Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Tatonka List: 2003

We're less than 24 hours from the first Spring Training games in Arizona. Whoo hoo!

We're not quite ready to ask Mr. Peabody to fire up the Wayback Machine, but we are beginning to go back in time a ways. We have reached the era of Stand Pat, GM. I'm not really sure how to evaluate Gillick. He certainly was associated with winners in Toronto and Seattle. But there's that bitter aftertaste from the way he couldn't seem to fix the aging team that once was good enough to win.

In the offseason before the 2003 campaign, Mr. Gillick's administration saw the biggest change via one of the most bizarre trades that a major league baseball team can engage in. Surprisingly, I believe that this deal provided as close to a Tatonka as we would have that offseason, since it was mostly devoted to resigning current Mariner free agents.

The trade? We sent manager Lou Piniella (technically along with Antonio Perez) to fume and throw bases in Tampa Bay. In return, we received "All-Star" Randy Winn. Winn was a 28-year old center fielder who had just finished a 298/360/461 campaign, and he would fill the eternal void in left field for the M's, while adding speed and contact to the top of the order. Piniella will always have fans in Seattle, as he brought genuine success to the team, even if he couldn't manage a pitching staff to save his life. This was therefore a real loss, with the addition of Winn almost more of a "meh" than anything else.

In hindsight, Winn performed well in Seattle, although he had his Magellan moments playing the outfield, and his arm rivals Rickey Henderson's (and mine). The fact that Brian "I heart senior citizens" Sabean today signed Winn to a three-year, $23.25 million contract extension past his 36th birthday reflects, in part, the consistent, useful performance of Randy Winn. Still, this was a down year for the Tatonka franchise, as we failed to bring in any candidate who really lifted the spirits of Mariners fans. On the other hand, what kind of boost did fans of a team that had posted 300 victories in the preceding three seasons really need?

To sum up:

Tatonka List
2006 Kenji Johjima
2005 Adrian Beltre
2004 Eddie Guardado
2003 Randy Winn
2002 next up


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