Benish warms up, throws Mariner pitchers under the bus as reason for another disappointing baseball season

By Terry Benish

Special to The Sports Paper

Other than annoying letters to reporters, urging them to actually describe what had happened in front of them, I’ve had a season of not writing about baseball.

The season is over and so I start again.

After writing over 900 posts for just about three years, I stopped writing about the Mariners. There were reasons, similar to being told to wear a raincoat when you like the feeling of rain on your skin, but it is too early to resort to metaphors.

It is time to write once more about the Mariners for sure, baseball at large and off topics too.

So Jack Zduriencik walks into a coffee shop and says, “It’s the kids damn it! I tell you it’s the kids…”

Yeah, boy I don’t know Jack. Dave Cameron, the founder of U.S.S. Mariner and baseball sabemetric writer from here to the Wall Street Journal, has this piece: The Blame the Kids Game Continues at

Eric Wedge had been bleating since the return from his leave due to a stroke, that if he just had some veterans this thing would never have happened. Cameron cites this and then gives about 1500 words worth plus a table that shows the only good thing here in Seattle, baseball-wise, has been players under 26 in years.

As a general statement Cameron is absolutely correct.

Specifically though, it might be a little more complicated. Offensively, Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales had nice, but not great seasons in 2013. There were no good older players, position players, on this team in 2012 or 2011. But let me back up, let’s not frame it in old and young just yet and go forever down the rat hole that Mariner baseball has been for so long.

In 2012 the Mariners scored 619 runs. In 2013 the Mariners scored 624 runs. So we scored more runs, albeit five more runs than last year?

So why is Jack Z blaming the kids, for crying out loud?

This is a very serious question and I’m not very far into this.

Who is he talking to?

Is he talking to you, or me, or is he talking to his managers that don’t seem to know baseball from the museum of history and industry?

If the kids didn’t run this train off the trestle, who did?

Let’s look.

The Mariners allowed 651 runs last year, 2012 that is. This year, 2013 they allowed 754 runs, 103 more than last year. I think I might be on to something that smells like bad cabbage.

So the starting rotation when the season started included Felix Hernandez, Hishashi Iwakuma, Jeremy Bonderman, Joe Saunders and Brandon Maurer. As the season went on, Bonderman was released, Aaron Harang replaced him and Blake Beavan, Hector Noesi and Erasmo Ramirez pitched a bit or more.

Then in September we saw Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, which was kind of a punishment dessert.

Saunders was the worst pitcher in the American League. Only Barry Zito in all of baseball was worse.

He had an OPS against of .874. He gave up 61 doubles and 25 home runs. That is an astounding number ‑the doubles that is ‑ in 32 games.

Those of you with laser like memories will recall Joe blamed slippery balls in his first outing when he got blasted the first time. At various times he threw catchers, infielders and umpires under the bus for his really sorry performance.

Who signed this bum anyway?

Oh yeah, oh and he’s an old guy too.

Bonderman, who had not pitched since the Harding administration –I’m trying to be funny here folks ‑ was really bad, too, but not as bad as Saunders with an .822 OPS Against.

By the way OPS against describes how well hitters do against a pitcher ‑ hits, walks extra bases versus plate appearances.

Between both sides, the run differential was a negative 130 runs. By dint of comparison, Oakland scored 767 runs and allowed 625 runs a positive differential of 142 runs. So the swing between Seattle and Oakland is 272 runs.

All of that occurred because of a decision to trade away starting pitching over the previous two years ‑ three years really ‑ in Doug Fister, Michael Pineda and Jason Vargas. Admittedly one of the guys has been hurt, but it all culminated when Jack Z did not sign any major league pitchers in the off-season that are worthy of being called that, and sacrificed a completely unready Brandon Maurer.

I’ve probably said that too much.

This morning one of the former columnists that covered the M’s said this about the A’s and Moneyball ‑ and I paraphrase ‑ it was never about on base percentage.  So I don’t know how best to respond, but he went on to say it was about platoon baseball instead.

John McGraw invented platoon baseball in the twenties for the New York Giants and Casey Stengel refined it with the New York Yankees in the fifties and Earl Weaver polished it up to a high shine with the Orioles during his long tenure there, which started in the sixties, which means it was not platoon baseball.

Class, who remembers John Lowenstein and John Shelby?

Larry? Wrong, sit down.

Billy Beane’s team and his Moneyball approach does involve on-base percentage, it’s just the game has radically changed in the last six or seven years.

Oakland’s team batting average was only .254, yet they were third in league in walks, which drove their on-bag to a .327, which was fifth in league.

I go on, but the deal is if you just look at basic stuff in the way of numbers and stats it will tell you 80 percent more than you get from beat writers…most beat writers that is.

For the Mariners, the straight gouge can be found with Ryan Divish, who is currently with the Tacoma News Tribune.

Just to pound this home with the subtlety of a two-pound sledge, the kids did fine and probably were better than the team remarked about them.

The old guys were not good, with one or two exceptions, but the real point is that it was the pitching, the pitching, and the pitching.

Saunders and Harang averaged less than six innings a start and Maurer averaged barely over four innings. They destroyed the bullpen.

Iwakuma led the team in terms of innings per start just over Felix, and Iwakuma was by far the best pitcher on the team.

Whole bunch more to come, can hardly wait.