The Times They Are A Changin’

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: 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.

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  • shields

    Umm.. I’m not trying to sound like a dick, but are you confusing Nick Johnson with someone else? .291 batting average (.273 career) isn’t exactly a guy with a “low batting average,” and his 8 homers and career low .114 ISO don’t scream “hits for power.”


    Also, Jose Guillen was a solid move for Bavasi, I’d say. 1 year $5.5M for a .355 wOBA hitter (2.4 WAR)? I’ll take that every day of the week. Not everyone has to be a grade-A defender to make them worthwhile.

    Sorry for the nit picking. The point of the post remains. Things are looking up.

  • Taylor

    Whoops, I was definitely looking at Jack Cust’s offensive stats on Fangraphs instead of Johnson’s. That’s a perfectly reasonable nit-pick.

    And as for Jose Guillen, it’s the defensive ineptitude that irks me. His UZR was -6.3 in the ’07 season.

  • Griffin Cooper

    Yeah I actually would say Guillen was one of Bavasi’s better signings, his defense was nothing to write home about, though.

  • shields

    Not every position has to be manned by a gold glover. Guillen was a nice value in 2007. Period.

    I guess I just get annoyed when Bavasi’s good calls get minimized. He sucked, but that doesn’t mean he never made a single good call. Give the poor guy credit where credit is due.

    It’s easy to look back in hindsight, but UZR wasn’t even widely available back then. RZR was still being talked about as this great new thing on USS Mariner. It wasn’t as simple as just pulling up FanGraphs and saying “hey, this guy is good” or “hey, this guy sucks.” Hell, it’s not even as easy as that today, but people believe it is.

    And, if Guillen didn’t have a bum ankle (or something that hobbled him.. can’t remember exactly) I think he was more than capable of putting up an average or better UZR. That is something that is obviously out of Bavasi’s control. Even Dave, when writing about the signing, called him a solid defender and applauded the move.

    Nothing wrong with the move. Give poor Billy some credit.

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  • Taylor

    Available to the public =/= available to general managers.

  • helohelper

    Yes Bavasi made some bad personel decisions. But another thing that you have to remember is that the rest of team did not play well either. It wasn’t just his bad decisions that cost us. Remember baseball is a team sport. 1 or 2 players not playing up to par does not cost a team losses. It is the whole team that costs losses. When nobody plays well the team loses. i.e. 101 loss season. You can’t rack that up to Bavasi. The team played like crap.

  • shields

    “Available to the public =/= available to general managers.”

    Sure, front offices had stats that weren’t available to us and they still do, but the point is that it’s easier now than it was after the 2007 season to nitpick at Guillen’s game, even though he was undisputably a good value, even in hindsight.

    Bavasi was unable to follow that one up with his signing of Brad Wilkerson, but he did good with Guillen.

    Also, Guillen is badass.

  • Chad

    I understand this is off topic, but I thought you guys would want to know. Erik Bedard signed with with the Royals for one year worth 3.2 million. The Mariners must have had no interest what so ever if they weren’t willing to give him one more year for that much.

  • Griffin Cooper

    Yeah Chad I don’t think that’s correct. The only place that’s being reported is by one uncredited Bleacher Report article.

  • Chad

    Yeah, I assumed that someone wouldn’t post something like that unless they were positive

  • shields

    Injury guys don’t sign this early in the offseason. He’ll sign around the start of Spring Training, I figure. And I have a hard time seeing him getting $3.2M guaranteed.

  • Harrison Crow

    I also agree if he signs at all it won’t be until late winter early spring.

    While there is interest in his service. There was also interest in Ben Sheets last year and he didn’t end even close to being ready.

    There won’t be any free-agent signings until december.