Casey at the Bat | Seattle Mariners: They Gotta Play These Guys

Casey McLain@caseymclain34Senior Analyst IMay 18, 2009

PEORIA, AZ - MARCH 08:   Jason Vargas #38 of the Seattle Mariners pitches during a Spring Training game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Peoria Stadium on March 8, 2009 in Peoria, Arizona.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

When the Mariners won a game against the Red Sox, the rubber match of the series, they did so on the starting pitching of Jason Vargas, the late-inning pitching of David Aardsma, and RBI by Russell Branyan, Ronny Cedeno, and Franklin Gutierrez.

The common thread between each is that none of them were on the team last year.

Inevitably, fans grow attached to endearing stories like those of Yuniesky Betancourt and Brandon Morrow, guys who have overcome adversity and are still incredibly talented. Betancourt defected from Cuba, putting his life in danger, and Morrow steps to the mound with diabetes each time he’s put into a game.

Endearing stories, however, do not add numbers to the win column.

Yuniesky Betancourt shouldn’t be allowed to continue playing shortstop, or batting, if he’s going to treat the position like a T-Ball game. Betancourt has played well the last few games, but if he reverts back to his “filling his baseball glove with dirt” ways, he should be benched in favor of Cedeno.

Carlos Silva’s time in the rotation should end. I supported the signing the day it happened, but it is a Bill Bavasi signing and Jack Zduriencik has no responsibility to maintain Silva’s spot in the rotation.

If Zduriencik is really entertaining the idea of keeping Jason Vargas or Chris Jakubauskus in the starting rotation, he should also be entertaining the idea of trading Jarrod Washburn for any prospect with promise. He’s pitching well, and his value may be at its peak.

In today’s economy, and an unsure standing in the AL West, it isn’t prudent for the team to hold on to Washburn, no matter how well he’s pitching.

The Mariners are in a situation where it’s possible that the best options for the future are also the best options for now. This is a young team, and a team full of previously broken pieces, but if the broken pieces continue to produce, the “broken” tag shouldn’t stick with them for the sake of previous organizational posturing.

If one believes that the closer position is a completely different position than other relief roles (I don’t), then Morrow gained the position not on performance, but potential.

But he shouldn’t have the job with no strings attached if someone else is better. The job should be Aardsma’s until he becomes injured or ineffective.

Drafting a reliever fifth overall was a monumental mistake, far greater a mistake than drafting Josh Fields last season. However, while the two have become Zduriencik’s cross to bear, they won’t be featured on his resume or performance review.

Zduriencik has built a team with low-risk, high-reward guys that could become regular contributors on this team, or valuable trade pieces in the future, if they’re given the chance to play.

And ultimately, Zduriencik should be entertaining the idea of trading Ichiro. It may not be popular with the team’s owner, or much of it’s fanbase, but with perhaps one of the better defensive players in the league roaming centerfield, Ichiro has lost all potential to increase his value to the team.

If Ichiro is tradeable in this economy, ($16 million’s a high price tag) the team would be better off clearing out one of the premium power positions and allowing Wladimir Balentien, who has had a good start in 2009, to play every day.

This team shouldn’t be counted out, the season isn’t over, and it is possible that Texas comes back down to earth and the AL West becomes the clustered near-.500 mess that most people expected.

However, following a season like 2008, nobody’s job should be guaranteed, not matter how loyal the fans are, except of course, for Ken Griffey Jr.


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