For such a slow day on the field in baseball, it has been a pretty active day off it. While the focus nationally is on the Blanton trade, the Mariners made a little noise today by calling up Bryan LaHair. To make room on the roster, they sent down Tug Hulett to Tacoma. LaHair is arguably the shrewdest draft choice Pat Gillick ever made as GM of the Mariners, considering he was drafted in the 39th round back in 2002.
I have no problem with LaHair being on the roster. In fact, I think it has been time for a while. I do not think he is the first baseman of the future, but the Miguel Cairo/Jose Vidro/recently departed Richie Sexson disaster certainly is not. If I were in charge of the team right now, Vidro would be LONG gone, LaHair would be the everyday first baseman, Sexson and Ibanez would be platooning at DH, and left field would admittedly be a bit of a mess. But, regardless of the left fielder, that lineup would provide noticeably better defense at no cost to the offensive production.
My problem is not with Bryan LaHair, it is with Jose Vidro and whoever stands in the way of him getting cut. How is he still on the team, batting FOURTH nonetheless?! Jose Vidro is the most worthless player in the major leagues right now. Few would argue that he is the worst DH in baseball, and he is only a DH because his knees do not allow him to really field at all at this point. So, to recap, Vidro hits for no average, very limited power, does not work counts all that well anymore either, has no speed, cannot play anywhere on defense much, and his remaining "skills" are only going to deteriorate with time. I rest my case.
After a month of somewhat cogent decisions, the past couple weeks have me worried and depressed about the Mariners future again. Jared Wells was brought up for only one game, did not appear, and then was sent back down. Tug Hulett wasn't up much longer, but at least got his first MLB hit for the trouble. If LaHair was going to come up anyway once Sexson was released (which seemed inevitable), why wasn't he called up instead of Hulett in the first place? LaHair did not make the PCL All-Star team, so there is no good reason.
I will give Lee Pelekoudas and Jim Riggleman passes on long-term plans, given that they are interim hires. I do not think it would be all that hard for either to think long-term with this team, even in their current roles, but I will still give them the benefit of the doubt. Still, that is no excuse for an inability to manage the roster through 2008. Rapid roster shuffles do nobody any good, and makes it look like the franchise is in even more chaos than it is (or at least should be). The Mariners are not in good shape, but they can do better than this. Why they do not cut Vidro, the move 99% of primates would figure out in the first 12 seconds if they were handed the GM job, blows my mind. Why the team cuts players and does not bring up the obvious/only replacement, and then calls up the obvious/only replacement a week later, blows my mind. Where is the grasp of the obvious? I am tired of incompetence.