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Things About Jeff Cirillo That Make You Laugh Now

Jeff Cirillo, Basically
Jeff Cirillo, Basically
Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE

We've basically been going through a whole Jeff Cirillo thing with Chone Figgins. Cirillo was supposed to stabilize his position with a competitive team, and Figgins was supposed to stabilize his position with a competitive team, if we conveniently forget that the Mariners first had Figgins switch positions for some reason. As a Mariner, Cirillo posted a 64 OPS+, and he went from disappointing to booed to benched. As a Mariner, Figgins has posted a 68 OPS+, and he's gone from disappointing to booed to benched. Cirillo, as far as I know, still lives in the area. Figgins still lives in the area because for the time being, Figgins is still on the team(!).

The thought of Chone Figgins is still potent and vivid enough to stir up the emotions. Chone Figgins makes a lot of Mariners fans very upset. Jeff Cirillo used to make a lot of Mariners fans very upset, but as is often the case with these things, situations that are miserable as they happen become situations to cherish after the passage of time. It's adversity, and who doesn't like a good tale of overcoming adversity? And in sports, a miserable situation is a shared miserable situation, over which all of us bond. We bonded over the Jeff Cirillo experience and we can laugh about it now, since it's all so far in the past, and I thought now would be a time to reminisce a little bit. Last night, I did some Jeff Cirillo reading to jog my memory. Here are some of the highlights of my hour and a half.


On December 16, 2001, Larry Stone wrote an article entitled "Mariners seal deal with Cirillo". Jeff Cirillo had become a Seattle Mariner, after getting dealt from Colorado, and after having his contract slightly restructured. The season before, the Mariners had won more than twice as many games as the 2012 Houston Astros would win. Said Cirillo on his level of excitement:

"Hopefully, I can come in, do my part, and help keep going the success the Mariners have had the last two years. I don't want to screw up the things that are going on in Seattle."

It's funny because he screwed up the things that were going on in Seattle. Not entirely, not on his own, but those subsequent Mariners teams had problems, and Jeff Cirillo was one of them. That last sentence -- unfunny people would refer to those as "famous last words," as if Jeff Cirillo has never spoken again. He didn't die, he just sucked a lot.


From deeper in Stone's article:

In Boston, the Mariners investigated the possibility of trading for Philadelphia third baseman Scott Rolen, but decided the risk that Rolen would pursue free agency after the season was too great. The Mariners could have had Rolen for pitchers Joel Pineiro, Ryan Franklin and Paniagua.

"Jeff's signed for four years, and Rolen was a one-year guy," Mariners Manager Lou Piniella said from his home in Tampa. "That was really the determining factor. Rolen hasn't been in the American League, and he likes to play in the Midwest. I think we would have probably lost three pitchers and lost the player at the end of the year."

The Mariners wanted a third baseman, and they identified Jeff Cirillo and Scott Rolen as options. One of the things that sold them on Cirillo was how long he could be on the team. "We'll have this guy for a while, and that is a thing we want." Rolen would get traded from Philadelphia to St. Louis the next July, and in September he signed an eight-year contract extension worth $90 million. In 2002, Rolen tied for the fifth-highest position-player WAR in baseball, with Brian Giles at 7.1. Between 2002-2004, Rolen posted a 22.9 WAR, tops among third basemen, and fourth-highest among position players overall. I'm not saying Rolen would've performed as well in Seattle, and the price would've been different, but the Mariners landed a third baseman who would be bad instead of a third baseman who was a superstar. The 2002 Mariners won 93 games and missed the playoffs. The 2003 Mariners won 93 games and missed the playoffs.


From right after that in Stone's article:

With the focus on Cirillo, the Mariners and Rockies went back and forth on the players. Gillick said that at the last minute, the Rockies told them another team — presumably the Boston Red Sox — had entered the bidding.

With pretty much every single transaction -- those that would work out, and those that would turn into disasters -- there's a point at which the fate of the transaction is in jeopardy. Most transactions that happen nearly don't happen, because it turns out a lot of things have to come together in order for players to go to new teams. The Mariners nearly didn't trade for Jeff Cirillo, because at the last minute another team got involved. But the Mariners pulled it out and several years later it led to the drafting of this blog post. The Red Sox stuck with Shea Hillenbrand. Shea Hillenbrand, incidentally, is why it's funny the Blue Jays just re-hired John Gibbons as their manager.


And at the end of Stone's article:

Cirillo will try to silence those who wonder if he can hit outside Coors Field, where he hit .362 last year and .384 in his career. Never mind that he had three .300 seasons in Milwaukee.

Cirillo, road, 2000-2001: .253/.313/.356
Cirillo, road, 2002-2003: .261/.323/.353

Cirillo, home, 2000-2001: .385/.442/.591
Cirillo, home, 2002-2003: .203/.263/.258

The Mariners acquired Cirillo as a 32-year-old. He was with the Rockies for two years, and for those two years, he barely hit away from home. It was a difficult adjustment for Rockies players to hit away from home, since they got used to Colorado and baseball's different in places that aren't Colorado, but it looks funny now that Cirillo's splits look like such an obvious warning sign. On the road, Jeff Cirillo remained exactly the same player. At home, he practically got cut in half. Figuratively, not literally, although I'm sure there were those who would've taken pleasure in literally cutting Jeff Cirillo in half. Some people are too serious about sports.


December 21, 2003:

Third baseman Jeff Cirillo has blocked a trade to the New York Mets, saying he'd rather come off the bench for the Seattle Mariners than take his chances with another team.
"I'd rather be a backup with the Mariners," Cirillo said. "I'll take my chances trying to win a pennant with Seattle, where I'm close to home and close to my family and kids."

January 7, 2004:

Jeff Cirillo couldn't be happier now that he's a $6.6 million "super utility" infielder for the San Diego Padres.

After two subpar years in Seattle that "have been a nightmare for me in a lot of different ways," Cirillo joined the Padres in a six-player trade that was finalized Tuesday.

Jeff Cirillo's experience in Seattle was a nightmare. That was hardly a secret at the time, and Cirillo admitted as much. He admitted as much right there! He still blocked a trade to New York before welcoming a trade to San Diego. That is how strongly Jeff Cirillo preferred to remain on the west coast. Staying in Seattle would've been a nightmare. Going to New York, in Cirillo's estimation, would've been more of a nightmare.


Cirillo didn't play much as a Padre in 2004, because the organization was really high on Sean Burroughs and because the organization figured Cirillo was old and bad. On June 26, Cirillo played against the Mariners for the first time since getting dealt, in Safeco Field, and he drew a pinch-hit walk. On June 27, in Safeco, Cirillo started at third base. In the second inning, he hit the first pitch he saw from Jamie Moyer for a three-run home run. In Safeco as a Mariner, Cirillo hit three home runs.