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Yuni vs. his predecessors, part 6 March 11, 2008

Posted by Brad in commentary, stats.
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I started actively following the Mariners in about 1990, so I’m not very well-versed in 1970s and 1980s Mariners history, which is partly why I’m writing this series on past M’s shortstops. I can unequivocally say that my favorite Mariner from the 1980s is probably this guy:

1986-1989 Rey Quinones
Stats: .251/.289/.371 in 1,118 at bats over 4 seasons. These are the most respectable stats for any M’s shortstop so far, though an OPS of .660 is not necessarily respectable. Some say Quinones was a defensive whiz, I say he committed 25 and 23 errors in his 1987 and 1988, his two full seasons with the M’s.
Place in M’s fandom: Not high enough. He could be regarded as the last bad shortstop the M’s had, but he’s so much more.
Much of my fondness comes from a four page section in Kirby Arnold’s Tales from the Seattle Mariners Dugout called “Talented, Unpredictable Rey Quinones.” It starts on page 61; go read the whole thing. Highlights:
-M’s trainer Rick Griffin said he was one of the most talented players he ever saw. Ken Griffey, Jr., Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriguez, Rey Quinones… sounds about right. Griffin also said Rey “could stand at home plate in the Kingdome and throw the ball into the second deck in center field.” Sadly, Rey couldn’t hit the ball anywhere near as hard, though he did hit 12 home runs in both 1987 and 1988.
-Rey showed up late to spring training in 1987, claiming he had visa problems. The response from M’s president Chuck Armstrong: “Uh Rey… you’re from Puerto Rico. You don’t need a visa.” How was Rey to know that general managers had atlases in their offices?
-Later in 1987, “Quinones told [beat writers] that he didn’t need baseball, saying he owned a liquor store in Puerto Rico and could live off that.”
-Arnold’s best quote from Quinones displays wondrous logic:

I’m a very good shortstop, right?… I could be the best shortstop in the American League…. I’m so good… that I don’t need to play every day… You have other guys who should play so they can get better… so I don’t need to play tonight.

There are no holes in that argument.
How can Mariners fans not love this Quinones? I have one suggestion on how to love Quinones. Rey wore number 51, which in 1986 had no cache. Now 51 is the number least likely to be retired by the Mariners, since both Johnson and Ichiro wore it. This is good news for Quinones, though, because now this shirt can happen:
Rey Quinones Jersey

Wikipedia/Google: Quinones Wikipedia page has nothing funny.
He does get mentioned on ESPN Page 2’s on the All-Bizarre Injury Team

Shortstop: Rey Quinones (Seattle)
Once was unavailable for pinch hitting duty, because he had already returned to the clubhouse … to play Nintendo.

Rey needed to play every day to get better. And Quinones’ video game obsession is a wonderful precursor for when Nintendo founder Hiroshi Yamauchi bought the Mariners, and for when video games and Mariners shortstops improved.
Former Pittsburgh Pirates manager Jim Leyland recently said trading for Quinones was a bad move.

We knew it wasn’t going to work. I said we should move on, admit we made a mistake… The media will bury us for two days and then they’ll move on and forget about it. But if we keep this mistake, they’re going to bury us for six months or two years.

Quinones was traded to the Pirates on April 21st, 1989, and was released on July 22nd. At the age of 26 (just as old as Yuniesky Betancourt is now), Rey was out of the big leagues for good. A New York Times article on Quinones in 1989 has, in addition more negative comments from Leyland, a just plain wrong quote from one of Quinones’s agents named Chuck Berry:

You don’t see many releases like this… We’re getting a lot of interest in him from clubs, even from teams with established shortstops. They’re a bit leery about what they’ve heard, but they are interested nevertheless.

Dear Chuck Berry: they weren’t interested.

Despite my newfound infatuation and pending homemade jersey for Rey Quinones, he wasn’t nearly the Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt is.

Tomorrow: Little O, my first shortstop.

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Comments»

1. JR - November 23, 2008

Hey dude, Rey is my a good guy at heart he just has his moment when he thinks his better then other people. I know because his brother that is 10x better then him in baseball is my step-dad. so FUCK OFF.


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