clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Tom Wilhelmsen, Double Agent: An LL ExcLLusive

How a couple relievers played two MLB organizations like marionettes.

Jose Rivera

On November 17th, 2015, Tom Wilhelmsen was traded to the Texas Rangers as a part of a package for Leonys Martín and Anthony Bass. During his time with the Rangers, Wilhelmsen was one of the worst relief pitchers in recent memory with a 7.93 FIP and an ERA so dramatically high it didn’t matter if you trusted that stat or not. He was released on June 17th, 2016, and was re-signed by the Mariners on June 22nd. Since that time, his performance has been one of the keys to the Mariners’ continuing bid for the playoffs. Lookout Landing has acquired TOP-SECRET FILES indicating Wilhelmsen’s egregious struggles were in fact a double agent act orchestrated by Wilhelmsen and, it seems, fellow reliever Charlie Furbush.

Presented below, free of alteration, are the classified personal logs and communications of Tom Wilhelmsen, Code Name: Bartender, and Charlie Furbush, Code Name: C$.

Bartender’s Log: November 16th, 2015

The new boss said he had news for me, so I put down the frosty tallboy I was quaffing and headed on up to his office. He told me I’d done a great job with this organization, but that tomorrow they were going to be trading me. I grimaced, but the word on the street had suggested I might be relocating soon for weeks, so I wasn’t too shook. That is, at least, until the boss informed me of my destination.

#&$!@%* Texas.

There are few things worse than pitching in Texas. 5% tips and decaf coffee give it a run for its money, but Globe Life Park is more like Globe Death Park when it comes to chillin out. The ball flies out all the time, which would make my job tougher, of course. It’s hot as hell too. I came up to Seattle to get away from Tucson and cacti. The Tiki Bar was great, sure, but the AC busted more often than the one in that RV Charlie and I borrowed to hit Lollapalooza in back in 2013. Not only that, but last time I checked, Texas still has some not so kind views on that kind kind herb.

This is the worst.

Bartender’s Log: November 17th, 2015

When I told Charlie what was happening, I could barely keep it together, but he got a glint in his eye that always means he’s got something cooking, and his voice fell to a murmur as he glanced furtively around the room.

“Meet me at the pier near the aquarium in an hour,” he whispered. “Bring no one. Tell no one.”

Considering we were sitting together, alone in my living room, this seemed strange and inconvenient as he bolted from the house, but Charlie had never let me down before. As I walked down the waterfront two hours later and spotted him, cloaked in all black in the middle of the day, it occurred to me that some folks might call Charlie crazy. Crazy like a fox, I’d say.

When I hailed him he hurriedly hushed me, and pulled out two full cans of the finest Rainier Red.

“Follow closely, there could be prying eyes and ears anywhere,” Charlie muttered, “plus these are my last two cans. Anyways, just watch.”

I watched in bewilderment as he turned and hurled one of the cans as far as he could into the Sound, and expressed surprise that his torn rotator cuff that he’d gotten off the DL for just fifteen days prior was feeling so strong. He just grinned and proceeded explaining his plan.

“You see how a full can floats above the water, superior but separate from the sea? That could be you, down there in Texas, separate from the rest of us, riding that full strength of yours all alone. You know you don’t want that.”

He winced visibly as he used his car key to puncture the side of the second can and proceeded to shotgun the beer. As I struggled to grasp the metaphor, he held up the emptied can, and told me his plan.

“This is what you must become. A can that seems emptied will fail to impress anyone, and will sink back in the sea where it belongs. With us.”

Charlie tossed the second can into the water with a grimace, and I pondered his plan, as well as his questionable theories on buoyancy and littering laws. Could it work? Could I pretend to have lost it so badly that Texas would give up on me and let me return to uniforms of teal? It’s worth a shot.

As Charlie and I walked away from the aquarium, walking several paces apart, at Charlie’s insistence, I asked him how he could be sure the M’s would re-sign me. He chuckled mischievously and explained that he’d intentionally re-aggravated his arm with that throw. By the time the season rolled around, Charlie figured, they’d have to re-sign me ASAP to fill the hole. When I reminded him I’m right-handed, and that we generally filled different bullpen roles, he needed a moment to compose himself, but he reassured me there would be a spot available.

Charlie (and his plan) might be crazy like a fox, but, like, a real dumb fox. Here goes nothing.

Bartender’s Log: April 5th, 2016

Score when I entered the game: 4-2 top of the 8th

Score after I left: 8-2

The seed has been sown, the trap laid, and shit’s gonna be real awkward if this all works out and I’m back in Seattle in a few months. Coming in down two runs already made it easier to groove a few fastballs down the middle for the heart of the order. Really, what’s a game if not high leverage batting practice anyway?

In an inning like that you know someone’s getting beaned, and Bannister was giving me the nod all through Seag’s at bat but come on, I’m not gonna hit my boy. There were plenty of guys in the lineup I didn’t know and wouldn’t have felt as bad about hitting but when I saw Iannetta come into the on deck circle I knew that was my shot to really cement my cover. Dude had it coming to him, really. Used to be an Asshole Angel and he’s just got that look about him like because he has his own wine he’s too good for a dive bar. Screw that. Nailed him right in the meaty part of his thigh, but what I didn’t expect from a guy that dull-looking was the mouthing off as he went down to first. He’s a pretty big dude, hopefully he doesn’t hold a grudge.

Bartender’s Log: April 15th, 2016

Score when I entered the game: 5-3

Score after I left: 7-5

Tonight was EPIC. Back in the early days with Seattle I blew a handful of saves, but that was mostly as a closer in some high leverage situations. It takes a little extra talent to blow a save as a set-up man. You’ve gotta make sure you do enough damage that your offense can’t recover from it, and you’ve gotta be quick about it since your coach could sub another guy in at any minute.

I came in in the top of the seventh, after Martin Perez gave up a two run Trumbomb. Right off the bat I was able to serve up a steady 92 MPH fastball middle in to Jonathan Schoop to tie the game, then made it one better with a Nolan Reimold solo shot. Home runs are contagious, dontcha see? A double and an RBI single were enough to end my night. Scored my first blown save of the season and pushed that ERA allllll the way up to 22.5 which, now that I look at it, may be suspiciously high...maybe I’ll settle down a bit in these next couple appearances. I mean, I don’t want to look so goddamn awful not even Dipoto would take a chance on me.

Email exchange: June 13th, 2016



Subject: Shut your trap


Come on, I know you marathon Law & Order during the offseason but these logs are getting excessive. I’m looking to play till I’m 50, so we wanna make sure we leave as little of a trail as possible. You’ve done good, dude, and I betcha anything we’ll be back at King’s Hardware in no time.


P.S. Stellar job tonight, pulling that ERA back up into the double digits. The A’s could use a little morale boost anyway.

Bartender’s Log: June 17th, 2016

This is it, I’m officially a free man. Not gonna lie to you, I’m a little worried this isn’t gonna work out like we planned. It was easy to give up the guaranteed $1.88 mill, I’m a simple man with simple tastes, but the real worry is that even Dipoto’s going to be scared off by these Texas numbers. Hell, I don’t even know if I’d be ready to take a shot on a guy who gave up 25 runs on 38 hits during only 21 innings. Just gonna keep my fingers crossed that C$ can work his magic again…

Bartender’s Log: June 22nd, 2016

Mission accomplished. C$ took one for me big time, but he says that it’s all part of the plan. If he says so I believe it, and hey it all worked out! This time tomorrow I’ll be throwing back celebratory tequila at King’s again, and reveling in all the legal recreation the great state of Washington has to offer. Bartender, over and out.

Jose Rivera