So we've returned for the second part of the first half report card, with the first part available for your reading pleasure here. Remember how in school you would always ask your friends how they did whenever they got back a grade on anything? This is like that, only these players aren't your friends, you're seeing their grades without their permission, and the grades are meaningless. These grades are not going to be the determining factors when it comes to deciding whether or not any of these players will go to college. There is a much bigger determining factor. Pretty much only one determining factor.
(1) The grades are ostensibly objective, but truthfully subjective
(2) Players are compared against the league, and not against expectations
(3) Playing time doesn't really matter much
(4) None of this really matters much
(5) Nothing matters much
(6) Nothing matters
Let's just get this over with so we can all move on and do something with meaning. Nothing actually has meaning, of course, but truly exceptional people only realize that after they're finished.
Blake Beavan: B-
Called on to fill a couple wet, beaver-skin shoes with maple leaf laces, Beavan made two starts in Bedard's place, and it would be hard to ask much more of him. Both because he performed about as well as he could've been expected to perform, and because who actually asks for more? You don't ask for more. You request more, or you demand more. "Hey do you think you could maybe do more?" Nobody asks this.
Erik Bedard: B+
Bedard was pretty lousy early on, but that was perfectly understandable given everything he went through, and he only gained strength as the season progressed, with Bedard beginning to pitch like one of the more effective starters in the league. We're at the midway point. Bedard has thrown 90 innings over 15 starts, with the rotation's top ERA+. Given what the Rangers have gone through with Brandon Webb, and what the A's have gone through with Rich Harden, this is an underrated miracle.
Dan Cortes: B-
On May 7th, Dan Cortes threw an inning. It was his only inning. It was a shutout inning. Soon thereafter, Cortes was optioned to Tacoma to make room for Jeff Gray. Entire novels could be written about this bullpen spot. Entire novels could be written about this bullpen spot by the occupants of this bullpen spot, during games.
Doug Fister: B+
There's that old joke about how one year Doug Fister decided to stop walking people, and how a couple years later he decided to start throwing faster. Wait, did I say joke? I meant accurate depiction of things that have happened.
Jeff Gray: C
Jeff Gray is the cardboard coaster on the bottom of the pile of cardboard coasters you have stolen from bars. Maybe someday you will have so many houseguests with beverages that you will need to use all of the coasters. You probably will not. But man you are just always using those top few. Nobody likes a water ring.
Felix Hernandez: A
That a number of people are disappointed or otherwise underwhelmed with the first half Felix has had says an awful lot about his talent and consistency. I was going to write that it "says everything you need to know about Felix," but upon second thought, boy is that not true. It doesn't even say what team he plays for!
Aaron Laffey: B-
I remarked ages ago in a podcast that I would try not to write about Aaron Laffey, and so far this season I think I've done pretty well.
Brandon League: B+
You can point to League's record and blown saves if you want to, but a few of his ugly outings were almost pure bad luck. League has appeared in 39 games. He's allowed one home run. He's issued six unintentional walks. He hasn't been a true shutdown closer as we all once envisioned since his strikeout rate is perplexingly average, but he's been about as good as a non-elite closer can get, and hey, look at that, the trade deadline's almost here and everybody probably wants relievers!
Josh Lueke: F
Such hopes, dashed. Lueke appears to be settling into a groove these days in Tacoma, but he was supposed to be settling into that groove in the Majors. Instead, he was demoted after eight appearances, and he is the current owner of the eighth-worst ERA in Mariners franchise history. Tied for the worst, at 27.00: John Mabry. Mabry made that appearance with the Mariners in 2000. In 2001, he made a relief appearance with the Marlins, and put up an ERA of 135.00. So I guess we got the best John Mabry had to offer.
David Pauley: B
The unfortunate thing about David Pauley is that he could've had an otherwise spotless first half, and I'd still only remember him for the loss to the Nationals. As is, he didn't have an otherwise spotless first half, and I only remember him for the loss to the Nationals. I know that he was effective far more often than not, hence the grade, but the effective version of David Pauley isn't exactly something that singes itself into your memory banks. The ineffective version very much is.
Michael Pineda: A
I haven't written anything about Michael Pineda making the All-Star Game since I don't give a hoot about the All-Star Game, but it's one of those things we'll be able to point to after the fact when we talk about how quickly and efficiently Pineda burst onto the scene at such a young age. I don't see Zach Britton anywhere on the All-Star roster. Do you see Zach Britton anywhere on the All-Star roster? I do see Zach Britton on the double-A Bowie Baysox roster. /ignores that the Orioles are gaining an extra year of team control
Chris Ray: C+
My favorite thing about Chris Ray is that he brews beer. A few months ago I would've made a joke about how it's good that he has another potential line of work since the baseball one isn't going so well, but as it happens Ray turned his season around, too, and has been quietly okay for some time. He is the coaster directly above the Jeff Gray coaster.
Jason Vargas: B
You could argue that Vargas might deserve a B+ instead of a B, but you could argue lots of things. You could not argue with the fact that I paid money to attend the home opener. Hey thanks Jason, no worries, it's only a three-hour drive both ways, and my salary is competitive with a bunch of others in the lucrative field of baseball blogging.
Tom Wilhelmsen: D-
Tom Wilhelmsen made eight Major League appearances out of the bullpen. The only one in which he did not walk a batter was his first. In all, only 56% of his pitches were strikes. He's starting in Jackson now, and Baseball-Reference tells me he's starting poorly. Opportunity for a fairy tale within a fairy tale, this is!
Jamey Wright: B-
After an excellent beginning, Jamey Wright started to look less like whoever that first guy was, and more like Jamey Wright. Oh no, that's the last thing the team wanted! More recently he's been a third guy, a guy who throws strikes but gives up a bunch of dingers. This is new, at least.