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Mariners Sign Matt Fox, Jeff Marquez; Begin Construction Of Pile

That is a stupid and ugly uniform, Matt Fox!
That is a stupid and ugly uniform, Matt Fox!

Mount Rainier is a regional landmark, and the mountain with the greatest topographic prominence in the contiguous United States. At its most basic, though, Mount Rainier is just a pile of rocks. As one of the Cascade stratovolcanoes, it is a pile of layers of rocks. The newest rocks exist near the surface, while the oldest rocks exist at the core. Without the oldest rocks, the newest rocks would have no place to be. Every pile has to start somewhere, and build.

The Seattle Mariners have begun building their pile. By which I mean their pile of 2012 bullpen candidates who will battle it out in spring training, in case you didn't know what I meant. I suppose you could argue they already had the beginning of the pile with some of the guys already in the organization, and you'd probably be right, but now the Mariners have made their first additions from outside the system, signing righties Matt Fox and Jeff Marquez to minor league contracts.

The 2004 amateur draft was a rough one for the Mariners. One of the roughest. They didn't pick until the third round, and they used that pick on Matt Tuiasosopo. Their pick after that was Rob Johnson, and their pick after that was Mark Lowe. Of all the players the Mariners drafted and signed that year, only four have reached the Majors, and the most productive among them has been Michael Saunders, with a Baseball-Reference WAR of 0.0.

So you can consider these moves retroactive attempts to salvage that draft, as Fox was picked 35th overall by the Twins, and Marquez was picked 41st overall by the Yankees. Originally, the Mariners didn't have any first-rounders from 2004. Now they have two! And they got them for practically nothing!

Of course, there's a reason for that. Neither Fox nor Marquez is a very good pitcher, relative to the pool of Major League pitchers. Good, Major League-caliber pitchers generally don't sign minor league contracts with rebuilding organizations in the second week of November unless I guess maybe if they're coming off of injury, and neither Fox nor Marquez is coming off of a significant injury.

Let's begin with Fox. This'll all be over quick. Fox was property of the Red Sox in 2011, and apparently he turned down a bigger offer from the Red Sox to sign with the Mariners. At first you think "aw, how sweet" until you realize why he did that. You have insulted us, Matt Fox!

Fox is a nearly-29-year-old righty with four unremarkable games of big league experience. Four games, 31 batters faced, zero strikeouts. He's spent the bulk of the last two years hanging out in triple-A as both a starter and a reliever, and he's been all right, in that he has not been not all right. He likes to work up in the zone, and last season he boosted his strikeouts, which was a good thing since he doesn't do a great job of avoiding the walk. He throws his fastball in the 89-91 range, and he has a pretty normal assortment of offspeed...well I don't want to call them "weapons", but I guess they're weapons, since even a paper clip is a weapon if you use it right. Fox's 2011 was an improvement from his 2010, and it pushed him towards the fringe. In a good way. He was not even on the fringe before.

And Marquez is a 27-year-old righty with four unremarkable games of big league experience of his own. He spent 2010 as a starter in triple-A, and he spent 2011 as a starter at a few levels - mostly in triple-A. He actually pitched a little out of the Yankees' bullpen, too, before going down with shoulder inflammation. It's hard to know what to make of him, since his triple-A numbers last season were significantly different from before over a small sample. He can get into the low-90s with his fastball, and he has a sharp slider that makes me think he could have some success as a full-time reliever. I think a lot of triple-A starters could have some success as full-time relievers, and Jeff Marquez is among them.

So there are your two newest members of the organization. Unless the organization has more recently hired other people, like for HR or accounting or something. I would not write about those people. (Sorry, those people, if you exist and are reading this.) Based almost entirely on nothing, I feel like Marquez has a better chance than Fox of pitching with the Mariners next season, but the odds are that we don't see either of them in the uniform, and, yeah, I'm not gonna lose any sleep over that tonight.