The Seattle Mariners have made 4 playoff appearances in their 40 year history, so it stands to reason there are more than a few poor decisions that put them there. Here, we rank the 5 worst decisions in Mariners history.
It truly is amazing how many of these poor decisions have come over the past 20 years. Some decisions we are fortunate enough to have the benefit of hindsight. While some look bad at the time, and only get worse as time goes on.
We kick off our series with a deal famous in both Seattle and Boston. No, not Bragg for Moyer. Instead, the Mariners gave the Red Sox two key cogs in their drought breaking 2004 World Series team. Our 5th worst decision in Mariners history is:
Trading Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe to Boston for RP Heathcliff Slocumb
Many Mariners fans would consider this the worst trade in Mariners history, and they might not be wrong. In 1997, the Seattle Mariners were battling the California Angels for control of the AL West. Needing to improve the teams Achilles Heel, the team targeted veteran reliever Heathcliff Slocumb.
Slocumb, who was pitching poorly for the Red Sox at the time, came to Seattle and was actually a decent bullpen piece. He averaged a strikeout per inning, and finished 24 games for the playoff bound team, posting 10 saves in that stretch. Slocumb was back with the team in 1998, but was largely ineffective, and left Seattle via free agency after the ’98 season.
To acquire the burly right-handed pitcher, the Mariners parted ways with their 1994 first round pick, a young switch hitting catcher by the name of Jason Varitek. All Varitek went on to do was become captain of the Boston Red Sox, winning 2 World Series rings in the process.
To add insult to injury, the Mariners also threw in a young MLB pitcher named Derek Lowe. All Lowe went on to do was make 2 All-Star teams and finish 3rd in the 2002 Cy Young race. Lowe would also go on to make 32 or more starts 10 straight seasons.
The lesson learned from this poor decision still echoes throughout every front office. Do Not Over Pay For A Mid-Level Reliever. Ever. The 1997 Seattle Mariners had arguably the best offense in baseball, and a starting staff anchored by Randy Johnson, Jamie Moyer and Jeff Fassero. It was team that needed to go for it. But it needed better than Heathcliff Slocumb.