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When the run support gravy train runs out of fuel, people tend to be a lot less understanding of a bad pitcher's shortcomings. That the Mariners were 8-5 in Ho's first 13 starts is nothing short of a minor miracle, and at this point it has to be absolutely clear to everyone, both inside the organization and out, that they can't keep trotting his AAA ass out to the mound every five days if they want to maximize their chances of seeing October.

Dealing for Horacio Ramirez - on purpose - was a horrible idea at the time that pretty much every single one of us called, and somehow the trade has found a way to look even worse than we ever thought it could. While it was argued at the time that we put up with Matt Thornton and Gil Meche because their stuff allowed for the possibility of success down the road, Ho has neither Major League control nor a Major League repertoire. A good pitcher keeps the ball on the ground, throws strikes, and misses bats. Ho is barely adequate at #1, lousy at #2, and impossibly terrible at #3. More than anybody else on the roster, Ramirez needs to go, for the sake of everyone on the team and everyone following it. Stop. The. Bleeding.

Biggest Contribution: Jose Vidro, +13.6%
Biggest Suckfest: Ho, -30.9%
Most Important At Bat: Vidro single, +7.6%
Most Important Pitch: Redmond single, -10.2%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -32.2%
Total Contribution by Position Players: -17.8%
Total Contribution by Opposition: 0.0%

(What is this chart?)

I don't have anything special to say about this game. What I do have to say is this: of the 151 Major League pitchers with at least 60 innings, Horacio Ramirez has the second-worst ERA, at 7.38. The only guy who was worse - Casey Fossum - just got released by the Devil Rays, who've allowed 89 more runs than any other team in baseball.

How has the AL competition treated its lousy starters? The Red Sox bumped Julian Tavarez. The Yankees demoted Kei Igawa. The Tigers traded Mike Maroth. The Indians demoted Cliff Lee and Jeremy Sowers. The Angels demoted Ervin Santana. Los Angeles stuck with Bartolo Colon's horrible ERA until he went on the DL, but even there his peripherals were okay and he had a much stronger track record of success (Ho, by comparison, has always been bad). Hell, even fringe teams like Minnesota and Toronto got fed up with the Sidney Ponsons and Tomo Ohkas of the world. But the Mariners, they've stuck with their Safeco-aided 7+ ERA suckbag, and have shown no signs of changing course.

The following is a list of the worst starting pitcher on each contending team in the AL:

New York: Mike Mussina
Boston: Jon Lester
Cleveland: Jake Westbrook (currently a four-man rotation)
Detroit: Kenny Rogers
Los Angeles: Joe Saunders Dustin Mosely
Seattle: Horacio Ramirez

Perhaps even worse is that the Mariners have shown no willingness to use off days to skip a spot in the rotation. When healthy, Ramirez hasn't had a single start passed over. Compare this to, say, the Indians, who won't need a fifth starter until August 25th and who're therefore currently using a four-man rotation. It's like the Mariners are completely unaware of how bad Horacio Ramirez really is. They couldn't possibly be that stupid, right? Right?

Yeah, the M's are 8-6 in Ramirez's starts. It's easy to look at that and say "well, for as bad as he's been, he's not really killing the team." But look at the six losses:

-4 innings, 6 runs, 7-6 final
-4 innings, 7 runs, 8-7 final
-5.2 innings, 7 runs, 9-7 final
-2 innings, 3 runs, 13-12 final
-4.2 innings, 8 runs, 8-7 final
-5 innings, 6 runs, 11-3 final

In the first five losses, Ramirez was awful, and the Mariners lost by one or two runs. With a standard, replacement-level starter, we might win four of those, or even all five. Tonight was the first time that he really wasn't a big factor, since we didn't touch Garza until it was far too late.

Yes, Ho has helped us win a few games. He allowed one run in 6.1 innings against New York in a 2-1 victory. Later, he allowed two in seven as the M's beat Baltimore 4-2. But the point is this: despite the team's record in Ramirez's starts, he has still cost us a handful of wins. One could make a very convincing argument that were you to replace Ramirez with some generic Cha Baek clone, we'd be tied or even ahead of the Angels right now.

The Mariners don't exactly have any high-quality young arms beating down the door to the Majors right now. But then, they don't need to. All they need is a pitcher who's better than Ho Ramirez, and there's not an organization in Major League Baseball that doesn't have at least a dozen of those. Hell, let RRS or Eric O'freaking Flaherty throw four innings the next time the five slot comes around. It's a guaranteed upgrade, and you aren't even putting much extra stress on the bullpen, since Ramirez would be finished after four or five anyway.

If that's too out-of-the-box, call up Cha Baek. Sign David Wells. Ask about Josh Towers. Get the White Sox to eat salary and add Jose Contreras. Dip into Rohrbaugh/Campillo/Lehr/Feierabend if you have to. Make whatever move you can. Just don't let Horacio Ramirez get another start, because while you can't be sure how much of an upgrade you'd get from anyone else, by now we know damn well exactly what we'd get from Ho, and it isn't good. Even his low-scoring games are bad (two total strikeouts in those starts against New York and Baltimore). If you're going to rely on luck, you might as well use someone who needs a little less of it to put you over the top.

There's just no excuse for the Mariners to let Horacio Ramirez get one more start for a team in the hunt. Suck it up and cut your losses now, before it's too late. This move didn't work out. Admit it and move on. For a competent organization that knows how to evaluate pitchers and strives to put its best players on the field at all times, there wouldn't even be the slightest hesitation. Join your competition, Mariners, and bid farewell to your worst starting pitcher. You'll be glad you did.

In good news, Jose Vidro is playing like a whale possessed.

Washburn/Baker tomorrow afternoon at 1:35pm PDT. Scott Baker was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. The offense should use that to their advantage somehow.