Interesting email today from reader Toshio Tsukiyama:
According to a Japanese baseball site , Marniners hired Mr. Morimoto, a trainer who used to work for Orix Blue Waves in Japan. He took care of Ichiro for 4 years when he was there (I believe Ichiro won the batting title in each of these 4 yrs). Mr. Morimoto has also served as a personal trainer of Shiggy in the past. So, let’s hope that Mr. Morimoto can prevent Ichiro’s second half slump this year, and keep Shiggy sharp all year.
Of course, while I know like five words of Japanese, I can’t read any of those, so I couldn’t so much tell you if Ichiro’s name is on that page, but I love our readers, so I’ll trust Toshio.
I also want to say that I gave up on wireless networking and sound (for the moment) and pulled my Linksys wireless card and Soundblaster out and suddenly it seems my machine is healed! healed! Woo-hoo! And now thanks to our dear readers, I know about this thing called “system restore” I can use… heh.
The M’s weren’t even smart enough to talk to DePodesta — if you recall, he wasn’t even under contract so it’s not as if they needed to ask permission — let alone hire him. Anyway, great hire for the Dodgers.
Peter Gammons reports Paul DePodesta will be the new GM of the Dodgers. This is good for the M’s in the sense that DePodesta’s a smart guy and anything that makes the A’s weaker is good for us.
This is bad for the M’s in the sense that we hired the newly minted worst GM in baseball while another team picked up a fine GM that will help them to field better teams and do all the good stuff that makes Gilvasi scratch his head and make that bewildered doggy “huh?” expression.
If the M’s had been smart enough and able to see past their own views, they’d have hired DePodesta (or most of the other candidates we tossed out in our discussions) and we’d be division favorites today.
If they really wanted a no-hit 4th/5th outfielder, the M’s should have kept Greg Colbrunn and just signed Eric Owens to the minor league deal rather than trading for McCracken. McCracken and Owens are pretty much the same player, and have very similar career numbers once you factor Coors Field out of McCracken’s. At least then you’d still have Colbrunn’s bat on the bench.
The general reaction to yesterday’s signings is that, since they are minor league deals, its a no-harm, no-foul transaction. Let Owens and Mulholland come to spring training, see what they show, and if they stink, release them. Here’s the rub, though; these guys have a long track record that we can easily evaluate them with, and the conclusions are clear. Neither one belongs on a major league roster. To give them an opportunity to get hot for a few weeks in spring training and blind the organizations eyes to this fact is playing with fire.
How bad is Eric Owens? Last year, he had a VORP (value over replacement position) of -9.2. That means he was worth 9 runs less than what would be considered a freely available player plucked out of any random Triple-A team. For comparison sake, Jeff Cirillo was -9.5 VORP. In 2002, he had a career year, and was worth 3.9 VORP. 2001, he was his normal self, posting a -9.0. His 3 year average puts him at -4.5, or between 4 and 5 runs worse than guys who will make $50,000 on a split contract and sit in AAA all year.
Mulholland is a little more defensible, as he was still servicable against left-handers last year (while righties beat him like he stole something), despite posting peripheral numbers that make Giovanni Carrara look like Cy Young. Bavasi’s quote extolling his virtues had me chuckling, though: “He is very tough on opposing baserunners.” His pick-off move is still one of the better ones around, but this is about as useless a skill as there is in the game. It really doesn’t matter if the man on first can steal second base or not when the next batter is likely to hit it over the wall.
Anyways, here’s the main reason these signings, despite being “low risk”, are bad moves. If either man gets added to the 40-man roster, his contract becomes guaranteed, and the M’s are on the hook for the full years salary regardless how long they stick on the roster. If the Mariners were intelligent enough to give those opportunities to minor leaguers on split contracts (where they are paid significantly less after being optioned back to the minors), they would save giant chunks of money.
As an example, lets say Gil Meche’s shoulder is a bit sore in March, and the team decides he should start the year on the disabled list getting loose in Peoria while the team goes north for the first two weeks. Due to his veteran status, Mulholland gets the nod over Bobby Madritsch, and breaks camp with the club. He predictably gets rocked, Meche returns, and the Mariners release Mulholland to make room on the roster. For that two weeks of brutal pitching, they’re out $600,000. Had they gone with Madritsch, in addition to getting a better pitcher, they could simply option Madritsch back to Tacoma when Meche is healthy and resume paying him at his Triple-A Salary (approximately $60,000).
If either Mulholland or Owens sees the light of day on the Mariners roster, it will be essentially the same as lighting a half million dollars on fire. They are inferior talents to players already in the system who would command a significantly smaller amount of money and have actual potential to improve. These moves aren’t just pointless no-risk gambles. They are dangerous chances for management to blow another million dollars on players who should be watching the games from the stands.
Seriously, for those who pride themselves on being optimistic about the team and the front office, I simply ask for the name of one worse talent evaluator currently holding a GM position than Bill Bavasi. Just one. At this point, it is painfully clear that he has surpassed even in the ineptitude of Chuck LaMar and established himself as the worst general manager in major league baseball. And it only took him four months. That has to be some kind of record.