Seattle Mariners: Don’t Sell Yourself Short…Stop

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 25: Yuniesky Betancourt #3 of the Milwaukee Brewers singles against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on September 25, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 25: Yuniesky Betancourt #3 of the Milwaukee Brewers singles against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on September 25, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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Anyone remember the Mariners middle infield combo of Jose Lopez and Yuniesky Betancourt?

The accuracy of that Mariners commercial is spot-on because, for several years, Lopez and Betancourt were quite a match, peas in a pod. Lopez manned second and Betancourt manned short. With the departure of most recent shortstop Jean Segura, the M’s find themselves short of a veteran, all-star shortstop.

We don’t even know how much better Segura would have become if he had played out his full contract. But was Jean our best shortstop since the Betancourt days?

One of the drawbacks about Segura’s trade was that he was the first “good” Mariner shortstop in almost a decade. For today’s trip down memory lane, we showcase former-Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt (2005-09). Almost one full season after the M’s shipped away veteran bust Rich Aurilia to San Diego, management called up Yuni during the summer and he made an impression fast.

Shortly after making his MLB debut, Yuni gapped an RBI triple to lead to a 1-0 home win. His speed stuck through as he went on to hit 17 triples in his five Mariner seasons. And though never a true power hitter, he still hit bombs like his salami in 2007. Along with that aspect, Yuni hit for average, flirting around .280 and .290 for most of his tenure. Along with that, his solid defense earned him the above title of “double play twin.”

Fun Fact: On Aug. 27th, 2009, Yuniesky Betancourt hit a home run against the Mariners after being traded to the Royals that previous month. Dave Sims described him as “back with a vengeance.”

But a key flaw of his was frequent bone-headedness on the basepaths. His head was not always in the game. After trading him to Kansas City mid-2009, the Mariners wouldn’t fully recover at short until acquiring the now former-Mariner, Jean. But eight years is a long time. How were the Mariner shortstops between Yuni and Jean?

To describe the shortstop status between the above two players as a rough patch is an understatement. Jack Wilson (2009-11) was Yuni’s first full-time successor. Oh boy, the Mariners’ new shortstop was a former Pirates All-Star! But that’s all Jack would remain as he never reached expectations during his brief Mariner tenure. In 2011 he’d be dealt to the Braves before the waiver deadline.

The team’s next attempt was Brendan Ryan (2011-13). After a few high average seasons in St. Louis, he failed to break Mendoza’s line in two of his three seasons here. He was a good defensive shortstop but his poor hitting clouded any of that.

And what about Brad Miller? I was at his MLB debut in 2013 and liked this guy’s swing. All of Safeco roared as in Miller’s first at-bat, he lined out but the point is he made some good wood. Unfortunately, you know the rest. Of every shortstop between Yuni and Jean, he was the worst defender and seemed to save his errors for critical situations.

On a couple occasions as a Mariner, Brad’s throwing errors to first base would have been the game’s 27th out. Even worse for him was that the team went on to lose both those games. Hitting-wise, Brad hit better than Brendan but is that saying a lot? The only time he broke .260 was during his first year and he looked flat-out lost at the plate. In his first year as a Ray, he showed more pop than he ever did here but luckily for Mariner fans, he never got it together after Seattle.

Next. Carlos Santana to the Indians?. dark

The Segura trade is done and there’s nothing us fans can do about that. But relative to the Mariner shortstops post-Yuni, Jean was as great as they come and still in his prime. Best of luck as a Phil, Jean.

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