Hector Noesi is only 27 years of age, so in fairness his career might not be dead yet. But as a right-handed pitcher who reluctantly boasts a 5.64 career ERA, a trade to Texas and the Rangers’ hitter-friendly ballpark seems as close to capital punishment as Major League Baseball will allow. So in anticipation of Noesi’s impending demise, I offer up this preemptive eulogy to mark the brief life and times of Hector Noesi, professional baseball player.
Oh, Hector. Sweet, incompetent Hector. Your time with us was short, yet the impact will last a lifetime. You may be gone now, but you will never be forgotten. As a member of Seattle’s unofficial Ayala-Figgins Hall of Infamy, your legacy will live on for eternity. But before we bid adieu, let’s remember those special moments we shared together.
Acquired from the Yankees following the 2011 season, you came to Seattle touting a 95-mile-per-hour heater that convinced so many of us that you might just be something special. You were only 25 years old at the time, young and virile, with enough promise and potential to titillate more than a few onlookers who wanted so badly to believe in you.
Quickly, it dawned on all of us that major league hitters could crush a straight, flat four-seamer with remarkable aplomb, thus rendering your only real asset useless. Rather than adjust to the harshness of the climate, however, you fell deeper into an abyss of ineptitude, stubbornly forcing fastball after fastball over the heart of the plate in hopes of finding the one batter in the bigs incapable of clobbering your very best pitch. Sadly, that batter never surfaced and instead of recording outs you became more apt to give up hit after godforsaken hit, thus the swollen ERA (6.17, while with the M’s) and lopsided win-loss statistics (a stunning 2-14).
You totaled 36 appearances as a Mariner — thankfully it wasn’t more. The team’s winning percentage in games you pitched was a mere .444, not even good enough to be considered average. Despite their sporadic faith in you, the ballclub managed to win just 16 times when you faced one or more batters, all whilst losing on 20 unique occasions.
Your final act in a Mariners uniform could serve as a microcosm for your entire tenure in Seattle. With just two pitches to Oakland A’s outfielder Coco Crisp, a man known much more for his speed than his power, you put an end to an extra-inning tie ballgame by relinquishing a game-winning, walk-off home run. Within a couple hours, the organization had designated for you assignment; days later you were “assigned” to Texas in exchange for cash considerations or a player to be named later, which more or less amounts to nothing at all.
It wasn’t just the underwhelming stats or the general suckiness of your brief Mariners career, though. The aura around your entire being was one of failure and inadequacy. You seemingly could do nothing right, surrendering an unforgivable number of home runs, let alone hits of any kind, on 0-2 counts. Who does that? All a pitcher must do in an 0-2 situation is NOT THROW A STRIKE. And while you were quite adept at not throwing strikes with almost any other count on a batter, the 0-2 count emerged as your mortal enemy, the one obstacle you could not overcome. Mind-boggling, how foolishly stupid you became upon gaining so much leverage on the competition.
To make matters worse, never has the world witnessed a major league ballplayer who exuded less confidence than you, Hector. From your overall body language to the perpetual look of trepidation upon your mug, you always seemed frightened and overmatched. We even gave your unnerved appearance a name: Noesi Face, which resembled the type of spooked disfiguration one might project after encountering a saggy, old man undressing or two morbidly obese Juggalos engaging in coitus. Even in situations that wouldn’t normally call for any sort of fearfulness — like team picture day, for example — you couldn’t escape the honesty of your own visage.
It all came to an end on Saturday, April 2nd, 2014. Somehow, the Mariners managed to pawn you off on the aforementioned Rangers, a heist of the most epic proportions. That general manager Jack Zduriencik found a willing trade partner in the first place was hard to believe; that the team willing to obtain you was a divisional foe made it absolutely shocking. Should the M’s never receive so much as a wooden nickel in return for your services, the transaction will still go down as an incredible coup. Unbeknownst to those poor, naive Texas baseball fanatics, you are the Trojan horse that spells all but certain doom for any franchise you curse with your presence.
Now a corpse in waiting, you depart for the bandbox of a stadium that is the Ballpark in Arlington, grayer pastures if ever such a euphemism existed. And the first opponent you’ll confront as a member of your new team? None other than the Seattle Mariners.
Goodbye, Hector. Rest in peace.