The Long Shadow of the Randy Johnson Trade

I moved this to my Seattle’s Worst Trades, Draft Picks & Free Agent Signings heading HERE.

Just Another Home Opener NOT On Opening Day

Last year, the Mariners didn’t get to play their home opener until April 13th, after eight games on the road including two in Japan.  I don’t remember this, but apparently the Mariners got to start Felix Hernandez at their home opener last season.  He went seven innings, giving up two runs, and we ended up losing to Bartolo Colon and the Oakland Athletics 4-0.

In 2011, the Mariners didn’t play their home opener until April 8th, after six games on the road.  I remember this game vividly, because Jason Vargas got the start against the Cleveland Indians, giving up 7 runs in 3.1 innings en route to a miserable 12-3 loss.  The 2011 Mariners were trying to help everyone forget about the doldrums their 2010 counterparts faced; what better way to do that than to get lit up at home in front of a near-sellout crowd?

In 2010, the Mariners didn’t play their home opener until April 12th, after seven games on the road.  I have a vague recollection of this game, which leads me to believe that maybe last night’s home opener was my FOURTH in a row and not just my third.  Ryan Rowland-Smith was a personal favorite of mine and he didn’t do so hot in his 7 innings of 4-run ball.  The Mariners lost this game to the A’s 4-0, while generating only two hits.

In 2009, the Mariners didn’t play their home opener until April 14th, after seven games on the road.  I am almost positive I didn’t go to this game, though I bet I thought about it.  Carlos Silva got the start, went 7 innings, gave up 2 runs, but this ended up being a battle of the bullpens as the Mariners won 3-2 in 10 innings.

2008 was the last time the Mariners got to play their home opener on ACTUAL Opening Day.  On March 31st, against Kevin Millwood and the Texas Rangers.  Newly-acquired Erik Bedard got the start and went 5 strong innings of 1-run ball; Sean Green, Eric O’Flaherty, Mark Lowe, and J.J. Putz locked down the final four innings, giving up only 1 run in our 5-2 victory.  For the record, the Mariners played their first three games at home, then promptly went out on the road for a 7-game trip against the likes of Baltimore and Tampa Bay.

Major League Baseball REALLY likes sticking the M’s on the road to start the season!

I was at the game last night, but right now my mind is a jumbled mush, so this post probably won’t come out the way I want it to.

When I go to a mid-week Mariners game, I tend to do it up right.  Straight from work (getting off at 3:30), I walk down to the tunnel and get off at the International District stop.  From there, it’s a hop and a skip over to Slugger’s, the little hole in the wall just across from the north entrance to CenturyLink Field.  Yesterday, I made a bee-line to the upstairs area and grabbed the first 4-person table I could find.  A basket of tots and a Coors Light tallboy later, I was joined by a couple of friends and we proceeded to drink Coors Banquet Beer tallboys until 6:15 or so.

Then, we grabbed some bagel dogs from Blazin’ Bagels and went inside.  We opted for the 200-level club seats, along the third base line, and were hardly disappointed.  Of course, I managed to find the only two Astros fans willing to spend upwards of $75-$100 on club tickets, seated right next to me.  There’s nothing sadder than a lone Astros fan clapping in your ear when he knows as well as you do that there’s no chance in Hell the Astros are going to win this game.  Nevertheless, it’s still kind of annoying when you hear people next to you cheering at all the wrong times.

I was inside buying a soda when Jamie Moyer threw out the first pitch.  From television replays, he looked like a guy who should not be quitting his day job (especially when that day job is “Sit around, do nothing, play some golf, and go for a swim in your Money Bin”).  I don’t understand these athletes who can’t give up the game.  IT’S JUST A GAME!  Take your millions of dollars and enjoy your fucking life!  Find a new hobby for fuck’s sake, it’s not that hard!

I did not get a chance to leave our club seats during the game.  I did not spend any time in The Pen, nor did I get a chance to walk through Edgar’s; it was far too crowded to do either.  Maybe on some chance Tuesday-night game when there are only 12,000 people there.

I did get to marvel at the new video screen.  Sure is a great way to pump us up with more advertisements!  Here we go, Budweiser, here we go!  Clap clap.

The hydro races were most certainly NOT in mid-season form.  Green won wire to wire!  When does that EVER happen?  Yellow was poised for a breakthru, but it wasn’t to be.

Oh, and a fan ran onto the field!  Those are always fun and exciting.  It was between innings, so I’m sure the Root broadcast was on a commercial break.  I’m also sure that when they came back, Dave Sims probably made some disparaging remark about that fan’s overall jackassery.  I don’t understand the media policy surrounding fans running onto the field.  They have an “America Doesn’t Negotiate With Terrorists” type of stubborn resolve over not showing these people (streakers, athlete kissers, general disruptors) on camera, lest everyone else gets the bright idea that, “If I run out onto the field, I’ll be famous!”  This, in spite of the fact that NOT showing them still doesn’t seem to be much of a deterrent.  Also, let’s face it, when someone runs onto the field, people want to see what happens!  They’ll take a break from open-heart surgery to see how this idiot gets tackled and whisked away to Stadium Jail.  Why not show it?  It’s something new and different and obviously the people want to know what’s happening.  Pretending everything is hunky dory and showing random shots of athletes standing around looking confused isn’t exactly the best way to spend five minutes of broadcast time.  Making snarky comments about people you refuse to show on camera, bemoaning how they’re wasting everyone’s time, is also a terrible way to spend your broadcast time.  Just acknowledge it, laugh it off, and let us see the guy get tackled to the turf by four guys in security outfits!

As for the game itself, what am I going to tell you about a 3-0 game over the Astros that you don’t already know?  I was going to rage against the machine if Joe Saunders got anything less than five strikeouts, so bully for him.  He only managed to go 6.1 innings even though his pitch count was at 91 for the day.

I’m telling you, I’ve never seen a manager so giddy about his bullpen.  I hope you like mid-inning pitching replacements, because Eric Wedge is a kid in a candy store, mixing and matching left-handers and right-handers left and right!  Capps came in and continued his blitzkrieg on the rest of baseball.  Furbush got to pitch to one guy.  And Wilhelmsen recorded one of the easiest saves you’re ever going to see.  A 3-0 lead against the Astros shouldn’t even COUNT as a save!  That’s like a 12-0 lead against anyone else!

Regarding the offense, they got five hits.  Saunders and Morales got two apiece in accounting for just about all of our offensive production.  Dustin Ackley got a hit and still managed to finish the day with a sub-.100 batting average.

In fact, here’s a look at our 5-6-7-8 hitters:

  • Kyle Seager
  • Justin Smoak
  • Jesus Montero
  • Dustin Ackley

And here are their batting averages:

  • .167
  • .167
  • .160
  • .087

The future of the Mariners!  The young core that’s going to lead this organization back to the playoffs!  True to the Blue!

The Major Moves Of Jack Zduriencik

On October 22, 2008, Jack Zduriencik was hired by the Seattle Mariners to be their General Manager.  Here are the major player personnel moves the Mariners have made in that time.

For the 2009 Season:

12/3/2008 – Signed Russell Branyan to 1-year contract
12/10/2008 – Traded J.J. Putz, Jeremy Reed, Sean Green, and others for Jason Vargas, Franklin Gutierrez, Endy Chavez, Mike Carp and others.
1/20/2009 – Traded for David Aardsma
1/29/2009 – Signed Mike Sweeney to 1-year contract
2/18/2009 – Signed Ken Griffey Jr. to 1-year contract
7/29/2009 – Traded for Jack Wilson & Ian Snell

For the 2010 Season:

11/11/2009 – Re-Signed Ken Griffey Jr. to 1-year contract
12/8/2009 – Signed Chone Figgins to 4-year contract
12/16/2009 – Traded for Cliff Lee
12/18/2009 – Traded Carlos Silva for Milton Bradley
12/23/2009 – Traded Brandon Morrow for Brandon League
1/7/2010 – Traded for Casey Kotchman
1/21/2010 – Re-Signed Felix Hernandez to 5-year extension
1/29/2010 – Signed Eric Byrnes to 1-year contract
2/6/2010 – Re-Signed Erik Bedard to 1-year contract
2/12/2010 – Re-Signed Mike Sweeney to 1-year contract
6/27/2010 – Traded for Russell Branyan
7/9/2010 – Traded Cliff Lee & Mark Lowe for Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan & others

For the 2011 Season:

12/2/2010 – Re-Signed Erik Bedard to 1-year contract
12/10/2010 – Signed Jack Cust to 1-year contract
12/12/2010 – Traded for Brendan Ryan
1/3/2011 – Signed Miguel Olivo to 2-year contract
1/10/2011 – Signed Adam Kennedy to 1-year contract
7/30/2011 – Traded Doug Fister for Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, & others
7/31/2011 – Traded Erik Bedard & others for Trayvon Robinson & others

For the 2012 Season:

11/27/2011 – Traded Josh Lueke for John Jaso
12/8/2011 – Claimed Lucas Luetge in Rule 5 Draft
12/21/2011 – Signed Munenori Kawasaki to 1-year contract
12/30/2011 – Signed George Sherrill to 1-year contract
1/5/2012 – Signed Hisashi Iwakuma to 1-year contract
1/18/2012 – Signed Oliver Perez to 1-year contract
1/23/2012 – Traded Michael Pineda & Jose Campos for Jesus Montero & Hector Noesi
1/24/2012 – Signed Kevin Millwood to 1-year contract
7/31/2012 – Traded Steve Delabar for Eric Thames.  Traded Brandon League for others

For the 2013 Season:

11/2/2012 – Re-Signed Hisashi Iwakuma to 2-3-year contract
11/3/2012 – Re-Signed Oliver Perez to a 1-year contract

These by no means comprise ALL of the moves, but if I tried to list ALL the moves I’d be here all fucking month.  These are the guys who, more or less, made some kind of an impact on the major league ballclub.  I left out anything related to the draft, because it’s not draft season and that’s not really the point of this post.

What has Jackie Z done to improve the Major League ballclub?

You can see on the timeline where it all went awry.  Just about all of his major moves before the 2009 season were solid gold!  And, of course, what happened in 2009?  The Mariners ended up with 85 wins and somehow found themselves contending to the last month (or so).  It was only natural to think, given a few tweaks here and there, the 2010 season could be pure magic.

So, what did Jackie Z do?  He brought out the whuppin’ stick.  Within a 10-day period, we had our first MAJOR major signing of the Jack Zduriencik era:  Chone Figgins, 4 years.  No one at the time thought that was a stupid idea.  Piggybacking on that, in the aforementioned 10-day period, we brought in Cliff Lee to have one of the better 1-2 punches of all baseball starting rotations; and THEN we traded the dead weight of Carlos Silva for a possible reclamation project in Milton Bradley!  Hell, a bag of turds would’ve been better than Carlos Silva, so either way, there’s no losing THAT deal, right?  To top off his offseson, Jackie Z traded for League (to bolster the back-end of our bullpen), Kotchman (to give us some defense and decent pop at first base), and re-signed Felix to a 5-year extension.

I mean, my GOD, if Jackie Z wanted me to suck his dick after that string of moves, I gladly would’ve closed my eyes and opened my mouth.  THIS is exactly what we’ve been missing out of our baseball GM all these years!  He was doing it, he was really doing it!  There could be no downside to these moves!

Except, Figgins turned to crap.  Kotchman continued being crap.  Bradley continued being crap.  Griffey fell off the map.  Cliff Lee was hurt for the first month of the season.  League was nothing special (and Morrow still might be for someone else).  Byrnes was a fucking disgrace to the game of baseball.  We eventually had to bring back Branyan in a mid-season trade (and even THAT couldn’t prevent our offense from being the worst in the modern era).  And, since we weren’t contending, there was no point in holding onto Cliff Lee; we traded him for what looks like utter shit and disappointment.

Every move for that 2010 season (save re-signing Felix) COMPLETELY backfired.  And yet, at the time, every move was completely defensible!  The only thing you could possibly argue is:  the Mariners didn’t go far ENOUGH.  Of course, that’s the story of this franchise (see:  1996-2003).

After that, the organization put a total and complete halt on trying to contend whatsoever.  Going into 2011, the Mariners signed two veterans at the minimum (Cust & Kennedy), traded for a defense-only shortstop (Ryan), and their only major signing was Olivo on a 2-year deal with an option for a 3rd (that has since been denied, because Olivo).  That was it!  Four guys!  One of which was released before season’s end!

2012 was no picnic either.  Three more veterans at the minimum (Millwood, Sherrill, Perez), a backup shortstop (Kawasaki) who was somehow worse at the plate than Ryan, a Japanese pitcher coming off a major shoulder injury (Iwakuma), a Rule 5 reliever (Luetge), a backup catcher who somehow turned into the cream of the crop (Jaso), and another backup catcher in trade (Montero) who will hopefully be a future designated hitter for years to come.

It’s been two straight years of sifting through a muddy river of shit hoping to find a few tiny flecks of gold.

Now, with enough money off the books, and with the fanbase completely up in arms over all the losing, the Mariners are ready to spend money and hopefully try to compete once again.

Which got me to thinking.  Well, this blog post by Geoff Baker got me to thinking.  The money quote:

Towards the end of the call, I asked Zduriencik about the Chone Figgins experience and whether it caused any hesitation for him going forward when it comes to this winter’s crop of free agents — especially when it comes to inking longer-term deals of more than three years. I wasn’t doing it to rub his face in the Figgins mess — which no one really could have seen imploding as badly as it did — but rather to gauge whether this current administration is prepared to go longer than three years on any deal this winter.

The two biggest free agent acquisitions of the Jack Zduriencik era (not counting Felix, since he was already under contract) before this offseason’s Iwakuma deal have been Chone Figgins (4 years, $36 million) and Miguel Olivo (2 years, $7 million).  That’s IT!  The rest of his moves have either been in trade or of the bottom-feeding veteran minimum variety.

Obviously, this has been by design.  The organization wanted to rid itself of burdensome contracts.  The organization wanted to let some of the young kids play, to see if a “youth movement” could jumpstart things.  But, also, the organization was patently unwilling to increase payroll for the types of free agents that were becoming available the last two offseasons.  Let’s call a spade a spade here; the Seattle Mariners were pushing the Reset Button on this whole thing and starting over from scratch.  I don’t mean that literally, of course; it’s not like they could just waive everyone they didn’t like and bring up all new guys.  But, essentially, the Reset Button is what they did.

Up until now, I would say that the Figgins contract had little to do with the Mariners’ overall plan (except, obviously, they needed to fill their third base position with a rookie).  I don’t think being gunshy about Figgins’ 4-year deal prevented the Mariners from signing other guys to long-term contracts.  I think it was all the reasons I stated above.  That having been said, though, if the Mariners don’t sign someone to a long-term contract THIS off-season … then I’d have to say the Figgins deal is weighing on them.

It would only be natural, after all.  I mean, who WOULDN’T be gunshy?!  From the day Jackie Z took this job, give me the names of the free agents who have worked out beyond even a decent first season?  Yeah, the answer you’re looking for is ZERO.  Hisashi Iwakuma would be the first, if he comes back in 2013 and does well (which is no guarantee, let me tell you).

So, yeah, they SHOULD be apprehensive!  They SHOULD do as much due diligence as humanly possible on this offseason’s free agent crop.  Because it’s fucking NASTY out there!  You’ve got lemons and land mines all OVER the place!