By Jim Moore
In The Seattle Times this morning, readers were asked what has to happen for Jack Zduriencik and Eric Wedge to save their jobs.
Thirty-six percent said the Mariners have to play .500 ball or better the rest of the season. Twenty-two percent said they better finish 81-81 or better. And in the most interesting revelation from the poll, 21 percent said they should be kept no matter what, and 21 percent said they should be fired no matter what.
It seems as if everyone is split on their fate. But it sure is one-sided on the Text Toy with most fans thinking both should be fired.
And yesterday, Jonah Keri from Grantland called Wedge a terrible tactician and said that he’d be “fine with kicking him out of town.”
First of all, I can’t imagine ever saying or writing that I’d be fine with kicking someone out of town. Maybe “dismissed” or “relieved of his duties,” but to reduce it to “kicking him out of town” was a classless remark.
And when you call Wedge a terrible tactician, I suppose he could Keri right – maybe he’s blown it occasionally with pitching moves. Maybe he should put the game in motion more often than he does. Maybe he should bunt more than he does. Maybe he’s stayed with some players longer than he should have.
I watch Mariner games and rarely blame Wedge for the latest loss. I usually feel sorry for him. Who can win consistently with that roster?
It’s easy to second-guess when a move doesn’t work out such as Charlie Furbush losing a game in extra innings in Cleveland. Should Tom Wilhelmsen have stayed in for another inning to close out the game after pitching the inning before? In hindsight, of course he should have. But what if Wilhelmsen had pitched two innings and lost? Then everyone would be ripping Wedge for thinking The Bartender could get six outs when he’s used to only needing three.
With the hitters – or with the Mariners, should we call them batters? – Wedge has been patient, probably too patient. As far as I can tell, he’s tried everything from coddling to criticizing his players and all things in between. What else is he supposed to do? You mean to tell me that the best manager in baseball, whoever he is, could do a better job with these players than Wedge? They’re just not good enough.
If Jonah Keri wants to kick someone out of town, he could make a better case for doing it to Zduriencik. He’s the man who’s most responsible for assembling a subpar roster that’s gone 36-47 thus far.
Why don’t we see how it plays out the rest of the way? I went back and forth with Michael Grey yesterday, claiming the Mariners have made upgrades at catcher with Mike Zunino, shortstop with Brad Miller, second base with Nick Franklin and center field with Dustin Ackley.
I should have said I “hope” they’re upgrades. Franklin definitely is, replacing a struggling Ackley. I’d say Zunino definitely is too when you consider that he replaced Jesus Montero, Kelly Shoppach and Jesus Sucre.
Miller in the short-term might be a wash; he’s bound to be better at the plate than Brendan Ryan but won’t measure up to the shoulder-licker defensively.
And as far as Ackley being an upgrade over Michael Saunders, an oft-injured Franklin Gutierrez and Endy Chavez in center field? That’s a reach on my part, hoping that Ackley found his bat in Tacoma and will use his athletic ability to make a smooth transition to a new position. I might have to give Grey that one.
Because of these debatable upgrades, I bet Grey that the Mariners will go 40-40 in their last 80 games. And look! They’re 1-0 already after smacking Texas 9-2 last night.
If they go 40-40, they’ll match last year’s record of 75-87. Then you can make a case for keeping Jackie Z. and Wedge because if they go 40-40, that will mean the younger players came through.
Then when you look ahead, you like what you see at five positions and you love what you see in a rotation that could feature Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and either Erasmo Ramirez, Brandon Maurer or James Paxton next year.
I’ve got my rally cap on. I don’t want to see Zduriencik and Wedge kicked out of town. And ultimately, I don’t think it’s going to happen.
The Go 2 Guy also writes for his website jimmoorethego2guy.com; seattlepi.com; and kitsapsun.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.