Sorry Ichiro, you can't have friends
We all knew that Erik Bedard was being activated from the disabled list today. We all knew that, in order to activate Bedard, somebody else would have to get bumped off the roster. I don't know who I was expecting that to be, but now we don't have to wonder anymore:
LHP Erik Bedard has been activated from the 15-day DL and will start tonight vs. Tampa Bay. Jack Cust has been designated for assignment.
So, for the time being, Blake Beavan lives. Which isn't a bad idea; if the trade a starter, they'll need Beavan to take his place, and had they optioned him to Tacoma, he wouldn't have been able to come back for ten days.*
Cust, then, gets the axe. While I wasn't sure if Cust would get the axe today, it was obvious that this move was coming soon. Cust started 24 games in April. He started 20 games in May. He started ten games in June, and nine in July. His playing time was dwindling, and he found himself sitting pretty often to make room for Adam Kennedy, which is never a good thing for a DH. It became clear before long that Cust wasn't a big part of this team's plans, so it was only a matter of time before he went away.
On the one hand, the whole Cust experience was frustrating. Cust had to fight for playing time despite posting a strong OBP. He showed signs of life during a hot streak that carried into early June, but still he would sit. At least while the Mariners were contending, Cust almost certainly should have played more than he did.
But on the other hand, we're not talking about a true slugger here. We're not talking about the old Jack Cust. Here's Cust's PA per home run, by season:
Cust batted 270 times as a Mariner, and knocked out three dingers. He finishes with a slugging percentage of .329, and he did that as a DH with zero defensive value. There's no way around it - Cust was a disappointment, and it's not like he made it hard on Wedge to sit him. While it may or may not be true, Jack Cust certainly looked to the eye like a masher who can no longer mash.
So he sat pretty often. And now he's gone, because there wasn't any reason for this team to keep him around. Because he was designated for assignment, the front office could still trade him, but it's not like a guy like Cust has a lot to contribute to a contending team. Maybe he brings back some cash considerations. Maybe he brings back nothing. Jack Cust may never play in the Major Leagues again.
If he is finished, at least he can look back on a career that featured 105 home runs and a 120 OPS+. He did eventually get a chance, and he made the most of it, for a time. But you talk about a guy with old player skills. Jack Cust's career was a squat candle.
In the short term, Cust's departure means that Wedge will mix and match with the DH slot. In the slightly longer term, this move clears the way for Wily Mo Pena. Get ready for a DH who can actually still hit dingers. He won't draw as many walks, or even half the walks, but now that the Mariners are out of the race, who wants to watch walks? Swing! Swing harder!
* additional reason, from Mike Curto:
M's keep Beavan in majors for now because if they trade a starter they don't have to burn his first option year.