Dave · September 20, 2004 at 3:17 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

I know a bunch of people have seen the following quote from Ken Rosenthal’s latest piece and decided to hammer Bavasi for it, but I’m going to uncharacteristically defend the man. Here’s the quote:

“I know we will have some arguments in the future about his (Bobby Madritsch’s) role,” Mariners G.M. Bill Bavasi says. “Whitey (Herzog) always said to build a staff from the back — start with a closer so you can play your 27 outs vs. their 24. Bobby seems to have the mental makeup to close.”

There are three basic things we can say about this quote:

1. It lacks context. We have no idea what the question was, why it was brought up, or if Bavasi was intending this as a simple complement on Madritsch’s demeanor on the mound. Really, those two sentences alone tell us nothing about what Bavasi feels Madritsch’s future role should be.

2. The fact that Bill Bavasi is quoting Whitey Herzog is not a good thing. This quote, especially, is easily refutable and obviously incorrect.

3. Bavasi is right. So far, Madritsch has displayed all the traits that most people usually look for in a “closers mentality”. I personally believe it’s a ridiculously overplayed cliche, that most good relievers can close with few problems, and that mental makeup specific to closing out games is mostly a creation of the media looking for a story. However, if you were to identify the kinds of things that would usually be associated with a “closer mentality”, Madritsch would get check marks on just about every one.

So, what he essentially said was true, but why he said it we don’t know. It’s nothing to get worked up over. The biggest complaint I have about most more-than-casual fans is their obsesion with analyzing quotes in the media. Ignore it. It’s almost all crap. It gives little to no insight into what people actually believe, and trying to break down a manager or GM based off of answers giving in question and answer forums is doomed to failure.


29 Responses to “Madritsch”

  1. rockymariner on September 20th, 2004 3:28 pm

    I think you are right about quotes in the media, they are crap and should be ignored. I am not sure that I agree that most relievers can be good closers, witness Mike Rhodes in Oakland. Good stuff, terrific set up man so you woul dthink a good closer right? Alas he didn’t have the right makeup for that job. We also saw Boston’s failed closer by committe experiment. Not one of those relievers coulld pull it off with any success and thier bullpen sucked until they got a good closer and the bullpen settled down. I think there are probably a fair amount of relievers who could close…just not that many.

  2. eponymous coward on September 20th, 2004 3:39 pm

    A closer? Well, I GUESS it would help the ‘pen, especially if Madritsch could get a little extra on his fastball relieving and bump his K rates up, since he won’t pace himself quite the same…but trading 200 possible high quality innings starting for 60-80 high quality innings closing isn’t the best trade, not when your rotation has a very marginal starter (Franklin) who ALSO is proven to have a rubber arm and was successful as a reliever.

    I guess this may be an indicator that the “Frankie is just unlucky because we don’t score anything for him” mindset is still in the front office, and we’re likely to pick up a starter (and unlikely to pick up a closer) for the offseason, since if we signed a FA we’d have 6 candidates, 5 spots. The front office just hasn’t figured out starters can’t win consistently striking out 4 and a half guys every 9 innings- Franklin is as close as you get to one who might, but his career ERA starting, with half his games in a park that caters to his weaknesses, is well over 4 and going up.

  3. Evan on September 20th, 2004 3:42 pm

    Boston’s committee didn’t work because none of the relievers were terribly good. That it was a committee was entirely irrelevant. Even now, while everyone called Foulke the closer, for most of the year he’s just been used wherever the higher leverage innings were. 8th inning, tie game, whenever. And it’s worked really well.

    And Rhodes has been injured, hasn’t he?

  4. Jim Thomsen on September 20th, 2004 3:44 pm

    The problem with just accepting that attempts to chip away at the mainstream media are “doomed to failure” is that it just isn’t good enough to accept that as the final word — unless comparatively enlightened outposts like USS Mariner revel in their fringe status and are content to dwell in the periphery of the public debate. The whole of history in many ways can be boiled down to a million instances of an elightened and altruistic few trying to educate a corrupt, complacent and frankly less intelligent many. The media is a key vehicle in that fight, as we’re seeing in the perception-trumping-reality role the media is playing (or is being duped into playing, depending on who you believe) in our current presidential campaign.

    I agree that analyzing media quotes out of context with all the pointlessly morbid fascination of a man studying his own stool for spots of blood gets us nowhere. Analyzing them so they can be used to expose their hypocrisy, their intellectual weaknesses and their corrupted biases in an effort to strip kingmakers in the press of their powers is always a good thing.

    Art Thiel, Steve Kelley, John Levesque, Jim Moore and Blaine Newnham reach some million readers a day, between their papers’ respective circulations and their Internet-only readership. How many does USS Mariner reach? Whatever it is, it’s not enough until USS Mariner’s figure is higher than Art Thiel’s hit count — and we, as rabid partisans, need to do our part in helping win minds and hearts each day along that way.

    Until that day, people will judge on images and perceptions, rather than the empirically unimpeachable foundation of often-unlovely reality. And that’s wrong.

  5. chris w on September 20th, 2004 3:52 pm

    Rockymariner: Dave said most GOOD relievers can close. The Boston closer-by-committee thing failed, not because of a lack of any “closer mentality”, but because of a lack of good relief pitchers. Any one of those guys, annointed a “closer”, would have failed just as miserably as the committee failed.

    Personally, I think the closer issue is one of perception. Blown saves in the 9th inning are more memorable to the general public than blown saves in the 7th and 8th innings. Hence, only really good relievers, who don’t blow many saves at all, last as closers long-term. It’s a waste of resources, but it’s what the public demands…

  6. eponymous coward on September 20th, 2004 3:55 pm

    I look at quotes like that as to insight on mindset (thus the comment on Franklin and a FA starter possibility)- without necessarily being “OMG FREAK OUT”. I mean, come on, spring training’s a ways away.

    One other note is that I saw some research (rummages in file cabinet, comes up with nothing- BP, maybe?) that indicate that high-leverage relief innings are about twice as valuable as starting, so it’s not as if you’re losing 60% of Madritsch’s potential contribution to a pitching staff by turning him from a 200 inning starter into a 80 inning closer. And considering that the Mariner bullpen is an utter trainwreck right now, I can see the argument (though my inclination would be to sign/trade for an arm and put Franklin in middle and short relief, it’s defensible enough to not be clearcut- Anaheim’s bullpen is FAR better than their rotation at this point, for instance).

  7. Dan on September 20th, 2004 4:06 pm

    Rhodes had an injury, but he was doing awful prior to that. So did most of the guys oakland tried to rotate into the closing role. Dotel has done a moderately better job.

    If madritsch isn’t starting next year then closing would be the second best thing for him. The guy has confidence and throws hard. He can do a two inning save if need be. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but if he has to be in the pen, he is easily better in the closing role than any of the other clowns we have.

  8. chris w on September 20th, 2004 4:08 pm

    One thing I find myself wondering is, if I lived in a town with an enlightened GM, call it “Oakland”, what I would complain about. Probably ownership. Anyway, the point is, I really doubt you’d be able to find quotes like this coming out of a GM’s mouth if he didn’t believe them, at least a little bit. Even out of context, I don’t think Beane or Ricciardi or Epstein say things like that, that are clearly wrong. So, yeah, there’s no point in blowing out-of-context quotes out of proportion, but I do think, when they fit a larger pattern, one can legitimately cite to chem at least as corroborating evidence.

  9. Evan on September 20th, 2004 4:40 pm

    There’s a writer with the Toronto Star – Richard Griffin – who HATES Ricciardi and everything he stands for. He’s pretty good at taking quotes out of context to make JP look bad. But they are out of context. Griffin is on an irrational anti-JP rampage, and thus should not be taken seriously.

    The same goes for all out of context quotes.

  10. Jerry on September 20th, 2004 5:00 pm

    Hopefully, this argument is just talk, and Guardado will return in 2005 healthy as the closer. If Shiggy can build on his success from the last few weeks, he could be the set-up guy we need. Sherrill is solid, and Putz looks like a guy who could be a useful reliever. Plus, if Mateo can rebound from his sophmore slump, and put up numbers like he did in 2003, that would improve the pen a lot. Franklin is another option, but the M’s might be alright without him. I don’t think that all of the relievers will have standout seasons like they did in 2003. But I don’t see a lot of options for improvement.

    It would be nice to add someone like Scott Williamson, but the market for relievers next year is really slim. The M’s could try to address this in a trade. If they focus on signing two or three position players (3B, CF, SS), they will have some players that might be tradable, like Winn, Franklin, Ibanez, Leone, ect. Trading Winn for a good reliever, someone like Jorge Julio from Baltimore, could be a cheap way to get help in the pen. Plus, we might see Felix come up in the bullpen next season, like Pineiro did. Since the m’s probably won’t contend next season, they can afford to work on developing a bullpen. If Madritsch has to close for a bit until Guardado returns, I don’t think that it would be too much of a loss. But I would think that he is most valuable in the rotation, with Putz filling in until Guardado is healthy.

    Looking forward to 2006, and barring injury, the M’s could have Guardado as the closer, Soriano as setup, Sherrill as situational lefty, Putz as a 7th inning guy, Mateo in long relief, and possibly Taylor or Atchison rounding out the bullpen. All of these guys are under team control, and would be on minimum contracts. Adding an elite setup man or spot closer (preferably lefty) would round out a very good pen.

  11. Dave on September 20th, 2004 5:21 pm

    In Moneyball, about two pages are spent with Billy Beane convincing Michael Lewis that Eric Chavez is better than Alex Rodriguez. Seriously. This isn’t off the cuff question answering. This is Billy Beane, knowing that he’s being interviewed by a book author, using statistics to back up the assertion that Chavez is better.

    Even smart people say stupid stuff to the press.

  12. Ralph Malph on September 20th, 2004 5:26 pm


    Bavasi can say they’re going to contend next year, but obviously not everyone believes him. Quote from Omar Vizquel:

    “I don’t really want to play for Seattle now because they are rebuilding and I don’t want to go through that again like I did here.”

  13. Paul Weaver on September 20th, 2004 5:33 pm

    What Jerry says.

    Plus, I myself totally would have blown Bavasi’s quote out of proportion, until realising that he is not really supposed to be the guy making those decisions, is he? That’s the field manager’s job, right? (and, yes, I don’t know the context)
    Either way, Madritsch is looking like a solid starter. My only problem with him closing is: who, then, is going to start?

    Does anyone really think Guardado is going to come back from the ‘wait and see’ approach next year? I can’t recall a single time the ‘wait and see’ approach hasn’t turned into a ‘wait…wait…yeah, I do need surgery’ in Spring Training, resulting in lots of lost winter time that could have been rehab time. I guess you take those kinds of risks when the guy is making millions….

    Speaking of Spring Training….isn’t the rest of this year basically some form of half spring training.

  14. Dave S. on September 20th, 2004 6:40 pm

    Ken Rosenthal is Peter Gammons without the ESPN media machine.

    In recent articles, he has suggested that the Angels… the Angels, the team that has about four outfielders, and three first basemen, would be major players for Beltran in the offseason.

    And let’s not forget when he gave Mariner Nation a collective heart attack.

  15. Chris W. on September 20th, 2004 7:13 pm


    Rodriquez 2004 OPS: .912
    Chavez 2004 OPS: .916

    And who’s a better 3B? Just sayin…

  16. Dave on September 20th, 2004 7:35 pm


    Which one can play shortstop? Honestly, I can’t imagine you’re serious, so I won’t belabor the point any further. If anyone really wants to argue that Chavez is a better player than Rodriguez, fire away, because there really isn’t much of a case.

  17. Chris W. on September 20th, 2004 7:49 pm

    Don’t worry, Dave, I wasn’t serious. And you’re right, too, that Beane surely has his blind spots, as I’m sure the other “enlightened” (I’m quoting myself) GMs do. At the same time, I’m sure you’ve read BP’s interview with Bavasi. You don’t have to take things out of context with him – the way he appears to analyze baseball players, and baseball teams, and all the things we arm-chair GMs analyze, is old-school. If you were to try to argue with him about the value of madritsch as a closer, or the value of the advice of Whitey Herzog, you would have to teach him a new language first. Not so with the new generation of GMs. Maybe that’s the point… in context or not, Bavasi does not speak 21st century baseball. His dialect is from the 1950s.

  18. Lou LaLumiere on September 20th, 2004 8:06 pm

    My comment is not about the subject of baseball. What I find amazing is that within 11 minutes of your blog two readers had responded. Whe I lived in the Seattle are it was an exciting place with lots of things to do. I think some of these people need to get out more.

  19. Genaro on September 20th, 2004 10:56 pm

    I’m just curious Dave, knowing that Moneyball was written before A-rod moved to third base, is playing 3rd and SS a main point in your arguement? Chavez had played both positions as he was drafted a shortstop…

  20. Jerry on September 20th, 2004 11:41 pm

    Re: Chavez vs A-Rod

    Although I think that A-Rod is probably the best player in baseball, I don’t think that Chavez should not be compared to him. A-Rod is a great player, but Chavez is awesome as well. I think that if I was building a team, Chavez might be the guy I would take at 3B. Part of this is because I just hate A-Rod. He is a plastic jackass. Chavez’s numbers are better than A-Rods this year, but A-Rod has a lot more power and has been better in the past. But if Chavez had played the whole season, he would probably be leading the league in HRs. He is a lefty hitting guy who gets on base a lot, and elite defensive defensive player. Chavez is also only 26, and he has taken it to another level this year. He is hitting lefties really well, which was his biggest weakness before. If he stays healthy all year next year, we could see him just go crazy and put up A-Rod numbers. His K/BB ratio and other signs of good things to come suggest that he could move up a tier to elite player.

    If you put their stats together, A-Rod has had a better career. But you have to like Chavez. At least Chavez doesn’t spew BS in interviews, nor make teams he plays with worse. A-Rod is probably the best player in baseball, and Chavez is just really really good. However, Chavez is more likely to get much better.

  21. Jeremy on September 20th, 2004 11:59 pm

    I don’t have Moneyball handy, but if I remember I don’t think Beane was saying Chavez is better than A-Rod. I thought he pretty much gave in when Arod was mentioned, and said something like “Ok, Arod compares well enough.. but Chavez is a better defender.”

    About Arthur Rhodes, I had him on all my fantasy teams and I remember him being pretty good early in the season. I thought I got a huge steal because he went late in every draft, probably because everyone thought he wasn’t closer material. He really imploded and got injured, but the injury may have caused the implosion before they shut him down. It sucks that he might be remembered as the guy who “proved” not any good pitcher can be a closer, because of his injury troubles and his age (he’ll be 35 next year). I think he’d have been a great closer if he was ever given a good chance.

    Ok, I looked it up and Rhodes was good for MOST of April, at least.

  22. Adam B. on September 21st, 2004 7:59 am

    I like the idea of converting Maddy to the closer role if it means that Melvin won’t be able to have him throw out 8 inning/130 pitch games anymore.

    I don’t like the idea because it wastes a valuable starting-pitcher on a position that–as Dave said, could be filled by ANY talented FA reliever…

  23. jason in nj on September 21st, 2004 8:55 am

    Adam, hopefully BooMel won’t be around to screw with Mad’s arm next year, but if he is then I agree with you.


    Why aren’t we talking about a rotation that includes Madritsch and Soriano? I know we really like carving into our pitchers and everything, but … are we expecting Soriano back next year? If so, will he be expected to contribute like he did in ’03?

  24. Ralph Malph on September 21st, 2004 9:32 am

    No, we’re not expecting Soriano back next year. Maybe late in the year, but TJ surgery normally takes at least a year to recover from.

  25. Ralph Malph on September 21st, 2004 9:35 am

    By the way, am I the only one who thought bunting with Dobbs in the 8th inning last night was a bad idea (but what else is new?).

    You’ve got a tough righthander on the mound and you bunt with the lefthanded batter so the righthander Lopez has to face K-Rod. Then after Lopez predictably strikes out they can walk Ichiro.

  26. big chef terry on September 21st, 2004 11:32 am

    back to the original point, which was Bavasi’s remarks and the apologia that led us into this…about 8 weeks ago Bavasi was on KJR and said twice that coming into this season that both Garcia and Guillen were the two most over-valued players in all of baseball.

    I think the statements reflects two things, one of which is present in the Rosenthal interview:

    1. Bavasi and the entire front office is radically out of whack (new sabremetric term) in terms of recognition of talent and roles. Since Cirillo, which includes pre-Bavasi efforts, virtually every major league acquisition has been a trainwreck. Not we didn’t get a superstar, instead guys that that flat out can’t play anymore. Same sort of wrong headedness about Dobbs and Lopez.
    2. Lincoln/Armstrong lost money personally on the Garcia arbitration and were hellbent on destroying Garcia and anyone in his circle.

  27. Paul Weaver on September 21st, 2004 12:37 pm

    In terms of performance per dollar, I’d value Chavez way above A-Rod. That’s about where it ends.
    I wonder what Bavasi’s idea of “over valued” is?
    He probably drives an old car that breaks down a lot after selling his overvalued car. He probably put all of his stock options into the up and coming Tandy computer company in the late 80’s. I’m guessing there is a magic gnome in his office who gives him advice.

  28. Chris W. on September 21st, 2004 2:00 pm

    It would definitely be tough to argue that Chavez is “better” than A-Rod. However, it is quite possible that Chavez’s peak years (the next few) will be as good as A-Rod’s peak years (the past few?).

  29. Ralph Malph on September 21st, 2004 2:20 pm

    Not a magic gnome. A magic 8 ball:

    Should I trade Guillen for Ramon Santiago?

    “Outlook is unclear.”

    Should I sign Scott Spiezio to a 3-year deal?

    “Reply hazy. Try again.”