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WHY DO THEY ALWAYS GET BETTER

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Didn't mean to bump Matthew's series preview below.

A review of Mariners who have become ex-Mariners over the past two years:

Cha Seung Baek: Traded to San Diego. Made 20 standard Cha Baek starts, got hurt, disappeared. Still has no reason to smile. Not better.

Wladimir Balentien: Traded to Cincinnati. Was okay, then lost his job. Demoted to AAA, where his OPS is under .700. Not better.

Miguel Batista: Signed with Washington, where he has more walks than strikeouts in relief. That the Nationals are rebuilding makes this doubly hilarious. Not better.

Adrian Beltre: Dominating in Boston with 33 extra-base hits and his usual defense, albeit with a few errors thrown in. Becoming popular for hating when Victor Martinez touches his head. Predictably better.

Yuniesky Betancourt: Still a worthless pile of crap. Not better.

Willie Bloomquist: Has batted .255 with Kansas City, and is now 32 years old. It's never happening, Willie. Not better.

Russell Branyan: Now healthy, or at least healthier, he's doing exactly what he did when he was healthy in Seattle. Nice to see that his contact rate is still elevated. Not better.

Jamie Burke: Also in Washington, also contributing nothing. Not better.

Eric Byrnes: I don't know where to find his softball stats, nor do I know how to translate them to the bigs. Not better.

Miguel Cairo: Man, we've had a lot of bad players. When people wonder aloud why players always get better when they leave, it probably isn't players like Miguel Cairo those people have in mind. Not better. Oh man. So not better. Who would even care if he were?

Ronny Cedeno: Has a .288 OBP since going to Pittsburgh, and owns a flashy .601 2010 OPS. This is embarrassing. Better.

Jeff Clement: Got a shot with Pittsburgh and batted .189. No longer a catcher, and no longer in the bigs. Not better.

Roy Corcoran: Hanging out with Tommy Everidge. Not better. Hey, Everidge went 3-4 in his first game with Round Rock. That's neat.

R.A. Dickey: Currently 6-0 with a 2.33 ERA over seven starts in New York. He's a knuckleballer with a 2.5 K/BB. He was nothing a year ago with the Twins, but what's this? Progress? Sure, why not. Better.

Sean Green: Not better.

Ken Griffey Jr.: Couldn't be worse. Still, not better.

Bill Hall: Been an adequate fill-in for Boston, but he still hasn't been good, and his entire season is being held up by one 4-5 game. Better.

Tug Hulett: Currently OPS'ing .599 with Pawtucket after consecutive big years in AAA. Not going to help him get that chance he probably deserved. Not better.

Raul Ibanez: Incredible '09 first half, bad '09 second half, bad '10 second half. Hello there, age. It's about God damn time. We've been expecting you for like seven years. Not better.

Chris Jakubauskas: Jakubauskas threw 12 pitches for the Pirates and got hit in the head. Not better.

Charlton Jimerson: Here because he came to the plate one time for the Mariners in 2008. Guess how many times he's come to the plate in the big leagues since? Not better.

Kenji Johjima: Kenji could be slugging 9.000 and I wouldn't care because when people ask why players always get better when they leave, they don't mean the players that go to Japan. Not better.

Bryan LaHair: Just another LaHairverage year for Bryan with AAA Iowa. Prospects LaHairdly look good, and until he starts sending more balls Lahairborne, he'll continue to be LaHairdinary. Not better.

Randy Messenger: Apparently landed in Japan. Hopefully they didn't let him disembark. Not better.

Brandon Morrow: Has increased his grounders, has increased his strikeouts, and has decreased his walks. Morrow isn't an ace, but he's on the right path, as Toronto reaps the benefits of sticking him in the rotation and leaving him be. Better.

Mike Morse: Having a lot of success in a small sample in 2010 after not having a lot of success in a small sample in 2009. Still nothing but a bat-first role player. Not better.

Greg Norton: Did you know that Greg Norton holds the all-time record for most consecutive games with a double play, with six? Did you know that Greg Norton's middle name is Blakemoor? Greg Norton is an interesting guy. An interesting guy who didn't get better.

Eric O'Flaherty: O'Flaherty's bounced back from injuries to turn himself into a useful, regular LOOGY. He's made 113 appearance since the start of 2009, which is about 113 more appearances than I realized he'd made. Better.

J.J. Putz: Awful and hurt in 2009, healthy and awesome in 2010. Still, we'd already seen him at his peak. Not better.

Jeremy Reed: Blows. Not better.

Arthur Rhodes: Rhodes was surprising at 38, and he remains surprising at 40, as he's taken his act to the National League and put himself on the verge of snapping the Reds' franchise record for consecutive scoreless innings. He's the same guy, though. Not better.

Richie Sexson: I completely forgot that Richie Sexson wound up with the Yankees for a little bit. It didn't work. Not better.

Chris Shelton: Injured and competing with Tommy Everidge for playing time in AAA Round Rock. I can't believe that he and Mike Carp both exist and aren't related. Not better.

Carlos Silva: Suddenly quite good. Did you know that? I know, me neither. I can't believe no one ever bothered to tell us. Better.

Kanekoa Texeira: Same stuff, improved results with Kansas City. Eh, better.

Justin Thomas: In 2009, Thomas became a lefty specialist who walked too many lefties. In 2010, he's become a lefty specialist who doesn't walk anyone. Still in AAA, but he's only 26, and all of a sudden he's got a shot at a career. Better.

Luis Valbuena: Sucked, recently sent back to AAA. This has not gone how I imagined it would. Not better.

Jose Vidro: It seems Jose Vidro has yet to formally retire. Amanda Bynes retired before Jose Vidro did. Not better.

Jarrod Washburn: The very definition of "always" requires one to have completely forgotten about Jarrod Washburn, who pitched out of his mind just long enough to bring back two arms (four arms?) before falling apart and not getting signed. Not better.

Jared Wells: Not better.

Brad Wilkerson: Very not better.

Jake Woods: It takes a lot for a 28 year old lefty with Major League experience to get released by a team in the minors. Jake Woods found a way. Not better.

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So, to review, of 42 players, the following nine got better after they left:

Adrian Beltre
Ronny Cedeno
R.A. Dickey
Bill Hall
Brandon Morrow
Eric O'Flaherty
Carlos Silva
Kanekoa Texeira
Justin Thomas

Cedeno, though, is still bad. Hall isn't anything special. O'Flaherty, Texeira, and Thomas are all mediocre relievers, and though Dickey's stepped it up, we'll need a lot more evidence before we declare that he's actually turned himself into a quality arm. And as for Beltre, I think we all saw this coming. He's better, yes, but he's healthy now, and he's out of what was arguably the worst possible ballpark for his skillset. He was an obvious choice to have a big, productive season.

So that leaves Morrow and Silva as the recent sources of frustration. And these two seem rather easy to explain. Morrow has made gains because he's no longer getting tossed around between roles. And Silva's made gains because he's completely changed the way he pitches. Under the watchful eye of Larry Rothschild, he's abandoned his old sinker-heavy approach in favor of an actual pitch mix that makes people miss.

I know it's annoying to see players flourish somewhere else. I know it just makes you wonder why they couldn't do it with the Mariners. But this is a phenomenon that is altogether infrequent. Even with the younger talent. Clement certainly hasn't gotten better. Balentien hasn't gotten better. Betancourt isn't doing anything, and if we expand our window, Adam Jones is frustrating everybody in Maryland.

The Mariners aren't cursed. So over the past few years, some guys like Morrow and Silva and Shin-soo Choo and Joel Pineiro have found success in other places. Well, the M's got Franklin Gutierrez. They got David Aardsma. They got Jason Vargas. Players aren't static. Players get better, and players get worse. You just notice the things that annoy you, because the human brain thrives on annoyance. Deal with it.