M's add reliever, drop fifth outfielder

Stinks to be Ryan Langerhans today. Geoff Baker:

    The six-man bullpen experiment by the Seattle Mariners didn't last long, as the club brought right-handed pitcher Jesus Colome up from Tacoma on Thursday and designated outfielder Ryan Langerhans for assignment.

    Colome, 32, had an excellent spring training, but was sent to Tacoma in the final roster cutdown to 25 players when the Mariners chose to go with only six relievers in order to keep an extra outfielder.

    But Langerhans has had only one at-bat in the M's first three games -- flying out in a pinch-hit appearance Wednesday for Rob Johnson -- and clearly wasn't going to get a lot of playing time on a roster that also include backup outfielder Eric Byrnes.

    Seattle now has 10 days to trade, release or outright Langerhans' contract to the minor leagues.

Dave Cameron isn't happy:

    There’s no nice way to say this – the team is now actively making themselves worse to keep Mike Sweeney’s personality around. Langerhans is a better hitter, a better fielder, a better runner, and a guy who can actually serve a useful purpose on this team. Mike Sweeney is a mascot taking up a roster spot. Now, it’s not just some theoretically useful player he’s blocking, but an actual, honest to goodness major league player that the team is discarding to keep his cheerleading behind around.

    This sucks. Go away, Mike Sweeney. If you want to hang out with the guys, accept a coaching job.

I agree with all of this except the last bit. A major league organization -- an organization that's been widely lauded for its baseball acumen -- has told Sweeney that he's still plenty good enough to help a contending team.

I have a rule. I never, never, never ever blame a player for wanting to play, or for playing if a baseball team tells him he's good enough to play. Figuring whether he's among the 800 best players in North America (which means he's good enough for a roster spot) or merely among the 1,000 best (which means he might not be) just isn't a player's job. Even if it were his job, he's the least-qualified man on the planet to make that judgment.

I've never been as impressed with Langerhans as Cameron was, and anyway Langerhans became somewhat extraneous once the M's signed Byrnes. Sure, a Langerhans/Byrnes platoon might have been decent enough, with Milton Bradley DHing. Or without Bradley, and Junior and Sweeney platooning at DH. But that decision was made a long time ago, and it's probably time to let go -- at least until the M's fall short of the playoffs by two or three wins. If that happens, we can revisit all of the questionable decisions made last winter.