It was a lovely spring day at Safeco today as I watched the Mariners beat the Royals 5-1. Just a hint of chill in the air but the sun was out and it was plenty warm enough until the shadows closed in during the late innings. A day like this reminds me why I’ve never missed the Kingdome for a single second. Well, maybe a little bit last winter while watching the Seahawks play the 49ers during a monsoon.
Anyway, it was a solid performance by Cha Seung Baek who had a no-hitter going into the sixth and ended up leaving with the game tied at 1-1. Baek pitched well enough last year after being called up to make lots of people wonder why he wasn’t given a shot at the #5 in the rotation instead of throwing bucketloads of money at Jeff Weaver, who was booed out of Anaheim last year and traded to the Cards for a case of Bud Light and a cup holder to be named later. Pitching the clinching game in the World Series was a marvelous deodorizer for a guy who, by most other measures, had an odorous season.
But Weaver was practically unhittable last year compared to the BP he’s been serving up this year to anyone lucky enough to find themselves standing 60’6" away from him with a Louisville slugger in their hands. So far in four starts he’s 0-4 with a 18.26 ERA and has lasted just 11.1 innings total. The bullpen must be on DEFCON 1 everytime Weaver hits the mound. And it’s hard to imagine an M’s pitcher putting up a worse line than Weaver did yesterday against the light hitting Royals (0.1 IP, 7 H, 7 ER) without randomly plucking someone out of the stands to pitch.
So, of course, the decision on whether to keep Baek or Weaver in the starting rotation once King Felix returns was the main topic of the yakkity yak on the post-game show on the drive home. It seemed like a no brainer to everyone who weighed in, including those who’d never seen or heard of the game of baseball before. But nothing is a dead-lock certainty when big money and egos are involved and having an $8 million long reliever in the bullpen won’t help burnish Bill Bavasi’s less-than-shiny record as a wheeler dealer. Still, it’s hard to imagine Weaver still being in the rotation after Felix comes back unless he turns in a lights out performance before then and knocks his ERA down to only, say, 14.00 or 15.00.