SEATTLE — Sometimes, we can gain insight from the most unlikely of sources.
Take former Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi.
Normally, Bavasi rarely tips his hand. He is an absolute master at keeping his innermost thoughts as hidden as D.B. Cooper.
Unburdened as he was, though, of the trappings of his former position, Bavasi let slip some true feelings he has about Erik Bedard, most probably the last straw that led to Bavasi’s exit, along with other issues.
It was the next best thing to being a fly on the wall inside Mariner HQ.
Someone asked Bavasi why Bedard has trouble pitching just five or six innings and 100 pitches of late. Bavasi said many pitchers can have days when 90 pitches feel like 200 and other days when 90 feel like 40.
He said that the issue of Bedard’s stamina was a good question, one that should be put to Bedard himself. But then, he acknowledged the dark side of Bedard’s personality, the one that includes a near-psychotic aversion to talking about himself, especially with the media.
Suddenly, Bavasi’s annoyance with Bedard was overflowing.
“Good luck with that,” Bavasi said. “He’ll have a stupid answer for you, you can count on that. He’ll have some dumbass answer.”
It’s possible that Bavasi’s outburst was based on his own personal frustration with the team’s baffling nosedive. But it’s also possible that it was a reflection of the organization’s perception of the one designated the staff’s ace.
Which would mean that Bedard’s continued presence in Seattle is tenuous at best.
“With Erik, sometimes the wheels come off too easy,” Bavasi said.
By then, Bavasi was on a roll. He went on about a certain segment of the roster that suffers from what he called “white line fever,” or an inability to play the game once they step between the lines.
“They’re real nice guys,” Bavasi said. “But it’s when they cross the lines that some of them get the fever. And some just don’t know how to play. And that’s bad chemistry.”
He said some “just haven’t figured out how to get it all together.”
So this is what interim GM Lee Pelekoudas inherits. Both CEO Howard Lincoln and team president Chuck Armstrong said they wouldn’t rule out making roster deals before the July 31 trade deadline. After Monday’s game, the team announced it called up catcher and top prospect Jeff Clement from Tacoma and sent down outfielder Wladimir Balentien.
Maybe it means something bigger to come and maybe it doesn’t. The team has little choice but to put Richie Sexson out of his misery soon. The fact that catcher Kenji Johjima was seen taking pre-game grounders at first base likely means the release of Sexson will come sooner rather than later. Then again, it could mean simple preparation for interleague road games, which will involve greater instances of double switches and pinch runners, more prevalent under National League rules.
There’s no doubt the M’s have tried to deal Sexson over the past weeks. But Sexson’s stock has dropped so deeply that Pelekoudas should immediately be granted the permanent GM job if he can get anybody to take the first baseman.
Pelekoudas’ bosses expect him to be the busiest GM in baseball until such time as they either give him the job permanently or they bring in someone else.
At least we can be certain of one thing: The Mariners will be much more interesting off the field in the coming months than they have been on it all season.
Sports columnist John Sleeper: firstname.lastname@example.org. To reach Sleeper’s blog, “Dangling Participles,” go to www.heraldnet.com/danglingparticiples.