Updated Apr 16, 2012 - 9:53 am
Eric Wedge and his lineup
So long, A's. See ya in June. When I asked Justin Smoak on the field Sunday if he was tired of seeing the A's, whom the Mariners have faced seven times already this season, he answered: "Uncle!"
In retrospect, maybe facing the A's so many times is not a bad thing. The Mariners seem to do quite well against them.
Beating teams they should beat. Check. Let's not take that for granted. A year ago I'm not sure there were teams they should beat. Seriously. This feels like progress. It is good to see guys go into games actually believing they should win. While the offense has been spotty I think they saw enough in spring training and enough in spurts in the first 11 games to feel they should win a lot of games, or at the very least they are capable of winning these games. The pitching has never been the concern for them.
So two out of three against the A's and a 6-5 record in the early going – not bad. Although from some of the tweets and emails I have received you would think they were 1-10. I was particularly annoyed to hear both Saturday and Sunday from fans who were unhappy with the lineup. Seriously? We are less than two weeks into the season. The team won both games. Let Eric Wedge manage this team. You don't like the lineups? Well, here is a little insight into how Wedge puts them together.
"When I put the lineup together it is a combination of numbers, plus feel, plus where they are health-wise, plus where they are mentally," he answered when asked before Sunday's game. "As soon as the game is over I am literally thinking of that already. I spend my time at night and sometimes I finalize it the night before and other times I will come in here, sleep on it and finish it off in the morning."
It is not just a matter of putting the best numbers out on the field. More goes into it than we will ever be privy to, but Wedge has the information and weighs it accordingly in his mind.
Wedge disclosed that Sunday morning he was still wrestling with a few things – "more on the mental side," he said – before he finally settled on the lineup. He most likely was looking past the single potential victory to what impact his moves could possibly make in the future. He realizes that baseball is not always a win-the-day sport. When you play 162 games you have to look at the big picture. What is best for the long term. Sometimes a guy who is struggling needs a day off; sometimes he needs a day on to believe he has the confidence of his manager. Early on this is managed differently than as the season progresses. We have seen it before.
With all that said I do not believe that we will hear "it is still early" for as long as we did the past couple of years. Wedge expects more of this club and he has – and will – have more options should he see the need to try someone else at a position. Things will shift from needing to get certain players out on the field for different reasons (giving opportunities for guys to settle in or getting guys time off the bench to keep them useful) to being able to put up the lineup that he thinks has the best shot at winning each night. That will come.
For now, a decent start and a much needed off-day at home. No one is more excited than Brendan Ryan, who thought the next off day wasn't until Thursday.
"Are you serious?" he asked when the reporters let him know. "Then I don't have to show up tomorrow? That's a real happy off-day. Good, I will get some furniture and stuff to put in the condo."
Then back at it Tuesday against the Indians, a series they should perhaps win? Why not.
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