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Setting: Mariner clubhouse, post-game.

Franklin: "Boy, that was a hell of a game, wasn't it?"
Ibanez: "Sure was."
Franklin: "I totally owned those guys."
Sexson: "Whatever you say, chief."
Morse: "I bailed you out with that catch in the first. Why don't you ever give credit to other people?"
Franklin: "Why don't you stop leaving five men on base?"
Ichiro: "You're a total dick."
A load roar of thunder reverberates off the clubhouse walls, and the entire building begins to shake. The figure of a rather large man appears in front of Franklin's locker
Rather Large Man: "Good evening."
Franklin: "Dad?"
Rather Large Man: "Huh?"
Franklin: "Nevermind."
Rather Large Man: "I am Consecus, God of Washed-Up Athletes. Come with me."
Franklin: "I don't understand."
Consecus: "I'm afraid your glory days are long since past. I have been sent here for the purpose of taking you somewhere more appropriate."
Franklin: "Did you see my game tonight?"
Consecus: "Tonight's game means nothing. You aren't a good pitcher anymore. Take my hand."
Another roar of thunder, another equally-large figure of a man appears
Consecus: "What are you doing here?"
Equally Large Man: "I believe there has been a misunderstanding."
Franklin: "No shit."
Consecus: "What's going on?"
Equally Large Man: "You have the wrong man."
Franklin: "That's what I've been trying to say."
Consecus: "But...but how could that be?"
Equally Large Man: "I am Affleckus, God of Pompous Assbags Who Were Never Good At Anything To Begin With. You see, Consecus, to be "washed up" one must have had a period in his life during which he was effective."
Consecus: "But look at that low ERA this guy had that one time."
Affleckus: "Luck! Luck, not skill! It is the defense which has propped him up all these years."
Franklin: "I don't think you unde-"
Affleckus: "SILENCE! Now then, Consecus, as long as you're here, I believe there's someone else in this room who you could take away instead." :points to the opposite corner:
Consecus: "Of course! I'll get right on it."
Franklin: "What do you want with me?"
Affleckus: "Your time here is done. This organization finally has the wherewithal to rid itself of your presence."
Franklin: "I'm durable. I...I have a lot of endurance. People say I've got a rubber arm."
Affleckus: "Those all mean the same thing."
The conversation pauses as a shouting match begins to take place on the other side of the room
Consecus: "It's time! Just let go already!"
Moyer: "NEVER!"
Consecus: "Why do you have to be so god-damned stubborn?!"
Moyer unsheaths a long steel blade from his locker and the two begin to swordfight
Affleckus: " are bad, and easily replaceable."
Franklin: "I don't buy that for a second. I have a lot of ability."
Affleckus: "I have the proof, if you'd like to see it."
Franklin: "I think I would like to see it, smartass."
Affleckus: "It's right over there, through that glowing portal in the wall."
Franklin: "Well, we'll just see about this!!"
Franklin enters the portal. The hole promptly closes in on itself and disappears, uncovering a series of lockers along the wall
Thornton: "About damn time you get rid of that thing so I can change out of my uniform."
Thornton walks over to his locker and begins to enter his combination
Affleckus: "No, don't do that!!"
Thornton opens his locker door and immediately gets sucked inward. He disappears, and the locker door slams shut. Total silence befalls the room
Meche: "Huh."
Pineiro: "That thing always been there?"
Affleckus: "Our work here is done. Farewell, Mariners, until we meet again. Consecus will be back for one of you again next year."
A cloud of smoke appears, and by the time the air clears, the two gods have left
Lopez: "Bye!"
Reed: "Have a safe trip back."
Guardado: "Thanks, guys!"
Sexson: "Hey Dobber, how'd you like to have Thornton's old locker?"

Biggest Contribution: Richie Sexson, +21.7%
Biggest Suckfest: Mike Morse, -20.2%
Most Important Hit: Beltre single, +13.2%
Most Important Pitch: Teixeira double, -28.5%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): +28.4%
Total Contribution by Hitters: +15.3%

(What is this?)

Alas, we've almost certainly reached the end of an era.

Franklin's two-year contract has come to an end, and with his bad season and pending arbitration eligibility, it's highly unlikely that we see him in a Mariner uniform in 2006. His legacy? More than 800 of the most frequently debated innings in team history. He leaves behind the following statline:

ERA: 4.34
Home ERA: 3.98
Road ERA: 4.67
K%: 12.3%
BB%: 6.9%
HR%: 3.6%
BABIP: .271
FIP: 5.15

It's the first and the last entry around which the argument is usually centered. As a back-of-the-rotation starter, Franklin usually provided a not-terrible ERA, and that fact - along with his general durability - made up one side of the debate. On the other side were all the people who pointed out that Franklin's success was as dependent on the guys behind him as anyone in baseball, and that his ERA's are a testament to just how well the Mariners played defense while he was with the team.

It hasn't necessarily been a fun, pretty 5+ years, but I'd be remiss not to point out that we've learned a lot from Franklin's stay in Seattle. The constant debates about his low ERA in 2003, and how underrated he is, exposed a ton of people to the idea of defense-dependence, and how important it is for a pitcher to strike batters out. By the same token, we've also learned that a big park and a good defense can make just about anyone seem serviceable, which goes a long way towards helping us avoid things like the Eric Milton contract.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that having Ryan Franklin collect 106 starts during his tenure made Mariner fans a little smarter. There will always be that cute little group of Franklin supporters who point to his W/L and his run support, but for the rest of us, we've seen just how easy it is to take a random guy - replacement-level by the very definition of the term - plug him into the Mariner rotation for a year, and end up with an ERA around the league-average for a #5 starter. As long as we have this park and a solid team defense, we'll (ideally) never have to see the team spend a bunch of money on a guy like Milton or Jaret Wright or what have you, because we can get the same kind of performance by tossing in some spring NRI or AAA veteran for 180 innings. The money saved through that maneuver, in turn, can go towards frontloading the rotation with a legitimate ace or two, making the team better than it would've been with five above-average starters instead.

This is something that I think the overwhelming majority of you understand. And I don't know if that would have been possible without Ryan Franklin.

As far as last night's actual game is concerned...whatever, I don't have much to say, and at this point, I don't think anyone cares. But hey, Rafael Soriano - even missing 5mph on his fastball - has struck out nine of the 30 batters he's faced, allowing a single walk. He's pretty good.

Last series of the year kicks off tonight, as the Mariners look to rebound from their lowest Safeco attendance ever against the A's at 7:05pm PDT.