A little while after the game ended, when I was trying to figure out how to write this recap, my mind kept bouncing back to an episode of The Simpsons entitled Mountain of Madness, in which Bart encounters an interactive life-sized representation of Smokey the Bear.
(The bear has two buttons: "You" and "Me")
Smokey: Only who can prevent forest fires?
(Bart presses the "You" button)
Smokey: You pressed "You," referring to me. That is incorrect. The correct answer is "You."
(Bart kicks the bear.)
I then spent a little while longer trying to figure out how this scene had anything at all to do with the game when it finally dawned on me: Ryan Franklin is an impossible riddle. What can you do with the guy? You can't demote him to the bullpen because there's no on there to take his place. You can't cut him or send him to the minors for the same reason. And you can't very well send him out there to start every fifth day because he's bad and old, and playing bad old players doesn't do anyone any good. So you're left in a state of limbo where you can't really do anything, having backed yourself into a corner with no easy way out.
Of course, it's the Mariners' own fault they wound up in this situation in the first place, but at this point that's all water under the bridge. What's important right now is that the organization finds someone - anyone - who can step in and throw five or six innings without imploding once or twice a week, at least for the rest of the summer. (What's Dave Burba doing these days?) People are always desperate to get another shot in the Majors, even if they know that they don't have a future with the team that signs them, so you have to figure that there are a bunch of guys out there who'd love to start six or seven games with the Mariners in the hopes that someone notices and picks them up for 2006. Anything, anything to bring the whole Franklin experience to an end; between the bad pitching, the bad attitude, and the bad urine sample, I've just run out of patience. I realize that it's not much longer until the season's over and Franklin's contract runs out, but I'm sick of his act, and who knows - maybe severing ties with him will send a message, or something. What's the worst that could happen? The Mariners remain just as terrible as they are now, with some new guy soaking up innings at the back of the rotation? I'm fine with that.
Or maybe I'm overreacting.
Biggest Contribution: Yorvit Torrealba, +5.0%
Biggest Suckfest: Ryan Franklin, -27.6%
Most Important Hit: Ichiro fly out, -7.8%
Most Important Pitch: Gonzalez double, -14.4%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -27.7%
Total Contribution by Hitters: -20.7%
Pretty straightforward chart - the Mariners' best chance of winning the game came prior to the first pitch, and by the end of the second, they were looking at one-in-ten odds. The result is that the offensive Win Probability Added figures stay pretty low, since the result of the game was decided early. So, nuts to you, Torrealba - you can reach base as much as you want, but you aren't going to help out very much as long as we've got garbage on the hill.
When Price went out to the mound to talk to Franklin after David Dellucci's second-inning triple, Devin thought he was going to start a fight. Which, honestly, might not have been such a bad idea, since nothing else seems to be getting through to the guy. After his performance today, Franklin's ERA jumped to 5.29 - 44th out of 49 qualified AL pitchers - and his fielding-independent ERA dropped to either 47th or 48th (not sure which quite yet). During the game thread, I wondered aloud when the last time was that we could say that we had to watch four of the worst pitchers in the league take the hill regularly, and I wasn't kidding. Check it out:
(Minimum: 40 IP; 140 qualified AL pitchers)
Franklin: 4.93 FIP, 115th in AL (prior to today)
Meche: 5.24, 131st
Pineiro: 4.94, 117th
Thornton: 6.06, 138th (I'm serious)
Hell, if you want to go back in time a little bit, Aaron Sele was sitting at 5.37 (133rd) when he was released, so if you add it all up the Mariners have given 593.2 innings - 54% of their total on the season - to guys who've performed like your standard AAA flotsam. It's really no secret why this team is so spectacularly bad.
Yorvit Torrealba reaching base 15 times in 41 plate appearances as a Mariner so far is easing the pain of watching Miguel Olivo hit .292/.333/.554 in San Diego. I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop, but knowing our luck, it's probably not going to be the one we want.
Differences between Mike 'Grover' Hargrove and Grover Electric & Plumbing Supply:
-Where Mike Hargrove prefers to rely on broken spare parts, Grover Electric & Plumbing Supply will replace problematic appliances with new and fully functional models that meet the industry standard
-Where working with Mike Hargrove causes uneasiness and introversion, working with Grover Electric & Plumbing Supply breeds self-confidence and improved interpersonal skills
-Where Mike Hargrove creates an atmosphere of impassiveness and apathy in the stadium, Grover Electric & Plumbing Supply will actively work to help maintain or improve a given property's level of electricity
-Mike Hargrove is a baseball manager, while Grover Electric & Plumbing Supply is a chain retailer
-Where Mike Hargrove reacts to troublesome game situations after they take place, Grover Electric & Plumbing Supply aims to help prevent household problems before they occur
Apparently, it was Dog Night at Ameriquest Field, where fans were allowed to bring their dogs to the ballpark without incurring some sort of punishment. The FSN crew thus thought it'd be clever to give the "Fan of the Game" award (award?) to a golden retriever donning what appeared to be a Mariner bandana. My first thought: Air Bud. Sign that dog! Let him pitch.
Texas offense at home: .875 OPS
Texas offense on the road: .744 OPS
Hank Blalock career differential: -247 points
Mark Teixeira career differential: -231 points
Michael Young career differential: -149 points
Alfonso Soriano career differential: -249 points
Ameriquest Field is the AL's Coors Field, and I continue to be amazed by just how little recognition this gets in wider circles. Those four players I mentioned above make up what many consider to be the best infield in the Majors, despite the fact that none of them have hit particularly well outside of their home bandbox. You have to wonder if there's some effect the ballpark has on hitters that makes them less successful on the road, because I have trouble believing that Blalock and Teixeira in particular are as bad as their splits would suggest.
Willie Ballgame by month:
April: .426 OPS
May: .553 OPS
June: .544 OPS
July: .766 OPS
August: .598 OPS
One of these is not like the others.
Back to work tomorrow, as Jeff Harris goes from the low-key comfort of Tacoma to the seventh level of Hell. 11:05am PDT start time.