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Former M's, 2011 Playoffs Edition

I will honor the traditional code that baseball teams have to abide by, and avoid talking about anything besides the playoffs during the playoffs. Since the Mariners are not in the postseason, there isn't much to type about at the moment. I found a small angle though.

How about some former Mariners? Who is still playing that once suited up in the Emerald City?

  • Casey Kotchman, 1B, Rays - I meant to write something about Kotchman's revival with the Rays during the season, so I'll throw it out there now. The biggest difference between his 2011 and 2010 were a bunch of singles. In other words, balls simply falling in. Part of me thinks this is just luck, but another part of me wonders if he made some sort of adjustment in Tampa Bay. I just don't know. I was certain he had tough luck with the M's last year, but not that bad of luck.
  • Yuniesky Betancourt, SS, Brewers - It's still hard to believe that a team three wins away from the World Series as of this writing is in that position with someone like Yuni playing everyday at a place like shortstop. Granted, his overly aggressive bat (with underappreciated power) play up at the position, but his defense does not. He's an easy personality to root for though. I'm not all that bitter.
  • Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers - The most interesting thing (to me) about Beltre's time with the Mariners is that he went from overpaid bust to borderline bargain, as rapid inflation took place and sabermetrics shone its analytical eye on defense. I'm pretty sure Beltre's current deal will look pretty bad near the end, but for now, Texas has an awfully good third baseman, and it hurts to watch him play so well for a division rival.
  • Alex Rodriguez, 3B, Yankees - It's been so long. I barely remember A-Rod was with the Mariners. How different would things have been if A-Rod had stayed? That might be a fun blog post for the off-season...
  • Ramon Santiago, INF, Tigers - For me, Santiago is a bit of a forgotten figure in Mariners history, but embodies everything that was wrong with the Bill Bavasi era. Santiago was acquired back in 2004 from Detroit, along with career minor-leaguer Juan Gonzalez, for Carlos Guillen. Santiago didn't hit worth a lick for the M's, while Guillen flourished into a borderline All-Star. Bavasi gave up on him, releasing him in 2005. The Tigers picked him up, and he figured things out enough to develop into a solid reserve. Not only did Bill Bavasi execute a poor trade when he first acquired Santiago, but then he compounded the problem by just giving him away before he fully developed. It's a wonder there was anything left in the cupboard when Jack Zduriencik took over.
  • Wilson Valdez, INF, Phillies - If Santiago symbolizes everything that Bavasi did wrong, Valdez symbolizes his unfortunate luck. Bavasi picked up Pokey Reese to be the starting shortstop in 2005, but he got injured in spring training. That left a gaping hole at shortstop, which was filled by Wilson Valdez, after he got waived by the Mets at the end of spring training. Only a Bill Bavasi Mariners team would find their opening day shortstop among another team's carnage just days before the season started. Predictably, Valdez didn't do a ton in his limited opportunity, but has since carved out a career as a classic backup middle infielder with a slick glove, and anemic-but-just-enough bat.
  • Endy Chavez, OF, Rangers - The return of Endy Chavez is an underrated story from the 2011 season. The knee injury he suffered when Yuni impaled him (ironically enough, a former Mariner already mentioned on this list) looked like a potential career-ender. However, Endy batted .301 this year, and while his UZR suggests he's not the elite defender he was pre-injury, he's still good.
  • Raul Ibanez, OF, Phillies - A quintessential high-character professional, Ibanez morphed into an overpaid, aging ballplayer in Philly. He will be a free agent in a few weeks, and it will be interesting to see what kind of market (if any) develops around him. I could see a playoff team wanting him as a lefty bat off the bench, especially given the high esteem he seems to be held in around the league.
  • John Mayberry, OF, Phillies - It's a stretch to call Mayberry a former Mariner, but I included him to keep this from being an excuse to rail on only Bill Bavasi. The reality is that all the free agents Pat Gillick signed left the M's without many high draft picks. On top of that, they weren't able to sign Mayberry under Gillick's watch, when Gillick made him the M's top choice in 2002. Mayberry said he was going to Stanford well before the draft, so it wasn't shocking, but still crippled the farm system further before Bavasi got his hands on it.
  • Willie Bloomquist, UT, Diamondbacks - It stuns me that the Brewers made the playoffs with Yuni at shortstop, and D'Backs made with Bloomquist taking over at the same spot when Stephen Drew went down. Heck, the Yankees did just fine with an over-the-hill Derek Jeter as their shortstop too. And people say you need strong players up the middle to succeed?
  • Cliff Lee, LHP, Phillies - It's still awesome that we got to watch three of Lee's best months of his career.
  • Doug Fister, RHP, Tigers - It's too early to say how well the Fister trade did or didn't work for the Mariners, but the Tigers have to be thrilled already. Doug built on an understated quality season with the Mariners, and became a fringe Cy Young candidate in Detroit. His start in Game 5 against the Yankees only adds to the success of the deal for the Tigers. Given all the tough losses Fister took in Seattle with the lack of run support, it's nice to see him get the chance (and exposure) he is getting right now.
  • Freddy Garcia, RHP, Yankees - Who would have thought that Freddy would continue to log significant innings for a good team this late in his career? He was one of the more pleasant surprises of the 2011 season. It doesn't seem fair that a team with resources like the Yankees could unearth a solid contributer for the veteran minimum. There are reasons that Brian Cashman should be considered one of the better GMs in baseball, even with all the resources he has at is disposal.
  • Arthur Rhodes, LHP, Cardinals - Now an ageless LOOGY, Rhodes had a memorable run with the M's at the turn of the millennium. It's hard to argue there was any better bullpen lefty at the time. Rhodes bounced around after leaving Seattle in 2003, and found his way back in 2008. He was gone all of 2007 with surgery, and it was the Mariners that gave him a chance to revive his career. He's ridden that revival all the way to this year's NLCS. On a related note, the M's traded away Rhodes at the 2008 deadline for Gaby Hernandez. Since the trade, Rhodes has 3.9 WAR, and Hernandez is yet to appear in the majors (although he's still just 25 years old). Younger isn't always better.
  • Rafael Soriano, RHP, Yankees - Soriano is an overpaid reliever now, but back when Bavasi traded him to the Braves for Horacio Ramirez (straight up!! :( !!), it was so easy to hate the direction the M's were going in at that point. Again, it's a wonder there was anything left in the cupboard when Zduriencik took over.
  • J.J. Putz, RHP, Diamondbacks - As awesome as the Putz trade has turned out for the Mariners, it's still easy to miss Putz. He put together a great season in the desert. I hope we get a few more seasons of Thunderstruck to enjoy.
In total, 16 former Mariners made the playoffs this year, and every team had at least 1 on their roster. With the way players move around these days, there are probably lots of teams with lots of former players in this year's playoffs. Still, there's almost a complete roster of former M's, and a roster that's probably better than what the Mariners have right now.

UPDATE (10:10 PM) - I need to get back in a better reading rhythm. The incomparable Larry Stone already wrote about all the former M's, and provided some context. Yes, there are more former M's in the playoffs than former players for any other team. Hooray.