March 10, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Okay, I know I was just saying a few weeks ago that none of the stuff Melvin tells the press matters, and I still believe that, but now we’ve got this:

Outfielder Eric Owens, who signed a minor league contract on Feb. 10, threw his bat into the ring Wednesday afternoon. Owens hit a solo home run to left-center field in the second inning as the Mariners defeated the Angels, 7-1, at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

Owens, 33, heated up last season about the same time the Mariners turned cold. The right-handed hitter batted .355 (33-for-93) with the Angels last season after August 1.

“We brought him in with the possibility of him making (the team),” Melvin said.

We covered this when Owens signed, but there’s absolutely no justification for a major league team with any intentions of achieving anything but a high draft choice carrying Eric Owens on their roster. During the prime of his career, he sucked, and that was three years ago. He’s declined from Replacement Level Roster Filler into Completely Worthless Waste Of Time. And now he’s being considered for a roster spot becuse he got hot after the Angels were out of contention last year and whacked a home run in spring training? This is clear evidence of an inability to judge talent.

Quinton McCracken has the lock on one of the reserve roles as the fourth outfielder and Dave Hansen figures to be a sure thing as a backup infielder and primary pinch hitter.

Here’s the question of the day, but who on earth is Dave Hansen going to pinch hit for? Keep in mind that he’s utterly useless against left-handers, so he would only be brought in to a circumstance where a right-hander is on the mound and presumably won’t be lifted for a one out lefty. Among the regulars, the catcher of the day is the only player who hits right-handers worse than Hansen, and managers almost never pinch hit for their catchers, fearing a situation where the backup gets injured and the team has no alternatives. So, the primary pinch-hitter will only be used in situations where he’ll decrease the likelyhood of the team scoring runs. Brilliant! Moving on…

That leaves Owens competing with Willie Bloomquist, Ramon Santiago and Hiram Bocachica for two roster spots, although Bloomquist actually has a grip on one of the roster spots.

Bocachica has come out of nowhere to put himself into the picture, going 4-for-12.

“You can throw him in the mix,” Melvin said.

If Eric Owens has degenerated into a Completely Worthless Waste Of Time, and he’s still twice the player Hiram Bocachica is, then I’m out of not-too-witty slurs on untalented players and have nothing to say about Bocachica even being considered for a spot on the roster. In 314 major league at-bats, he’s posted an on base percentage of .261. But, hey, he’s 28, maybe he’s due for a career year. He only has to beat that .233/.287/.376 line he posted back in 2001. Consider this; the Detroit Tigers lost 119 games last year, and even they only found him fit to earn 22 at-bats on their roster. He rewarded them with 1 base hit. And for hitting .045/.045/.091 for the worst team we’ve ever seen, he has a chance to make our roster. I’m at a loss for words.

Now, none of this is likely to have any impact on the 2004 season, since I can’t imagine that even our braintrust would carry Bocachica or Owens for long enough to do any real harm. But, to those who still hold out hope that we’re wrong about Bill Bavasi and he has some kind of master plan that is only apparent to those with rose-colored glasses, please, let us know exactly where these guys fit in that plan. How does having two of the worst players in any spring training camp fighting for roster spots on a team built to contend make this team better? How were they unable to find anything resembling a major league player with their non-roster invitees? What part of the plan necessitates wasting spring training at-bats on washed up players who never had a prime?

As hard as we’ve been on Bill Bavasi, it is quite possible that we’ve overrated his abilities as a GM. He might not just be the worst talent evaluator in the game today. There’s a fighting chance that he’s the worst talent evaluator in the greater Seattle area, which includes my Mom and her innate ability to predict Dan Wilson’s next hit is just around the corner because “he’s due.” Don’t like statistical analysis? Fine, I have no problem with that. Think there’s more to the game than numbers and offensive production? Great, I agree. But I can’t imagine that even those whose sole point is to be contrarian for the sake of it can find anything positive to say about the fight for the last few spots on this roster.