Updated January 2018… but it’s hell keeping track…
Jason Varitek would be in the Ex-Ms Hall of Fame.
If there were such a thing.
David Ortiz… Jason Varitek… Randy Johnson… Alex Rodriguez... Yeah, they all once graced the Ms’ payroll. To be fair, Papi and Varitek were traded as minor leaguers and never played a game for the big club. But the thought of World Series rings gracing all their retired fingers just, well, it burns.
Fun ex-Mariner trivia: Only two men in baseball history have thrown a no-hitter in their career AND led the league in saves for a season. Dennis Eckersley is one. The other is…
We could go on. Overanalyze every missed opportunity. We’d go bats. Let’s stick with guys that a) logged big-league time with the Ms, and b) still toil with bat and glove, somewhere north of their Ross Eversoles moment.
Playin’ in the Dirt’s #1 ex-Mariner, Munenori Kawasaki, got the call-up last Spring at age 36. He got called up by the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, the team forsaken (he forsook them?) in 2012 when he signed with the Mariners and launched a five-year MLB journey that ended where all little-boy-dream MLB journeys end. In a pigpile on the field after an extra-inning game-seven win with the Cubs. Those five seasons rolled with joy and love through contracts with Seattle, Toronto, and Chicago, leaving us with priceless moments like this from his Canadian admirers… But Muni’s story isn’t done. Not only was he on the field with his Cubs after ex-Mariner Mike Montgomery got that final out in 2016 (check him out here, #66), he was there twelve months later with Fukuoka when they pulled off the Japan Series win in 2017. How many guys can say that? Say what? Say “I was a non-playoff-roster dude who the guys loved so much they just had to have me in uniform on the bench when they won it all” — on two different continents in two consecutive years? Yeah, no evidence here, but we’re betting there’s just one guy.
There’s your laughter. Let’s get deeper, darker, depressinger…
Adam Jones for Erik Bedard goes down in some scribes’ books as the worst in Mariners history. If you leave out Varitek and Ortiz since they were minor leaguers, maybe you have a point. But if you do that you’d have to ignore Chris Tillman, who was a minor leaguer and went to the Os along with Jones. While Jones was earning five All-Star trips and four Gold Gloves as Baltimore’s every-day center fielder, with 1,468 game appearances in ten years, all Tillman did was win 73 games in his nine seasons after the Orioles called him up. Hey Jerry Dipoto, Chris Tillman’s a free agent. Jeez, do something.
Mark Trumbo went to the Orioles for Steve Clevenger after the 2015 season, and proceeded to lead the league with 47 homers in 2016 while Clevenger, a minor league lifer, blew his career on Twitter. Wow.
Shin-Soo Choo, Texas Rangers. Choo went to Cleveland for Ben Broussard in 2006, another great move. Are you kidding me? Broussard played his last MLB game in 2008. Choo is still chugging after 13 seasons in the majors with a lifetime .278 average.
Justin Smoak, Michael Saunders, J.A. Happ, Toronto Blue Jays. So convoluted… Smoak bats .202 in 80 games in 2014, gets released and picked up by the Jays. The same year, Saunders goes .273 and gets, stay with me now, gets traded to the Blue Jays for Happ. Happ proceeds to win only four of his 20 Mariners starts before being sent to Pittsburgh for Adrian Sampson. Happ then returns to the Jays and leads the team to the 2016 playoffs with a 20-win season. Sampson — remember Sampson? Me neither — the only gem the M’s have left from the whole debacle, got one appearance in 2016 for the Mariners, 4 innings of work, giving up 4 runs. Waived, he still grinds in the Rangers’ farm system.
Adrian Beltre, Rangers. After five years in Seattle, the man who appeals his own checked swings was granted free agency in 2009. Since then he was top-15 in MVP voting every year through 2016, a four-time All Star, three-time Silver Slugger, and a two-time Gold Glover. In his twentieth season in the majors, he hit .312 in 94 games for the Rangers. And the Mariners got in return, ummm, a bunch of dough off the budget so they could pay Kyle Seager to take his place. OK? OK.
Mike Montgomery, Chicago Cubs. The rookie threw two complete-game shutouts for the M’s in 2015, but apparently he was only worth one 6’0″, 250# Dan Vogelbach at the trade deadline in July 2016. Vogelbach continues to make us wonder WTF Jerry was thinking… but while we were scratching our heads, Monty picked up the save in Game Seven (leading Kawa to come dancing off the bench as noted) and pick up Playin’ in the Dirt’s coveted Ex-Mariner of the Year award for 2016.
Rene Rivera, Angels. You want to see perseverance? The man who was drafted by the Mariners in 2001 at age 17 out of Puerto Rico, put up a .227 average in just 53 big-league games for the M’s over 2004-2006, and was released, waived, or granted free agency by nine different teams in the next eleven years, including twice by the Twins. That’s a hell of a long road.
Abraham Almonte, Indians. For sure one of the speediest Mariners outfielders we’ve ever seen, he came to Seattle for Kelley, and after just 52 games in a season and a half, went to San Diego for Denorfia. The same Denorfia who has since been cut by the Mariners, Cubs, Yankees, Giants, and Rockies. In just three years. Hmmm. Abe, we hardly knew ya.
Shawn Kelley, Washington Nationals. Traded for Almonte to the Yankees, he went to the Padres, where he was cut and picked up by the Nationals. He’s put up solid numbers there for two years and got a two-appearance cup of coffee in the 2016 postseason. There’s one that just plain got away. Bummer for the Mariners, good stuff for Kelley, as he’s set to earn $5.5million in 2018.
Carson Smith, and Roenis Elias, Red Sox. Both young stalwarts saw plenty of action with the Mariners but plenty of bench time in Beantown. An amazing story in Elias, who got out of Cuba in time to get signed as a free agent by the Mariners, and holds “Favorite Mariner — Ever” status with a Mukilteo schoolteacher, who tells of a class field trip to the ballyard, fifth graders jostling for autographs, and one kid didn’t have anything to sign. Fifteen minutes before first pitch, Elias grabs a sharpie, pulls off his hat, signs it, and gives it to the kid. Just like that. Fifty years from now, that kid will still have that hat. So two pitchers for two pitchers sounds cool, right? Well. In return for young burners Smith and Elias, oh the tangled web. Wade Miley stayed a half season before wandering off to the Orioles, and currently sits unsigned and waiting… tick tock. And Jonathan Aro spent two years on the Ms payroll before they cut him loose.
Justin Ruggiano, unsigned. In thirteen seasons since being drafted, Ruggiano has been under contract with the Dodgers (twice), Rays, Astros, Marlins, Cubs, Mariners, Rangers, and Mets.. then got released in 2017 after nineteen games with the Giants. That is a lotta hanging on in the game he loves. Gotta have respect for this guy.
Chris Taylor, Dodgers. In June of 2016, we got Zach Lee from the Dodgers. Lee never pitched in the bigs for Seattle, spent 2016 going 0-9 in Tacoma, got waived, pitched three games with the Padres and got cut in midsummer. Taylor, who damn near grabbed our Ex-Mariner of the Year award in 2017, busted into LA with a salami on his first major league home run. Then just 15 months later Taylor belted a HR on the first pitch of the World Series, a feat nobody had ever accomplished. And the broadcasters managed to put up slo-mos of his new Dodgers HR stroke side by side with his flailing Edgar-coached futility in Seattle. Jerry Dipoto? You paying attention? Edgar hates his job anyway. Time to move on.
Wade Miley, Baltimore Orioles. So we get the guy from Boston for Elias and Smith, then we apparently don’t like that Civil War General beard so much and we send him to Baltimore for Ariel Miranda. Maybe not such a bad thing. Miley went 2-5 down the stretch for the Birds; Miranda 5-2 for the M’s. But the Orioles made the playoffs anyway, and the M’s didn’t, so go figure. General Miley, though, does not appear on their Wild Card Game roster.
Joaquin Benoit, Toronto Blue Jays. Fondly known as “Jack Benoyt” by one local sportscaster, Benoit has allowed one earned run in 23 innings pitched since joining the Jays. He was traded for Drew Storen, who has gone a perfect 3-0 for the M’s. Maybe a good deal all around.
Jesus Montero, Toronto Blue Jays. The man we got for the diabolical Michael Pineda in 2012, who looked done-for over an ice cream sandwich two years later, who didn’t get cut by the M’s until a year after that… still has a baseball life in the Jays organization.
So what happened to the guys who so recently were the twinkling starry future of the Mariners… along with Saunders and Smoak, what about Brad Miller, Dustin Ackley, Logan Morrison? Jesus Montero?
Remember? Sure, we remember when it was cool to walk along Poster Row in front of Safeco Field and see their names, like a little league team roster with pictures…
Brad, Michael, Logan, Kyle, Dustin, Justin, Justin,
…which sounded a lot like what the fans were saying inside. The whole promising pack of them just couldn’t do much for the hometown team, and after a couple years most fans had had enough. As we know from our bibles, there is only one Jesus, and that’s all we’ve got left here in Seattle. Plus Kyle, and he’s looking more like a savior these days. But here we go now, in order of those posters along Dave Niehaus Boulevard…
- Brad Miller, Tampa Bay Devil Rays. This hyped up young man gets drafted in 2011, major league debut in 2013, all glorious expectations placed on his young head, and he clunks into a .248 in three seasons here, including a tiny .221 in 2014, and that’s when you started hearing the “Jesus, Jesus” after his name in the stands. Finally he’s shipped off to Tampa, where he suddenly bats… .243. Well he’s consistent. Still lookin’ for that groove. We got ourselves Boog Powell in the deal. No, not that one. This Boog Powell. Really, Herschel Mack Powell. Plus Nathan Karns and C.J. Riefenhauser.
- Michael, having a great time in the playoffs.
- Logan Morrison, Tampa Bay. After four years with Florida, he came to Seattle to be the first baseman we’ve always wanted… and it looked like that might happen, except for that pesky .225 average. So off LoMo went with Farquhar and Miller, leaving a horde of broken hearts in their wakes.
- Kyle Seager — yep, still here, and the cream of this bunch. Drafted in the third round in 2009. Something good’s cooking in that Seager kitchen. Kid bro Corey is in the playoffs with the Dodgers and is a hot candidate for Rookie of the Year. But I digress…
- Dustin Ackley, New York Yankees. Gotta feel bad for Ackley. He goes to Yankee Stadium in pinstripes and ends up with a season-ending injury. He was batting .148 for the Bombers in May of this year when he dislocated his shoulder diving back to first on a pickoff attempt. Following surgery, Joe Girardi says “we’ll see him in Spring Training ready to go.” That sucks. Meanwhile, and again, stay with me now… For Ackley, their 2009 first-round pick, the M’s got Ramon Flores and Jose Ramirez from the Bombers. Neither are with the club today. Flores went to the Brewers for Luis Sardinas. Sardinas went to the Padres for a player to be named later. Ramirez — if you’re keeping up, you’ll remember Ramirez — went to the Braves for Ryne Harper. Harper spent the whole 2016 season with AA Jacksonville, appearing in 42 games and throwing 68 innings with a 2.51 ERA. Promising as that may be… seven years after taking Ackley with the second overall pick… just goes to show ya. Would you really want to be a baseball GM?
- Justin, Justin, Jesus… all under contract with teams in the playoffs. Only Smoak will likely see action, strange as that may seem.
- Jesus Sucre, still with the Mariners. It’s fun to call him “Sweet Jesus,” but that’s not just sacrilegious, it’s incorrect. Sucre means sugar in French, not Spanish. And it’s a monetary unit in Ecuador. And for God sake, it’s the state where Jesus was born in Venezuela. So that’s all funny and what not, but what’s not funny is his .480 BA in just 25 at-bats for the big club in 2016. His contract is up. Do we hang onto this one last Jesus?
A-Rod, New York Yankees. A ten-time All Star, three-time MVP, five-time home run leader… all after leaving Seattle as a free agent before the 2001 season.The Nintendo folks just didn’t want the bidding war, which sent him to Texas, who later traded him to the Yankees for Alphonso Soriano. Thje same Soriano who in 2015 ended up back on the Yankees with A-Rod. Say what you will about how the M’s didn’t need him in that 116-win season after he left; drone on about his alleged PED use. The man still hit more home runs than Willie Mays. Plus, the M’s had A-Rod when he was cool. He was young, happy, a joy to watch. A freak of nature. And we only had him for five full seasons after that iconic “I love you too man… but you’re not gettin’ my Bud Light” with Joey Cora. And be happy. With the money they saved by not paying A-Rod, the owners got…
Ichiro Suzuki, Miami Marlins. His bio says he’s 42, but nobody really knows… he’s getting to Satchel Paige status. He’d lost a step by the time he left Seattle (a trade trail that began at Danny Farquhar and dead-ended on Steve Clevenger) but in his much-hyped 2001 American debut he was AL batting champ, MVP and Rookie of the Year. He followed that up with another nine consecutive All-Star seasons, threw in another batting title, and led the league in hits seven times. And think about his durability… in eleven-plus seasons with the M’s, he missed only 33 games, playing in 1844 contests and leading the league in at-bats eight times. Think about that. Will he retire from the Marlins this year? More to the point… will he wear a Mariner ball cap in the Hall of Fame?
And if you’ve read this far, here, in no particular order, are the rest of those guys you’re wondering about, still loving the game enough to keep on playing, still drawing a paycheck, which is more than they’d get with the Ross Eversoles…
Doug Fister, Houston Astros. The good news here is the M’s got Charlie Furbush, who hasn’t been sensational either but it sounded cool to say “Furbush & Farquhar.”
Luis Valbuena, Houston Astros. Batted .260 this year, with 13 homers and 40 RBI. Another long convoluted tale, but after a ho-hum rookie season playing in just 18 games, Valbuena went to the Mets in a 3-team deal that also sent J.J. “Thunderstruck” Putz to the Mets, and netted some familiar names like Mike Carp and Endy Chavez, both now retired; puppy dog-eyed Jason Vargas, and current Mariner Franklin “Death to Flying Things” Gutierrez.
Speaking of Carp, I was at a Mariner game about 2010, six years after Edgar Martinez retired. Carp was the DH that day and I looked at my daughter, avid adult Mariner fan, saying, “can you imagine, this is what we’ve come to. That stirring in the blood, that quickening of the pulse, knowing something great is about to happen, when the announcer says, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, now batting for the Mariners, the designated hitter…’ and you’re ready to jump up and shout ‘Eeeeeed-gaaaaaarrr,’ then you hear, ‘Mike. Carp.’ and you can hear that balloon of anticipation just hissing around the stands.” Of course as soon as I said this, Carp ripped a double to right field, driving in a couple runs just like the DH is supposed to do. Also worth noting, among all the second guessing about Mariner management doing everything wrong and trading the wrong guys, the Red Sox actually paid the Mariners cash money for Carp before the 2013 season. In the next three years, Mike was released by Boston, Texas, Washington, LA, and Baltimore. Baseball-reference.com doesn’t show him playing or under contract in 2016, and he’s only 30 as I write this. But there may be a Ross Eversoles out there for him somewhere.
Michael “Diabolical” Pineda, New York Yankees. A 22-year-old rookie, 6’7″, 260 lbs., takes the town by storm and his slider immediately gets this nickname right here. God, how we loved the power, the youth, the ultimate potential, ten, maybe fifteen years of domination… then Niehaus dies, and Pineda gets traded to the Pinstipes for The Jesus. No, Jesus Montero. Really. Who got cut, so we got nothing. And Pineda has struggled with one injury after another, horrible for him and just a bad sign for our boy Ackley. Remember Ackley?
John Jaso, Pittsburgh Pirates. We had him for just one season, and the memories are of a guy who couldn’t help just stepping up there to pinch hit in the ninth inning and rapping that walkoff hit. Might not have been that way, but this backup catcher made it seem that way. We sent Josh Lueke off to the Rays for Jaso, then a year later we sent Jaso off to Oakland in another three-way trade that ended up with the return of Mike Morse. The A’s sent Jaso to Tampa Bay, who cut him, and he was picked up by the Pirates. But think about this for a second… coming over to the A’s in trade with Tampa was Ben Zobrist, who’s now starting with the Cubs in the playoffs.
Mike Morse, Pittsburgh Pirates. Yeah, after all that, Morse and Jaso were teammates for the first three weeks of the 2016 season, before Morse got cut. During his first go-round with the Mariners from 05-08, there was just something cool about seeing a 6’5″, 245-lb. guy playing shortstop. Second time around, in 2013, he played in the outfield over half a season before an August trade to Baltimore, who cut him after the season, for Xavier Avery, who’s played in the minors for the Mariners and four other teams in the three years since. In the midst of Morse’s traveling ways, it was kinda cool seeing this raggedy-looking ex-Mariner get that World Series ring in 2014 with the Giants, right? Even though they cut him loose too, the day after the championship parade?
Fernando Rodney, Miami Marlins. This guy, this hat-on-sideways, fake-arrow-shooting, sensation who just blew too many saves and pissed off too many people to stick around town, gets sent to the Cubs in August 2015 for “cash or a player to be named.” That means you’re pretty much worthless, as it does when the Cubs toss you on the scrap heap after the 2015 season. But does Rodney, staring at his 39th birthday coming up the next March, say screw it and drift home to his native Dominican Republic? Nope. He signs with the Padres in February 2016 as a free agent. He proceeds to… now you gotta suspend disbelief here… he proceeds to throw 25.1 innings in 25 appearances through June 19, without giving up an earned run. Let’s all think about this together now… It’s so hard to comprehend. But by the time this guy, the 39-year-old who got run out of our town last year, gave up his first earned run for the Padres, it was June 21. He was appearing in his 26th game, earning his 15th save, and his ERA ticked off of 0.00 to 0.34. That’s insane. More insane than that? Nine days later, the Padres dumped him like an aging wife for a 20-year-old Marlins prospect. So in less that 12 months, Rodney wore four different major league uniforms and saw three of those teams give up on him. How cool would it be to see him back with Miami next spring, at age 40, goofy smile and ball cap still making us laugh, making hitters swing and miss?
Kendrys Morales, Kansas City Royals. Yes, there’s a ring on that finger. The M’s gave up Jason Vargas to get him from the Angels in 2013, and dumped him at the end of the season. Then they gave up Stephen Pryor to get him back from the Twins in 2014, and dumped him again at the end of the season. This time the Royals snagged him and didn’t let go. Morales played in all 16 postseason games for KC that year, including the clinching victory over the Mets. Yeah, we got Nelson Cruz. But we still haven’t seen the postseason in fifteen years. And Kendrys has a ring.
Chris Young, Kansas City Royals. Check out that ring. It matches Morales’. The Mariners let him walk, too. Nothing in return, just granted him free agency and let the chips fall. So the big fella, 6’10” 255-lber, goes to KC, throws three frames of extra-inning relief for a Game One victory that set the tone for an amazing World Series championship, and gets re-signed by the Royals for 2016. See that, M’s? You freaking re-sign the good ones.
Danny Farquhar, Tampa Bay Rays. Put this in your memory banks for that trivia game at the Spring Training party next February. You’ll have one of those, right? “Hey man, who’d we get for Ichiro?” Yep, for an aging oddity at the leadoff spot, a guy soon to surpass 3,000 hits even though he started his career in his late twenties, yeah, for that guy, we got Danny’s three-year pitching career with the M’s. 2014 saw him rally for a 2.66 ERA in 66 appearances, but that number nearly doubled the next season and poof he was gone, packed up in a bundle along with LoMo and Miller. We get Karns, whose ERA rivaled that hot air balloon of Farquhar’s before he got injured; Powell, who’s buried in the minors; and Riefenhauser, who went with Trumbo to the Orioles for… yeah. Clevenger. <<Click that for more.
Jason Vargas, Kansas City Royals. The man with the Basset Hound eyes went to the Angels for Kendrys Morales, which, uhhhh, worked fine until we dumped Morales. Twice. And they both ended up on the Royals. Sadly for Jason though, he was a three-game postseason starter in 2014, picking up a victory in the ALCS, but the next summer he was 5-2 with a 3.98 ERA in nine starts when he ended up with Tommy John surgery. He was watching it all go down when his Royals won it all, and he wasn’t back on the big league roster until over a year later. No word on whether his early season efforts won him a 2015 ring.
John Hicks, Detroit Tigers. Remember that Bill Withers tune, Keep On Using Me, ’til You Use Me Up? This guy gets drafted in 2011 by the M’s, plays parts of two ho hum seasons in AAA in 2014 and 2015, finally gets the September callup for 34 plate appearances in 17 games, bats .063, and gets dumped. They take all that time leading him along for four years, then instead of sending him down and saying see you in February, they dump him. The Twins pick him up off waivers in December and dump him in April. The Tigers nab him and he spends the year, at age 26, rolling on the team bus with Erie and Toledo waiting for that next September callup, which does com, and he plays in one game all month, going 1 for 2. Then the season ends, and as Bart Giamatti said, he’s left to face the fall alone. The life of the ballplayer. At least he’s not playing for the Ross Eversoles.
Austin Jackson, Chicago White Sox. It was a three team trade with others involved, but essentially the man with two last names came to the M’s in 2014 for Nick Franklin. On the surface that looked pretty good. We got a guy who led the majors in triples in two of his four seasons in the majors, batting .277 in the leadoff spot. We gave up a guy who was batting a robust .128 and struggling to find himself. Two years later, Jackson is long gone, BA and durability dropping with each stop along the road. Good news, his last trade didn’t make him relocate his home and family. He went from the Cubs to the White Sox.
Nick Franklin, Tampa Bay Devil Rays. And I’m going to keep calling them Devil Rays. That .128 average with the M’s? Give a kid a break here. With a little focus in the minors for the next couple years, Nick finally got back nearly full time with the Rays in June of 2016 and went .270. Meanwhile Jackson’s on a downhill slide. Once again, the joys of the GM.
James Jones, Texas Rangers. This young man came up to the M’s in 2014, one of the fastest guys I’ve ever seen in the outfield and on the bases. He hit a solid .250 as a rookie in more than half their games, but dropped to, um, yeah. .103 in 2015. The recollection of Willie Mays Hayes just got a little stronger. Off he went to the Rangers, now get this, off he went along with Tom Wilhelmsen for Leonys Martin. Martin was awesome, and Wilhelmsen came right back after the Rangers tossed him. Meanwhile Willie, I mean James, languished all of 2016 in AAA Round Rock. Texas. Oh Lord, please.
Logan Kensing, Detroit Tigers. Wow. After that discussion about Kawa, sticking it out at 35 and spending the season in Des Moines… check this guy out. Kensing has spent parts of nine seasons in the majors. He’s 33 years old. He’s been traded by the Marlins, then tossed on the trash heap by, count ’em, the Nationals, Devil Rays, Yankees, Pirates, Rockies, Mariners (twice), and White Sox. Released or “granted free agency,” which at this level essentially means “go ahead and find another job, because we’re not interested in your puny price tag,” eight times. Then in December, 2015, he got another contract with the Tigers, pitched three games in April, 2016, and spent the rest of the season in, oh man, Toledo. Kudos to this guy. You know the baseball’s gripping him, not the other way around.
Dominic Leone, Arizona Diamondbacks. Just an offhand question here. Would you rather be in Phoenix, sweltering on an endless patch of flat-ass freeway and pitching for an awful team against big-league hitters, or in Reno, enjoying the night life and helping your team to a winning record against guys who aren’t quite ready for the Show? Not like Dom really has a choice, but you get the picture. And you gotta wonder about the mindset. He packs a 2.17 ERA and goes 8-2 in 57 appearances for the M’s in 2014, his rookie season. Next June, after struggling with his sophomore year, he gets traded for Mark Trumbo and ends up in f***ing Mobile Alabama. I mean what the hell. By 2016, Reno must have looked damn good.
Mark Lowe, Detroit Tigers. No, not Derek Lowe, he’s the other Lowe that got away, winning postseason games with the Red Sox and Big Papi while we sat around looking for that Heathcliff Slocum voodoo doll. Naaa, this Lowe spent half of 2015 here, appearing in 34 games and putting up a 1.00 ERA, say what? Why the hell did we let this one go? Wait, what, we let him go twice? Yeah, we sent him to Texas in 2010, along with Cliff Lee for God’s sake, for among others, Justin Smoak. In a span of less than 24 months, Lowe was then dumped by the Rangers, Dodgers, Angels, Nationals, Devil Rays, and Indians. At which point the Mariners sent him to Toronto for Jake Brentz, Nick Wells, and Bob Rasmussen. Nope, I haven’t heard of those guys either. Rasmussen retired, the other two are still in the minors. So we dump the 1.00 ERA and get nothing. Yet. Maybe. That’s baseball.
Lucas Luetge, Anaheim Angels. The ever-ballooning ERA got ever more worrisome over parts of four seasons, and finally the M’s set Lucas free. The Angels grabbed him, sent him to Salt Lake City, and forgot about him. Wouldn’t you rather be forgotten in Reno?
Yoervis Medina, Philadelphia Phillies. This one’s really hard to fathom. The M’s draft him at age 17, follow him, support him, and mentor him through four seasons in Venezuelan league, and finally bring him to their US farm system in 2010, at age 21. Three years later, he finally makes his debut with the big league club, and over the next two-plus seasons he appears in 141 games and puts up a 2.82 ERA. Ten seasons under contract with the same club, all the way from callow youth to solid vet. It doesn’t happen often, and it’s awesome when you see a young man succeed after such mutual loyalty and dedication. Right? Sure. Off to the Cubs in May of 2015 for Wellington Castillo, as if we even needed a catcher, which apparently we did not. Yoervis appears in only five Cub games before getting sent to the minors, released, picked up by the Pirates, traded to the Phillies, sent to the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs and released again just over a year after leaving the Mariners. What a crock. Think about that one. Ten seasons with the same outfit, you are loving life in big league ball at age 26, then one day Lloyd McClendon calls you into his office. A year and a ton of heartbreak later, you’re released by the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. Just sit there and think about that.
Welington Castillo, Arizona Diamondbacks. This guy found himself way the hell off Route 66, but still he passed through for just six games on his way from Chicago to Arizona. Came here for Medina, left for Vidal Nuno, they wanted a catcher who could hit, not Zunino… catchy, huh? The Diamondbacks threw in Trumbo too, remember 2016 Home Run King Mark Trumbo? With the Orioles? …after he left Seattle? Castillo went on to have a decent year with Arizona in 2016, and just ejected the dregs of that deal in Steve Clevenger. Great move guys. Just don’t forget Winona.
Rickie Weeks, Arizona Diamondbacks. Milwaukee dumped Rickie after twelve seasons (see Yoervis Medina), the Mariners signed him and tossed him again along with his .167 average in midseason 2015. He didn’t get another gig until winter, and he ended up with a couple hundred plate appearances for one of the worst teams in baseball.
Brandon Maurer, San Diego Padres. A big raw talent at 6’5″ and 230, Mao-er-the-first-r-is-silent is one of those swashbucklers you just want to see pitch well. But after two seasons of a 5.58 ERA, the M’s thent him thouth for Theth Thmith. At which point he spent the 2015 season going 7-4 with a 3.00 ERA. Smith came to Seattle and put up two straight .248 seasons at the plate, and – check how the circle just comes back on itself – Maurer ended up in the Padres’ 2016 closing role after… yep… Fernando Rodney got traded, putting up 13 saves late in the season. Maurer’s still young. just 26. Looks like a good move on both sides.
Erasmo Ramirez, Tampa Bay Rays. Remember Mike Montgomery? Mike Montgomery of the Chicago Cubs? The only remaining ex-Mariner still playing as the 2016 World Series begins? The M’s sent Ramirez and his ever-climbing ERA (3.36, 4.98, 5.26 in three seasons) to Tampa for an untested rookie as 2015 Spring Training wrapped up. All Montgomery did in his major league debut season was to start 16 games and throw two complete-game shutouts. Looked like an amazing perceptive move until we sent Montgomery to Chicago, waited for what/whom we’d get in return, and took a look at Dan Vogelbach. Sorry dude, I know you’re someone’s boy but you are nobody’s little boy any longer. The only thing little about 6’0″, 250#Dan Vogelbach is his .086 batting average. And conventional wisdom says Vogelbach’s coming back in 2017. Back to Ramirez, that ERA dropped again as he started 27 games in 2015 and went back to a relief role in 2016. Still… we had Montgomery… dammit.
Chris Denorfia, San Francisco Giants. After four straight seasons hitting a solid .271 or higher for the Padres, Denorfia’s numbers took a major dip in the first half of 2014. San Diego did what any team would do… they thought “I bet the Mariners’ll take him!” and sure enough. They got Almonte, we got Denorfia, who managed a sullen .195 in just 32 games. In less than 24 months, he was then cut by the Mariners, Cubs, Yankees, and in August of 2016, by the Giants. Hey man. You’re 36 years old. It might be time…
J. C. Ramirez, California Angels. How many guys can say they’ve come back the next season to face the team that tossed them? Probably a bunch. But how many come back the next season and face their old team with two different squads, one from each league? J.C. had a two-month cup of coffee with the M’s in late 2015, then pitched against them five times in 2016, once with the Reds and four more times with the Angels. Overall he pitched in 70 major league games.
Joe Beimel, Kansas City Royals. Most recently released in July of 2016 by the Royals, and currently not active, Joe’s just here because this is an awesome story. Beginning in 1998, Joe Beimel was signed, then released or granted free agency by the Pirates, Twins, Devil Rays, and Dodgers. In 2009 he was signed by the Nationals, who traded him to the Rockies, who cut him again after that season. Since that time, and keep in mind some of these happened in the winter/Spring Training time only, Joe Beimel has been signed, then dropped, by the Rockies for a second time, the Pirates again, Rangers, Braves, Mariners, Rangers again, Mariners again, and Royals. That’s fourteen hi-how-are-yas and fourteen see-ya-laters in eighteen years. Fourteen times wondering if this is the big break, fourteen times packing your stuff and shaking hands, fourteen times just at the major league level.