Last night’s soul-crushing loss to the Red Sox resulted in a demotion for Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen. The 29-year-old right-hander entered with a 7-2 lead, seemingly an easy finish to an easy game. He faced four hitters, allowing a walk, a single, a double, and another walk before being lifted. As other Mariner relievers — Oliver Perez and Yoervis Medina — failed to get the job done, Wilhelmsen was charged with four runs, raising his ERA to 4.37. The Red Sox eventually walked off 8-7 winners on Daniel Nava’s 8-7 single to center. As Dave Cameron pointed out on Twitter last night, the Mariners were 99 percent favorites to win, and they lost.
Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times informs us that Wilhelmsen is now out as the Mariners closer for the foreseeable future.
The team has not named an official interim closer. Interim manager Robby Thompson said, “We’ll try to piece it together and match up. And we’ll go from there.”
Wilhelmsen started off the season in fine fashion, carrying an 0.75 ERA through the end of May. Since June, however, he has an 8.10 ERA with an 18-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 23 and one-third innings. It’s not just Wilhelmen, though. Over the last 30 days, the Mariner bullpen as a whole has a 5.44 ERA, outpaced only by the Astros at 5.83. Demoting Wilhelmsen, while a good idea for the right-hander’s mental health, is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
The Brewers offloaded outfielder Michael Choice’s contract to the Nexen Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization, per a team announcement on Friday. Choice signed a minor league deal with the Brewers in early May, but did not earn a major league stint in 11 weeks with the team.
It’s been two full years since the 27-year-old outfielder snagged a big league opportunity of any kind. He last appeared with the Rangers in 2015 and played in just one game, striking out in his only at-bat. His production rate sagged through three consecutive minor league assignments with the Indians, Orioles and Brewers and peaked in 2016 after slashing .246/.304/.456 with 14 home runs for the Indians’ Triple-A Columbus. He was off to a decent start this season for the Brewers’ Double-A Biloxi, working a .272/.349/.503 batting line with nine home runs and an .852 OPS through his first 195 PA.
Choice is poised to join several other ex-major leaguers on the Heroes’ roster, including left-hander Andy Van Hekken, right-hander Jake Brigham and infielder/outfielder Danny Dorn.
6:43 PM: Danny Dorn no longer plays for the Nexen Heroes, as he was released to clear roster space for Choice.
Our old friend Joe Posnanski tackles a venerable topic over at MLB.com: guys you totally forgot played for a given team. Mostly superstars who had brief stops at non-signature stations at the end of their careers. Or guys, like Mike Piazza and Reggie Jackson, who were with a team for a blink of an eye in between more famous way stations.
We’ve all had this conversation before: remember Willie Mays with the Mets? Doc Gooden with the Astros? John Smoltz with the Cardinals? Heck, I had forgotten about Smoltz with the Cardinals and he was a star on my favorite team once upon a time.
Posnanski calls them “Irony Jerseys.” That’s pretty appropriate, as one can totally imagine someone buying, say, that Dale Murphy Rockies jersey in the name of obscurity. Whatever you call it, it’s a good read.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to get my Ted Simmons Braves jersey for a party at some place uptown that you’ve probably never heard of.