It's a common cliche among amateur internet writers, statheads, and wannabe GMs to take up the cause of a player who they feel isn't getting the recognition, or playing time, he deserves. The writer glows about the virtues of this potential ace or overlooked hitter, all the while wondering why the manager of this particular team starts a less talented player instead.
The writer would rally others around this cause, "Free (This Player)!!!"
The common pets for this practice -- Erubiel Durazo, Bobby Kielty, and Johan Santana -- have all been "freed," but there are always other overlooked players out there. And that, of course, leads us to the Mariners.
Ben Davis has caused an enormous amount of head-scratching among some Mariner fans, particularly because he has put up better numbers than the starting catcher, Dan Wilson. However, the "Free Ben Davis" campaign isn't gaining a lot of momentum, as Wilson has been putting up pretty good numbers in the second half.
Greg Colbrunn was a popular choice early in the season, but his injuries have set back any contribution he could make to this team. And, for all the clamoring about 26 year-old San Antonio third baseman Justin Leone, it doesn't appear that the Mariners have much interest in calling him up to the majors.
The Mariners, however, have one player that really is fit for such a movement - Rafael Soriano. The hard-throwing Dominican has been on an absolute tear lately. Of his last 21 outs, 16 have come via the strikeout. In 15 innings since the All Star Break, Soriano has struck out 23, walked none, allowed only five hits, and posted a 0.60 ERA.
In the same amount of innings, Freddy Garcia has been absolutely pathetic. He's struck out nine, walked eight, allowed three home runs, 32 hits, and has posted a 15.00 ERA. Needless to say, the Mariners have a very short leash on him coming into Thursday's start against Cleveland.
Soriano did not embarrass himself when he started eight games for the Mariners last year, posting a 4.56 ERA. Since that time, he has drastically cut down on his home runs, increased his strikeouts, and decreased his walks. In short, he's become a better pitcher.
It is time for the Mariners to give this team the best chance to win. It is time to put egos aside and let Freddy work on his mechanics in the bullpen. But most of all, it is time to Free Rafael Soriano.
Dave Sund is a regular on the InsidethePark.com/FanHome.com message board, where he goes by y2kornhusker. He would enjoy hearing what you have to say about his latest column at firstname.lastname@example.org.