Wednesday, March 10, 2004
There is No Burden Heavier than Great Expectations
The principle of not criticizing players in the news media is deeply established among baseball managers, generally breached only by the most volatile in fits of anger and frustration (see Martin, Billy; Bowa, Larry; and Piniella, Lou). A controlled and disciplined guy such as Bob Melvin seems one of the least likely managers to violate that principle. Therefore, let's consider for a moment that Melvin's comments yesterday about Ben Davis' pitch calling were calculated and not a lapse in judgement. ...
Most likely, of course, is that Melvin is simply trying to get Davis' attention. Certainly, Melvin and others have discussed game calling with Davis in the past. If the Mariners don't think Davis has taken the advice seriously, Melvin's public comments could be a way of trying to add some additional impact.
But, in having Melvin comment as he did, the team might also be getting fans ready for a roster move involving Davis. With Melvin's comments, even the average fan is aware the Mariners are not happy with Davis' pitch calling, on top of his poor offensive production.
In past discussions about Davis, the Mariners have promoted Davis' presumed great potential, so as the team reverses course, many fans are likely to question why the Mariners are suddenly giving up on such potential. So the cynic in me observes that Melvin's comments would shift the perceptions of many fans from Davis' potential to Davis' failures.
So, if this premise is correct, what options might the Mariners be considering? Yesterday, I breezily offered the notion of a trade for Jason Kendall. But today another thought occurs to me. What if Wiki Gonzalez has a good spring? How eager might the Mariners be to disregard all of his history and decide he belongs on the roster?
It looks to me as if the Mariners brain trust may believe they have covered all of the options now. If Davis improves, the problem is solved. If Davis doesn't respond and Gonzalez looks good, Davis leaves and Gonzalez is added to the 25-man roster. If Davis doesn't respond and Gonzalez is Gonzalez, it's either a trade or Pat Borders.
Melvin's comments make sense if considered as a dual ploy both to get Davis' attention and to do PR for a trade. I suspect that right now the Mariners would not hesitate to add Davis to a deal to get the coveted "big bat". If they did deal Davis, they would also free up $1 million in salary.