Tempering Expectations For This Mariners Rebuild

What interests me most about the game of baseball is the long game. In football, you’ve got rosters twice the size of a baseball team, yet we see it every year: teams going from worst to first. You can turn around a football team in one offseason! But, in baseball, it takes seemingly forever (and, for an organization like the Mariners, LITERALLY forever).

I did a big, long post about the first successful Mariners rebuild. I originally wrote that in 2013, when we all were hopeful that we were in the middle of the next successful Mariners rebuild. There were so many moves made between the nadir of this franchise (2008) and the next time you could legitimately say the Mariners were in contention for the post-season (2014, when we finished 87-75, just 1 game back of a Wild Card spot) that it truly boggles the mind.

That rebuild was ultimately a failure. It produced three winning seasons between 2014 and 2018, and zero playoff appearances. Following last year’s collapse, Jerry Dipoto made a bunch of moves to jettison veterans and infuse the farm system with prospects. Our veteran holdovers include names like Dee Gordon, Ryon Healy, Mitch Haniger, Kyle Seager, Marco Gonzales, Mike Leake, Felix Hernandez, Wade LeBlanc, Roenis Elias, Dan Altavilla, and Dan Vogelbach; most (if not all) of those players will not be on this team the next time it reaches the post-season.

So, we’re stuck rooting for prospects. Rooting for potential. Rooting for the young guys to step up and prove themselves not just worthy of Major League roster spots, but ultimately good enough to get this team back to the playoffs one day (ideally one day very soon). Jerry Dipoto is staking his reputation and his job on these players. If it all falls apart like it did last time, he, Scott Servais, and a bunch of other very smart baseball men will be looking for employment elsewhere.

As I noted, we’ve been through this before. So, let’s take a walk down memory lane.

See, it can be fun and exciting knowing your team is out of it before the season even begins. First, there’s no expectations, so any on-field success you see is all gravy. Then, of course, there’s the factor of the unknown. New, young players you’ve never seen before are ALWAYS more interesting than old veterans who’ve been around for years. We pretty much know what guys like Seager, Healy, Felix, and Leake are; there’s nothing to learn about those guys. So, we pin all our hopes and dreams on the prospects. We want to see them in a Major League uniform right this minute, to pump them full of experience with the hopes that they’ll pan out immediately. This can lead to guys getting called up too early (a la Mike Zunino, Dustin Ackley, Matt Tuiasosopo, etc.) or guys just being huge disappointments.

Let’s start with the 2008 season, the aforementioned nadir. That team lost 101 games and we were all miserable. Successful players like Felix, Ichiro, Adrian Beltre, Raul Ibanez, Jose Lopez, and even Yuniesky Betancourt were no match for the suck-asses that were Richie Sexson, Jose Vidro, Jeremy Reed, Carlos Silva, Jarrod Washburn, Erik Bedard, and so on. General Manager Bill Bavasi was fired, and The Great Jack Zduriencik Rebuild was on!

2009 proved to be a welcome surprise. Franklin Gutierrez was brought over in a trade, as was Jason Vargas (Doug Fister was one of the rare Bavasi draft picks that stuck in the org and actually panned out). Ichiro was still Ichiro! Russell Branyan and David Aardsma were quality pick-ups. Even the return of Ken Griffey Jr. for a victory lap proved valuable. That 85-win season led everyone (but the stat geeks, who knew those wins were on a shaky foundation) to believe we were way ahead of the curve on this rebuild. So much so that Jackie Z decided to make a big push to go for it in 2010.

We traded for Cliff Lee! We got rid of Carlos Silva and brought back a useful piece in Milton Bradley! Our young core of starters (Felix, Vargas, and Fister) were bolstered with key bullpen additions like Brandon League, Jamey Wright, and Sean White. So, what happened? The team fell apart (ultimately losing another 101 games; in hindsight, a second go-around with Old Griffey proved disasterous) and shipped off anyone of value for prospects. Lee was flipped for Justin Smoak (among others). Our high draft pick was used on a pitcher who got hurt so many times he never made the Bigs. And The Great Jack Zduriencik Rebuild 2.0 was on.

2011 was a key year for the rebuild, as the team REALLY went for it this time. Taking a stroll through that roster is long and arduous. Ichiro, Miguel Olivo, Brendan Ryan, Chone Figgins, and Adam Kennedy were the veteran everyday players; Felix, Vargas, Bedard, and Fister were still holding down the rotation (though Fister would be swapped for a bunch of nobodies at the deadline; yet another example of a trade that totally backfired for the Mariners); and League, Wright, and David Pauley (among others) were the steady influences in the bullpen. But, the young guys were the stars of the show. 2008 first rounder Dustin Ackley was called up midseason, as was Kyle Seager. Justin Smoak was handed the first base job. Guti started his slow descent into an injured adulthood. Then, there were guys like Michael Saunders, Greg Halman, Alex Liddi, Casper Wells, Trayvon Robinson, Chris Gimenez, Carlos Peguero, Adam Moore, Mike Wilson and more. On the pitching side of things, Michael Pineda was an All Star, but then there were guys like Blake Beavan, Charlie Furbush (remember when he was a starting pitcher?), a younger Tom Wilhelmsen, Josh Lueke, Dan Cortes, Chance Ruffin, and Shawn Kelley.

Those were all the players we hung our hats on. How many of them actually panned out? You can count them on one hand. How many of them panned out for the Seattle Mariners? That number is even smaller.

2012 saw the influx of guys like Jesus Montero (swapped for Michael Pineda), Hector Noesi, Erasmo Ramirez, Lucas Luetge, Stephen Pryor, Carter Capps, and John Jaso. They were paired with the holdovers like Smoak, Seager, Ackley, Felix, Vargas, Ichiro (starting his decline) and Figgins (at the end of his miserable Mariners career).

Then, there’s 2013, with prospects like Brad Miller, Nick Franklin, Mike Zunino (a year after being drafted), Brandon Maurer, James Paxton, and Taijuan Walker. Veterans like Kendrys Morales, Endy Chavez, Raul Ibanez, Mike Morse, Jason Bay, Jeremy Bonderman, and Hisashi Iwakuma saw extensive playing time, but it ultimately wasn’t enough. The old guys didn’t do enough (and most were gone in short order), and the young guys (predictably) never panned out for this team.

So, please, keep all these duds in mind as we go forward. You’re going to hear A LOT of new names you’re not familiar with in 2019 and 2020. The team is going to tout these players as The Future; don’t believe ’em. The vast majority of these players will be more in a long line of losers that help to keep the Seattle Mariners out of the post-season.

Some guys will be promising, only to fall flat on their asses the following year when expectations are raised and other teams learn how to handle them. Some guys will be promising only to suffer devastating injuries that hinders their development. Some of those injured guys will be brought back too soon, only to struggle and lose their confidence. Some guys will just flat-out stink from the get-go. One, maybe two guys, will be okay. But, they won’t be enough. They’ll just embolden this organization to spend a bunch of money when the time “feels right”. At that point, some flashy veterans will be brought in to supplement our future “rising stars” and we’ll go through the process of “contending (for a wild card spot)” all over again.

The Mariners are never going to be the Astros or Cubs or Red Sox or Yankees or Dodgers. They’re closer to the Athletics and Rays than anything else, just a Major League farm club for better-run organizations. The tremendous amount of luck required to turn us into one of those truly good teams isn’t ingrained in the city of Seattle and its sports teams. The best we can hope for is competent mediocrity.

The best we’re going to get is just outside, looking in.

Mariners Tidbit 43: A Sign Of Things To Come For Cano

Because part of me feels like a tool for going on and on about the wet mound last night – yet part of me can’t help but look at how Felix’s night turned on a dime just as soon as he started having trouble with his footing – I’m going to let that fight die and move on to something much more disturbing.

Remember that 10-year contract we gave to Robinson Cano before last season?  Remember how we always kind of expected that deal to turn sour eventually?  Remember how this is only Year 2 of the deal, though, and he was still supposed to be pretty much as good as he was last year?

Yeah, Robinson Cano has been absolutely shit-awful in Year 2, and we’ve got 8 more of these fucking things to go.

Robbie’s worst year ever from a batting perspective was in 2008, when he finished the season with a slash line of .271/.305/.410/.715, career lows for all.  In that particular year, he dug himself a mighty 16 for 106 hole in the month of April, batting .151 with 3 doubles and two homers.  He slowly but surely dug himself out – batting no lower than .287 in any given month the rest of the way – but all his numbers sans doubles were down across the board thanks to his early funk.

I don’t know if this year is going to be anything like 2008 for Cano, but it’s the beginning of June and his numbers aren’t super different than they were at this point in 2008:

  • 2014 – .246/.290/.337/.627, 12 doubles, 2 homers, 35 strikeouts
  • 2008 thru June 1st – .220/.268/.327/.595, 10 doubles, 4 homers, 21 strikeouts

What have we seen so far?  What everyone’s been talking about:  he’s expanding his strike zone and pitchers are making him pay.  He’s rolling over on a lot of weak-ass grounders.  He’s not hitting the ball the other way like he’s used to.  He’s been a drain on this team and if you don’t believe me, chew on this:  he’s already grounded into 9 double plays through 50 games; he averages anywhere from 16-22 double plays in any given season!

I believe Cano will somehow right the ship and get that batting average somewhere approaching .300 by the time the season ends.  But, that’s no guarantee.  He very well could finish the season batting .250 and we’re all going to be REALLY sad to see that there’s 8 more years of this.  The fact of the matter is, he’s on the wrong side of 30.  He’s not getting any BETTER.  Plus, he plays half his games in a stadium that’s going to sap his power every chance it gets.  This is nothing we didn’t see coming when the signing came down, but it’s very disconcerting to see his decline happening this early.

And make no mistake, this is the beginning of the fearsome Cano Decline.  What happens next is he turns into strictly a singles hitter.  Maybe he tries to work an extra walk here and there to compensate.  Unfortunately, unlike Ichiro’s Decline, Cano can’t rely on his legs to prop up some sorry numbers.  Cano isn’t legging out too many infield singles, nor is he stretching many singles into doubles; that’s not his game.  Eventually, when the pop in his bat goes, and his defense goes, you know what we’re left with?  The world’s most useless DH.  Or, as it’s commonly known around here:  Jose Vidro circa 2008.

Take a look at THOSE numbers.  That’s your future, right there.  And, unfortunately, the future is closer than we’d all hoped.

Mariners Sign Robinson Cano, Have My Attention

Earlier this week, I asked a buddy if he thought there was anything the Mariners could do to get him excited about the future of the Mariners.  Our swift consensus was:  no, the Mariners are hopeless (utterly, utterly hopeless) and that’s that.

At the time, of course, I believed there was exactly a 0% chance they’d actually manage to land the white whale that is Robinson Cano (10 years, $240 million, just announced today).  All of the talk surrounded names like Nelson Cruz (who is still out there, lurking), Willie Bloomquist (who was just signed recently); and about all the names we could never even dream of getting, because why would they come to a non-stop loser like the Mariners?

In short, I was as depressed as I’ve been since 2008, and it didn’t help that the Huskies lost their head coach (more on that development later).

And now look at what’s happened!  The Mariners got Cano to come out here and they fucking SIGNED HIM!

We, as Mariners fans, have been so conditioned to look at “the future” (because “the present” is so fucking miserable), that you can’t help but look at the deal and think, “Yeesh, that’s a lot of years and a lot of money.  What are we going to do in 2021 when Cano’s bat is legally pronounced dead, he can no longer play in the field, and we’re paying $24 million for a poor man’s Jose Vidro circa 2008?  Have we learned NOTHING from the Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder deals?”

And, I’ll admit:  that’s a legitimate concern that won’t be going away anytime soon.  As with any deal (and, really, anything in life), it can all fall apart in an instant.  Robinson Cano can come here and immediately start batting .265 for the rest of his career.  He could also tear an ACL or a labrum and be out for extensive periods of time (after a career to this point that has seen him be ruggedly healthy).  Anything.  Anything can happen.  And we can focus on all of that now, lamenting on all the What If’s until the cows come home … or, we can just be fans.

Just be a fan!  For one day, put down your analytical cap.  Remember what sports used to be like when you were 10 years old.  If you were a Mariners fan in the late 80s, remember what it felt like when the Mariners brought Griffey up to the Majors.  Sure, there were probably people who worried, “Is it too soon?”  But, for the most part, there was nothing but excitement from the naive fans.  Fans who only wanted someone too root for!  Some reason to care about this fucking team.

We have 10 years with Robinson Cano.  There will be PLENTY of time to obsess about what his contract means in the grand scheme of things.  We can piss and moan about what an albatross he is if-and-when he actually becomes an albatross!

For now?  Guess what!  The Mariners just signed the #1 single greatest, bestest, most amazingest free agent in all of baseball!  They opened up their wallet and instead of the usual cloud of dust and a couple of moths, out fell real, actual MONEY!  That they used to buy a person!  To play baseball in the city of Seattle!  With the hopes of making this team BETTER!  Now!  Not soon, not sometime in the future, not Someday … NOW!

Granted, Robinson Cano by himself isn’t going to change this from a 90-loss team into a 90-win team.  But, as countless others have pointed out:  there’s more where that came from.  There’s more money, there’s more trades, and there’s a whole lotta openings on this team!  No longer do we have to be concerned with The Kids somehow figuring it the fuck out.  No longer do we have to surround said Kids with over-the-hill assholes who have no business playing the field and only provide one type of benefit (dingers).  Now, we can get the talent we need to succeed.

And this is so much better than what the Royals did last year, because the Royals last year brought in relatively SHITTY players!  At least, when compared to Robinson Fucking Cano!

Going forward, this is what we have to look forward to:

  • 2B – Robinson Cano
  • 3B – Kyle Seager

Sure, there are others.  We have Brad Miller who’s pretty good (we hope).  We have Zunino who will probably share time with another veteran catcher.  We have others …

But, we’ve got those two!  2/9 of our lineup is set in stone!  And they’re real, legitimate baseball players!  Guys who can contend for All Star appearances!

On our pitching staff, we have these shining beacons of hope:

  • Felix Hernandez
  • Hisashi Iwakuma

Again, it’s only two guys, but look at them!  Aren’t they glorious?  When you take this foundation of 4 guys and you look at what we have available with regards to money to spend and prospects to trade away, it’s pretty exciting to think about what the Mariners could do to fill out the rest of our 25-man team.

People like Shin Soo Choo, Mike Napoli, and Carlos Beltran by themselves don’t really give me the throbbingest of boners.  But, when you pile them all together and know that we’ve got that foundation of Cano/Seager/Felix/Kuma, now you’re talking.

And, while we’re at it:  I say fuck it, let’s trade Taijuan Walker for David Price!  You’ve never heard me say anything like that before – and in the future, if it turns out to bust on us, I’ll deny having ever said it – but why the fuck not?  Everyone always talks about how starting pitchers are the most volatile of all baseball prospects, what with their proneness to arm injuries.  There’s no guarantee that Walker is going to be the Next Felix!  We thought The Little Unit was going to be the next Big Unit, and look at where that got us!  Not every deal is the Erik Bedard deal.  Sometimes, you trade away your best prospect and he turns out to be nothing (or nothing special, anyway).

If we’re truly in a win-now situation, then here’s the thing:  you can’t afford to wait for Taijuan Walker to develop.  Especially not when you have an opportunity to bring in a second Ace to go with Felix, the best pitcher in all the land!  Walker, if he’s even able to crack a starting rotation this season, is likely to be a 5-innings-and-done type of guy.  He’ll be on horrendous pitch counts and innings counts, and if you’re playing it safe (which is the smart thing to do with a guy like Walker), then you have to figure Walker is at least a year or two away from really unleashing his arm to its full potential.

Let the Rays deal with that bullshit.  Sure, they may reap the rewards of a future All Star.  But, we could also reap the rewards of re-signing David Price to a nice, fat contract extension.  We have the money, anyway!

And that’s why we’re better than the Royals.  Because they got Shields (who sucks) and we can get Price (who is awesome).

I’m not ready to give myself back over to the Mariners fully just yet.  They’ve danced on my emotions for too long.  But, this Robinson Cano signing is a helluva start.  You had me on the brink, Mariners.  The brink of renouncing the game of baseball altogether.  With this signing, it’s like you called out my name, and against my better judgment I’m turning around to see you holding flowers, chocolates, and a “Please Forgive Me” balloon.  In my mind, I know better than to try to take you back.  But, the heart wants what the heart wants.  I hope I don’t live to regret this.

The Shitshow That Was The 2013 Seattle Mariners, Part II: Hitting & Defense

Catch Part I HERE.

To be honest, it’s been two days of this and I’m already bored and frustrated by rehashing the 2013 Mariners season.  I’d quit right here, but then what kind of Seattle sports blogger would I be?  A half-assed one, that’s what!  Well, I’ll have you know that I’m determined to use my whole ass starting right now!  So, get used to it!

The best and only hitters you could reasonably qualify as “good” on this team in 2013 were Kendrys Morales and Kyle Seager.  Morales, as we’re all well aware, was received in trade for Jason Vargas.  Not to get too deep into this, I’ll just say that the Mariners traded a strength to fill a weakness and essentially came out even in the deal.  I don’t necessarily know what Vargas did in Anaheim and I don’t care, because what he did there has no bearing on what he would have done in a Mariners uniform.

I like Morales.  I don’t love him.  I don’t think he’s worth $14 million a season and I don’t think he’s worth having around for more than two years (three tops, but that’s really pushing it).  Apparently, the Mariners have either extended a qualifying offer to him (for the aforementioned $14 million) or are going to extend him a qualifying offer, but either way it doesn’t sound like he’s going to accept it.  Either that means the Mariners reach some sort of multi-year deal with him, or they let him go to another team and receive some sort of first round draft compensation.

So, what does the 2013 Kendrys Morales season mean to me?  Well, if he ends up going to another team, it’ll mean absolutely nothing.  We kind of figured he’d be a one-year-and-done player anyway when we traded for him; and besides, who really wants to stay with the Mariners for longer than they have to?  Besides Felix (God bless you, sweet Felix).  And, if Morales stays around for another three years?  Then, his 2013 season showed us that he’s still got it.  What is “it”?  Well, on the one hand, you can look at him and say he’s an over-priced quasi-slugger who has no business playing in the field, and offers nothing in the base-running game, so his value is limited.  Or, on the other hand, you can look at him and say he’s easily the best designated hitter we’ve had since Edgar Martinez.

Are you a Glass Half Empty guy or a Glass Half Full?  Yeah, he’s going to cost us a lot of money if he stays.  But, he beats the fucking shit out of the Carl Everetts and Jose Vidros of the fucking world.  So, calm the fuck down.  It’s not your money.  Besides, it’s about time the Mariners start shelling out some dough so I don’t have to watch a colossal bunch of fuck-ups year-in and year-out.

Kyle Seager, on the other hand, is our little third base pride and joy.  He’s steady as the day is long.  30+ doubles, 20+ homers, solid defense.  He’s a true middle-of-the-order (anywhere from 2-5 in the lineup) hitter and best of all:  he’s actually someone we drafted and cultivated from our very own farm system!  I’m starting to doubt that he’ll ever be that perennial All Star, but I’ll tell you what:  I’d give anything to have eight more hitters just like him at all the other positions.  And, you gotta figure that sooner or later he’s going to really pop and have a year where he bats .330 with maybe 40 doubles and 30 homers.  Wouldn’t shock me in the slightest.

Of course, it also wouldn’t shock me if he just fell off the face of the Earth, because that’s what everyone else does in this organization.

Dustin Ackley had something of a bounce-back year, at least at the plate.  I’m not ready to start sucking his dick and writing him in as an everyday player for this team going forward, but let’s just say I’m cautiously encouraged.  He absolutely stunk through the first two months of the season, somehow batting even worse than he did in 2012 (which I didn’t think was physically possible for him).  The Mariners finally had to send him back down to Tacoma because, Jesus Christ, he was batting .205 again!  In Tacoma, he proceeded to fuck everyone’s shit up and found himself back in the Majors by the end of June.  Of course, at this point, Nick Franklin had usurped his job at second base, so the organization converted him back to a center fielder.

His defense wasn’t the worst I’d ever seen, but he was clearly the team’s third best center fielder (behind Guti & Michael Saunders), and maybe even the fourth best (behind Endy Chavez).  Whereas his second base defense was quite solid, his center field defense was doing his WAR no favors.  And, when he returned to the Mariners, his batting average cratered to a season-low .194.  He more-or-less struggled through July and everyone thought he was done.  Too good for Triple-A, but not good enough for the Majors.  Just another Jeremy Reed.  Then, something happened.  He caught fire in August with this line:  .390/.420/.597/1.017, raising his season average to .258 in the process.  He coasted on that hot August through September to finish the season with a .253 average.  Rubes have hope for the future of Dustin Ackley.  The rest of us jaded fucks have our doubts.

Justin Smoak was similarly interesting, in that he started shitty, missed some time, came back, and peaked somewhere in July.  He tailed off at the end of the year leaving us all to believe this is just who he is.  A .240-ish hitter with minimal pop and okay defense at first base.

Michael Saunders was more distressing than anything.  Everyone thought he had turned a corner in 2012 after fiddling with his batting stance in the off-season.  For him to take a step back the way he did in 2013, you can’t help but think he’s a fourth outfielder at best.  Essentially, 2014 will be his last shot, but who knows if he’ll even HAVE a last shot?  The team seems pretty set on going full-boar in finding some new outfielders to replace the gaping holes we’ve had for the better part of a half decade.

Nick Franklin, Brad Miller, and Mike Zunino were three call-ups in 2013 who were all probably rushed into starting Major League jobs before they were ready.  Miller acquitted himself well, though his propensity for defensive blunders are a little nerve-wracking.  Franklin started off a house afire, but he really struggled the longer he remained in the starting lineup.  I know when Ackley was on his torrid streak, people were calling to move him back to his old second base job, but at that point you can’t start jerking people around (especially when there was nothing to play for this season except for experience, which Franklin got in spades).  Zunino gets an incomplete because he broke his hamate bone and missed a bunch of time.  His leadership and defensive abilities are a welcome addition.  But, he’s still pretty raw at the plate.

In a nutshell, this season was defined by the veterans and how they failed us.  I already went over the veteran starting pitchers who totally stunk up the joint.  Well, they were joined by guys like Raul Ibanez, Mike Morse, Jason Bay, Brendan Ryan, Endy Chavez, Kelly Shoppach, Henry Blanco, Robert Andino, and of course, the oft-injured Guti. All brought in (or retained) with the intent to add “leadership” to our young core.

Ibanez tied the record for most home runs by a senior citizen with 29.  That was good for a lark, especially when he managed to bash 24 of them before the All Star Break.  Hell, we all thought he was going to SHATTER the record.  But, of course, what happens when you let a 41 year old play every fucking day?  His production goes down the shitter.  5 more homers the rest of the way.  And, if you think I’m talking about Ibanez’s home runs too much, that’s because his homers were literally the ONLY thing he was bringing to the table.  We couldn’t play him at DH where he belonged, because that’s where Kendrys Morales belonged (and, truth be told, it’s also where Mike Morse and Jason Bay belonged, but they can’t ALL be designated hitters).  So, we got to enjoy Raul’s baffling defense in left field on a near-everyday basis.  Lucky us.

It was no better with Morse in right, but at least he was injured for most of the season.  His first couple of weeks were pretty intense; it looked like he might mash 50 homers.  Since this is Morse we’re talking about, you had to figure his body would break down.  I guess that’s what happens when you’re no longer free to take steroids as much as you’d like.

I refuse to acknowledge the presence of any of the other veteran hitters on this team because each one is worse than the last.  I’ve already blown through way too many words on this group of hitters as it is, so I’ll cut this short and save some stuff for tomorrow when I look at what the Mariners should do this off-season.  If you catch me writing anything other than “Blow the whole fucking thing up,” then I encourage you to write your congressman and have me put in prison.

The 2013 Seattle Mariners Will Not Make The Playoffs (Obviously)

Over the weekend, I wrote this.  It was a Glass Half Full (or, really, just a Glass Full) imagining of how the Seattle Mariners might make the playoffs ahead of schedule.  Of course, if you’re a Glass Half Empty guy like myself, “ahead of schedule” could be making the playoffs anytime in the next 20 years.

Today, ahead of Game 1 of 162, featuring Felix Hernandez against the Oakland Athletics, I’m writing the counter-argument.  The Wario to Saturday’s Mario.  The Darth Vader to Saturday’s Luke Skywalker.  The Van Halen with Gary Cherone to Saturday’s Van Halen with Diamond David Lee Roth.  Nobody wants to read about THESE Mariners when you could possibly have Saturday’s Mariners.  But, the stark reality is, if I’m putting my Smart Money down on one or the other, I’m putting it down on the Mariners NOT making the playoffs.  Because the Mariners making the playoffs is not the way the world works.

Let’s look at this realistically for a moment.  Justin Smoak is who we thought he was.  That’s going to be proven in this, his final season as a Mariner (or, at least, his final season as a Mariners starter).  The guy can be Mr. March and Mr. September all he wants.  But, he’s going to have to figure out a way to be Mr. April thru August too, if he’s going to make it.  I know he’s young, and we like to shield the young from the rigorous pressures of the Major Leagues, but at some point you have to prove that you can HANDLE some of those pressures.  You can’t be coddled forever!  Mike Trout is young, and he seemed to handle those same pressures pretty fucking well.  I’m not saying Smoak is on a similar talent level as Trout, but that’s neither here nor there.  Emotionally speaking, Trout is in another league.  Smoak is like an infant trying to cross the street in Frogger.  How about we grow the fuck up and start doing our jobs, huh?

I’m not nearly as down on Jesus Montero as I am with Smoak.  That’s probably because I haven’t been crushingly disappointed for quite as long.  Still, for a guy who was the centerpiece of the offseason prior to last season, it’s a little disconcerting to know that he’s simply a stopgap solution to our catching needs.  That is, until Mike Zunino arrives.  Essentially, I don’t give a flying fuck what Montero does behind the plate this year.  He could be the second coming of Rob Johnson for all I care.  This dude needs to hit, plain and simple.  The writing has never been more ON the wall:  Jesus Montero is our future full-time DH.  So, you know, I’d like to have a DH that hits .330 with 40 doubles and 30 homers.  If that’s all right with you.

I do still believe in the protection theory, and I do think that Morales and Morse were admirable pick-ups this past offseason.  But, how much can you expect, really?  Every time I see a ball hit his way, I’m going to wonder if THIS is the moment where Morse hurts himself and goes on the shelf.  I’m going to be an absolute trainwreck this first month of the season; it’s probably best I DON’T have cable.  There is no way in Hell that Morse stays healthy all season (that goes double for Guti, but I’m getting ahead of myself).  And when he is healthy, what have we got?  MAYBE a guy who’ll hit .270 (but don’t be surprised if he hits .230, because Seattle).  MAYBE a guy who will end up with 20-or-so home runs.  MAYBE a guy who will play in 100-or-so games.  Who’s going to make up that slack?  Guys like Ibanez and Bay?  Oh, great.

For the record, I think Ibanez is done.  I think this will prove to be his final season EVER.  Seattle is where old players go to die (Sexson, Vidro, Everett, Griffey, Wilkerson, Sweeney).  Ibanez had a reasonably productive season last year in part-time duty.  But, he still only hit .240.  As for his 19 home runs, we’re still talking about the band box that is Yankees Stadium.  14 of those 19 were hit at home.  Now, Safeco Field is his home.  I would expect that average to be a whole lot worse and I would expect those power numbers to approach zero.

As for Jason Bay, I give him two months, tops.  He’ll show why he was so expendable and so loathed in New York.  I would anticipate the likes of Eric Thames back in a Mariners uniform before too long.

Getting back to Morales, I think he is a legitimately good hitter.  He might be the best hitter on this team.  But, I still have to wonder how playing in Seattle is going to affect him.  I highly doubt he WANTS to be here.  He’s a professional, so he’s not going to make a big fuss.  But, to anyone who is holding out hope that he might choose to sign an extension with the Mariners, I would say, “Just put that idea to bed.”  No way.  No way in HELL he comes back to Seattle.  If he’s not traded at the deadline, then we are essentially resigning ourselves to getting nothing for the man as he walks at the end of the season.  And oh by the way, I would expect his numbers to take a drop as well.  He’s in Seattle now.  “When in Rome,” as they say.

Kyle Seager was a nice little story in 2012, but my concern is this:  what if that’s as good as it gets?  Dustin Ackley was a less-nice story in 2012, but again my concern is the same.  I think if you put these guys in Colorado, they might be All Stars.  But, in Seattle, I have to wonder.

As for Michael Saunders, I have a sinking suspicion that he’s going to revert back to his old ways.  Not hitting that outside pitch.  Striking out too much.  With a batting average around .200.  Everyone will make a big deal about him being in the leadoff spot being too great a challenge.  The team will bounce him up and down the lineup.  And by season’s end, he would have been benched long ago, but of course we’ll need him to cover center field because GUTI!

Chone Figgins was a disappointment because we all had these great expectations of him being a pest at or near the top of our lineup.  He ended up being one of those old players who comes to Seattle to die.  Franklin Gutierrez is a disappointment because of similar expectations.  But, he’s not a bad player.  His skills haven’t diminished!  At least, I don’t THINK they have.  Then again, what would I know?  I haven’t seen him play an extended stretch of pain-free baseball in quite some time.  Guti isn’t old, but he’s a player who has come to Seattle, where he might LITERALLY die.  Someone find the old witch who cursed him and drive a stake through her cold, black heart.

I actually kind of think Brendan Ryan is due for a rebound at the plate.  Unfortunately, I also kind of think Brendan Ryan is due for a serious injury that keeps him out for a few months.

Which is something I never did get into over the weekend.  Injuries.  Everyone gets ’em!  And you never anticipate ’em when you’re trying to predict what’s going to happen in a given season.  You can look at an older team and say, “Hey, these guys will probably hurt themselves!”  But, we’re not fortune tellers.  Someone (or some ones) on the Mariners will get hurt.  It’ll set the team back.  And their replacements will be terrible.  Or, they’ll get hurt, not tell anyone, try to play through the pain, and be WORSE than the already-terrible replacements.  So, there’s that.

***

In 2013, it’ll be Felix and hope for four days of rain.  OK, maybe it won’t be that bad, but still, there’s a lot to dislike.  Saunders will be decent at times, and he will be awful at times.  Iwakuma will be good at times, and kinda bad at times.  Beavan will start the season pretty well, but by June or July he will be down in Tacoma where he belongs.  Maurer is the ultimate wild card, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s demoted within the next four weeks (or just as soon as Erasmo Ramirez is ready).  I think Maurer will eventually return, but who knows how this will shake his confidence?

Here’s the thing, though.  If the Mariners DID make the playoffs, how could anyone POSSIBLY trust this pitching staff?  Yeah, we’ve got Felix, but any team we’d play in the post-season has their own version of Felix too!  And they will be pitching against the Mariners, which means his numbers will likely be BETTER than Felix’s!  Shit, the Mariners had Randy Johnson in 1997 leading the charge, and he wasn’t enough to even get us to a fifth game in the first round!  I wouldn’t exactly say it was his fault; but, then again, I wouldn’t say he was throwing any 1-hitters either.

Felix is great.  He’s my favorite all-time Mariner for a reason.  But, he’s not perfect.  A theoretical 2013 Mariners playoff team will have relied on his arm for 230+ innings ahead of any playoff game.  It wouldn’t shock me in the least to see him be mortal against a team like the Tigers or Yankees.  Especially when they have Verlander and Sabathia, who (especially Sabathia) have tended to dominate the M’s.

After Felix, your playoff rotation is fucked.  Like I alluded to over the weekend, if this team makes the playoffs, it will be because Brandon Maurer was our second-best pitcher.  It will be because he reached his potential (which is so much higher than the potential of Saunders, Iwakuma, Beavan, or Ramirez) and posted a ridiculous win/loss record.  But, at the same time, if he does that, he won’t be with us in the playoffs (because he’ll be shut down).  We’ll be stuck with cagey veterans like Saunders and Iwakuma.  They will get rocked.  We will likely be swept in the first round.

So, you know, it’s probably for the best that this team won’t make the playoffs.  Why suffer the embarrassment?

As for the bullpen, I do like it a lot.  From top to bottom, I think it can be one of the best in baseball.  But, Pryor could struggle with command.  Capps could struggle with command.  Luetge could get shelled.  Perez could get shelled.  From season to season, no numbers fluctuate so wildly as bullpen numbers.  You can be the same exact pitcher from season to season, with the same level of health and the same speed on your fastball.  But, for reasons unknown, you can dominate one year with a sub-2 ERA, and you can somewhat struggle the next, with a sub-5 ERA.  It’s insane.

As for the rest of the AL West, I do think the A’s are a flash in the pan.  I think the Rangers will hang in there for a possible Wild Card spot.  And, I think the Angels will run away with the division and win 100 games.  You know what else I think?  I think the rest of the division will feast upon the entrails of the Houston Astros (last night’s game against the Rangers notwithstanding), while I think the Mariners will actually manage a losing record against them.  Wouldn’t that be too perfect?  What’s one of the major storylines going into this season?  Everyone thinks the Mariners will have a better record than last year, and everyone thinks that’s because they get 19 games against the Astros.  Well, I’m here to tell you right now, the Mariners will go 9-10 against the Astros, and it’s going to be a dogfight to avoid last place in the division!

No.  No, I don’t really believe the Mariners will battle for 5th place.  In fact, I DO believe the Mariners will contend for some stretch of time this year and that they WILL end up over .500.  I think we’ll get to July 31st right in the middle of the fracas for a Wild Card spot and I think we will actually be BUYERS.  I really do.  Jackie Z has shown he’s willing to trade from a position of strength (starting pitching) to get what this team needs.  So, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another package of players a la the doomed Justin Upton deal going out for a big bat coming back in.  Or, shit, maybe the Mariners go out and get a veteran starting pitcher (not believing their young guys in Tacoma are ready for the leap).  These Mariners will ultimately fade in August (just in time for football season) and September will be entirely meaningless.

I’ve felt the way I feel right now prior to 2007 and 2009.  My outward expectations low, but inwardly thinking, “Hmm, maybe …”

When going into those seasons, my motto was, “Just keep it interesting.”  Just keep us all entertained through the summer.  I don’t need miracles!  I don’t necessarily need a playoff appearance.  Just … let me dream, beyond the month of May.  Give me good things to write about.  Make me wish I actually DID have cable TV.

That’s the way I feel about 2013.  I know that’s totally the kind of Seattle Loser Talk I normally condemn on this site, but the Mariners have broken me.  They have sucked my will to live for far too long, and I doubt there’s any coming back.  I’m a broken shell of a man whose innards have dried up and been replaced by sawdust.  Just entertain me.  Just make me forget the horror I’ve been forced to follow for most of the past decade.  That’s all I ask.  And it’s not a lot TO ask!

87-75.  That’s my number.  It’s actually kind of a high number, now that I think about all this ranting and raving I’ve been doing throughout the duration of this post, but that’s what I’m going with.  I think this bullpen will more than likely be the real deal – at least when it counts, in one-run games – and I think there will be just enough clutch hitting to make up for all the recent Mariners teams who have struggled with runners in scoring position.  It doesn’t make sense, but then again it doesn’t HAVE to make sense.  The Mariners will go 9-10 against the Astros, but they will still be in some form of contention for a Wild Card spot.  Because sometimes, that’s just the way it works.

And, really, it’s not all that far off from the 95 wins I predicted in my Fancy-Free post over the weekend.  So remember, as always, I’m a huge tool who has no idea what he’s talking about.

2008: A Seattle Sports Apocalypse

Editor’s Note:  To read this blog post, click HERE.  It is one of Seattle Sports Hell’s “Featured Articles”.

When Is “Early” No Longer Early In A Baseball Season?

When you’re rampaging through a particularly scathing online criticism of a certain player’s overall ineptitude (it’s Olivo, I’m talking about Miguel Olivo), the last thing you want to do is take a step back, put on your Rational Judgment hat, and introduce the caveat, “I know it’s early, but …”

On the flipside, when you see someone like Kyle Seager make the positive impact he’s made thus far to date, you don’t necessarily want to throw water on the flames of fandom by making that same introductory statement.

Yeah, it’s early!  Yeah, they’ve only played 11 games!  Yeah, a lot can happen between Game 11 and Game 162!  Where’s the fun in qualifying your outlandish statements with boring ol’ sensibility?

And furthermore, when can I stop?

Because, at some point, it’s not going to be “early” anymore.  At some point, I can utter the phrase, “Miguel Olivo sucks dick,” and it will inherit a sense of credence it didn’t quite achieve after Game 11.  At some point, these players who are terrible will have to account for their actions; while, at the same time, players off to a “fast start” will officially be in the midst of a “great season”.

Obviously, this point is subjective and different for everyone.  I tend to fly off the handle with the smallest provocation when it comes to certain things.  Players I dislike, for instance, get a shorter leash than players I generally root for to succeed*.

* there is a distinction between my general rooting interest in the Mariners as a whole to succeed and certain players who I ESPECIALLY want to succeed; I will root for Olivo if he’s in our lineup, but overall my rooting interest lies moreso in my desire for him to NOT be on this team entirely.

But, I fully acknowledge that there are peaks and valleys in every Major League season for every Major League player.  11 games, while still a nasty trend of things to come for players like Miguel Olivo, is but a small percentage of the overall season.  It’s still, sigh, early.

I think if you polled enough fans of the game, you’d come back overwhelmingly with the answer I’m about to provide.  A season is no longer “early” after we finish the month of April.  One month.  After a month has gone by, you can generally make an opinion on what kind of a season someone is going to have and you’ll generally be respected for that opinion based on the information gathered to date.  If Miguel Olivo is batting .111 after 11 games, you can say it’s still early.  If Miguel Olivo is batting .111 after nearly 30 games, you can officially say Miguel Olivo is having a terrible season and he should be benched accordingly.

Unfortunately, this appears to be the case with most baseball managers as well.  Even if every fan is bellowing for the benching of Miguel Olivo, guys like Eric Wedge are still going to give him his regular playing time at LEAST through the first month of the season.  To see if he can hit his way out of his funk.  If Olivo is still struggling after the calendar flips, then we’re more likely to see the increased presence of John Jaso.  In fact, here’s a quote from the horse’s mouth:

Wedge was asked if he would like to get No. 3 catcher John Jaso a start behind the plate soon.  Jesus Montero made his second start at catcher Saturday.  “I would like to, but we’re going to have to get into the season a little more,” Wedge said.

Doesn’t get much more clear than that.  Except if he actually came out and said, “Let’s hold off until May 1st before we discuss giving Jaso regular playing time.”

What sucks about that is twofold.

1) More likely than not, Miguel Olivo is going to continue to suck shit over the next 13 games, being a complete and utter black hole in his spot in the lineup.

and

2) That means Jaso is essentially not going to play for an entire month.  And that’s after spotty-at-best playing time in Spring Training.  In other words, by the time Eric Wedge will have made up his mind, Jaso will be at a HUGE disadvantage in trying to catch-up to the rest of the league as far as reps are concerned.

While this sucks, it’s something we’ve seen time and time again.  Ken Griffey Jr’s last season.  Jose Vidro’s last season.  Brad Wilkerson’s last season.  Jack Cust, last season.  Chone Figgins in every season of his contract with the Mariners.  Scott Spiezio, Jeff Cirillo, Rich Aurilia, Richie Sexson … the list goes on and on.  Major League veterans, CLEARLY at the end of their days, continually getting the benefit of the doubt based on their histories (and not on the current state of their talent level).  It’s annoying to say the least, but at least we have a timetable.

The Mariners habitually plead with fans to wait a little while, for things to get better.  Well, M’s fans, wait a little while.  Because, in a couple weeks, we won’t have to put up with Miguel Olivo’s sucking much more!

Get after it!

The Future Of Ichiro

Pretty good article from U.S.S. Mariner today got me to thinking about Ichiro going forward.  Particularly, this notion about Ichiro closing out his career as a DH:

This is a bit of a non-traditional option, but it might be an interesting way to handle Ichiro, as long as he’s not in the process of completely falling off a cliff. Ichiro has always been viewed as a kind of savant when it comes to hitting, with the notion that he could just keep doing much of the same stuff all the way to the end like a late-career Tony Gwynn. The biggest worry is about a loss of speed, and that may have factored in this year, but then again he’s still stealing bases as well as before. In trying to move from “he’s in a slump” to actual analysis, everybody has a theory, nobody has proof. His defense has definitely declined, though, and I wonder if playing the field isn’t dragging down his performance at the plate. Considering that he hits well when he does DH, perhaps that should be given more serious consideration to see if this is a good way to extend his career.

Ichiro is a career .327 hitter in the Major Leagues.  In every season, he’s batted over .300 and he’s gotten over 200 hits; he looks to do neither in 2011, unless he gets hotter than he’s ever been before.  As such, until I’m proven wrong, I’d say that means he’s nearing the end of things.  Now, what the definition of “near” is is up to debate.  If he were a career Yankee (like, say, Derek Jeter), they could afford his albatross of a contract while they extended him out to the last possible at-bat until he reaches 3,000 hits.  He would certainly have enough pop around him in the lineup to overcome whatever type of hitter Ichiro is destined to become in his decline (like, say, a .269 hitter like he is this year).

But, I don’t think the Mariners can necessarily afford an Ichiro luxury.  Therefore, after his contract expires next season, he’s going to have to take a significant pay cut to stay on this team.  Assuming he’s unwilling to do that, then I can just stop writing right here, because either that means he’s going to walk and forever be an ex-Mariner, or it means we’re going to cave and overpay for a .250 singles-hitting right fielder whose defense is in great decline.  The former would be a shame, the latter would be an outright travesty and I’d be forced to band together with my fellow bloggers with pitchforks and torches and burn that motherfuckin’ stadium down!

So, for the sake of this argument here, let’s say he re-signs at a reasonable couple/few million.  Nothing bank-breaking, but enough to keep him happy so he retires a Mariner.  The question I pose is:  what is his value as a designated hitter?

Mike Snow (from above) is right, we can no longer overlook the fact that Ichiro’s defense has taken a tumble.  That’s the kind of thing where, as you age, it sure as shit isn’t going to get any better.

But, while Ichiro is a .327 career hitter, he’s a career .379 hitter as the DH.  Now, who knows if that’s purely coincidence (brought on by the small sample size of only 140 at bats), but his numbers across the board are better when he’s a DH.  His OBP is .409 (overall career .372), and his slugging is .493 (overall career .422).

While I tire of the jokes people always trot out (“oh, if he wanted, Ichiro could hit 30 homers a year, yeah right!”), there might be something to the fact that if Ichiro only focused on hitting and nothing else, he’d likely be able to hit for substantially more power.  I’m not saying he’s going to become Prince Fielder or anything – he’s still going to go for his share of infield singles to boost his hits total – but I think there’s something to this “resting his legs” whenever they give him a “day off” as DH.

Even this year, if you break down his stats, he’s hitting .423 as a DH over the course of 26 at bats.  Again, not a lot of opportunity to work with (and, unfortunately for my power argument, he’s yet to hit an extra-base hit as a DH – but then again, even 1 extra base hit would probably send his slugging percentage through the roof), but I bet you Ichiro could hang on as a fairly productive hitter for a few more seasons if he just gave up playing defense after his contract expires.

Of course, that’s all well and good, but even if he improves his power numbers a tick, he’s still not going to be the kind of David Ortiz type everyone wants as their DH.  He likely wouldn’t even be anywhere near an Edgar Martinez doubles type.  Tony Gwynn is an excellent example of what he’d likely become, and is that something we’d want as our DH?  I have a feeling we’d be screaming “Shades of Jose Vidro!” at the tops of our lungs.

Likely, it wouldn’t be worth it to have Ichiro as our DH of the future.  But, you never know (especially with Ichiro).  The guy takes a lot of pride in everything he does.  And, in spite of what everyone believes, he’s been pretty adaptable in his career.  Everyone wondered how his bat would react when he shifted over to Centerfield and look at how well that turned out.  I wouldn’t put it past him to refocus all of his energy into hitting should he be reduced to a utility outfielder/designated hitter.  Who’s to say he wouldn’t be exactly what we need?

I guess that would all depend on who goes out there to replace him.  If we’re stuck with more outfield singles hitters, then putting Ichiro at DH would probably be the dumbest move this side of signing Chone Figgins.  But, if we found some sluggers to fill out both outfield corner positions … who the hell knows?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seattle’s Worst Trades, Draft Picks & Free Agent Signings (Part 2)

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

Here we 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.