The second half of our stupid meaningless report card series. Hey. Hey, you. Yeah, you, right there, in the clothes. Stop caring about these grades. Quit it. You are just the worst.
If at any point you feel like I'm being too negative, cynical, or snarky, I cordially invite you to develop a time machine, go back to the start of the year, watch this team as much as I've watched it, write about this team as much as I've written about it, and not come away a bitter broken shell of a man by the same point in the season. In some indirect way, the Mariners did this to themselves. Sure, the season has its moments. Last Saturday, for example. Last Saturday was awesome. But the thing about the All-Star Break is that it gives you an opportunity to review more than just the most recent spate of games. It gives you an opportunity to review the whole first half, and 2010's whole first half can go and get lost. In the woods, where there are bears that eat it.
David Aardsma: D. First in alphabetical listings, first in disappointingly but suitably awful intro music, and first in terrifying fly balls. Did you know that Aardsma's current ERA is just about tied with the Mariners' bullpen ERA from 1997? Do you remember anything in particular about the Mariners' bullpen from 1997?
Jesus Colome: D+. I used to complain a lot about Colome at the time, since he was pointless and a waste of a roster spot that could've been put to better use, but at least Colome could strike some guys out. One could argue that Colome was actually of greater use than Ken Griffey Jr. to this Mariners team. There's a sentence I never thought I'd write, mainly because I don't sit around all day thinking about unrelated pairs of baseball players. I also never thought I'd write the sentence "any inaccuracies in this statement must be reported to John Hancock USA within 45 days," but here I am, as I read my 401k report.
Chad Cordero: F. The neat thing about Rudy is that he didn't play enough for people to realize he sucks.
Doug Fister: B. And this is how you maximize an underwhelming skillset. Doug Fister wouldn't start for some teams in high school, but here he is in Seattle, stacking up furniture and boxes and shit and pressing himself firmly against the underside of his low ceiling. Fister has 145.1 innings of Major League experience, and to show for it, he has a 3.53 ERA and a 4.32 FIP. Fister works. I can't believe Fister works.
Luke French: D. It's funny how, ERA aside, French has taken such a marked step back in AAA this year from where he was last season. That's a good career move, Luke. It's not like you were ever on the bubble of being an actual big leaguer or anything.
Felix Hernandez: A. Of course, who says I have to be snarky all the time? As was the case a year ago, Felix ran into a bit of a rough stretch in May before putting his head down and barreling through opposing lineups like towers of matchsticks. It's frustrating that he has the occasional lapse, but then I think that's a part of what makes him so lovable. The slight degree of unpredictability prevents us from taking him for granted. Felix is a special snowflake, and it is our duty to always keep that in mind.
Shawn Kelley: B-. Shawn Kelley on June 5th: 0.1 innings, 4 walks. Shawn Kelley without June 5th: 24.2 innings, 6 walks, 26 strikeouts. He hasn't been terrific, and the elbow issue is worrisome, but I just don't get how Kelley doesn't get more respect. Not from us, I mean. From the coaching staff. Sean White has averaged higher-leverage appearances. Sean White is even worse than Kelley at having his name spelled. Kelley's a good pitcher. When healthy, he might be the best pitcher in the bullpen.
Brandon League: C-. Doug Fister's antithesis, League has a high ceiling, but rather than try to reach it, he's content to just sleep on the top bunk. The chill, laid-back, surfer approach is only appealing when you're good. When you instead turn to coughing up leads left and right, it makes people think you're a moron. All in all, League's been okay, but he isn't close to what he could be, or should be.
Cliff Lee: A+. Not only was Lee the perfect pitcher on his own - he touched everyone around him and made them better or happier, too. Fans and teammates alike. He was like the opposite of AIDS.
Mark Lowe: D-. I just realized the M's have a worse record than the Astros.
Garrett Olson: F. The Astros. Remember how Matthew and I spent so many podcasts just ripping them to shreds before the year, and into the early season? They're a half game better than us. Their offense has nearly pulled itself even and they're closer to the playoffs. This is like Andrew Dice Clay nailing your mother.
David Pauley: B. And the Indians are only one game back of us now, too. The Indians, who traded their ex-Mariner first baseman, who demoted their ex-Mariner second baseman, and whose ex-Mariner shortstop broke his arm. That offense has been propped up in large part by their ex-Mariner right fielder. They're one game behind us in the standings, and the best K/BB among anyone on the pitching staff with more than 20 innings - the best K/BB - is Jake Westbrook's 1.7. The Indians are godawful and borderline unwatchable. And they've almost caught us.
Ryan Rowland-Smith: D-. It's only not an F because the recent accumulation of groundballs is an encouraging sign that RRS may have figured out a way to get out of his slump. Still, know that he was very nearly marked as a failure. To a man, pretty much everyone seems to love him, and for good reason, but it really makes you question what you're rooting for when you see complete douchebags like Alex Rodriguez and Brett Myers winning World Series rings while a good soul in RRS can't seem to get out of his rut. Do you want the successful jerk over the likable underperformer? Do you really? I think I'm beginning to understand some of those Mariners teams from earlier in the decade.
Ian Snell: F. Unlike RRS, we don't really know Ian Snell or get what he's about, so it's a lot easier for me to say, hey Ian, you suck. Garrett Olson has sucked, too. Don't remember if I mentioned that earlier.
Brian Sweeney: A-. 12 innings, zero walks. He hasn't actually struck anyone out in his last four appearances, but it's so refreshing to see a guy so clearly aware of his limitations and pitch to maximize what ability he has. Brian Sweeney and Doug Fister would be an NBA Jam team with low ratings played with by an experienced gamer, while Jesus Colome and Brandon League would be an NBA Jam team with high ratings played with by a hat.
Kanekoa Texeira: D+. Hey so you know what Texeira has done with the Royals? Throw strikes and get grounders. It's a good thing we didn't give him the chance to do that here. He might've made Sean White look bad. It's hard enough for Wak to find ways of keeping Shawn Kelley from doing that without having to worry about a second pitcher too.
Jason Vargas: B. Vargas' meaningful peripherals are all pretty much identical this year to last year, save for one: home run rate. Split the middle and he's got a low-4s ERA. Sounds about right. What's most interesting about Vargas is his physical appearance. A lot of people say he looks like a lesbian. Other people say he looks like a mafia don. My girlfriend says he looks like a frog. For funsies I just tried to use an online picture morpher, but my browser froze. It's probably better this way.
Sean White: F. I'm typing this with one hand in hunt-and-peck because my other hand is flipping off my monitor.