Dave Cameron with the early returns on Don Wakamatsu:
- While the Griffey scenario was the biggest challenge, he's also proven adept in other areas. His handling of the bullpen has been very good so far, finding the right options for high leverage situations and relegating Batista to a back-up role despite his vast experience lead over the rest of the relief arms. He's shuffled the line-up depending on opposing pitcher handedness, something the previous managers simply weren't willing to do. He's stuck with struggling starters when the team needed innings and managed the workloads without riding anyone excessively hard.
He hasn't been perfect -- the team is bunting too much for my tastes, especially Lopez and Gutierrez, and I'd like to see him be a bit more willing to pinch hit for platoon advantages late in games -- but he's been very, very good. After a short period of reservation when Zdurencik was hired, we all justifiably got excited when he gave us reasons to. I think it's time to get excited about Wakamatsu as well. It's hard to think of anyone I'd prefer as manager of this team.
No arguments here.
Perhaps, though, it's worth mentioning that the M's are currently 12th in the league in scoring, and that among their everyday players, only Ichiro, Russell Branyan (cough) and Endy Chavez (cough) are playing well, at all.
The bullpen's been solid, but the Mariners' success is primarily due to one thing: Erik Bedard, Felix Hernandez, and Jarrod Washburn are 8-2 with a 2.87 ERA. Bedard and Hernandez might keep it up; Washburn almost certainly won't (unless you believe Jonah Keri).
Does Washburn's likely regression mean the M's can't win? Not at all. Adrian Beltre and Jose Lopez are going to regress the other way (the good way), and I'm as optimistic about the Mariners' chances as just about anyone. Especially considering their division. And I don't think Cameron would argue with me. He's not saying he likes Wakamatsu because the M's are winning; he likes Wakamatsu's process rather than his product.
But of course the process always looks a little better when the product turns out nicely.