P.J. Carey, long-time Minor League manager, looked over the Rookies and Class A prospects in the Colorado Rockies’ system. After a long-term struggle with prostate cancer, he passed away Saturday morning.
P.J. Carey was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania on November 4, 1953. He never worked a day outside of baseball. He began his career as a minor league player within the Phillies organization in 1972.
Carey went from standing behind the bat to standing behind the players. He began his career as a manager and coach in the Phillies organization. In 1988, after 14 years with the Phillies organization, and a stint with the Cincinnati Reds, Carey went on to work for the Mariners organization, managing the Class A Bellingham team.
Carey spent most of his managing career with the Colorado Rockies, spending 13 years as an instructor (and 1997 in the majors for the organization. At the end of forty years spent in baseball, Carey went to work for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2007 as a senior adviser for player development.
In the official statement from the Rockies, the organization shared the following sentiments:
“Our entire organization grieves at the death of P.J. Carey. We were deeply saddened to learn of P.J.’s passing on Friday evening. He was a great husband, son, brother and friend to so many throughout our organization and the baseball community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Katherine, family, and to all of those whose lives were touched by P.J. over his life and 40-year career in professional baseball.”
Carey touched the lives of many throughout baseball. He will be missed.
Lou Piniella was a great manager that saved baseball in Seattle and I admired him greatly. In the thousands of decisions he had to make as the Mariner leader he was correct a high percentage of the time. But he had a blind eye toward Raul Ibanez who was never given a fair chance in his early years ages 25-28, when he only got a total of 473 at-bats over four years. He was kept in Tacoma for most of the year in 1997 despite having 84 RBI’s in 111 games.
Lou used him as a bench warmer and played a bunch of marginal players instead of Raul. He competed for playing time with Brian Hunter, defensive wizard Charles Gipson, Ozzie Timmons, Al Martin, a washed up Rickey Henderson, John Mabry, Rob Ducey none of whom were more than average players for Seattle. Other outfielders who had at-bats during this four-year window were Mieske, Haskley, Monahan, Kelley and Jose Cruz. Jay Buhner and Stan Javier were also in the mix and better than average performers.
He hit the first grand slam in Safeco history three days after the inaugural game July 15th, 1999 but only got 204 at-bats that year. Raul never got more than 500 at-bats until he was 30 years old. And he had sign with Kansas City to do that which he did as a free agent after the 2000 season with the Mariners in which he only got 140 AB’s. When he got an opportunity to play for the Royals he produced by not before he had to do another year, 2001, as a part-time player. Finally, in the year 2002 at age 30, he was penciled into the lineup daily, his first full-time opportunity.
“[During my career], my confidence sometimes wavered because I wasn’t playing as much. I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform. But I knew if I got an opportunity to play consistently then I would be able to perform,” was his quote to MLB.com about his great numbers for 2002. He hit 24 homers, 37 doubles, and had six triples ending up with a .294 average, a .346 OBP and an OPB of .883. He had another good year in 2003 and then remarkably returned to Seattle.
He had a five-year stretch from 2004-2008 in which he hit 113 homers, had 469 RBI’s, 174 doubles, averaged .294 with an OBP of .352 and an OPS of .830. He had a 24-game go-ahead RBI streak, two five-hit games, and in 2004 also ranked third among all left fielders in UZR-a fielding statistic. Perhaps his best year was in 2006, when he scored 103 runs, knocked in 123 more, and had 33 doubles and home runs.
In 2009 he finished second to Jim Thome in a Sports Illustrated poll of 290 MLB players that measured the “nicest player in baseball.” Raul Ibanez’s two homers last evening were thrilling and I was so happy for this truly great guy. It takes some training for this old Seattle fan and life-long Yankee hater to root for those wearing the evil pinstripes but I can’t help it. Raul, my idol Ichiro and pitching stud Rafael Soriano, all ex-Mariner stars, makes it easier. Seeing the New York headline: A-Whoooo! Is one of my favorite things ever, after seeing Raul come through while pinch-hitting for A-Fraud, a scenario I never could have even imagined but is so perfect.
This year has seen quite a special farewell tour for Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves. Host teams have showered the future Hall of Famer with gifts when the Braves come to town. It reminds me of the farewell tour around baseball in Nolan Ryan‘s final season with the Texas Rangers in 1993.
Another future Hall of Famer is receiving a little less fan fare in his farewell tour across the American League and he got his start in a Mariners uniform. Omar Vizquel came up as a rookie with the Seattle Mariners in 1989. That squad also featured young budding stars that made up the nucleus of the 1995 “Refuse to Lose” Mariners, such as Ken Griffey Jr., Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez and Randy Johnson.
Vizquel was traded to the Cleveland Indians after the 1993 season for shortstop Felix Fermin and first baseman/designated hitter Reggie Jefferson.
It was obvious prior to the trade that he was an up and coming star. He won a Gold Glove every year starting in 1993–his final season in Seattle–through 2001 (he won two more with the San Francisco Giants in 2005 and ’06). Unfortunately for Mariners fans his most productive seasons were ahead of him and not in Seattle.
Vizquel should be a Hall of Famer. He is the leading career hits leader from Venezuela (2,870 and counting) and his .985 career fielding percentage is the highest ever for a shortstop. He also has the most double plays ever recorded by a shortstop. Playing in his playing in his 2,677th game in 2008, Vizquel passed Luis Aparicio for the most career games at shortstop.
Vizquel is a throwback shortstop. Major League shortstops were typically short defensive wizards in the same vein as Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith. Cal Ripken Jr. changed that by proving that bigger, slower, less athletic men could play the position at the Major League level by hitting for power and anchoring the middle of the lineup.
As a .272 career hitter who will fall short of the 3,000 hit benchmark and well short of the 500 home run plateau that many consider to be the pre-requisites for modern day Hall of Fame discussion, defense is the primary factor in Little O’s Hall of Fame résumé worthiness. Vizquel’s defensive stats are second to none. Many consider Ozzie Smith’s fielding stats to be the pinnacle of historic shortstops. While Vizquel has played in 24 seasons and Smith played 19, many of their stats are very similar, as is evident in the links of their defensive stats.
While I think that five years from now Omar Vizquel will ultimately be enshrined in Cooperstown, he is one of the players I think who will get quite a bit of critical analysis from the baseball writers who vote.
In my mind, Little O is one of the best to ever put on a Mariners uniform and the best we ever let slip away.
This was the most recent exciting time in Mariner history but there have been many others.
Even though we Mariner fans have had only scarce moments of being involved in exciting pennant races, tight playoff games, and thrilling victories over the last 5,000 +games it has still been worth it. There have been many great scenes that I saw live either at the park or on television. One of my favorites was the standing ovation given for Northwest native, John Olerud. But first some background and reminders of just how good and sometimes great this quiet, stoic guy was during his career.
John played his college ball thirty miles north of me at Washington State University where he was a star hitter and noted pitcher. He ended up there after being drafted out of Interlake High School at Seattle by the New York Mets in 1986. He declined their offer and enrolled at WSU to play for legendary coach Bobo Bryant. Olerud, during his 1987-89 career, hit .434 with 37 doubles, 33 home runs, and 131 RBI. He was also a pitching wizard going 26-4 on the mound with a 3.17 ERA and 169 strikeouts in 39 career appearances.
In 1988 he had one of the greatest all-around seasons in college baseball history and was named the Baseball America NCAA Player of the Year. Hit .464, scored 83 runs, had 21 doubles, 3 triples, 23 home runs, 81 RBI and a .876 slugging percentage. On the bump he was 15-0 with a 2.49 ERA. I became interested and followed him closely especially after he collapsed from a seizure after an early 1989 January workout on campus.
Olerud underwent numerous tests, was diagnosed with suffering a subarachnoid hemorrhage and was given a clean bill of health but his father, John, a doctor and faculty member at the University of Washington medical center demanded he get one more test which irritated Olerud as he thought it an unnecessary delay toward preparing for the season. This final test may have saved his life.
“I remember the doctor putting the slide up and I could point out the aneurysm. It turned out it wasn’t a bad decision at all,”said John.
He underwent surgery three days later. Remarkably, he was able to recover quickly and two months later was back playing for the WSU Cougars. But he had yet to completely regain his strength. He did hit .359 with 30 RBI’s in 27 games. He was prepared to getting himself ready for his senior season but Toronto General Manager Pat Gillick decided to take a chance, drafted him, and convinced him to sign.
John started the year with a seizure and ended it as a Toronto Blue Jay after becoming only the sixteenth player since the inception of the amateur draft to completely bypass the minors. He had three hits in eight at-bats in his audition with the Blue Jays. After his surgery, he began wearing a helmet in the field as a safety precaution something he became known for as major league first baseman.
He was a platoon player in 1990 with Toronto and put up decent numbers before claiming the first base job for the 1992 World Series Champion Blue Jays hitting .284 and starting his incredible streak of having more walks than strikeouts which he did twelve years in a row. (For his 17-year career he ended with 1,275 walks and 1,016 strikeouts.) In 1993 he went crazy with the bat, hitting .400 until August 3rd of that year and gathering national attention. He “slumped” to hitting “only” .363 with an OBP of .473, slugging .599, had an OPS of 1.022 and a WAR rating of 7.4. The Blue Jays repeated as World Champs that year. Then manager Cito Gaston started messing with him for some reason.
He was encouraged to pull the ball more and try to hit with more power which were not his strengths. He had solid years before slumping in 1996 to a .274 average which made Gaston believe his was in decline even though he was only 27 years old. He was traded to the New York Mets in 1997 which lead Gaston to suggest that he would likely melt under the lights of the big city media and fans and may end up retiring early because of the pressure. Gaston was very wrong.
Olerud had a solid year for the Mets in 1997 and then went wild again in 1998. He put up a .354 average, a .447 OBP, an OPS of .998 and a WAR rating of 7.3 an all-time fabulous year. He had a solid year in 1999 and then thrilled us all in Washington state by returning home by signing with the Mariners. (Thank you, Pat Gillick!). He was a key part of the 116-win team of 2001 and received the first of his three Gold Gloves. I loved watching him field and hit.
He had a sweet swing and an astonishing eye for the strike zone. He rarely was fooled or swung wildly. He would work the count, sprayed the ball to all fields, and hit over 500 doubles in his career. ( I love doubles.) Age finally slowed him and the Mariners decided to move in another direction, released him, and he was signed by the Yankees in mid-season to fill in for the injured Jason Giambi, a scene nearly repeated this year with the amazing Ichiro being traded to the same team.
He returned to Safeco with the hated Yankees and when he came to bat for the first time, catcher Dan Wilson called time and went out to have a “conference” with Jamie Moyer which allowed the Seattle crowd to give John a minute-long standing ovation. The scene was incredible and moving.
Only one team can win the World Series each year but that doesn’t prevent even we fans of consistently losing teams like the Mariners to have heart-stopping thrills like that ovation. It was especially entertaining for me to see a Northwest native shown such love for his being and performance. It is one reason that baseball will never be just a simple game to me for I have seen Ken Griffey stealing homers by leaping over the wall and smashing the ball nearly into orbit. I have heard Dave Niehaus screaming: “Get out the rye bread and mustard Grandma, it’s a grand salami!” after Edgar Martinez drilled one out to deep center in the classic 1995 playoff against the Yankees. I watched with horror as Omar Vizquel bare-handed a ball and nipped the runner to save a no-hitter for Chris Bosio. I cried when the great Ichiro bowed to us at Safeco after being traded remembering his record-breaking 262 hit, his laser throw his first season to nail Terrance Long, and getting yet another infield hit because of his speed.
Yep, we are in last place again this year but moments like Felix’s perfect game and memories like John Olerud’s standing ovation make it all worth it. The special, rare moments allow me to cope and not act on torture fantasies I sometimes have about certain players, the front office, and managers named Wedge.
This glance backward was brought to you as a pleasant distraction that I think needed after being swept by the Oakland A’s who somehow have become way better than the Mariners, much to my horror and amazement.
It has been one special month for all of us long-suffering Mariner fans, especially this last week. The King’s perfect game, and the crowd all holding yellow ‘K’ signs and cheering like it was 2001 or 1995 again. Nine wins in the last ten games, incredible catches, key hits, walk-off victories but most of all some hope, some actual hope, that Safeco would return to its glory days and some of our young kids would become real players.
Well, after Adam Dunn smashed a couple of Jason Vargas pitches deep into the stands our balloon lost some air and it looked like our team had come back to earth. I was in the other room on the computer and heard that Jesus Montero had hit one out. I hustled out to catch the replay. I popped a beer and took my usual seat, hoping that the Mariners could score a couple of runs and make it respectable. Eric Thames popped out and Justin Smoak drew a walk. Trayvon Robinson, who seems determined to take over the left field job, smacked a double, his third hit of the night, and I thought great perhaps we can score another run or two but I wasn’t very confident as the struggling Brendan Ryan came up to bat. He drew a walk and Dustin Ackley, who has been heating up lately, came up and sneaked a hit past a driving Konerko and two runs scored as Ryan hustled to third. “Hmmm…well, this is great; they at least cut it to 7-5,” thought I.
Michael Saunders came up and a tying homer was not out of the realm of possibilities. He drew a walk and up came Kyle Seager. “Wow, a hit here could actually tie it up.” Seager missed a couple of centered fastballs and fouled then both off to get behind in the count 0-2. He connected with a deep fly to center that I thought might be real trouble for a moment but it was caught for out number two. Ryan did tag and scored to make it 7-6. John Jason and his scraggly, nasty-looking beard came up. There was no way he could come through again, I figured, as he was way overdue to make an out in one of these pressure situations. But hey, I was having fun watching it all. He also fell behind 0-2.
When he took the next pitch and lined it over the second baseman, I jumped up, spilling my beer and let out a scream. Unreal! But what was unreal was Saunders sprinting around second and heading for third. When the throw was wild and got away and he scored, I assert that I heard Dave Neihaus’s classic call of :“My-Oh, My! I don’t believe it!” I am not kidding and I swear that I had only sipped one beer.
Montero came up with Jaso on second, was too pumped up and struck out. I was stunned. What an epic comeback. Just how special? The six runs were the second most runs ever scored in the ninth inning in Mariner history. Seattle had only scored a total of 33 runs in the ninth inning the entire season.
The most runs ever scored in the ninth happened May 21, 1990. The Mariners were behind Milwaukee 4-1 and scored eight, the last three on a homer by Edgar, to win 9-4. They scored six last year in the ninth against Detroit but were already ahead 4-1. The six runs made it a 10-1 victory last April 27th. They scored six against the Blue Jays on April 15th of 2000 to add to their safe 11-6 lead to win 17-6. They also scored six in the ninth in 1996 but were ahead 5-2 to make the final 11-2. In their first year ever, the Mariners on September 9, 1978 scored six against the White Sox after trailing 4-3, to win 9-4. They have scored five runs in the ninth fourteen other times in history.
If you were watching, remember this game as it was the largest comeback in the ninth in the entire 5,000 + game Mariner’s 34-year history and you saw it live. I fully understand that Tom Wilhelmsen blew the save and the Mariners lost tragically but that was incredible also. What a fabulous catch by Eric Thames and who could fault Saunders for flying over there like a super hero? Yeah, I felt like my puppy had run off for a few seconds but it didn’t last.
I haven’t spilled a beer watching the Mariners since Edgar’s famous double in 1995. I’ve thrown a few, I must confess, but perhaps those days are over. “My-Oh-My!” Damn that was fun! Jaso is not allowed to shave his beard, do we all agree?
In today’s game, the Rays sent 27 batters to the plate, and King Felix sent each of them back to the dugout disappointed. Indeed, Felix Hernandez clinched his place in history today by becoming the 23rd man in baseball history to throw a perfect game.
Safeco Field, the city of Seattle, and the world of Twitter all erupted at the news of Felix’ accomplishment. Obviously, Felix had some ridiculous stuff on the mound today, but there were a few other factors that contributed to the win.
The first of thing you can credit the success to was Felix’ ability to control the count. Felix got 16 first pitch strikes. He consistently got ahead in the count and usually stayed ahead. The count also only got to three balls three times. The total pitch count for the game was 117 pitches which came out to an average of 4.33 pitches per batter. That number is ridiculous considering that King Felix also struck out 12 batters. In plate appearances that did not result in strikeouts, Hernandez threw an average of just three pitches per at bat.
Another factor in Felix’ perfect game was his trust in his offspeed pitches. Whether he was ahead or behind in the count,
Felix continually went to his breaking pitches. In the last inning, just two of the fifteen pitches thrown by Hernandez were fastballs. He didn’t throw a single fastball in the eighth inning. Because of his dependence on offspeed pitches, Felix was able to keep velocity on his fastball late into the game, proved by the fact that his last four-seamer clocked in a 95 mph.
John Jaso played a major role in Felix’ outing as well. Jaso and his pitcher remained on the same page all game long, and the trust that Hernandez showed in his catcher was a testament to how well Jaso called the game. Despite the fact that Jaso isn’t normally recognized as a good defensive catcher, his effect on the perfect game is undeniable.
My finishing thought is that I am so glad that we didn’t trade Hernandez at the deadline. King Felix belongs to us.
Something that has been lost in the excitement of the perfecto is the fact that Seattle has now won two straight series. The Mariners are essentially out of playoff race, but it’s still nice to win games against teams that are competing for spots in October.
In case you missed the perfect game, the game will be replayed on the radio in the Seattle area on AM 710 ESPN at 6:00 PM.
It’s unfortunate that Thursday night’s game is not on TV. No, not the Mariners game. That one’s on TV (perhaps unfortunately, as the M’s square off against the Red Sox and Franklin Morales—a strikeout machine so far this season). I’m talking about the Rainiers! You might notice that the Rainiers and Mariners have exactly the same number of wins, and that in both cases that is a bad thing. What you might not have noticed, and what I didn’t notice until Harrison retweeted this little nugget, is the very-possible pitching matchup for that game in Tacoma:
Jamie Moyer versus Danny Hultzen.
The 49-year-old that pitched 2,093 innings in a Mariners uniform will face our 22-year-old, first-round pick in the 2011 draft, a guy we hope pitches at least half that many innings of Moyeresque quality for Seattle. Let’s have some more fun with the numbers…
During his Mariner career, Moyer faced 8,802 batters over parts of 11 seasons. During his brief collegiate and professional career, Hultzen has faced 1,587 batters over parts of 4 seasons, and probably hasn’t faced 8,000 batters in his life.
Over that time, Moyer maintained an ERA of 3.97. Hultzen, a 1.99 ERA.
During Moyer’s best strikeout season, he sat down 158 batters in 234 innings. Hultzen struck out 165 batters in just 118 innings last year for the Cavaliers. Side note: Moyer set the single-season strikeout record at St. Joseph’s University with 90 strikeouts in 1984. Double side note: The St. Joseph’s baseball mascot is not the Soft-Tosser, if you were curious.
During his Mariners career, Moyer threw 25 wild pitches. Hultzen has already thrown 21 wild pitches between college and the minors.
As a hitter, Moyer has slashed .128/.199/.140 for his career. Hultzen slashed .313/.402/.431 at Virginia. Moyer never once hit a home run. Hultzen hit four. Too bad Hultzen doesn’t get to hit anymore.
Moyer finished 4th, 5th, and 6th in the AL Cy Young voting in 2001, 2003, and 1999, respectively. Hultzen won the John Olerud Two-Way Award, and was a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award in 2011—an award once won by the likes of Tim Lincecum, and an award for which the M’s 2012 first-round pick is now also a finalist.
This minor league matchup pits the M’s 3rd best pitcher by fWAR ever up against a kid who has exactly 0.0 WAR. I wish I could be there. Someone go for me.
Sometimes I feel like we focus on all the bad things rather than on all the good things that have happened in the past to this organization which we support. The Mariners as we know were born out of a very ugly situation between the Pilots, a fragile ownership group that had fallen apart and Major League Baseball being stuck in the middle of a very difficult situation. While we all have the experience of the Sonics leaving fresh in our mind that was hardly the scenerio, at least in regards to the league.
But, let’s not dwell on what took the Pilots away and focus on the Mariners, the team that replaced them. I want to take sometime to look at the best of the 70′s + 80′s had for the Mariners. The teams produced in this area weren’t very good but that doesn’t mean that we didn’t have players to remember.
Many of these individuals came and went leaving little lasting effect with the ball club. It’s funny and I guess in part I don’t just blame the organization or the media, but also the fans. It seems to me that many people allowed them to be forgotten. I shouldn’t really say “blame” that’s kind of a rude word and it incorrectly associates responsibility. Hey, I was at the very most 6 years old at the time so I know I can’t be held accountable and that’s really whats important here. But then 6 year old Harrison is just like 27 year old Harrison. Avoiding accountability.
Anyhow, regardless of how and who forgot them I want to take some time and remember some of these guys. Obviously not all of them because to write out anything more than a sentence, talking about the significant contributions of Manny Castillo would be pointless.
For those of you who don’t know who Manny Castillo is, he was a switch hitting third basemen who produced -2.0 WAR between 767 PA over 3 seasons. Wow, so now I’ve written a pointless paragraph on the ever pointless career of
Chone Figgins Manny Castillo let’s talk about some honor able mentions and my Top-10 players of the first 13 years of the organization.