The Pyramid Rating System’s All-Time Seattle Mariners

Ken Griffey is, easily, the choice for the Mariners' all-time center fielder. (via Kevin Dirksen)

Ken Griffey is, easily, the choice for the Mariners’ all-time center fielder. (via Kevin Dirksen)

Paul Moehringer’s Pyramid Rating System & All-Time Teams

Aug. 27, 2015: The Pyramid Rating System: JAWS on a Career Scale

March 15, 2016: The Pyramid Rating System: The Results

Aug. 12, 2016: The Pyramid Rating System All-Time League and the All-Time Baltimore Orioles

Sept. 2, 2016: The Pyramid Rating System’s All-Time Boston Red Sox

Sept. 28, 2016: The Pyramid Rating System’s All-Time Texas Rangers

Oct. 19, 2016: The Pyramid Rating System’s All-Time Brooklyn Dodgers

Nov. 30, 2016: The Pyramid Rating System’s All-Time Cincinnati Reds

Dec. 15, 2016: The Pyramid Rating System’s 2016 Season Update

In our latest installment of the Pyramid Rating System all-time team series, we head to the Pacific Northwest to find the Seattle Mariners.

Although the Mariners first came into the American League in 1977 along with the Toronto Blue Jays, they were not the city’s first major league team. In 1969, the Seattle Pilots were an expansion team along with the Expos, Padres and Royals and are included in the Mariners lineage in our league, though they didn’t produce a single player who would warrant consideration for the 40-man roster.

The Pilots lasted only a single season in Seattle because they couldn’t secure a long term ballpark solution. Despite this, both the city of Seattle and Major League Baseball maintained an interest in one day having a team there. After the construction of The Kingdome, the Mariners were born.

The early days of the Mariners were not pretty. They had three 100-plus loss seasons in their first seven years, and were the only team in baseball not to post a single winning season during the 1980s.

The ’90s and early 2000s would be a far more fruitful time for the Mariners. They made their first postseason appearance in 1995 and won at least 90 games every year between 2000 and 2003. In 2001, they won 116 games in the regular season and tied the 1906 Chicago Cubs’ record for the most wins in a single season.

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

In more recent years the Mariners have been a competitive, but largely run-of-the-mill team, never winning or losing more than 90 games in any season. All of this will be reflected as we delve into the roster for the M’s.

Franchises Included: Seattle Pilots (1969), Seattle Mariners (1977-Present)
Hall of Famers on 25-man roster: 1
Manager: Lou Piniella

Having won more than three times the number of games as any other manager in Mariners history, and as the only one to lead Seattle to the postseason, Lou Piniella is the greatest manager in Mariners history. It’s not even close.

For the better part of 10 years, Piniella helped transform a team that was as likely to be featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 as on SportsCenter to one of the most dominant teams in the American League.

During Piniella’s tenure, the Mariners posted a record of 840-711 with four postseason appearances and three division titles, but more importantly established the Mariners as a true major league franchise and gave them an identity as something other than a laughingstock.

No other manager in Mariner history has even approached this type of success, which is a testament both to the success Piniella had in the Seattle and pitiful state of the franchise before Piniella arrived.

Best Overall Player, Position Player and Hitter: Ken Griffey Jr.

As historians have done with the birth of Jesus Christ, the history of the Mariners can be just as well summed up into two parts: before Griffey and after Griffey.

Before Griffey’s arrival, the Mariners were a major league team in name only. A 78-84 season in 1987 was the team’s high water mark to that point. Their most need was of a true franchise star. Although players like Alvin Davis and Bill Caudill were popular among the fan base and had solid numbers in their tenure with Seattle, the Mariners never had a player even close to being someone you could build a World Series team around.

That changed with the arrival of Griffey, who gave the Mariners not just a player with superstar talent they could build around, but perhaps more importantly a personality that the Mariners could use to market themselves nationwide. Ask 10-year-olds in ’90s who their favorite player was that wasn’t on a favorite team, and more often than not the answer would be Ken Griffey Jr.

In his prime, Griffey was the blueprint definition of a five-tool outfielder. A 10-time Gold Glove award winner and a seven-time Silver Slugger winner, Griffey almost singlehandedly rewrote the Mariners record book within a few years, leading the AL in home runs four times, including a three year run between 1997 and 1999. He had seven 100-plus RBI seasons and is the only non-Yankee in major league history with three straight seasons of 140-plus RBIs, which he did between 1996 and 1998.

Aside from his Rookie of the Year season in ’89, Griffey was also an All-Star every year with Seattle. In addition to his MVP winning season of ’97, he finished in top five in voting four other seasons.

The addition of Griffey didn’t just give the Mariners the franchise star they were looking for. It gave them an identity. Talent alone would have been enough to gain him attention and nationwide appeal, but that sweet swing and smile made for easy poster material and took Griffey’s marketability as athlete to a level exceeded at the time only by Michael Jordan. It was unusual to be a baseball fan in the ’90s and not own something with Griffey’s image on it.

In terms of how he would fare in this league, I think Griffey would be not just a shoo-in to make the All-Star team, but possibly would be the AL’s starting center fielder. Griffey, however, is one of those players whose the talent tells only half of the story.

There have been players who were better than Ken Griffey and just as beloved, but I’m not sure if any player has meant more to a franchise. As much as Babe Ruth meant to the Yankees, or Ted Williams to the Red Sox, these teams would still exist without their arrival. I’m not so sure the same can be said for the Mariners. Nearly everything the Mariners have as a franchise today can be traced back to the career and the legacy of Ken Griffey Jr.

Best Pitcher: Félix Hernández

When Félix Hernández made his major league debut on Aug. 4, 2005, it was the most anticipated start by a Mariners prospect in team history. At just 19 years old, he was seen as the best pitching prospect in baseball and the team’s staff ace of the future.

Hernández has lived up to the hype, establishing himself as one of the most dominating and reliable pitchers of the 21st century, making six All-Star teams and winning a Cy Young award in what might go down as a Hall of Fame career. His name is already plastered all over the Mariners record books. He is the team’s all-time leader in wins, games started, innings pitched and strikeouts.

Among recent league leaders, Hernández is a common name. He has been in the top five in ERA five times, including two years when he led the league. He led the AL in WHIP is 2014 and has finished in the top 10 four other times. He has been in the top 10 in strikeouts nine times. He’s also one of only five active pitchers with at least 10 shutouts to his name and the only Mariner to pitch a perfect game.

In this league I look at Hernández as an average number one starter and probable All-Star candidate. Nearly every pitcher I have in front of Hernández is in the Hall of Fame and if he can regain his pre-2016 form, I think he can go from being viewed as being a borderline top-10 starter in the AL, to someone you could put in the same conversation as Ed Walsh or Bob Feller as one of the elite starters the American League has to offer.

Hernández has already put himself in legitimate Hall of Fame discussion and whether it’s with the Mariners or not, I hope he doesn’t wind up taking away Jim Bunning’s title of being the greatest pitcher in baseball history never to pitch in the postseason.

Best Player Not on the Roster Due to the One-Team-Only Rule: Álex Rodríguez. Honorable Mention: Randy Johnson

As we’ve seen in earl;ier articles, this rule does not affect all teams equally. In the case of the Mariners, the results are crippling. When it comes to Álex Rodríguez (the only player who will be mentioned in this regard twice) this was the most difficult call I had to make. I have his tenure with the Yankees and with the Mariners in a dead heat. He was a better hitter in New York, but a better defender and more well-rounded player in Seattle playing a tougher position.

This might be the most devastating loss by any team, not just because of what A-Rod would bring to the Mariners, but also because what they have behind him is virtually nothing. As we’ll see, Seattle goes from having one of the 10 best shortstops you’ll find in either league to having the worst shortstop situation of any team. Indeed, aside from Rodríguez, the only Mariners shortstop to ever make an All-Star team was Craig Reynolds in 1978.

In Randy Johnson, we have about the only pitcher who could be argued as being the greatest pitcher of all-time for two different franchises. Hernández may in time firmly secure the title as the best pitcher in Mariners history, but I don’t see anyone being better than Johnson in Arizona, where he was a four-time Cy Young award winner. As dominant as he was in Seattle, he didn’t put himself into the conversation for the greatest left-handed pitcher of all-time until he got to Arizona, but the loss for Seattle is devastating all the same.

If the Mariners had both A-Rod and Johnson, I think they would be in the division race with Kansas City, Minnesota and Oakland, but losing them eliminates any real possibility of that happening.

It speaks to how well the team was run and to the genius of Pat Gillick that even minus A-Rod, Johnson and Griffey they won 116 games in a season. However, count the number of potential Hall of Famers on that team, and I think you’ll get an idea of why they didn’t do more.

The postseason has always been a showcase for great players. You don’t need the same kind of roster depth in October that you do in May, so you get a lot more of your best versus my best match-ups and that’s where not having a Randy Johnson or a Álex Rodríguez on the roster can get exposed. There’s no way a team can counter that in a head-to-head match-up, but you can find a way of countering Jamie Moyer.

Had the Mariners kept that unit of Edgar Martinez, Griffey, Johnson and A-Rod intact, I think they would have won at least one World Series. A bigger market or a more aggressive ownership may have been the only things keeping the Mariners away from a potential dynasty.

SEATTLE MARINERS COACHING STAFF
Position Person
Manager Lou Piniella
Bench Coach Lloyd McClendon
First Base Coach Henry Cotto
Third Base Coach Joey Cora
Hitting Coach Nelson Cruz
Pitching Coach Jason Vargas
Bullpen Coach Karl Best
pyramid-mariners
SEATTLE MARINERS STARTING LINEUPS
DH vs RHP DH vs LHP
Pos B T Name Pos B T Name
1B L R Alvin Davis 3B R R Edgar Martínez
CF L L Ken Griffey Jr. 2B R R Bret Boone
2B R R Bret Boone LF R R Mike Cameron
DH R R Edgar Martínez 1B L R Alvin Davis
3B L R Kyle Seager CF L L Ken Griffey Jr.
 C R R Dan Wilson  C R R Dan Wilson
RF L R Ichiro Suzuki RF L R Ichiro Suzuki
LF R R Mike Cameron DH R R Tom Paciorek
SS S R Omar Vizquel SS R R Brendan Ryan
vs RHP vs LHP
Pos B T Name Pos B T Name
RF L R Ichiro Suzuki 3B R R Edgar Martínez
CF L L Ken Griffey Jr. 2B R R Bret Boone
2B R R Bret Boone LF R R Mike Cameron
1B L R Alvin Davis 1B L R Alvin Davis
3B R R Edgar Martínez CF L L Ken Griffey Jr.
 C R R Dan Wilson SS R R Brendan Ryan
SS S R Omar Vizquel RF L R Ichiro Suzuki
LF R R Mike Cameron  C R R Dan Wilson
 P R R Félix Hernández  P R R Félix Hernández
SEATTLE MARINERS EXPANDED ROSTER
Pos B T Name
C R R Kenji Johjima
1B L R Tino Martinez
2B S R Julio Cruz
2B/3B R R José López
SS/3B S R Carlos Guillén
OF R R Phil Bradley
OF R R Nelson Cruz
OF L R Raúl Ibañez
SP L L Floyd Bannister
SP R R Hisashi Iwakuma
SP R R Joel Piñeiro
SP L L Matt Young
RP R R Shigetoshi Hasegawa
RP R L Shane Rawley
RP R R Tom Wilhelmsen

Strengths

The first thing that jumps out with the Mariners is the quality of defense they have in the outfield.

In both center and right the Mariners sport 10-time Gold Glove winners in Griffey nd Ichiro Suzuki, while in left field they have two-time Gold Glove winner Mike Cameron. Even though Cameron never played left with the Mariners (we mostly in center), with no obvious choice for left field, the starting job falls to him.

I would expect all three players to be in the Gold Glove discussion and with essentially three center fielders patrolling the outfield; the Mariners have perhaps the best defensive outfield in the American League.

Offensively, the lineup is anchored by big bats in Griffey and Martínez. The emergence of Kyle Seager has given Seattle a solid third base option besides Martínez, allowing him to be used more often in his traditional DH role.

If offense were the only thing that mattered, Martínez would be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Between 1995 and 1999, Martínez never finished lower than second in the AL in on-base percentage, with his season low being a league-leading .429 in 1998. Against lefties Martínez had an on-base percentage of .443 for his career, including an eye-popping .562 in his career year of 1995 when he batted .356 and led the American League in OPS. Those types of insane numbers led me to bat Edgar Martínez leadoff against lefties. Since Seager hits left-handed, Martínez is forced back into the field when a lefty is on the mound, but his bat is more than enough to justify any defensive shortcomings Martínez may have.

Jay Buhner is the player most penalized by the Mariners’ strengths. Before Ichiro showed up, he would have been the starting right fielder, and now that they have Nelson Cruz’s bat, he loses his bench job as well.

Most people would automatically assume Ichiro Suzuki would be the leadoff hitter for the all-time Mariners, but Alvin Davis sports a higher career on-base percentage with the Mariners and finished in the top 10 in on-base percentage in the AL five times versus Ichrio’s three.

While Ichiro certainly possesses far more speed than Davis, with Griffey, Boone and Martínez to follow, I’m not sure if an aggressive approach on the base paths is needed. On the other hand, when Mike Cameron and Omar Vizquel are hitting behind you, I would be more tempted to try to steal bases and use the hit and run.

Pitching wise, the Mariners have a pretty solid one-two combo in Felix Hernández and Jamie Moyer. The Mariners do having pitching depth issues, but unlike what we’ll see with other teams; this isn’t a case of simply being the best of a bad bunch.

Although he didn’t arrive until he was 33 years old and seemingly on the downside of his career, in Seattle Moyer proved he was just getting started, finishing in the top 10 in the AL in ERA and WHIP five times over his 11-years there, and four times finishing in top ten in innings pitched. He also won 20 or more games in two seasons and finished in the top 10 in Cy Young voting three times.

For the most part, pitch-to-contact pitchers in this league don’t rate very highly, but Moyer is an exception. The longevity of his career in Seattle combined with the control he displayed justify his standing as a better-than-average starter in the league.

Weaknesses

A lot of issues prevent this team from being taken seriously as a division title contender. What hurts the Mariners more than anything is that you can discard the first 10-plus years of the franchise. The two biggest issues on this team are depth and versatility, both of which are a direct result of having a limited time from which to choose quality players.

Looking at the Mariners lineup, left field and first base are major weak spots and shortstop and catcher are black holes.

Alvin Davis may make for a solid leadoff hitter and in his day was one of the best first basemen in baseball, but first base is a position in this league where you need a Hall of Famer just to be considered average, and I don’t see Davis making Cooperstown anytime soon.

It’s a similar situation in left field with Cameron. I mentioned before that he’d be in the discussion for winning the Gold Glove, but didn’t say he had a chance at the Silver Slugger. Normally Cameron would be a fine player to have, but in this league he might be the worst starting left fielder in the American League. Inn this competition, an OPS+ of 112 over four years doesn’t get you a whole a lot at the plate.

Neither compares to the offensive issues the Mariners have behind the plate and at short. For his career, Dan Wilson was a .260 singles hitter and I would expect that average to drop significantly facing the quality of pitching he’ll be going up against in this league.

Most people would expect to see Omar Vizquel on the all-time Indians and in fact I don’t think there is much debate over where his best years were. However with Hall of Famers Lou Boudreau and Joe Sewell already on the team, the odds of Vizquel seeing any time at shortstop with Cleveland are slim. With Seattle, he gets a prominent place as a platoon starter along with Brendan Ryan. They have nearly the exact same strengths and weaknesses: a solid glove and zero bat.

In terms of who has the worst hitting starting shortstop across the league, Seattle wins by a landslide. Combined, Ryan and Vizquel hit only 15 home runs for the Mariners. In a league like this, both players are a decent bet to end the year with zero.

The only other platoon in the Mariners lineup is at third base, with Seager and Martínez, Seager getting a majority of the starts. When Martínez isn’t the DH, the duties fall to Tom Paciorek. Aside from the Mariners’ three starting outfielders, Paciorek is only player on the 25-man roster who qualifies at multiple positions, which should give you a good idea of why he’s on the team.

Having three center fielders on the team pretty much takes care of major depth issues with the outfield, but Griffey, Ichiro and Cameron are not all going to be starting 162 games, so the the team needs at least one more outfielder. Likewise, I would not expect Alvin Davis to make 162 starts at first, and nobody else on the team qualifies for the position. The best player the Mariners have who can solve both problems is Paciorek.

If the Mariners had any versatility from their other infielders, Nelson Cruz would be brought in to take Paciorek’s spot and the Mariners would go from having a part-time DH who hit 39 home runs in his Mariners career, to someone who hit 43 just this past year. Instead the Mariners are stuck with a less ideal bench situation due to the lack of versatility from the team as a whole.

The quality of the starting pitching falls off drastically after Moyer. I would expect both Mike Moore and Freddy García to be fairly dependable starters when it comes to staying healthy and being able to go out there every fifth day, but outside of eating some innings, I wouldn’t expect much.

The bullpen is a bit more promising. The Mariners may be lacking a shutdown closer, but I do see a fair amount of depth after J.J. Putz, which is good because Seattle could be asking a lot of that pen. Aside from him the most important guy in the bullpen is Bill Swift. The man who pitched 90.1 innings out of the bullpen for Seattle in 1991 might be asked to do something similar on this team.

Conclusions

With Griffey, Martínez, Ichiro and King Felix, the Mariners have a solid foundation to build an all-time team around, but losing out on A-Rod and Randy Johnson, depth issues and having several very positions makes them a last place team in the AL West.

Anything more than 70 wins from this team would be a lot, but having that solid foundation already in place does help. A legitimate case could be made that Griffey is the best player in the AL West and that can go a long way in covering up some of those weakness. At least two of the four weak positions have to improve significantly before the Mariners can be discussed as anything more than a potential 100-plus loss team.

The only current Mariner I can see significantly improving this team in the near future is Seager. Prior to his arrival, the Mariners would have been forced to play Edgar Martínez in the field, but Seager has the potential to go down as one of the best third baseman in the league. It may not address the primary issues with Mariners, but it does change the dynamic of the team for better and this team needs every bit of help it can get.

Overall, the Mariners are in the bottom third of teams that will be featured in this series, but having Griffey around should at least provide the club with some decent highlights and fun fantasy match-ups.


Paul Moehringer is a data analyst, a SABR member and inventor of the Pyramid Rating System; originally from Mount Olive, NJ, now living in Westwood, MA. Follow him on Twitter @PMoehringer.
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Pedro Ramirez
5 years ago

Aand Mark Langston?

Aaron
5 years ago

Putz as closer over Sasaki?

Paul Moehringer
5 years ago
Reply to  Aaron

Putz has more years with the Mariners, a better ERA+ and his ’06 and ’07 seasons are better than anything Sasaki ever put up with Seattle.

Sasaki may be a better overall pitcher than Putz when you factor in his Japanese numbers, but just with the Mariners, other than saves I don’t see a single statistical category where Putz isn’t either as good or better than Sasaki.

Owen
5 years ago

Jay Buhner literally played every position Paciorek is listed at on the depth chart, plus CF, and there is no arguing he was a better player. Even if you take out 1B, Edgar played there plenty to be the backup. And even if you don’t think he would be a good CFer (probably true) or LFer (I think he’d be just fine there), the other three OFers on the team can play all three positions so he can go to RF whenever anyone needs a day off. Can’t have an all-time Mariners team without Bone.

Paul Moehringer
5 years ago
Reply to  Owen

Edgar only played 28 games at first base for his entire career. Its not even close enough to qualify him for the position, but I would agree this is where the lines between realism and what I have for the position requirements gets a little blurry because I probably wouldn’t need my backup first baseman to play more than 20 games if Alvin Davis can stay healthy.

Is Buhner better than Paciorek? Just factoring in Seattle without question he is, but its not a straight ranking system. Buhner is better than roughly half the position players on the 40-man roster. He just doesn’t provide any benefit I would need.

He does qualify to play left and right, but with his arm being a plus and his range being a negative I don’t see why you would ever want to play him out in left. So that only leaves right field. He’s not getting in over Ichiro and with gold glovers on the team it gives me the luxury of just going by pure offense and under that scenario I rather go with Nelson Cruz even with just two years, because those two seasons are better than anything Buhner ever put up after you factor in neutralization.

I think its one of the things that makes this series both fun and frustrating. I don’t look at these choices as being absolutes. If Edgar qualifies at first, Paciorek’s off the team and that’s likely what would happen in reality, because he probably could do it. With the position requirements, its a lot easier for me to be consistent than fair.

Paul Moehringer
5 years ago

Putz has more years with the Mariners, a better ERA+ and his ’06 and ’07 seasons are better than anything Sasaki ever put up with Seattle.

Sasaki may be a better overall pitcher than Putz when you factor in his Japanese numbers, but just with the Mariners, other than saves I don’t see a single statistical category where Putz isn’t either as good or better than Sasaki.

Rahul
5 years ago

Great series Paul! Just wondering, when are you going to do the San Francisco Giants?

WilsonC
5 years ago

Edgar Martinez platooning at DH and third seems like a weird quirk of the system to me, one of those instances where the qualifying metrics differ a bit from how he’d actually be used. The Edgar prior to his injury would certainly fit well at third and he was still an impressive hitter, yet at his offensive peak post-injury, when he was posting .450 on-base percentages and slugging over .550 annually, there’s no evidence he could still handle the demands of third and lots of evidence that the team tried to keep him out of the field as much as possible.

It’s a bit different from a Miguel Cabrera type of situation, where there’s a choice to live with a bad fielding third baseman to keep the best bats in the lineup. Rather, with Edgar, it’s like we’re looking at two players – one a pretty solid defensive third baseman and a very good hitter, the other an offensive monster with hamstring problems that harmed his mobility and made playing the field a risk.

Given the rules of this league, your arrangement makes sense, though if we’re looking at how a team would actually use these players, we’d really need to consider exactly which point in his career we’re taking Edgar from. Edgar 1995-2000 probably isn’t seeing the field outside of a few interleague games, whereas Edgar 1990-1992 takes the field with no reservations.

Paul Moehringer
5 years ago
Reply to  WilsonC

I like this comment a lot because I think it gets right to the inherent problems with doing these teams.

One of the fundamental principles with this system is that a player can’t be downgraded for poor play.

The fact that Martinez basically stopped playing in the field after the ’92 season doesn’t make him any worse of a defensive player than he was at the end of the ’92 season as this system sees it.

There is no point in Edgar Martinez’s career I’m pulling from because I’m not looking at him as a freeze frame, but rather a grand sum and I think that’s the only way you can do it.

If you view anyone as a freeze frame you’re disregarding at least some portion of that player’s career and you’re not going to get the full picture of what made them who they were.

When it comes to a player like Ernie Banks, the assumption is going to be made that he could have played first base for his entire career, so his offensive value is the same regardless if he plays first or short. Same thing with Mickey Mantle when it comes to him playing center or first.

A lot to digest in that comment. All I can say with trying to maintain realism of where people may or may not play in the field and how good they would be, I did the best I could without contradicting myself. We can’t actually trot these players out there, so there’s no way of really knowing what would actually happen.

WilsonC
5 years ago

I think Edgar’s pretty unusual in this way. With most players who move down the defensive spectrum during their careers (Banks, Mantle, Yount, Ripken, etc.) it’s a gradual decline that correlates with or precedes their offensive decline. I think for those types of players, this system nicely captures their proven versatility, while making reasonable assumptions that they would be capable of handling either position throughout the meat of their careers. The same would be true for players like Pete Rose and Jackie Robinson, who moved around depending on team needs.

Edgar Martinez is an outlier in that regard, where his offensive ability and defensive ability changed in different directions after he came back from injury. I suppose Craig Biggio would fall into this category as well, where there’s a clear uptick in his offense after he stopped catching, with no real evidence that he could have followed the same development curve while catching everyday.

I’m not sure if accounting for those types of outliers could realistically (or at least as realistic as a time-machine All-Star League can be :P) be captured effectively in a system without incorporating a great deal more subjectivity, but it makes for an interesting thought exercise.

Allie
5 years ago

as a Brewers fan I have to say that 1969 Seattle Pilots season is ours!

Joe Pancake
5 years ago

“Had the Mariners kept that unit of Edgar Martinez, Griffey, Johnson and A-Rod intact, I think they would have won at least one World Series. ”

Maybe, but Griffey really fell off after being traded. In fact, Mike Cameron was better than Griffey after the trade, straight-up. Also, Griffey wanted to play in Cincinnati.

Losing Johnson hurt a lot in retrospect, but at the time I think most fans applauded the move. They got a pretty good return (Freddy Garica, Carlos Guillen, and John Halama), and Johnson was hurt/struggling/old and being his usual surly self in the media. He was nearly 35 when the M’s traded him. I don’t think anybody thought he was about to put together one of the most dominant half decades in baseball history.

Rodriguez was the one that was just a straight-up financial decision. If they would have ponied up and signed him, they are probably one of the most dominant teams of the 2000s.

Although the M’s had four Hall of Fame caliber players together on the same team, they were only peaking and healthy for about a year (1997) and at that time their bullpen had an ERA around 6.00.

Anyway, nice article, like all of them in this series.

Paul Moehringer
5 years ago
Reply to  Joe Pancake

I’m not saying there weren’t justifiable reasons behind the team being broken up.

If everyone knew the kind of tear Randy Johnson was about to go on, Arizona wouldn’t have stood a chance to get him in free agency and he clearly was not happy up in Seattle at the time of his trade.

The Arod situation was what is was and who knows if staying in Seattle would have meant a healthier Ken Griffey.

I give a lot of credit to Pat Gillick for being able to absorb all those loses and still be able to field the kind of team they did in the early 2000’s, but I would have loved to see what that team could have done had they stayed together and I know I can’t be the only one who feels that way.

Glad you’re enjoying the series as well.

Paul G.
5 years ago

How about John Olerud at first? I presume Toronto, the land of surplus power hitting left-handed first basemen, wouldn’t need him. The Mets’s claim is about on par with Seattle’s and the Mets do not really need him either, unless as a DH. Or is Alvin Davis better?

Paul Moehringer
5 years ago
Reply to  Paul G.

I do have Alvin Davis being better than Olerud but not by much. Davis gets the nod over him mainly through longevity.

If not for the one-team only rule he would be in the M’s 40-man team, but another team will feature him on the 25-man squad and I have his tenure with both the Blue Jays and Mets rated higher than his tenure in Seattle.

But yes, Olerud was a very strong contender to make this team and got very close. Another year in Seattle would have almost certainly given him the edge over Davis.

Scott
5 years ago

How close did you have Mark Langston to making this team? I’m assuming he’s on the Angels, where he had better years.

I think your comment about the lack of talent replacing Johnson and Arod is spot on. They are clear inner circle talents, but other teams have/will loose has much. The Red Sox lost Cy Young, Lefty Grove, Jimmie Foxx and Joe Cronin; and the New York Giants might loose both their best first baseman (Johnny Mize) and second baseman (Frankie Frisch). This is what allowed Tino Martinez to be on the 40-man roster. He was a better player with Yankees, but there’s no way he’d be on the team.

Paul Moehringer
5 years ago
Reply to  Scott

Without the one-team only rule, Langston would be in the starting rotation for the Mariners, so I think from that people can petty well surmise where he will end up.

The one-team only rule to me adds another layer of complexity and think after seeing a few team’s people should have an idea now of just how intertwined each team is to one another.

I haven’t done the math, but I’m willing to bet that rule probably adds in another 75-100 players to the league that otherwise wouldn’t be mentioned at all, Tino Martinez being one of them.

John G.
5 years ago

Since Junior is the focal point of the team, how about relieving Nelson Cruz of his Hitting Coach assignment (he’s also on the Expanded Roster, after all), and appointing Ken Griffey Sr. as Hitting Coach, instead? At least, the Mariners might get more exposure on Sportscenter with nightly shots of father-and-son in the dugout.

And, perhaps acknowledge the Pilots with some coaching roles? Is Mike Marshall available for Pitching Coach, so people would finally have to listen to his ideas? Jim Bouton for Bullpen Coach, so he could finally get to work on his knuckleball? Joe Schultz coaching one of the bases (as he did for all of the 1960s Cardinals World Series teams, before being named the Pilots manager), for his high-quality swearing skills?

Paul Moehringer
5 years ago
Reply to  John G.

That’s a mistake on my end.

The one name only rule applies to coaches as well and originally I had it so that current players could also be coaches.

He shouldn’t be there even if he wasn’t on the 40-man, so sure why not go Ken Sr. instead.

87 Cards
5 years ago
Reply to  John G.

Joe Schultz as M’s coach: “Pound that micro-brew!!”

Corey
5 years ago

Am I misunderstanding the rules of this exercise or does this mean Vizquel won’t be available for the Cleveland team (which seems crazy)?

Joe Pancake
5 years ago
Reply to  Corey

Vizquel is addressed explicitly in the article. He’s certainly not one of the top two Indians shortstops ever, and he could be as low as five depending on how you rate Francisco Lindor and Ray Chapman.

Dennis Bedard
5 years ago

No Seattle Pilots? Thank again.

Team Scribe = Jim Bouton