Sick and Tired Dept.
Posted by Jason A. Churchill on June 11, 2006
I'm so sick and tired of hearing so many uninformed opinions about how Bill Bavasi's moves as general manager have been so terrible.
Simply put, it's just not true.
Granted, Bavasi has yet to pull off a blockbuster trade that heavily favors the Mariners and his free agent signings have been anywhere from bad to solid, leaving out the spectacular.
But the opportunity for such a fantastic no-brainer deal has not been at his doorstep, either.
Randy Winn carried as little value as a quality player possibly can that it was a fleecing to get a serviceable, cheap backup catcher and a high-risk, medium reward minor league starting pitcher.
The second-best known offer the M's received was worse than the Corey Patterson-to-Baltimore deal in which the Cubs received two mid-level prospects in return – and Winn was not worth the $6 million option for 2006, especially when Snelling and Choo are near-ready farmhands.
Freddy Garcia is the example most will mention when defending their opinion as an anti-Bavasi club member.
"All they got was a fourth outfielder, a reserve infielder and that's it," said one complaining fanatic.
But let's not forget the parameters of that trade:
1) Garcia was not returning to Seattle after 2004. He just wasn't. Part of that is the fault of the previous front office, shared by the remaining team president and CEO. None of those previous arbitration negotiations had a single thing to do with what Bavasi wanted to do with Garcia, and those who were making those decisions blew Garcia off as an outcast, leaving the pitcher with no desire to come back.
And even if Bavasi would have had his say, he'd have been overruled by you-know-who. He was not going to be allowed to hang on to Garcia, try and re-sign him for 9-10 million per season and risk getting nothing for him in the end.
2) Bavasi was praised for the deal by anyone with any credibility in the game whatsoever. Peter Gammons' comments on ESPN's Baseball Tonight reflected the thoughts of "many scouts" who believed that "Reed is a potential 10-year starter in the big leagues and his bat projects to be very steady, if not somewhat exciting."
Gammons went on to say that "everyone I have talked to thinks Seattle did very well in this deal."
3) Miguel Olivo was a big part of the deal also, maybe the biggest. But what many don't know is that his off-field issues prevented him from focusing on baseball and therefore he appeared to be completely lost in every aspect – hitting, catching, decision-making, base running, you name it.
The trade looks bad on paper right now, because Garcia is a 200-inning workhorse. But honestly, he hasn't been very good for the White Sox.
He is being paid $9 million per season, (8/8/10) over three years and has layed the league-average egg for half of the contract already.
Garcia's park-adjusted numbers have been very much unimpressive for a so-called frontline arm. In 2+ years, Garcia has posted a very ordinary 4.18* ERA. Yes, he tossed 200 innings in his first full year in Chicago and is on pace to do so again, but he's been as unspectacular as another $9 million pitcher we all know, that some of us don't love too much — Jarrod Washburn.
Washburn's adjusted ERA over the same time-frame is 4.01.
For all the World Series fame Garcia and company have and deserve, Freddy is a No. 3/4 starter and Bavasi should NOT be ridiculed for trading him to the White Sox for Reed, Olivo and Mike Morse.
Not only was the deal pretty darned good at the time, but it's too early to say Reed, already an established defensive center fielder, is not a major league hitter . Even considering the no-gain of Olivo and the seemingly very-little-gain of Morse to the system, the trade still looks okay.
If Reed pans out to be a starter at all and holds his own at the plate, the trade was a success, since we already established here that Garcia was not coming back and Bavasi had to trade him… teams knew this.
Weigh it out — $9 million per season for a slightly above league-average starting pitcher or a starting center fielder? I'll take both. Reed AND Washburn. And don't forget, Reed has a better than average chance to be more than just a starter. He's only 25 and flashed the ability to hit .300. If only Hargrove had a clue.
Another thing that many seem to freak out about is when players leave the M's and go on to success elsewhere.
How is this Bill Bavasi's fault? At all!?
Winn simply had a very hot streak hitting in front of Bonds and Alou… notice how he's come right back down to planet Earth this year hitting .274/.347/.436 with three steals. His numbers as a Seattle Mariner: .285/.341/.422 with 22 steals.
Miquel Olivo did the same thing. Three-week hot streak followed by very typical Olivo numbers. He's finally hitting his stride in Florida now that he's away from the non-baseball issues that killed his focus over the past two years.
He's still below average defensively at everything except throwing and he's still putting up nearly the exact same IsoP and K/BB rates he was in Seattle.
Sometimes people forget that Safeco Field is among the toughest three parks in baseball in which to hit, particularly for righthanders and specifically in the power areas.
It can downright deplete a hitter's confidence, and has done so with some accomplished hitters like Richie Sexson.
Joe Borchard is all Mike Hargrove's fault. He should have been given more of an opportunity to show what he could do. He's not the end-call, be-all, but he is hitting for power in Florida and could have done the same in Seattle.
He's hitting just .236 but he does have five home runs and solid 22-13 K ratio. That's a solid fourth outfielder if I ever saw one. Bavasi was handcuffed; Hargrove wanted to play Willie Bloomquist in center as a platoon partner to the lefthanded hitting Reed.
But again, not a big loss, as was the case with Olivo.
The fact does remain — Bavasi has yet to make a trade that resulted in a somewhat major impact on the 25-man roster. Reed still may, and the majority believe he will, but to defend Bavasi's standpoint, he hasn't been in a situation to make such an impact outside the Garcia deal, and that one is debatable considering the contract status of Garcia and the wait-and-see necessities surrounding Reed.
His free-agent additions are better than some believe.
Sexson was a must, though I have heard that the club could have had Delgado but the upper management wanted the local tie over the lefty-righty advantage, even though the contracts were nearly identical.
Adrian Beltre was a good sign, and though he has zero chance to be what he was in 2004, he still has a shot to be a deserving starting third baseman in the AL. The money was never going to match the performance and Bavasi deserves some criticism for the dearth of the contract, but there is more to a free-agent acquisition than the stats he puts up and the money he makes.
The M's had to take a risk on some bats. Bavasi somehow convinced the ownership to spend beyind their self-imposed limitations on player contracts and now Seattle is seen as a viable option for big names.
As far as that goes, it simply does not matter that Beltre has been terrible. The effect still remains a positive.
Signing Carl Everett and Washburn were not what anyone would call "great additions."
But Washburn has been solid, as solid as Garcia in Chicago, and Everett seems to have worn off on some of the other personalities in the clubhouse. The recent winning ways may very well be partly owed to the veteran presence of Everett and the much-maligned Eddie Guardado.
Not to mention that Everett hasn't been that bad at the plate (.266/.342/.445 adjusted) and has two walk-off bombs in his first 65 games in an M's uniform. Everett is making just $3.4 million and his option vests at 500 plate appearances – something the club with either avoid, or absorb heading into 2007. His contract will not prevent the club from adding more talent this winter, no matter the position.
Great additions? No, I'm not trying to pass them off as great signings. Maybe "good" isn't even the word. "Positive" might fit best here, and Bavasi and Hargrove both deserve credit for that.
Bavasi isn't going to lose his job this winter, unless the M's play .400 ball the rest of the way and show a lot of "give up" in the process. Hargorve is earning his keep, though he's unlikely to return unless the club makes an improbable run into the postseason.
But my point here is, there is more to the moves this club has made than meets the eye and generalizing transactions as good, bad or terrible without assessing all of the information that is available is very irresponsible and can certainly be categorized as idiotic.
Bavasi has not made any stupid trades, and while we all, myself included, preferred Kevin Millwood over Washburn, it's looking like the right move now. The M's had more information than anyone else at the time and rightfully passed on the righthander due to the fifth year in the contract, the extra $2 million per season more than Washburn that Boras wanted for Millwood, and some very reliable health information the club received.
Not to mention that Washburn has outpitched Millwood (4.14 ERA to 4.20, both adjusted for ballparks.)
Sure, signing Scott Spiezio was a failed experiment and a bad decision on Bavasi's part. But that's the only terrible signing he's made and he's among the 25 GM's in baseball that don't have as much control as the Billy Beane's and John Schuerholz's of the world.
Bavasi is going to be allowed to keep his job for another year, and rightfully so. He's got this club headed in the right direction and if Armstrong and Lincoln left him alone, we'd all see the "plan."
His bosses wanted a quick fix and Bavasi did all he could to combine that with his own way of getting a team back to competitive play. Before Bavasi arrived, the club had no future at catcher. Now they have Rob Johnson, Jeff Clement and Kenji Johjima – a very solid free-agent signing.
There was no long-term answer in center field, and now they sport Reed and the converted Adam Jones – a decision Frank Mattox and Pat Gillick probably wouldn't have made.
Remember how bad the 2004 and 2005 team's were? Ninety-nine and ninety-three losses later, we're complaining about a team paced for far less than 90 losses and have the compass pointed at the top of the division, rather than fourth-place in a four-team division.
Grading Bavasi's tenure is tough, but an objective curve probably lands in the area of satisfactory, but incomplete. But the team is slowly developing some cohesive play on the field and the chemistry may lead them to .500 in 2006.
You can thank Bavasi's bosses that it's three years too late to be seeing year one of the rebuilding process.
Free Agents: C
Scouting (Draft, Int'l): B+
Player Development: B-
The objective of this rant is to express my frustration over the knee-jerk reactions, the hater-style shredding of Bill Bavasi, and most of all the uninformed analysis being thrown around all over the internet. Much of which is masking the ever-present ignorant opinion.
I'm tired of it. Sick and tired.