M’s sign Pokey Reese

Dave · January 4, 2005 at 7:10 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Thanks to DG in the comments for first noting this, and we get confirmation from Larry LaRue this morning. The deal is for 1 year and about $1.9 million. The team sold Jolbert Cabrera to Japan to make room on the roster and to clear budget space.

This is a terrific move. I’ve been stumping to sign Pokey for two years now. Yes, he’s a miserable hitter and the team can expect to have to pinch hit for him in nearly any situation where a hit is needed. But he’s also a treemendous defensive infielder, one of the best in the game, and his glove is easily worth the money the team is giving him. He’s also a high percentage baserunner, and could be a big weapon stealing bases as a pinch-runner on days he doesn’t start.

This also makes it nearly guaranteed that Jose Lopez will begin 2005 in Triple-A Tacoma, which I’ve been advocating all along. Lopez simply isn’t ready to play everyday in the major leagues right now, and it will be better for him and the Mariners to have him improving in Tacoma than struggling in Seattle.

The fact that the M’s basically swapped out Jolbert Cabrera for Pokey Reese makes this a big improvement. Another move by the M’s that we’ll clap our hands for. Well done, guys.


126 Responses to “M’s sign Pokey Reese”

  1. tede on January 4th, 2005 11:17 pm

    Terrific deal? No. That’s a bit of unabashed enthusiasm as Greenspan would say. It’s okay and it is sounding better as the dollar amount appears to be what #87 Jon Wells ($1.2 m) is saying than Dave ($1.9m).

    As far as his Pokey’s stolen base percentage. Yes it’s good but it’s about the same as Bloomquist’s (84%/83%). Bloomquist in part time play stole 13 bags in 15 attempts last year. Pokey hasn’t stolen more than 13 bags since 2001. That includes one fulltime year in 2002 and two injury plagued years. With Pokey’s potential for injury and hitting at the Safe, I don’t see him getting back to his 2001 SB total of 25. Plus batting 9th and trying to steal in this lineup will be tough. As a slap hitter Ichiro isn’t patient enough to allow him to go. And if he does go while Ichiro is up, it leaves first base open for him to be pitched around. But if they both get on, we might find out if Hargrove is as big a fan of the double steal as Piniella & Melvin.

    More important than this signing is the bench weakness and the current heavy tilt to the right side. Spiezio was hitless in PH duties last year and is only 4 for 21 in the last three years with no RBIs, If Jeremy Reed makes the team he probably won’t have to worry about facing lots of lefties this year.

    I wonder how many times we might hear Rizz say “coming up next inning the Mariners will have Bucky, Miggy, and Pokey”. It will also be interesting to see how Jolbert fares in Japan especially telling his car jacking story. Ex-M and current Carp Andy Sheets has averaged 24 HR the past two years in the Central League.

  2. Jon Wells on January 5th, 2005 1:17 am

    Seriously, this year’s version of Bill Bavasi is not the same character that made all those bad moves last winter. First the Beltre signing, then Pokey Reese on a really good deal and allowing Jose Lopez to develop and NOW THIS from Wednesday’s P-I, indicating that Bavasi is looking to obtain a better option for a backup SS than Willie F…

    “…historically Reese is prone to injury, as Bavasi conceded in saying the club will continue looking for an accomplished backup. Willie Bloomquist, as it stands now, would be the No. 2 shortstop. “We are rolling the dice a little bit,” Bavasi said of Reese. “His injuries have been real. He has a reputation as a great guy who works hard and plays hard, but he has had a few times when he’s been hurt. We’d be crazy not to cover ourselves, but we’re not talking about any blockbusters.”

    Here’s a look at the remaining free agent middle infielders:

    1) Miguel Cairo – hasn’t play much shortstop so probably not a fit.
    2) Alex Gonzalez – stock has fallen. Might end up with an NRI somewhere — why not Seattle? Would be a good insurance policy for Pokey injury.
    3) Barry Larkin — still can pick it and hit well at 40. History with Boone in Cincy.
    4) Shane Halter — will have to take an NRI after hitting .202 for Anaheim last year.
    5) Cody Ranson — non-tendered by SF. Not likely to get more than an NRI. Definitely an upgrade over Bloomquist at not much more cost ($400K if he makes the club vs. Bloomquist’s $350K). What a team we’d have with Pokey, Cody and Bucky!

    6) A couple of other decent options have disappeared in recent days. Ramon Vazquez was traded from the Padres to Boston and Detroit signed Ramon E. Martinez. I’ve always liked Martinez — not sure why, but maybe it was that great Strat O Matic card he had a couple of years back…

    not much else out there on the trade market although maybe Arizona would he willing to trade Alex Cintron… hey, we’ve got a slightly used Bloomquist available, Bo Mel — whaddyya think???

  3. Jon Wells on January 5th, 2005 1:24 am

    Apparently Mike Cameron, a former teammate of Pokey’s in Cincinnati, did a big selling job on Pokey that helped convince him to come to Seattle (see link below). Pretty strange, considering he doesn’t play here anymore — maybe Cammy’s thinking it’d be pretty sweet to come back here if the Mets sign Carlos Beltran to play CF… Howsabout Cammy, Cliff Floyd and some $$$ to help pay Floyd’s contrac in excahnge for Randy Winn, Spiezio, Hasegawa and either Nageotte or Blackley?

    And the buyout of the 2006 option on Reese is $300K.


  4. Jon Wells on January 5th, 2005 2:58 am

    One more possibility for an ’05 backup SS/utility infielder — Denny Hocking. He was was released by Colorado last July (they used him mostly as a pinch-hitter) and finished the year with the Cubs AAA team but never got called up. He’s always been a pretty useful player, would definitely take an NRI and a $350K salary if he makes the club…

  5. wabbles on January 5th, 2005 4:52 am

    I’m getting a vision…(eats another donut)…it’s getting clearer now….Sexson at 1B, Boone at 2B, Reese at SS, Beltre at 3B, Winn and Ichiro and Reed and Ibanez in the outfield…(munches another donut)…Wilson and Olivo at catcher, Jacobsen at DH. Bloomquist and Speizo and a spring training surprise on the bench. So what about the pitching staff? Especially the bullpen? It’s a mess!!!

  6. David J Corcoran on January 5th, 2005 7:38 am

    Gonzo would be a good sign as our STARTING shortstop. Not much average, but a little more pop than Pokey has. Aurilia would be an option I woud frankly like. He certainly didn’t do badly in Seattle, it was just that somebody had to go. He can play all infield positions. I doubt the FO would bring him back, but I wouldn’t mind him at ALL as a reserve infielder. Rey Sanchez is another reserve I would like. He has hit very well in limited At Bats at SafeCo. When Sanchez starts at Short they can slide Pokey over to 3rd.

  7. mgthomas on January 5th, 2005 7:56 am

    Having the opportunity to watch Pokey in Boston this year I can say that while his hitting is not amazing, he was great defensively. He’s a speedy guy and has great range in the field.
    Also it will give the M’s fans a great chance to chant: PO-KEY PO-KEY!!

  8. Jon Wells on January 5th, 2005 10:51 am

    #106 “Aurilia would be an option I woud frankly like. He certainly didn’t do badly in Seattle”

    I don’t know what you conisder “doing badly” but a .337 slugging pctg. with no range in the field certainly qualifies in my book. His numbers didn’t improve much once he returned to the NL either…

  9. Ralph Malph on January 5th, 2005 11:06 am

    I thought it was obvious I was joking about Q-Mac (as I assume you were about Aurilia). But what about Ben Grieve?

  10. Matt Williams on January 5th, 2005 11:24 am

    This is probably the biased fan talking, but with the recent signings I think the Mariners actually have a chance to compete for the division this year. Maybe 10-20%. Certainly nothing to bet on, but Sexson holding up and a couple of the young pitchers hitting their potential and it just might happen in a weakened division. Funny how I went into last year dreading the season after they won 93 games, but this year I’m going in hopeful again after they won 63. At least it will be exciting, even if they flame out.

  11. Ralph Malph on January 5th, 2005 11:42 am

    They will go exactly as far as the pitching staff takes them. If Moyer has one more good year, Pineiro is healthy, Meche performs as he did after getting called back up, Madritsch has a good sophomore season, and whoever the 5th starter is surprises, they could contend. Those are a whole lot of ifs though.

  12. Matt Williams on January 5th, 2005 12:09 pm

    I’m just happy that a lot of those ifs look like they have decent chances of happening. We probably won’t win enough of them to be within sight of first, but I’ve got a little flicker of hope that wasn’t there before.

    One thing I really like about this offseason is that I actually get the sense that Bavasi would be willing and able to make important trading deadline moves if/when we’re in contention in future years. That’s something to be happy about once the Mariners are out of the rebuilding phase.

  13. Flavor Flav on January 5th, 2005 1:11 pm

    Looks like you guys are making some headway in Seattle. Bill Bavasi must be reading the USS Mariner because he is making some good moves. Job well done!! Just more proof that superior intelligence eventually wins in the long run.

  14. Jim Thomsen on January 5th, 2005 1:21 pm

    Let’s run down our IF list for 2005:

    1. If Miguel Olivo learns how to catch.
    2. If Miguel Olivo can rediscover his pre-Seattle bat.
    3. If Dan Wilson can be no less mediocre than in the past few years.
    4. If Richie Sexon is healthy.
    5. If Bret Boone can arrest his decline at the plate.
    6. If If Bret Boone can overcome his indifferent defense in ’04.
    7. If Pokey Reese’s glove can save the runs his anemic bat will give up.
    8. If Adrian Beltre settles in or even contunes his growth pattern.
    9. If Randy Winn can be dealt, OR if Jeremy Reed shows he’s ready to take over in center.
    10. If Raul Ibanez can be dealt, or if he can stay healthy, and if he can not be defensive liability in left.
    11. If Ichiro doesn’t regress into a .310 hitter who doesn’t get on base all that much to be considered a premium leadoff hitter, and if Ichiro can develop some sort of base-stealing rate and consistency that helps the team.
    12. If Bucky Jacobsen can find a role, and if he can thrive in that role.
    13. If Jose Lopez can take solid strides in a half or full season in the minors to the point that he can help the team.
    14. If Jamie Moyer can arrest his decline at age 43 and be at least a 180-inning, league-average pitcher.
    15. If Joel Pineiro shows he’s not only healthy and can find some consistency.
    16. If Gil Meche can put it all together the way he seemed to more often than not in the second half of ’04.
    17. If Ryan Franklin can improve along with his somewhat improved defense.
    18. If Bobby Madritsch is for real, and if he can stay healthy.
    19. If Shiggy can also benefit from an improved defense and actually help the team once more.
    20. If Eddie Guardado is healthy and his usual reliable self.
    21. If J.J. Putz can step in and close the doors if Guardado isn’t healthy.
    22. If George Sherrill is the left-handed spot reliever the team needs him to be.
    23. If Scott Atchison, Julio Mateo, Matt Thornton or somebody can step up and soak up low-leverage innings when needed.
    24. If the injured talents and not-quite-ready kids in the system — Felix, Choo, Nageotte, Blackley, Snelling, etc. — can not only heal but improve.
    25. If all these talents can be knit by Mike Hargrove and Don Baylor and Bryan Price into a coherent whole.

    That’s an effing lot of iffing.

  15. The Ancient Mariner on January 5th, 2005 2:38 pm

    Regarding middle IF–did Alex Cora sign with someone? If not, he’d be at the top of my list (especially if we could teach him to play CF and turn him into the new McLemore).

  16. David on January 5th, 2005 2:55 pm

    You know, it’s a good thing that the Bremerton Sun has a red-tape registration process to read their online edition, because I’d have posted the link to a pro-Bloomquist article here, and most of you would either be ticked off or lose your lunch after reading it. I guess it hurts for me because it’s written by one of my old baseball coaches, but anyway…Chuck Stark says Bloomquist is “David Eckstein with a better arm and more range — and just as hard-nosed.” Stark also thinks that “if Bloomquist played on a regular basis…he’d hit .280 with six or seven home runs and steal 30-35 bases.” Bloomquist also says he’s been “lifting non-stop” and going back to his hitting approach from THE 12-GAME STRETCH (i.e., his shining moment in his career) where he hit .455 against other teams’ AA and AAA pitchers. Granted, if I was editor at the Bremerton Sun, I definitely wouldn’t be able to get away with slamming South Kitsap left and right, but as a blogger…let’s just say this is the Husky-versus-Cougar hate that I never had.

  17. msb on January 5th, 2005 3:52 pm

    #115– Cora is still out there, and mentioned as being a back-up plan for Tampa or St Louis…

  18. Shoeless Jose on January 5th, 2005 4:34 pm

    Am I the only person humming the “tinkers to evers to chance” thing as “Pokey to Buckey to Boone”? (say it fast a couple of times) I’d love to put Sexon and Beltre in there but it just doesn’t come off the tongue as cleanly. And yeah, I know a 6-3-4 double play isn’t the way it usually goes…

  19. Deanna on January 5th, 2005 6:25 pm

    #73, and anyone else who cares: The team Cabrera has apparently been sold to is the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks (formerly known as the Daiei Hawks). There’s an article on Nikkan Sports about it (sorry, no English translation that I know of)


    It basically says “we’ve acquired a new foreigner! Cabrera of the Mariners is negotiating a contract with us and we’ll post the exact details and put him in our official lineup when we finish working it all out.”

    This is a great team for him to be joining, honestly — the Hawks have been the #1 or #2 team in the Pacific League for the last several years and are managed by baseball legend Sadaharu Oh. They have several amazing players, and are losing one of their best infielders, Tadahito Iguchi, to MLB this year. So I think it’s awesome and I look forward to seeing him play with them next year!

    I have no idea whether anyone will actually see this comment since it’s so far down. I guess the American papers will report it in a few days anyway, in theory.

  20. John on January 5th, 2005 6:49 pm

    Re # 114: Some of those “ifs” are really stretches. If all those “ifs” come to pass, then the Ms should win 100-150 games.
    Re # 116: The over-valuing of hometown players is par for the course. Some of those homers really get carried away. I was in Minneapolis (’59) when one of the local sportswriters pronounced the Minneaspolis Lakers backcourt as good as any in the NBA. At the time, the Boston Celtics had COUSY, SHARMAN, KC JONES, and SAM JONES.

  21. my two cents on January 5th, 2005 10:11 pm

    Re #114 and others:
    I like the list. IF nothing else it will be very entertaining. However, I think if they traded Winn that would really hurt us. Like it or not we need Winn and Spezio and Ibanez, especially with this newest aquisition of Reese which I do like ( although another INTERESTING injury risk). We need some left hand hitters, Winn CAN hit. In streaks. Ibanez CAN hit. And believe it or not Spezio CAN hit. In fact he usually does hit the ball somewhere (last year usually straight up in the air). If he can avoid that he may come through as a useful back up. It is possible he could bounce back somewhat and be a clutch hitter off the bench as he doesn’t strike out much. He did hit ten plus homeruns in not that many at bats and can drive the ball. Just so many pop ups.

    Anyway, I can’t think of who they could really could get in exchange for any of them (pitching, defensively or offensively). Moving Winn and batting Reese 2nd would be the biggest mistake. It would undo everything good the team has done so far. We need power (Beltre, Sexson,Boone,Ibanez,Bucky, Olivo?), hitting (Ichiro, Beltre, Winn, Reed,Spezio) and more than one or two speed guys, especially if one of them is injury prone like Reese, (therefore: Ichiro, Reed, Olivo?, Reese AND Winn.

  22. Jon Wells on January 6th, 2005 1:10 am

    Cross another name off the list of potential backup shortstops. Alex Gonzalez is signing with Tampa Bay to be their starting third baseman (never mind that he hasn’t played the position in the majors in 10 years!). He’s getting $1.9 million — that Pokey Reese deal is looking better and better! Gonzalez hit .225 last year w/ 7 HR’s and is a career .242 hitter with some power (but actually has a lower career OBP than Pokey and is not the defensive whiz Pokye is).

    “He’s a good athlete, a hard worker and a player we tried to recruit when I was in Seattle after Alex Rodriguez signed with Texas,” Rays manager Lou Piniella said in a statement. “He’s got a chance to give us 20 home runs out of the third base position. I’m excited to have him.”

  23. Bela Txadux on January 6th, 2005 1:18 am

    Reese’s the piece, that’s fer sure. I’m psyched to have him on board. He’s not as good offensively as McLemore (who got on base), but his glove makes him about as valuable. Definitely the right move for the middle of the infield, AND the FO got him for one-and-an-option, just what might be hoped. That’s what comes from waiting the market out (even if I’ve been cursing under my breath watching for just exactly this sign to finally come down).

    The subtraction of Cabrera is a plus as well. Jolbert’s not useless, particularly in view of his defensive positives brought to the surface by earlier insight on this blog. JolCab is the perfect Japan sign, though: good athlete, above average defensively at more than one position, makes decent contact at the plate, but insufficient power or plate discipline preclude him from holding down a regular MLB job. If GMs on this side of the water valued him accurately he’d never see half of what he’ll make in the contract he signs over there, so for Jolbert this is really the right move, and I’ll bet he knows it. For once, things work out well for everybody.

    —Now the next move for Bavasi: trade to reacquire Mike Cameron. Come on, let’s make a bandwagon. Cammy is clearly no longer ‘the answer’ as far as Wilpon is concerned. If he’s seriously throwing offers Beltran’s way, it has to figure that Cameron could be shaken loose. I’d far rather have Mike back in center than Winn, and, who knows, perhaps this could be wheedled together even if the Mets don’t come up aces on Beltran.

    . . . I’m starting to like this offseason. (How’s the shoulder, Richie??)

  24. Bela Txadux on January 6th, 2005 1:51 am

    Deanna, thanks for the hawkeyes there on Jolbert’s impending venue. Always nice to see the scoop. And it _does_ sound not only like it’s a good outcome for Cabrera but that he actually will have some significant positives for his new team as well given his talent matrix.

  25. darrin on January 7th, 2005 2:24 pm

    I’m a big Lopez believer, but I have to admit I think this is a good signing. It was clear the infield stunk last year and was their biggest need. They have upgraded big time.

    The pitching is still a big question which I think will keep them around .500.

    Also, no one is really mentioning it, but they currently have a catcher (Olivo) who can’t catch the ball. My bet is that Wilson plays a lot, since they will be just close enough to be in it, but not quite bad enough to be out of it.

  26. darrin on January 7th, 2005 2:27 pm

    I’m a big Lopez believer, but I have to admit I think this is a good signing. It was clear the infield stunk last year and was their biggest need. They have upgraded big time.

    The pitching is still a big question which I think will keep them around .500.

    Also, no one is really mentioning it, but they currently have a catcher (Olivo) who can’t catch the ball. My bet is that Wilson plays a lot, since they will be just close enough to be in it, but not quite bad enough to be out of it.