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Pushing a Giant Baseball Up a Hill and Watching It Roll Back Down Since 2008
Olivo Needs an Off Day
April 30, 2012Posted by on
I listened to the game at work the other day, but didn’t really get the opportunity to hear or see much of yesterday’s game. Looks like I didn’t miss much, either day.
So what do we have here so far? A 4-2 road trip, which isn’t so bad, right? Chone Figgins is hitting and fielding acceptably compared to Chone Figgins as Mariners fans usually know him; and that’s great, we’ve been waiting for the past two years to see things like this from Figgins, and I’m happy he is coming around and seems to be a different Figgins in general than he has been here so far. I have long wanted that big grin to mean something, and it finally seems like he’s having fun here. Jesus Montero is getting a little more playing time, even if it is only at DH (which I still disapprove of). Michael Saunders is taking care of business, and Alex Liddi is showing a bit of flare too. And all of this is great. I’m trying to avoid thinking about how our sweep of Detroit might have been due to facing the lesser pitchers in their rotation – down that road lies madness, quite frankly – and just enjoy the fact that the road trip is what it is; four games won out of six games played.
So I hate to be the person pinning frustration on just one player. I know that some of the problems the Mariners have been having as of late are due to multiple issues, some of which are easily solvable problems (plate patience, for example, is a big one I’ve been grappling with lately, and RISP, anyone?), but for the love of all that is holy, can we bench Miguel Olivo, even for a little while? Brendan Ryan makes a throwing error a few weeks ago and sits for a game, Eric Wedge said, to learn accountability. Miguel Olivo constantly makes throwing errors, passes balls, and has a sub -.200 batting average for the past month, but is still run out onto the field because he is viewed as an everyday starter. What the hell, Wedge?! I know a lot of people are upset about this, and I’m not trying to pile on in that sort of blind anger sort of way; generally speaking, I don’t feel one way or the other about Olivo. But this has to stop. The fact that he keeps getting put on the field day after day while one player makes one defensive mishap gets sat out for a game seems like a terrible strategy. And it’s not engendering confidence in the fan base, either. My feelings on Olivo are literally nothing compared to what I’ve seen around the internet and in talking to people about this team. Fans are not happy about the fact that he is getting game time; and even the recent home runs are not going to change that.
I also find myself interested in the way that Wedge has been using the bullpen. April is just coming to a close, and already it’s easy to tell who will be sent out to throw when the game is going badly for Seattle. Do we really have that little confidence in Hisashi Iwakuma, Erasmo Ramirez, and Lucas Luetge? Steve Delabar and Tom Wilhelmsen have already earned their yearly paychecks. Because I am not a baseball manager, I usually tend to believe that regardless of how I personally feel about what’s being done with the lineup, surely there has to be a reason for the calls made and the lineups set out. Baseball people know what they’re doing, right? I should just keep my opinions to myself and let the baseball team be the baseball team. But I am disappointed in the lack of Iwakuma; he’s been playing major league baseball for a month and has thrown five innings. Five. That’s it. Keeping him in the pen and not using him is not going to improve his numbers.
If I saw Olivo being held accountable for the things he’s done (or not done) so far this season, I might feel like all players on this team were being held equally as accountable for their actions. And I know that Brendan Ryan is one of the team’s darlings, and fans love him, so it seems like more of a slight when a popular player is benched and a less popular one is not. But the fact that Olivo has not yet been held accountable for any of his errors doesn’t not demonstrate that all players are equal here, and it certainly feels like Eric Wedge either doesn’t see or doesn’t care what Olivo does behind the plate. And I don’t know which is more offputting from a fan standpoint. All I know is that I’m a huge advocate for justice in all forms, and it doesn’t feel like justice is being served here. It feels like Eric Wedge is ignoring badness where it’s convenient for him to do so, and the rest of us get to watch the results of that call in glorious HD.
This isn’t the criticism it might seem like. I want to be proven wrong. I will still hope that Miguel Olivo hits well, throws well, and doesn’t allow his pitchers to throw “wild” (and that is in quotes because of the dubious nature of a wild pitch during yesterday’s game), and calls a good game. I will do this because Eric Wedge isn’t giving me a choice. I will also do it because I am a Mariners fan and ultimately the team’s success as a whole is what matters. But just once, once, I would like to see things handled a little differently. One home run does not eliminate the throwing error on a pickoff attempt that allowed a runner to score yesterday. It just doesn’t. So I am going to hope that Wedge levels the playing field a little by sending the same message to Olivo that the rest of us want sent; give him a rest for a game. Surely he could use it.
EDIT: I got all drunk on power there for a minute and forgot to mention how sad I am at the passing of George Sherrill’s elbow. Not really sure how one obtains the need for Tommy John surgery when one spends so much time not actually using his arm, but it has happened, and there is little the rest of us can do about it. I was really looking forward to having a healthy number 52 back in our midst, but baseball does not care what I want. Here is hoping Sherrill’s surgery goes smoothly, his recovery quickly.