Seattle Mariners: Erik Bedard and Their All-Frustration Team of the 2000s
Frustration sets in for many reasons. Perhaps you lost at bingo this weekend or your dog refuses to realize the difference between carpet and grass.
Why don't dogs ever go on the tile?
Likewise, why doesn't Chone Figgins hit the ball to the grassy area known as the outfield instead of the rough dirt area two feet in front of him?
Figgins has become the dog you can't train. He was a cute puppy in the window, doing all sorts of neat tricks in Anaheim. Getting him seemed like a wise choice at the time, but once he got home it was nothing but problems.
Aside from pitching, because Figgins isn't a pitcher, he's been lousy at everything. Hitting, fielding and base-running. He's got the third lowest average and lowest OPS among qualified batters in the game. He's swiped eight bags but has been caught six.
Argh! I'm frustrated. Are you frustrated?
Here's a list of Mariners at each position that have frustrated us since the turn of the century.
1B: Richie Sexson
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"Big Sexy" came over to the Mariners as a free agent, part of Bill Bavasi's first big off-season.
While Adrian Beltre sometimes gets tossed into this, as they were signed so close together, Sexson offered nothing after an initial flash of hope.
It seemed like Sexson hit a home run every year on opening night, and then would just hang around doing other stuff the rest of the time. There's no doubt he had power, even with that little half swing, but it wasn't utilized as we'd hoped.
Sexson also didn't like the boo birds. Well, who does, really? With him, though, it seemed to really grind on him and he actually admitted it to Jim Moore.
When you take a look back at Sexon's numbers as a Mariner, they weren't all together awful the first two seasons. It was the second two seasons where the sharp decline set in and the huge contract made fans so batty.
2B: Jose Lopez
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The other half of the "Double Play Twins," it was only fitting that Lopez would drive us just as mad as the guy to his right on the diamond.
Lopez had a triple slash of .266/.297/.400 in over half a decade with the club.
Watching him bat became a chore, something you dreaded. Only, you couldn't just get lazy and leave the socks on the floor for a week. You were forced to watch Lopez bat three to four times a game, hundreds of times a season and thousands of times during his tenure.
SS: Yuniesky Betancourt
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Yuniesky Betancourt was frustrating for the same reasons that some others on this list were.
It wasn't the money with Yuni. It was simply the false hope and poor play.
When Betancourt came up, it was expected that he was to be the "shortstop of the future," and part of a double play combo with Jose Lopez for years to come.
For that reason, Bill Bavasi opted to pass on drafting Troy Tulowitzki. It was widely thought that the Mariners were set to take Tulowitzki until the day of the draft when Bavasi changed his mind and instead nabbed catcher Jeff Clement.
I'm not going to call the guy's work ethic or coach-ability into question, but there were certain things that happened that really made you wonder. We'd be told, through the media, that Betancourt was working on his defense and being instructed on new positioning. However, come game time, he'd trot right back out to his old spot and show the same flaws as the night before.
As time passed, Yuni went from a potential defensive wizard (once tabbed "the next Omar Vizquel") with some offensive upside to a liability on both sides of the ball.
3B: Jeff Cirillo
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There were times when Jeff Cirillo made me want to slap a kitten.
His average would drop from the low .300's to the low .200's. His on-base percentage dipped from the high .300's and low .400's to below .300. His slugging? Well, Cirillo was never a big bopper but the .299 he posted in two seasons laughable at best.
His defense in 2002 was good enough to keep him above replacement level as a whole, but that dipped in 2003 as well and he quickly became one of the worst free agent signings in team history.
LF: Raul Ibanez
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Yeah, I know. You're probably rushing to the comments section to call me out on this one.
That's okay, I get it. Ibanez was a wildly popular player. He played hard, was a good interview and never came off as lazy. And, I'm not even going to touch his offense here, which is what most are remembering.
No, I'm talking about his defense. How many fly balls did we watch Ibanez slowly trot towards, only to watch fall in front of him? How many balls ripped down the line became triples? How about his infamous lawn dart throw at Yankee Stadium?
Raul was one of those weird players that I didn't know if I liked or didn't like. He was clearly one of the better offensive players on the club during his tenure and the defense didn't cancel that all out (well, almost did in 2007).
Watching him flail around in the outfield when the team plays in a league that could let him simply hit was maddening. I suppose that's not his fault, though.
CF: Jeremy Reed
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Jeremy Reed came over to the M's from the Chicago White Sox as part of the Freddy Garcia trade.
Reed was to be a flashy defender who had some offensive upside. His defense was sufficient but the bat never developed. He's currently in the minors still hoping to get a fourth outfielder job.
He kind of only makes this list by default because the Mariners have had Franklin Gutierrez, Ichiro and Mike Cameron in center most of the past 11 seasons.
DH: Jose Vidro
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Jose Vidro was a designated hitter. He even batted cleanup several times!
I swear to God, this is something the Mariners actually did.
C: Jeff Clement
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Jeff Clement had a lot of pressure on him. That pressure only grew as the guy the Mariners were going to pick blossomed as one of the game's best short stops in Colorado.
The pressure grew when he arrived on the scene to hit .375 during a cup-of-coffee stint at the end of 2007.
When 2008 came along, he struggled. I'm not going to say the Mariners should have given up on him and sent him to Pittsburgh, but he's done nothing since that time to reveal that move as foolish.
Lots of people might like to see Kenji Johjima here, but I'd appeal to you to look at the list of catchers for the Mariners since 2000.
Kenji may not have known where right field was and the pitchers may have not liked working with him, but the proof is in the pudding. Therefore, Clement gets this spot for being a bust.
SP: Erik Bedard
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Erik Bedard is finally healthy (quick, knock on as much wood as you can find).
When he wasn't healthy, though, he was driving people batty. Between his five-and-dive performances, the awkward interviews and the amount of time not being on the field, many fans grew tired of him.
Oh, and there was that whole trade that brought him here in exchange for a truck load of prospects.
Some will look back at the value Seattle and Baltimore got respectively and tell you that it didn't turn out so bad. It's one thing to feel good about outcomes but another thing entirely to ignore the process. The trade was a bad idea and hasn't brought this franchise anything noteworthy.
Yet. We'll see how this season plays out.
RP: Rick "Gas Can" White
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In 2007, Bill Bavasi had an idea.
Like many of Bavasi's ideas, the addition of Rick White was one that induced some head scratching. Apparently, the team need a gritty veteran in the bullpen.
Gritty veteran is another term for a guy who has been around a long time and isn't very good, in case you're keeping score at home.
Nicknamed "Gas Can," White was brought in during high leverage situations during the now infamous Lollablueza belly-flop when the Angels came to town for a four game set.
I remember vividly sitting there with my best friend in shock when White was called in. I can't recall the exact game or situation, but the M's were tied going into the ninth I believe, and here came our White in shining suck.
Instead of using J.J. Putz to hold the game in place, since it wasn't a save situation, John McLaren went to his gritty veteran.
What was the result? See the picture above. For further clarification, see nickname.
Manager: John McLaren
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Since Lou Piniella left town for Tampa (and eventually Chicago), fans have been going crazy at the expensive of every manager who has been here since.
It's only fair to note that managers are generally liked or disliked based on how their team is doing. Bob Melvin inherited a solid team and won 93 games only to see it fade. Mike Hargrove was handed a bad team made worse by a bad boss and quit for reasons still unknown. Eric Wedge is managing a ballclub in contention, but the nitpickers are out there waiting to attack if the team falls out of the race.
You could make excuses for John McLaren, too, I'm sure. Perhaps my frustration with him is greater because the franchise had slid so much by the time he took over that it was becoming hard not to put his every move under a microscope.
At the end of the day, managerial styles and moves don't matter all that much. Do you think Joe Torre had to employ a ton of strategy to get the most out of his Yankees? Likewise, what could Alan Trammell possibly do with the 2003 Tigers that would have mattered much?
Managers of bad teams tinker and say "hell" and "damn" with a red face to the media. Managers of good teams smile and talk about magical chemistry.
For me, though, if I had to pick one that stands out as frustrating, it'd be McLaren.
The man batted Jose Vidro clean-up, though. I don't know how you defend that.