A year ago today, David Pauley was a member of the Seattle Mariners bullpen. One could argue he was a key member having posted a 2.15 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in just over 54 innings of work for the M's that season. That had to be a pretty good feeling considering that he had just turned 28, wasn't much of a prospect, having topped out as the #26 prospect in the Boston organization all the way back in 2007, and finally appeared to be on the verge of sticking the majors.
What had to feel even better is that a few weeks later, right at the 2011 trade deadline, the David Pauley was traded to the Tigers as part of the Doug Fister deal. Pauley obviously wasn't the centerpiece of the trade package, but he was wanted by another big league team, and a contending team at that. Being traded wasn't a new experience for Pauley though as he had twice been dealt during his minor league days. There is a degree of being "wanted" involved in those earlier deals, but on a much lesser "well, I guess he's a prospect with a working arm" sort of way.
But this new warm and fuzzy feeling for Pauley would be short-lived. When he arrived in the Motor City, he fell apart. In just 19.2 innings of work, he registered a 5.95 ERA and 1.627 WHIP. He wouldn't throw a single pitch for the Tigers during their post-season run. This is what they call foreshadowing.
No longer a lock for the bullpen, Pauley entered spring training with Detroit knowing he would have to fight for his place on the roster. He would lose this battle, getting designated for assignment and subsequently released by Detroit in mid-March. And so would begin Pauley's nomadic 2012 season.
Less than two weeks later, the Angels would sign him to a minor league contract. To his credit, Pauley took this setback in stride and managed to work his way onto the Angels' big league roster by mid-May. Alas, that did not go well and before the end of the month he would be designated for assignment for the second time in 2012.
Remember that "wanted" feeling Pauley had before? Not so much this time. He cleared waivers and once again returned to the LA's Triple-A team. But lo, there is hope! Needing pitching depth once again, the Angels re-added Pauley to their 40-roster and recalled him to the majors. Hooray, wanted again!
For a game anyway. That's all it took for the Halos to DFA Pauley for the second time in a month. That is the opposite of being wanted. Heck, it borders on cruel and unusual punishment, but such is the business of baseball.
Weep not for David Pauley though, not yet anyway, as this time he did not clear waivers, instead being claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays who were desperate to add anything resembling a big league pitcher to the injury-ravaged staff. Unfortunately, he would fare no better in Toronto than he did in Anaheim, bringing his 2012 ERA to 6.48 for the season before Toronto decided they too no longer required his services. So, for the fourth time in a little under four months, Pauley hit the waiver wire.
Unclaimed and unwanted, Pauley was out of a job having chosen to reject Toronto's attempt to assign him to the minors. Pauley was ready to get off the waiver wire roller coaster and take control of his fate. And what do we do when we are down and out with nowhere to go? We go back to home, back to where we first felt wanted, back to where things were once good.
That's exactly what Pauley did yesterday, signing a minor league contract to return him to the Seattle Mariners organization. He'll be playing his games for the Tacoma Rainiers for the time being, but that's close enough to home for now.
With the second half of the season getting set to begin, one can only hope that Pauley's resiliency in the face of his difficult, itinerant season willbe rewarded by him somehow getting another shot at the bigs before the season is out. Only let's hope that he doesn't get designated for assignment again two weeks later.
Photos courtesy of Daylife.com