Remember the famous scene in the Mutiny on the Bounty, where Fletcher Christian (played by Marlon Brando, not Mel Gibson) puts Captain Bligh on the little dinghy? That's how Seattle manager, Don Wakamatsu, has to feel right now. The poor guy has not had a fun year. Since this writer is just a blogger...ahem...and not an insider, the Fan doesn't know how much input Wakamatsu had in the personnel decisions of his team. If he had a lot of input, then he deserves to be the old Captain in that scene. If he had no input, then he still stuck in the dinghy trying to hold onto his dignity as he will still attempt to captain his little ship and get it home.
In the latest story, there has been a lot of conversation about moving Ichiro Suzuki to a more productive spot in the line up. The captain...err...manager said that isn't going to happen since it might mess Ichiro up if he moves from his comfort position. While that is a bunch of bull, friends, it's still the right call. Ichiro isn't the problem. He's getting on base at least reasonably well. If they can't drive him in with the guys that are behind him, that's not his fault.
Let's look at it another way. If Ichiro isn't leading off the game and bats say, third or fourth, who is he going to drive in? He's the only guy on that team right now who can hit. So it doesn't matter if he leads off or bats second or third or fourth or fifth. He's still going to be the only guy who can hit. So what would you accomplish? Let's face it, the lead off guy is going to get the most at bats over the course of the season. Why not at least let your best guy...your only good guy...get those at bats?
The other side of the argument is that Ichiro has batted .338 over his career with runners in scoring position with a .441 OBP. He has batted .333 over his career in high leverage situations. Yes, that makes sense. When guys are on base, he gets a lot of free passes and hits. That is certainly helpful. But again, what good does it do if nobody is on base? Who is going to lead off? Figgins? He's batting .195. Jose Lopez? He has a .240 OBP. Jack Wilson? He's hurt and before he was hurt, he had a .275 OBP. Gutierrez? Well, maybe that makes sense. At least he has a .366 OBP, but he's also one of the guys you want in the three/four hole.
No, the problem is that Milton Bradley, Junior Griffey and/or Mike Sweeney, et al, can't or aren't getting the job done. To put it in a more dramatic way, Gutierrez and Ichiro have been on base a total of 144 times going into Tuesday's game. That number means that the two guys out of a nine batter line up have accounted for 28% of the number of times the entire team has been on base. Ichiro alone has accounted for 15%. The Mariners are dead last in the American League in batting average and slugging percentage and are next to last in On Base Percentage. That isn't going to change by moving Ichiro in the line up.
Here's what the Mariners should do: Keep Ichiro at lead off. Bat Langerhans second (he has nine walks is 31 plate appearances. Sit Griffey, release Sweeney and Bradley. Put Michael Saunders back in there every day. Bat Figgins last until he figures it out. And for gosh sakes, get a catcher, any catcher. Oh, and one more thing: Tell Ichiro to stop trying to steal bases. He's 37 for gosh sakes and is getting thrown out way too often.
Poor old Don Wakamatsu can't win...literally and figuratively. It doesn't help any when he has to answer stupid question every night after having to write out such a stupid line up.