|6/17||7:05 PM||Angel Stadium of Anaheim||Aaron Harang vs. Jason Vargas|
|6/18||7:05 PM||Angel Stadium of Anaheim||Jeremy Bonderman vs. Joe Blanton|
|6/19||7:05 PM||Angel Stadium of Anaheim||Joe Saunders vs. C.J. Wilson|
|6/20||7:05 PM||Angel Stadium of Anaheim||Felix Hernandez vs. Tommy Hanson|
The Angels have a stupid stadium name. Why can't that franchise do anything normal? What's the obsession with connecting everything with "of"?
The Mariners head to Anaheim (see, it isn't that difficult) to play the Angels in a 4 game series. While the MLB schedule has been weird this year - next week is a cluster - this is a sense of stability the Mariners will surely embrace. After a short ride down from Oakland, the M's spend each of the next four nights playing games at 7:05, with three of the projected starters being under contract for 2013 only.
Is this really where we are? It's the middle of June, and the Mariners are trotting out rentals in every direction. Three of the rotation spots belong to guys who won't be here next year. Jason Bay, Raul Ibanez, Mike Morse, Kendrys Morales, and Brendan Ryan are starting nearly every day. Endy Chavez is right behind them. None of these players are under contract for next season.
Sort the Mariners by plate appearances, and 7 of the top 11 hitters are only signed through 2013. Seven! Shoppach is gone but the rest remain. Z has elected to bandage up this team while the young talent 2.0 develops, but the reality of the situation is that we are not watching future Seattle Mariners right now. This isn't where anybody hoped the Mariners would be, filling out the majority of the primary roster with guys who could freely walk in four months. Typically, Mariners games still hold some interest because of the possible development of young players. Not this time.
This is Z's fifth year on the job. The first batch of young talent isn't worth giving up on, and I will stop short of saying it has failed, but it simply hasn't worked to date. Everything hinges on the second batch of young players who, like Zunino, may be forced into action too early. There's a clock ticking here, and it's not just Z's job security, it's the lifespan of the band-aids the Mariners slapped on this year's roster.
The trade deadline is in six weeks. The Mariners have plenty of players they'd like to deal, but the value isn't high for any of them. As these band-aids disappear, players are going to step in to fill spots, and it might not be pretty. I have a feeling the roster on September 15th could be as surprising as the roster trotted out on June 15th.
Jeremy Bonderman takes the mound tomorrow after two good starts, and frustration mounts. Erasmo Ramirez is wasting away in AAA, and he's essentially being blocked by Jeremy Bonderman, as I can't imagine the team is going to give up on Joe Saunders and his durability or Aaron Harang, who's got a proven track record himself. That leaves Bonderman, who's allowed one earned run over his last 14 innings.
This is not sustainable, but he's put the Mariners in a difficult position. If he's getting the job done, even against the Astros, he's going to remain in the rotation. He would have to accept an assignment to AAA, but given his recent success, a team that needs help in the back of the rotation might want him. Might, but probably not. Erasmo Ramirez helps this team right now and for the future. As arms have come and gone, he could (and should) be a critical piece of the Mariners rotation for years to come.
Jeremy Bonderman needs to get shelled tomorrow. Joe Blanton needs to get shelled worse. I'm not wishing for the Mariners to lose, I'm wishing for the Mariners to win 9-7. It's in the best interest of the team for Bonderman to come back to earth, because the quicker this team realizes he isn't going to cut it, the quicker they free Erasmo Ramirez. Perhaps this puts too much faith in the front office to act accordingly, but if the future is now for Mike Zunino, why isn't it for Erasmo Ramirez? Surely this franchise understands he likely provides more value going forward than Bonderman, but there's politics to this thing, and if Bonderman keeps trucking along, Erasmo will keep toiling.
I hope I'm wrong about Jeremy Bonderman. I hope I'm wrong that his AAA mediocrity was a sign of getting back into game shape. I hope he has figured out how to pitch more effectively than he did in the prime of his career. I hope he's Ryan Vogelsong'ing it mid-season. Yet through his three starts, Bonderman has a 4.94 FIP/4.73 xFIP. His tERA is 4.31. His BABIP is .203. I don't think I'm wrong.
High scores and a Mariners win on Tuesday would be good for all parties involved. Except Jeremy Bonderman. It isn't personal - it's what's best for the team.