’d say Erik Bedard returning, getting some quality innings under his belt for – hopefully – a full season of health next year. I’d say all of that is a long shot, but it’ll be exciting to see. After Bedard, I’d say the next thing on the list is the eventual assassinations of Rob Johnson and Sean White – preferably while the latter is pitching to the former, whose stone glove costs the team yet another passed ball – by some rogue hero in attendance. Then, shit, I dunno. Getting a look at The Kids. That likely won’t come until September. Who knows, maybe we’ll find the Next Bucky Jacobsen! And finally, we have Ichiro’s 200th hit to look forward to. That should be good for a few yawns (see, this is what I’m talking about when I say it’s impossible to appreciate greatness as it’s happening).

A Paragraph With The Mariners – 57

Ian Snell has got to go, that much is clear. Either today, in the midst of this road trip, or whenever Douglas Fister gets off the DL; I don’t care when! If you have to, if there’s absolutely NOBODY in the minor leagues you can bring up for a tryout basis, then fine, keep Snell buried in the bullpen until Fister returns and you can cut his ass. We’re in a game, down only 4-2 in the middle innings, Snell comes in to relieve French who was pinch hit for in the prior inning thanks to playing in St. Louis, and promptly hands the Cardinals 4 more runs they didn’t even need! And what is it with Sean White? Even in a garbage inning he can’t help but give up 3 hits and a run! ESPN – which chose to televise the game even though it was apparent Cliff Lee wasn’t going to be anywhere near the pitching mound – showed a graphic of our bullpen. Last in the league in number of Losses. In the bottom two or three in Blown Saves and E.R.A. Not to mention we’re probably the worst in the league in 1-run losses … though that hasn’t really been a problem lately since overall our pitching has given us the courtesy as fans to not sweat out the late innings in a miserable season. Blowouts galore, egads! By the way, anybody going to be in Seattle this Friday? It’s the Junior & Ichiro Cooperstown Bound Bobblehead Night. I just want to know when I can get my hands on the Rob Johnson Three-Strikeout Drops-A-Ball Bobblehead Night. Shame not included.

A Paragraph With The Mariners – 52

I can’t believe we’re even talking about this. Part of me wishes we could just rewind the last 6 weeks and do it over, but that probably wouldn’t do much good; this team is plain bad. But is it SO bad that there are already mutterings of the manager being shit-canned? I have little doubt that Don Wakamatsu will get at least the 2011 season to turn things around, but it’s still discouraging. The guy was JUST hired before last year! Part of me contends that you can’t keep changing regimes over and over again or your ballclub will just keep spinning its tires. But, the other part of me contends that the manager is just an old guy in a baseball uniform and he doesn’t really affect a ballclub’s wins and losses all that much. The fact of the matter is, I’m with Jackie-Z. I think this is the first guy in upper management – probably ever in my history of being a sports fan – who I’ve supported 100% because he doesn’t really make all that many dumb decisions. He’s building up the farm system, he’s ridding the organization of shitty players (check out Aumont’s numbers in Philly’s minor leagues and then tell me how much you love the Cliff Lee deal), and say what you will about the crap-tastic major league hitting we’ve got going now, but he did the best he could with what he had. He rolled the dice with who he had instead of bringing in some broken-down yutz like Jermaine Dye. I have no doubt Jackie-Z will figure out a way to bring in a few bats in the offseason. We’re just going to have to suck it up this year, roll with the punches when we lose games 12-2, hope some young bats mature in the next few months, and pray to Satan he rids this team of Rob Johnson and Sean White before I LITERALLY go on a kill-crazy rampage. And, we’re gonna have to cut Wak a little slack. He’s dealing with adversity for the first time and I still have faith that the man can manage as well as anybody else.

A Paragraph With The Mariners – 48

The DL Days are hitting us pretty hard. Not only has Mark Lowe been M.I.A. for practically the entire season (thereby killing our bullpen effectiveness) with a back injury that probably won’t abate until September if at all this season, but Douglas Fister has a case of the Dead Arm that’s taken him out of commission for the last two or three starts. And NOW, Mr. Mike Sweeney is down for two weeks with a bum back (more of a chronic, lingering situation compared to Lowe’s absolute massacre). Then, of course, there’s Adam Moore and Josh Bard – two catchers who weren’t lighting the world on fire, but were showing a helluva lot more promise both catching and hitting balls compared to (we built this hitting on) Rob John-son. And I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up Jack Wilson’s longer-than-expected stint in rehab for whatever it is that’s ailing him (I think it’s a shoulder or a hamstring or something). That one’s actually killed us the least, as Josh Wilson (the last time I bothered to check) is hitting around .300 and flashing some solid glove at short. It’s too bad, though, because more or less these are all players I enjoy watching. It just goes to show the tried and true theory that the players you loathe always seem to remain healthy & sucking. Sean White, Rob Johnson, Casey Kotchman, Ian Snell: pictures of health all.

A Paragraph With The Mariners – 30

Going into the season, the strengths of this team – the strengths we were going to rely on the most, like Tiny Tim on that little wooden crutch – were “Pitching & Defense”. Now, if you would’ve broken that down, you would’ve absolutely put the Bullpen ahead of the starters. Remember, there was Felix and 4 Days of Nobodies for the first month. Thing is, 2 of those Nobodies have been pretty damn good, and then Cliff Lee came back April 30th. Meanwhile, it’s the Bullpen that’s been oddly scuffling. I say oddly because at times, they’re downright dominant. But, it seems to me that when we need a win the MOST – like in that White Sox series, or earlier on the road against Texas, or ESPECIALLY yesterday at Baltimore with an absurd 5-1 lead – the Bullpen finds a way to either ruin momentum, or more likely, continue the bad momentum that’s already been generated by our poor offense. Aardsma is already 0-2 (although the most recent loss was Wak’s fault for bringing him out for what was supposed to be a 2nd inning – he can’t go more than 1 inning!) with 2 blown saves (including one in that fucked White Sox series). Brandon League is 1-3 in his last 10 appearances and HE has 3 blown saves on the year (including a solo homer and a Grand Slam yesterday in Baltimore). Sean White – arguably the worst of the bunch in that he’s practically incapable of getting strikeouts in spite of having a Plus Fastball – only has the 1 blown save, but I’ve seen him come in with runners on base and totally suck balls for the pitcher who left before him. Finally, we have our 8th Inning Set-Up man Mark Lowe, who’s currently on the DL for God Knows What. I guess it’s a back injury. Anyway, he has 0 blown saves, but he is 1-3 including blowing a different game in Chicago (that one wasn’t our best series). With our offense as dreadful as it is, we need to take all of these squeakers that we can; our Bullpen can’t be a source of angst on this team. We have enough angst as it is! P.S. stay tuned for my rant against the “defense” on this team. Christ, can we get someone behind the plate who DOESN’T have 99 passed balls in 30 games? Where’s John Marzano when you need him?