With the Mariners struggling like they have for the first two months of the season, it’s time to look around and see what the ex-Mariners are doing.
By and large, they aren’t doing all that well, particularly the position players. Unless I’ve overlooked somebody, Adrian Beltre’s the only one having an All-Star type season.
There are some relief pitchers, however, the M’s probably wished they’d hung on to, particularly Matt Thornton of the White Sox, Rafael Soriano, now with the Rays, and Ryan Franklin of the Cardinals.
Here’s my all ex-Mariners team, based on their play this season. If I missed anybody, let me know:
Catcher: Not a particularly deep position. Jamie Burke, where are you? Yorbit Torrealba (.271 through 25 games), who played the last half of the 2005 season is Seattle, is splitting time in San Diego. He remains one of the best defensive catchers in the game. Jason Varitek (.273, 6 HR in just 55 at bats) has been relegated to backup duty in Boston. I know, I know. Varitek never played a game with the M’s, but he was a first-round pick who played in Seattle’s minor-league system. And I couldn’t find another ex-Mariner catcher on a roster.
First base: Russell Branyan was in Seattle just for 2009, and the M’s opted not to go after him when he became a free agent. Probably a good decision. He’s hitting .235 (4 HR, 11 RBI in just 85 at bats) since coming back from a back injury.
Second base: Couldn’t find a regular, so I’m putting Ronny Cedeno, starting at shortstop for the Pirates (.252, 4 HR, 13 RBI), here. Cedeno was with the M’s for part of the 2009 campaign.
Shortstop: The much-maligned Yunieski Betancourt (.280, 3 HR, 16 RBI and, hey, only 16 strikeouts so far) gets the nod over Detroit’s Ramon Santiago (.260, 25 games).
Third base: Adrian Beltre, one of my all-time favorite Mariners, is having an outstanding season for Boston. He has five HRs and 33 RBI to go with that .341 average and slick glove-work at third.
Outfield: The M’s might have given up on Shin-Soo Choo too soon, trading him to the Indians for Ben Broussard in July of 2006. He’s been pretty productive for the Indians, and is hitting .302 with 7 HRs and 25 RBI. He could have been the M’s starting left-fielder the past three years. Raul Ibanez of the Phillies (.250, 3 HR, 20 RBI) is off to a slow start, but he can turn it on anytime. Jose Guillen (.266, 11 HR, 32 RBI) is stroking it for the Royals. Adam Jones of Baltimore (.255, 5 HR, 15 RBI) still hasn’t lived up to the hype, so he’s a backup along with Scott Podsednik (.293, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 14 SB) on this team.
DH: Guillen or Ibanez could fill this spot, or veteran switch-hitter Carlos Guillen, the former Seattle shortstop with the Tigers (.311, 1 HR, 8 RBI).
Utility: Infilder/outfielder Willie Bloomquist is hitting .192 with four SB, but, once again, the Port Orchard native is producing when he gets some at bats. After not playing for what seemed like a month, he’s 5-for-12 in his last four games.
Jamie Moyer, Phillies: The one-time Ancient Mariner, now 47, is 5-4 with a 4.55 ERA, averaging better than six innings per start. Could he still be pitching when he’s 50?
Freddy Garcia, White Sox: The Chief is 3-3 with a 5.68 ERA in eight starts.
Carlos Silva, Cubs: One of the worst signs the M’s ever made is 6-0 with a 3.52 ERA, but he’s benefited from a ton of run support. We’ll see if he can keep it up.
Joel Piniero, Angels: He’s pitched better than his record (3-5, 4.95 ERA) indicates.
Fifth starter: You could throw in struggling Gil Meche of the Royals (0-4, 6.66 ERA) or R.A. Dickey, the knuckleballer with the Mets (1-0 in two starts) who’s still bouncing around.
UPDATE: I overlooked Derek Lowe of the Braves (6-4, 5.50
ERA), who would certainly be part of the starting
Matt Thornton, White Sox: 2-2, 1.89 ERA in 19 games. He’s been, perhaps, the premier setup lefty in the game. In 19 innings, he’s struck out 28 and allowed just nine hits.
J.J. Putz, White Sox: Putz is having a nice comeback year. Not a closer any more, he’s 0-2 with a 3.68 ERA. In 15 games and 14.2 innings, he has struck out 18 and walked just three.
Ryan Franklin, Cardinals: He’s been effective as a starter, long and middle reliever, and now closer. Franklin’s 3-0 with a 2.01 ERA in 20 games. He has 10 saves, 13 strikeouts, one walk.
Rafael Soriano, Rays: In his first year with Tampa, after
leaving Atlanta, he’s 2-0 with 1.40 ERA and has 13 saves.
Arthur Rhodes, Reds: Another lefty setup guy, Rhodes can still get people out. He’s 1-1 with a 0.47 ERA in 21 games. He’s struck out 19 and allowed 8 hits in 19.1 innings.
Other options: Miguel Batista of the Nationals (0-2, 4.60 ERA in 17 appearances) and George Sherrill of the Dodgers (0-1, 7.36 ERA), who is scuffling after an All-Star season in Baltimore.
Manager: Lou Piniella (Cubs) is the obvious pick, but Jim Riggleman (Nationals) would be my choice.