Rewind three years. It’s the 2006 baseball offseason and “General Manager” Bill Bavasi has just signed Jeff Weaver and traded Rafael Soriano for Horatio Ramirez. The laughable Richie Sexson is set to play at first base, Yuniesky Betancourt at shortstop, Jose Guillen in right field, and Raul Ibanez in left. The Mariners are doing it the wrong way. They’re looking at ERA, pitching wins, batting average. Bill Bavasi probably can’t tell Jermaine Dye’s defense from Ichiro’s. The fanbase is, for the most part, unhappy, pessimistic, and tired of overpriced veterans taking away playing time from young talent.
2006 was a bad time to root for the Mariners.
Fast-forward to today. November 24th, 2009. New GM Jack Zduriencik is running the show and the Mariners are one of the best-run organizations in professional baseball. They’ve picked up Russell Branyan, Franklin Gutierrez, and Jack Wilson, and they’ve traded the aging Jarrod Washburn to the Tigers for one good pitching prospect and one great one. They’re looking to acquire this guy: http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/10357594 Bill Bavasi would have taken one look at Nick Johnson and dismissed him for having a low batting average. Jack Zduriencik sees Nick Johnson and sees a diamond in the rough. A guy who hits for power, reaches base, and plays average defense. Someone he wants on his team. Things are looking up for the M’s.
The M’s are smart. Really smart. And I hope the rest of baseball doesn’t catch up anytime soon.