erik lundegaard

Eric Wedge and the Hobson's Choice

Last night I went to my first Mariners game of the season, a horrid, 6-2 affair againt a bottom-dwelling San Diego team, in which there were hardly any fans in the stands, hardly any Mariners on the basepaths, and too many seagulls circling like vultures in the late innings.

There was also a moment that made me wonder about the intelligence of manager Eric Wedge.

M's down 6-1 in the bottom of the 8th. Franklin Guttierez, in his first game this season, managed a single through the left side of the infield for his first hit of the season and the M's second run of the game. Woo! Now it was 6-2, with men on first and second, and the tying run, Ichiro, in the on-deck circle. And who strode to the plate? Mighty Munenori Kawasaki, often referred to as “Ichiro lite,” but you might as well call him “Ichiro without the on-base percentage.” Dude's batting .189 with a .259 OBP, and, like all the M's, his numbers are worse at Safeco. At home he's batting just .100, 2 for 20, both singles, with a .143 OBP. Fun.

So here we were, down by 4 with two guys on, and we needed a guy to get on base to give us a chance. But the guy at the plate was a guy who rarely got on base.

“Why isn't Wedge pinch-hitting for him?” I wondered aloud. “Does Wedge know what he's doing?”

He does. Here's why Wedge didn't pinch-hit for Kawasaki: Because mighty Dale Thayer (6.19 ERA) was on the mound for San Diego. Thayer's a righty, Kawasaki's a lefty.

But didn't we have any lefties on the bench who could pinch-hit?

Believe it or not, no. They were all in the game. Unless you count Chone Figgins. He's a switch hitter. At home he's hitting .143, which is a little better than Kawasaki; but against righties he's hitting .192, which isn't as good as Kawasaki's .213 against righties. So Kawasaki stayed in the game and popped out to short. The M's never managed another hit and the Padres won the game and swept the series. It's their first series sweep of the year. Congratulations, guys.

And apologies, Eric Wedge. It's gotta be tough to look down a bench and see no better option than a guy hitting .100. No wonders the seagulls were circling.

Safeco Field, June 2012, empty stands in the late innings

Mariners baseball: Get after it.

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Posted at 09:17 AM on Fri. Jun 15, 2012 in category Seattle Mariners  


Jon Wells wrote:

He had Casper Wells on the bench but didn't use him, apparently for two reasons:

1. Wedge is so married to the righty/lefty thing that he'd always rather have a weaker opposite-handed hitter at the plate than a stronger same-handed hitter. It's as if he thinks no righty hitter has ever gotten a hit off a right-handed pitcher.

2. Wedge hates Casper Wells. Ever since his late-season fade last year after being hit in the face by a Brandon Morrow fastball (shortly after homering in 4 straight games at Safeco) Wedge hasn't used him much. He barely played even in spring training, where he certainly wasn't given any kind of an opportunity to beat out Mike Carp, who sucked this spring and has sucked all season.

Comment posted on Fri. Jun 15, 2012 at 09:47 AM

Erik wrote:

I saw Wells available. But has anyone ever replaced a lefty with a righty to face a righty? If you were going to do it, that would've been the time, certainly. I just don't know if it's done.

I guess the better question is: Should it be done.

Comment posted on Fri. Jun 15, 2012 at 09:54 AM
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