Mariners say record isn't Bavasi's fault
Players try to accept blame in wake of GM's dismissal
SEATTLE -- Virtually everyone has accepted blame for the Mariners' poor start to the season, and now two people have taken the fall for it.Five days after hitting coach Jeff Pentland was dismissed, general manager Bill Bavasi was relieved of his duties early Monday, the scapegoat for a 24-45 record, the worst in baseball. Assistant GM and longtime Mariners front-office figure Lee Pelekoudas took over the job on an interim basis. "Obviously, someone got blamed for someone else's mistakes," said designated hitter Jose Vidro, who is hitting .219. "We on the field are not playing really good and [batting instructor Jeff] Pentland got fired and now our GM got fired. He put a great team together and we just did not follow what we are supposed to be doing." Left-handed pitcher Jarrod Washburn, who is 2-7 with a 5.83 ERA, echoed that sentiment: "It's not his fault. It's ours. He did his job; we didn't do ours. He lost his job because of that." In making the announcement, Mariners chairman and CEO Howard Lincoln said, "My feeling is the time has come and gone for some of our players to get going. I certainly hope this move will spur them on." Getting rid of a general manager may not provide that impetus, however. "Will firing Bill Bavasi make us play better? No. No," Washburn said. "If we start playing better it's because something happened, we figured something out." But no one has come close to doing that. This was a team with great expectations entering the season. After adding pitchers Carlos Silva and Erik Bedard, it was picked by most everyone to at least be a contender. "People can say whatever they want to say to get things going in the right direction. I don't think there's anything left to be said," closer J.J. Putz said. "Whatever was happening wasn't working, but I don't think it's fair to put all the blame on Bill. He brought people in who he thought were going to help this team win. He has done that. Top to bottom, no one has performed here the way they should." Putz was one of those individuals who believed this team was poised for the postseason for the first time since 2001. "I was so excited to start the season thinking I finally could get a taste of the postseason," he said. "Blame whomever you want to blame, but bottom line, it comes down to the 25 guys on this team. They're the reason why guys are going to get fired. "I have no idea what's going on. It's mind-blowing. It's one thing to struggle, but what's happening now, there's not even a word to describe it." Lincoln said that in the effort to turn the team around, "nothing is off the table. We are prepared to make whatever further changes that are necessary." That means anyone could be traded, anyone could be released. Do the players fear for their jobs? "It's their decision. They own the ballclub and can do whatever they want," Vidro said. "I don't want to think about people fired. I want to think about starting to play better baseball, not because people will get fired or released but because we have to play better baseball." Washburn added that he's been in the game long enough "to know that nobody's safe. Everybody's job is in jeopardy every day." That also includes manager John McLaren and the coaching staff. Three weeks ago after an 0-6 road trip, Bavasi protected McLaren by saying it wasn't a "managerial issue." He blamed the underachieving players instead. But now Bavasi is gone. Asked if McLaren's job is in jeopardy, Lincoln paused for a few moments before saying, "Quite frankly, as I sit here, I'm really not in the mood to sing the praises of anybody in our clubhouse, whether it's the manager, the coaches or the players. It's a very fluid and difficult situation we find ourselves in. I expect John and his coaches and these players to get going and do what is necessary to turn this thing around as quickly as possible. If that doesn't happen, we'll make further changes." McLaren, who suffers almost measurably with every loss, said he's all for having jobs in jeopardy, "starting with myself." "So far, nothing's made sense," he said. "You hate to see people lose jobs. If it works out and someone wakes up, good. Two guys have lost their jobs now. That's baseball, No. 1. Expectations were high and we're not even close to that. We just got to move forward." McLaren said that Bavasi "is a man's man" who was supportive and always looking for ways to solve the losing riddle. The two talked in McLaren's office after every game. "I'm not sure I know where it fell off," Putz said. "Once we started our downward spiral like we have ... I saw it in 2004. That was a different year. We were rebuilding and there wasn't a lot of expectations. This year everybody came into this season thinking this was a team that was definitely going to contend. We started out bad and haven't rebounded from it."
Bob Sherwin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.