Saturday, February 14, 2004

posted by James - 11:40 AM

Apparently it took longer than I thought to exorcise the mention of "the third baseman who shall not be named" from this blog...

(Yeah that's it. It had nothing to do with a strong case of writer's block or boredom that sets in between the conclusion of the NFL season and when pitchers and catchers report.)

…but if you think it’s bad here Just North of Wrigley Field, when our media is focused on maybe losing a hall-of-fame, fifth-starter candidate to late-coming competition, you have no idea of the drastic circumstances the media is forcing fans to discuss in Seattle.

The local newspapers are rampantly "reporting" Quinton McCracken (yes, that Quinton McCracken, who was arguably the worst hitter in the NL to get 200 at-bats last year. Do your sanity a favor and don’t click on that link and discover the rather round home run figure he posted last year) will see at-bats next year at DH for the Seattle Mariners if Edgar Martinez were to succumb to injury for an extended period.

They’ve even gone as far as to call him the best option in “Papa’s” absence. (But again, don’t click on that link to verify unless you’re in the mood for a big batch of kool-aid, Jim Jones style.)

There is no conceivable reason on this earth to use McCracken at DH, not for one day or even one at-bat with the Mariners.

Even the baseball geniuses in his former AL stops of Tampa Bay and Minnesota saw fit to give him only 31 at-bats as a DH.

And all of them came with the Twins in 2001, where they had an adequate reason to use him as a DH. They didn't have many other DH options and not much use for him as a fourth outfielder with a stellar starting outfield defense and several options as a backup. And we're only talking about 31 at-bats where he stunk (.226 BA/.273 OBP/.355 SLG).

With the current roster for the Mariners, they actually need McCracken (or minor-leaguer Jamal Strong or non-roster-invitee Eric Owens) to be the fourth outfielder, whether or not he produces.

If the Mariners have to suffer through him being in the lineup on a regular basis, they should at least get the double-sided benefit of his defense in the outfield (I actually have no proof he would be an improvement over Raul Ibanez in the field, but I'm reaching here) and keeping Ichiro, Edgar, 1B John Olerud, 3B Scott Spiezio, etc... fresh for a grueling pennant run.

The Seattle Times and PI (links to the left) are equally in league with this sentiment, and, even worse, they aren’t giving any source for this info, yet they’re both reporting it.

John Levesque, David Andriesen, Bob Finnegan... they've all been reporting this like it's fact and just a dose of reality in the absence of Edgar, but where are they getting it from?

Sure... it's possible, but it's also possible youngsters Chris Snelling, Justin Leone, or Greg Jacobs would end up the DH in Edgar’s stead. Why not report that?

Who is saying he's the best option?

If the respective writers came up with it, they should at least explain their reasoning for championing McCracken as a scare tactic to diversify the payroll (i.e. Ron Villone, Owens, Ellis Burks, Raul Mondesi) instead of spending it on an actual improvement.

And... if this is coming from someone in the Mariners organization, why aren't the beat writers attributing it, quoting it, and, at the very least, questioning it? (At least Levesque, through the ghost of former Mariners’ owner Danny Kaye, made fun of it.)

This whole line of reasoning is making the fans look at the Mariners as fools in the way they've set up next year's roster (why isn't Greg Colbrunn, the guy the Mariners traded along with cash to get McCracken, the back up DH?) and fester much distrust for the reporters who have made no attempt to get any answers from the Mariners.

At least the blogs (I have a bunch of blogs with great info and insight to add to the links section) and the columnists (Levesque, Art Thiel and even the Times' Steve Kelley) have taken up the task.

Pick anyone on the Mariners’ roster you want, but "the best option" and McCracken should never be uttered in the same sentence.

Unless... *looking in the crystal ball* McCracken is the best option to get cut to make room for Chris Snelling, Jamal Strong or Greg Jacobs, who have all had great Spring Trainings.

Either way you look at it, McCracken is actually the worst option at DH, not the best.

McCracken may not even be "the best option" for the last spot on the Mariners' bench.

Unfortunately for the mindsets of the Mariners' brass and the fans who they have victimized this offseason, the Seattle media hasn't discovered the journalistic backbone to fulfill their duty. Wouldn't it be a shame if the Mariners keep believing McCracken was "the best option?"

Meanwhile, the Cubs are losing their grip as the frontrunner for Greg Maddux and the White Sox haven’t made the necessary improvements to keep up with even the Royals in the AL Central.

And the local Chicago media calls them on it, and the Chicago faithful shows their appreciation with trust... in the media and their beloved teams.

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