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It's Spring Training For Me, Too

And this whole "game every day" thing is still a little weird. Gotta shake off the rust.

Anyway: Mariners 8, Brewers 7. Matt Thornton got to do something I hope we never see again - start - before giving way to Kevin Appier, who gave way to Jake Woods, who gave way to George Sherrill, who gave way to the end of the game. Somehow, Appier was the best of the bunch, while Sherrill was the worst. I hate Spring Training so much.

If Gil Meche's oblique injury is any worse than Rick Griffin says it is, then that really puts the team in a hell of a tough spot to start the year. Gil would have to heal up and re-gain his arm strength, leaving a temporary rotation spot to one of Jesse Foppert, Kevin Appier, Jeff Harris, Clint Nageotte, and Dave Burba. Color me less than excited, for the following reasons:

Appier: Sucks and is old
Burba: Sucks more, is older
Harris: Rate stats pretty much the opposite of what you'd like
Foppert: Velocity isn't where it needs to be, has to prove himself again after getting hurt
Nageotte: Tons of work to do on his control, didn't start a single game in Tacoma last year

It didn't take long for the lack of organizational depth to become apparent. Faced with the prospect of entering the season with a rotation consisting of five guys with pretty big question marks, the Mariners did nothing to address their depth concerns, and now they're left having to hope that, for the first time in his career, Gil's injury isn't serious (it probably isn't, based on what we've been told, but you know what I mean). That's a bad policy at the best of times, and the odds are good that it's going to end up being one of a few major reasons why the team falls short of winning 90 games. Players get hurt, and good organizations are able to deal with it without losing too much ground. Right now, the Mariners don't look very prepared for the (practically) inevitable.

I'm going to be honest with you - if Gil has to miss more than a week or two, and we have to pick a starter out that group to start the season, I'm not really sure which way I'd go. I guess Foppert would be okay, in that he's not any of the other guys, but I'd so much rather be able to wait and see how he performs in Tacoma before calling him up. I'm not real big on the idea of bumping him to Seattle in April, because I don't think he's quite ready to be effective. Still, if the team does end up having to make a choice, I suppose "least terrible" is as valid a reason as any for picking one guy over another. Please, Gil, hurry back.

"Anytime you see anyone get guys out like that, they all become intriguing -- especially guys like Kevin Appier," Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said.

My brain is actively trying to figure out a way to travel back in time to the point at which it contained only a preschooler's education, so that at the very least it could pretend like it didn't see this coming.

If that Hargrove quotation doesn't do it for you, then try this one on for size, where he offers his justification for having three of his top lefty relievers - Thornton, Woods, and Sherrill - all pitch in the same game:

"It's good to have them throw together," Hargrove said. "I think they can learn from each other a little bit."

If that's the case, then Sherrill's getting a raw deal. Perhaps Hargrove's fantasy is a bullpen at equilibrium, where none of the guys are too good or too bad, and they all bring identical attributes to the table since each individual is nothing but an aggregate of everyone else. Maybe Thornton can pitch in the same game as Felix and learn to throw right-handed. Don't ever let anyone tell you that the Mariners aren't pushing the frontiers of science.

Felix, Soriano, Mateo, and Carvajal tomorrow, against Milwaukee at 3:05pm EST.