Bavasi and Gillick

Dave · October 10, 2004 at 6:31 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Reading through the multitude of comments in the Agents of Change post, it appears that I created more questions than I answered. The goal of the post was to clarify why I believe the Mariners will spend money, and a lot of it, this offseason. In backing up that belief, I made some things public that we’ve known, and hinted at, for quite some time, but hadn’t ever put into words. It appears that I didn’t clarify some things well enough, so hopefully this post can serve as an answer to most of the questions that were raised in response to that post. So, to the paraphrased questions:

Q. Doesn’t the fact that Pat Gillick was still orchastrating the team last offseason mean that you were completely off base in your criticisms of Bill Bavasi and owe him an apology?

This one came in varying forms, but was expressed by several people. Some even went so far as to claim that Bavasi deserves a clean slate, that none of the moves made from last October through April should be held against him, and that he’s the right man in charge of building the Mariners.

A: We were completely aware of the power structure of the organization last offseason when we were firing upon Bavasi and stand by what we said. Nothing I made public was a revelation to us, though I realize that many of you were not aware of just how the shift in power had affected the front office. After taking the title of general manager, Bill Bavasi became the defacto face of the front office. As such, he becomes the lightning rod for criticism of moves made under his watch. Was it a difficult situation? Absolutely. Do we give him a pass for moves like the Ibanez signing that were done essentially by the time of his hiring. Yes, we do. But as GM, Bavasi is responsible for talent acquisition, and during his first five months on the job, the organization syphoned talent like, well, a syphon. That was on his watch. Yes, you have to work with the people around you, and it was a team approach as he got acclimated to the organization, but the buck still stopped with Bavasi, and he signed off on every move the team made. You cannot give him a free pass for being the man in charge of the most disastrous offseason baseball has seen in the past ten years.

Bottom line: Bill Bavasi is using a different system of antiquated talent evaluation than Pat Gillick, but that doesn’t make it a good one. If he were removed from his position tomorrow and replaced with Chris Antonetti, it would be the best move the organization could make all offseason. It isn’t going to happen, obviously, and there is still reason to be concerned with the strategies of the current administration.

Q. When did Bavasi start to take over a majority of the decision making process from Gillick?

The beginning of December. After being hired on November 7th, he essentially spent the rest of the month carrying out the moves that were outlined by the Gillick regime at the postseason organizational meetings. The moves that were essentially out of Bavasi’s hands were the Ibanez signing, the non-tenders of Cameron and Rhodes, the re-signing of Hasegawa and Franklin, the contract extensions for Ichiro and Joel Pineiro, and the desire to trade Carlos Guillen and Greg Colbrunn. The majority of the influence in these instances belonged to Gillick, Looper, Jongewaard, and Pelekoudas.

The rest of the moves that we’ve seen are on Bavasi; the signings of Eddie Guardado, Scott Spiezio, Rich Aurilia, and Ron Villone (the reason Sherill and Madritsch didn’t have a chance from day one), along with the acquisitions of Ramon Santiago, Jolbert Cabrera, and Quinton McCracken. Regardless of how much you like Bavasi, there is no way to spin those seven moves in totality as anything but poor, both in design and result.

Q: You stated that the organizational philosophies have changed in the past year. Is this a good thing?

This is a tough one. I was one of Pat Gililck’s harshest critics during the 2002-2003 seasons, very vocal about the fact that I believe Gillick failed to evolve as a talent evaluator and was passed by those willing to adapt to new ways of thinking. However, I also agree with a lot of the basic philosophies of fiscal conservation that Gillick instilled in the organization. Long term contracts are a big risk, and Gillick’s belief that they are, more often than not, a poor value is absolutely correct. He kept the team from locking themselves into long term mistakes, allowing them to cut bait on their mistakes and minimize the effects. Flexibility is one of the great tools a team with a large budget can have, and Gillick did a fairly good job at allowing the Mariners to have some flexibility to add to the roster every offseason. I simply don’t agree with the way he spent the money, throwing a significant amount of the payroll at relievers and reserves, limiting the amount available for upper tier players. His desire to remain competitive every season is based in a lot of common sense, and I fear that this grounding left with him.

However, I still believe the Mariners are behind the curve in organizational philosophy. They were behind the curve under Gillick’s regime and they are behind under Bavasi’s. There is a better way to analyze talent and use the payroll than the Mariners currently believe, and their refusal to adapt to new ways of thinking have left them at a competitive disadvantage. I was glad to see Pat Gillick go, as it presented an opportunity for the front office to shift gears and go in a completely different direction, bringing in someone like Chris Antonetti who would change the way the organization evaluates talent. Hiring Bill Bavasi brought some changes, but not the sweeping reform that I believe the organization will eventually have to undergo. Bavasi has different opinions than Gillicks, but I don’t believe that in this case, different will be more effective. They are just differently flawed.

Q: Can we trust Bill Bavasi to identify the right players to sign with their new found aggressiveness?

Yes and no. The Mariners and the blogosphere are basically in agreement about the prime candidates in this free agent class. We support strong efforts for Beltre and Beltran; the Mariners would love to have either one. We think Matt Clement is the best bet among free agent pitchers; the organization is very high on Clement. In those instances, I’m excited that the team will be pursuing the same players that I would like to see on the team next year. However, Bavasi’s fondness for athleticism and tools that leads him to Beltre, Beltran, and Clement also leads the team into overvaluing underachievers.

One of Gillick’s strengths was focusing on performance at the major league level, regardless of the package it came in. The Bavasi era will be personified by a chase of a certain type of player; lean, fast, strong-armed, oozing with physical skills. However, there are a tremendous number of tools-fiends who absolutely suck at baseball, and I fully expect the Mariners to fill the roster with some truly awful athletes. Gillick, for the most part, avoided overpaying for potential. I expect the Mariners to get burned repeatedly in their chase of athletes with physical potential who simply do not have the performance to justify the expectations the M’s will place upon them.

Q: What side do you take in the roster building philosophy of Gilick’s spread-the-wealth versus Bavasi’s stars-and-scrubs?

A: Ideally, the so called stars-and-scrubs way of building a roster is the optimum approach, spending most of your budget on the upper tier regulars and filling in with cheap players who can perform above the cost expended upon them. The A’s have used this philosophy to build their mini-dynasty on a small scale. They have repeatedly paid for players they felt were irreplaceable (Chavez, the Big Three), and allowed to leave those whose production could be potentially replaced by young players at little cost (Giambi, Tejada, Damon, Foulke, etc…). Baseball talent is distributed as a pyramid, and the higher up the pyramid you go, the more rare it is to find a player of that ilk, and thus the more valuable they are. Spending money on people who fall into the base of the pyramid is essentially wasting money, and this was the glaring flaw of the Gillick regime as well as the past offseason.

However, teams win championships, not a collection of stars-and-scrubs. For the roster construction method to work, you have to able to convert the “scrub”, league minimum players into useful parts. The A’s aren’t winning 90 games because Eric Chavez is a great player. They are winning because they’re getting production from Eric Byrnes, Bobby Crosby, Scott Hatteberg, Rich Harden, and others who make next to nothing. You cannot win baseball games with a few great players surrounded by terrible ones. In order to successfully build a roster using stars-and-scrubs, you have to be able to find talent where others cannot. Bill Bavasi has never shown this ability, nor are the methods he endorses successful in other organizations that use similar strategies. The problem with Bill Bavasi being in charge of a roster that spends a majority of money on several upper tier players is that I do not believe that he will fill out the roster with players of even moderate productivity.

Good role players are a key part of championship rosters. Despite what the organization and the media will tell you, Jolbert Cabrera is not a good role player at $1.5 million dollars, and his value to the team was barely above what could be expected from a replacement level, league mimimum player. Jobert Cabrera was a waste of $1.2 million and two marginal prospects, but the Mariners will hold him up as an example of exactly the kind of player they need to acquire more of. As long as the team is enamored by players of his ilk and spend talent and money to acquire that kind of role player, the stars-and-scrubs philosophy will fail.

Q: When you said the names at the top of the list were Beltre, Beltran, and Clement, did you mean to infer that the Mariners might sign all three?

A: Rereading the post, I can see how that came across, but no, I don’t believe the team will sign all three. It would take some kind of minor miracle to get two of those three. I do believe that one of them will be a Mariner next spring, however.

Q: You’re making all this up, you no talent hack. Prove it or I won’t believe you.

A: Thanks for the kind words. I have no interest in trying to convince anyone that I’m telling the truth, so feel free to remove from your bookmarks and cease reading. We won’t miss you.

Hope this clarifies most of the new questions I created.


74 Responses to “Bavasi and Gillick”

  1. big chef terry on October 11th, 2004 11:53 am

    Dash and Jerry,

    Rentaria is top drawer and would be great here and make Boone better…

    Jerry, Jerry, Jerry…Nope I actually espouse the three star theory and good young player idea…key to earlier post was how to get here from there.

    I don’t think they can sign those players (beltre, beltran, Pavano), this fall, most likely by being outbid…then they move to the Spezio, Ibanez thing. Their roster has another year or so of middling non-star players who make too much money: Spezio, Ibanez, Boone, Winn, Cabrera. It would be wonderful to be able to rid yourself of them, but the reality is that they’re going to get back the same thing…Pirates have been trying to dump Jason Kendall for same reason and no takers…

    If there’s a clear slate you can get those three-four guys and fill in with younger players…

    The big risk to this offseason is that you end up three to four more slightly above avg appearing players…and the trunk of junk you already got….

    As to Lopez, he weighed 195 at the start of spring training, by June he was down to 172. He has a good arm, good hands, no speed and no knowledge of hitters…third base maybe…he might hit, but he’s not a major league ss…seen a lot of them…

    Olivo was born on 7.15.78. He’s 26, will be 27 next July. This was his third year for major league service, second real full year. He’s not really young anymore…doesn’t walk, regressed from last year a lot, has some pop…really didn’t catch well and made no adjustments to that after he got here…he’s supposed to be a “catch and throw” guy which means number 1 one guy if you can do it the receive thing becomes less important, but he’s fundamentally bad, can’t catch the ball or block at all …I believe he’s down in the AFL to work on it…getting kind of late to be a prospect with this number of games and atbats behind you…

  2. msb on October 11th, 2004 12:05 pm

    “trade Ibanez, Boone, and Spiezio to the Mets for Kaz Matsui and Cliff Floyd”–Comment by Jerry — 10/11/2004 @ 7:06 am

    can you promise that Matsui & Floyd will each play more than 114 games next season?

  3. The Ancient Mariner on October 11th, 2004 12:17 pm

    Renteria won’t sign a contract that short (nor would he come cheap). Better, imho, to spend the money on hitters and pick up someone like Lugo to give us good glove up the middle until the kids are ready. (And on a complete tangent, how does a guy with the last name Cabrera pick up the first name Asdrubal, anyway? What the heck are his brothers, Amilcar and Annibal?)

  4. eponymous coward on October 11th, 2004 12:32 pm

    The thing is, are the Stars and Scrubs we end up with going to be Beltran and Lugo, or Delgado and Cabrera?

    Time will tell, I guess.

  5. Eric on October 11th, 2004 12:37 pm

    #53, one of his brothers is Jolbert:-) I’d say his parents have a sense of humor

  6. big chef terry on October 11th, 2004 12:58 pm

    asdrubal is spanish for ass kicking…

  7. IgnatiusReilly on October 11th, 2004 1:00 pm

    Hmph. Topforum is a blog only in the sense that it is online, and logs what people write. It is a message board.

  8. J on October 11th, 2004 1:36 pm

    Asdrubal’s not related to Jolbert and Orlando. The latter two are brothers from Columbia, Asdrubal’s from Venezuela. But I agree, its an odd name and no one I’ve talked to had any idea how to get a nickname out of it easily. Sure you’ve got your Jose Lopez and your Jesus Guzman, but every once in a while it’s something really odd like Manelik Pimentel or Natividad Dilone (both of which played on the Dominican Summer League team this past year).

  9. Kevin on October 11th, 2004 2:27 pm

    I wrote an email to the Mariners where I unloaded a lot of frustration at how they are doing things. The following is the response I received

    Thank you for your thoughts on our baseball operations department and Bill Bavasi following last weeks announcement by Bill that we would be changing managers for the 2005 season and beyond.

    Our decision to hire Bill last November came as the result of an exhaustive search to identify the best person to lead the Mariners. We were after a baseball executive we were confident could help us with our primary objective: to win on a consistent basis. While the team certainly did not fulfill that objective in 2004, we still believe Bill is the right person to steer the franchise in the coming years.

    Bill was hired too late in 2003 to have as much an impact on the Major League roster in 2004 as he would have liked. While the Major League team certainly struggled, behind the scenes Bill made a lot of progress. He has revamped scouting and player development and is building for the long term. Both Anaheim and Los Angeles appeared in the post-season this year, and both were substantially helped by the work Bill did with them before joining the Mariners.

    While it is easy to tell you all the reasons we have great faith in Bill, we would like instead to invite you to watch what he does this off-season and next year. We believe our actions will speak louder than words in helping to convince you that Bill is the perfect person for the challenges facing the Mariners.

    Thanks again for your interest, and Go Mariners.

  10. The Ancient Mariner on October 11th, 2004 2:29 pm

    The thing about Asdrubal–dude’s named after a Carthaginian general, for crying out loud (and not the famous one, either). Aside from the occasional Hannibal, you don’t see those guys’ names floating around all that much.

  11. Jerry on October 11th, 2004 2:41 pm


    Two observations about your posts: you don’t understand player development; and you have no plan for how the M’s will turn this team around.

    Olivo is a very promising catcher. Catchers progress slower than any other position. Really, 26 is still young for a catcher. Look at all the good catchers in MLB right now. Jason Varitek, Damian Miller, Jorge Posada, Victor Martinez, Jonny Estrada, Charles Johnson, Paul Lo Duca, Mike Piazza and Mike Lieberthal all weren’t starting catchers until they were at least 25. Many of them, like Varitek, Posada, Estrada, and Lo Duca didn’t really develop until they were older than 27. That is just the way that catchers develop. There are very few players like Pudge and Javy Lopez who have success at the position at an early age. It is a very complicated position, and it takes guys longer to learn the intricacies. Because it is a more complex position, and since the catcher has to know the pitching staff well, you have to cut Olivo some slack. He is young, was traded, and had limited games with Seattle. We haven’t even seen him play yet. Let him work on his skills in the instructional league and in spring training, and I bet you will see the player that we saw flashes of this season. Bailing on him after only 49 games would be a mistake. Plus, you have no plan on who could fill in for him. The only guys on the market that are upgrades over Olivo/Wilson are high-priced players like Varitek and Kendall. Those would be dumb moves. The team has more pressing needs at other positions. Olivo has a ton of potential. He should be given a year to develop. If he hits .220 and can’t catch the ball for all of 2005, then we can discuss getting a new catcher.

    This is a perfect example of a low-risk, high-reward decision. If Olivo plays bad, the M’s can explore other options next year (especially players within the organization). If Olivo plays like everyone thinks he can, the M’s will have a long-term solution at that position. If they go out and sign a guy like Varitek, they run the risk of having an overpriced, old player who can’t perform. Kendall is a similar situation. It is not a coincidence that older, high-salary catchers become some of the worst contracts a team can have (eg. Kendall, Charles Johnson, Todd Hundley, Mike Piazza). These players are untradable. Olivo will be making the minimum next year, so he is not a risk.

    There is a huge contradiction in your posts. You say that the M’s should just sit tight, and let all of their contracts just run out. However, you are also suggesting that the M’s should give up on two of their best young players. You can’t have it both ways. You either give the kids a chance, or you sign replacement players. You yourself admit that the worst thing the M’s can do is to go out an sign more mediocre guys, but that is basically what you are suggesting. We don’t have players to replace Olivo and Lopez.

    Nobody is saying that the M’s have some inside track on Beltran, Beltre, and Pavano. And nobody anywhere is suggesting that the M’s should sign more overpaid guys like Ibanez and Spiezio. I hope that the M’s go after Beltre and Beltran, and maybe sign one of them. JD Drew would be a great pickup as well. Troy Glaus would be an interesting but risky proposition. For some reason, you think that the M’s will fail to sign Pavano, and will go sign Omar Vizquel to a 5 year contract. That is not likely to happen. Even if the team has to settle for Richie Sexson, at least they will be getting a young power hitter.

    Basically, you are saying that the M’s should just give up, and hopefully they will somehow magically get better. But the team is already at rock bottom. The players that you say are keeping the team from competing (Spezio, Ibanez, Boone, Winn, Cabrera), make a combined 21.5 million dollars. That is not good, but it will not handicap a team with a 95 million payroll. Next year, Boone and Cabrera will be off the books (if they even exercise his 2005 option), and they will have only 10 million in bad contracts. Plus, Winn has some trade value, and the team could unload him to a team who needs an outfielder and get a useful player in return. You mention Kendall as an example of what bad contracts can do, but he is signed for three more years, with contracts of 10 mil, 11 mil, and 13 mil. It is not at all a valid comparison. Thankfully, the Mariner’s don’t have any contracts like that.

    Again, your suggestion that the M’s should just not bring in anyone in the next two years, and let all of the bad contracts expire, is the worst possible thing the M’s could do. It would be insanely stupid for four reasons:

    1) the fans would stop caring, and the team would have to dramatically cut back payroll in the next few years. When the roster if finally free of any bad contracts, there will be no money to spend.

    2) the inexpensive players we have, like Madritsch, Meche, Pineiro, Olivo, Reed, and Soriano, will all be due big raises in a few years. Thus, they would no longer be cheap young players. You can’t follow your plan of three stars plus young players if the young players are all getting big raises in arbitration or leaving in free agency.

    3) The M’s can’t trade many players for prospects, because we don’t have high-value veterans to trade. Plus, many of the veterans are either gone or will be gone next year (Boone, Moyer, Shiggy, Franklin). Signing some free agents this year won’t keep them from trading these guys at the trade deadline next year, when they have some value. They need to continually turn over the roster and add new pieces.

    4) you can’t wait for two years for the roster to empty, then sign a bunch of free agents. First, you will have to overpay, because this team will have become a perenial loser by then. Second, every year there are a finite number of quality players available. You can’t just go out and sign 6 good free agents in one offseason. Other teams will be in the bidding also. Since the M’s have a lot of cash that will be available soon, they need to focus on 2-3 guys each offseason.

    The M’s have the money to go out and sign one premier player (Beltran or Beltre), one very good player (Drew, Renteria, Glaus), and one starter. They need to do it. Now. They have the resources. And from what I am hearing on this blog, they will do everything they can to do so.

  12. The Ancient Mariner on October 11th, 2004 3:37 pm

    As an additional comment in support of Olivo, it’s important to remember that he hasn’t been well-coached at all. It’s a bit hard to blame a guy for not doing things the right way when he’s never been taught what the right way is. Give him some good coaching, give him a chance, and remember that he’s arguably a better player than Jason Varitek was at his age. Nobody’s saying he’s Johnny Bench, but he’s not the catching equivalent of Russ Davis, either.

  13. George on October 11th, 2004 3:56 pm

    Does this regime change effect the Mariner view of bringing back a Ken Griffey Jr. to DH, if available at a significant discount? I had heard the front office held a personal grudge against him. I don’t know if thats true or just pure speculation. There’s nothing new about the merits or risks of Griffey, but can Dave, DMZ, etc.. comment on if the regime would more or less friendly towards the idea or is Griffey’s name just never to utterred in the M’s offices. Thanks

  14. big chef terry on October 11th, 2004 4:59 pm


    Check your information before you actually cite names:

    Posada in the majors and having productive years at the age of 24, Charles Johnson 24, Piazza hit 35 hrs at the age of 24, 24 at the age of 25, 32 at age of 26 and 36 at 27…Miller and Martinez and Estrada were stuck behind good players…

    Olivo played once or twice in the last three weeks. Its funny that you ask if I’ve seen him play, because if you had, you wouldn’t have asked that of me. He has one tool, his arm. Offensively he has some power, but he won’t hit for avg and he doesn’t walk.

    Look I’m not sure what rock you’ve been under, but the M’s have not been real active or successful in the high end of the free agent market…its seriously doubtful if a player has no other choices that the Ms will be successful in acquiring high end free agents. There is one great cf in the pool that will probably go to the Yankees. Beltran will sign with the Dodgers. Brett Boone is the one guy and he was damaged goods.

    Very few players under contract now in the +65 million dollars command any trade value commiserat with their salary.

    So Jerry, who’re they going to trade and who’re they going to sign that’s anything but an average level player? Can you name a player?

    So if they sign a bunch of midlevel freeagents to go with Winn, Spezio and Ibanez…

    You can’t make the trades without taking back salary, half or more….so if you sign the mid level players, where does that leave the team? Even further stuck.

    The organization has no credibility to do what you suggest.

  15. The Ancient Mariner on October 11th, 2004 7:22 pm

    The whole point, chef, is that the M’s haven’t been successful with high-end FAs *because* they haven’t been active, *because* of the heterodyning philosophies of ownership (spend just enough to keep the stadium full) and Gillick (no big, expensive contracts–settle for James Baldwin rather than budge an inch on our initial offer to Jason Schmidt). Gillick’s end is now being held by Bill Bavasi, whose approach is very, very different; he’s perfectly willing to outbid anybody for the guys he really wants. As such, the only brake on our success in signing big-ticket guys will be ownership’s reluctance. If they let him sign one, we’ll get one. If they OK signing two, we’ll probably get two. In the unlikely event that they’re willing to pay enough for three, we’ll have a shot at landing all three. The organization that *had* no credibility to do what Jerry suggests, to all intents and purposes, no longer exists. The only real commonality is ownership, and how far they will bend with the wind remains to be seen.

  16. James T on October 11th, 2004 8:06 pm

    I want to add another voice to the sentiments of those urging patience in dealing with Olivo. Catchers really can upgrade their defense. Even later in their careers. I’m a Red Sox fan in Massachusetts and a couple years ago we Sox fans were salivating at the prospect of Jorge Posada’s defense deteriorating even further to a seriously poor level. Posada was that bad around 2001. But in the last couple years, he rededicated himself to his defense and while still not top notch became at least average again. Give Olivo time and he can, likely, become a good enough defensive catcher.

  17. stan on October 11th, 2004 9:09 pm

    James T, I think your point is very valid. Olivo and Posada are in my opinion quite similiar, and Olivo seems to me to be even more athletic than Posada. He certainly has better foot speed and a better arm. I remember watching the 2000 World Series in disbelief that teams with such poor defensive catchers could possibly reach the World Series. I guess it just proves that there are many different ways to win baseball games, though for my money I would want far better defensive cathchers than Piazza and Posada if I was building a team. If Olivo is willing to put in the work I think he could become a solid defensive catcher.

  18. Jerry on October 11th, 2004 9:47 pm


    It is difficult to respond to your comments because they are very poorly written. I will focus on the comments that are intelligible.

    -first, your comments about the catchers ages is just wrong. Posada was 27 in his first full season catching. He played 60 games when he was 26. He did not play more than 10 before that. He was in the minors when he was 24. Johnson got his start with the Marlins when he was 24, and started the season when he was 25. Interestingly, his first good season as a hitter was when he was 29. Piazza started playing when he was 25 (he turned 25 during the season). He performed immediately. Estrada, Miller, and Matrinez were NOT stuck behind good players. If they were top prospects at an early age, they would have played for someone. The reason why they performed late was because they developed late. None were highly touted players before they started to perform at relatively old ages. Your facts are really messed up.

    -catchers develop slower than other positions. It is an empirical fact. You can’t argue otherwise.

    -You say that Olivo “has one tool, his arm.” Actually, he has a great thowing arm, is exceptionally fast for a catcher, and has power. That is three tools he has right now. The two tools he lacks (plate discipline and soft hands) are the easiest to develop. As Olivo develops as a catcher and a hitter, he could develop into a five-tool player. That is exceptionally rare in catchers. But right now, he has three good tools.

    -regarding who I think that the M’s should go after, I hope that they sign an OFer, a 3B player, and a starting pitcher. My favorite ideas are: Beltre, Drew, and Clement or Glaus, Beltran, and Clement. Both scenarios would cost a lot of money (about 30 million/year total for all three, with varying lengths). The contracts would have to be structured with escalating salaries after the first year. But it is possible. Especially if they move a contract or two.

    -regarding trades, I would hope that Bavasi could move one or two of the following guys: Boone, Spiezio, Winn, Ibanez, and Franklin. The key to trading these guys is to find a team that has more use for them than we do. You are right that they don’t have a lot of value. Out of the above, I think that Winn will be the easiest to move. They could trade him for a prospect or two just to move his salary. With Boone and Spiezio, the M’s would have to get back players that another team doesn’t need. That is why I was talking about Cliff Floyd and Kaz Matsui. A Boone, Spiezio, and Ibanez for Floyd and Matsui trade would make sense for both teams. Floyd is definitely on the way out in NY. A Matsui for Boone trade makes sense also, because it would send the M’s a younger player. You are correct that the M’s would be getting back contracts. But perhaps they can move players that are redundant (Ibanez and Winn in LF) for something they need (a veteran reliever). Nobody is saying that the M’s will trade Spiezio for three good prospects. One area where the M’s should try to move players is in the OF. Winn and Ibanez are blocking Reed. Since Winn is servicable in CF and has speed, a team might be interested in him. He is a good #2 hitter. Philly is a possibility. So is Baltimore. His 2004 stats are pretty good, and his salary is not huge. Same goes with Ibanez. Franklin only has one year left on his contract, and he only makes 2.4 million. A team with pitching issues and needing a 5th starter could take him for long-shot marginal prospects. If not, he can go to the bullpen as a long reliever and is off the books after 2005. Finally, if Boone puts up slighly better numbers next year (like .280, 25-30HRs) he will be attractive to a contender. This is especially true given his defensive skills, position, and contract situation. If the M’s eat most of his 2004 contract, they could get back some good prospects. Since Boone will be in the last year of his contract, he will be much much easier to trade at the deadline. But again, even if the M’s are stuck with all these contracts, none of them are huge liabilities. The one good thing about the Gillick era was that it did not leave behind a bunch of big long contracts to bad players. This is why the M’s can rebuild quickly. We don’t have horrible contracts like Chan Ho Park, Jason Giambi, or Preston Wilson. That is why the M’s can be active in the market this year.

    Other people have pointed out that you are operating on the false assumption that Gillick is still running this team. This is evident when you say: “the M’s have not been real active or successful in the high end of the free agent market.” That was true of the team under Gillick, but he is gone now. With Bavasi, we actually need to be worried that he will give out huge contracts to the wrong players. You should actually read the long discussion of the differences between Gillick and Bavasi in this very forum. It is funny that you have posted so many comments here without noticing this.

    -to answer your question: “So Jerry,…who’re they going to sign that’s anything but an average level player? Can you name a player?”
    Ahhh…Position players: Beltran, Beltre, Drew, Renteria, Glaus, Sexson, Cabrera, Sexson, Ordonez; starters: Clement, Pavano, Perez, Millwood, Radke; in that order. These are all valid options that they should consider. Why do you even need to ask this question?

    -finally, nobody except for you thinks that the team is going to “sign a bunch of midlevel freeagents to go with Winn, Spezio and Ibanez…”. Again, that is Gillick’s M.O., not Bavasi’s. See the discussion above if you need further clarification.

    Chef, you need to do your homework.

  19. stan on October 11th, 2004 10:05 pm

    One big concern that I have is that the Mariners have pretty much painted themselves into the corner of spending 95 million on salary no matter what… I can clearly imagine a scenario that there are unable to get Beltran, Beltre (who I do not want), Drew, et. al. but then decide to throw big money over too many years at Nomar, Delagado, Mags, Glaus and others just to say that they have not mislead the fans about their commitment to spend 95 mil….

  20. Metz on October 11th, 2004 11:04 pm

    All this talk about catcher defense..Don’t you guys know that a catchers defense is inversely proportional to his offensive output? Great hitters like Piazza are considered horrible defensive players. No hitters like Wilson are considered defensive stalwarts. Then you get the “gritty leaders” like Veritek behind the plate.

    It’s a total flip flop with the gold glove awards for every other position where you don’t get a gold glove unless you have high offensive output. (Buhner as a GG right fielder when he couldn’t cover any ground in the field, puhlease).

    That’s why the true great catchers like Fisk, Bench and I-rod are so easy to spot. The catchers law of inverse proportionality doesn’t apply to them.

  21. DMZ on October 12th, 2004 8:07 am

    “-catchers develop slower than other positions. It is an empirical fact. You can’t argue otherwise. ”

    I haven’t seen any evidence that this is true for catchers as a group. As with all positions, there are players that develop early or later than expected, but overall catcher offensive performance doesn’t show a dramatic shift off an age 27 peak. Defensive performance for all players seems to peak much easier, though this is clearly much easier to defy than offensive peak.

  22. Jerry on October 12th, 2004 8:32 am


    I don’t think that it has as much to do with the peak in performance as much as the early development. Very rarely do you see young catchers play at a high level. For every guy like Pudge, you have others who seem to catch on to the position when they are 25-27. I am not sure how you would quantify this, but it does make sense. With catchers, they have a lot more to learn when they make their debuts. With an OFer, the main issue is adjusting to major-league pitching. With catchers, they have to do the same thing, plus developing an understanding of each pitchers strenghts and weaknesses, the opposing teams strengths and weaknesses, and how the manager wants the games called. It is a lot more to take in. I think that this is why you don’t see many catchers come in and play at a high level at age 22. It just takes them longer to learn the system. They still will tend to peak between age 27-30, but they take longer to develop.

    The whole impetus of this argument is Olivo. I was suggesting that it is far to early to give up on him, despite his struggles. If he was a SS, you might be worried about his age. But he only played 49 games with the M’s, and the starting rotation was constantly changing when he arrived. He had a lot more to absorb than, for instance, Reed, who just had to worry about the scouting reports on the opposing pitchers. The defense for any position but catcher transfers a lot more seamlessly. Since Olivo didn’t have the opportunity to work with the staff in spring training, and had to learn a whole lot in a limited time when he arrived, he should be cut a little slack. He is a talented player, and has the tools to be an all-star catcher. Signing another backstop would just take resources away from other needs and impede his development. Give him a full spring training and see what he can do next year.

  23. Jonathan on October 12th, 2004 11:44 am

    I hate to pry, Jemanji. Have you ever served on a board of a fortune 500 company. I have an MBA myself, and have served on nonprofit committees that often made decisions I didn’t agree with. However, I don’t abdicate my own responsibility on that basis…

  24. The Ancient Mariner on October 12th, 2004 1:39 pm

    The biggest thing with Olivo, imho, is that most of his weaknesses are in learned skills, and that he reached the majors with an organization which is known for doing a very poor job of teaching those. For that reason if no other he should be given a year to see if he is able and willing to learn what he hasn’t been taught. If he is, and does, I don’t think any of us will have any major complaints.