We have reached it, my friends. We are in the coldest, darkest weeks of the year. There is no news, save histrionics that if discussed here would leave the site guidelines a smoldering wreck. We have our countdowns, our player previews, our looks forward, and our looks back. We are in the time when baseball's present is barren. It is cold outside. Cold, and wet.
But come, let us take heart, for it could always be worse. It has been worse, so much worse. For five seasons, from 2004-2008 the Mariners employed good-hearted, bad executive Bill Bavasi as their general manager. During those five seasons the team went 359-451 and, as you already know, did not make the playoffs. Here, in the coldest blackness of the year, we look backwards, so the light ahead seem not so far away.
(All dates taken from the baseball-reference historical transactions register)
January 25, 2005
The Mariners release Aaron Looper
A 30th round pick out of the University of Oklahoma, Looper languished in the minors until 2003, when, as the season and, unknowingly the franchise, crumbled he made 6 appearances in relief. In 2014 his season was derailed by Tommy John surgery. As he rehabbed during the winter of 2005 the Mariners released him, only to re-sign him on April 9th.
Looper only threw 12 innings in 2005, all of them with the Single A Inland Empire 66'ers. There, he gave an interview with Scout.com, the contents of which are amazingly depressing, particularly this passage:
ITP: Have any of the 66ers picked your brain about what it is like in the big leagues?
AL: Not too much. Not really.
(Please do read the whole thing if you want to hear Looper talk up young teammates Adam Jones and Wladimir Balentien.)
After spending 2006 in Tacoma Looper was granted free agency on October 15, 2006. In 2007 he started one game with the New Jersey Jackals of the independent Canadian-American Association. He lost. It was the last time Looper ever pitched.
Mariners sign free agent
catcher infielder Benji Gil
Gil was a 1st round pick and spent the early 90's as a fixture in the middle of BP's Top 100 prospects list. The Mariner release noting the signing indicates that he spent 2004 in three different places: Triple-A Iowa, Triple-A Toledo, and Tijuana. It does not say what he was doing at each respective location.
Benji Gil's contract was purchased by the Mets on March 28th, 2005. He never played a game for Seattle, and never again appeared in the majors. His last professional was in 2012, at age 39, for the Fort Worth Cats, of the North American League.
January 25th, 2006
Mariners purchase pitcher Adam Pettyjohn
Adam Pettyjohn made his major league debut in 2001, throwing 65.2 innings of 4.97 FIP ball for the Tigers. Then his arm exploded. After a few years in the minors Pettyjohn spent all of 2005 with the Long Beach Armada, of the Golden Baseball League. This led to the Mariners acquiring him for 2006, until they released him in June of the same year.
Pettyjohn continued to bounce around the minors and, amazingly a full 6 years after his last appearance in The Show, appeared in 3 games for Cincinnati in 2008. Per Wikipedia he now resides in Visalia, California.
January 25th, 2007
Mariners sign free agent pitcher Arthur Rhodes
Now here's a name we remember, for reasons excellent, funny, and sad. Rhodes was coming off a poor season in 2005 with Philadelphia and found himself, at 37, without a major league home. The Mariners offered a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training, and Rhodes accepted.
Of course Arthur Rhodes never ended up pitching for the surprisingly fun 2007 Mariners, missing the season with Tommy John surgery. He came back in 2008, and 22 effective innings for the surprisingly terrible 2008 Mariners, before being traded to the Marlins for Gaby Hernandez. Rhodes would pitch four more years before retiring in 2011 at age 42.
January 30th, 2007
Mariners sign free agent pitcher Jeff Weaver
"We felt that signing Jeff gave us a great opportunity to add another veteran starter to our young mix," Seattle general manager Bill Bavasi said. "He has appeared in the postseason in four of the last five years, so he knows what it takes to get to that level and to succeed in those situations."
Jeff Weaver started 27 games for the Mariners in 2007, throwing 146.2 innings with a 5.07 FIP. On April 28th facing the 7-15 Kansas City Royals Weaver's start went: single, single, single, single, double, groundout, single, walk, single.
0.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R.
In 2007 Jeff Weaver led the American League in shutouts. His brother is an ass.
January 31st, 2008
Mariners sign free agent outfielder Brad Wilkerson