BY Steve Rudman 02:32PM 09/03/2013

Even Wedge Seems To Be Losing Optimism

The usually optimistic Eric Wedge called out some of his players after Monday’s game, accusing them of not knowing how to win. The Mariners play the Royals again Tuesday.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge, with GM Jack Zduriencik, expressed great frustration over his team’s inability to cash in on scoring opportunities. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

During his stewardship of the Mariners, Eric Wedge has developed a remarkable knack for spinning the most negative development into a glass-half-full scenario. But Monday afternoon, after the Mariners failed to convert a rash of scoring opportunities against Kansas City (1-for-11 with runners in scoring position), Wedge abandoned his customary boosterism, lashing out at a number of his players who, he carped, “haven’t learned how to win.”

The Mariners left two runners on in each of the first four innings. Kendrys Morales, the cleanup hitter, whiffed twice with two men on and less than two outs. Justin Smoak, batting fifth, also failed twice with two aboard, no surprise since Smoak is hitting .214 with runners aboard and .209 when they’re in scoring position. Wedge apparently saw enough.

“We had plenty of opportunities to score again early, but just did a very poor job,” Wedge after Seattle’s 3-1 loss. “We’ve got a lot of guys here who still have to learn how to play this game. I need to see improvement and consistency, not only from month-to-month, but game-to-game and at-bat to at-bat. I’m not seeing that. The one recurring theme (of the season) is that we’ve not taken advantage of our opportunities offensively.”

The Mariners enter Tuesday’s second of four games against the Royals batting .233 with runners poised to score, and having tallied once in 26 innings dating to the second inning  Saturday. That .233 ranks next-to-last in the American League, ahead of Minnesota’s .229, and is down six points from last year’s .239.

Much as Wedge continually (until Monday) expresses hope that isn’t so, sooner of later he’s going to have to entertain the notion that the “consistency” he seeks in his young hitters might never be achieved. By Wedge’s own admission, it’s overdue.

September is a big month for the Mariners. They are on track for 90 or more losses for the fourth time in six seasons when this was supposed to be a year in which they would finish with a winning record for the first time since 2009. The off-season will not be long enough to rationalize away 90 defeats, given the club’s own expectations.

Wedge has spent most of the season touting development of his young players and begging the indulgence of the impatient. Based on his remarks Monday, it sounds like Wedge is finally questioning his own optimism.


YourThoughts

  • Will

    Someday, when Seattle no longer has jammed 5 o’clock freeways, when wild salmon fill all the local streams, when Nintendo surpasses Playstation, when there’s no more January ice storms and when Eastern and Western Washington agree on all things political … that’s when the M’s will be in a pennant race. Until then, M’s management will be content with beer sales and bobbleheads … and fans will constantly be reminded the team is young, rebuilding and a player away from contention.

    • steverudman

      Will: You missed your calling. You should be the lead columnist for The New York Times. Great analysis. Thank you for not adding “until hell freezes over,” or “until the cows come home.” Accurate, but trite.

  • Tian Biao

    Agreed – that might be the most honesty we’ve ever gotten out of Wedge. What was it, ‘a lot of guys here who still have to learn how to play this game.’ That is a classic quote. I guess the man finally ran out of patience. Still, you have to wonder how that burst of honesty will go over with chuck and howie, and Z too, who helped put this feckless collection together. The end might be near for Mr. Wedge.

    • Trygvesture

      Good for Wedge– his brush with the horror of a stroke may have freed him from the company line, knowing full well the Pinella Consequence: having Mr Button-Down baseball dismiss you as “insubordinate” and — baseball credentials be damned– unworthy of respect, unworthy of holding up the Nintendo Flag of Subordinate Obedience, unworthy of fair play in the universe of baseball. Would the GM, the exec staff, the Ms media people, the fans and board had the same integrity of self as Pinella — who wouldn’t be treated as a subordinate by a fool.
      Were it so, the stadium would be an empty-seat echo-filled monument to the Fools of the Game when “Play Ball!” would otherwise be heard and welcomed.

  • jafabian

    The young players should all be in winter ball in the offseason. Jack Z. needs to find one or two solid veteran catchers and a veteran lefty for the bullpen. Would love Cliff Lee back but that’s wishful thinking. There’s a core group here that can be built on but not sure what direction it’s going in just yet.

    • steverudman

      Maybe ownership and management should spent some time in Winter Ball.

      • Trygvesture

        spend.

        Maybe they should. Spend. And go to winter ball with one-way tickets. Can’t wait to see what soporitic laudnam they drizzle out when they finally emerge from their bunkers with yet another pitiful attempt to sound like they have A. a clue, B. a plan, C. a conscience and a commitment to the community equivilant to their citizen-granted gold-mine stadium and the franchise appreciation they’ve neither earned nor deserve.

        They really are, well, detestable in their enduringly incompetent arrogance, leaving us a franchise better named The Curséd Losers– and that this franchise hasn’t the caché of th Cubs and didn’t trade Ruth makes it inexcusable.

  • Beacon Hill Pasta Boy

    Steve-good post.Thank you.
    The Mariners are a disgrace to the NW. Poor performance in pretty much all phases of the game combined with a completely unengaged (sleepy?) ownership has yielded a mediocre product that is perpetually “rebuilding.” Think Sisyphus. Based on their corresponding declines in attendance after 2001, the anemic financial performance of the Mariners as a professional sports franchise ranks them near the bottom of all professional sports franchises across North America. Where I come from we say the fish rots from the head. In this case that means we need to start with new Mariner ownership to create a team we can be proud of. Go Seahawks. Go Sounders.

    • steverudman

      Like your “fish rots from the head” reference. I’ve often said the Mariners should “fire pages 4-33 of their annual media guide.” That’s where the bios of execs and scouts are printed.

  • Effzee

    Sounds like Wedgie found the ticket out of his own personal hell: Tell the truth about the Mariners. Must’ve asked Piniella and Hargrove for some advice. Nobody in that organization survives a bout of truth telling. Rock the boat, walk the plank. Next man up!