Felix Hernandez is given the smackdown

After last night’s game, Mariners’ manager Ken Wakamatsu criticized his putative ace, Felix Hernandez:

“Sometimes you’ve got to ask guys to step up. I didn’t think he stepped up today.”

This afternoon, the Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker lays down the serious artillary fire. After an extended recap of Roy Halladay’s career arc and an assertion that Hernandez should be doing the same things Halladay did and does, Baker says:

The point is, we’re getting to the stage where maturity has to stop being used in the same sentence as Felix Hernandez. It’s still a valid excuse to a certain point. But that point is getting slimmer and slimmer. Which is why Wakamatsu called him out last night. He’s trying to fire Hernandez up. Hernandez does care about being a staff ace — that much I’m certain about. Those of you who say he doesn’t care really have no clue. I’ve seen him up close. He sounded casual last night, but you could tell he was mad at himself. That’s all fine and good.

But when you’re the staff ace, that’s not enough. When a team is relying on you to stop losing streaks and win, it’s not enough to try. You have to get the job done. You have to execute. You have to hone your routine to the point where it brings you that consistent level of excellence and things like delivery times are not even a concern.

If it sounds a little unfair, then maybe it is. But that’s the price of being a staff ace.

From reading both Baker pieces, the game story, and about a million comments from Mariners fans, I’ll agree that no, Hernandez probably wasn’t as prepared for last night’s game as he should have been. He was easily distracted when runners were on base (and there were a lot of runners) and, as Dave Cameron notes, he didn’t bring out his highly effective changeup for some reason.

Still, it seems like a bit too much piling on one guy for a team that is loaded with problems right now. No one except Russell Branyan and Ichiro are hitting this year. They’ve got only three starters, one of whom you have to figure will turn into a pumpkin soon, and their closer has been atrotious. To lay everything at Hernandez’ feet like Baker seems to be doing here is a little too much for me.


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Mark
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Mark

WHEN is somebody in Seattle gonna figure out that the problem here is not Hernandez—it’s Johjima! Somebody needs to look at King Felix’s record with different catchers. He and Johjima are so obviously not on the same page, and it’s obvious in the boxscore. But when he pitches to a different catcher, he’s a world-beater. It’s really that simple.

Capper
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Capper
No one is “laying everything at Felix’s feet”…..Geoff and Dave are pretty much right on. Lets look at this….Felix is 23, which is young, but he is not a rookie, or second year player…in fact he has almost four full years of MLB time (if you combine his starts this year with those in his rookie year). Felix is a phenom, and handling a phenom is not an exact science…see Doc Gooden among others. So in trying to handle him delicately, the M’s really shot themselves in the foot. Felix has been a diva since day 1, the M’s have… Read more »
Michael
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Michael
While I agree that Felix needs to grow up to some extent, I would fall closer to Dave Cameron’s well-researched conclusions (which Hernandez himself has actually read and heeded in the past, if only temporarily) and far, far away from Geoff Baker’s old-fashioned “be consistent” and “be more like THAT guy” approach. (Baker, lest we forget, is the witch-hunter who pumped the “Ichiro as clubhouse cancer” scenario last year. To date, zero players have suggested they’ve ever incorporated HIS advice.) Felix IS still young – remember, it took a guy named Randy Johnson five seasons and age 26 to morph… Read more »
Michael
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Michael

Oops, but wanted to add one important point: Wak was absolutely right to try and light a fire under Felix.

He seems, so far, to be good at that (case in point: Betancourt’s visibly improved hustle last night after being called on the carpet). Players listen to him and seem to like him, which makes him effective. He can’t spin straw into gold or give Betancourt the ability to discern strikes any less poorly, but he’s about as effective as anyone could expect a manager to be.

Capper
Guest
Capper
Good God, Does Cameron’s Wife know about you two? Seriously, the guy is married….take down the shrine already. “While I agree that Felix needs to grow up to some extent, I would fall closer to Dave Cameron’s well-researched conclusions (which Hernandez himself has actually read and heeded in the past, if only temporarily)” Really? You know that Felix read that? Link? Proof? Or more likely, Felix heeded the advice of someone working with him regarding something that MANY people not named Dave Cameron noticed. As far as the Ichiro thing, I think Baker was more right than wrong (we already… Read more »
Lisa
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Lisa

It’s Don Wakamatsu, not Ken.

Carry on.,

Capper
Guest
Capper
Ok, he read the open letter…….but my point was that a LOT of people saw the issue, a lot of people mentioned it, it wasn’t as if your hero was the only one……although I’m sure you’ll argue otherwise. Nice resat of your argument……typical USSM drone…bash every other opinion, unless you need money for Dave’s college fund, then you are tolerant and sweet as sugar. Seriously, wanna know why everyone outside the 25-30 regulars hates you guys? Because you cant seem to understand that a lot of the points made there are the same as ones made other knowledgeable baseball people,… Read more »
Michael
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Michael

So you got banned for personal attacks. Acknowledge and move on, dude.

Michael
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Michael

Capper:

http://blog.seattletimes.nwsource.com/mariners/2007/07/hernandez_keys_40_win.html

And if you couldn’t find this easily-found Google of “felix hernandez internet” I feel I would be wasting my time in arguing the other shoddily-researched points.

And nice use of “Kool-Aid drinker” in reference to a site that uses far more critical thought than, well, someone who dismisses their fans and friends as “Kool-Aid drinkers.”

Capper
Guest
Capper

Nope, never banned….I just rarely post over there. Makes no sense to post unless you are in complete agreement with the crowd.

Capper
Guest
Capper
“I enjoy some of the USSM stuff, I read it frequently, but very rarely post. I enjoy the unique looks at things, I enjoy reading a different opinion, but what I don’t enjoy are whats becoming an almost daily bashing of Geoff Baker (Who I look at as a run of the mill sports journalist)…..its almost childish. I see them ban people for talking about Lincecum, and censoring any post they like, but they never seem to delete the posts bashing Baker…..stay classy USSM.” How do you get I was banned for personal attacks out of that? Just curious. I… Read more »
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