Seattle’s Worst Trades, Draft Picks & Free Agent Signings (Part 3)

Editor’s NoteThis is the original blog post.  If you want to see the comprehensive list, click HERE.  I update the master list semi-regularly, whenever I can find the time.

Here we go with Part 3.  As far as Part 3’s go, this one is probably The Matrix Revolutions:  I bring up a couple of good points, but it’s mostly just filler and getting-it-over-with-already.

Since there were a bunch of moves left off of the first two installments, I still haven’t gotten around to the “Omissions” part yet.  Then again, there aren’t all that many supposed bad moves I’ve found defense-worthy yet.  Here we go.

October 16, 1984 – (Sonics) – 1986 1st Round Draft Pick to Boston Celtics for Gerald Henderson:  this pick ended up being the #2 overall, so that right there is pretty indefensible.  The fact that the #2 pick that year was Len Bias marginally softens the blow; of course, had he not overdosed, we might be talking about this as one of the worst Sonics moves of all time.  Still, it kept us from drafting at all in the first round that year, and Gerald Henderson really didn’t give us a whole lot (until we traded him to the Knicks for their 1st round pick in the 1987 draft; see below for repercussions of THAT move).

June 22, 1987 – (Sonics) – Scottie Pippen to Chicago Bulls for Olden Polynice:  with the draft pick we received from the Knicks for Gerald Henderson, the Sonics drafted Scottie Pippen (5th overall).  On the same day, we traded Scottie Pippen to the Bulls for Olden Polynice; ouch.  On the one hand, this would open the door for Shawn Kemp to flourish when we picked him up in the draft two years later.  On the other hand, Scottie Pippen made the Bulls into a championship juggernaut (without Pippen, who’s to say Michael Jordan wouldn’t have been the LeBron James of his time?).  Besides that, what would our team have looked like with Payton, Kemp, and Pippen?  I’m thinking, it would’ve looked like an early 90s dynasty.

February 20, 1997 – (Mariners) – Dennis Martinez signs 1-year, $250,000 deal:  this isn’t a deal about the money.  It was simple common sense that eluded the Mariners.  El Presidente was 42 years old at the time of signing!  You’re telling me there was NOBODY else out there who could’ve signed for the minimum and given us better than a 1-5 record in 9 starts, with a 7.71 ERA?  No triple-A kid who could’ve done better?  I hated this deal at the time, because it was yet another representation of a stacked team not doing what it took to go the extra mile.  Martinez was cut on May 24th.

February 6, 1998 – (Mariners) – Bobby Ayala re-signs for 2-year, $3.3 million deal:  yes, Ayala managed a decent 1997 season; but the two years before that he was an absolute trainwreck!  And, in spite of his numbers, he was ALWAYS a blown save waiting to happen.  After an attrocious 1998 campaign, he was traded and never heard from again.

February 14, 1998 – (Mariners) – Bill Swift signs 1-year, $425,000 deal:  all you need to know is that we gave this assclown 26 starts in 1998.  26!  He boasted a 5.85 ERA and his services were not retained further.  One thing about Lou Piniella I’ll never understand:  his devotion to aging pitchers over giving a young guy a chance to prove himself.  I mean, you can only go to that 1995 well (with Belcher, Bosio, etc.) so many times!

November 13, 1998 – (Mariners) – Jose Mesa signs 2-year, $6.8 million deal:  he hadn’t been a closer since he fell apart in Cleveland a few years prior, but we said, “What the hell?” and brought him in for two years and handed him the 9th inning.  After a full season in the job, he was beaten out by Japanese rookie Kazuhiro Sasaki and that was the end of that experiment.  How he managed to play another seven years is truly a testament to the idiocy of Major League Baseball.

April 17, 1999 – (Seahawks) – Lamar King, 1st Round Draft Pick:  22nd overall.  This is the primary pick most people pointed to when they wanted to take the GM responsibilities away from Mike Holmgren.  It’s not just that Lamar King was terrible – 5 seasons, 12 sacks – it’s that there was so much TALENT after him!  We could’ve had Patrick Kerney BEFORE he was a washed up shell!  In keeping with the defensive end theme, Mike Rucker was picked early in the 2nd round; Aaron Smith was drafted in the 4th round!  But, instead, we had Lamar King.  This was NOT a case of giving a defensive end more time to mature; this was a case of a defensive end being a suck-ass.

April 15, 2000 – (Seahawks) – Chris McIntosh, 1st Round Draft Pick:  sometimes busts aren’t made out of stupidity (or Monday Morning Quarterbacking).  Sometimes guys who might’ve been great get injured early in their careers and never see the light of day (see:  Steve Emtman).  Nevertheless, McIntosh WAS a bust.  Had he made it, with Walter and Hutch, we might never have seen Sean Locklear in a Seahawks uniform.  Too bad.

September 20, 2000 – (Sonics) – Emanual Davis, Greg Foster, Horace Grant & Chuck Person to Los Angeles Lakers; Lazaro Borrell, Vernon Maxwell, Vladimir Stepania & Two 2001 2nd Round Draft Picks + One 2002 1st Round Draft Pick to New York Knicks for Patrick Ewing:  I originally wasn’t going to put this one in my list, but the haul of players we gave up is pretty extraordinary!  Ever wonder what Tayshaun Prince would’ve looked like in a Sonics uniform had we had our 2002 1st round pick?  I haven’t either, because I can’t get the sight of Patrick Ewing to leave my brain!  I don’t really remember the point of this trade (except, I guess, to clear a lot of crappy players off our roster and end the agony with Ewing’s final year on his deal), but I distinctly remember him starting most every game and giving us nothing in return.  And what did we do with all that money coming off the books?  Oh yeah, Calvin Booth.  Burning all this money would’ve been more satisfying to Sonics fans!

October 18, 2000 – (Mariners) – Damaso Marte granted Free Agency:  some bad moves aren’t moves that you make.  Sometimes, they’re the moves you don’t.  Not giving Marte a chance at our bullpen – again, in favor of aging veterans – was a brutal mistake.  He had PLENTY of good-to-great years ahead of him.  Too bad he was once a former Mariner.

December 21, 2000 – (Mariners) – Raul Ibanez granted Free Agency:  another one of these non-moves that bit us pretty hard.  Ibanez was just starting to come into his own!  He left for Kansas City for three quality seasons; meanwhile we had the likes of Al Martin in left field.  Pity.

June 27, 2001 – (Sonics) – Vladimir Radmanovic, 1st Round Draft Pick:  12th overall.  Could have had Richard Jefferson.  Could have went guard and picked up Tony Parker or Gilbert Arenas.  Instead, we had Radman, who did nothing with the Sonics.  He went on to win a bunch with the Lakers, but no one is calling Radman instrumental to their success.

January 30, 2002 – (Mariners) – James Baldwin signs 1-year, $1.25 million deal:  we brought in a guy who was never all that great and decided to make him an everyday starter with no contingency plan.  He started 23 games and had a 5.28 ERA.

June 26, 2003 – (Sonics) – Luke Ridnour, 1st Round Draft Pick:  if, in our 2001 draft, we went with Tony Parker, we would’ve already HAD our Point Guard of the Future.  Instead, we had no such guy and went after the Oregon grad and he STUNK.

January 20, 2004 – (Mariners) – Joel Pineiro re-signs for 3-year, $14.5 million deal:  these were some frustrating seasons for the Mariners.  Maybe not as frustrating as the mid-to-late 90s when we had all that offensive talent but little in the way of pitching; but pretty damned frustrating nonetheless.  We thought we had our rotation of the future shaping up with the likes of Pineiro and Gil Meche (and, to a lesser extent, Mr. 5-pitch Wonder himself Ryan Franklin).  All were draft picks, all were guys we furiously refused to trade away to other teams for more-productive players.  In fact, we went so far as to give Pineiro a 3-year deal instead of going to arbitration, after a studly 2003 season.  Pineiro promptly went on to get worse and worse every year after, until he was finally tossed from our rotation and ultimately not re-signed thereafter.  I shudder to think of what we could’ve hauled in if we would’ve sold high on the likes of Pineiro and Meche.  Instead, we ended up with a whole lotta nothin’.

April 24, 2004 – (Seahawks) – Marcus Tubbs, 1st Round Draft Pick:  23rd overall.  Unfortunately in this draft, we missed out on some better defensive tackles (including Vince Wilfork a mere two picks prior), but it was hard to argue with Tubbs’ selection with the 2005 season he gave us.  Knee injuries kept him off the field; potential recovery kept hope alive, but Tubbs never gave us much of anything after our Super Bowl run.

January 19, 2005 – (Mariners) – Aaron Sele signs 1-year, $700,000 deal:  until last night, I’d forgotten that we brought Sele back four seasons after he was remarkably productive for us in the 2000 and 2001 seasons.  After his 3-years of futility in Anaheim, we took a flyer on him in 2005; but he was as done as done could be.  After 21 starts and a 6-12 record, he was waived on July 31st.  Fun fact:  Felix Hernandez was called up and took over his rotation slot on August 4th and never looked back.

June 28, 2005 – (Sonics) – Johan Petro, 1st Round Draft Pick:  28th overall.  The Frenchman was another in a long line of busted center prospects for the Sonics.  Not the first, not the last, but ultimately just as irrelevant.

March 5, 2006 – (Seahawks) – Shaun Alexander re-signs for 8-year, $62 million deal:  after an MVP season, we re-signed the 28 year old to a max deal.  Some might blame the loss of Steve Hutchinson; others will surely blame his foot injuries.  Either way, Alexander was never the same.  He played two more years in a Seahawks uniform, giving us production he’d normally churn out in a single season, and that was the end of that.  We ended up paying him more to NOT play for us.  The moral of the story:  don’t sign running backs to big deals when they’re approaching 30 years of age.

June 28, 2006 – (Sonics) – Mouhamed Sene, 1st Round Draft Pick:  10th overall.  This whole draft was pretty much a bust, aside from just a few players; but that doesn’t make the Sene pick any less difficult to swallow.  By this point, Sonics fans were fed up with the team picking up foreign prospects with little in the way of actual basketball skills.  Sene was the end of the road for Sonics going after non-sensical big men; a run that went back as far as I can remember.

July 13, 2007 – (Mariners) – Ichiro re-signs for 5-year, $90 million deal:  I can’t imagine another Major League Baseball team giving a leadoff hitter who does nothing but slap singles and steal bases this kind of money, but honestly, what were the Mariners supposed to do?  At this point, Ichiro was the only bona fide superstar the team had seen since A-Rod left; he was the face of the franchise and our only true All Star.  The PR hit the team would’ve taken would’ve been a nightmare.  Nevertheless, his contract has crippled this organization in subsequent years.  Nearly $18 million in cap space per season for a singles hitter … yowza.

October 30, 2007 – (Mariners) – Jose Guillen granted Free Agency:  this isn’t the kind of move you have to kill in hindsight; most fans and pundits agreed that losing Jose Guillen almost single-handedly ushered in our 2008 disaster.  Maybe a 2-year deal for Guillen would’ve been a year too much, but you can’t argue that even his lackluster numbers in ’08 were better than Jose Vidro’s.

March 4, 2008 – (Seahawks) – T.J. Duckett signs 5-year, $14 million deal:  once it was apparent that Shaun Alexander’s best days were behind him, Tim Ruskell went on the offensive the only way he knew how:  bring in past-their-prime veterans to pick up the slack.  I’m certain Duckett never saw the majority of that money, but still.  What was he thinking with a 5-year deal?  He had 8 goal line touchdowns in 2008, then was released.

March 7, 2008 – (Seahawks) – Julius Jones signs 4-year, $11.8 million deal:  Julius Jones is 4 years younger than Shaun Alexander, but his skills had already deteriorated to the same point.  Jones was a castoff from Dallas – who quickly learned that he would never be a productive every-down back – and we lapped him up as a quick fix.  Jones gave us 2 years and 2 games and never had more than 700 yards in a single season.  Probably would’ve been smarter to just draft ANY running back and pay him a rookie’s salary, but “smarter” was never really Tim Ruskell’s forte.

April 25, 2008 – (Mariners) – Kenji Johjima re-signs for 3-year, $24 million deal:  the Mariners went back to the Japanese well one more time and struck a modest amount of gold.  Johjima was as productive as you could hope in his first two seasons, but it was odd that they’d re-sign him to a contract extension so early on in the 2008 season.  Most believe it was a call from the owners, but whoever’s to blame, it doesn’t change the fact that Johjima took a huge nosedive in 2008.  He was eventually supplanted as the starting catcher by Rob Johnson (mostly because pitchers hated pitching to Johjima, but also because his bat disappeared), and that’s all you need to know about where he was at the end.  The only good thing to come out of this contract was that Johjima asked for his release after the 2009 season, saving the team a solid $16 million.

November 11, 2009 – (Mariners) – Ken Griffey Jr. re-signs for 1-year, $2.35 million deal:  after the miraculous 2009 season – where we came out of nowhere to post a winning record amid tidings of joy and hugs of glee – it was a no-brainer to bring Griffey back for the 2010 season.  Yes, the .214 batting average was a concern.  But they drained fluid from his knees (maybe another red flag, perhaps?) and Griffey hit the treadmill a little bit in his offseason.  SURELY he could get the batting average up to … what?  .225?  .230?  And those 19 home runs he hit in 2009; SURELY he could keep up that production inside the confines of the House That Griffey Built!  Except, no.  He played in 33 games, had 2 extra base hits (0 homers), allegedly fell asleep during a game, and abruptly retired in early June.  Everything could’ve been so much more magical had he just retired after 2009 … he could’ve ridden off into the sunset like a conquering hero.

December 8, 2009 – (Mariners) – Chone Figgins signs 4-year, $36 million deal:  it’s getting harder and harder to ignore this deal.  Until Figgins proves otherwise (at which hypothetical point, I’ll retract this statement and take him off the list), here he stays.  This is the first real Bavasi-esque misstep from Jackie Z.  Only, instead of being seduced by the long ball of an aging veteran, Z was seduced by a high batting average, higher on-base percentage, and a tremendous base-running threat.  Except, one problem:  Figgins was a little over a month away from turning 32 years old BEFORE he signed the contract.  His 2010 season was half-unmitigated disaster, half-just okay.  His 2011 season, two months in, has been dramatically worse.  Not only does he have to finish this season – while making $9 million – but he has to go two more (making a combined $18 million).  We can’t trade him, we can’t cut him, we can’t NOT play him – just in case he DOES turn it around and we can trade him later – we’re just stuck.  Like we were with Sexson and Silva and so many others.

January 29, 2010 – (Mariners) – Eric Byrnes signs 1-year, $400,000 deal:  he was waived by the Diamondbacks (who had to pay the rest of his $11 million contract) and he figured out a way to make it onto our team in 2010.  The money isn’t an issue.  What’s unforgivable is the April 30th contest (and Cliff Lee’s first start).  He was SUPPOSED to suicide squeeze the ball with our runner going from third base; instead he pulled the bat back in what has to be the most moronic baseball play I’ve ever seen.  That led to us losing in extra innings and me forever hating Eric Byrnes.  He was released 3 days later.

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