I moved this to my Seattle’s Worst Trades, Draft Picks & Free Agent Signings heading HERE.
Last week, the Mariners went 4-2. The week before, it was 5-2. In this critical stretch of games leading up to the All Star Break, the Mariners have gone 18-10 in their last 28 games. We currently hold the 4th-best record in the American League, we hold the 2nd spot in the Wild Card standings by 1.5 games (over both KC & Baltimore), yet we’re still a full two games behind the Angels and 7.5 games behind the A’s.
This American League West is pretty fucking good this year. I daresay it’s the NFC West of baseball divisions.
The Mariners crushed the Red Sox in the first two games last week, winning by a combined 20-5. In the finale, Boston jumped out to a good lead, but we still managed to come back and pull within one run, with runners on base in the bottom of the ninth before our fortunes ran out. Nevertheless, we came right back and took 2 of 3 from Cleveland, featuring a solid Chris Young performance, a night where the Mariners’ bats failed to show up to the ballpark, and an afternoon where Felix was absolutely masterful. Cleveland 1-hit us on Saturday; we 1-hit them on Sunday. Anything you can do, we can do better, because we’re the Seattle Mariners, so fuck you!
In roster transaction news, Erasmo Ramirez was sent down to eventually make way for Taijuan Walker. As it happened, the Mariners replaced Ramirez with Brandon Maurer. Maurer the starter is a suck-ass who doesn’t deserve legitimate playing time beyond the AAA level. Maurer the reliever is a dominant force who can throw 99mph, has control of a wicked change up, and still has that slider that does so well against righties (and, apparently, a 93mph cut-fastball, which sounds ridiculous, but is true). I’m not sure I want to see Maurer the reliever ever leave this team! Can we keep him here forever? Can he one day be our future closer? Please?
Towards the end of the week, Jesus Montero was indeed demoted for Michael Saunders. No surprise there. Over the weekend, Saunders started three times and went 3 for 11, with a double and 2 runs scored. Nice to have you back, Michael.
Then, after the game on Sunday, it was announced that Stefen Romero is finally being relieved of his duties. Thank God. I mean, I don’t hate the kid or anything, but he’s obviously still got a lot to work on. He certainly has the potential to be a solid line drive hitting machine, but he’s got to figure out a plan when going into at bats. And he needs to improve his pitch recognition. Few more walks couldn’t hurt either.
It’s assumed Taijuan Walker is going to replace Romero on the roster, which is interesting, because that means Maurer is still here for the time being. Maybe it’s only a matter of time (say, until Justin Smoak is ready to return). Either way, it would be wise to take advantage of Maurer’s services while we still have him here. An 8-man bullpen is a nice luxury, but not a luxury you can afford long term. Not with the likes of John Buck as your DH.
Don’t look now, but it appears that the Mariners have a position of strength from which they can trade. It’ll be interesting if we can ship off a couple of young bullpen arms for a bat. At the very least, it beats the alternative of trading away starting pitching, which is at a premium for us right now.
Taijuan Walker goes tonight. It would be nice if he’s good right out of the gate. Then, I wouldn’t have to worry about the Mariners trading for one of the Cubs’ starting pitchers, when it’s so obvious to everyone in the world that the Mariners need help with their hitting. I know everyone fears the day when Chris Young turns into a pumpkin, but I feel like even a few more bad games out of him over the second half of the season won’t make much of a difference, especially if Walker is the real deal.
The Mariners have now played 82 games. Yesterday was technically the first game of the second half of the season. 2009 was the last time we were this good (at least, as far as record is concerned), when we finished 85-77. Those Mariners ended up 10 games out of the Wild Card and 12 games out in the division. Those Mariners also had a -52 run differential and only had that winning record thanks to insane luck in close games. There wasn’t any 17-game losing streak like there was in 2011 (when the Mariners sort of contended through the first three months of the season), but there just weren’t the pieces in place to push that 2009 team over the top. If you’ll recall, the only moves the Mariners made in the run-up to the July 31st Trade Deadline that year was:
- A trade for Jack Hannahan (a bench infielder who made zero impact at the plate)
- A trade for Jack Wilson & Ian Snell (a defense-only short stop and a crap starting pitcher)
- The trading of Wladimir Balentien & Jarrod Washburn for prospects (prospects who turned out to be absolutely nothing)
We can’t make that mistake again this year. There is a clear need: hitting. There are guys we can trade who aren’t Taijuan Walker and James Paxton. I’m not asking the Mariners to bring me Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout, for crying out loud! Just bring me someone who is better than Corey Hart or Justin Smoak or Dustin Ackley. It can’t be THAT hard.
You’ll forgive me if I’m not exactly in the most chipper of moods. That’s what happens when some useless cunt brings bedbugs into your apartment building and you spend a sleepless week itching, cleaning, and bagging up all your shit. Suffice it to say, I’m not exactly looking on the bright side of things.
I actually had this idea before. It was supposed to be a series of posts dedicated to the most loathed sports figures in Seattle history. Over two years have passed and I’ve let it go by the wayside, but while it has been neglected, the idea has not been forgotten.
The primary reason for this site’s existence is that notion that there is a Culture of Losing in Seattle. Losing has become commonplace. Losing has been the norm. And losing has been accepted, which is most damning of all. It’s the main reason why I can’t stand most Seattle sports fans, because they’ve cultivated this Everybody Gets A Trophy attitude about the sports they follow. Granted, it’s probably HEALTHIER; it’s a hard fact of life that we certainly take sports too seriously. But, it still pisses me off.
Oh, good try sweetie!
It doesn’t matter who wins, all that matters is how you play the game!
Well, we didn’t win, but if you had a good time that’s all that matters!
You played hard out there fellas, now let’s all go out and get some ice cream!
There’s always next year!
This is what I have to put up with whenever a Seattle team ends its season. Nobody in Seattle ever expects to do well, so when a Seattle team makes the playoffs THAT’S a thrill in and of itself! Like just making the playoffs is “good enough”. Sure, winning a championship would be an incredible bonus, but isn’t being one of the top 4-8 teams in the league reward enough, you guys?
But, I suppose it’s not all the fans’ fault. I mean, THIS is all they’ve known. These shitty Seattle teams who have always let us down every year since 1979. Yes, the level of shittiness fluctuates, but they’re shitty all the same because it’s been over 30 years since we’ve tasted the sweet nectar of championship victory in this city.
I have a list of people here – athletes, GMs, and owners – who are more or less universally despised. My list is by no means complete, and I encourage anyone who has names to add to come forth and state why you feel that way. I may eventually return to my “Seattle Hates …” series and single out these losers in their own individual posts, but for now I thought I’d just list as many as I can think of and go from there.
The Mariners are far-and-away leading the pack of the most hated Seattle sports figures. It’s almost impossible to rank them, but I’m going to give it a shot.
This hasn’t always been the case, but it’s definitely true today: the most loathed Mariners figures of all time are now Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong. I’ve written about these two before, so I’ll keep this brief. Rest assured, it’ll be a happy day in Seattle history when the team is sold and these two lame-asses are shit-canned. Why they haven’t resigned in shame years ago is beyond me.
Time makes the heart grow fonder is the famous quote by some guy. In this case, time makes the heart grow less enraged. At one point, I would argue that no one could possibly be hated more than Bobby Ayala. Looking back on it, it probably wasn’t fair. Then again, I’m sitting here with my eyes closed and I can still picture it:
Ayala hurls a split-fingered fastball that hangs in the middle of the plate as he falls off of the left side of the mound. Opposing Batter X takes a mighty hack and launches the ball into the Kingdome seats. Ayala turns to watch the ball leave the yard as the cascading boos provide the perfect soundtrack to the four opposing runners trotting across home plate. Ayala, takes his cap off and wipes his sweaty brow with his sleeve as Lou Pinella walks out of the dugout, pointing at his left arm.
Bobby Ayala was kind of a joke (seriously, what grown man goes by the name “Bobby”), but the target of our vitriol shouldn’t have stopped with him. Bobby Ayala represents the total and utter futility of those Mariners bullpens from 1995 … really through 2001. In the mid-to-late 90s, those bullpens were terrible. Granted, we were playing in a bandbox known as the Kingdome, but still. Even after we left that concrete prison and moved into the pitcher’s paradise that is Safeco, and even after we drastically upgraded our bullpen talent with guys like Jeff Nelson, Arthur Rhodes, and Kaz Sasaki, our bullpen STILL let us down. Nevertheless, you rarely hear about Seattle fans bashing The Sheriff. You almost NEVER hear people killing Rhodes or Sasaki. You might get some grumbling about Heathcliff Slocumb, but who are you madder at: the pitcher who wasn’t any good, or the bumbling idiots who traded two studs (Varitek and Lowe) for the pitcher who wasn’t any good?
Nope, the hatred always comes back to Bobby Ayala. To this day, I don’t understand it. But, at the time, back in the day, I could certainly condone it.
A more-recent villain in this saga of the Mariners sucking is Bill Bavasi. I know, for me, he’s one of my most hated Seattle sports figures of all time (not involved with the Sonics leaving Seattle, that is). This website is pretty much a love letter to how much I can’t stand that guy; I don’t know if I’ve ever gone more than a few weeks without referencing him and lamenting how terrible he is at life. At this point, it goes without saying. But, if you need any fuel, I suggest taking a look at his very large section of idiocy.
I don’t really have the heart to do the research on these next few guys to see who was ACTUALLY the worst as a Mariner, but I’ll give you my opinion on who I disliked the most.
I’ll start with Richie Sexson. He was the first installment in my “Seattle Hates …” series, so I won’t go too in depth here. What I will say is that it has always boggled my mind a little bit that Adrian Beltre never saw the same amount of invective. He made more money than Sexson, he signed for more years, and he was coming off of this 2004 season with the Dodgers:
200 hits, 48 homers, 121 RBI, .334 batting average, 1.017 OPS
Here is what he averaged in five seasons with the Mariners:
150 hits, 21 homers, 79 RBI, .266 batting average, .759 OPS
I don’t care what anyone else thinks, I’m
calling Steroids on this bullshit not going to make wild accusations about something I know nothing about, even though this guy doesn’t pass the smell test by any means. For funsies, here is what Beltre averaged in the three seasons since he left Seattle:
176 hits, 32 homers, 103 RBI, .314 batting average, .912 OPS
Are you kidding me? OK, maybe that steroids crack was out of line, but COME ON! How are you, as supposed Mariners fans, not enraged by this? You boo and throw money at A-Rod decades after he left for an insane deal with the Rangers … why aren’t you fucking raining down sandbags at this fucking gold-bricker??? Adrian Beltre is a fucking bullshit artist and I’m leading the bandwagon to turn the tide against him; who’s with me? Good defense at third base? Fuck you, go home and play with your kids. You were brought in here to fucking hit. You hit with the Dodgers, you hit with the Red Sox, you’ve hit with the Rangers. Man up and quit blaming the stadium for your insecurities you fucking mental midget.
Up next, we have Chone Figgins. Who was a much better player when everyone thought his first name was pronounced “Ch-own”. He signed a 4-year deal and sucked more and more every year he was on this team. What’s worse, he didn’t appear to be even remotely sorry for the fact that he was the most over-paid piece of shit in the Major Leagues. You’d hear stories about how hard he was working behind the scenes, but then you’d watch him play and what would you see? An emotionless pile of shit striking out. An emotionless pile of shit letting a ground ball go right past him. An emotionless pile of shit unable to catch a routine fly ball. Then, after the game, whenever he’d consent to an interview, you’d hear about how he needed MORE playing time to “play his way out of it”. Or, if by the grace of fucking God he managed to have one of his three good games as a Mariner, he’d chirp his fucking head off after the game, talking about how he’s “still got it” and how he should be playing every day. What a motherfucker. To the bitter end, he left here thinking that he was a legit Major Leaguer. I suppose that’s why he was released by the Miami Marlins in Spring Training this year.
Chone Figgins is a guy who grabbed his big payday, then proceeded to dog it until he was run out of town. He didn’t give a shit! He got his money and that’s all he cared about. Now, he gets to sit on his ass while making upwards of $9 million for doing absolutely nothing.
Carlos Silva is another fan favorite, if by Fan Favorite I mean guy who we’d like to tar and feather. He was supposed to be this adequate ground baller who would earn his money tenfold by pitching in the cavernous Safeco Field. Instead, he got shelled, constantly. And since he was signed for so long (4 years) and for so much money ($48 million), we had to give him every opportunity to try and turn things around. Imagine it: you and me and most everyone we know will live our entire lives scraping by like a dog on the streets; meanwhile Carlos Silva received nearly $50 million to suck dick. Kinda makes you want to stop following sports, doesn’t it?
I’m going to wrap up this Mariners section with some rapid-fire. Because it’s going on far too long and because I’ve got other things to do.
Jeff Cirillo was brought in after our 116-win season to lock down third base. He was supposed to be one of the final pieces to push us over the top as a championship contender. Instead, he was terrible. My booze-addled mind has mostly blacked out the Jeff Cirillo stint as a Mariner, so bully for me.
Alex Rodriguez is a different animal entirely, but I can’t leave him off this list. Where he differs from the rest is that – as a player wearing a Mariners uniform – he was universally beloved. A-Rod was on the fast track to being as beloved as Ken Griffey Jr. And, had he taken less money to remain a Mariner (or, had the Mariners ponied up a proper offer, depending on which story you choose to believe), A-Rod would PROBABLY be #1 on the all-time favorite Seattle sports figure list. Instead, the moment he signed that 10-year, $250 million deal and put on a Texas Rangers uniform, A-Rod was Public Enemy #1.
Not by me, mind you. Even at the time, I didn’t understand the sentiment. Who WOULDN’T take that deal? It was the biggest deal in MLB history! How can you fault a guy for accepting that deal when it’s universally known that the Mariners weren’t able to come CLOSE to matching? On top of that, the deal essentially crippled the Rangers and it took him until 2009 to finally win a World Series. He’s been a laughingstock everywhere he’s been, he doesn’t appear to know how to relate to people, he has an addiction to strip clubs and banging chicks with muscular, dude-like bodies, and – oh yeah – he’s a steroids cheat. Even if you don’t think he would’ve helped us win a World Series in 2001-2003, don’t you think we kinda dodged a bullet by NOT having him embarrass us seemingly every year?
In recent years, there have been any number of hated Mariners, as this franchise has found new depths of ineptitude. Miguel Olivo, Justin Smoak, Jesus Montero, Jeff Weaver, Horacio Ramirez, Erik Bedard, Brandon League, Jose Lopez, Yuniesky Betancourt, Brad Wilkerson, Eric Byrnes, Kenji Johjima, Casey Kotchman, Rob Johnson, Ian Snell, Jack Cust, Hector Noesi, Blake Beavan … just to name a bunch. As long as there are losing Mariners teams, there will always be people to hate.
I’m going to stop here and continue with the other teams another time. This has been a lot more involved than I originally anticipated.
Editor’s Note: This 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 are with Part 2 of the series. Look for the link in the menu bar above to be updated accordingly with my exhaustive timeline of a generation’s worth of bungling. There will likely be a Part 3 of the series, but in that one I’ll focus on supposed bad moves made by the Good Guys that I’ll end up defending as “not that bad”. It’s in this “Omissions” article where you’ll find the likes of the Randy Johnson Trade and the Ken Griffey Jr. Trade.
Of course, this is by no means a complete list. And again, I welcome any and all suggestions from the peanut gallery.
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.
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.
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).
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 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).
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 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?
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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).
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.
King Felix is officially down for the count, per Jackie Z. Also down for the count? One Douglas Wildes Fister (not kidding about that middle name). With 5.1 innings of 13-hit, 6-run ball, Mister Fister finishes the season with a 6-14 record, a 4.11 ERA, 32 walks vs. 93 strike outs, and 171 innings pitched (while missing a month along the way). If you told me that was his line going into the season, I would’ve said, “Yeah, that sounds about right.” But, laying that out before me, knowing what I know, it’s a little disappointing considering he’s been under 4 in ERA all year. ALL YEAR. In fact, going into his injury spell, he had one of the best ERAs in the American League. All signs point to regression to his personal mean, which, whatever. I don’t think he’s quite as locked up as Vargas considering next year’s Opening Week Rotation – I think he’ll still need to show that he’s not regressing too far the other way in Spring Training – but I’m pretty confident we’ll see Fister again. In some capacity. Let’s just hope that next season doesn’t see him turn into Ryan Rowland-Smith circa 2010. At the very least, I’m 50 times more confident going into a new year with Douglas Fister than I am with Ian Snell. That’s saying SOMETHING. I don’t know quite what yet, but it’s something.
Actually, we’re a little more than halfway there. At 35-53, we’re 7 games past halfway. But, shit man, this is the All Star Break, and everyone pretty much considers this the halfway point, so suck it math nerds.
35-53. Can’t say there were a lot of us who thought (when the season started) that’s where we’d be right now. In our wildest dreams, we probably imagined that record reversed; but likely we were just hoping for a few games over .500 with no one in particular running away with the division. Well, unless you’re the Seattle Mariners, no one indeed is running away with the division:
Anaheim: 47-44 (4.5 GB)
Oakland: 43-46 (7.5 GB)
Seattle: 35-53 (15 GB)
For good measure, we’re 19 Games Back in the Wild Card race. The only teams in the AL who are worse are Cleveland and Baltimore. The only teams in the NL who are worse are Arizona and Pittsburgh.
Out of 30 teams in MLB, we’re 28th in Batting Average and Home Runs; we’re 29th in RBIs and Hits. With that, let’s get down to the business of dissecting this team.
If I were just shooting from the hip – ignoring anything related to numbers or concrete evidence – I’d say that the offense has woefully underperformed. In other news, ice is DUH. Along with that, the bullpen has downright sucked. Granted, part of that might be affected by the woefully underperforming offense creating unnecessary pressure on the bullpen because it’s unable to pad a lead of any sort. No ‘pen is ever going to be perfect; they’re going to give up hits and runs and dingers over the course of a season. Had this offense generated more big leads, then maybe the ‘pen could afford to give up some runs and not look like the bastard step-child of this team. Still, at some point you’ve got to do your job. Let’s face it, there are a lot of ERA’s over 5 on this team; and most of them are (or were) in our bullpen.
Finally, though, in my thoughtless overview of the team, the starters have been splendid (for the most part). In spite of a defense that hasn’t NEARLY been the world-beaters they were supposed to be coming into the season.
Let’s start with the Offense, as that’s the primary culprit in our ineptitude. Can you name for me the number of hitters who have played for the 2010 Mariners – whether an everyday regular or a guy with just a handful of at-bats – with a Batting Average over .300?
I’ll give you a second.
The answer is 1. Ichiro. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have Ichiro in my life every day. I imagine it’d be a day without oxygen. Here’s the breakdown: .326 BA, .377 OBP, 118 hits, 35 runs, 22 stolen bases, and 17 doubles (which is tied for the team lead … your leadoff hitter is tied for the team lead in doubles). He’s a miracle, plain and simple.
Who’s got the next-highest batting average, you ask? Try Josh Wilson at .265. He started off the season not even good enough to be in the Major Leagues, yet since being called up he’s had 189 at-bats and has the 2nd-highest batting average on the team. Good for him, but seriously that’s pathetic.
For me, the mark of a mediocre hitter is .250. Being mediocre is going 1 for 4 in every game. (for the record, I put the mark of an average hitter at .270, so it’s not like I’m harboring some kind of unrealistic goal for most major leaguers). Do you know how many of our regular players are WORSE than mediocre?
I’ll give you a second.
OK, let’s count ’em out. Jose Lopez (.240), Chone Figgins (.235), Casey Kotchman (.218), Michael Saunders (.216), Milton Bradley (.210), Rob Johnson (.205). That’s 6 out of 10 players who’ve had at least 100 at-bats, WORSE than mediocre. Not counting the likes of Ken Griffey Jr. and our plethora of backup catchers and other AAA also-rans who are no longer with the big club. All of which, mind you, are under the aforementioned threshold.
By the by, Jack Wilson is AT the threshold exactly. Guti is at .256. Mike Sweeney (with 99 at-bats and I wouldn’t be surprised if he never saw 100) is batting .263. With Josh Wilson’s .265, that means 4 guys are OVER .250.
I remember back in the day when I harangued the team for keeping David Bell around, with his perennial .265 average. Now, I’d gladly welcome a team FULL of David Bells!
All right, I’m done bashing the hitters. It’s time to look over the pitchers.
Out of 30 teams in MLB, we’re 9th in ERA and WHIP (Walks + Hits per Innings Pitched), but we’re 24th in saves and 26th in strikeouts.
Our team ERA is 3.89, which is very good. For a team. You figure, if you’re holding your opponent to less than 4 runs per game over the course of a full season, you’re likely to be IN a lot of ballgames. With a chance to WIN (if you have any offense whatsoever, which we don’t).
For an individual, I place an Average ERA at 4.00. Exactly half (9) of all the pitchers who’ve thrown an inning for the 2010 Mariners have ERAs under 4.00. That’s very good. Considering 3 of those guys over 4.00 are gone, you won’t find me complaining too much. Of course, 2 of the guys under 4.00 are gone too; including one very very good man recently traded.
Here’s how we stand with our starters. Felix is awesome, at 2.88 ERA and 131 strikeouts. If we manage to get him 10-12 more wins, he should be Cy Young calibre. Likewise, Jason Vargas is also awesome, at 3.09 ERA and 2nd on the team in Quality Starts with 13 out of 17. Douglas Fister has been an eye-opener with his very own 3.09 ERA (and a lot of hard-luck No Decisions thanks to the ‘pen). Cliff Lee was Fantastic for us and he will be missed (2.34 ERA, 11 Quality Starts out of 13). Had we had all of these guys for an entire season – and a somewhat competent batch of hitters – we’d certainly be running away with this division. Unfortunately, we only had Lee for May & June; we lost out on a month with Fister due to his Dead Arm, and their replacements have been ordinary at best to disasters at worst.
At the moment, we have for the rest of the season Felix, Vargas, Fister, Rowland-Smith (who’s been pretty terrible) and Fill In The Blank. Erik Bedard might come back, though I wouldn’t be surprised if he was inevitably shut down for the season sooner rather than later. David Pauley started a game and was okay. Luke French has dominated in Tacoma and has not in Seattle. And, of course, Ian Snell is no more.
In other words, what’s been the strongest asset to our 2010 team is sure to be much worse going forward. With the crappiness of our 4th & 5th starters, combined with the question: can Vargas & Fister REALLY keep this up over a full season? Fister’s already had issues with dead arm, and they’re talking about limiting Vargas over the 2nd half as this will be his heaviest load to date at the rate he’s going.
And now, the Bullpen. Here’s how it shakes out:
David Aardsma – Closer
Brandon League – 8th Inning Set-Up
Shawn Kelley – DL
Sean White – Crap
Chad Cordero – Crap
Garrett Olson – Left Handed Crap
Brian Sweeney – Long Relief (and surprisingly effective for a 36 year old coming off two seasons in Japan)
By the way, just because I listed “Closer” and “8th Inning Set-Up” next to Aardsma and League doesn’t mean that they aren’t also “Crap”.
There’s nothing more to really say. Aardsma has been much more hittable this year. League has a devastating split-fingered pitch he’s most reluctant to use since he doesn’t want batters to “get used to it.” So, he’s either wild or he’s hittable with his fastball/sinker. Kelley might be our most effective reliever (now that Lowe is gone) but he can’t stay healthy for a full season, so what’s the point? He’s the Mike Sweeney of our bullpen, minus about a decade. Chad Cordero ceased being a Feel-Good Comeback Story when his ERA ballooned to over 6.50 with a fastball in the high-80s. Sean White and Garrett Olson just need to go.
And that’s it. As for defense: our outfield is solid and spectacular. Short Stop has been a strength. 2nd and 3rd base have been underwhelming. Casey Kotchman is the best 1st Baseman alive, but he can’t hit his weight. Catcher is attrocious.
We’re 7 games past the halfway point and doing our damnedest to not lose 100 ballgames. At this point, losing only 99 games would be like winning the World Series. I’m not looking forward to the second half. Felix & Ichiro are the only reasons to care at all. But, even with all the losing and disappointment, you can’t say 2010 hasn’t been interesting
No jinx for you! At 14-13, the Seattle Mariners have themselves a winning month of June … everyone, at your desks, let’s give them a round of applause! How did they do it, you ask? Well, in the 12 starts that featured Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez, the Mariners went 9-3. Doing the math, that puts the mortals at a meager 5-10. And that’s not even really all that fair, because in the Vargas starts, the Mariners were 3-3 (and, let’s face it, you EXPECT Vargas to be good for no better than 3-3), leaving the fucking losers at 2-7. A whole lotta Snell & Rowland-Smith stinking up the joint. Thankfully, we don’t have Snell to kick around anymore. Taken for grantedly, Rowland-Smith remains. HEY, if you took away May, the Mariners would be playing .500 ball! Of course, you can’t, and the Mariners went 8-19. Little known fact: in Lee/Felix starts in May, the Mariners went 3-8 (and that doesn’t count the loss we took on the chin in Lee’s first start of the season, on the last day of April). Of course, for those counting at home, Brandon League took the loss in 3 of those May games; he was a 1-man Sucking-Felix’s-Will-To-Live crew. I would say there’s a direct link between May’s Massacre and June’s deluge of Complete Games by Lee & Felix (psst: our bullpen sucks). Now, don’t take this to be Belief in some kind of Miracle that would propel the Mariners into the playoffs; I’m just spouting facts here. I’m also just appreciating a month for what it is: 27 games where the Mariners won more than they lost. At the time of this post, we’re still 13.5 games back of Texas, 10 games back of the Angels, and 4 games back of Oakland (the Rangers and Angels are playing one another right now). We’re 33-44. We’re any day now away from losing our best pitcher. So no, no miracle will be forthcoming. But, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing left to play for. There’s still a rooting interest in the Mariners to succeed (until we get to the last month of the season with a real shot at getting the #1 pick … damn you ’08 Mariners winning that final series in Oakland, thereby giving the Nationals Strasburg).
Raise your hand if you thought the Mariners were going to win even one game in St. Louis this week. All right, now get out. I mean it! This is no place for delusions like Hope and Winning. This Cards lineup, with these starting pitchers we’re throwing at them, and our hitters still playing like it’s March … at least we got rid of Snell. That bad apple was collecting worms by the dozens. For the sake of argument, though, if you’ll humor me for a moment. What do we have to look forward to going forward in 2010, now that Ian Snell’s Release can be checked off the list? Obviously, I think the first thing on everyone’s mind is relishing each and every last start by Cliff Lee, because that guy commands Awesome and I don’t think I want to see him go! But, of course, he HAS to go, which makes the next thing we’re looking forward to being: who will we get in return for Cliff Lee? After that, I’d say Erik Bedard returning, getting some quality innings under his belt for – hopefully – a full season of health next year. I’d say all of that is a long shot, but it’ll be exciting to see. After Bedard, I’d say the next thing on the list is the eventual assassinations of Rob Johnson and Sean White – preferably while the latter is pitching to the former, whose stone glove costs the team yet another passed ball – by some rogue hero in attendance. Then, shit, I dunno. Getting a look at The Kids. That likely won’t come until September. Who knows, maybe we’ll find the Next Bucky Jacobsen! And finally, we have Ichiro’s 200th hit to look forward to. That should be good for a few yawns (see, this is what I’m talking about when I say it’s impossible to appreciate greatness as it’s happening).
Ian Snell has got to go, that much is clear. Either today, in the midst of this road trip, or whenever Douglas Fister gets off the DL; I don’t care when! If you have to, if there’s absolutely NOBODY in the minor leagues you can bring up for a tryout basis, then fine, keep Snell buried in the bullpen until Fister returns and you can cut his ass. We’re in a game, down only 4-2 in the middle innings, Snell comes in to relieve French who was pinch hit for in the prior inning thanks to playing in St. Louis, and promptly hands the Cardinals 4 more runs they didn’t even need! And what is it with Sean White? Even in a garbage inning he can’t help but give up 3 hits and a run! ESPN – which chose to televise the game even though it was apparent Cliff Lee wasn’t going to be anywhere near the pitching mound – showed a graphic of our bullpen. Last in the league in number of Losses. In the bottom two or three in Blown Saves and E.R.A. Not to mention we’re probably the worst in the league in 1-run losses … though that hasn’t really been a problem lately since overall our pitching has given us the courtesy as fans to not sweat out the late innings in a miserable season. Blowouts galore, egads! By the way, anybody going to be in Seattle this Friday? It’s the Junior & Ichiro Cooperstown Bound Bobblehead Night. I just want to know when I can get my hands on the Rob Johnson Three-Strikeout Drops-A-Ball Bobblehead Night. Shame not included.
The thing that sucks about the season being “Officially Over” by June 10th is that there’s no way to please everyone. The smart fans, those who you’ll find running entire blogs devoted to the Mariners really just want the team to send all the crap who won’t be around next year away and start playing The Kids. Either ours or those we can pry from other teams; give them a shot at Major League Experience, and cross our fingers that they’ll be able to contribute in a meaningful way next year. I would put myself in that group (even though I don’t consider myself necessarily a Smart Fan, relative to what those guys know about stats and baseball in general). BUT, you can’t discount the stupid fans either. The casual fans, those who just want to go to Safeco for a good time on a Friday night, bring their kids, drink their beer, and root root root for the home team. They never believe the Mariners are out of it, even if they’re mathematically out of it (math = not their strong suit). These are the same fans who will get all bent out of shape because the team is playing a bunch of players nobody’s ever heard of (even if the logic is sound for the future of the ballclub, as mentioned above). In essence, these are the same people who in Indianapolis were threatening lawsuits because the Colts sat Peyton Manning and a bunch of other starters for the last couple games in an effort to preserve their health for a Super Bowl run; Fuck The Super Bowl! We want them to win meaningless games NOW! It’s really those stupid fans who are more vocal – even if they’re not running blogs or commenting on articles, who inevitably draw more attention from The Organization. And, let’s face it, Chuck Armstrong, Howard Lincoln, and Jackie Z all know the season’s “Officially Over”, but they can’t come out and tell that to everyone. That’s admitting failure, and you can’t God damn admit failure on June 10th or June 11th or God damn June 12th! So, they’ll continue tinkering with what they have. They’ll wait until the end of July is nigh and then they’ll make their trades. They’ll spout some bullshit about how they’re not giving up on their season and to prove it they’ll keep trotting out the same douchebags who won’t be with the team next year. Then, FINALLY, in September, with the call-ups, they’ll start sprinkling in some youth. Why bad teams always wait until September, I’ll never know. Ian Snell needs to go now. Casey Kotchman might as well be released too. And when Moore and Bard return, for the love of God get rid of Rob Johnson! And, as much as it pains me, Ryan Rowland-Smith has probably served up enough meatballs to earn his walking papers too. After Snell’s 9/11 on Wednesday, RRS had a prime opportunity to salvage not only his 2010, but maybe his major league career. Instead, he gave up 11 hits in yet another embarrassing loss to the Rangers (though it wasn’t all his fault, as there was something like 8 unearned runs yesterday).