Everyone seems to be doing all-decade teams, so here’s mine (including four of the five guys pictured above) for 2000-09.
First base: John Olerud.
Olerud lost it pretty precipitously in 2003 (and even then he had a .372 on-base percentage) and especially 2004, but for the first three years of the decade, he was still a force, offensively and defensively. His on-base percentages for those three years: .392, .401, .403. He had 45 doubles in 2000, Gold Gloves in 2000, ’02 and ’03. A quiet rock of some great Mariner teams.
Runnerup: Richie Sexson. Yeah, it got ugly at the end, but he did go 39-121 and 34-107 his first two years.
Second base: Bret Boone
Boone put up one of the greatest years in history by a second baseman in 2001, hitting .331 with 37 homers, 141 runs batted in, and a .950 OPS. He followed with two more very solid years (24 homers, 107 RBI, 35 homers, 117 RBI). Boone was also the heart and soul of the clubhouse the year the Mariners won 116 games.
Runnerup: Jose Lopez. You can argue with his range and his plate discipline, but it’s hard to knock 25 homers and 96 RBI.
Third base: Adrian Beltre.
Perhaps he didn’t live up to the expectations of those who were using the 48 homers he hit for the Dodgers in 2004 as the comparison, but Beltre played superb defense for five years and wasn’t a slouch at the plate. Plus, he was living testament to the importance of wearing a cup.
Runnerup: David Bell. After Beltre, it’s pretty slim pickings. Jeff Cirillo was a disaster, and Scott Spiezio was worse than that. Bell was the starter for a team that won 116 games, which is worth something.
Shortstop: Carlos Guillen.
I can say with some assurance that the All-Decade shortstop was NOT Rich Aurilia. Guillen would go on to much greater things in Detroit (hey, the Mariners got 27 games from Ramon Santiago out of the deal), but he was the shortstop for some very successful Mariner teams.
Runnerup: Yuniesky Betancourt. When Betancourt arrived, I (and many others) thought he was destined for greatness. Betancourt was a dynamic defensive player who looked like he would hit, too. He never hit, and by the end, he was lousy defensively, too.
Catcher: Dan Wilson.
Good old steady Wilson was a real rock on two playoff teams, including the one that won 116 games. I hesitate to say, “throw away the statistics,” but Wilson definitely had leadership qualities that transcended his numbers.
Runnerup: Kenji Johjima. Yeah, he had defensive issues, but he could throw runners out, and for his first two years, at least, he provided some pop at the plate.
Right field: Ichiro.
What, you were expecting John Mabry? This decade belonged to Ichiro — two batting titles, an MVP award, a record for single-season hits, Gold Gloves every year, 200 hits every year, All-Star appearances every year. Hall of Fame stuff.
Center field: Mike Cameron.
He had the impossible job of replacing Ken Griffey Jr., and managed to pull it off. Cameron was a brilliant defensive outfielder, and hit enough to be dangerous.
Runnerup: Franklin Gutierrez. He could make the All-Decade team for the 2010s.
Left field: Raul Ibanez.
Yeah, he had some defensive issues, but Ibanez put up a very solid body of work in Seattle.
Runnerup: Randy Winn. The answer to the trivia question, who was traded for Lou Piniella?
Designated hitter: Edgar Martinez.
Who else? He had one of his better seasons in 2000 (.324, 37 homers, league-leading 145 RBI, .423 on-base, .579 slugging,) and continued to be a force in ’01. Even as his fade started in 2002, Edgar still managed to put up an on-base percentage over .400 in ’02 and ’03.
Runnerup: Ken Griffey Jr. Just for old-time sake. Unless you’d rather have Jose Vidro, Carl Everett, Ben Broussard, Eduardo Perez, or maybe 2005 Raul Ibanez, who DH’d 101 games that year. Nah, I’ll go with Junior.
Utility man: Mark McLemore.
He played all three outfield positions, third base, shortstop and second base, all well, and was a leader in the clubhouse.
Runnerup: Willie Bloomquist. Those who loved him and those who hated him both were over the top. As a bench player with versatility, he was an asset.
Starting rotation: Felix Hernandez, Jamie Moyer, Freddy Garcia, Aaron Sele, Gil Meche.
The big question, of course, is whether Felix will remain in Seattle now that he’s become one of the game’s elite pitchers.
Runnersup: Paul Abbott, Joel Pineiro, Jarrod Washburn. If only Erik Bedard had stayed healthy.
Closer: J.J. Putz.
Kaz Sasaki saved more games, but Putz put up two of the greatest seasons a closer has ever had in 2006 and 2007. Check out those numbers if you’ve forgotten.
Runnerup: Kaz Sasaki. Who will ever forget (or believe) the, ahem, luggage incident.
Setup relief (didn’t have this orginally, but upon reflection, it seems necessary: LH Arthur Rhodes, RH Jeff Nelson.
What a combo they were in 2001. Rhodes was 8-0 with a 1.72 ERA, 46 hits and 83 strikeouts in 68 innings. Nelson struck out 88 in 65 1/3 innings and gave up just 30 hits. Wow. He did walk 44, but still.
Runnersup: Shigetoshi Hasegawa, George Sherrill, Rafael Soriano, Mark Lowe, Sean Green.
Soriano for Horacio Ramirez is a trade that will live in infamy.
Manager: Lou Piniella.
He never got them to the World Series, but in Piniella’s three seasons during the decade, the Mariners averaged 100 wins (including 116 in 2001) and made the playoffs twice. They haven’t been back since.
Runnerup: Don Wakamatsu. He got off to a great start last year.
Executive: (tie) Pat Gillick and Jack Zduriencik.
I know Gillick was knocked for leaving the cupboard bare, but he knew (and knows) how to put together championship-caliber teams. His success rate in free agency in 2000 and 2001 was nothing short of astounding. And Zduriencik deserves high marks for completely revamping the miserable team he inherited.
(Seattle Times photo by Rod Mar shows the Mariners’ 2003 All-Star contingent, from left: Bret Boone, Ichiro, Edgar Martinez, Jamie Moyer, and Shigetoshi Hasegawa (who didn’t quite crack our all-decade team).