Good news on Spiezio’s no trade; it only includes twelve teams, and those almost certainly include teams that he thought wouldn’t contend this year, so they are unlikely to want him anyways. Of course, at this point, I can’t imagine anyone is going to take that contract off our hands.
One of the criticisms of Olerud is that he’s passive, with some asserting that he lacks a winners mentality. Media types love this stuff, and guys like Olerud can get labeled as soft or lacking mental toughness because of their personalities. Of course, the labels hardly ever stand up to scrutiny. Mr. No Desire’s career records, by year, since joining the major leagues:
1992: 96-66 (world champion)
1993: 95-67 (world champion)
1994: 55-60 (strike shortened season, Pat Gillick resigns)
1997: 88-74 (first season in NY)
2000: 91-71 (first season in SEA)
That’s a career .548 winning percentage through the first 15 years of Olerud’s career. It includes two world championships and only two full seasons of sub-.500 baseball. 2004 will mark his second miserable season, both coming the year after Pat Gillick resigned post as general manager. Not coincidentally, Gillick has watched the team he helped build fall apart all three times he has left his post (Baltimore went 78-83 in 1999 after he retired). Once, it might be an inadequate replacement. Twice, maybe a coincidence. Three times? Seems to me that Pat Gillick can see the writing on the wall, knowing that his way of constructing a roster has a limited shelf life, and he heads for the hills before things crumble. But that’s another rant entirely.
Questioning John Olerud’s heart and will to win isn’t just speculation, its baseless. I realize he’s the target du jour of Mariner fans right now, but really, aim your frustration elsewhere. The team is full of deserving targets; John Olerud isn’t even near the top of the list.
Good news on the Olerud non-trade: the M’s were actually able to find a team that wanted him. Presumably that means there are other teams who want him too, and perhaps he’d agree to go to one of them.
The horrifying part in all of this is that Scott frickin’ Spiezio has a no-trade clause. What, the length of the contract wasn’t enough?
Freddy Garcia resigned with the White Sox today. 3 years, $27 million. Yet another reason to like the trade. I wouldn’t have given Freddy that much, as he’s just not an ace pitcher.
Olerud’s a disappointment because he’s not that good. He doesn’t hit for any power, he’s helpless against lefties and has been for years. Safeco makes his offensive stats look worse, but he’s at best a league-average hitter for his position. He doesn’t look like the hitter of even 2002, when he slugged close to .500. His defense is — blasphemy! — markedly worse now than it was a couple years ago, and team commentators aside, he’s no longer a stellar player with the glove. He has no speed on the basepaths at all.
The things I hear generate frustration sitting in the stands are different and expressed as:
– too passive at the plate (his value comes in large part from his patience)
– slow (doesn’t steal bases like Ichiro! and other exciting players)
– doesn’t look like he cares (not Boone)
– doesn’t hit for power (legitimate complaint)
All of that said, if Olerud refuses a trade because he doesn’t want to move his family, he deserves no blame and no criticism. Everyone makes their own decisions about what’s important to them, and if Olerud puts stability for his kids ahead of playing for a potential contender, that’s his decision to make. Further, Olerud’s priorites were part of the bargain he signed to come here: the no-trade clause isn’t some tack-on to his contract, it was likely just as important as the money, considering he could have stayed with the Mets for a roughly equal salary (the income tax in New York evens it out a little). John Olerud has no moral imperative to help the team rebuild by making room for Jacobsen, for instance, in the way that he has to perform to the best of his ability. This is especially true when you consider that the team, in trading him, is demonstrating they feel no obligation to consider Olerud’s family concerns as more important than the rebuilding project they’ve embarked on.
Peter White picks up on an insane Pat Gillick quote in his entry today. Gillick, continuing to show that the game passed him by 10 years ago, lauds the most-worthless-invention-of-the-past-ten-years, the Productive Out, which has been ripped to pieces by every analyst with half a wit. Those who extoll its virtues are simply doing so with their head in the sand, as a cursory look at the value of Productive Outs show it to be completely useless. The correlation between Productive Outs and Runs Scored (you know, the goal of an offense) is actually negative, meaning teams that do well in PO’s do WORSE in run scoring. Productive Outs are still, by definition OUTS, and outs are bad, evil, rally-stopping things that need to be avoided. Gillick’s praise of the Productive Out isn’t surprising, as the Mariners continue to employ all kinds of consultants who bring about as much value to the team’s ability to analyze the game as a box of rocks.
The Garcia trade was great. But let’s not forget that the people in charge of acquiring talent are still years behind the rest of the game, and as long as Bill Bavasi is asking Pat Gillick who we should acquire, we’re at a distinct disadvantage to other teams who actually care about things like scoring runs.
Here’s a fun comparison:
Player A: .368 OBP, .398 SLG
Player B: .361 OBP, .375 SLG
Player C: .304 OBP, .401 SLG
One of those is Ichiro, the Mariners all-star representative, who was just rewarded with a 4 year, $40 million contract extension, and is seen as the one offensive performer actually having a good season.
One of them is Jolbert Cabrera, who has been hitting third recently, gets praise from media and announcers alike as a spark plug, and who is considered a great acquisition by Bill Bavasi.
One of those is also John Olerud, who is being hammered by our readers (“Johnny O-fer” this morning), having his retirement planned for him, and drawing a good amount of grief for not waving his no-trade clause because he enjoys being close to his family.
The point of this post isn’t to knock Ichiro or Cabrera, but rather wonder aloud, why all the hate for Johnny O? He’s not hitting that poorly, still plays a terrific first base, and has been the Mariners third best hitter this year. How did he somehow become the symbol for all that is wrong with the M’s?