5-9

The Mariners return home to last place after taking a brief vacation. The subletting Rangers are just moving out.

Mariners: Hey.
Rangers: Oh, hey!
Mariners: :struggle with luggage:
Rangers: How was your trip?
Mariners: Too long.
Rangers: Too long?
Mariners: It had its moments, but after a while, y'know, it's nice to come back.
Rangers: Yeah, I can see that.
Mariners: How were things here?
Rangers: Oh, y'know, same old, same old.
Mariners: No fires or break-ins?
Rangers: Haha, no!
Mariners: You moved the couch.
Rangers: We thought we could get some light in the living room by changing around the furniture a little bit.
Mariners: And those flowers are new.
Rangers: The front yard was dull.
Mariners: What did I tell you about flowers?
Rangers: I'm sorry, I just thought -
Mariners: Whose property is this?
Rangers: ...but I don't -
Mariners: Whose property is this?
Rangers:
Mariners: This is my property.
Rangers: ...okay.
Mariners: Say it with me.
Rangers: We don't have to -
Mariners: This is my property.
Rangers: ...this is your property.
Mariners: Whose property is it?
Rangers: Yours.
Mariners: Damn straight.
Rangers: Okay, well, we'll be out of your hair in a minute. Just gotta bring out these last few boxes.
Mariners: I think we know how to decorate our own fucking property.
Rangers: Thanks again for renting out while you were away.
Mariners: Get off my lawn.

Biggest Contribution: Raul Ibanez, +8.0%
Biggest Suckfest: Jeff Weaver, -15.8%
Most Important At Bat: Ibanez triple, +8.7%
Most Important Pitch: Matthews double, -10.1%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -14.2%
Total Contribution by Position Players: -42.3%

(What is this?)

Now that's what I'm talking about. This team came to the ballpark ready to lose, and didn't deviate from its established gameplan in the slightest despite a substantial amount of external pressure. It's good to see everyone working as a unit towards one set goal. That's the kind of thing that builds camaraderie, and a clubhouse of tight-knit no-talent assclowns can be critical as you head down the stretch of a last place season. If the coaches and captains want to foster a culture of losing, you can't afford to have one or two dissenters. After all, a team's chemistry is only as strong as its weakest bond.

If there's an upside to today's game, it is this - my friends, we may be witnessing the dying moments of Jeff Weaver's Seattle career. Despite getting out of a jam with consecutive strikeouts, Weaver was yanked after three innings and only 68 pitches, and replaced by a guy Bavasi picked up in the Rule 5 draft. The message is pretty clear: Hargrove thinks nothing of our $8m fifth starter, and would rather watch a minimum-wage nobody try to tame the toothless meerkats that make up the Anaheim batting order instead. Weaver wasn't hurt, and his last two AB's were pretty good, but Hargrove had nevertheless seen more than enough. And given the seven hits in three innings, you can't really blame him.

So where does this leave Weaver? With a manager that doesn't like him, he may be one good Cha Baek start and a healthy Felix away from losing his job. In a disappointing trio of new starters, Weaver's both the worst pitcher and the easiest to jettison, so it shouldn't take much to force him out of the rotation entirely. Something like 6 IP/3 ER from Baek tomorrow could be enough by itself. Stay tuned, because this has been an ugly week, and Weaver looks like he could be the first casualty of a team that desperately needs to avoid another tailspin.

The biggest problem with Weaver - as is also the case for Batista, Washburn, Ho Ramirez, and most of the bullpen - is that he doesn't have a strikeout pitch. Today he was getting ahead of countless hitters 0-1 and 0-2, but he couldn't put them away, so they fought off pitch after pitch until he made a mistake and they got something they could drive. Being able to throw strikes is important, but as evidenced by Weaver's seven hits and 71% strike rate this afternoon, it isn't everything - far more useful is the ability to miss bats. Do that consistently and you're able to get out of any jam. Struggle with it, though, and you're left hoping that the batter makes a mistake. At its heart, pitching is all about taking control of a game, but we've assembled a staff that, for the most part, needs the batters to make their own outs. And that just doesn't happen often enough for this team to get by.

As far as Weaver himself is concerned, if you're determined to squeeze something out of him rather than cut bait completely, Dave emailed me with one idea - put him in the bullpen. With a few extra miles on his fastball and a pretty good slider that's still trouble on right-handed hitters (see the Hillenbrand AB in the third inning), Weaver could be more successful in the Mateo role than the incumbent, which is something to think about. It's also highly unlikely, but there you go. It's not so much that Weaver appears finished as a pitcher as it is that he appears finished as a starter. Used properly in a bullpen that badly needs some help in the middle innings, Weaver could be a moderately tolerable stopgap.

Oh yeah, there was a game today. The Mariners sucked in it. Aside from Ibanez, Burke, and Beltre, who combined to go .375/.556/1.125 with about 32423432 feet of extra-base hits, the offense was pathetic, not even bothering to wake up once everything was out of hand. And as is always the case on non-Felix days, there wasn't any particular reason to pay close attention to the pitching, which was about as generic as it gets. Sean White's kind of cool as a mop-up guy when he isn't getting stabbed in the back by Yuniesky Betancourt, but I don't know how much of that comes from the fact that his three appearances have come in relief of guys who allowed 18 runs in 13.2 innings. This is why women always try to befriend other women who are far less attractive. Separate White from his fugly companions and we might see him for what he really is - a worthless nothing righty who wouldn't have a job in a contending team's bullpen. With Seattle, though, he's Hargrove's go-to long reliever. Context is everything.

No kidding.

Texas tomorrow to kick off back-to-back two-game series against superior divisional opponents. If this pitching's been lousy in Seattle and Anaheim, I can't wait to see how things in Arlington unfold.

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