The Indians start a three-game series in Seattle tonight. We have a lot of history with the Mariners, and their organization has fed a lot of great players into the MLB system. Sometimes it feels a little like Seattle has set up a nice buffet for the rest of the league to nosh on. In fact, the Mariners have produced the most current major leaguers. And Jonathan Mayo at MLB.com also ranks the Mariners farm system as among the top in either league. The Indians have certainly taken their share of Mariners plays in trade (and sent almost as many guys out west), so our buddy Jon Shields, who writes the Pro Ball NW blog, suggested each blog take a look at the players who’ve made the move from one team to the other over the years.
Jon wrote from the perspective of a Mariners fan while Stephanie Liscio and I wrote from the Indians perspective. We each answered three questions:
1) Someone we’d like back
2) Someone we’re glad is gone
3) Someone we’d like to send back
We had some differing opinions and one shared favorite. Enjoy.
From Jon Shields at Pro Ball NW and the Mariners fan perspective:
Someone I want back
Asdrubal Cabrera might be the correct answer here given his age and position, but I am torn between two others: Jack Hannahan and Shin Soo Choo. Choo is clearly the better player of the two, but my irrational love for Hannahan has not wavered since he left Seattle. I’m a sucker for defense and Hannahan is one of the best. Beyond that, his sweet lefty swing and patient approach always led me to believe that he had an offensive breakout in him, even if I knew it was highly unlikely. The guy just looks like a ballplayer and will remain atop my list of favorite obscure Mariners, just ahead of Rob Ducey and Mark Whiten.
But alas, I’d take Choo, even after his down year in 2011. Choo never got a fair shake in Seattle, hitting just .069 just 14 games at the big league level before then-GM Bill Bavasi sent him off to Cleveland in an attempt to reach the playoffs (the Mariners finished last). Naturally, Choo outperformed Ben Broussard down the stretch and became a star just as Broussard was washing out of baseball. Choo could have been the middle of the order bat and left fielder the Mariners perennially lack.
Someone I’m glad is gone
I can’t speak for all Mariner fans, but off-field Jose Lopez and on-field Jose Lopez combined to cause constant internal conflict. From what we could gleam from interviews and beat profiles, off-field Jose Lopez was someone you wanted to root for no matter what. He was soft spoken, shy, polite and possessed a boyish charm that tricked you into thinking you were cheering on your own son in Little League. He even had braces! More importantly, he suffered a pair of heartbreaking family tragedy’s while in Seattle; his brother died in a motorcycle accident and his sister died of cancer. Anyone with a heart was rooting for Lopez to succeed.
And at times he did, but on-field Jose Lopez generally alternated between testing your patience and causing you to rip your hair out. He swung at everything but also had the unfortunate ability to make contact with everything, resulting in a lot of weak contact. When the coaching staff asked him to be more disciplined and patient, it only resulted in Lopez taking the first pitch of his at bats, causing him to fall behind more often than not. His power was overstated. He wasn’t a great baserunner. His defense was over-scrutinized, but over-scrutinized because he was prone to the ugly play.
I still wish the best for Lopez, but do not miss him one bit. Indians fans will likely never get to this point due to the simple fact that he is a bench player rather than a starter and key offensive cog.
Someone I’d like to send back
I try not to get too worked up over the decisions a manager makes and have come to believe that the ability to manage the team is a little more important than the ability to manage the game. (The bottom tier in-game tacticians are another story.) Eric Wedge made it through his first season with the Mariners without getting on my nerves, but his continued insistence on playing Miguel Olivo is starting to wear on me already this season. Wedge apparently sees something in Olivo that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, because Olivo’s stat sheet contains mostly outs on the offensive side and passed balls and wild pitches on the defensive side. Olivo’s playing time was less of an issue last season when there were no clear alternatives, but this season the team has two offensively superior options on the active roster in Jesus Montero and John Jaso. Sticking with Olivo will only lead fans and analysts to stop giving him a free pass for other inefficiencies in lineup building and in-game tactics.
From Stephanie Liscio, co-owner of ItsPronouncedLajaway
Someone I’d like back:
I’m not sure if there’s someone lost to the Mariners that I’d necessarily like back; there are a few people I wouldn’t mind having back. While I was glad to see Eric Wedge leave Cleveland, I always thought that Carl Willis did a nice job with the Tribe’s pitching staff. If Franklin Gutierrez didn’t have all of his health problems, I would definitely like to see him back (although at this point, the Indians don’t need any more outfielders that are perpetually on the DL). Could you imagine an outfield with Gutierrez in center and Choo in right? Base runners would freeze in terror!
Someone I’m glad is gone:
This is a no brainer for me – Eric Wedge. The decisions that Wedge made on a daily basis were just maddening to me. It got to the point that I was completely convinced he just put everyone’s name into a hat prior to the game and drew them at random to establish that day’s lineup. David Dellucci batting cleanup as the DH? Sure! (This happened in 2008 and I’m still a bit baffled by it). Ryan Garko in left and Mark DeRosa at first? Sure! (Even though Garko was awkward and uncomfortable in the outfield and DeRosa was a more natural fit). I honestly expected to show up at the ballpark one day to see Fausto Carmona/Roberto Hernandez playing short and batting 6th.
Wedge also had maddening loyalty for mediocre to poor players. Every single day they’d be in the lineup, and by 2009 I’d had more than enough. You can continue to put Jason Michaels in the lineup for every game, but it doesn’t mean he’s going to magically start batting his weight. I started to wonder if these decisions were some form of performance art, or if he thought he was teaching Mark Shapiro some kind of lesson. “You sign these guys, I’m going to put them in there…EVERY SINGLE DAY.”
(Side note: I had the opportunity on a few occasions to meet Wedge, and I thought he was absolutely lovely. It made me feel slightly guilty that I always ranted and raved about him; at least until I’d show up at the ballpark the next day to see David Dellucci and Jason Michaels roaming the outfield yet again.)
Someone I’d like to send back:
This is a tough one. I think the Indians, on the whole, have come out much better in many of these deals when compared to the Mariners. Instinctively, I go to Luis Valbuena. However, since he’s already gone (trade to Toronto for cash, designated for assignment, now with the Cubs) I feel like that’s not really a valid choice. I will say this – Ezequiel Carrera looked dreadful this spring. I absolutely love his speed, but I question his ability to play every day successfully at the Major League level. Plus for as fast as he runs, he still manages to seem almost awkward in the outfield. He came for a partial season of Russell Branyan, so that still seems like more of a benefit for the Indians.
From Susan Petrone, co-owner of ItsPronouncedLajaway
Someone I’d like back :
In the Indians trade relationship with the Mariners, it seems like the Mariners typically get the fuzzy end of the lollipop. While we’ve sent you some players that I liked, there was no one who made me weep and gnash my teeth at the loss.
Someone I’m glad is gone:
I couldn’t say goodbye to Eric Wedge fast enough.
Someone I’d like to send back:
The only guy who comes to mind as someone I’d like to send back would be Joey Cora (from way back in 1998). He was batting .262 for the Mariners and then came here an hit .226. He had injuries and just never seemed to click once he got here. (The fact that we gave you David Bell for him also adds to the hurt for sentimental reasons, because we’re all still fond of David’s dad, Buddy.)