An Offseason Plan: The Road Goes Ever On

All we have to decide is what to do with the team that is given us

In the introduction to this three-part series I stated that the Mariners are “at a crossroads.” The MLB roster is too old, expensive, and declining to reap the prospect harvest necessary for a quick rebuild. There’s also not quite enough talent on hand to realistically compete for a 2018 playoff spot without further, massive financial commitment from ownership.

The first two parts of this series set out to examine high-reaching paths on the outer edges of possibility. I said it in those posts but I’ll say it again, for emphasis: The Mariners are not committing to a full rebuild prior to 2019 at the earliest, and they aren’t blowing payroll out beyond the luxury tax , as their recent acquisition of High Prince of Whelm Ryon Healy can attest. Between these two extreme routes lies the deep, wide valley of realistic possibility. This post’s purpose is to venture down into that valley, and see what we find.

I’m going to break up the previous pattern of this series to look first at what I think Jerry Dipoto’s vision for this offseason may entail, at least the major beats, before humbly offering my own vision for a realistic 2018 roster. The response to this series has been very positive, and for those of you who stick with us during our dry spells, and offer encouragement for our little blog, know you have my deep, deep appreciation. Having people engage your writing, especially on a topic I love as much as baseball, is a dream come true for me personally.

Ok, gratefulness and framework out of the way. Onward.

Dipoto-620

The Presumed Dipoto Plan

Jerry Dipoto is not a dumb man, and he does not run a bad Major League front office. Whatever Dipoto’s public face and stated beliefs are, he almost certainly is much, much more attuned to the precarious situation he and the roster find themselves heading into 2018 than I am. I’m sure he falls asleep every night fantasizing about a $250 million dollar payroll that allows him to scoop up every needed free agent around, but he knows that won’t happen. Realistically, the Mariners headed into this offseason with two glaringly obvious opportunities to improve, and one lesser one: Starting pitching, first base, and center field.

Acquiring the middling but cheap Ryon Healy makes it clear that Dipoto has set his sites on starting pitching, and the recent trading of Thyago Veiera for international slot money further makes clear what the long-presumed number one priority of the Mariners’ winter is:

Sign RHP Shohei Othani. Somehow. Someway.

I won’t bother going into the details of Ohtani here. If you’re reading this you know all about him. He’s Japan’s Babe Ruth, but the cool hipster Boston Red Sox Babe Ruth; swatting dingers and hanging out in the outfield on the days he’s not breathing hellfire 60’6″ from home plate. While it’s almost certain that Othani could never live up to the hype surrounding him, his age (23) coupled with the absurdly low cost to acquire and pay for his first few years in MLB makes him the dream acquisition of the offseason for many teams.

It’s hard to overstate how important acquiring Ohtani is to the Mariners assembling a playoff contending roster for 2018. If he’s 80-90% of the hype then the team has acquired a legitimate number two starting pitcher for relative peanuts, not just for next year but years afterwards. Should he be allowed to hit as well? The team has little to no place to put him, and the injury risk and lack of recent precedent makes it logistically an unwise, and unlikely idea. However, if Ohtani can be swayed by promises of even 5-10 PA a week then the Mariners are not in a position to be picky. You can’t pay him what he’s worth, but you can give him what he wants. You have to. Nothing else about this offseason works without him. If you must, let Ohtani hit.

Sign RHP Yu Darvish to a 6 year, $175 million dollar contract

The sole cross-alignment of my “spend to the hilt” plan and here, I think the Mariners have every intention of making a huge offer to the enormously talented right-hander.

Unless a team is capable of re-capturing the magic of last decade’s Rays, a low-budget model that has had less and less success as the analytical playing field has evened over time, massive contracts in baseball are simply part of doing business. While I’m sure Mariner ownership would prefer to wait until the Nelson Cruz and Felix Hernandez contracts are fully off the books before making another huge commitment, the contention window demands action now. Darvish’s age (31) and spotty injury history are a concern, but he has top 3-5 in all of baseball stuff, and can dominate a game in ways few can.

Put together, a rotation of Darvish-Paxton-Ohtani-Leake-Hernandez has the makings of the best in the division, and the best in franchise history. It turns a huge organizational weakness into a massive asset. It’s a table flipping, landscape altering pair of moves.

Timing of these two acquisitions is crucial, and may be very difficult. Acquiring Darvish without also acquiring Ohtani is simply a half-measure; an exciting but insufficient improvement. If Ohtani signs with another team, I would encourage and expect Dipoto to steer clear of the sort of contract that Darvish will command. Of course signing Darvish early may, may just be the tipping point to convincing Ohtani to come to Seattle. It’s an impossible quandary. Don’t you wish you were a major league general manager?

Add OF depth

This fucking guy

I was tempted to repeat “re-sign Jarrod Dyson” here, but given that Dyson is almost certainly seeking top dollar for his last realistic major payday I’m concerned that the Mariners will simply not have the money to retain the speedy center fielder.

While Jerry Dipoto is talking about Mitch Haniger being the team’s every day center fielder on Opening Day, that not only feels like a miscasting of the promising Haniger’s skillset, but fails to take into account his thus far fragile health. The team needs a center fielder, and Braden Bishop, fun though he his, isn’t a part of a contending team in 2018. Realistically this feels like a classic Dipoto Trade situation, although I remain hopeful that a fully-recovered Guillermo Heredia can provide enough with his bat to be an asset at the position.

Should the team fail to acquire Darvish or another, comparably high-priced starting pitcher, the idea of shifting the money to Lorenzo Cain, to potentially lock down center in a way the team hasn’t had since Mike Cameron is a very realistic one. Either way, bolstering the outfield is necessary.

***

There are dozens of other possibilities and permutations to the ones I’ve outlined above. (As we speak Dipoto is currently roaming the streets of Mercer Island, trading a handful change for its equivalent in various foreign currencies. They’re just so different and new and, and, and shiny, you see.) There’s no firmly pinning down a manic entity like Jerry Dipoto. But for better or worse the 2018 roster is largely set. There are only so many things he can do without drastically altering the franchise, and he has shown no interest in doing that in his time as Mariner GM. He has been building TO this moment, not trying to avoid it, and I don’t expect him to alter course now.

Dan 2

Nathan Bishop, Seattle Mariner General Manager

For the Mariners to make the playoffs in 2018 many things will have to go right, and the potential downside to another expensive failure are massive. I’ve hammered on this but I’ll repeat it: The Mariners, heading into year three of Jerry Dipoto’s regime, still have arguably a bottom five farm system in the game. They will, at some point, need to address this with painful sacrifices, be it international bonuses, trading from the major league roster, or most likely a combination of the two.

Rather than commit to another massive contract to Yu Darvish, and make the inevitable rebuild even more challenging and difficult, an attempt at constructing a reliever heavy, potentially off-loadable roster that retains a modicum of upside may represent the wisest path forward. Rather than drastically alter course, or double down, the most advisable course of action is for the Mariners to let their current hand ride, give or take a few minor additions. As such:

Sign Shohei Ohtani

For all the reasons I stated above. Ohtani costs, in major league terms, nothing, and his age potentially helps lay the foundational keystone for the next great Mariners team. Nothing about this changes. He is the fulcrum of the entire offseason, but in this scenario failing to acquire him (a very, very realistic possibility) is endurable.

Sign RHP Brandon Morrow to a 2 year, $14 million dollar deal

I am, admittedly, very uncomfortable trying to anticipate the reliever market, and hohohoho does this name bring back some memories, but here we are.

The idea, loosely, is to replicate the 2014 Bullpen of Death that helped an otherwise mediocre roster get within a game of the wild card. The Mariners bullpen, 2017 performance aside, is underratedly filled with potentially lethal relievers. In Edwin Diaz, David Phelps, Dan Altavilla, James Pazos, and Nick Vincent, Seattle has a collection of arms you can squint and see having a great 2018, whether from recent track record or high velocity potential.

Depending on a bullpen to carry a team is needing a 17+ on a D20 saving throw, but the potential upside allows the team to keep its flexibility while helping relieve the pressure on what would, even with Ohtani, be a thin, injury prone, and average-ish starting rotation.

Brandon Morrow was nothing short of excellent with the Dodgers in 2017, and while a multi-year deal for relievers is generally considered a no-no, his high velocity stuff allows for visions of the Mariners locking down practically all games they lead after five with a succession of pitchers throwing 97+ MPH fastballs. Imagine the 2017 Yankees, but minus Aaron Judge. And Gary Sanchez. Ugh, I hate the Yankees.

Various Jerry Dipoto Style Acquisitions

Honestly, I’m not going to bother trying to lay this out. The team needs to churn a few spots; backup catcher, INF depth, OF depth. Depth. You get the idea. This is where Jerry thrives and I have no doubt he can figure a way to get fungible talent for 97 cents on the dollar while rounding out the roster.

The Rationale

While ticking every box of the Dipoto Plan above makes the Mariners a legitimate playoff contender, the one thing we all want, the likelihood of it happening is, um, not high. The Mariners need to attract two of the five or so most desirable available talents, and arguably the top two pitchers, to come to Seattle. This in a market where other teams looking for the same talent include, but are not limited to, the Cubs and Dodgers, two of baseball’s premiere organizations. It’s a huge challenge facing Dipoto.

In lieu of that unlikely outcome building the bullpen allows for a limit in financial commitment, while offsetting the team’s rotation, which would be still the weakest part of this roster. Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager will need to regain their 2016 form, and Mike Zunino will need to hold onto his 2017 gains. Mitch Haniger will need to stay healthy, and James Paxton and Felix Hernandez need to limit their missed starts.

A lot needs to go right, but the same can be said for all but the very best, most expensive, deepest rosters. While the chances are maybe 1 in 5 or so, a roster like this has potential 90-win upside, something that hasn’t happened in Seattle since 2003.

In the relatively likely case that injury, age, and under-performance conspire with the Astros to make 2018 another lost season, a bullpen-heavy roster with no new longterm commitments still allows the team the flexability to sell, should they see it as prudent. I do not have data to back this up but I would argue that no position sees its value bubble at the trade deadline more than quality bullpen arms. Nothing about this plan keeps another middling Mariner team from trading James Paxton, Edwin Diaz, David Phelps, even Kyle Seager, and kicking off the long-looming rebuild.

I admit I find the plan, to be blunt, annoying. The Mariners seemingly are willing to spend through the nose to avoid being truly terrible, but never seem able to endure the commitment necessary to build something truly great. Having 75-85 win talent year after year after year is an exhausting experience. I am ready for change, be it spending what is necessary for excellence, or enduring the losing necessary to build a farm capable of same. However, the reality is the Mariners as an organization are simply not ready to walk down either path for 2018.

Headed into the last year of his contract I have little doubt that Jerry Dipoto is operating under a playoffs or bust mandate, but without the financial flexibility to maximize those odds. As such, I advise he swing for the moon on a potential generational acquisition in Shohei Ohtani, and otherwise build around the possibility of a deadly, high-heat bullpen, and let it ride. With some good fortune, it may just work, and there’s no franchise more overdue for some good fortune than your Seattle Mariners.

Pax Happy 2

 

 

 

An Offseason Plan: Paying the Price

Push in those chips

“I think it has been difficult for us to make clear that our No. 1 objective is to get this team into the World Series,” he says.

-Howard Lincoln – Mariners CEO December 12, 2004

(Part I of this series is found here)

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the unfairness of history. The judgments of our actions and our character are never enough on their own merit. All our words and actions seem to do is provide another data point for historians to compare us to other, better, more accomplished people.

In our living days we exist within the daily inheritance left us by our forebearers. People learn, and they remember. Whatever titles, responsibilities, or privileges we accrue through time we wear as mantle, laden by the words and deeds of all those who shared those accolades throughout time. It’s a lot more than one human can counteract on their own.

“The goal has always been to go to the World Series,”

Chuck Armstrong – Mariners President, January 23rd, 2014

It’s not fair to compare John Stanton and Howard Lincoln, Pat Gillick and Jerry Dipoto. In 2002, when Lincoln and Lou Piniella were getting in shouting matches at the trade deadline, Dipoto was in his first year in a front office, working with Dan O’Dowd in Denver. Populist rabble-rousing instinct is to label Stanton as just another billionaire suit, but to do so risks falling into much of the diminishing thought and language so easily found in our present times.

John Ellis

The Mariners’ current leadership has, in the grand measure of it, very little connection to its past. But telling fans not to draw that connection is an impossible task. When the Mariners lost in 2005, and 2006, and 1985, and 1998, and 1979, and on and on and on the current executives weren’t here. But we were.

We Mariners fans have lived through Carl Everett, and Carlos Silva. We have endured 2010, and Bill Plummer. We have witnessed the wasting away of the career of Felix Hernandez, of a core of inner circle hall of famers that couldn’t even make it to a World Series.

It’s not fair that we hold the sins of previous front offices against the current one. But it’s not fair we have spent four decades of fandom and support with zero World Series appearances, and the sport’s longest playoff drought to show for it. Maybe when there’s unfairness for everyone, there’s fairness for all.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Indians

The Plan

With all early indications this offseason the Mariners will attempt to make 2018 a contending season, simply rounding out the fringes of the roster will not do. 2014-2017 represents the window of opportunity for the core of Kyle Seager, Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano, and (starting in 2015) Nelson Cruz to push this team to the postseason. Counting on those four at their current ages and coming off 2017 production levels to drive a 90+ win team is foolish wishcasting. The team needs additions, and core ones.

Most obviously the starting rotation, despite encouraging Septembers from trade acquisitions Erasmo Ramirez and Mike Leake, is in desperate need. While one can hope that Jerry Dipoto’s ceaseless back-end rotation arm churn turns up the next Charlie Morton, planning on it is, again, foolish. As such:

Sign RHP Yu Darvish to a 6 year, $175 million dollar contract

The 31-year old Darvish is, in many ways, a right-handed James Paxton. Featuring plus-plus stuff, a checkered injury history, and the ability to dominate and disappoint in equal measure, Darvish represents the clearest and most direct path to acquire another ace-like talent. His age and aforementioned injury history makes a huge, long term contract a difficult one to commit to, but this is the cost of attempting to contend without any help from your own minor league system. Darvish’s peak is as high as any pitcher in the game. He is a foundational, landscape-altering acquisition for 2018.

Acquire RHP Shohei Otani

Otani’s posting is filled with unknowns. I’ve written about this already, but no one knows exactly why he may choose to forego $100+ million to come to MLB now, rather than wait for unrestricted free agency in two years, when he would still only be 25. What we do know is that his talent, and the initially low financial cost to acquire represents an opportunity that all 30 major league franchises should be interested in pursuing. It’s going to take a recruiting push that would make an SEC football program blush, but if the Mariners could land him a top three of Paxton-Darvish-Otani would anchor probably the best, and deepest rotation in franchise history.

Sign 1B/DH Carlos Santana to a 4 year, $68 million dollar contract

In the real world of budgets signing Santana, or any position player, to this kind of contract probably puts the Mariners completely out on acquiring an ace pitcher through free agency; but this plan is about being “all-in”, and acquiring Santana’s bat in addition to the above moves would indeed be a Parade at Edgar and Dave kind of acquisition. Santana’s excellent plate discipline, and switch-hitting more than compensates for a so-so glove at first base, and moving beyond next year, he can easily transition to DH to replace Nelson Cruz once his contract expires.

Re-sign CF Jarrod Dyson to a 2 year, $20 million dollar contract 

Baseball writing has a fun way of making you look dumb. This past summer I wrote that the Guillermo Heredia, Ben Gamel, and Mitch Haniger outfield looked like one ready to lead this franchise forward. Well, Heredia collapsed, Gamel’s BABIP regression could reveal him as nothing more than a fringe major leaguer, and Haniger needs to show the ability to stay healthy and productive.

Dyson’s bat is far from an asset, but coupled with baserunning and exceptional centerfield defense he is a very useful player, and at a position the Mariners have suddenly, and once again, very little depth.

While other moves will clearly need to be done (hello Kirk Nieuwenhuis!) to round out the roster, Jerry Dipoto has shown finding slightly below average roster filler is not a problem for him. None of these acquisitions prevent Dipoto’s maniacal churning from pressing onward, ever onward, ceaselessly beating away at the mania of inactivity.

Otani2

The 2018 Outlook

The addition of three all-star level talents realistically adds somewhere between 8-12 wins to the 2018 Mariners. If you feel like 2017’s 78 wins was a bit below the team’s true talent then it would appear this is a roster capable of producing only the franchise’s sixth 90-win team in forty-one years.

Even with these acquisitions, however, significant risk remains. The overall organizational lack of depth will put this team on a tight rope for the entire season. Mike Zunino’s breakout needs to hold, Jean Segura, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and James Paxton need to remain healthy and productive, and the Edwin Diaz Coin needs to land on heads a fair amount of the time.

Without compelling, young talent above the high minors any holes in the roster will be difficult to fill at the trade deadline. Any significant time missed by any of the team’s stars will lead to a glaring loss of production. Even after hypothetically winning the offseason in a way that no Mariner team has ever done, this still stands as a very rickety, rapidly aging, top-heavy organization.

Still, this would stand as one of the most talented rosters the Mariners have ever assembled, and certainly the most talented since the 2003 team won 93 games. At their best they are absolutely a pennant and World Series contender.* That’s something we all want, and something that has recently felt very, very far away.

*Also, did we mention the payroll? It’s going to require an astronomical commitment from the Mariners’ ownership; we’re talking $200 million, luxury-tax approaching, Dodgers/Yankees/Red Sox/Cubs levels of spending to assemble this roster. Just consider it a Fan Tax guys, part of our win-redistribution program for all these decades of bumbling around.

The Rationale

“The fact that there are comments about this ownership and leadership group not caring about winning, but caring about making money, it’s patently false,”

-John Stanton – Mariners CEO, November 4th, 2016

The Mariners, as a franchise, are excellence-averse. In their 40 years of existence they have won 90 or more games only five times. Four of those were consecutively achieved from 2000-2003, literally the only period of time the Mariners resembled anything close to a “good” organization.

John Stanton

Many, many times many, many men have assured us that the Mariners primary goal is to make it to a World Series. But over the long arc of history results matter more than words. The fact is that too often the Mariners have come into a season with a best case scenario of simply squeaking into a Wild Card spot, a level of achievement that in some franchises gets the manager fired.

The team has made it clear they have no intention of rebuilding through the acquisition of young talent, my preferred path to building a consistent winner. As such, with the farm system unlikely to produce a star-level major leaguer prior to 2020 at the earliest, the only way up is by digging down into the pocketbook and signing the talent necessary to show us that, indeed, winning at the highest level is the burning, first priority of the entire franchise.

If ownership is unwilling to show the patience, planning, and competence to build a sustainable winner, then winning now through maniacal spending is the fastest and surest route to success. I’ve often wondered how I’d have felt about being a fan of the 1997 Marlins, who maxed out payroll for an aging roster of stars, only to sell them all off before the rings were even handed out, but I’m willing to give it a try.

If ownership does not spend as necessary, or put a rebuild plan into place soon in a manner that shows clear vision and action for the short and medium term, the next time John Stanton gives an interview and claims the World Series to be this franchise’s driving ambition will be weighed against all the times we’ve heard that before, and the final judgment will not be kind. But it will be fair.

Podcast Episode 14: Dome & Goldy, Pt. 2

Grindin’ meat, talking food, La Croix, and your Seattle Mariners

Despite (excellent) advice from his publicist, Mariner Play by Play Announcer, beef aficionado, maple lemonade connoisseur, and #verified La Croix stockholder Aaron Goldsmith returns to the show, joining David, Scott, and Nathan for a little chat.

Topics include: The 2017 Mariners, the future, Kevin Cremin, Mike Blowers, where to get the best sushi in Seattle, and a whole lot more.

(Subscribe and rate us a million stars on iTunes. Soundcloud is here. Thanks for listening.)

An Offseason Plan: Vengeance for Bedard

The case for rebuilding

The Mariners are at a crossroads. They are too old and too financially over-committed to make a decision to rebuild an easy one. The Astros appear to have annexed the next handful of season’s worth of AL West titles, but the Wild Cards offer the most success-starved of all baseball franchises, our Seattle Mariners, a prayer at contention.

Still, the team’s best players, both by the numbers and the heart, are all at the age where players get worse, not better. The farm system, while not wholly devoid of talent, appears woefully incapable of providing the core replacements needed for Kyle Seager, Robinson Cano, and Nelson Cruz. A rebuild is coming, and it is coming before the major league roster will be ready to endure it without a significant increase in losses.

With the near certainty of lean times ahead it’s understandable that the current front office (one reportedly in the last year of its contract) would eye 2018 as the last competitive Mariners team in some time, cut the brake lines, and floor the accelerator by signing as many free agents as they possibly can. So, here they stand, with ceaseless failure behind them and three uncertain paths in front of them: Burn it down, go for broke, or a compromise between the two. With that in mind, I want to make a rudimentary examination of what each of the three roads looks like: the goods, the bads, the final years of Robinson Cano’s contract and on.

Since I sometimes have flagging self-confidence let’s add some CAVEATS: I won’t pretend to be an expert on value, and I don’t intend to break down exact player-for-player exchanges. This implies a level of knowledge I simply don’t have. I’m working off a general understanding of the state of the game and the team. Others who have spent years closely studying the minors will have a much better idea of what the nuts and bolts of these ideas would entail. We’re working with broad strokes here.

My amateurism sufficiently disclosed, let’s get into it with the direction I’d most prefer the team follow: Burn. It. Down.

Kingdome demolition

The Plan

Trade James Paxton to the…….Brewers? Sure, the Brewers, for prospects

This is the centerpiece of the rebuild process. Paxton is arguably the team’s most valuable major league piece and the most valuable arm by a mile. With three multiple (Baseball-reference says he’s a FA in 2021, but he just finished his first year of arbitration. I dunno.) years of club control and coming off a four-win season in only 130 IP, Paxton presents any team with dreams of 2018 contention ace upside at a bargain price. The ability to acquire one young MLB-ready player and multiple low-level minors prospects is in play.

Additionally, with the combination of the Mariners place at the end of a contention window, Paxton’s agent Scott Boras almost totally shunning extensions, and Paxton’s terrifying injury history, the idea of James Paxton: Lifetime Mariner is an unlikely and unwise proposition.

With club control and 2017 representing a career year, Paxton’s value has almost certainly never been higher. While rolling the dice and hoping he stays healthy and productive into the deadline of 2018 may theoretically let you take advantage of a panic buy in a frenzied market, the risk is simply too high. I love James Paxton and watching him become one of the game’s best left-handed pitchers in Seattle has been a joy, but baseball is cruel. Trade Pax.

Trade the relievers, all the good relievers

With the tacit admission that 2018 won’t be a contending year baked into the DNA of this plan, and intriguing if unproven power arms such as Dan Altavilla, Thyago Vieira, and others in house, there’s no need holding onto high leverage relief specialists. Nick Vincent? See ya buddy, thanks for the regression last year. David Phelps? More like David Whelps, in my opinion. Edwin Diaz? You’re cool. I like you. Good luck in Arizona!

Kyle Goofin

Explore trading Kyle Seager

Despite his down year in 2017, Seager may very well be the most valuable player on the Mariners’ 40-man roster. With four years and only ~$57 million left on his contract, a 30-year-old, good defense, clearly established four-win player should have sizable value on the market.

The major downside is positional demand. Whereas with James Paxton everyone is always looking for starting pitching, there are only so many third base jobs to go around. Still, if Jerry Dipoto can find someone to fill his demands (and they should be very high) Kyle Seager could bring back a boon of talented players to stock throughout Modesto, Clinton, and Arkansas. It would hurt, but everything about this plan hurts. Bye, Kyle. Thanks for everything.

Who would like to be paid to have some old, potentially useful players on their baseball team?

Look, no one wants to have to do this plan; we all want the Mariners to be great, and we want them to be great with these players. We may not have to, but we do, in fact, love these guys. But Felix Hernandez, Robbie Cano, and Nelson Cruz are not here for a gutted franchise aiming for the 2020 AL West Title. While Cruz may have legitimate trade value, as he refuses to act his age and is in the last year of his deal, Cano and Hernandez represent near total sunk costs at this point. Cano in particular, with $140 million left on his deal, would require a substantial swallowing of dead money by ownership.

These are the difficult realities of going for it through free agency back in 2014-2015. The rent comes due, and building for the future with these aging players and their contracts around is simply not feasible. Financially, and emotionally, it is the hardest part of this plan. But it’s one that must be done. All efforts should be made to mitigate the money owed on these contracts, and gaining any and all financial flexibility a top priority.

Cano Cruz

The 2018 Outlook

The gutting and stripping of the Mariners big league roster is designed to end with the farm system sufficiently stocked with talent to be at or near the top 10 in the game. It is contingent upon the franchise extending Jerry Dipoto and allowing him the trust and time necessary to see the rebuild through to some sort of completion. But the 2018 season is almost certainly a total loss.

While Dipoto has proven to be moderately adept at finding readily available ~league-average talent with little to no long-term commitment, it’s hard to see this version of the Mariners winning more than 70 games. Safeco will be empty, fans will complain, revenues will drop, and the seventeenth (and very, very likely eighteenth) consecutive season of playoff baseball will pass on. I won’t lie: it will hurt, and we’ll hate it.

Sad Fan

The Rationale

In the 2007/2008 offseason the Baltimore Orioles, fresh off their 10th consecutive year missing the poststeason, made a choice. With the Red Sox and Yankees at the height of power and the newly re-branded Rays a looming terror, Baltimore decided to acquiesce the immediate future to their rivals. The centerpiece of this acquiescence was trading their best player; a 28-year old, oft-injured but tremendously talented Canadian left-handed pitcher – Érik Bédard.

Clearly, if you’re reading this, you’re standing here with me at the gates of hell, so we won’t walk any further down this road. I bring up the Bedard trade because the 2007 Orioles and 2017 Mariners are not dissimilar. They are/were both aging, success-deprived franchises poorly suited for short term competition with other teams in their division. The Bedard trade was foundational in the Orioles making the playoffs three of the past six seasons and represents the kind of long-term planning the Mariners have never seemed able to both commit to and execute competently.

The desolation that is the Mariners minor league talent base demands recompense, one way or the other. While further losing seasons at the major league level and the loss of many of the team’s beloved stars will sting and sting badly, the presence of multiple budding stars and (fingers crossed) superstars in the minor leagues will tide over us diehard fans. No longer will we have to content ourselves with having to squint and voluntarily bashing our heads on desks to see anything more than MLB role players in the team’s top prospects. Uber-prospects inspire dreams, and dreams can carry you through a whole hell of a lot, even when reality sucks.

It’s an agonizing choice and certainly an unlikely one. All signs point to an attempt at one final year of contention in 2018. But this plan offers hope beyond the second Wild Card spot or a single playoff game at Safeco Field, glorious though that would be. It offers the possibility of years and years of playoffs, dozens of playoff games, of a World Series banner flapping with the Puget Sound sunset behind it. Whether we get it or not, we deserve to dream that dream.

Safeco Pano

The 40 Worst Mariners, Day IV

40 for 40. Eye for an eye.

And so we arrived at the end of our little catalog of Mariner misery. This list could have been a lot, a lot, a lot longer. Some players are Richie Sexson, and missed out on this because, while they bottomed out in Seattle, they also had plenty of success here. Others are Brad Wilkerson, and were so spectacularly bad that their awfulness wasn’t allowed the necessary gestation period for the birth of permanent memory. There were a lot of these guys actually; Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks, a small village of left fielders really, Rich Aurilia, Eric Byrnes, and on and on into oblivion.

We all wish the Mariners had themselves a championship or five, and an equally bright past and future, but here we are. We all root for a team with four playoff appearances in forty seasons, and zero World Series Championships. That doesn’t mean we hate them, hell we maybe love them more for their failures at this point. The closest approximation to Mariner fandom, or true, deep, life-long fandom of any kind is that it’s like a family. We don’t really get to choose each other, we’re all just kind of here. Together. And we choose to love each other, Jose Vidros and all.

This list was made with plenty of pain to draw on, but also a lot of fondness. If you made it all the way through, thanks. If not, well, no thanks. Either way, we had a blast, and next week we’ll turn our attention away from the plague-filled corpses of Mariner past, to the treacherous road ahead. Also, team play-by-play announcer Aaron Goldsmith is coming back on the podcast. Again. Yeah, I don’t know why he keeps saying yes either, but please send us good questions for him on Twitter. Thanks, all.

(Parts I, II, & III here)

31. Henry Cotto

cotto-topps

When I was a boy, my friend Karl went to Fan Appreciation Night and, against all odds, had his seat number called on the public address system. His prize: an authentic, game-worn Henry Cotto jersey. He didn’t know what to do with it; it was too large to wear, too rare to hock. It also contained, on some trace level, a grown man’s sweat. So he hung it on the wall of his bedroom, like a black mark he couldn’t dispel, a warning against the mediocrity of adulthood that awaited us all.

Someday, after the bombs fall, and scavengers pick through the rubble of our civilization searching for copper wire, they will come across a hollowed-out building with a single intact wall. And on that wall, pure as the first day, will be a Henry Cotto jersey, flapping in the wind like a surrender. They will see it, and they will run.  (phd)

32. Ryan Franklin

For the record none of the bad things I’ll say about Ryan Franklin are my fault. It’s not my fault in his three full seasons in Seattle he gave up 95 home runs, or that his lowest FIP during that time (2003-2005) never finished lower than 5.04. It’s not my fault his stuff was so feeble he never struck out more than 13.1% of batters as a starter.

It’s not my fault Franklin went on to inexplicably be a star closer for the Cardinals while looking like an adolescent Wookie someone got drunk and shaved after he passed out. No, none of that’s my fault, it’s Ryan Franklin’s. Despite all that, he’s a multi-millionaire living like a king in rural Oklahoma. I’m just a shitty blogger. Well, maybe that’s my fault. (Nathan)

33. Carlos Triunfel

Carlos-Triunfel

Carlos Triunfel was signed by the Mariners when he was 16 years old. He was the Shortstop of the Future™ for five or six years before making his Mariners debut in 2012. In 71 plate appearances, spread across 27 forgettable games between the forgettable 2012 and 2013 seasons, he “produced” a slash line of .167/.188/.401, good for an fWAR of -0.5 and has not played in majors since 2014, when he had 16 plate appearances for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He is 18 days older than Jean Segura. (dg)

34. Chris Taylor

Christopher Armond Taylor, a 5th-round draft pick out of the University of Virginia, was actually a literal break away from being a starting major league shortstop. In the spring of 2015, well into a Cactus League battle with Brad Miller, Taylor was struck in the wrist by a fastball. After a few days waiting for the swelling to go down it turned out that wrist was in fact broken. Taylor missed the first two months, Miller won the job, and all parties involved enjoyed a thoroughly lost season.

In 2016, though, Taylor mashed in Triple-A Tacoma, sporting a 128 wRC+, and looked to re-establish himself within the organization, newly headed by Jerry Dipoto. After a May callup he debuted on May 25th, and it went disastrously. Although he went 1-3 Taylor struck out with the bases loaded, and worse yet committed two devastating errors in a four run Oakland 8th inning, in a 5-0 loss.

Although Taylor entered the next day’s game as an 8th inning defensive replacement, he would never again take an at-bat for the Mariners. Dipoto had seen enough. Taylor was sent back to Tacoma, and on June 19th traded to the Dodgers, never to be seen or heard from again. (Nathan)

35. Jeff Manto

Before Austin Jackson, before Kendrys Morales, there was Jeff Manto. A journeyman first baseman Manto had latched onto the mid 90’s offensive boom times, slugging nearly .500 and more than half his career home runs in the summer of 1995 for the Orioles. After a short detour through Japan, he landed back in MLB with the Red Sox in 1996, before being acquired by Woody Woodward and the Mariners in exchange for all-namer Arquimedez Pozo.

When I close my eyes now, and imagine the ’96 Mariners desperate attempt to re-create their 1995 glory, I don’t see Jeff Manto hitting .185/.302/.296. What I see is that knee brace. It looked like you took all the knee braces from an NFL offensive line, slapped one on top of the other, and then lashed it to the leg of an old, mildly out of shape baseball player. The ’96 M’s were eliminated from the playoffs on September 26th, in a 7-5 loss at Oakland. Jeff Manto didn’t play. (Nathan)

36. John Halama

There’s something admirable about someone who does a job that they don’t want to do for the sake of their family. A lot of people end up clocking in and clocking out of various retail, shipyard, or warehouse jobs with the only beacon of light to keep them going is the people that they’re going home to, the people who rely on them to bring home that hotplate. John Halama grew up in Brooklyn and was not a very big baseball fan. He was passable at pitching from time to time, but he is living proof of my personal theory that if you’re left handed, can possibly touch 85ish, and have a pulse, you could possibly pitch in major league baseball. (SG)

37. Mike Timlin

Mike-Timlin

Mike Timlin was not a bad reliever. You don’t appear in over 1,000 games, and accrue nearly 12 fWAR by being terrible. Timlin wasn’t even bad as a Mariner. Hell, in 1998 he was downright terrific.

What Mike Timlin was, was totemic to one of the most damaging periods in Mariner history. With one of the best rosters in baseball, seemingly only a leaky bullpen stood in their way. As a result Woody Woodward and co. traded, collectively, Jose Cruz Jr., Derek Lowe, and Jason Varitek for Timlin, Heathcliff Slocumb (also on this list), and Paul Spoljaric.

It’s not fair to Timlin to be on this list, but then, it’s not fair that the Red Sox got more than 20 years of Lowe and Varitek, while Cruz went to Toronto and immediately hit 14 home runs in 55 games. But this isn’t a list based on science or facts, so it’s here that Mike Timlin finds himself. (Nathan)

38. Luis Valbuena

Valbuena debuted with the Mariners in 2008 and managed to run a terribly mundane 0.0 fWAR with his time in teal. He’d then be traded for Franklin Gutierrez. After that, he’d play for the Astros and make us all want to die. And then again with the Angels. (Skiba)

39. Miguel Cairo

The sun-down’s perambulation
Miguel Cairo’s at first
Grounds for strangulation

Mojo Risin’
Was the call
Miguel Cairo’s at first
Portent of the fall

Well they have to be good one of these years
Miguel Cairo’s at first
Nothing but tears

Sometimes I think we’ve seen the worst
It’s then I remember
Miguel Cairo’s at first
Another lost September
(Nathan)

40. Willie Bloomquist

There is a ballpark named after Dr. Bill Bloomquist, DDS in Port Orchard, WA. It was built and is now maintained by the local Rotary. It’s essentially a large, flat, occasionally mowed field. It would get mowed more often, but our region’s wet climate typically renders the soil a sort of cake fondant-style “this is holding this is holding oh nope I’ve completely broken through this and am now stuck” consistency for about half the year.

It gets used for the ever dwindling ranks of pee wee baseball, and the occasional church softball game, but as the rudimentary basepaths and mound get slowly swallowed by time and neglect, it primarily serves as nothing more than a shortcut for kids to walk across on their way home from school. Their footpaths criss cross the field, some off on their own, a few common tracks worn deep into the muddy grass, as the field returns, invariably, back to nature.

Willie Bloomquist lives in Scottsdale, AZ with his wife and four daughters. He doesn’t come back to Port Orchard very often. (Nathan)

The 40 Worst Mariners, Part II

Not what you want, not what you need. This, is what you have.

Everyone says they want to be liked; we all want success, the big house, the happy family, a comfortable retirement, etc. It’s all lies, albeit lies at least as much to oneself as to others. Death comes for us all, and although as a species we’ve done an exceptional job distracting ourselves from that fact with our petty squabbles and busy schedules, the truth is life is not a highway, it’s a railroad. We’re on tracks, and the line stops in the same damn place regardless.

Mankind has long yearned for immortality, and we’ve crafted a series of elaborate realities in which we can, but at its essence perhaps the only real way for us to live forever is to do something in life that lives in the memories of those left behind. As Maximus Decimus Meridius said, “What we do in life, echoes in eternity,” but the truth is this: The echoes of eternity resonate longer in a deeper canyon, and you can carve deep hollows of memory into your fellow humans with failure, just as easily as success. These 10 men, these Mariners, they chose the latter. They chose forever.

(Part I, with explanation of criteria and methodology, here)

11. Jeremy Reed

Jeremy Reed
(That’s not how you do that)

We all have a type. Some of us go for someone who is charismatic and controls a room just by walking in. For others, it’s someone on the train with a dog-eared copy of a book that you’ve been convincing yourself to read. For the Seattle Mariners post-2003, it was light-hitting, left-handed center fielders who could run a little and supposedly hit for contact. Jeremy Reed was the catalyst of this movement. Arguably the centerpiece in the Freddy Garcia trade with the White Sox, Reed was called up in September, hit .397 in 18 games, and was declared THE FUTURE. That future went on to put on a DECENT 2005, get hurt, flame out, and somehow play for the Mets. A reminder that all roads lead to Queens. (SG)

12. Miguel Batista

Miguel Batista holds the distinction of cobbling together the very worst pitching season in M’s history (by win probability added – WPA). In 2008, Batista’s WPA was a shockingly abhorrent -4.49; according to FanGraphs, any season-long WPA value less than -3.0 is beyond awful. (For some perspective, over the last decade, the only pitcher to hurt his team’s chances of winning more in a season was the 2009 version of Brad Lidge, a man who blew 11 saves for the Phillies while posting an ERA of 7.21.) In 20 starts in ‘08, Miguel allowed a triple slash line of .307/.409/.536 (i.e., he made the average hitter look like this year’s Justin Turner or Kris Bryant). Batista eventually assumed more of a swingman/bullpen role, where he was somewhat less bad, but the damage was done and the season was doomed and your Seattle Mariners lost 100+ games for the first time in 25 years. #TheMojoIsRising (Andrew)

13. Jose Vidro

vidro
(Not how you do this either but lol Cubes)

If you go to Wikipedia, someone had the audacity to write “Though he never officially retired, Vidro has not played since 2008.” As if anyone that trotted out as many times as Vidro pathetically did for the Mariners in 2008 needs to declare they are done when, go figure, you were DFA’d midway through August with a batting line of .234/.274/.338 as the freakin’ DESIGNATED HITTER. Apologies for the grammatically unsound sentence, I just got so worked up thinking about him. We won’t even go into the fact that Vidro did all of that jazz, only in a more garbage way, for the entirety of 2007. For a team that has put together an impressive string of pathetic designated hitters, Vidro declares himself king of that shit mountain. (Peter)

14. Bob Wolcott

One ALCS Game 1 in which Wolcott walked five and struck out two does not a man make. Walcott was objectively crap in AAA before he was called up in a state of emergency for the ‘95 Mariners, and subsequently killed the Mariners for the remainder of his short-lived M’s career before Arizona plucked him in the 53rd round of the ‘97 expansion draft. It’s better off if you remember his career based on one playoff start result and ignore the rest. (Scott)

15. Austin Jackson

Austin Jackson
(mmmmmmmmm yes mmmmmm weak contact mmmm delicious yes)

Austin Jackson swinging an aluminum trekking pole at a barbell below sea level. Austin Jackson gently tapping a croquet ball the last four inches through a wicket with a live toucan. Austin Jackson slapping an already broken piñata with a carp on roller skates. Austin Jackson slapping empty plastic Easter eggs with a velvet glove in a wind tunnel. Austin Jackson swinging a 30 lb log at a rolled up sock on Jupiter. Austin Jackson… (Nathan)

16. Bobby Ayala

Might as well get the emotional one out of the way. Ayala was actually filthy in ‘94, striking out 12 batters per 9 innings and cruising to a 2.28 FIP. It’s that performance that had Lou Pinella going to him in high-leverage situations for the better part of his Mariners career, where he allowed a 110 OPS+. The suck lives beyond your memories, friends. (Scott)

17. Milton Bradley

Milton Bradley
(We don’t even like Eric Wedge, yet here we feel for him.)

I don’t feel as if this one needs any elaboration. (Skiba)

18. John Moses

John Moses was the baseball equivalent of a substitute middle school shop teacher, a rebuttal against hero worship. He was an everyman in the sense that people looked up to him, saw themselves in him, and felt despair at their inadequacy. John Moses represented the death of the boyhood dream, the yawning rift between ourselves and who we wanted to be. John Moses did nothing well, except not be the worst at anything. He played center field because the alternatives were worse; flanked by the morose butcher Danny Tartabull in right, he always appeared quietly competent. He appeared fast, and the caught stealings that nearly matched his stolen bases brought praise for his effort. He hit an empty .250 in a pair of seasons when the young and the old, your Mickeys Brantley and your Gormans Thomas and your Als Cowens could hardly break the Mendoza Line. He was there, never making the manager look bad, never the last man in line before the ax. In that sense, he was the most realistic childhood hero that baseball ever produced. (phd)

19. Heathcliff Slocumb

As the old saying goes, never replace a legend – be the guy who replaces the legend’s replacement. Mike Cameron nearly single-handedly tore that idea to shreds in Seattle. A fate far worse is to be the guy instead of the guy – or guys. It’s not Heathcliff Slocumb’s fault he was traded for two of the most important members of a team that ended an 86-year curse. Cameron was at least given the opportunity to make a name for himself and rose to the occasion. Slocumb stumbled out of the gate, and that scab was picked at on a near-daily basis eight years later during one of the most dramatic playoff runs the country had ever seen. Sometimes it’s not about who you are but about who you aren’t. And who Slocumb wasn’t was a World Series Champion. (dg)

20. Kendrys Morales

(Well, actually, this is how you do this. Yes.)     

In 2013, when the Mariners were bad, Kendrys Morales actually had a pretty good offensive year for Seattle (119 wRC+ in 657 PA). One season later, after rejecting a qualifying offer, missing all of Spring Training, signing a short-term deal with the Twinkies in June, and being re-acquired by Seattle via trade in July, Morales went on to post an 82 wRC+ as a Mariner (in 239 PA, most of which came while hitting cleanup). Yuck! In aggregate, Morales’s 2014 offensive numbers were pretty putrid, but they become even more gut-wrenchingly awful when you break them down thusly:

Kendrys Morales as a Mariner in 2014
Split PA wRC+
Bases empty 129 89
Men on base 110 73
Men in scoring 56 39

A DOUBLE EWE ARRR SEA OF THIRTY-NINE WITH RISP. Why??? A reminder that the ‘14 Mariners missed the playoffs by ONE game and thanks so h*ckin’ much for being the worst, Kendrys. (Andrew)

(Part III tomorrow)

The 40 Worst Mariners, Part I

The time has come, dear Mariner fans, to talk of many things: of trades, blown saves, and firings – of heartache and no rings

(Happy World Series Week, and welcome to our long-percolating list of the worst Mariners of all time. How did we come up with this list? What is our methodology and framework? Well you’ll be shocked to know we used a broad and inconsistent logic based around our own biases and memories. Some players are on here due to a bad career, some for a bad play. Some may simply have been unfairly stigmatized and for whatever reason the stigma stuck. It’s our list, and we are nothing if unfocused and unfair.

Below you’ll find the first 10 of our list, with the other three parts running throughout the week. If you have complaints, comments, or issues, hit us up on Twitter or in the comments and we’ll tell you why you’re wrong.

Special thanks to old friend Patrick Dubuque, of Baseball Prospectus and its glorious vertical Short Relief, for lending us his incredible talents on this project.)

1. Miguel Olivo

Olivo Face Plant

It was 3:10 AM, and the Orioles had finally broken the tie. Both teams were just about out of pitchers and there was talk of bringing out a starter save for one thing: Jim Johnson was still in the pen for the O’s. Now, it’s not that it would have been any different had Olivo been facing some middling seventh-inning arm or anything. Hell, he was supposed to be at the ballpark again in six hours. It wasn’t even that he just stood there, eyes half closed, willing the game to end entirely on his own accord: a called strike, some foul balls, and a whiff. No it was the realization that I had seen hundreds of his at bats over the course of two seasons, and what I was looking at, there, on my television, 3:10 in the fucking morning, was Miguel Olivo fully putting his heart into something, and having it produce exactly the result he wanted. What the fuck. (Matt)

2. Kameron Loe 

Kameron Loe faced 31 batters as a Seattle Mariner. He got 14 of them out. Six of the other 17 hit home runs, including a center-cut shrug of a slider that Dayan Viciedo (Dayan Viciedo!) struck so hard that it eliminated the Mariners from the playoffs in early April. You have to understand: this was in 2013, a time when every wise fan and semi-intelligent blogger had the “Small Sample Size” song stuck in their head. It was a tough time. We understood regression, looked upon patience the way a child looks at vegetables, and yet. What we had yet to learn, and what we would learn so cruelly and so quickly, is that all samples are different. A home run rate for pitchers stabilizes after hundreds of innings, and yet a brick to the face becomes a pretty solid pattern by brick four. (phd)

3. Eduardo Perez 

On June 30th, 2006, the 41-40 Mariners (just two games back of the division lead!) traded some 20-year-old, ~light-hitting SS prospect named Asdrubal Cabrera (you’ve probably never heard of him) for right-handed batsman Eduardo Perez. The Mariners were tired of Carl Everett’s impotent bat and dinosaur slander and wanted to upgrade the DH position. Although Perez was almost 37 years old, he’d put up a wRC+ of 138 over his last ~1.5 seasons (298 PA) while thumping 19 dingers. (A HR/PA rate of 10.4% is absurdly good; even with the ridiculously juiced ball, nobody with 300+ PA hit home runs at that rate in 2017 – not even GIANCARLO.) Also, when your team is hovering around .500, it’s hip and cool to trade away your better prospects to try and plug holes on your roster, right? What could go wrong? (Andrew)

Figgins.jpg

4. Chone Figgins

Writing about the Chone Figgins saga with the Seattle Mariners is psychologically one of the more twisted enterprises a writer can take on. Without belaboring the point of the epic collapse of the 2010 Seattle Mariners, a team that once looked prime to start a dynasty, Chone Figgins was the central free agent acquisition of a then-worshipped Jack Zduriencik. The M’s of that bygone era had recently shown a surprising turn of character, turning a terrible 2008 into a fun 2009. Cliff Lee was brought in to create likely the greatest 1-2 punch Seattle had ever had in Felix and Lee. Fresh off an fWAR season better than 2016 Robbie Cano, in which he received more MVP votes than Alex Rodriguez, Figgins spent his first year in Seattle scuttling through a 1.3 fWAR season. The rest, well, got much, much worse, perhaps most exemplified by his .056 ISO in 2011.

Figgins would proceed to flame out, spending 2013 without an MLB plate appearance, before barely making a 2014 Dodgers team where he amassed 76 PA’s, blamed the M’s org for all of his failings post-Angels, and then we never heard from him again. Still got that ESPN cover, though. (Skiba)

5. Carlos Silva

Silva came to Seattle on a four-year, $48 million contract in 2008 despite his career 3.8 K/9 — Silva struck out pretty much nobody and walked even less, even leading the bigs in K/BB ratio in 2005 despite a 3.5 K/9. Every ball was put in play, and when he came to Seattle most of the balls were hit very, very hard. The 2008 season was a disaster as the M’s lost 101 games, putting the final death blow on GM Bill Bavasi’s career. Barely lasting into 2009, Silva got shelled for 34 starts as a Mariner, walking batters at career-high rates (as a starter). As a kicker, Silva was eventually dumped in a bad contract swap for somebody who was once actually very good (at hitting) but very terrible (as a person) in Milton Bradley. Silva departed Seattle with a 62 ERA+ over 183.2 very expensive and very shitty innings. (Scott)

Spiezio

6. Scott Spiezio

Scott Spiezio had a sad career with the Mariners, and that translated to a sad career in real life. We won’t harp too much on that – only the facts. Spiezio gets a plus because, after being somewhat kick ass for the Los Angeles Angels formerly of Anaheim now of Los Angeles, and winning a World Series to boot, Spiezio did the unspoken rule thing and cashed in with a division rival via free agency at the end of the 2003 season.

Like most teams on the receiving end of this whole thing whenever it involves the Mariners, the California Angels of Anaheim formerly of Los Angeles via Anaheim got the last laugh. In 2004, Spiezio put up one of the best-worst offensive seasons this franchise has seen, and then doubled-down hardcore in 2005. By the time the M’s cut him that year, he had been to the plate 51 times and had one single, one double, one home run, and four walks to show for it. He also claimed the Mariners didn’t give him enough of a chance afterwards. Shut the hell up Scott. (Peter)

7. Rick White 

The Date: August 30th, 2007

The Situation: Mariners at Indians, 5-5 in the 9th inning, runners on 2nd and 3rd, one out.

Rick White, a 38-year old journeyman reliever living out his final days in Major League Baseball, has an ERA north of 7.00. He pitched the night previous, throwing 24 pitches, in the Mariners’ fifth straight loss, a streak which threatens an inexplicably successful season.

J.J. Putz, in the middle of the greatest stretch by any Mariner reliever before or since, has not pitched in five games. He is rested.

John McLaren elects for Rick White. After a fly out, he intentionally walks old friend Franklin Gutierrez to get the platoon advantage on Kenny Lofton. With the count 3-2 White misses his spot. Ball four. The Mariners lose their sixth straight game. J.J. Putz would pitch the next day in a 7-5 loss, part of 15 losses in a 16 game stretch that effectively ended Seattle’s season.

After the game McLaren defended his decision by saying simply, and bafflingly: “[White] has been through the wars…” (Nathan)

Mendoza

8. Mario Mendoza 

Mario Mendoza played nine seasons in Major League Baseball. Two of them were for the Seattle Mariners. Mendoza is not known for his defensive prowess or any specific moment in his baseball career. He is known simply for being a bad hitter. Bad enough that the unofficial line of demarcation for being a decent hitter, the bare minimum that we accept as palatable for even the best defensive players, .200, is named after him.

Despite multiple seasons hovering around this mark, his career batting average is .215. He hit .218 during his time with the Seattle Mariners. His second season with the Mariners, which came right after the phrase “Mendoza Line” had become part of the common vernacular, he hit a career best .245. But the damage had already been done. Mendoza, the Mariners, and futility, inextricably linked for the rest of baseball history. (dg)

9. Justin Smoak

Through 2014, Smoak’s last year as a Mariner, the only 1st baseman worse than him (fWAR) in the last 15 years was Daryle Ward, who was a journeyman/part-time player. Smoak, on the other hand, was given a historically generous opportunity to succeed in Seattle, fell flat on his face, and has now unlocked the full post-M’s no-reason breakout achievement in Toronto at age 30, posting a 3.4 win season after seven seasons of a combined 0.3 WAR. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  (Scott)

10. Goose Gossage 

But let’s get down to brass tax here. Goose Gossage insults us all with his horrible choice of facial hair, bad sunglasses fashion, and lack of wood-working skills. But more than anything else, his words have tarnished the Mariner Name. Sure, in 1994, at the tail end of his career, the Suite-est of Lou’s gave RICHARD one last chance to redeem himself for his errors in 1984, but still naught was to be gained from such tomfoolery.” (Darryl P. Skeeby)

STF

(Part II runs tomorrow)