By Jim Moore
If Eric Wedge asked me, I’d tell him to give Tom Wilhelmsen one more chance. I’d tell the Mariners’ manager to hand him the ball in the ninth inning Friday night in Oakland to close out the game.
Or if it’s not Friday night, the next time there’s a save opportunity, give the ball to The Bartender, skip.
Why would I still support Wilhelmsen after he’s blown four saves in his last nine games? Why would I still support him when he’s been gawd-awful with nearly a 20.00 ERA this month? Why would I still support him after he gave up five runs and coughed up a 1-0 lead to the worst team in baseball Wednesday night?
Tom Wilhelmsen has blown four of his last nine save chances, putting his job as the Mariners’ closer in jeopardy. (AP)
Because I still believe in Wilhelmsen for reasons unknown.
I’m like 53 percent of the respondents to a Seattle Times poll who voted to stick with him because they think he’ll bounce back. The other 47 percent are like tri-host Michael Grey on “Wyman, Mike and Moore”, who said he’s ready to see “anyone else” as the closer.
Thing is, that’s the problem. There is no one else. Well, there are other guys you can trot out there, guys such as Oliver Perez, Carter Capps and Yoervis Medina. I’m guessing those are the top three candidates, not necessarily in that order.
Or maybe, if Wedge opts to replace Wilhelmsen, the Mariners will go with a closer-by-committee approach, using Perez one night, Capps the next and Medina the night after that. Or the closer-by-committee approach might call for two relievers to be used in the ninth inning.
None of those thoughts make me think: “Yeah, that’s a good idea, those guys are solid.” Capps might be the best option of the three with his good strikeout-to-walks ratio of 34-to-7, but he’s had his own share of hiccups.
The only thing that would excite me is if Wedge made the following statement:
“After talking to Jack, we’ve decided to give Tommy a break and let him work out his issues in non-save situations, fully expecting him to return to the closer’s role at some point in the near future.
“In the meantime, we know we could go with Cappsy or Oliver or Yoervy, but we’re gonna roll the dice on Danny Farquhar because we like his get-after-it, bulldog approach.”
I understand that he has the worst ERA on the team at 8.44, but there’s something that I like a lot about Danny Farquhar, and I wish someone would tell me what that is before I make the transition from partial fool to complete fool, if I haven’t already.
Forget the Farquhar and bullpen-by-committee nonsense and give The Bartender one more shot. If he fails in his next opportunity, OK, I’m with you, Michael Grey – it’s time to make a move.
I put my money where my mouth is, betting Grey a six-pack of Kilt Lifter that Wedge will stick with Wilhelmsen.
I still feel like Wilhelmsen will find himself in the nick of time. I still feel like he’ll find his knee-buckling curveball and fastball command again. I still feel like he’ll own right-handed batters. Remember the 0-for-38 success he had against them to start the season? And have you forgotten how he was 11-for-11 in save opportunities with a 0.41 ERA in the first seven weeks of the year?
Plus a guy with his back story gets all kinds of slack from me. Former pot smoker who tested positive twice for marijuana and was basically booted out of the Brewers’ organization. Either that or he lost his passion for the game, maybe both.
A free spirit who loves the Grateful Dead, Wilhelmsen backpacked around Europe with his girlfriend between leaving the Brewers and joining the Mariners’ organization.
Then he landed that job as a bartender at “The Hut” in Tucson, leading to his nickname and status as a genuine cult hero in my book.
You don’t bench cult heroes; you give them another chance. Especially when the cult hero pays homage to Seattle legend Jimi Hendrix, entering the game from the bullpen while “Voodoo Child” blares through Safeco Field.
It’s last call for Tom Wilhelmsen. If he gets it, I’m betting he’ll make the most of it.