To San Diego: 3B Jeff Cirillo, RHP Brian Sweeney, tons o’ cash
To Seattle: RHP Kevin Jarvis, C Wiki Gonzalez, “IF” Dave Hansen, OF Vince Faison
Faison, a lefty-hitting outfielder, hit a mere .230/.318/.298 at AA last season in 392 at-bats. No, that SLG isn’t a typo — the M’s have acquired an outfielder with even less power than their own Jamal Strong.
Terrible, terrible trade. But what’s new?
What an awful deal. I know people are going to be excited because they finally managed to dump Cirillo… but in the process, they’ve made themselves worse by acquiring players who both: 1. Suck, and 2. Will be on the roster. Considering the M’s are paying Cirillo’s salary anyway, they would have been better off simply releasing him.
A Padres beat writer was just on KJR, saying that Wiki Gonzalez might be the laziest player in all of baseball.
If we assume that the pending transactions (Aurilia signs, Guillen to Detroit, Cirillo to San Diego, Davis given away) all take place, the Mariners will have the biggest collection of stiffs on their bench this side of a mortuary. A look at this group as a whole:
The Bench of Doom
To put into perspective just how badly these guys suck, below are their EqA’s for 2003:
Ugueto: .191 (MjEqA based on numbers with San Antonio)
Now, here are the numbers for last years bench, which everyone agreed was awful, and a big source of the M’s problems:
Ben Davis: .237
Greg Colbrunn: .273
Mark McLemore: .233
John Mabry: .251
Rey Sanchez: .245
Willie Bloomquist: .238
Keep in mind that a .260 EqA is considered average. Anything under .240 is bad, and anything over .280 is pretty good, though positional adjustments are still necessary. Right now, the 2004 Mariners bench projects to have a corner infielder who hits like a middle infielder, a utility player with a weak bat for even that role, and three guys who have no business trying to hit major league pitching. Jeff Cirillo’s miserable 2003 season still earned him a .203 EqA, which would place him ahead of 3 guys currently projected to make the opening day roster, including two of which we have traded for. We’re trading for hitters worse than Jeff Cirillo.
Oh, but we’re not done yet. A bench is supposed to complement your starters weaknesses, especially in creating platoons. The Mariners have two obvious positions that will require a platoon in 2004; left field and first base, where neither Raul Ibanez or John Olerud can hit left-handed pitching. If Scott Spiezio’s problems against southpaws in 2003 were real, then he could be a potential platoonee as well. So, it would make sense for the M’s to stock up on players who can at least hit left-handed pitching well, right?
Dave Hansen, who bats left-handed, has been so good against southpaws in his major league career that he’s been allowed to amass all of 24 at-bats against them in the past 3 years. Combined.
Willie Bloomquist, a righty, posted dead-even splits against lefties and righties last year. His .242/.307/.330 line against southpaws is just as ugly as his .257/.325/.314 line against righties.
Quinton McCracken, a switch hitter, was miserable last year, but was even worse against lefties. His .215/.247/.241 line from the right side of the plate wouldn’t even make him a good hitting pitcher. His 3 year numbers vs LHP’s (.266/.320/.342) are worse than his line against righties (.277/.333/.406).
We don’t have left/right splits for Luis Ugueto, but its safe to say that he won’t be seeing a lot of action in left field or at first-base next year, and based on his numbers in San Antonio, we can safely say that he’s not a viable option as a major league hitter.
But wait, all is not lost. The M’s do have a lefty masher on the bench! Wiki Gonzalez, who has amassed 114 AB’s against southpaws the past 3 years, has beaten them to the tune of a .316/.415/.544 line. Woo! Now, if we just platoon him and Wilson… Wait, Wilson is also right-handed, and also performs significantly better against lefties than righties. So, the Mariners have managed to build a platoon… but done so with two players of the same strength.
Now, I know the offseason isn’t over, but of the aforementioned players, only Ugueto does not have a guaranteed contract for 2004, and it is quite likely that the bench we see today is going to be the bench we see on Opening Day. And it is quite possible that this will be the worst bench any living person has ever seen.
OF-R Marvin Bernard agent’s saying the Mariners are interested in signing him. Initially you’re thinking that doesn’t makes sense (the M’s having four OFs already) but it actually does:
1) Bernard stinks. If you thought Boone swung at too many bad pitches, Bernard’s going to drive you nuts.
2) He comes from the Giants, which is an athletics-and-character organization, so he must have both
3) His lines the last three years, in scarcer and scarcer playing time: .265/.320/.438, .276/.321/.407, .197/.237/.268
4) His defense might charitably be called ‘okay’
He’s like… McCracken except he doesn’t switch hit. There’s no need for the team to pursue him, which is why it makes perfect sense that they would.
I am, actually, going to say something about the Rose case. Some people who’ve long defended Rose have now taken the tack* that this whole saga is somehow MLB, or Commissioner Giamatti, or John Dowd, or whoever else’s fault — not Rose’s. That he was somehow railroaded.
Go back though. Rose at the time was hugely popular. Baseball had no interest in turning the Hit King out from the game. There’s no reason for them to pursue the matter at all except if they believe the potential harm is greater than the awful public hit they’ll take.
In fact, the agreement Rose signed to end the investigation (admitting baseball had grounds to bar him) contains a section in which Rose “acknowledges that the Comissioner has treated him fairly in this Agreement and has acted in good faith throughout the course of the investigation and proceedings.”
Further, no one agreed that they would not talk about whether or not Rose bet on baseball or not.
“.. the Commissioner will not make any formal findings or determinations on any matter including without limitation the allegation that Peter Edward Rose bet on any Major League Baseball game.”
In fact, there’s part of the agreement that lets both parties talk about it:
“Neither the Commissioner nor Peter Edward Rose shall be prevented by this agreement from making any public statement relating to this matter so long as no such public statement contradicts the terms of this agreement and resolution.”
Giamatti did exactly that– he made it perfectly clear that it was his personal opinion that Rose bet on baseball, but that it was his opinion.
Nothing in the agreement barred anyone else from talking about the proceedings.
There are people I’ve talked about the investigation and the Dowd Report with at length who have valid concerns, and I respect them for it. But by and large, the defense of Pete Rose has been carried on for so long with such hysteria and blind disregard for anything close to the truth that it’s depressing. How can people write things that are so wrong, and so easily checked?
And it’s one thing to say Dan Wilson’s a lefty accidentally — no big deal, right? But when people say terrible things about those who took on the unfortunate task of investigating one of baseball’s biggest stars, I think the size of the accusation merits a level of seriousness I have so far not seen.
* I promise that’s correct usage.