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Let's review:

  • The Mariners lost, becoming just the fifth team to reach 60 losses on the year

  • Jorge Campillo needs major elbow surgery

  • Gil Meche pitched like a crazy idiot

  • Miguel Olivo homered (albeit off a fastball) and had three hits in his Padres debut

  • Clint Nageotte didn't show much of anything in a quick relief appearance

So, tonight's bright spot is either Adrian Beltre's four RBI or the fact that I didn't crash into a ravine and die on my way home from work. Which is neat, since I'd prefer to not be dead, but it's a sign of a bad day when avoiding an absolute worst-case scenario makes for the highlight of your afternoon.

Don't get me wrong, it's nice to see the Mariners hitting a little bit, but come on - they were up against a garbage pitcher, so I'd be upset if they didn't eek out six or seven runs. What's discouraging is that the offense always seems to have to dig the team out of a hole after the starter blows up early. Jamie Moyer's the only member of the current rotation whose ERA is below the league average, and that's only by 0.04 points pitching in front of a good defense in a pitcher-friendly environment. Put another way, this team isn't a good starter away from competing - it's four good starters away from competing, and with the in-house options dropping like flies and the external options quite limited (at least, as far as the upcoming FA market is concerned), I don't know how much improvement we can realistically expect to see in 2006. Sure, there's Felix (KNOCK ON WOOD! KNOCK ON WOOD!!), an old Moyer, and whatever's left of Bobby Madritsch, but there's not really anything behind them, and Matsuzaka (probable Japanese import), if we get him, is still only one guy. We're pretty much a red-hot Adrian Beltre away from turning into the 2000-2003 Texas Rangers.

Biggest Contribution: Adrian Beltre, +45.7%
Biggest Suckfest: Gil Meche, -40.8%
Most Important Hit: Beltre homer, +27.8%
Most Important Pitch: Rodriguez double, -14.1%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -50.2%
Total Contribution by Hitters: +2.3%

(What is this?)

The lineup just about broke even on the game, but it's hard to pick up a real high rating when you're always coming from behind. And hey, kudos to the pitching staff for keeping the defecit intact despite the strongest of threats. Momentum? Not on their watch. The Mariners were down to about a one-in-nine chance of winning after the first inning, which is bad enough, but after Beltre made a game of it with a three-run homer, Meche and Nageotte imploded in the fifth and left the team with a 1.3% chance of victory. What's a good antonym for "timely pitching"?

Allow me to paint a grisly picture for you. What follows is a list of starting rotation candidates we've had this year, along with each player's current status:

Jamie Moyer (Pitching reasonably well, bad back)
Joel Pineiro (Tanked, looks to have a trick elbow)
Gil Meche (Tanked, bad shoulder)
Ryan Franklin (Standard performance, suspended, may not return to team in any capacity)
Aaron Sele (Terrible, released)
Bobby Madritsch (Bad shoulder, likely gone for year)
Ron Villone (Became a LOOGY, traded)
Julio Mateo (Not a viable starter, now middle relief)
Matt Thornton (Please God, no)
Cha Baek (Tanked in AAA, probable injury)
Jorge Campillo (Bad elbow, gone for year)
Jeff Harris (Nothing special, zero experience)
Felix Hernandez (KNOCK ON WOOD! KNOCK ON WOOD!!)
Bobby Livingston (Too young, almost zero experience in AAA)
Andrew Lorraine (Sucks)
Damian Moss (Sucks)
Travis Blackley (Trick shoulder, gone for year)
Clint Nageotte (Converted to relief)
Rafael Soriano (Rehabbing, still relief)

How do you build an August rotation out of those 19 guys? Presumably, it will look something like (in no particular order) Moyer/Meche/Piniero/Hernandez/Harris for the time being, but two of those guys are almost certainly pitching hurt, so even the possible return of Ryan Franklin leaves us with a trouble spot if and when the pain gets worse. I don't really know how they're going to handle this, nor am I all that excited to find out. That's just...that's really bad, even with Felix.

After throwing 104 pitches in 4.2 crappy innings of work, Gil Meche's ERA stands at 5.04, his OPS against at .811, and his average number of pitchers per inning at 18.0, tied for second-worst in the Majors. You'd like to think that maybe, just maybe, he's throwing a lot of pitches because he gets a lot of strikeouts, but his K rate ranks 66th among 106 qualified starters. Everything - everything about Meche has gotten worse this year, except for the win total, which would probably be enough to earn him a substantial raise in arbitration, if the Mariners take him that far.

Conclusion? Gil Meche is a bad pitcher. A bad pitcher with no more potential for success than any other bad pitcher in the league, really, so it's time to stop playing make-believe. He'd be replaced in the rotation by a team with a little more starting depth, but given our current situation, he's just going to find himself back out there every five days, nibbling around the corners and getting hammered when he comes over the plate. Occasionally he'll throw a sharp curve that freezes a hitter, but that's all he does well, and he doesn't even do it that often. Give up. Gil Meche needs to be somewhere else next March, because if he's not, something's gone horribly awry.

Mound conference, bottom five:
Price: "Gil, Gil, Gil..."
Meche: "I know, I know..."
Price: "You suck."
Meche: "What?"
Price: "You suck. You are not a good pitcher."
Meche: "Yes, I am..."
Betancourt: "You, Gil Meche, are the suck."
Meche: "You speak English?"
Sexson: "I taught him that."
Beltre: "He's right, too."
Gonzalez: "Agreed."
Meche: "Wh-...Willie? Whose side are you on?"
Bloomquist: "Theirs. You suck-diddly-uck."
Price: "Hand me the ball, assbag."

I was getting the Detroit feed over and, as such, got to see a lot of the local commercials. One of the ads was for a store called Bell Tire, a spot during which a guy read down a list of services offered at the place, and a little animated mascot in the background would say "Bell Tire!" after each line. I have to say, the words "Bell Tire" began to lose their meaning quickly, as I was just hearing it over and over again in rapid sequence. Before long it began to sound like "belt higher", then suddenly my mind just went blank altogether, and I lost focus on what I was listening to. This strikes me as a rather suboptimal marketing strategy, given that by the end of the spot, I didn't even remember what was being advertised. It's kind of like how, if you keep saying "frog" to yourself, eventually you forget what word it is you're actually saying and you think about how silly-sounding it is coming out of your mouth. I guess that's why "Bell Tire" hasn't gone national.

Yuniesky Betancourt's many tools on display:
Contact hitting. Just one strikeout in first 23 plate appearances.
Dash of power. Two doubles, a triple, and a ball to the track so far.
Speed. Legged out a triple in his first Major League AB.
Arm. Fired a strike to first after barehanding a ball that deflected off of Beltre yesterday.
Glove. Hasn't botched any simple plays yet, and seems to have soft hands.
Range. Fielded a Chris Shelton groundball on the first-base side of second today in the bottom of the fifth.

A little plate discipline spike and we could be talking about one hell of a player, here.

Since June 29th (I know, arbitrary start point), Adrian Beltre has nine home runs in 122 at bats, for a ratio of one per 13.6. Last year, he hit one per 12.5 AB's. Over a full season of 600 at bats (about what he did in 2004), that's a difference of just four longballs. The power was not a fluke.

The moment we've all been waiting for will come tomorrow morning somewhere around 10:15, when Felix Hernandez (KNOCK ON WOOD! KNOCK ON WOOD!!) takes the hill for the first time in what should be a long, successful Major League career (KNOCK ON WOOD! KNOCK ON WOOD!!). Even though the game isn't on TV in Seattle, will still be picking it up with the stadium closed circuit camera feed, at the very least. So, if you're an out-of-market fan, I suggest paying the $3.95 it costs to use for a day, if you aren't already a subscriber. No matter what happens, it will be worth it.

Light a candle for Felix. It's out of our hands.