Willie Bloomquist, the South Kitsap High School grad (Port Orchard, WA), is back in his home state with his first team, the Seattle Mariners. He was the top Mariner utility player for seven years, from 2002-2008, then signed as free agent with Kansas City because he wanted to play everyday.
In his first tour of duty with Seattle he batted .263 in 540 games with a mere 6 home runs, but he did steal 71 bases. Playing in 125 games for KC in 2009 he hit .266, but the next season was back to his utility role and on September 13th of 2010 was sold to Cincinnati where he played in eleven games. The last three seasons he has been with Arizona, signing as free agent in 2011.
He hit better in Arizona, batting .289 in 225 games, including .317 in 2013 in 139 at bats. He has no power, and in his last 19 stolen bases, he has been caught twelve times, so his legs are not what they once were.
So are the Mariners doing the right thing bringing in a 36 year old utility player?
I was never enamored of Willie, primarily because when I was at games where he played, he did little or nothing, though I do think I once saw him hit a home run, but my memory may be clogged with senility, however, I think the signing is good.
First every team needs a utility player and it is preferable to have an older experienced player than a young player for Seattle, as the Mariners have enough youngsters in their cute sailor suits. Willie is a good fielder, can play all infield positions and the outfield, and has that elusive, required, mysterious, baseball cliché, ‘veteran experience.’ He can mentor and tutor Franklin and Miller, showing them tricks of the trade, imparting wisdom like Yoda, only with better sentence structure.
No he is not a big signing, it is nothing close to blockbuster, not someone whose presence will make a big difference. But he fills a need and he can still play when called upon. It is early in the offseason for signings and trades, and there may be exciting news coming from the Mariners before spring training, but in the meantime, welcome back Willie.