I wrote a long post today about why I blow a gasket sometimes over feedback, and the nature of writing in public, internet criticism, and so on, and so forth, but instead of posting it, I deleted it. Who cares, really? Let’s talk Mariners.
More from the blogosphere:
SS Mariner reports he’s “Not not happy” but instead taking a wait-and-see.
One sixteen says “Overall, it could have been worse” and is pulling for Bavasi (also feels the Mo Vaughn signing was cool, which is nutty).
Just Another Mariners Blog is underwhelmed. Not that he doesn’t like Bavasi, but more that he’s not a great hire.
Bavasi faces some big choices right off the bat.
Does the team take RHP Freddy Garcia to arbitration?
Even if they win in arbitration, the maximum pay cut they can win is only 10%, which puts him at $6.25m. Garcia’s likely to refuse a lower one-year deal if the M’s say “Here’s $4m or we’re tossing you into the market.” Is Garcia the awful pitcher of 2nd-half 02/first-half 03, the erratic pitcher of the second-half 03 season, or the ace we saw earlier in his career? Only one of those is worth $6m. A side issue is whether they’ll find someone who wants to trade for him. If there’s a team out there willing to offer us a box of donuts for the rights to take Garcia to arbitration, he’ll most likely be gone.
Does the team take SS Carlos Guillen to arbitration?
Glass is above-average offensively (though not by much) and he’s average defensively. His value is tempered by his amazing ability to get hurt and miss time every year. I expect right now, Guillen’s out there, cracking his foot on the front step of his house, tripping forward and banging his forehead on door, causing the Halloween pumpkin he forgot to take down to fall on him, smashing, after which a wild pack of ravenous dogs attack him. Guillen’s services are worth a couple of million, and that’s what he’d get in arbitration. But having Guillen on the roster requires the team to stock a good backup shortstop who can fill in, and that doesn’t come so cheap.
I’m going to assume, with Cameron gone and the outfield up in the air, that they haul Winn into arb as a matter of course.
I can’t believe there are people out there defending the Mo Vaughn contract, either its dollars or duration. I said at the time — over on Strikethree.com, but darned if I can find the column now — it was a horrible signing for a variety of reasons: his age, his position, his health… you name it. It was a bad signing any way you look at it, and you don’t need 20/20 hindsight (as many have suggested) to call it such.
Why Mo Vaughn was a horrible, horrible signing, and anyone should have seen that coming
Mo Vaughn was 30, coming off eight years in Boston where he’d been a spectacularly good hitter in a good hitters park. However, even then, Vaughn was six-one and closing on three bills, no matter what the press guide told you. He wasn’t mobile at first and was going to be a DH shortly (where his value is much less), and huge dudes aren’t good bets to remain healthy. His walk rate dropped badly in 1998, which should have been a warning sign. On a sort of character note, Vaughn spent a lot of time driving back and forth to Rhode Island, where the strip club laws were more lenient (his DUI came on a return trip), and Vaughn did not want to leave the East Coast and its nightlife (that Vaughn signed the contract and didn’t wait long before starting to whine about wanting a trade back to the other coast says a lot about Vaughn).
The Angels and Bavasi need a 1b, though, and Bavasi signs Vaughn to this deal (from MLB Contracts):
1999: $5.0M (+$13.0M signing bonus, $5.0M paid initially)
2003: $15.0M (plus remaining $8.0M of signing bonus)
2005: Team option $14.0M or $2.0M buyout
However, that differs from what I pulled from USA Today’s historical payroll numbers:
1999 $ 7,166,666
2000 $ 11,166,667
2001 $ 13,166,668
2002 $ 12,166,667
2003 $ 17,166,667
Either way, you see the problem. While Mo Vaughn might have been a good deal initially for his age 31 season, this is a contract that absolutely cripples the club late. Vaughn was going to get paid $15m+ at 35 and 36, when there was no way a rational person would think he’d be worth that in either year.
Mo Vaughn’s salary, ranked in MLs: 1999, don’t know, about 30th? 2000, 9th. 2001, 6th. 2002, 15th. 2003, 4th.
Mo Vaughn was signed to a deal where Vaughn would have to be one of the best hitters in the league through the life of the contract when it was obvious, even if you think that Vaughn was worth it initially, that Vaughn was a terrible bet to remain a healthy and elite player through age 36.
You can argue that the contract was part of the times, that long-term huge deals were all the rage and Bavasi was just caught up in the enthusiasm. I don’t care, he should have been smarter than that. Find a better investment. Say what you will about his record, and we’re probably responsible for more shots at him than anyone, but Gillick’s stubborn refusal to go long-term on players saved this team from making exactly those kind of mistakes.
Bavasi messed up. We shouldn’t let the desire to give him a honeymoon blind us to the fact that he made a colossal error in the Vaughn contract.
When Neyer wrote that, I think he meant “Go forth and write, or go forth and expand your head, but don’t just sit around and snipe.” He didn’t mean “Start writing or watch me write, suckers!!!” as some seem to have taken it.