The Worst Seattle Mariner of All Time
For a franchise that seems to toil in mediocrity, or even states of pitifulness, attempting to find the worst of the bad can be a daunting task. While there are the infamous flops in Seattle Mariners lore such as Jeff Cirillo, Carlos Silva and Jeff Clement, there are also the relatively forgotten such as Roger Salkeld, Domingo Ramos and Mac Suzuki. Lucky for us Mariner fans, they all suck in their own special way. Yet it is clear by researching the worst Mariners in franchise history, that one stands out above the rest and you know what? It will not surprise you one bit.
In order to determine something as seemingly arbitrary (but overwhelmingly painful) as the worst Seattle Mariner of all time, a criteria must be established for eligibility and suckiness. The first level of criteria is that the player must suck. Thus the worst Mariner of all time cannot be someone like Willie Bloomquist. Despite my unjustified “sports hate” of Willie Ballgame, he didn’t really suck for the Mariners during his seven year tenure (2002-2008 seasons). Bloomquist even posted a WAR of 1.2 in his final year with the M’s, thus showing some actual value.
(Note: my “sports hate” of Bloomquist stemmed from the fact that all Mariner fans, especially the ones I actually hate, seemed to love him. “Oh…look at him hustle!”. “He’s a local boy!”. Shut up. Just shut your mouths when you are talking to me. Stop rooting for mediocre players who hustle. I hate it.)
The second criterion for the WMOAT (Worst Mariner of All Time) is the expectation for the player. This can coincide with the amount of money paid them or the players given up, but it isn’t necessarily an exact match. For example, Mike Carp isn’t making much of anything this year and he was part of a 85 player trade in which the M’s gave up J.J. Putz. Nevertheless, the expectations for Mike Carp this year were higher than he performed thus far – to say the least. While Carp is pooping himself (or “rehabbing”), there are Mariners whose expectations derived from salary and/or trade pieces sacrificed.
Hence, the third criterion for WMOAT is their “value”, meaning how much the team pays them or how much was given up in a trade. While some players disappoint us for various reasons, they don’t necessarily make the list because of this “value” criteria. For example, Scott Spezio not only pissed us off with his band name of “Sandfrog” and his weird facial hair, but he also sucked as a Mariner. Yet we quickly realize that it doesn’t really matter what Scott Spezio did (facial hair aside). Sure, he had some decent expectations coming from Anaheim, but he only made about $2.6 million in his first year of the contract. And yes, Spezio was god awful hitting only .215 with 10 homers and 41 RBI that first season. Unfortunately that isn’t enough to crack the worst of the worst in Mariners lore.
Thus based upon expectations, value and just being god awful, here are the five worst Seattle Mariners of all time:
5. Jeff Cirillo
With all apologies to Roger Salkeld, Jeff Cirillo’s $6.375 million salary in 2002 as a Seattle Mariner helps cement his legacy. Or lack thereof. When the M’s traded three pitchers in Denny Stark, Jose Paniagua, and Brian Fuentes to the Colorado Rockies for Cirillo, they expected a potential All-Star at third base. He was a top 10 hitter in the National League for three straight years (98-00). In 2001, he still hit .315 with 17 homers. Cirillo was expected to come out and absolutely rake for the M’s. So what happened? Apparently the A.L. is much better than the N.L. He hit .249 with six homers in his first season and then an atrocious .205 in 87 games in his second year with the M’s. When you have All-Star expectations and a salary that escalated to $6.75 million in the second year (and was sixth highest on the roster), you find yourself in the bottom five. Congrats Mr. Cirillo.
4. Kevin Mitchell
Did you forget? Is Kevin Mitchell being a Mariner the equivalent of Patrick Ewing playing for the Sonics? How about Rickey Henderson in Seattle? Franco Harris as a Hawk? Jerry Rice? This is getting weirdly fun and awesomely depressing.
Yep, in December of 1991, the Seattle Mariners traded pitchers Bill Swift, Mike Jackson and Dave Burba to San Francisco for the former NL MVP Kevin Mitchell. Since this isn’t an article outlining the worst trades in Mariners history (Lowe/Varitek for Slocumb or Adam Jones and Co for Bedard? Which one is worse?), I will not bore you with the fact that Swift won 20 games in San Francisco with his sinker. I will just tell you that we all expected a true #4 hitter in Seattle to protect Junior. We thought Kevin Mitchell could hit 50 bombs in the homer friendly Kingdome. We thought it would be a fireworks explosion almost every home game. And then Kevin Mitchell went on to hit nine home runs in Seattle. Nine!
The next season, after Seattle dealt him to Cincinnati for the Sheriff Norm Charlton, Mitchell hit 19 homers and batted .341 back in the National League. Awesome Kevin. Thanks for that.
Manager Bill Plummer said this when they dealt for Mitchell: ”I’m happy,” Plummer said. “This is an opportunity to fill that four spot with a quality hitter. There are not many opportunities to get a guy like Kevin Mitchell.”
3. Jeff Clement
Oh dear lord, this is painful. Ryan Zimmermann, Troy Tulowitski, Ryan Braun, Ricky Romero, Jacoby Ellsbury, Cameron Maybin, Jay Bruce, Andrew McCutchen. Eight All-Stars. The 2005 MLB Draft. Now considered maybe the best draft in Major League Baseball history and the Mariners took Jeff Clement. The more painful part is that everyone thought – including those with supposed “inside” information – that the M’s were set to take Tulo. Take this from a Denver Post article that interviewed Tulowitski:
Why he was surprised to be a Rockie: In the days leading up to the 2005 draft, the Seattle Mariners told Tulo he was their man. Instead, they picked USC catcher Jeff Clement. Oops.
This draft marked the end for Bill Bavasi as Mariners General Manager in many ways. Granted he screwed up a lot more (look at his track record – it is absurd), but Clement is the pinnacle to me. With Tulo in the line up, this team could be a contender potentially. A middle of the line up guy is hard to come by and we had one. Only we didn’t. We took Jeff Clement instead who is a career. 223 major league hitter. Awesome.
2. Carlos Silva
4-15 with a 6.46 ERA in 28 starts. 1-3 with a 8.60 ERA in six starts (eight games). Four years, $48 million.
“It’s a big add for us in a spot where we had to add some power into our rotation,” Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi said. “I don’t think he’s a good fit just for [our] club. I think he’s a good fit for any club. Guys who come in and throw strikes and are consistent at that, and have done it in the American League … fit anywhere”.
Did you know there was an option for a fifth year at $12 million in this deal? Seriously? Did you know his contract was the biggest given to a pitcher in Mariners history?
Look at those numbers again. Absolutely atrocious. This is the same offseason in which Bavasi acquired Erik Bedard.
All of that is bad (make that miserable), but also remember Silva was then dealt for Milton Bradley. Silva – you deserve a special place in Mariners history. Congrats Silva. You are one piece of work.
1. Chone Figgins
Amazingly, Bill Bavasi finds himself on this list a couple times, but the worst acquisition and now worst Mariner of all time belongs to Jack Zduriencik. When Chone Figgins was signed in December of 2009 to a four year, $36 million contract, it was deemed a “good fit” by all parties involved. Figgins said he liked Don Wakamatsu, the M’s manager at the time. He said he had no problem batting 2nd in the order behind Ichiro. Figgins even said he had no problem moving over to play second base as the M’s were still pursuing Adrian Beltre at the time.
Well, in January of 2011 after an awful first season in which Figgins hit .259 and posted a WAR of 0.8 (meaning he wasn’t quite one run better than a replacement player), Chone got everyone to express his excuses. From the Seattle Times:
Zduriencik said part of the struggles Figgins went through early last season might have been from adjusting to second base, as well as a move to No. 2 in the order and the weight of playing for a new team. Zduriencik said Figgins might be in store for better things “if he gets back to a comfort level where he feels he’s been successful there.”
Yet somehow it actually got worse for Figgins. He followed his subpar first season in Seattle with a .188 average in 81 games last year, posting a WAR of -1.2. Figgins’ WAR this year is also -1.2. This means the Mariners are paying Figgins $9 million per year to be worse than a player that can literally be picked up off the street or from AAA and placed in a line up. His career WAR of -1.2 places him in the bottom fifteen in Mariners history. (Note: John Moses is the worst ever and maybe should be on this list, but honestly his fielding was the big culprit and no one knew much about fielding stats then. Also, he didn’t make $9 million per year).
This season, Figgins has been reduced to pinch running and occasional start role. He doesn’t seem to be distracting from the team much, but who cares? First, he doesn’t mind because he is rich. Second, the team is losing anyway. But guess what folks? The Mariners either have to find someone to unload him on (N.L. please come calling), release him and eat the salary, or we have one more full season after this to endure the Figgins mistake. At least he has one thing going for him: