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
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 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 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
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)