Originally Published: January 19th & 31st, 2012
Updated: July 29, 2012
Part I – The Hitters
Did you know there was a Mariners Hall of Fame? I mean, I know I did, but I just wonder how well-known it is among Mariners fans. It’s not exactly the Seahawks Ring of Honor or anything. At least with the Ring of Honor you know you’re getting your number retired; the only number retired on the Mariners is 42 (for a guy who never played an inning in an M’s uniform). Although, I guarantee that’s a symbolic gesture as the M’s are waiting for Ken Griffey Jr. to become eligible so he can be the first true Mariner to have his number retired (which, if you believe this Wikipedia entry, means we have to wait for Griffey to make the Major League Hall of Fame, which should be sometime in 2015).
Anyway, the Mariners Hall of Fame exists, and it has four members currently: Alvin Davis, Dave Niehaus, Jay Buhner, and Edgar Martinez. That is, until this week, when Randy Johnson and Dan Wilson both cracked the prestigious honor. It makes sense that they would go in together. Not just because one was a pitcher who so often threw at the other, a catcher, but because apart they are both kind of iffy. Yeah, everyone knows Dan Wilson belongs in the Mariners Hall of Fame; he was without question the greatest catcher we’ve ever had. But, it’s not like he was some masher at the plate who tore up the record books. He had a very pedestrian bat to go along with some crazy-good blocking skills and a decent arm to throw out baserunners. If it weren’t for stupid Pudge, Dan Wilson would’ve been the guy racking up the Gold Gloves. Nevertheless, Dan Wilson is a less-than-sexy pick. People love Dan Wilson, but people don’t love Dan Wilson they way they love Bone or Gar or Junior. They just lump him in with them, mostly because he was here for so long and he played with those guys.
Randy’s a little different, though. While he was absolutely dominant from the point where he finally figured it all out (around the 1993 season) through the point where we foolishly traded him because we thought his back would eventually give out (at the 1998 trade deadline), Randy wasn’t exactly a lifelong Mariner. Plus, he went on to have his most successful seasons after his tenure with Seattle. To induct Randy by himself would seem like nothing more than a pisspoor gesture to get on his good side before he’s eventually inducted into the REAL Hall of Fame (with the hope being that he’d choose to wear a Mariner hat as he went in).
Together, though, you take two guys who are certainly DESERVING and make it more about the combo than it is about the individuals. I think that’s smart. With them, and with Griffey in a few years, we’ll finally have something here. A nice cadre of players to look back on fondly (instead of just the generic ’95 team or ’01 team, etc.).
Anyway, I got to thinking about this today and it made me wonder: what would the All-Time Mariner Team look like? A lot of it is a slam dunk, to be quite honest, but there is still room for debate.
To kick things off, here is your starting nine:
DH – Edgar Martinez
1B – Alvin Davis
2B – Bret Boone
3B – Adrian Beltre
SS – Alex Rodriguez
LF – Ichiro
CF – Ken Griffey Jr.
RF – Jay Buhner
C – Dan Wilson
To be honest with you, the starting nine was easier than I thought it was going to be. The most obvious choices were Edgar, Davis, Wilson, Griffey, Ichiro, and Buhner. The only question would be: who takes over in left, as both Bone & Ichiro are right fielders? Obviously, I’m not going to be a stickler here and force some undeserving left fielder from the M’s past into my All Time lineup; that would be ridiculous. There’s one great center fielder and two great right fielders, so that’s my outfield. Since Ichiro has already endured a position change before in his Major League career (playing centerfield for Mike Hargrove), I tabbed him to take over in left. Besides, with Bone’s legs, it’s best to just keep him and his rocket arm in right. For the record, it would be interesting to see who had the better arm – Bone or Ichiro – in their respective primes.
The biggest point of contention would probably be second base. I’m sure the old-time Mariners fans would say, “Where’s Harold Reynolds?” I’ll tell you where he is! Not on my team, that’s where! Harold Reynolds SUCKED! Just because you were with the Mariners for practically your entire career doesn’t automatically warrant you making the All Time Best Team. In Bret Boone’s four highly-productive seasons between 2001 and 2004, he was one of the best – if not THE best – second baseman in the game. His 2001 season ALONE would get him on my team. I’m not looking for a long period of mediocrity, I’m looking for the best players who performed like superstars in a Mariners uniform. Hence, Ka-Boone!
Third base was a struggle only because there haven’t been that many great Mariners third basemen over the years. Adrian Beltre kinda seems like a cop-out because he was with us so recently … until you look at the dump heap that has manned the hot corner over the years. Edgar played there, but you’d hardly consider him a fielder. Jim Presley and Bill Stein were both pretty worthless. Mike Blowers is only remembered fondly because he was on that ’95 team (he actually wasn’t all that great a player when you look at his career). Russ Davis put up some solid numbers at the plate, but he was also Mr. Stone Hands in the field (highlighed by his 32 errors in 1998) even though he participated in one of the most memorable Mariners commercials ever, not starring Edgar Martinez. So, really, that only leaves Adrian Beltre, who history will show was not NEARLY as bad as a lot of fans think he was. Plus, his defense was second-to-none, so there you go.
A lot of people loathe A-Rod, but there’s just no denying that he was our greatest short stop ever, even if he only played here for five full seasons (and a small portion of two others). He’s 4th on the M’s all time Home Runs list, 6th for RBI, 9th in doubles, 5th in stolen bases, and number one in OPS among Mariners who have had more than 100 games played. I could go on and on. His 1996 season was one of the greatest individual seasons I’ve ever seen (and the fact that he didn’t win the MVP is reason enough to firebomb any baseball writer’s house who didn’t vote for him that year).
Now that the starting nine is settled, here is what my batting lineup would look like:
- Ichiro (L)
- Boone (R)
- Griffey (L)
- Edgar (R)
- A-Rod (R)
- Buhner (R)
- Beltre (R)
- Davis (L)
- Wilson (R)
I like Ichiro in the leadoff spot, obviously, as he’s really the only leadoff hitter in the bunch. I like Boone hitting second because he was always good at fouling off pitches and getting on base. Griffey and Edgar get to keep their traditional spots. That pushes A-Rod to 5th and Bone to 6th. I’ve got Davis 8th just to break up the monotony of righties in there.
For my team, I’ve got a 5-man bench. Backup catcher was next-to-impossible to figure out. In the end, I settled on Kenji Johjima’s bat over some other longstanding, offensively-challenged individuals. For my reserve outfielder, I went with Mike Cameron, because I figure he had close to Griffey’s range, he could play all three positions, and he could knock a dinger or two when need be. My backup infielder is Omar Vizquel, because you’ve gotta have a great glove to backup short stop just in case; and no one’s better than Little O. For my utility player, I went with Mark McLemore, because he could just about play every position on the field, and he was surprisingly effective at the plate. For my final bench spot, I decided that I needed a left-handed power bat. You know, in case I wanted to pinch hit for Beltre or Wilson or something late in the game. This proved to be rather disappointing, because I pretty much just went with the next-highest home run total who wasn’t already on the team. That turned out to be Raul Ibanez, who I suppose could – besides being a reserve left fielder when Ichiro needs a break NEVER – play a little first base and be an emergency catcher. Anyway, did you know that Raul is 7th on the Mariners’ all time home runs list? How sad is that? Did you know that 7th amounts to 127 home runs? How sad is THAT?
So, there it is. There’s my bench:
C – Kenji Johjima
OF – Mike Cameron
INF – Omar Vizquel
Util – Mark McLemore
OF/PH – Raul Ibanez
Part II – The Pitchers
Just as the Starting 9 was pretty easy, so is the Starting 5 in the pitching realm. Here they are, in order:
- Randy Johnson
- Felix Hernandez
- Jamie Moyer
- Freddy Garcia
- Mark Langston
My initial draft had Cliff Lee in there as the 5th starter, but REALLY that’s kinda cheating. Nevertheless, if the rules are: must have been a Mariner at one time, then why WOULDN’T I go with Cliff Lee’s two months? They were a GREAT two months! But, I’m going to be reasonable on this one.
I like this rotation mostly because it shakes out with a lefty-righty-lefty rotation, which I guess most managers find important. I also like it because, look at it! Randy in his prime, Felix in his prime, Jamie in his prime, Freddy in his prime, Langston in his prime. Granted, those last two names aren’t all THAT impressive – if you compare them to some other organization’s All Time Greats – but in a 5-game series, I’ll take what I’ve got here all day long.
In lieu of going on and on about how much I like these guys, I’ll just start listing numbers until you’re bored out of your mind.
Randy Johnson – 10 years, 274 games, 266 games started, 130-74 record, 3.42 ERA, 51 complete games, 19 shutouts, 2 saves, 2,162 strikeouts, 10.6 K/9IP, 5 All Star Games, 1 Cy Young Award.
Felix Hernandez – 7 years (and counting), 205 games started, 85-67 record, 3.24 ERA, 18 complete games, 4 shutouts, 1,264 strikeouts, 8.2 K/9IP, 2 All Star Games, 1 Cy Young Award.
Jamie Moyer – 11 years, 324 games, 323 games started, 145-87 record, 3.97 ERA, 20 complete games, 6 shutouts, 1,239 strikeouts, 5.3 K/9IP, 1 All Star Game.
Freddy Garcia – 6 years, 170 games, 169 games started, 76-50 record, 3.89 ERA, 9 complete games, 4 shutouts, 819 strikeouts, 6.7 K/9IP, 2 All Star Games, came in 2nd in Rookie of the Year balloting in 1999.
Mark Langston – 6 years, 176 games, 173 games started, 74-67 record, 4.01 ERA, 41 complete games, 9 shutouts, 1,078 strikeouts, 8.1 K/9IP, 1 All Star Game, came in 2nd in Rookie of the Year balloting in 1984, won 2 Gold Gloves.
And, fuck it, for good measure, my 6th starter:
Cliff Lee – 2 months (with an extra month on the DL), 13 games started, 8-3 record, 2.34 ERA, 5 complete games, 1 shutout, 89 strikeouts, 7.7 K/9IP, 1 All Star Game (traded to Rangers before the game).
Now, where things have really screwed me here are the relievers. I’ll start with the list and I’ll tell you why I did it as such.
Closer – J.J. Putz
8th Inning Set-Up (Righty) – Jeff Nelson
7th/8th Inning Set-Up (Lefty) – Arthur Rhodes
7th Inning Set-Up (Righty) – Mike Jackson
Other – Brandon League
So, the main reason why I didn’t pick the All-Time Mariners leader in saves for my closer (Kaz Sasaki) is because I could never STAND that guy (Kaz Sasaki). That guy was a junk artist with one good pitch! But, when that pitch is offset by a 90 mile per hour fastball with no movement, essentially you’re looking at a Blown Save waiting to happen. He had three good years (out of four total), all three of those good years ended without a World Series title (or, shit, even an APPEARANCE), and that fourth year was some of the worst pitching I’ve ever seen. So, no, to hell with Sasaki! J.J. Putz is my guy!
Putz wasn’t quite the guy who replaced our
greatest closer ever closer with the most saves, but he replaced the guy who replaced the guy. Easy Eddie Guardado was the meat in that sandwich, and what all three of those pitchers had in common is all three had great forkballs. Easy Eddie taught his to J.J. Putz, and J.J. Putz turned around and ran with it.
Putz had the single greatest year a closer has ever had when he absolutely OBLITERATED the American League in 2007: 68 games, 40 saves, 82 strikeouts vs. 13 walks, 37 hits in 71.2 innings pitched, 1.38 ERA, 0.698 WHIP, 10.3 K/9IP, and only 2 blown saves.
And, let’s face it, Putz’s career with the Mariners wasn’t too shabby overall. He’s 2nd in saves with 101 and his career M’s ERA was just a few hairs over 3. He blew 24 saves in 125 opportunities for an 81% save percentage. Granted, Sasaki’s save percentage was 85%, but two things: first, that percentage went down every year (as he continued to lose MPH on his fastball); and second – this is more of a perception than actual fact – it just SEEMED like Sasaki blew more big games. Granted, he was involved in more big games, but regardless: he didn’t get the job done in my book.
Jeff Nelson is the obvious 8th Inning guy for us. He was absolutely BRILLIANT as a Mariner … and then we foolishly traded him away in a cost-cutting measure to the Yankees because – surprise surprise – the Mariners’ ownership is a piece of shit and always has been.
Arthur Rhodes is the obvious lefty specialist for us, even though all of my memories of him involve giving up home runs to those fucking Yankees in back-to-back ALCS seasons (2000 & 2001). Still, he was a horse, and I argue that if we didn’t over-work him so bad those years, he wouldn’t have broken down at the end (72 games in 2000, 71 games in 2001).
I don’t know if Mike Jackson was as obvious, but I always liked him. The Mariners had him in the late 80s/early 90s and let him go, then they got him back in 1996 and he was the ONLY good reliever on a team that was a healthy Randy Johnson away from going back to the playoffs (that 1996 team is my personal favorite, by the way, even though they underachieved something fierce; 1995 was when I found the Mariners, 1996 was when I became obsessed).
As for my final reliever, this is the one that really dogged me. I didn’t want to pick a lefty just to have another lefty, I didn’t want to pick a closer just to pick a closer, and I didn’t want to pick a reliever who just managed to stick around with the Mariners for a bunch of years. I eliminated Mike Schooler because he really only had a couple good years. Same thing with Shigetoshi Hasegawa. Norm Charlton and Bobby Ayala can eat my fucking asshole. And while Mike Timlin had a season and a half of some pretty good baseball, he’s still and will forever be associated with one of the more unpopular trades in Mariners history.
Then, I thought about Brandon League. Why NOT Brandon League? He already stands at Number 9 on the Mariners’ all time saves list (to show you how pathetic that stat has been for the Mariners over the years) and he could quite possibly climb into the Top 5 before he’s traded for prospects at the Trade Deadline later this summer. He’s got wicked-good stuff (a plus fastball with movement, and a plus out-pitch in his split finger), and if we’re only asking him to get a few 7th inning outs every few days, what’s the harm? So, League is my final reliever (not counting Cliff Lee, who’s my long man), and anyone who disagrees can bite me.
Updated July 29, 2012: Not Brandon League
In conclusion, here’s my 25-man roster in all its Mariners glory:
- Ken Griffey Jr.
- Edgar Martinez
- Randy Johnson
- Felix Hernandez
- Jamie Moyer
- Alex Rodriguez
- Alvin Davis
- Jay Buhner
- Dan Wilson
- J.J. Putz
- Freddy Garcia
- Adrian Beltre
- Bret Boone
- Jeff Nelson
- Arthur Rhodes
- Mark Langston
- Mike Jackson
- Mike Cameron
- Raul Ibanez
- Cliff Lee
- Mark McLemore
- Omar Vizquel
- Not Brandon League
- Kenji Johjima
Led by Manager Lou Pinella, obviously.