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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

October 23, 2012 at 10:28 AM

Ex-Mariner factor will be minimal in World Series

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(The GIF that keeps on giving, courtesty of MLBGIFs.com)

It has become a staple of the postseason for Mariners fans: Watching former players (and coaches, and managers, and executives) from their favored team rise to the forefront in October, while the Mariners once again sit home and promise that better times are just around the corner.

This is the 11th consecutive year out of the postseason for the Mariners, who have participated in the playoffs just four times in their 36 years of existence (and never in the World Series, a distinction they share only with the Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos — although the M’s might have been left as the lone wolves had the Nats not been so restrictive in their useage of Stephen Strasburg).

This postseason has provided the usual moments of ex-Mariner angst, from Raul Ibanez’s Yankees heroics to Bob Melvin’s leadership of the remarkable A’s, to Mike Morse’s role with the Nats. There was also some welcome schadenfreude with the miserable postseason experienced by Alex Rodriguez, evoking heartfelt sympathy from, well, no one.

But now that the World Series teams have been settled, the list of prominent ex-Mariners is down to one: Doug Fister, who could admittedly play a key role for the Tigers with two likely starts as the No. 2 man behind ace Justin Verlander. The Tigers also have Ramon Santiago, a utility infielder who was part of an ill-fated Mariners trade (there’s a phrase I’ve typed a few times) for Carlos Guillen in 2004 (and then released by the Tigers in 2005 and re-acquired by the Tigers, who have had him ever since). Santiago is a utility man who hasn’t even gotten an at-bat in this postseason, but he’s become regarded as somewhat of a good-luck charm for the Tigers.

The Giants, lo and behold, have made it to the World Series without the benefit of a single former Mariner. The closest I can come up with is Barry Zito, who was drafted by Seattle in the 59th round in 1996 but didn’t sign (and who spurned the Mariners prior to the 2007 season to sign with the Giants…much to their retroactive relief, though he was a star of the NLCS for the Giants). Oh, and there’s first-base coach Roberto Kelly, who played for the Mariners in 1997 (and had a scary concussion issue last week). Kelly came to the Mariners from the Twins in August of 1997 for a minor-league pitcher named Joe Mays who threatened to become one of those players who come back to haunt the M’s. Mays won 17 games for the Twins in 2001, but then fell victim to arm injuries and went 18-36 in the remainder of his career, kicking around with the Royals and Reds before hanging it up in 2007. For a 48-70 lifetime record, by the way, Joe Mays earned a total of $21 million, according to Baseball Reference. It’s a great time to be a ballplayer, especially if you cash in with one great season.

if you want to look deeper for Seattle links from the Giants, you’d start, of course, with Tim Lincecum, from Liberty High School in Renton and the University of Washington. No need to get into the tired narrative of how the Mariners bypassed him in 2006 to pick Brandon Morrow, and Lincecum went on to win two Cy Young awards. Now there’s speculation that the Giants might trade Lincecum, coming off a volatile season that has seen him relegated, for the most part, to a relief role in the postseason. That has piqued the interest of some Mariners fans, who envision Seattle as a natural landing spot for Lincecum, who still is owed $22 million in 2013 before being eligible for free agency. Brian Sabean shot down the notion that the Giants will trade Lincecum, so we can put that one on the back burner.

One more Seattle connection in the Giants organization: William Neukom, the former Microsoft lead attorney and long-time Seattle resident, who in 2009 became managing general partner of the Giants. He stepped down last year (after presiding two years ago over the franchise’s first World Series title since 1954) but still is serving as chairman emeritus through the end of this season. John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle noted earlier this week that Neukom “has been hanging around the field watching batting practice” during the NLCS.

For the most part, Mariners will will be free to watch the World Series without the annual anxiety that comes with grousing over the M’s that got away. When Fister takes the mound, try to remind yourself that Casper Wells still has potential, Charlie Furbush has become a lockdown lefty out of the pen, and Francisco Martinez and Chance Ruffin are still kicking around in the minors. That should be a familiar October exercise.

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