I’d like to preface this post with the understanding that I will never stop being a Mariner fan. They are a part of me, and regardless of how low this team ever fell, I can’t see myself dropping my loyalties to the M’s. Things like the following, however, push that loyalty to its bitter edge:
From the Mariners official team site.
Meanwhile, there was more talk than action Friday as the Mariners exchanged ideas with virtually every other Major League club and could be close to a trade that would send backup first baseman Greg Colbrunn back to the Diamondbacks for switch-hitting outfielder Quinton McCracken.
Just in case you aren’t aware, Quinton McCracken hit .227/.276/.271 with Arizona last year. He had an solid 2002 campaign (.309/.367/.458), but that was proceeded by a .219/.275/.312 line in 2001 (64 at-bats) and a .129/.270/.129 (31 at-bats) line in 2000. Since leaving Colorado for Tampa Bay in 1998, during the prime years of his career (28-33), he has amassed the following line:
1409 at-bats, .275/.322/.383, 1 HR/128 AB’s, 1 BB/12 AB’s, 1 K/6 AB’s, 35 SB, 22 CS (61 %)
Those numbers make McCracken a bad player. Barely worth a major league roster spot, but livable if he’s making the league minimum and playing once a week, and you don’t really care about winning games. There are literally hundreds of minor leaguers who could perform in a similar manner for peanuts and cost absolutely nothing to acquire. But, you already know this. Now, knowing that McCracken, for the past 5 years, been a terrible baseball player is one thing. But for 4 of those 5 years, he’s been completely abysmal, one of the worst in the league. Go look at those lines, and tell me which one sticks out to you as the fluke.
Okay, moving on to more of the article.
Both players are coming off poor seasons and could benefit from such a deal.
McCracken isn’t coming off a poor season. He’s just finished the kind of year that causes most hitters to retire, or be forcibly retired. He was, according to BP’s Value over Replacement Position, 12 and a half runs WORSE than the average replacement player in 2003. There were exactly 9 hitters in all of baseball who did more damage to their teams than McCracken. For comparison, Jeff Cirillo was 9 and a half runs worse than replacement level. JEFF CIRILLO WAS 3 RUNS BETTER THAN QUINTON MCCRACKEN.
Moving on, again.
Colbrunn, who is due $1.8 million in the second year of a two-year, $3.5 million contract, batted .276 (16-for-78) with three home runs and seven RBIs. He played sparingly early in the season and was injured for most of the second half of the season.
Which is, of course, reason to not trade him, as his value has never been lower and is almost certain to go up from here.
McCracken, who made $1.75 million last season, batted .227 in 203 at-bats with no home runs and 18 RBIs. But he batted .309 for the Diamondbacks in 2002 and is a solid defensive player, capable of playing all three outfield positions.
I’m not usually a proponent of defensive statistics, and I think they still have a ways to go before they can pinpoint the exact differences in players, but the good ones can categorize players into “bad”, “good”, and “great” with reasonable effectiveness. Clay Davenport’s numbers have McCracken being exactly league average in left field, a disaster in center, and even more horendous in right field. It is safe to say that, based on his 2002 defensive performance, he is a liability anywhere but left field.
Okay, so, we’ve now established three things:
1. Quinton McCracken, during his prime years, was a horrible baseball player.
2. Quinton McCracken has begun his decline from horrible to the “does not belong in uniform” level.
3. There are hundreds of players better than McCracken who would earn no more than $300,000 next year.
So, to acquire the suckfest known as Quinton McCracken, the Mariners are going to part with a quality hitter on a team lacking quality hitters for the right to pay Quinton McCracken $1.75 million in 2004.
Matt Stairs, he of the .292/.389/.561 line last year, just signed a 1 year, $1 million free agent contract with the Royals.
Brad Fullmer, he of the .306/.387/.500 line last year, just signed a 1 year, $1 million free agent contract with the Rangers.
And, if you want to compare backup outfielders who can’t hit, Tom Goodwin, he of the .287/.328/.363 line last year, just signed a 1 year, $650,00 free agent contract with the Chicago Cubs.
All three teams acquired better players than McCracken for 1/2 to 1/3 of the cost of his 2003 salary. None of them traded their best pinch hitter in order to do so.
If this trade goes through, I throw my hands up. Every single person who has emailed us to say that Gillvasi has a plan, can, at that point, submit their apologies. The only logical explanation will be that these two have simply no understanding of how to evaluate baseball talent in 2003, and neither one deserves a job with a major league organization.
Quinton Freaking McCracken. If it goes through, Miguel Tejada won’t matter. Vlad Guerrero wouldn’t matter. Vlad and Tejada together wouldn’t matter. Nothing short of Babe Ruth’s reincarnation could overcome the stupidity of this kind of move. The karma of making the least defendable trade in modern history alone would ruin this team. Trading a major league player for the ghost of Quinton McCracken’s career is completely, 100 % indefensible. If this move is consumated, I will fail to see the point in rooting for the success of the 2004 Mariners. They will always be my team, but it will be painfully obvious that a revamping of epic proportions will be necessary for this team to ever win again.
I just heard that ESPN Radio’s reporting Tejada has agreed in principle to a contract with the Mariners. More details if /as we get them. After last night’s flurry of news and supposed news, I’m a little wary of this. As late as a couple hours ago, we’d heard that this weekend was when the sorting hat would get to work. [Updated at 2pm: You know, there’s just no way Tejada committed and it only blipped on ESPN Radio once and then no one thought to pick it up. I hereby disavow this rumor as rumor until proven otherwise.]
Also, if Mike Cameron signs with the A’s as seen in this artist’s rendition*… boy, that’s going to smart.
Sorting Hat: “Hmmm… you’re cool, yes, you’re undervalued and you need to find a team that can see that… you strike out a lot, but there are people who understand that you walk and hit for power….”
* no artist was used in the making of this rendition
Also, note that for Ibanez money, the Blue Jays got Miguel Batista, a really good starter, for the same amount of time. It’s a bit of an unfair comparison because the M’s didn’t really need a starter (but then… they didn’t really need Ibanez, either), but I predict that Batista will be worth far more to the Blue Jays than Ibanez to the Mariners over the next three years. Say… 50% more, in terms of total contribution, measured as VORPP for Batista vs VORP+defensive run metric (to be determined) for Ibanez
I would like to point out, w/r/t popup blockers, that the Big Board and Future Forty both launch in new windows, and some blockers disagree with that.
The Guerrero rumor was officially a myth. A giant step back in credibility for a previously respectable blog. Disappointing that Joe would pull something like that.
In other news, the winter meetings do kick off today, and I have a feeling that the team will look quite a bit different on Monday than it does today. Should be an interesting weekend.