Updated: July 6, 2017
You don’t become a city that’s gone 32 years (and counting) between professional sports championships without a little help along the way. I don’t know everything there is to know about all the other cities with pro teams; hell, I don’t even know everything there is to know about Seattle’s sports history … but I have to figure we’re at least in the top two as far as player personnel incompetence is concerned.
The following is a timeline of all the botched trades, busted draft picks, and lousy free agent signings that have befallen this city, at least since I started becoming a sports fan. I’m gonna throw this thing in the ol’ menu bar at the top and the plan is to update it continuously. Obviously, it’ll never be complete, so I thoroughly encourage any suggestions.
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).
August 19, 1986 – (Mariners) – Dave Henderson & Spike Owen to Boston Red Sox for Rey Quinones, Mike Brown, Mike Trujillo, & John Christensen: it’s hard to understand the rationale behind this one, other than hoping these four nothing prospects might help re-build the franchise. Hell, you can’t even say “re-“build considering the Mariners had never been anything to this point in franchise history. Hendu, meanwhile, went on to an All Star and World Series champion career (so he probably was pretty thankful to be out of Seattle) with Boston and later Oakland. And Spike Owen went on to a nice, solid Major League career at short stop and third base. Quinones was a dud before he even got here (he was out of the league after 1989); Brown was also a dud before he even got here (he was out of the league after 1987); Trujillo you could argue looked like an okay pitcher before he got here (but he too was out of the league after 1989); and Christensen was a solid AAA player before coming here (but was out of the league after 1988). Highway robbery all the way around, setting the tone for the Mariners getting abused in trades.
April 28, 1987 – (Seahawks) – Brian Bosworth, 1st Round Supplemental Draft Pick: the Seahawks went big on the defensive side of the ball in this draft, highlighted by the pick of Brian Bosworth out of Oklahoma at the end of the 1st round (I don’t know what happened to the Supplemental Round draft picks, so don’t look to me for an explanation here). I don’t know what it says about Bosworth, but the Seahawks also went after the linebacker position right before and after The Boz, with Tony Woods and David Wyman. It says all that needs to be said, however, that both of those guys would have better professional careers. But, did either of those guys star in “Stone Cold“? I think I rest my case.
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.
April 23, 1988 – (Seahawks) – Undisclosed Draft Picks to Phoenix Cardinals for Kelly Stouffer: it’s difficult to peg down exactly which picks we gave up to get this stiff, but rest assured that Kelly Stouffer was the beginning of the end for the Seahawks. We got a taste of glory in the 80s under Chuck Knox, with Dave Krieg at the helm and Steve Largent breaking all the receiving records later to be broken by Jerry Rice. But, as we looked to a new decade, it was apparent that Quarterback would be a position of need that we needed to fill. Starting with Stouffer, culminating with Rick Mirer, and still unsettled until Matt Hasselbeck took charge late in the 2002 season, the Seahawks were a blind franchise in an unforgiving wilderness for the entirety of the 1990s. All you need to know about Kelly Stouffer is that he held out his rookie season with the Cardinals due to a contract dispute. Then, the Seahawks tried to trade local legend Kenny Easley to get him, except Easley couldn’t pass the physical due to failing kidneys. We finally got our man, only to find out our man was good for a mere 2,333 yards in 22 games over 4 seasons, with 7 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.
April 21, 1991 – (Seahawks) – Dan McGwire, 1st Round Draft Pick: 17 picks later, the Atlanta Falcons would select future Hall of Famer Brett Favre. Little known fact: Seahawks head coach Chuck Knox WANTED to draft Brett Favre. Unfortunately, the Seahawks brass couldn’t be bothered with such matters, instead finding McGwire’s 6 foot 8 inch frame to be simply irresistible. Our “Quarterback of the Future” ended his Seahawks career after the 1994 season having thrown for 745 yards in 12 games with 2 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.
June 26, 1991 – (Sonics) – Rich King 1st Round Draft Pick: 14th overall. I don’t want to say this is the “first” in a long line of busted centers for the Seattle Supersonics, but he’s certainly the first on my list. 7 feet 2 inches of complete and utter worthlessness. The guy gave us absolutely nothing for four straight years before signing elsewhere at the end of his rookie deal. To be fair, I don’t know much about the guy – maybe he suffered through chronic injuries or something. Regardless, for a team on the rise, the Sonics really missed on this pick. The only way you could defend the team on this one is that there really weren’t any studs left once Dale Davis was snapped up 1 pick prior. Nevertheless, there’s nothing I can’t stand more than a tall, unathletic white guy who does little else than take up space.
December 11, 1991 – (Mariners) – Bill Swift, Michael Jackson & Dave Burba to San Francisco Giants for Kevin Mitchell & Mike Remlinger: this was pointed out to me by antdroid in the comments. Swift had the best two years of his career AFTER being traded from the M’s; Jackson was in his prime as a reliever AFTER being traded from the M’s; Burba was an okay starter/reliever for a good long time. Mitchell had a bad year with the M’s before being traded for Norm Charlton. Remlinger had a couple crappy years in AAA before being granted free agency and then going on to have a great long career as a reliever for many other teams.
April 25, 1993 – (Seahawks) – Rick Mirer, 1st Round Draft Pick: we’ll always remember this as our golden opportunity to grab Drew Bledsoe first overall. Unfortunately, in week 3 of the 1992 season (on our way to a 2-14 finish), the Seahawks just HAD to go into New England and beat the Patriots 10-6 (who would also go on to finish 2-14). The Pats had the Number 1 pick as a result, and we settled for Rick Mirer. It should be noted that this was a particularly brutal year for incoming quarterbacks; though if we’d been a little patient, there was a 5th rounder by the name of Mark Brunell who was grabbed by the Packers and went on to bigger and better things with the Jaguars. Rick Mirer, on the other hand, ended his 4-year Seahawks career with 41 touchdowns and 56 interceptions, getting worse each and every year. On a positive note, one of the best trades in franchise history involved us unloading Mirer to the Bears for a first round pick we would use to trade up and get Shawn Springs. So, it’s hard to hate on the guy TOO much.
September 1, 1993 – (Sonics) – Dana Barros, Eddie Johnson & 1st Round Pick to Charlotte Hornets for Kendall Gill & 1st Round Pick: for me, Kendall Gill is Public Enemy #2 among Sonics in the 1990s (just below Jim McIlvaine). We were looking for a solid shooting guard to play alongside GP and the boys; what we got was a dour, cancerous sideshow. Is it any surprise that he was on the first ever 1-seed to lose to an 8-seed? Is it any surprise that his play and his attitude destroyed what should’ve been another championship run in the ’94-’95 season? Not in my book. Kendall Gill was an assclown before Milton Bradley stole his crown. To make matters worse, Barros was a stud sharpshooter and Eddie Johnson was a quality all-around player. Fortunately, to make matters much better, on June 27, 1995, the Sonics traded him BACK to Charlotte for Hersey Hawkins and David Wingate. Result: Sonics team chemistry skyrockets and they go to the NBA Finals. Coincidence? You better believe NOT.
December 10, 1993 – (Mariners) – Mike Hampton & Mike Felder to Houston Astros for Eric Anthony: think Mike Hampton would’ve been a nice pitcher to have on all those pitching-starved teams of the late 90s? No, I don’t remember Eric Anthony either.
December 20, 1993 – (Mariners) – Omar Vizquel to Cleveland Indians for Felix Fermin & Reggie Jefferson: honestly, I don’t know WHAT we were thinking on this one. But, just 10 days after we made Mike Hampton a throw-in to a deal, we gave up Little-O for the equivalent of TWO throw-ins. Neither of whom would ever make a dent. That’s a bad fortnight for the Seattle Mariners.
February 25, 1994 – (Seahawks) – Nate Odomes signs 4-year, $8.4 million deal: I know the money doesn’t sound like a lot NOW, but back then that was a hefty price, especially for a cornerback. But, Odomes was one of the best while he played for the Bills. He was a Pro Bowler in ’92 and ’93, he had 19 interceptions from ’91-’93, and he was a guy other teams had to throw away from! Then, a few months later, he blew out his knee in a charity basketball game, missed all of 1994. THEN, he re-injured the same knee in training camp and missed all of 1995! We had him for 2 seasons, he never played a down for us, and ended up walking away with $4+ million. The long, lost, forgotten Seahawk Nate Odomes might go down as the worst free agent signing in team history.
July 18, 1994 – (Sonics) – Ricky Pierce, Carlos Rogers & Two 1995 2nd Round Picks to Golden State Warriors for Sarunas Marciulionis & Byron Houston: I remember nothing about Byron Houston, probably because he DID nothing for us. Ricky Pierce, on the other hand, was a veteran guard who could come off the bench and still give you quality minutes (and, in fact, he did for a few years after this trade). The real culprit here, though, is Sarunas Marciulionis. The guy was supposed to come in and be Instant Offense. Instead, for his lone season with us (that disaster of a ’94-’95 campaign) he averaged 9.3 points per game while playing abysmal defense. If you can’t tell, there was a lot to hate about that ’94-’95 team. Fortunately, glory would shine down upon us when we flipped both Marciulionis and Houston on September 18, 1995 to Sacramento for Frank Brickowski. You know what they say: if you’re going to be an unathletic white center, you better bring the pain on your opponents (okay, so maybe they don’t say that, but they should).
May 21, 1995 – (Mariners) – Shawn Estes & Wilson Delgado to San Francisco Giants for Salomon Torres: do you think the 1997 Mariners could’ve used an All Star starting pitcher like Estes? Hell, do you think all those Mariners teams from the mid-to-late 90s on into the early 2000’s could’ve used a quality starter like Estes? Delgado was primarily a backup infielder, so no big loss there. But, it’s a high price to pay for an injury-prone starter in Torres, who would go on to have a solid career as a reliever many years later for the Pirates, but ultimately did nothing for the Mariners.
December 7, 1995 – (Mariners) – Tino Martinez, Jim Mecir & Jeff Nelson to New York Yankees for Sterling Hitchcock & Russ Davis: *sigh*. So, we traded a first baseman in the beginning of his prime, and one of the best set-up men of the next DECADE for a couple of AAAA guys with huge flaws to their game. Hitchcock would forever be a disappointment, and Russ Davis would go on to be one of the worst defensive third basemen I’ve ever seen. I don’t care what anyone says, ultimately for what we gave away, this trade only rivals the Lowe/Varitek debacle for most completely idiotic in team history.
July 22, 1996 – (Sonics) – Jim McIlvaine signs 7-year $33.6 million deal: the beginning of the end. This one wasn’t just a team-destroyer, this was a franchise-destroyer. First of all, McIlvaine was a nothing backup for the Bullets for 2 seasons. We sign him to this monster deal RIGHT after our run to the Finals when we should have God damned signed Shawn Kemp to a nice fat extension. Instead, Kemp is unhappy, plays another season where we lose in the 2nd round (with McIlvaine giving us no help whatsoever), forces a trade where we get 1 good season out of Vin Baker (before the strike-shortened season gets him all fat), and then the wheels come off (ultimately leading to a bunch of up-and-down Sonics teams, and finalized by those Oklahoma City chickenfuckers stealing our team). Maybe it wasn’t all Jim McIlvaine’s fault; but it was CERTAINLY the fault of Wally Walker and company. We had no business bringing in this guy, nor giving him the kind of money that would make All Pros like Shawn Kemp jealous. He broke up our golden team, and for that this sin of signing him is unforgivable. There was plenty of good basketball left with GP and Kemp; it’s a crime we didn’t get to see it.
September 13, 1996 – (Mariners) – David Arias to Minnesota Twins for Dave Hollins: we all know him as David Ortiz, and in 1996 we had him in our farm system. I guess we all know what the Twins saw in him; too bad we didn’t see the same, otherwise maybe we wouldn’t have had this revolving door at first base and DH ever since Edgar and Olerud retired.
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.
July 31, 1997 – (Mariners) – Derek Lowe & Jason Varitek to Boston Red Sox for Heathcliff Slocumb: here we are, the mother of all bad trades. Now, these two may not have been hall of famers, but they’re legends in Boston since they both helped to bring a world championship to town in 2004. Meanwhile, Heathcliff Slocumb was the BEST we could do at the time? We knew he was crap when we got him, yet HE was all we could get??? My fondest memory of Heathcliff Slocumb was when I was in the Kingdome as we clinched the AL West later that season. My least fond memory of Heathcliff Slocumb was every time I saw a Red Sox game with Derek Lowe & Jason Varitek.
July 31, 1997 – (Mariners) – Jose Cruz Jr. to Toronto Blue Jays for Paul Spoljaric & Mike Timlin: do you know what kind of disaster area the Seattle Mariners bullpen was in 1997? It single-handedly caused Woody Woodward to lose his fucking mind at the trading deadline. On the same day he would make the single worst Mariners trade ever, he also shipped off highly-touted prospect (probably the highest touting since A-Rod) for two pieces of dog meat. On the one hand, could you blame him? I mean, Norm Charlton and Bobby Ayala led the team in appearances that year with 71(!) apiece. Of course, on the other hand, Woody Woodward was a huge dope on this day, a day that will live on in infamy.
September 25, 1997 – (Sonics) – Shawn Kemp to Cleveland Cavaliers for Vin Baker (from Milwaukee Bucks in a 3-way deal): I got into this one a little bit in the Jim McIlvaine section, but this definitely deserves to be on the list. One could argue that, in the end, it was one overweight disappointment for another, but I refuse to see it that way. First of all, Shawn Kemp wasn’t an alcoholic. Gary Payton would’ve made DAMN sure to keep him in tip-top shape during that NBA Lockout. And anyway, who could’ve seen the lockout coming (or, at least, who could have seen it costing us so many games that season)? What you COULD see coming was breaking up a dynasty. Yes, Kemp pretty much forced this trade upon us (and yes, Vin Baker WAS a quality player at the time on par with Kemp’s level of production), but since this correlates DIRECTLY with the Jim McIlvaine signing, the Sonics were doing nothing more than compounding one mistake on top of another. Had we kept Kemp happy in the first place, none of these other things would’ve happened (and, as you’ll see, the trail of tears from that McIlvaine signing will continue).
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 Pinella 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!
July 31, 1998 – (Mariners) – Randy Johnson to Houston Astros for Freddy Garcia, John Halama, & Carlos Guillen: For the longest time, I didn’t have this trade included in my list. But, the more I think about it, the more idiotic it all seems. The Mariners decided the risk of keeping him around – with the medical issues with his back – was too high, especially if it meant extending him for a lot of years and a lot of money. So, instead of letting him run out his contract and getting nothing in return, the Mariners held off until the trade deadline. Now, the return wasn’t terrible. Guillen was a starter for us for many years; Garcia was a nice starting pitcher for us for many years; and Halama was an okay depth guy in the rotation. You could do a lot worse with a trade, and believe me, the Mariners have. But, the Big Unit ultimately won 4 consecutive Cy Young Awards with the Diamondbacks, and continued to be a dominating force for the better part of the next decade. Want to know why this was ultimately a terrible trade? Who would you rather have starting for you in the 2000 and 2001 playoffs against the New York Yankees, Freddy Garcia or Randy Johnson? Enough said. That 2001 team was so good, we could’ve started anyone at short stop and still have been better off by simply hanging onto Randy. Makes me sick the more I think about it.
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.
August 9, 1999 – (Sonics) – Vernon Maxwell signs 3-year $5 million deal: no, it wasn’t an exorbitant amount of money. But, we were getting a guy whose prime was CLEARLY well behind him (and, even then, what kind of a “prime” can you really call it?) and we were getting a guy who couldn’t stick with a team. He’d changed cities TEN times before he landed in Seattle! You HAVE to think something’s not quite right with a guy when he’s got that kind of background (again, see: Bradley, Milton). Sure enough, he was turmoil incarnate when he joined the Sonics. I mean, what kind of a dick throws a fucking free weight at a teammate? He injured two of our guys while battling it out with GP, and wasn’t long for the team after that (he was traded on September 20, 2000 in that collosal Patrick Ewing deal). Any shock to anyone that he was thereby waived 15 days later (and again in December of that same year)?
August 18, 1999 – (Sonics) – Vin Baker re-signs for 7-year $86 million deal: and here we are, with the zenith of Jim McIlvaine’s horrorshow. WHAT were we THINKING??? Vin Baker just finished a horrendous strike-shortened season – where of course he came back drunk and overweight – and we rewarded him with a max contract. Incredible. Un-fucking-believable. We got three full seasons of lessened production out of this schlub, then we dealt him on July 22, 2002 to Boston with Shammond Williams for Kenny Anderson, Joseph Forte, Vitaly Potapenko. I can’t imagine anyone really “won” that deal, but it’s just frustrating. From ’96/’97 onward, we squandered Gary Payton’s prime with a subpar supporting cast. On behalf of everyone in Seattle, I hereby apologize to GP for not getting you the ring you deserved when you were with us.
April 14, 2000 – (Seahawks) – Ahman Green & 5th Round Pick to Green Bay Packers for Fred Vinson & 6th Round Pick: can’t seem to lock down an official date for this one, but figure it was sometime before April 16th in the year 2000. The late-round picks were a wash; neither worked out for either team. However, Fred Vinson was a total bust while Ahman Green would go on to lead the Packers in rushing. Granted, we still had Shaun Alexander, but we still should’ve gotten more for such a stud.
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.
July 31, 2000 – (Mariners) – John Mabry & Tom Davey to San Diego Padres for Al Martin: this trade isn’t necessarily bad for the guys we gave away; neither meant all that much to me personally, nor did they go on to have outstanding careers after they left. But, this trade was the epitome of the Pat Gillick era in Seattle. Pat Gillick was a brilliant baseball man who did wonderful things in Toronto in the early 90s (2 World Series championships) and he would go on to do wonderful things in Philly (2008 title). But, in Seattle, it wasn’t in the cards, and it was because of trades like this. Or, more accurately, the LACK of trades period. I don’t hate Al Martin because he sucked. I hate Al Martin because he wasn’t someone better. Pat Gillick needed to go out and get us a quality bat, consequences be damned. Instead, he got Al Martin and in the year 2000, the Seattle Mariners went nowhere.
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.
April 21, 2001 – (Seahawks) – Koren Robinson, 1st Round Draft Pick: 9th overall. There were plenty of other wide receiver fish in the sea in the 2001 NFL draft, but we decided to go big with Koren Robinson. He was supposed to be a Randy Moss-type of guy who would speed down the field and go up for the long bombs. Instead, we got a lush who wasted all of his God-given ability. Koren Robinson single-handedly turned me (and most of Seattle) off of drafting wide receivers high in the first round.
June 5, 2001 – (Mariners) – Michael Garciaparra, 1st Round Draft Pick: this was a guy we seemingly drafted on name alone. I mean, Nomar was such a great player for Boston, how could his brother not be equally as amazing? And at the same short stop position no less! Well, he was a dud. This was our supplemental pick for losing A-Rod, so there’s some more salt for your wounds (I better hear plenty of extra boos for Pay-Rod now that you’re thusly reminded!). Making matters worse: David Wright was drafted by the Mets two picks later. Wouldn’t it have been nice to have that third base position locked down all this time?
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.
July 31, 2001 – (Sonics) – Calvin Booth signs 6-year $34 million deal: now HERE’S where the rediculousness of the Sonics’ search for a starting center reached new heights. I guess averaging 7.5 points per game (over merely 15 games) for the Dallas Mavericks means you’re worth a skyscraper of a deal (at long as the Sonics are the willing buyer). And, as laughable as it sounds, we would’ve RELISHED 7.5 points per game! Only for the Sonics could a suck-ass player manage to get markedly worse. In the end, we traded his final three years away on July 26, 2004 BACK to the Mavs for Danny Fortson’s final three years. You’d think after McIlvaine, we would’ve learned our lesson. Of course, you’d think after McIlvaine AND Booth, we REALLY would’ve learned our lesson. In a sense, I guess we did, since we opted henceforth (for the most part) to get our shitty centers direct from the NBA Draft.
December 16, 2001 – (Mariners) – Brian Fuentes, Jose Paniagua & Denny Stark to Colorado Rockies for Jeff Cirillo: a couple months after we finished the regular season with the most wins in the modern era, we felt it necessary to keep on tinkering. Forget the fact we probably could’ve used a starting pitcher more; we had to go out and get Jeff Cirillo – a guy who had shown he could hit in Coors Field and nowhere else. A guy who, in spite of playing in such a bandbox, had a career high of only 17 homers the year before he came here. What happened next? Well, we stuck him in Safeco Field and he hit .234 over two seasons. Just one of many National Leaguers we’ve brought to the American League over the years who absolutely fell off the map.
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.
April 20, 2002 – (Seahawks) – Jerramy Stevens, 1st Round Draft Pick: a loaded draft for the tight end position … and the Seahawks got Public Enemy #1. Jerramy Stevens was a bust because you could argue he was the biggest reason we lost Super Bowl XL (I know that’s what I would argue, anyway). But, forget all that. He’s a bust plain and simple because he probably had more God-given ability than any other tight end in that draft (with Jeremy Shockey and Daniel Graham going before him; Chris Baker and Randy McMichael going after him), yet he squandered it all away because he couldn’t stay out of trouble and had the work-ethic of a wino on skid row. He’s the only Husky I’ll forever hate, and on this day the Seahawks made a tremendous mistake.
July 18, 2002 – (Sonics) – Jerome James re-signs 3-year $15 million deal: the thing I’ll never forget about this deal was in the 2002 NBA playoffs we played (and lost to) the San Antonio Spurs in the first round. As a 7-seed, we took them to the brink of five games, and in those games Jerome James exploded for production up to that point unseen. He was a monster. Scoring, rebounding, defending. He was our MVP and almost single-handedly led us to the next round. Ignoring all of his regular season struggles up to that point, we gave him this contract and our starting center job. He went on to revert right back to his old ways, then somehow snookered the Knicks into giving him a huge payday.
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.
December 19, 2003 – (Mariners) – Scott Spiezio Signs 3-year $9.15 million deal: we stole him away from the Angels (after their World Series win) and got nowhere near what we paid for. He batted .215 for us over 112 games (a remarkable decline). We played him for a bit in 2005 where he got 3 hits in 47 at bats, then we released him on August 19, 2005. Nearly 4 years and 4 months later the Mariners would go on to steal Chone Figgins from the Angels. Here’s a hint fellas: Angels are only good when they’re Angels and they get to play 19 games against the Mariners!
January 8, 2004 – (Mariners) – Carlos Guillen to Detroit Tigers for Juan Gonzalez & Ramon Santiago: not the Juan Gonzalez you’re thinking of. This Juan Gonzalez was a minor leaguer who never cracked the majors. Ramon Santiago was a glorified minor leaguer who SHOULD’VE never cracked the majors. Meanwhile, Carlos Guillen went on to kick ass and take names. We really missed his streaky-ass.
January 8, 2004 – (Mariners) – Rich Aurilia Signs 1-year $3.5 million deal: on the SAME DAY. We replaced a guy who went on to be a cornerstone for a quality Tigers run with a guy who’d be released 6 months later. National Leaguers can NOT hit in Safeco! Say it with me now!
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’.
March 4, 2004 – (Seahawks) – Grant Wistrom signs 6-year, $33 million deal: and out of that we got 3 seasons before biting the bullet and cutting him. He “earned” $21 million in that time; for our trouble we got back a whopping 11.5 sacks. Or, just a little under $2 million per sack. This was a signing you could easily loathe from the beginning. After it was all said and done, we traded in for a younger version of the white defensive end: Patrick Kerney. But, Wistrom was by FAR the worse of the two.
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.
June 24, 2004 – (Sonics) – Robert Swift, 1st Round Draft Pick: 12th overall. We could’ve had Al Jefferson; think HE could’ve helped out our front court? Instead, we got the 7-foot project out of high school who spent more time rehabbing knees and getting tattoos than he did playing pro basketball. What a magnificently frightening bust!
June 27, 2004 – (Mariners) – Freddy Garcia & Ben Davis to Chicago White Sox for Jeremy Reed, Mike Morse & Miguel Olivo: it was the right time to trade the Chief, his stock would never be higher again and we were in the midst of a total organizational meltdown. 2004 was the beginning of a long slide into futility for the Mariners; what we needed at the time were some prospects who could come in and lift us back to prominence. Olivo was supposed to be our catcher of the future, Reed was supposed to lock down left field for the next decade, and Mike Morse should’ve been a solid utility guy. Instead, Olivo was (and still is) a dud, Reed never panned out, and Morse has always turned into a pumpkin whenever the calendar flips to April.
December 15, 2004 – (Mariners) – Richie Sexson Signs 4-year $50 million deal: this was the beginning of a very happy week for Mariners fans. We’d just wrapped a total collapse of a season where all of our veteran players died simultaneously. This was after an epic string of Mariners seasons where 90 wins was the norm. A lot of money was coming off the books. I mean, a LOT of money. In his first major foray with the team, Bill Bavasi was looking to both make a big splash and return the team to dominance. First: Richie Sexson. He missed most of 2004 with injury, but before that he was a home run machine with the Brewers. He had two seasons of 45 homers in a 3-year span; SURELY he’d bring that much needed bop over to Seattle! And, to his credit, he did … for two seasons. But, if you were paying attention, you’d know that was really 1.5 seasons; because in year 2 of his 4-year deal he got the bulk of his numbers in the 2nd half of the season when the team was already out of it. 2007 saw that first-half malaise push through to the full season; 2008 saw him clearly done. He was making an ass-load of money by going out there making an ass of himself. The team finally had the decency (to its fans) to release him on July 10, 2008, but by then the damage had been done. That 2008 team was a clusterfuck of epic proportions, only matched (somehow) by 2010’s clusterfuck to end all clusterfucks.
December 17, 2004 – (Mariners) – Adrian Beltre Signs 5-year $64 million deal: two days after landing the whale that was Richie Sexson, the Mariners went out and doubled down on Adrian Beltre. Most of us, over time, came to respect Beltre for what he was: a hard-nosed, inconsistent hitter with a little bit of power and a ton of defensive ability at the hot corner. We could respect the guy for playing through pain (and massive shoulder injuries) and giving his absolute all to a consistently losing effort. But, he wasn’t worth the money and it was obvious early on. Coming off a career year (steroids anyone?) in Los Angeles where he hit .334 with 48 home runs (after his previous career high was only .290 and 23 home runs – not in the same season), he’s the epitome of a Contract Year Player. Year 1 with the Mariners: .255 with 19 homers. Believe it or not, Beltre was the more loathed between him and Sexson. That went on to change, but we’ll never forget the disappointment on all our faces when we realized that Beltre would never come NEAR to approaching .334 with 48 homers again.
January 4, 2005 – (Mariners) – Pokey Reese Signs 1-year $1.2 million deal: it’s not the amount of money, it’s not the length of contract. It was the fact that he never played a GAME. Not for the Mariners in that year, not for another Major League Baseball team ever again! In his place, we were introduced to Yuniesky Betancourt. And the rest, as they say, is hostility.
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 7, 2005 – (Mariners) – Jeff Clement, 1st Round Draft Pick: 3rd overall. Out of the top 7 picks, there was one bust, one mediocre player (who could still be decent if this year’s promise means anything), and five super studs. Guess which one the Mariners drafted! Let me run down the list: 1. Justin Upton, 2. Alex Gordon, 3. Clement, 4. Ryan Zimmerman, 5. Ryan Braun, 6. Ricky Romero, 7. Troy Tulowitzki. Four of those guys have are considered All Stars and Romero is a quality starter for Toronto. We screwed up ROYAL in this draft. Where is Jeff Clement now? Probably in the Pirates’ farm system (where he belongs; the worst Major League team’s minor leagues). Who did we get in return? Try Ian Snell and Jack Wilson. I’ll give you a minute to bang your head against the wall.
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.
July 30, 2005 – (Mariners) – Randy Winn to San Francisco Giants for Jesse Foppert & Yorvit Torrealba: or, in other words: “Randy Winn to San Francisco Giants for Nothing.”
December 22, 2005 – (Mariners) – Jarrod Washburn Signs 4-year $37.5 million deal: hey, another Angels player they didn’t want! I bet this turned out swell for the Good Guys! Except it didn’t; we got three sub-par seasons before he miraculously turned it around long enough in 2009 so we could trade him to the Tigers on July 31st for Mauricio Robles & Luke French. That was a Jackie-Z miracle if I ever witnessed one. French is a back-end starter (currently toiling for the Rainiers) and Robles has the potential to be great. Or, at least, greater than Washburn ever was for us.
January 4, 2006 – (Mariners) – Carl Everett Signs 1-year $3.4 million deal: you can point to this signing as the beginning of the Mariners suffering through rent-a-veterans on their last legs. He would be released on July 26th of that year, but not before hitting 11 homers and batting .227. Funny thing is, what WOULDN’T we give to have 11 homers and a .227 batting average out of our designated hitter in 2011?
February 23, 2006 – (Seahawks) – Steve Hutchinson assigned Transition Tag: this was the beginning of the end for Tim Ruskell. The Seahawks saved a little less than $600,000 in cap room, but in the process initiated one of the most notorious swindles in recent memory. One month later, Hutchinson would be a Minnesota Viking thanks to their Poison Pill-laced contract, and the Seahawks would descend into the abyss thanks to a below-average offensive line. For a team that had just made its first Super Bowl thanks to that very amazing offensive line, losing Hutch would be heartbreaking. And it would also lead to one of the more hilarious retaliatory signings ever.
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.
March 20, 2006 – (Mariners) – Matt Thornton to Chicago White Sox for Joe Borchard: an eye for talent: Bill Bavasi lacked it. Joe Borchard sounds like a name that would suck at baseball. Matt Thornton, meanwhile, has been a pretty lockdown reliever for the Sox ever since. Too bad he never made good on any of his promise while a Mariner.
March 24, 2006 – (Seahawks) – Nate Burleson signs 7-year, $49 million deal: granted, it would turn out that Burleson never got anything approaching $49 million (that was the Poison Pill number we put on to rub it in Minnesota’s face), but essentially Burleson was a huge trade-down compared to what we lost in Steve Hutchinson. It’s not an unforgivable signing; Nate was a highly productive return man and a moderately productive receiver. But, we’ll never be able to separate Nate’s signing from Hutch’s loss.
April 29, 2006 – (Seahawks) – Kelly Jennings, 1st Round Draft Pick: undersized cornerback wanted for: giving up long touchdowns and never intercepting the ball. Must be able to occasionally ankle-tackle and make Marcus Trufant look like a Pro Bowler by comparison. Start immediately.
June 6, 2006 – (Mariners) – Brandon Morrow, 1st Round Draft Pick: 5th overall. This pick will forever be known as the time where the Mariners passed on multi-Cy Young winner (and local hero) Tim Lincecum. Odds are, we would’ve ruined him the same way we did Morrow – by fucking with his confidence, and jerking him around between starting and relieving – but you never know. Maybe not. Maybe, if we would’ve gone with the proven winner over the guy with one year’s college experience, he would’ve commanded a starting rotation slot from the get-go. We’ll never know; and San Francisco is all the luckier for it.
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.
June 30, 2006 – (Mariners) – Asdrubal Cabrera to Cleveland Indians for Eduardo Perez: BAVASI!!!! Hold on, it gets better …
July 26, 2006 – (Mariners) – Shin-Soo Choo to Cleveland Indians for Ben Broussard: my best guess is that Bavasi was secretly on the Indians’ payroll in 2006.
September 11, 2006 – (Seahawks) – 1st Round Pick in 2007 to New England Patriots for Deion Branch: the draft pick turned into Brandon Meriweather, who made two Pro Bowls. Deion Branch signed a lucrative 6-year, $39 million contract with the Seahawks and proceeded to be a collosal disappointment until he was finally traded back to the Patriots in 2010 and everyone in Seattle rejoiced. End result: a 1st round pick for a 4th round pick, ye gods!
December 7, 2006 – (Mariners) – Rafael Soriano to Atlanta Braves for Horacio Ramirez: just a stellar cap to a 2006 calendar year for Bill Bavasi. Why he was allowed to run the club for the next season and a half is beyond me.
December 14, 2006 – (Mariners) – Miguel Batista Signs 3-year $24 million deal: in what universe is Miguel Batista worth $24 million? Well, THAT’S certainly a silly question!
December 18, 2006 – (Mariners) – Emiliano Fruto & Chris Snelling to Washington Nationals for Jose Vidro: Vidro was awesome back in his prime. You know, when he could play the field and hit well over .300. By the time we got him, he was less than a shell of his former self. Yet, he still managed a respectable batting average in the 2007 season – though, for a DH, his power numbers were attrocious. Unfortunately, in 2008, the wheels came off (like they did for Sexson and pretty much the entire team). We stuck with him for 85 excruciating games that season, then released him on August 13th.
January 30, 2007 – (Mariners) – Jeff Weaver Signs 1-year $8.3 million deal: and the hits just keep on coming for the Bill Bavasi era. Pretty much because of a single World Series game for the Cardinals, Jeff Weaver “earned” $8.3 million for the Mariners. “If he was so important to their success in 2006, why didn’t St. Louis want him back,” you might be asking yourself. I don’t have an answer for you. What I CAN tell you is that he gave us 27 of the most worthless games imaginable in 2007. And HE wasn’t even the most loathesome starting pitcher for that team (thank you very much Horacio Ramirez).
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.
December 20, 2007 – (Mariners) – Carlos Silva Signs 4-year $48 million deal: or, The Straw That Broke Bavasi’s Back. He was awful for his two seasons in Seattle. I have nothing redeeming to say about the man. We traded him on December 18, 2009 to the Chicago Cubs for Milton Bradley in a swap we hoped would be one of those “Change Of Scenery” deals. Well, the scenery was different, but there would be no change. Yeah, Silva had half a good season in 2010, but then he reverted right back and was cut before the 2011 season. Bradley, of course, was miserable for the Mariners. The worst part of it all? Not only did we take on Milton Bradley, his contract, and all his emotional baggage (all of which the Cubs were DESPERATE to get rid of), but we ALSO had to pay them an additional $9 million. How’s that for a nice Fuck You? Wonder why the Mariners were so bad in 2010? Wonder why we couldn’t get any free agents in 2011? Look no further than the money we have on the books for both of these jack-wagons.
January 31, 2008 – (Mariners) – Brad Wilkerson Signs 1-year $3 million deal: not only did he play right field – forcing Ichiro into the uncomfortable position of playing center – but he didn’t even make it out of the first month, released April 30th. What a douche.
February 8, 2008 – (Mariners) – Adam Jones, George Sherrill, Chris Tillman, Kam Mickolio & Tony Butler to Baltimore Orioles for Erik Bedard: at the time, I could defend this one; then we realized what we got in Erik Bedard. So many injuries. So many millions for nary a game played. Somehow, Bedard is still here, but he’ll never be the guy who was worth five prospects. Meanwhile, Adam Jones looks like he’s got a long, successful career in him. Still, this isn’t the worst trade ever – as it’s said to be in many circles. But, it’s pretty bad.
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.
March 2, 2009 – (Seahawks) – T.J. Houshmandzadeh signs 5-year, $40 million deal: and by September of 2010, T.J. Houshmandzadeh was cut. What we’ll always remember about Housh are his 3 touchdowns over his lone season with the team, and of course, his tantrums and tirades over not getting the ball thrown his way enough. Of course, there’s the $6+ million we paid him just to go away. We signed him in hopes of getting a Number 1 receiver, failing to recognize his declining skills and utter inability to go down and catch the deep ball. Live and learn, I guess.
April 25, 2009 – (Seahawks) – Aaron Curry, 1st Round Draft Pick: he was supposed to be the lock, the “sure thing”, the most readymade NFL player in that draft. With one bust after another in the subsequent drafts after Tim Ruskell picked Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill in 2005, the Seahawks not only HAD a first round pick (thank you Deion Branch trade), but finally had a pick in the top portion of the draft. In fact, thanks to Ruskell’s personnel bungling, the talent on this team was so barren, the Seahawks finally bottomed out in 2008, leaving them picking 4th in the 2009 draft. So, they went with the draft pick even Tim Ruskell himself couldn’t fuck up: Aaron Curry. What did we get out of our starting outside linebacker? Two full seasons and a handful of games in his third before he was traded to the Oakland Raiders for a 7th round pick in 2012 and a 5th round pick in 2013. In his time in a Seahawks uniform, we got 5.5 sacks, a few forced fumbles, and a whole lot of mediocrity. On the plus side, since John Schneider is a fucking genius, we turned a bust of a first round pick into J.R. Sweezy (potential starting offensive guard) and whatever miracle he finds in the 5th round in 2013. Tim Ruskell has been in the biz much longer than John Schneider, but he can sure as shit learn a lot from this general managing phenom.
June 9, 2009 – (Mariners) – Dustin Ackley, 1st Round Draft Pick: as I update this in the middle of May, 2015, it’s coming off of this blog post-turned-featured article where I try to pinpoint the most disappointing draft pick in Seattle sports history. I came to the conclusion that Dustin Ackley was, in fact, that draft pick. The greatest thing about that argument is that there are so many different ways you can take it, that you could argue Ackley isn’t even the most disappointing pick made by the Mariners. Either way, you can’t deny he’s been a total disaster, made all the more glaring by the early going of the 2015 campaign, where the Mariners as a team struggled to get things going early, when it mattered most.
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.
March 17, 2010 – (Seahawks) – #40 overall draft pick & 2011 3rd round draft pick to San Diego Chargers for Charlie Whitehurst & #60 overall draft pick; Whitehurst signed to 2-year, $8 million deal: sounded like a low-risk deal by an incoming new regime for a backup quarterback who would come in to compete for a starting job. Well, we learned pretty quickly that there was a REASON why he couldn’t crack one of the top two QB spots in San Diego: he sucks. An aging Matt Hasselbeck held him in check during the 2010 season. Then, a lockout-shortened offseason prevented Whitehurst from an opportunity to compete with Tarvaris Jackson. Nevertheless, injuries shoved Whitehurst into the starting lineup for a couple games in 2011, with disasterous results. Whitehurst’s fate was sealed in a 6-3 loss to Cleveland where the offense did absolutely nothing in one of the ugliest games of all time (#NoHyperbole).
July 9, 2010 – (Mariners) – Cliff Lee & Mark Lowe to Texas Rangers for Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke, and Matt Lawson: We traded a bunch of stiffs to the Phillies for Cliff Lee prior to the 2010 season. It was a no-brainer! Part of the deal was: the Mariners had a winning record in 2009. Cliff Lee COULD be the piece that pushed us over the hump. But, recognizing our mistakes from the 2008 season, there was an escape option to the whole thing: this was the final year on Lee’s deal. He would be a free agent at season’s end. So, if the 2010 Mariners pulled a 2008 Mariners (which they ultimately did), we could just flip Cliff Lee at the trade deadline for a batch of prospects to ultimately fuel our rise to prominence. After rejecting an offer from the Yankees for Jesus Montero (among others), we ultimately accepted this deal from the Rangers. Matt Lawson was gone in an instant. Josh Lueke was some sort of alleged date rapist who was traded within a year for John Jaso (who turned into Mike Morse, who turned into nothing). Blake Beavan has been AAA fodder and a sub-par Major Leaguer. And Justin Smoak – the would-be centerpiece of the deal – ended up sucking our collective will to live for the better part of five years. The fact that the Rangers ultimately lost in the World Series, and then lost out on re-signing Lee, matters not. This deal was about the Mariners building for the future and none of these guys turned into anything. Smoak would go on to be waived prior to his final year of arbitration eligibility, because the Mariners didn’t want to waste any more millions of dollars on a guy who only DIDN’T disappoint when he was on the DL.
June 6, 2011 – (Mariners) – Danny Hultzen, 1st Round Draft Pick: another feather in the Jackie Z cap as a reason why he ultimately failed as GM of the Mariners. Not. Taking. Advantage. Of. First. Round. Draft. Picks. That’s what he was brought here for! And he failed, time and time again. This was the second #2 overall pick in his tenure; the first was uber-flop Dustin Ackley back in 2009. This was arguably worse, because at least Ackley gave you SOMETHING at the Major League level. Hultzen could never get past AAA. He had the stuff, he had the talent, he had the ability; he was the consensus “safest” and “most-ready” starting pitcher of the 2011 draft. But, it was one shoulder injury after another, and in the end, one shoulder injury too many to further his professional career.
July 30, 2011 – (Mariners) – Doug Fister & David Pauley to Detroit Tigers for Charlie Furbush, Chance Ruffin, Casper Wells, and Francisco Martinez: I could understand the deal at the time. It was another one of those deals that KINDA made sense: the Mariners were terrible … I mean, just the WORST. So, they traded one decent pitcher and one crappy pitcher for four prospects in the hopes that maybe two or three of them might pan out. At the time, Furbush was a starter and was ready to get guys out at a Major League level. Ruffin was a potential closer who was close to getting guys out at a Major League level. Casper Wells was a 4th outfielder with the potential to be a starter. And Martinez was the prospect third baseman who had the potential to be the most special one of all. What happened? Well, Furbush stunk as a starter and was converted into an okay reliever. Ruffin stunk at relieving, so he’s been converted into a AA starting prospect. Wells wasn’t good enough to beat out an aging Jason Bay for a FIFTH outfield spot in 2013 and was cut. And Martinez was a 40-man casualty when the Mariners needed to bring up an infield prospect who is actually worth a damn (Nick Franklin). Meanwhile, Doug Fister has blossomed into a legitimate number two on a team that has Justin Verlander as its ace. A good idea gone sour, but it can’t be ignored: this trade was a total failure.
January 23, 2012 – (Mariners) – Michael Pineda & Jose Campos to New York Yankees for Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi: Well, it wasn’t supposed to be this way. Yeah, Jesus Montero has sucked for the Mariners since he came over here, but Pineda was injured as soon as he GOT to the Yankees. Major injuries, keeping him out for huge chunks of games. But, as of the end of 2014, he has returned from the wasteland and looks to resume his career. Which spells doom for this deal. But, really, it was doomed all along for the Mariners. Even IF Pineda never pitched for the Yankees due to injuries, that wouldn’t mean it’s still not a failure for the Mariners. We traded our best chip because we NEEDED hitting. And, ideally, we would have liked to get it at a premium position like catcher. Instead, we got a guy who strikes out too much, who walks almost never, who hits for a low average, who can’t hit the ball the other way, AND who might be the worst defensive catcher I’ve ever seen (which is saying a lot, Rob Johnson). Hector Noesi as a throw-in was a tantalizing mindfuck as well, what with his mid-90s fastball, his crazy movement, and his nasty slider. Except, all he did was get pounded until the Mariners finally released him in 2014. He went on to Chicago where the White Sox were rewarded with a somewhat competent starter (and one who blew up the Mariners on two different occasions to help keep the 2014 Mariners out of the post-season).
March 11, 2013 – (Seahawks) – #25 & #214 overall draft picks & 2014 3rd round draft pick to Minnesota Vikings for Percy Harvin; Harvin signed to 6-year, $67 million deal: As I’m writing this – in March of 2015 – this deal is already on the short list for worst deal of all time in Seattle sports history. Just for starters, Harvin missed nearly all of the 2013 season. He played in one regular season game and re-injured his hip. He played in the divisional round of the playoffs and was lost to a concussion. Then, he returned to the Super Bowl where he had a nice game and a kickoff return for a touchdown. His presence – and his extremely large salary – prevented us from re-signing Golden Tate to an extension; Tate ended up signing with Detroit. His presence – including fights with multiple teammates, and allegedly holding himself out of football games – made it impossible to work with him, so he was traded to the Jets early in the 2014 season for a 6th round draft pick. The Seahawks would go on to make the Super Bowl anyway (the second time the Seahawks managed to make the Super Bowl with no help whatsoever from Harvin), but failed to muster much of a passing attack against the Patriots, whose overwhelming cornerbacks effectively shut down both Baldwin and Kearse – our de facto #1 & #2 receivers. This lack of a passing attack prevented us from consistently moving the ball against the Patriots, keeping them in the ballgame, and ultimately leading to the single worst play call in the history of football.