Having spent seven of his first 10 seasons with the Mariners, a postseason stranger since 2001 (and for 88.58 percent of their existence), “Kitsap” Willie Bloomquist probably never harbored expectations of winning a World Series ring — especially after joining, first, low-budget Kansas City and then hum-drum Cincinnati after fleeing these environs.
But as the semi-starting shortstop of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Bloomquist, still the .260 hitter he always was, suddenly finds himself in a position to soon sport playoff jewelry, something Ken Griffey Jr. never did.
Bloomquist is one of 18 former Mariners (almost enough to populate a full major league roster) involved in this year’s postseason. A half a dozen other ex-Mariners played a part (in some cases a small part) in his post-Mariners team reaching it. Seven of the eight playoff teams include at least one ex-Mariner, some multiple ex-Mariners.
The 24 players cited below, by playoff team, left Seattle in a variety of ways, mainly via trade, waivers and free agency (a polite term meaning the Mariners no longer wanted them, or they no longer wanted the Mariners). In some instances, the departures wound up netting the Mariners nada. In others, the Mariners turned the departures into players that they then used to acquire still other players.
The net effect: The Mariners converted the 18 current World Series hopefuls who once graced — and in some instances disgraced — Safeco Field into nine players who spent at least some time on Seattle’s 2011 roster.
Whether Seattle’s deal making went for good or ill has yet to be fully determined. But the fact that Bloomquist and, to cite another example, Doug Fister, are in line for rings proves (at least to us) that there is life after Mariners death.
(The years following the name of a first-listed bolded player are the seasons that player spent with the Mariners)
Russell Branyan (2009-10): Branyan had a 31-game stint with the Diamondbacks before they released him (he signed with the Angels) earlier this season. His career is near kaput: .197 average with five home runs in 2011.
J.J. Putz (2003-07): Putz, who saved 76 games for the Mariners between 2006-07, saved a career-high 45 for the D-Backs in 2011. Seattle dispatched Putz on Dec. 11, 2008 as part of a three-team trade, sending him, RHP Sean Green and OF Jeremy Reed to the Mets and Luis Valbuena to the Indians. The Mets, meantime, sent Mike Carp, Ezequiel Carrera, Endy Chavez, Maikel Cleto, Aaron Heilman and Jason Vargas to Seattle. The Mets also sent Joe Smith to the Indians, and they dispatched Franklin Gutierrez to the Mariners.
Aaron Heilman (2008): Heilman never pitched for Seattle after arriving in the Dec. 11, 2008 Putz trade. Before the 2009 season began, the Mariners sent him to the Cubs for Ronny Cedeno and Garrett Olson, both now long gone. Heilman began the season with Arizona and was released on July 19 (signed with Pittsburgh).
Net Gain To Mariners: Carp, Vargas, Gutierrez
Doug Fister (2009-11): Fister took a 3-12, 3.33 ERA to Detroit on July 30 and went 8-1, 1.79 for the Tigers. To acquire Fister (and RHP David Pauley), the Tigers sent the Mariners 3B Francisco Martinez (minors), LHP Charlie Furbush (3-7, 6.62 ERA) and OF Casper Wells (played in 31 games, hit .216).
Carlos Guillen (1998-03): Guillen, the former Mariners shortstop, spent most of 2011 either recovering from microfracture surgery (knee) or on the DL (wrist). The Mariners traded Guillen on Jan. 8, 2004, for Juan Gonzalez (minors) and INF Ramon Santiago.
David Pauley (2010-11): Pauley didnt fare nearly as well as Fister following the July 30 trade, going 0-2, 5.95 in 14 appearances. He had compiled a 5-4, 2.15 mark with the Mariners in 39 games.
Ramon Santiago (2004-05): Santiago saw action in just 58 games for Seattle before the club released him. Santiago turned around and re-signed with the Tigers, for whom he hit .260 in 101 games this past season.
Net Gain To Mariners: Furbush, Wells
Yuniesky Betancourt (2005-09): Once thought to be Seattles shortstop of the future, Betancourt wore out his welcome after developing lazy work habits and was traded to Kansas City on July 10, 2009 for Derrick Saito and Dan Cortes. The Royals sent Betancourt to the Brewers as a throw-in with Zach Greinke (December, 2010). As Milwaukees starting shortstop in 2011, Betancourt hit .252 with 13 homers and 68 RBIs.
Jeremy Reed (2004-08): Reed saw action in 336 games with the Mariners (.257), but never could stay in the lineup consistently (in part due to injury). The Mariners granted him free agency on Dec. 12, 2009, and he has been in four organizations since. Reed made only a marginal contribution to the Brewers, appearing in seven games (traded to Minnesota in June).
Josh Wilson (2009-10). Wilson, who hit .233 in 153 games with the Mariners, got sent packing just before the Mariners opened the 2011 season (March 28). He signed first with playoff-bound Arizona (hit .200 in six games), then inked with playoff-bound Milwaukee (.227).
Net Gain To Mariners: Cortes
Freddy Garcia (1999-04): The Mariners traded Garcia, who went 12-8, 3.62 for the 2011 Yankees, on June 24, 2004, when they decided to pull the plug on what became a 63-99 season. For Garcia (and catcher Ben Davis), the Mariners received OF Michael Morse, C Miguel Olivo and OF Jeremy Reed. The Mariners got little for Morse when they traded him to Washington (Ryan Langerhans), but fared far better with Reed, parlaying him into Gutierrez, Carp and Vargas in a Dec. 8, 2008 three-team trade with the Mets and Indians. The Mariners traded Olivo on July 31, 2005 to San Diego, netting Nathanael Mateo and Miguel Ojeda, both history (Olivo returned to Seattle this year as a free agent).
Morse, a player the Mariners never had a position for, led the 2011 Washington Nationals in batting average (.303), home runs (31) and RBIs (95).
Alex Rodriguez (1994-00): Famously or infamously — left Seattle for big bucks after the 2000 season and has since become a Hall of Famer in waiting.
Rafael Soriano (2002-06): In one Seattles worst-ever moves, the Mariners sent Soriano to Atlanta for Horacio Ramirez on Dec. 7, 2006. Soriano has been an All-Star, the AL saves leader (45, 2010), and this year helped set up Mariano Rivera. Ramirez went 8-7 with a 7.16 ERA in his only year (2007) with the Mariners.
Net Gain To Mariners: Gutierrez, Carp, Vargas
Raul Ibanez (1996-00, 04-08): A two-time Mariner who has twice departed Seattle in free agency (the Mariners netting nil), hit 20 home runs with 84 RBIs for the Phillies down from his best years, but he’s 39 years old.
Cliff Lee (2010): When the Mariners traded Lee to the Rangers in mid-2010, they acquired current roster occupants Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke and Justin Smoak. Lee went 17-8 with a 2.40 for Philadelphia this season. Beavan (5-6, 4.27) and Lueke (1-1, 6.06) combined to win six games for the Mariners (but showed potential) while Smoak hasnt yet become the hitting stud the Mariners envisioned (.234, 15 homers, 55 RBIs).
Wilson Valdez (2005): Valdez, who hit .249 in 99 games with the Phillies, had a very short stint with the Mariners in 2005 (April 1-June 9). The Mariners claimed him off waivers from the Mets, made him their Opening Day shortstop, and traded him on June 9 to San Diego for Mike Bumstead and R.D. Spiehs, neither of whom have played in the majors.
Net Gain To Mariners: Beavan, Lueke, Smoak
Ryan Franklin (1999-05): Left Seattle after the 2005 season, signing with Philadelphia as a free agent. Traded to St. Louis in 2006, Franklin pitched for the Cardinals until June 28 of this year when the Cardinals, to paraphrase Jim Bouton, told Franklin and his statistics (1-4, 8.16) to shut up (no longer with St. Louis).
Arthur Rhodes (2000-03, 08): The Mariners swapped Rhodes (and his earrings) to Florida on July 31, 2008, for career minor leaguer Gaby Hernandez. Rhodes went 0-1, 4.15 in 19 games for the Cardinals after his Aug. 8 release by Texas.
Net Gain To Mariners: 0
Casey Kotchman (2010): A calamity in his only season with Seattle he hit .217 with a .616 OPS Kotchman somehow found work in Tampa, where he became the Rays starting first baseman. Another in a long line of Seattle athletes to flourish after evacuating Seattle as an unwanted free agent, Kotchman hit .306 with an .800 OPS in 146 games this season.
Net Gain To Mariners: 0
Adrian Beltre (2005-09): Beltre has played for Boston (2010) and Texas (2011) since departing the Mariners as a free agent on Nov. 5, 2009. He’s also pounded 60 home runs, 32 with the Rangers (and 105 RBIs), and made two All-Star teams since his exit, which didnt even net the Mariners a used reisin bag. He hit three homers in Tuesday’s series-clinching victory over Tampa.
Endy Chavez (2009): Chavez saw action in 54 games for the 09 Mariners. After they released him, he signed with Texas as a free agent and hit .301 in 83 games this season.
Mark Lowe (2006-09): Lowe made 52 appearances (45.0 innings) this season, recording a 3.80 ERA. The Mariners sent him to Texas as part of the 2010 Cliff Lee trade (see entry under Philadelphia Phillies).
Arthur Rhodes (2000-03, 08): Rhodes is the only former Mariner pitcher to contribute to two 2011 playoff teams (Texas and St. Louis). He went 3-3 with a 4.81 ERA in 32 appearances with the Rangers.
Yorvit Torrealba (2005): The Rangers starting catcher (hit .273 this year), Torrealba came to Seattle in the 2005 trade that sent Randy Winn to San Francisco. The Mariners traded Torrealba to Colorado six months later for Marcos Carvajal, whom the Mariners then swapped to Tampa for a player, Jose DeLaCruz, who never reached the majors with Seattle or anybody else.
Net Gain To Mariners: Beavan, Lueke, Smoak