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Now We Get To Test His Mettle

Another stinker from Carlos Silva last night. And perhaps what's most incredible is that he found a new way to approach his rock bottom. On top of all the usual hits and runs, he also managed to walk four of the 21 A's he faced, with that four-spot tying his total from September 1st last year as the most hitters he's ever walked in a start. The man is lost. Right now, he just can't seem to find a way to do anything right, and there are whispers that the team is considering a demotion from his current role.

At this point, what does Silva bring to the table? Seriously. What does he offer to the team? What are his positives?

Carlos Silva is not a good pitcher. By now this one ought to be abundantly clear. His tRA since joining the Mariners is 6.02. He's not the groundballer as which he was billed. He doesn't miss any bats, ever. He can't retire lefties. He doesn't even throw strikes anymore, as his 58.8% strike rate ranks 122nd out of 136 starters to have thrown at least 200 pitches. And changing his approach to become a radical sinkerballer hasn't helped him at all, and may have even made him worse. While I came into the year pretty sure that Silva would work his way back towards respectability, I've seen no indication over his five starts that an improvement is on the way. He just looks like a guy who's lost all his confidence, and for pretty good reason - everything he throws either misses the zone or gets the living snot beaten out of it. You know things are rough when you're getting outpitched by a 30 year old converted position player. Performance-wise, Silva blows.

Carlos Silva is not a good role model. He doesn't mix his pitches. He gained about 30 pounds over the course of last season. He gets easily frustrated and knocked off his game when things aren't going his way on the mound, and has admitted as much. On many occasions he's acted unprofessionally to both teammates and the media. He has an aggressive, confrontational personality. And he sucks. The team got rid of Freddy Garcia because they thought he was a bad influence, and all he ever did was get fucked up. Silva's just a troublesome person across the board, and maybe the last guy I'd want my young pitchers talking to and learning from.

Carlos Silva is not a good leader. This one kind of overlaps with the paragraph above, but they're still two distinct roles that Silva is ill-equipped to fill. He has a bad attitude. He's called teammates out in the media. He's even threatened physical harm on a few of them, Ichiro included. He's outwardly arrogant and over-confident but inwardly insecure. And there's nothing in his performance that screams "this is a man you should listen to." All the media talked about all year long in 2008 was how the Mariners needed someone to step up and be a leader, but Silva was content to gain weight and pitch poorly while yelling at people to look like they give a shit. Hypocrites aren't really known for their ability to lead. Particularly hypocrites with a history of feuding with superstars. Ichiro wasn't the first.

All the things we were told about Silva when he signed here - maybe Bavasi thought they were true at the time, but they damn sure haven't been true ever since. He's been bad at everything. Everything. And there's no sign that things are about to get better. As Silva's performance deteriorates, so too will his confidence, and that's a spiral from which it's incredibly difficult to escape.

So now we're faced with a potentially volatile situation. The team may choose to keep running Silva out there for his regular turns, trying to build him up and squeeze out a little value. But they may also choose to make a move when RRS is ready to return in ten days or so (if not sooner, since Vargas is up). With everyone else in the rotation pitching pretty well, management may decide to move Silva either to the DL with an "injury" or to the bullpen so they can work on all those little mechanical things coaches always talk about when they're dealing with a lost cause. Something to make room for a guy less likely to cost his team important games.

Faced with his struggles and the real possibility of demotion, then, Carlos Silva needs to keep himself together. He hasn't been a good pitcher, a good role model, or a good leader, but if he wants to make a contribution to the team, now's a time that he needs to be a good teammate. He needs to suck it up and adopt a positive attitude instead of getting really low and wallowing in his own misery, because a miserable Carlos Silva is capable of making a lot of other people miserable too, and that's the last thing the team needs right now with things going pretty well.

I know I usually downplay stuff like this, and realistically, I don't think an unhappy Silva could cause the team to implode. But it would still be a negative, and it's something I'm sure the coaches will want to avoid. I expect that they'll keep a close eye on how Silva's doing and get involved should he show signs of getting upset. Back in March, we and USSM agreed that one of Wakamatsu's biggest challenges would be keeping Griffey both content and off the field at the same time. That he needed to find a way to keep Griffey from sulking and complaining while slotting him in at DH. This is a similar situation. Though we don't know for sure if the team is going to bump Silva from the rotation, we know he's not in a very good place, and that either way he's likely to require careful and extra attention if he's not to sit in the corner and brood.

The Mariners, right now, are playing some really good baseball, yet they're doing it not with the help of Carlos Silva, but in spite of him. It's on Silva and the coaching staff, then, to prevent his situation from influencing the rest of the clubhouse. I don't know what kind of effect a miserable Silva could have on everyone else, but I know that it couldn't possibly be good.

If there's any salvaging any scrap of the whole Carlos Silva catastrophe, then it begins by his being a good, supportive teammate, regardless of what he's going through personally. Silva's always been one to say that the team is bigger than any one person. Now, more than ever, he needs to heed his own words.