Sometimes, when the Seattle Mariners seem to be inactive, fans accuse the front office of not even trying to do anything. Sometimes, the front office isn't even trying to do anything. Sometimes, the front office is working tirelessly behind the scenes to sign Mike Jacobs to a minor-league contract. The Seattle Mariners have signed Mike Jacobs to a minor-league contract, with a spring-training invite! They did it, everybody!
Mike Jacobs, Mike Jacobs, Mike Jacobs...who's this Mike Jacobs? Let's check Wikipedia. Is it this Mike Jacobs?
- Mike Jacobs, news anchor for WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee
No, that would hardly make any sense, the Mariners don't need any news anchors, especially from National League cities. There's an adjustment there you'd have to worry about. Is it this Mike Jacobs?
- Mike Jacobs, guitarist and songwriter for bands including The Pasties and Evil Jake
That Mike Jacobs seems versatile, but it isn't the right sort of versatility. Is it this Mike Jacobs?
- Mike Jacobs (shortstop) (1877–1949), played for the Chicago Cubs
No, that one's dead. Howzabout this Mike Jacobs?
- Mike Jacobs (first baseman) (born 1980), American baseball player; first North American in professional sports to be tested positive for HGH
Oh, yeah, that's our guy. On Thursday, January 3, the Seattle Mariners have signed a baseball player of historical significance. He's not so much of positive historical significance, but better to be significant in a bad way than insignificant in every way. If what matters to you is significance, instead of happiness, which, whatever, it's your life, do what you want with it, as long as you don't change for the worse the way I live mine.
This Mike Jacobs is a 32-year-old lefty-hitting first baseman who isn't a very good defensive first baseman. He's batted more than 2,000 times in the major leagues in his career, and according to FanGraphs, he's been worth 0.6 wins above replacement. According to Baseball-Reference, he's been worth 3.3 wins below replacement, suggesting the Mariners might be better off having signed the dead Mike Jacobs instead. But then, I guess it's Wins Above Replacement, not Wins Above Dead. Even the worst players are worth quite a few wins above dead.
You might remember Mike Jacobs from when he was a regular. He hasn't been a regular in the majors since 2009, batting 28 times in 2010 and 23 times in 2012. He's spent the last few years being all right in triple-A. He came up with the Mets, then got traded to the Marlins, then got traded to the Royals. At one point, he made millions of dollars in a season, and baseball analysts panned his employer for throwing money away. That was years ago. The thing about years ago is it was years ago, and now Mike Jacobs is older and not better. Maybe you gain more wisdom with age, but you sure as hell don't gain more physical ability, and the best baseball players in the world aren't the most wise ones. A few weeks ago I checked out Mike Trout's Twitter feed. Didn't know he had one before. Moving right along.
Of course, this isn't about what Mike Jacobs could mean for the Mariners, because the Mariners didn't sign Mike Jacobs with intentions of having him play for the Mariners. He's going to play for Tacoma, basically doing what Luis Jimenez did, only he might be less of a fan favorite because he isn't so big and his dingers aren't so majestic. Mike Jacobs isn't another country's beloved baseballing hero. He was born in Chula Vista. He went to school in Chula Vista, and he lives in Chula Vista. Most people in Chula Vista have probably never heard of him, and as a Rainier, Jacobs should be just fine, by Rainiers standards.
He swings hard, he strikes out, he doesn't walk, and he's clumsy in the field. He can slug somewhere in the neighborhood of .500 and that's basically going to be his job. Also, he's a veteran, so you can think of this as being the Tacoma equivalent of the Raul Ibanez signing. Jacobs' greatest asset might be his knowledge of how the major leagues work, and next year's Rainiers could and should be loaded with top prospects. If the Mariners believe that Ibanez can help the young guys in the bigs, they probably believe that Jacobs can help the young guys on the verge. Maybe he will help or maybe he won't. Maybe Jacobs will be a replacement-level player in the PCL, too.
To be honest, the very best thing about Mike Jacobs might be this excerpt from the bottom of his Wikipedia page:
Contrary to popular belief, Jacobs is not Jewish. This small detail was apparently not known to the Marlins when, on May 28, 2006, as part of the team's Jewish Heritage Day promotion, they gave Jacobs t-shirts to young fans who attended the game.
Mike Jacobs: not actually Jewish. But the most Jewish player on the 2006 Marlins. I'm going to stop this paragraph before I accidentally offend someone because the offensiveness potential of this topic is significant.
Here's Mike Jacobs hitting a dinger. He hit a dinger in his first-ever major-league plate appearance, off Esteban Loaiza, which is neat. It was also his first-ever major-league swing. Two days later, he hit another dinger. One day later, he hit two more dingers. Mike Jacobs was always able to hit dingers, but he stands as evidence that hitting dingers on a semi-regular basis isn't enough to make you valuable. You need to do something else. Like anything else.
Mike Jacobs almost certainly isn't going to be a Seattle Mariner in 2013. And that's probably going to make him easier to like, as he dependably drives in runs for Tacoma. Congratulations, Mike Curto. Here's this guy.