More reasons to hate the MLB postseason
Okay, hate is a strong word. But to a die-hard Mariners fan, there is nothing more like lemon juice in a paper cut than perennially watching the M’s flame out and watching other teams – some who got there on a fluke – play on the postseason stage. That said, it’s like a kick in the shins to hear the names of former Mariners being called on the radio as they drive in a critical run or steal a key base for their new contending teams.
Case in point: as I’m driving home from work today (still smarting from the Adrian Beltré three-homer game I blogged about this morning), I’m listening to ESPN radio as they call the Phillies-Cardinals game. Who do I hear is on deck for the Phils? None other than Raul Ibanez. And who is warming up in the bullpen for the Cards? That’s right. Arthur Frickin Rhodes.
That got me thinking. Well, that…and my wife – after hearing about my earlier blog post – suggesting, “You should look up all the players who used to be Mariners who are now doing great for other teams.” While that sounds like an undertaking for an underpaid sports radio producer, I thought I could at least take a look at the 25-man rosters of each team in the MLB postseason and see who used to be a Mariner. So here goes…the pictures on the left are what the players look like now, and the pictures on the right are how we remember them in Washington.
Philadelphia Phillies – Raul Ibanez
A longtime Mariner favorite, Ibáñez was selected in the 36th round of the 1992 Major League Baseball Draft. He spent eight seasons with the Mariners before being signed by the Kansas City Royals as a free agent in 2000. It’s worth noting, however, that the Mariners went to the playoffs in 2001. However Ibanez came back to the M’s in 2004 and had a career-high .304 batting average. He also collected a 24-game go-ahead RBI string, matched a club record by reaching base 11 consecutive times, set a career-high and a club record and matched the American League record with six hits, and joined Ichiro Suzuki as only Mariners ever with two five-hit games in one season. On December 16, 2008, Ibáñez signed a 3-year, $31.5 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. He then appeared in the 2009 World Series and has been to the MLB postseason every year since. I have to admit, from a fan standpoint, he’s one former Mariner who’s name I wish I had on my autograph jersey.
Philadelphia Phillies – Cliff Lee
Best known in Seattle as the “Mariner for a minute” (okay, I just made that up), Lee spent only part of the 2010 season in Seattle and some of that in Triple-A Tacoma, where I took Parker and Kelly to see him pitch. Lee had spent the year prior pitching a stellar World Series game for the Phillies. On December 16, 2009, the Phillies traded Lee to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for J. C. Ramírez, Phillippe Aumont and Tyson Gillies. Lee made his Mariners debut against the Texas Rangers on April 30, where he earned a no-decision in a 2–0 Mariners loss. He got his first win with the Mariners on May 11, in a 5–1 win against the Baltimore Orioles. Lee pitched 3 consecutive complete games in June. He made the 2010 AL All-Star team but attended as a Ranger. With the Mariners, Lee went 8–3 with a 2.34 ERA, an 0.945 WHIP, and a 89/6 K/BB ratio. However, the Mariners struggled, and Lee was placed on the trade market. On July 9, after a deal with the New York Yankees broke down, Lee was traded to the Texas Rangers with Mark Lowe for Justin Smoak and prospects Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke and Matt Lawson, and went on to pitch in another World Series for Texas. On December 15, 2010, Lee signed a free-agent contract with Philadelphia for 5 years and $120 million.
Philadelphia Phillies – Wilson Valdez
Who? Yeah, that’s right…Valdez was a Seattle Mariner for 42 games in 2005 and had a batting average that year of .198, the lowest of his entire career. After the 2004 season, he was waived by the White Sox and claimed by the Seattle Mariners. He was the starting shortstop for the Mariners in 2005, however due to his poor average was traded to the San Diego Padres on June 9, 2005. After a stint with the Padres’ Triple-A team in Portland, he returned to the major leagues with the Padres, hitting .231 in August as a utility player. With the Phillies in 2010, Valdez set career highs in games, at bats, runs, hits, total bases, doubles, triples, home runs, runs batted in, bases on balls, intentional base on balls, strike outs, stolen bases, slugging percentage and on base plus slugging percentage.
St. Louis Cardinals – Arthur Rhodes
The bedazzled bullpen reliever made his MLB debut with the Orioles in 1991. Rhodes spent 12 years in the Baltimore Orioles organization before being granted free agency after the 1999 season. After signing and playing with the Seattle Mariners for four years, Rhodes signed a contract with the Oakland Athletics. On January 24, 2007, Rhodes was signed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training by the Mariners. Rhodes underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2007 season as a result. He became a free agent after the season. On January 15, 2008, he re-signed with the Seattle Mariners to a minor league deal, and was invited to spring training. He did not make the team to start the season, but on April 14, he was added to the active roster. On July 31, 2008, Rhodes was traded to the Florida Marlins in exchange for pitching prospect Gaby Hernandez.
Milwaukee Brewers – Yuniesky Betancourt
Who could forget the on again-off again-off again-off again starting shortstop? While nobody – especially me – is arguing that Betancourt became a major league star after leaving the Mariners, the fact is that he’s now on a playoff team fighting for a chance to play in the World Series. He left Cuba on a speedboat in December 2003 and ended up in Mexico, where he played for a while before signing with Seattle Mariners scouts Bob Engle and Patrick Guerrero on January 26, 2005. He made his major league debut on July 28, 2005. In 2007, he made many good fielding plays, however he suffered through spells of throwing wildness that season. Bad throws accounted for most of his 18 errors in the first half of 2007, almost as many as his 2006 total of 20. He turned things around and made only 5 errors in the second half of 2007, but his defense suffered in 2008, with several fielding metrics calling him one of the worst shortstops in baseball. On July 10, 2009, he was acquired by the Kansas City Royals along with a portion of his salary for Minor League pitchers Derrick Saito and Dan Cortes. In 2009, he had the lowest on base percentage of any starter in the major leagues, at .274, and the lowest slugging percentage in the American League with .351. In 2010, he hit an opening day home run off Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, and went on to finish the season with a career-high 16 home runs.
Milwaukee Brewers – Josh Wilson
Affectionately nicknamed “The Paperboy” by Ken Griffey Jr., perhaps a more accurate nickname should have been “waiverboy.” Wilson was drafted by the Florida Marlins in third round of the 1999 Major League Baseball Draft and spent the next six years in the minors. On January 6, 2006, he was traded to the Colorado Rockies for a player to be named later. At the end of the season, he became a free agent and was signed by the Washington Nationals. In 2007, Wilson appeared in 15 games for the Nationals before they placed him on waivers. He was claimed by the Tampa Bay Rays on May 10, 2007, and appeared in 90 games for them during the season. On December 3, 2007, he was claimed off waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates. In August 2008, Wilson was acquired by the Boston Red Sox and assigned to their Triple-A affiliate. In December 2008, he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Wilson was designated for assignment on May 14 by the Diamondbacks and was picked up by the San Diego Padres on waivers on May 15. On June 19, Wilson was claimed off waivers by the Seattle Mariners. On December 10, 2009, Wilson re-signed with the Mariners to the tune of $725,000. On March 28, 2011, the Mariners released Wilson. On March 31, 2011, Wilson reportedly agreed to a minor league contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was designated for assignment on May 23. He was claimed off waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers on May 25, 2011. In only his second appearance for the Brewers, Wilson hit a home run. Only a week later he hit his 2nd and 3rd homers.
Arizona Diamondbacks – Willie Bloomquist
Yes, our favorite journeyman utility player from the 1990’s and 2000’s is now playing for the D-Backs. I can’t even remember how many games I watched where Bloomie would come up with a clutch hit to give the Mariners the lead, or flash that quick glove to rob someone of a base hit. Outfield, infield, Willie could play just about any position and was a key piece of the Mariners offense and defense for quite some time, nearly as fast as Ichiro on the base paths. But when out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new came around, Willie joined the ranks of M’s released by the team only to go on and succeed with playoff caliber teams. Born in Bremerton, Washington, Willie is commonly referred to as the “Silent Assassin” on the ESPN show Baseball Tonight. Bloomquist was drafted out of South Kitsap High School in Port Orchard, Washington, by the Seattle Mariners in the eighth round (237th overall) of the 1996 amateur draft, but was not signed. He was drafted again by the Mariners out of Arizona State University in the third round (95th overall) of the 1999 Major League Baseball Draft and signed. The Mariners signed Bloomquist to a contract extension through the 2008 season worth $1,875,000, in 2006. On June 15, 2007, he hit an inside-the-park home run in Minute Maid Park. On June 26, 2007, Bloomquist hit a lead-off home run in the second inning—on what was his 1,000th career at-bat. Willie’s another player who’s autograph I wish I had on my jersey.
Arizona Diamondbacks – J.J. Putz
Well, look who decided to hitch a ride to the postseason…it’s the Iceman himself. In 2007, Putz saved 40 games in 42 opportunities for Seattle, leading me to dub him the Iceman…cool under pressure. I watched him strike out Barry Bonds on more than one occasion that year and once in person. If it wasn’t for his darn last name, I would have bought one of his jerseys. As it stands, I can’t imagine that they’re hot sellers…nobody wants to be walking around with the word “putz” on their back. Putz was drafted by the Mariners in the 6th round in 1999. He made his Major League debut with the Mariners on August 11, 2003. In 2006, he became the closer for the Mariners. In 2007, Putz made his first All-Star appearance, and finished the season with a 1.38 ERA. On December 10, 2008, Putz was part of a three-team, twelve-player trade that sent him to the New York Mets in exchange for pitcher Aaron Heilman, utility outfielder Endy Chávez, and prospects. Fortunately, I was able to get his signature on my jersey before he left the Mariners.
Texas Rangers – Adrian Beltre
The LA Dodgers saw Beltré develop into a consistent and durable young star during his time with the team (1998-2004), as he hit .265 while hitting 18 homers a year (on average). Beltré was signed by the Seattle Mariners as a free agent before the 2005 season to a five-year, $64 million deal, and immediatly regressed to his pre-2004 form. He batted just .255 with 19 home runs and 87 RBI. 2006 was, likewise, a disappointment for Beltré and after batting .167 through April 10, Ted Miller of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer suggested that Beltré may become one of the Mariners’ greatest busts. The 2007 season wasn’t one of Beltré’s better defensive years statistically either. In 2007, he tied with Brandon Inge for the AL lead in errors by a third baseman with 18. He also had the lowest fielding percentage of all third basemen in the league, .958. Beltré declared free agency on November 5, 2009. On January 7, 2010, Beltré signed a one-year, $9 million deal with the Boston Red Sox, which had a $5 million player option for 2011 with a $1 million buyout. Beltré led the Red Sox in batting average (.321) in 2010 and tied David Ortiz for the team lead in RBI (102). He finished the year with 189 hits in 589 at bats. He had 28 home runs and 84 runs scored. Beltré led the Majors in doubles, with 49 (also a career high). He also finished fourth in the AL in batting average, and was fifth in the AL in total bases (326) and slugging percentage (.553). On January 5, 2011, Beltré officially signed a six-year, $96 million contract with the Texas Rangers. He was on the 2011 American League All Star team and just recently became the seventh player—the first in a Division Series—to hit three home runs in a Major League playoff game. See my other blog post about this.
Texas Rangers – Endy Chavez
Since Cliff Lee holds the title of “Mariner for a Minute,” then Endy Chavez is our “Mariner until a Midfield Collision.” The Mets traded Chávez along with Aaron Heilman (who was later traded to the Cubs), and minor leaguers to the Seattle Mariners in a 12-player deal on December 10, 2008. On June 19, 2009, while trying to catch a pop-up, Chavez collided with shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and suffered a torn ACL in the right knee. Chavez missed the remainder of the 2009 season. On November 6, 2009, he declared free agency. On February 15, 2010, Chavez agreed to a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers. When Chavez fully recovered from his 2009 ACL injury, he was sent down to Double-A Frisco. Chavez was promoted quickly, posting a .545 batting average in 3 games. In 2011, he batted .273 with 2 home runs in 256 at bats.
Texas Rangers – Mark Lowe
He made his Major League debut for the Seattle Mariners on July 7, 2006 in relief against the Detroit Tigers, loading the bases before striking out the side. Lowe was placed on the disabled list on August 20 with right elbow tendinitis and was later transferred to the 60-day disabled list. In 2007, Lowe was placed on 60-Day disabled list on April 1 and began a rehabilitation assignment on July 3 with the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers. He was recalled from Tacoma and placed on 15-day DL on August 28. In 2008 Lowe set career-highs in games (57), innings (63.2), and strikeouts (55). Among Mariners relievers, he ranked second in games, third in innings and third in strikeouts. He was 0-2, with a 3.60 ERA at home, the 6th-lowest home ERA by a reliever in the American League. He was placed on the 15-day DL on May 3, 2010 with lower back disk inflammation. On July 9, 2010, Lowe was traded to the Texas Rangers with Cliff Lee for Justin Smoak and prospects Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke and Matt Lawson. He made his debut for the Rangers on September 29, 2010 against Seattle, coming back from injury to throw a scoreless inning against his former team.
Texas Rangers – Yorvit Torrealba
Torrealba signed with the San Francisco Giants as a minor league free agent on September 14, 1994. He made his major league debut with the Giants on September 5, 2001 as a September call up. Torrealba was traded, along with pitcher Jesse Foppert, to the Seattle Mariners for outfielder Randy Winn at the trading deadline of the 2005 season. The Mariners were in the midst of a 93-loss season and were rebuilding, and Torrealba competed for the opportunity to be Seattle’s starting catcher. After the 2005 season, the Seattle Mariners traded Torrealba to the Colorado Rockies for Marcos Carvajal after signing Kenji Johjima to be their starting catcher.
Tampa Bay Rays – Casey Kotchman
In early January 2010 the Red Sox traded Kotchman to the Seattle Mariners for utility player Bill Hall, a minor league player, and cash. On February 3, Kotchman and the Mariners agreed on a new contract, avoiding salary arbitration. On June 3, 2010, Kotchman set the Major League Baseball individual streak record with 2,003 consecutive chances without an error. The previous record had been held by Kevin Youkilis of the Boston Red Sox, established between July 4, 2006, and June 6, 2008. On August 21, 2010, the streak ended when Kotchman mishandled a hard groundball hit by Curtis Granderson of the New York Yankees. The error was his first since July 20, 2008, when he played for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, a streak of 2,379 fielding chances. He batted .217 for the season. On November 4, 2010, Kotchman refused an outright assignment to AAA by the Mariners, electing to become a free agent instead. Kotchman signed a minor league contract with an invitation to 2011 spring training with the Tampa Bay Rays. Through 2011, he had the best career fielding percentage among major league first basemen (.998), ahead of Kevin Youkilis.
Detroit Tigers – Doug Fister
Fister spent four seasons (2006–2009) in the Seattle Mariners minor league organization before being called-up by the Mariners in 2009. Fister was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the seventh round of the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft, and signed on June 10, 2006. In 2009, Fister began the season with the Double-A West Tenn Diamond Jaxx for the third time in his career, however, he was later promoted to the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers, and eventually the Seattle Mariners on August 7. Fister’s first win came on August 16 against the New York Yankees. In 2010, Fister and fellow starting pitchers Garrett Olson, Luke French and Jason Vargas competed for the Mariners’ fifth spot in the starting rotation. Fister ended up getting a job in the rotation (as did Vargas). In 2011, Fister was the Mariners number three starter behind Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas. On July 30, Fister was traded to the Detroit Tigers along with relief pitcher David Pauley in exchange for Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, Francisco Martinez, and Chance Ruffin. Up to his last start before being dealt to the Detroit Tigers, Fister had a 3–12 record with a 3.33 ERA in 21 starts. After his trade to the Tigers, Fister went 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 10 starts. He finished the 2011 regular season 11-13, with an ERA of 2.83 that placed him fourth among American League pitchers. Fister was named the September American League Pitcher of the Month after going 5-0 with a 0.53 ERA in 5 starts.
Detroit Tigers – Carlos Guillén
Guillén was signed by the Houston Astros as a non-draft amateur free agent in 1992. He was traded to the Seattle Mariners with pitcher Freddy García and John Halama in the deal that sent Randy Johnson to the Astros. Guillén made his debut in 1998 and was traded to Detroit at the end of the 2003 season. In Seattle, Guillén was initially forced to play second and third base with incumbent Alex Rodriguez at shortstop. After Alex Rodriguez signed with the Texas Rangers for the 2000 season, Guillén moved back to his natural position. He had a league-average campaign in his first full season with the club. In Game 3 of the 2000 American League Division Series, he hit a squeeze play in the bottom of the ninth inning to score Rickey Henderson and complete the Mariners’ sweep of the Chicago White Sox. In October 2001, Guillén played in the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees. In 2004, Guillén joined a young and restructured Tigers team and had a career year, leading his club in RBI (97), runs (97), doubles (37), triples (10), total bases (283), slugging percentage (.542), OPS (.921), and his .318 batting average was only second to .334 of teammate Iván Rodríguez.
Detroit Tigers – David Pauley
An eighth round pick by San Diego in 2001, Pauley posted a 7–12 record with a 4.17 ERA for the Padres as their seventh best prospect in 2004. On December 22, 2009, Pauley signed a minor league contract with the Seattle Mariners. On August 13, 2010, he earned his first major league win versus the Cleveland Indians. On July 30, 2011, Pauley was traded to the Detroit Tigers along with Doug Fister for Charlie Furbush, Casper Wells, Chance Ruffin and minor leaguer Francisco Martinez.
Detroit Tigers – Ramon Santiago
Santiago played for the Tigers from 2002 to 2003, the Seattle Mariners from 2004 to 2005, and again with the Tigers from 2006 to present. In 2003, Santiago assumed the starting shortstop role for the Tigers. However, Santiago struggled and was traded, along with Juan Gonzalez, to Seattle in exchange for Carlos Guillén. During Santiago’s two seasons with the Mariners, he played in only 27 games, spending most of his time in the minor leagues for the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers. While playing for the Rainiers, Santiago was selected as the team’s MVP and Best Glove in 2005. He was also selected as the 2005 Top Second Baseman for the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. However, Santiago was released following the 2005 season and re-signed by the Tigers as a free agent for the 2006 season. One of the best fielding shortstops in the majors, Santiago played in 43 regular-season games and started in 18 games for the American League Champion Tigers in 2006. He played shortstop, second base and third base and did not make an error in 205⅔ innings of play. Santiago started at shortstop in Game 1 and Game 2 of the 2006 World Series.
New York Yankees – Freddy Garcia
Who could forget The Chief? Originally signed by the Houston Astros as a non-draft amateur free agent in 1993, García was acquired by Seattle in 1998, along with Carlos Guillén and John Halama in the trade that sent Randy Johnson to the Astros. During García’s rookie season, he pitched 201 innings, compiling a 17-8 record with 170 strikeouts and a 4.07 ERA in 33 starts. After going 9-5 in his second season, he went on to win 18, 16, 12, 13, and 14 games over the course of the next five seasons. Garcia was the American League pitcher on the mound when the 2002 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was called after 11 innings, and ended as a 7-7 tie. At the July 31 trading deadline in 2004, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for Mike Morse, Miguel Olivo, and Jeremy Reed. As a Mariner, Garcia posted a 76-50 record with a 3.89 ERA and 819 strikeouts. In 2005, he was a member of the World Series winning Chicago White Sox and started the series winning game 4.
New York Yankees – Damaso Marte
Don’t worry, I didn’t know who he was either. But he started his career in Seattle. Marte was signed as an amateur free agent by the Seattle Mariners in 1992. He made his major league debut on June 30, 1999, against the Oakland Athletics. On November 16, 2000, Marte signed with the New York Yankees, but was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 13, 2001, for Enrique Wilson. A notable achievement for him was being the winning pitcher in the longest game in World Series history, Game 3 of the 2005 World Series. In that game, he tossed 1.2 scoreless innings and struck out three batters in the 14 inning win over the Houston Astros.
New York Yankees – Alex Rodriguez
I honestly didn’t save this one for the end…it just alphabetically worked out that way. Known popularly by his nickname A-Rod, he previously played shortstop for the Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers. In December 2007, Rodriguez and the Yankees agreed to a 10-year, $275 million contract. This contract was the richest contract in baseball history (breaking his previous record of $252 million). Rodriguez was drafted first overall by the Seattle Mariners in 1993. In 1996, Rodriguez took over as the Mariners’ regular shortstop and hit 36 HR, drove in 123 runs, and led the American League with a .358 batting average, the highest for an AL right-handed batter since Joe DiMaggio hit .381 in 1939 and the 3rd highest ever for a shortstop. Rodriguez entered 2000 as the cornerstone player of the Mariners franchise, which had recently dealt superstars Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey, Jr. Rodriguez put up great numbers as the team’s remaining superstar; he hit 41 HR with 132 RBI and had a .316 batting average. He set a career high for walks (100) and became the only shortstop to have 100 runs, RBI, and walks in the same season. He hit well in the playoffs as well (.409 batting average and .773 slugging percentage), but Seattle lost to the New York Yankees in the 2000 American League Championship Series. He was selected as the Major League Player of the Year by Baseball America. Rodriguez became a free agent after the 2000 season. He eventually signed with the Texas Rangers, who had fallen to last in their division in 2000. The contract he signed was at the time the most lucrative contract in sports history: a 10-year deal worth $252 million. The deal was worth $63 million more than the second-richest baseball deal. After Rodriguez signed with Texas, when the Rangers came to Seattle, Mariner fans expressed their disappointment toward Rodriguez with jeers and flashing and waving Monopoly money whenever he came up to bat. Till this day, fans still show disapproval. In February 2009, after previously denying use of performance-enhancing drugs, including during a 2007 interview with Katie Couric on 60 Minutes, Rodriguez admitted to using steroids, saying he used them from 2001 to 2003 when playing for the Texas Rangers due to what he called “an enormous amount of pressure” to perform.