Interview with Bavasi

Dave · November 8, 2004 at 11:19 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Larry Larue conducted an interview with our GM last week. It’s a pretty nondescript Q&A with blase answers for the most part. There was one question that made my skin crawl, however:

Q: Do the free-agent signings of last winter – Spiezio, (Rich) Aurilia, (Eddie) Guardado, (Raul) Ibanez – carry any lessons?

A: Nothing we didn’t know going in. On Aurilia, we were trying to get by until the kid (Jose Lopez) was ready. Spiezio? That should have worked. I don’t find what he did last season indicative of what he can or should do. Scott has issues he needs to take care of before we can see the real Spiezio. Guardado? I feel fine. If he’d stayed healthy, he’d have had his usual numbers. Ibanez did what we expected, but we can’t expect him to carry the club. The only one that was a real shock was Spiezio. Aurilia we rolled the dice with, and it didn’t work.

If the M’s were trying to “get by” until Lopez was ready, they’ve still failed, as he’s clearly not major league ready heading into the 2005 campaign. And, of course, there’s little explanation for why they couldn’t have simply kept Guillen, the cheaper, younger, better alternative.

Spiezio obviously underperformed even the most pessimistic expectation, but to say that the signing “should have worked” again shows a lack of ability to read market value. Even if he had performed at his previous levels, he would not have been worth the 3 year, $9 million contract the M’s signed him to.

The signings I wish LaRue would have asked about, though, were the extensions offered to Franklin, Hasegawa, and Winn. Those are contracts the M’s really should be learning from.


37 Responses to “Interview with Bavasi”

  1. Sean on November 8th, 2004 11:26 am

    Still, you can’t expect Bavasi to come out and devalue his players. Saying “Hasegawa was a bad signing, because we could have replaced him cheaply” and “We overpaid for Ibanez” doesn’t accomplish anything, and it could hurt the morale of those players. There shouldn’t be any question that the M’s front office learned from the bad signings last offseason………….right?

  2. Alex on November 8th, 2004 11:49 am

    Was anyone else amused by the fact that Bavasi would not disclose how much money they have to spend on free agents? While I understand the rationale for not wanting to disclose that number publicly, does anyone else suspect that it has something to do with the M’s creative (read: Enron) accounting?

  3. JPWood on November 8th, 2004 11:56 am

    First, Bavasi was responsible for a marginal part of those mistakes, marginal in that he didn’t clean house sooner. Second, saying that Spiezio was shockingly bad and has “issues”, and the Aurilia was a bad choice to spell Lopez are two fairly well-targeted poison darts directed at Gillick.
    Bavasi had no choice with Guardado’s health and took the high road: show respect for the player under adversity.
    His evaluation of Ibanez has been a USSM theme since Raul’s contract was signed.
    It’s difficult to find anything negative to say about Bavasi after the Larue interview. He seemed chastened, sober and cogent. And this is the 1st time I have defended him.

  4. PositivePaul on November 8th, 2004 12:29 pm

    JPWood, I agree. This interview is one of the better that I’ve read with Bavasi. He, of course, avoided the budget issue, but still left it open by saying that money won’t be a problem. Of course, only time will tell the true nature of this, and if we end up with Koskie, Richard Hidalgo, and Scott Williamson, then we’ll know that money indeed played a factor. Ultimately, they’re on the hook to making smart baseball moves, whatever the financial risk is. They keep saying they’re going to make those moves, but what us fans think are smart baseball moves, and what Bavasi, et al., consider smart baseball moves may be two different things.

    My favorite quote:

    I don’t know that we have to trade anyone, but we may make deals to make all the pieces fit. That’s not what we see having to happen right now. Personnel-wise, we might make moves. But they’d be baseball moves, not financial moves.

    That’s what I want to hear, but I moreso want to SEE than HEAR that they’re doing anything. I’m also thinking that the M’s will be quite active in the trade market. That could bring some exciting things, or it can be absolutely crazy. If it’s along the lines of dumping players (i.e. Carlos Guillen), then let’s hope we don’t get more Ramon Santiagos in return.

    Of course, we have to be patient until the exclusive negotiation period ends Nov. 10th. Then we’ll start seeing people signing. I’m hoping they strike early, and as mentioned earlier on USS Mariner, I’d be OK with Delgado being that early strike, provided it’s a reasonable contract. I don’t think Baltimore would outbid us for his services considering the pitching that’s out there, and how badly they need pitching. Plus they’ve resigned Raffey Palmeiro, so I’m not sure how much room they’d have for Delgado.

    So, get Delgado early (and avoid Sexson please!), and make some other moves to get this ship righted…

  5. vj on November 8th, 2004 12:30 pm

    I’d be curious to know what Scott Spiezio’s ‘issues’ are. Any insights on that?

  6. PositivePaul on November 8th, 2004 12:34 pm

    Spiezio’s issues are a bad back and a bad bat. Expect him to ride the bench, be dumped, or DFA’d.

  7. forgotten schmo on November 8th, 2004 12:35 pm

    Spezio’s main issue is his inability to hit a round white sperical object.

  8. Adam B. on November 8th, 2004 12:38 pm

    Scott’s shameless Taco addiction of course.
    –Not to mention Sand Frog. =)

    I’m guessing Bavasi was refering to the “Can’t lay off a first-pitch breaking ball” issue.

  9. Jon on November 8th, 2004 12:54 pm

    It is now abundantly clear (if it wasn’t already) that Bavasi won’t be cornered on the budget issue, for both strategic and political reasons. The budget will be what the budget will be, at least far as he is concerned. While he’ll probably have opportunities to try to convince ownership to make adjustments, in the end he’ll have to spend only what they decide to give him. Lincoln is probably the only person authorized to answer budget questions and I would expect he’ll let his previous statements on that subject ride for awhile. Then, depending how the offseason goes in terms of talent acquisition, season ticket sales, etc., he may feel compelled to append his earlier statements and, if necessary, elaborate further in a vague and misleading way. One thing to look for is how the M’s choose to spin the Cirillo (and the crapfest they got for him) debt. Clearly, the M’s could use the Sasaki and other unspent ’04 money to “pay off” or “wipe out” the Cirillo debt for budget purposes. But if they publicly persist in counting the Cirillo debt in the payroll budget going forward, then that’s an indication they are going to continue to play budgetary games with the fans. Until Lincoln feels compelled to weigh in again on this subject, however, there is no way to know whether they have changed their stripes. Skeptics, having observed the M’s actual behavior over the past few years, already know what the answer will be.

  10. PositivePaul on November 8th, 2004 12:58 pm

    I’d like to add that Delgado would be only a minor splash. It’s a good first step, and would instantaneously inject some unquestionable potency into our lineup. Adding Beltre would be the larger splash, however risky that signing may be. It’s certainly feasible for them to add both Delgado and Beltre, and I’ve heard rumors of them both being at the top of the M’s wishlist. These would be “safe” signings in that they wouldn’t have to trade someone to get them in the lineup. In order to upgrade their outfield, they’d have to make a trade. We’ve got too many outfielders and outfield prospects for them to add one without moving another. Winn would be the most likely candidate, as he’s got a decent contract, and is a good leadoff or #2 hitter.

    As far as Ibanez’ signing goes — remember that in 2003 they were paying Mark Maclemore more than what they’re paying Winn, Ibanez, or Spiezio. That’s an awful lot ($4.5 million) for a utility player. I’m of the thought that Ibanez’ and Winn’s salaries aren’t really that horrendous. They’re average-to-above-average players, and they both contribute consistently. Paying $3-4 million for a ~.300 hitter is not all that bad. As long as neither of them are expected, as Bavasi mentions, to carry the team:

    Ibanez did what we expected, but we can’t expect him to carry the club.

  11. John in NV on November 8th, 2004 1:04 pm

    Let’s avoid signing cast-offs, especially that are from within our own division this year. I know it’s outdated and irrational but I still feel a little “us” vs. “them” and bringing in Sand Frog who was very much a “them” was disturbing from the start. He was a big part of the series they swept from us as they built momentum and we started to fade in July of ’02. I was unfortunately there for each of those games at a big expense of time and money. You might have been Anti-Frog, too, if you’d been in the middle of all of the idiotic noise sticks. I think that a little emotion is still acceptable in baseball; isn’t that why we’re fans of this team instead of some other?

  12. Kevin D. on November 8th, 2004 1:09 pm

    Anyone have any idea what the trade offer was that Bill alludes to? Just wondering if there were any rumors out there…

  13. Brent Overman on November 8th, 2004 1:18 pm

    PositivePaul, the problem with Ibanez’s contract isn’t that he attempted to substantiate it with a ~.300 BA season or double-digit dingers, it’s what his market value was at the time of the signing.

    The M’s grossly overpaid for his services (in addition to sacrificing their #1 Draft Pick one week before he was to be non-tendered by KC) compared to what comparable players signed for that year. Granted, no market had been set, but for a guy like Ibanez, who showed a clear desire to return to Seattle, the M’s vastly overpaid for what should have cost them $2-$3 million tops. That’s not much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s that “little-by-little” overdoing it on contracts that has held this team back in the past; why Gillick could never make mid-season acquisitions.

    We’re seeing it this year already in Bavasi’s desire to re-sign Villone and pick up Cabrera’s option. There’s going to be approx. $4 million in contracts for 2005 that should total $700k. This team, notably Bavasi, must learn how to judge fair market value before he can be taken seriously. Otherwise, taking that next step in the playoffs may be difficult to achieve.

  14. Jon Wells on November 8th, 2004 2:07 pm

    Re: #10 — it’s a good point, except that McLemore was paid $3.15 mil in ’03 (same salary as in ’02) not $4.5 mil. That is a lot of money to pay for a utility man that can no longer do one of the things he did best — steal bases (his SB’s went down 39 in ’01 to 18 in ’02 to 5 in ’03 and he stole none for Oakland this year).

    Overall McLemore wasn’t such a big bust when you factor in what he did in ’00 and ’01 when he was only paid $2 mil a year. 30 steals and a .353 OBP in ’00 and 39 steals and a .384 OBP in ’01).

    Nevertheless, IMO Randy Winn is grossly overpaid at $3.75 mil, esp. since he has no arm and is below average defensively. Slap hitters shouldn’t get multi-year deals for that kind of $$$.

  15. jj on November 8th, 2004 2:33 pm

    #13, Cabera’s option is 1.5million. So if according to your math, Villone would be making 2.5 millions? I don’t think that is going to happen. Even if Cabrera, Wilson and Villone together make 4 millions is a bit high to me, but I can live with that.

  16. PositivePaul on November 8th, 2004 2:41 pm

    Well, I thought Maclemore’s deal was 2-years 6 million, the first year being 2 mill the second 4 mill, but I could be wrong. My point is that we were paying a utility guy an awful lot to be a utility guy, even if it was Maclemore.

    As far as Ibanez goes, I agree that losing the draft pick was harsh, but you knew that the M’s were targeting him #1 in the offseason, and they weren’t about to let him get away. Who’s really to say what the market for Ibanez would’ve been. I’d argue that there would’ve been several budget-conscious teams ready to spend 3-5 million on a .290 hitter with some power.

    IMO Manny Ramirez is grossly overpaid, even for being one of the best hitters in the game. His D is even worse than Winn’s. Winn is certainly a servicable fielder, and anyone who can get on base, hit .300, and steal some bases is certainly worth $3-5 million, no matter how below-average his D is. The fact that power hitters are making $10-20 million, often despite horrid defense, certainly can justify “slap” hitters who set the table making $3-5 million as logical, if not justifiable. Defense, really, doesn’t have a whole lot to do with it, except in the case of Cameron and Hunter. Both of those guys are paid moreso for their defense than their offense.

  17. Gary on November 8th, 2004 3:17 pm

    As far as the Bavasi comments: I think it’s reasonable to regard General Managers as a mob of used-car salesmen. They’re going to hype their own for-sale players. They are also going to minimize their team’s capacity to pay for other players so that other General Managers won’t get a read on how high they’re willing and able to go. They will lie and they will mislead, that’s part of the game.

    They will tell the truth to the press and (indirectly) to the fans only insofar as it does not hamper their capacity to make a deal. If he’s competent, in public Bavasi will pretend to be more interested in somebody he has no desire for so that he can drive down the offer on the person he really does.

    Which is a long way of saying that we won’t know what he’s going to do until he does it. Speculation is fun, but we can only judge him by his results. Last year’s results were bad and the underlying reasons for those choices appear to be bad. What Bavasi got for Freddy Garcia is enough for mild optimism.

    If the Mariners end up going for lower level free agents, that will be a result from which we can infer that the upper management consists of the very tightfisted, rat-faced, sniveling gits we always suspected.

    Finally, let me say that I’d jump at the chance to grossly overpay Manny Ramirez as opposed to Cirillo et al. (batch ’em until the total comes to Ramirez’s paycheck).

  18. eponymous coward on November 8th, 2004 3:27 pm

    Why should we avoid Sexson over, say, Delgado? I can understand why someone might prefer Delgado, but I don’t get “OMG, we can never sign a right handed power hitter ever because they will be crap at Safeco, they always have to be lefties” either. There are legitimate reasons to prefer Sexson (age, maybe the money might be better).

    My take is I’d rather sign guys on the other side of 30 than BOTH of them, and Delgado might get a slight nod based on better OBP even though he’s older, but Sexson wouldn’t be a disaster either.

  19. David J Corcoran on November 8th, 2004 3:40 pm


    If we fail to sign Beltre, we MUST pick up Delgado.

    If we pick up Beltre, and still want a 1B, I would be content (even happy) with Sexson.

    Sexson’s Health Problem>Delgado’s Health Problem
    Sexson’s OBP

  20. David J Corcoran on November 8th, 2004 3:40 pm

  21. David J Corcoran on November 8th, 2004 3:41 pm

    What the heck?

    Sexsons OBP < Delgado's OBP What is wrong with this? I can't type a certain thing involving < 's...

  22. David J Corcoran on November 8th, 2004 3:42 pm

    never mind. The comments are screwed up.

  23. Jerry on November 8th, 2004 3:56 pm

    I am not at all surprised by Bavasi´s comments. He is not going to bash his moves because 1) it would be admitting that they, in fact, made dumb moves and 2) is not exactly expressing confidence in those players in having a good year in 2005. This is especially the case for players like Shiggy and Spiezio who, realistically, probably will bounce back a bit next year. Aurillia was the worst move, and that one that requires the most explaining. However, he is not going to come out and say: “you are right, we made a bunch of retarded moves. Sorry”. GMs just don´t do that.

    I wish that he would have commented a bit on the payroll, however. Since there are so many vastly different figures floating around, it would be nice to hear that the upper range is more realistic. But this might be more a Lincoln issue. I am just going to keep my fingers crossed and hope that Bavasi´s comments mean that they are willing to make some big moves.

    Regarding Spiezio, it sucks that we are stuck with him. However, I think that he might do better in the utility role, which is where he had a lot of success in the past. I also think that he could be a positive addition to the roster if they bring in a younger 1B player, like Nick Johnson. The guy is not nearly as bad as he showed last year, so all the M´s can do is just hope that he plays like he did in Anahiem. I wonder how much of his trouble had to do with him playing 3B, and if a move back to a utility role will help. However, he does give the M´s some flexibility at 1B. I hope that they consider that. It will allow the M´s to spend money in other areas, and perhaps try to work out a trade for a good firstbaseman. Why not just focus on Beltre, Drew, and Clement? It makes a ton of sense.

  24. drabbones on November 8th, 2004 4:00 pm

    I must agree with PPaul. The M’s problems in ’04(and for that matter ’05) were not the fault of Winn and Ibanez. They, with Ichiro were the most productive on the team. The problems were the large contracts carried by completely unproductive players: Olerud, Edgar, Boone, Moyer, Shiggy, Spezio. I thought Bavasi did a good job by biting the bullet early on Olerud. Edgar, thankfully took care of himself and now we’ll see how Bavasi handles the rest of this mess.
    I don’t expect to see Beltran or Beltre sign with the M’s, but signing some of the second tier FAs can still be productive as stopgaps until some of these big contracts are off the books.
    With Garcia gone, Moyer and Franklin ineffective, and who knows what to expect from Meche, I think starting pitching needs to be a priority. I really like the idea of Clement and maybe Perez or Radke. A trade of Boone for a No.1 starting pitcher is too unrealistic to ask for.

  25. PositivePaul on November 8th, 2004 4:13 pm

    Personally, I’m not as concerned about that righty-lefty bat in Safeco thing. Elite power hitters are going to hit it out often and far, no matter what park they’re in. Edgar and Boonie seem to have had no problem knocking the ball out of Safeco. At issue, really, is not HRs as much as it is RBIs. We’re looking for an RBI machine, and they tend to be RBI machines no matter what park they’re playing in, and no matter if they’re right-handed or left-handed hitters.

    So, the difference between Sexson and Delgado in my book is that Sexson’s injury is far more seriously directly related to his hitting ability. Plus, it’s questionable how healthy he indeed is.

    Delgado did return from his injury, and while his BA was down a little, he still hit over 30 HRs and drove in almost 100 runs. Is he likely on the downside of his career — most certainly. Is he totally washed up? Doesn’t appear to be. Is he healthy? Less questionably so than Sexson, I’d argue. Would he be worth a financial risk? No more than 3 years (with options for 4th) at no more than $10 million/per.

  26. paul mocker on November 8th, 2004 4:26 pm

    Drabbones – I agree that he did a good job letting Olerud go.

    I wonder what to do with Jaime Moyer. I know he can refuse a trade. I think he might like to go to a West Coast team, and LA and San Diego are in the NL. If SD’s does not sign Wells perhaps we can trade him for their 3b. I’m wishcasting because I have a bad feeling that he will be so bad that Bavasi cuts him in June.

  27. Evan on November 8th, 2004 5:04 pm

    Sexson’s check-swing shoulder dislocations are a prime candidate for a reoccuring injury. And a reoccuring injury can easily become a chronic injury. Unless he’s cheap, Sexson is too risky.

  28. Gary on November 8th, 2004 6:03 pm


    I wouldn’t call Boone completely ineffective. His power numbers compared favorably with most second basemen even in 2003. What made him look so bad was that he spent so much time hitting in key spots in the order–compared to other 3rd & 4th place hitters of course he does look bad. If the Mariners get enough hitting to put him in a 6th or 7th spot, though, he’s going to be perceived as a lot better even if he has the same year he did in 2003.

  29. stan on November 8th, 2004 8:27 pm

    Boone is not hurt by Safeco as much because he has decent power to right and right center… same for Edgar, though that is obviously no longer an issue… Guys like Beltre and Sexson would concern me for 81 games at Safeco because I believe their power is mostly to left and left center… I would not sign Sexson, Nomar, Ordonaz, or Glaus because they are coming off serious injuries…. I would not sign Beltre because of the number of years and dollars it will take to sign him…. I would like to see a study done of the long term, high dollar contracts given in baseball since the start of free agency… Maybe you hear more about the ones that don’t turn out, but it seems to me that in most instances the club giving the contract ends up regretting it…. Griffey in Cincinnati, Sosa in Chicago, Frank Thomas with the White Sox, Giambi with the Yankees; the list is certainly a long one of contracts that end up going south….

  30. Mark on November 8th, 2004 9:25 pm

    …if they publicly persist in counting the Cirillo debt in the payroll budget going forward, then that’s an indication they are going to continue to play budgetary games with the fans.

    Of course they’re going to count the Cirillo debt going forward. Why wouldn’t they? Either they’re going to spend money, or they aren’t. If they don’t, they can use the Cirillo debt as part of the explanation (and hope that the casual fan — who doesn’t read this blog, by the way — will buy it). If they do spend money, they can use the Cirillo debt to make it seem like they burst the bank vault’s doors even wider than they did. Either way, they come out looking better than the alternative.

    Seriously, from a public relations standpoint, why would you ever not cry poverty? Doing so always puts you in a better position with the base of casual fans, who don’t really known what the numbers mean and who won’t get angry with you when you fudge the figures. There’s simply no downside to it.

  31. ChrisK on November 8th, 2004 10:45 pm

    Well put, Mark. There is no downside to crying poverty to their target audience (casual fans), especially when the local media doesn’t challenge your position and even helps push your message.

  32. Conor Glassey on November 9th, 2004 12:26 am
    paul mocker on November 9th, 2004 8:08 am

    Comments are closed in the Team Construction thread. Any plan to reopen it?

    The Padres traded Terence Long and Dennis Tankersley to KC for Darrel May and Ryan Bukvich. So I wonder what Randy Winn could have got from the Royals.

  33. DMZ on November 9th, 2004 10:26 am


  34. paul mocker on November 9th, 2004 10:40 am


  35. msb on November 9th, 2004 12:18 pm

    “The problems were the large contracts carried by completely unproductive players: Olerud, Edgar, Boone, Moyer, Shiggy, Spezio.”–Comment by drabbones — 11/8/2004

    FWIW, Moyer wasn’t *completely* unproductive. Just a reminder, up to the infamous Texas relief appearance, he was 6-2 with 6 no-decisions (including 4 blown saves), with an ERA around 3.12. The 20 games after that (in 113 IP) he went 1-11 (+ 8 NDs & a couple of more blown saves), an ERA of 6.88 and ranked 34th out of 40 in AL run support.

    “I wonder what to do with Jaime Moyer. I know he can refuse a trade. I think he might like to go to a West Coast team, and LA and San Diego are in the NL.”Comment by paul mocker — 11/8/2004

    so, just why would he like to go to a West Coast team, when he has a contract here, lives here, and can’t be traded?

  36. Paul Weaver on November 9th, 2004 1:02 pm

    Jaymay Moyyurr for preZidant!

    He can be our closer. Also I would like to see him get some time in center field. The Jamie you didn’t know is about to bust through!