Why Eric Wedge Must Shoulder the Blame for the Mariners' Struggles
Eric Wedge is old school. After the management catastrophes of the last few years, that's not such a bad thing. But his stubbornness and insistence on doing the same thing over and over regardless of the result is hurting this team.
If Wedge doesn't get with the times, we'll have a lot more days like today to look forward to.
Disregarding the Fans
Seriously...benching Dustin Ackley on "Dustin Ackley bobblehead night"?
Forget all the kids who have Ackley's poster on their wall, and blackmailed their parents into taking them to the game. It's a horrible PR move to be sure, and is another slap in the face for the dedicated fans who actually keep paying money to watch this team.
All that aside, it's just dumb.
Ackley is a lefty who hits righties well, and he's had more success against Ervin Santana than most of the guys Wedge put in the lineup. There have been several matchups where giving Ackley a rest would make sense, but this wasn't one of them.
Wedge is blatantly ignoring pitcher/hitter matchups, and it's starting to become a real problem.
The Man-Crush for Miggy
When people start high-fiving because your catcher gets injured and you have to play your second- and third-string backstops, you know there's a problem.
Let me clarify. Nobody was celebrating the fact that Olivo was hurt, but it sure was nice knowing we were going to see lineups without him for a while.
There is a strong statistical argument that can be made for Olivo having the worst hitting approach in all of baseball. Sure he hit some home runs last year, because when he hits the ball it goes a long way.
Unfortunately, he just doesn't hit it very often.
And for those who would sing the praises of his catching, he has a worse cERA, and cOPS that both John Jaso and Jesus Montero.
He allows passed balls and doesn't throw anybody out. Yet Wedge keeps putting him in there. On the nights when he wants to rest the catcher, he pencils him in at DH.
It's absolute lunacy.
I'm sure Olivo is a terrific guy, and I'm sure that if I met him I'd like him. Eric Wedge has met him, and Eric Wedge most definitely likes him. Unfortunately the skipper's fondness for Olivo makes this a worse team than it should be.
What does John Jaso have to do to get some playing time?
Now that Olivo's back, I would expect Jaso to go back to warming the bench, despite the fact that he's one of the team's best hitters against left-handers.
Casper Wells is much better against lefties. Alex Liddi mashes right-handers, but has almost as many starts against southpaws.
Does Eric Wedge take these platoon splits into account when assembling his lineups? Sigh...
And it's not just on offense...
Hey Eric, want Liddi's bat in the lineup? No problem. But putting him in left field while flyballer Jason Vargas pitches in the spacious confines of Safeco is asking for trouble.
The information is right there in front of you, skip. Please use it.
The Bullpen: No Relief in Sight
This isn't even about Brandon League being bad. This is about Wedge putting League, Steve Delabar, Tom Wilhelmsen & co. in situations where they are less likely to succeed.
Right-handers hit 60 points lower than lefties against League. Lefties homer off League more than twice as often. Lefties' collective OPS is almost 200 points higher than righties against the Mariners closer.
Do these facts ever come into play?
Nope. Every time there is a "save" situation, Wedge goes to just one guy.
Delabar is at risk of being sent down to AAA because he has given up seven home runs this year. Here's a fun fact—every home run has been hit by a right-handed hitter.
Right-handers' batting average against Delabar: .254 (with a .948 OPS)
Left-handers' batting average against Delabar: 0.75 (with a .348 OPS)
Now, have a guess who Wedge sends Delabar up to face more often...
You guessed it—right-handers.
Speaking of home runs, Shawn Kelley was demoted to AAA after giving up one in Japan. Old school thinking at its best.
Until Wedge starts giving his relievers the chance to succeed, it's unlikely they will.
After the disasters of Mke Hargrove, John McLaren & Don Wakamatsu I was thrilled that Wedge was given the nod as manager. He arrived in Seattle and spoke of accountability.
Well, now it's his turn to be accountable.
Forget going with your gut, and managing the old-school way. Put the best guy in for each situation.
You've got the horses, Eric. You've just gotta know how to use them.