Bremerton Bloomquist Brawl!

DMZ · January 9, 2005 at 5:19 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

David of Sports and Bremertonians let us know that they’re running (frequent USSM commenter) Jim Thomsen’s article on Willie Bloomquist which ran in the Bremerton Sun but is not online. This piece is in reply to a previous article that supported starting Bloomquist at shortstop this year for reasons that seemed more grounded in love for Willie the guy than evidence that he’d do well for the team playing regularly.

While I agree with the general point of Thomsen’s article, I’ll say that I don’t think it’s true that he’s not good enough to play at the ML level, and I’d instead say he’s not good enough to be a ML regular.

And I think saying that ZR and RF are the best defensive stats the analysts have come up with isn’t true, either. Range factor’s a pretty bad stat unless you’re comparing teammates at the same position, and given the other stuff out there, like Davenport’s work or UZR.. even fielding runs and defensive Win Shares are better.

That said, you can see that that’s not the argument he wants to get into, and it’s not the place to build a case for sophisticated evaluation of the relative merits of methods that measure defense.

Anyway, I thought it was cool that this kind of thing can get into the Bremerton Sun, and props to Mr. Thomsen.


33 Responses to “Bremerton Bloomquist Brawl!”

  1. Jonathan on January 9th, 2005 7:15 pm

    If Willie’s bat isn’t all that hot (which even the ardent Willie-boosters seem to acknowledge), then the fact that we just picked up Pokey Reese begs the question why he’d be kept on the roster at all. It’s not like Pokey will be pulled for a late-inning defensive replacement, in fact, wasn’t that his role in Boston last year? So what’s the Bloomquist factor? “Occasional” starts at short? 3rd? Left? Maybe it’s that old gnawing feeling from the likes of Gipson & Ugueto, but I hate seeing roster spots taken up by guys who aren’t making regular contributions. One of the lessons of last year was we’ve got plenty of kids in Tacoma who will benefit from getting some big league AB’s.

  2. Shawn on January 9th, 2005 8:54 pm

    I think we’ve been over-exposed to Willie the last couple years. He’s played so much because of our injured or struggling infielders (Cirillo, Aurillia, Olerud, Spizieo, etc.) Hopefully Beltre, Sexson, and Reese stay healthy so we can see less of him. The one positive thing I can say about Willie is that he does seem to be a pretty good pinch-runner/basestealer type. But I agree that he is not a ML starter, so if Hargrove doesn’t fall in love with him like BoMel did then maybe it’ll all work out okay. I’m more afraid of who else we’ll end up with coming off the bench after whats been scrounged up the last two years (Hansen, McCracken, Colbrunn, Mabry).

  3. David J Corcoran on January 9th, 2005 8:54 pm

    I don’t get it. Bloomquist can’t have a justified roster spot. Mickey Lopez could probably post just as good of numbers with a little more power. So why is Lopez a career minor leaguer and Bloomquist a big league lock? If Justin Leone could shore up his defense and learn to play 2nd, he would be a far better UT. Give Denny Hocking an NRI. Give Dave Berg an NRI. They are both better than Bloomquist.

  4. Evan on January 9th, 2005 9:24 pm

    Bloomquist’s only real value is his ability to play passably well at multpile infield positions, which makes him decent insurance against minor injuries, and a decent sub to keep guys rested.

    But, Hargrove likes to have a regular line-up. He doesn’t offer players regular rest. So that’s half of Willie’s job gone.

  5. Jim Thomsen on January 9th, 2005 9:54 pm

    Shades of Derek’s post on hate mail …. here’s one I received in reply to my column:

    “your column you wrote about willie clearly shows you have a problem with the fact that your an obsessed fan that could never cut it as a player.
    i had the chance to play with and against willie growing up. how dare you attack someone thats trying harder than you do for pure love of a game.”

    Good times.

  6. Matt Staples on January 9th, 2005 10:13 pm

    Pure love of the game … along with some measure of fame, a minor fortune, and likely more attention than he merits (ironically enough, due to not meriting it in the first place).

    Hang in there, Jim. If anyone deserves criticism, it’s the sports editor who argued WFB deserves a shot at the starting SS role next year.

  7. Steve on January 9th, 2005 10:33 pm

    Jim – as I sometimes commented during my blogging days, “you can lead a man to data, but you can’t make him think”.

  8. Adam S on January 10th, 2005 12:07 am


    I counted at least four grammatical errors in the first sentence alone (not counting capitalization which I let slide in email). I think that clearly shows that you have a problem with 🙂 the intellegence of your readership.

    Much like Derek, if you make rational, organized arguments backed with statistics people can’t argue the facts (data), so they’ll attack your credentials or you. Note even this guy doesn’t say Willie is better than you say he is, just that “he’s trying”.

    For what it’s worth, given the current roster make up, I’d say Bloomquist has about a 90% chance of making the Mariners again this season. And I bet we’ll all hear fans wondering why he doesn’t play more.

  9. Jim Thomsen on January 10th, 2005 12:38 am

    I’m not so sure Bloomquist will make the team. Bill Bavasi was quoted recently after the Pokey Reese signing as saying the team was still looking for a veteran utility infielder. That’s as close to a direct slap at Bloomquist as you can get.

    I’d say Bloomquist needs to have an insane spring to make the team — be a camp phenom like Keith Mitchell in ’94, Lee Tinsley a year or two after that, Alonzo Powell, Rich Renteria, guys like that. If he doesn’t, I’d expect he’d be released or DFA’d rather than sent down, since there’s no point in having him in Tacoma — he has no further need for development. He is what he is. And isn’t.

  10. Noel on January 10th, 2005 1:15 am

    Can’t we sell Willie to some unsuspecting Japanese club?

  11. Bernard Aboba on January 10th, 2005 7:47 am

    “He is what he is. And isn’t.”

    Sometimes players do make dramatic improvements, even late in their career. Look at Raul Ibanez, who finally began to hit at age 29 in Kansas City in 2001, after failing to do so with the Mariners. That year he hit (.280, .353, .495) with Kansas City after only hitting (.229 .301 .329) with Seattle in 2000, and he has continued to hit at the higher level.

    I also remember Bill Robinson, who with Jerry Kenny were touted as the new infield phenoms with the CBS-owned Yankees in the late 60s. Robinson’s best season with the Yankees was (.240 .294 .380) in 1968, but in 1973 he stuck with the Phillies where he hit (.288, .326, .529) with 25 home runs at the age of 30, and then two years later he ended up on the Pirates where he played for eight years, having several half-decent years. If you had predicted that Bill Robinson would have a 16 year major league career back in 1968, most people would have said you were nuts.

    So while I’d agree that the data argue that Willie should not play regularly for the Mariners and probably doesn’t even deserve a roster spot, there are clubs (Milwaukee and Kansas City come to mind) where he might get regular playing time. It’s conceivable that he might blossom there. Since he is a decent guy, if the Mariners do not want him, it’s probably best that they let him go early on, to give him the best opportunity to stick with another team.

  12. Pilots fan on January 10th, 2005 8:48 am

    For what it’s worth, I’d rather see Bloomquist on the bench next year than Spezio. Willie plays more positions, has good speed (don’t forget how the BoSox won game 4 of the ALCS), and costs less. I don’t think we need a 1B/3B on the bench (they’re a dime/dozen) that doesn’t seem to pinch-hit that well and certainly doesn’t run well. Did I mention Spezio’s salary? Maybe the Yankees would take him.

  13. Graham on January 10th, 2005 9:09 am

    Spezio vs. Bloomquist: there’s no team on Earth that wants Scott Spezio’s contract right now, and unless you’re willing to eat $6.something million, it’s probably a good idea to keep him on the bench and hope that he’ll rebound. Spezio’s also a better defender than Bloomquist, and the speed advantage is mitigated by the fact that Spezio can actually hit home runs, and is a leftie. I’d say Spezio’s got a bench spot pretty much locked up next year.

  14. PositivePaul on January 10th, 2005 10:45 am

    But I’ve got far better reasons for thinking Willie Bloomquist doesn’t do anything to help a major league baseball team win ballgames than you do for thinking he does.

    All the more reason why “statheads” are given a bad rap. This smacks of arrogance, the first time I read it. I know that wasn’t likely your intent, but still…

    I actually agree with Derek, too, in that as much as I dislike WFB — it’s more a dislike for him as a regular. I have no problem in a Charles Gipson role (late innings pinch-runner and defensive replacement), and actually think he’s quite decent in that role. It’s when he’s starting at first (or anywhere else, really) that I cringe and add that extra “F” to his name.

    Okay, so I’m being arrogant by continuing that Willie “F” thing. I apologize…

  15. Jon Helfgott on January 10th, 2005 10:49 am

    Regarding #11: the Ibanez/Bloomquist comparison.

    There’s an important fact you’re leaving out: Ibanez was a decent offensive contributor at every level in the minor leagues. He was always a year or two older than the league he played in, so he was never really considered a prospect, but he put up very solid seasons in the years from 94-97 all the way from low-A to AAA. In the minors, Ibanez had 4 good years where he performed to the tune of approx. .300 BA/.480 SLG as he progressed through the system.

    Compare that with Bloomquist. His only moderately impressive minor league numbers came as a 22-year-old in high A, where he batted .379 in 64 games. He was promoted to the big league club in 2003 despite never having topped a .270 BA or a .383 SLG above A-ball. Aside from those 64 games against competition 2 years younger than him and those 12 games in Seattle in 2002, Bloomquist has never hit at any level.

  16. Jim Thomsen on January 10th, 2005 11:03 am

    #14 — Paul, I’d agree with you if the statement you excerpted from my column was isolated like that, or if I said it at the very beginning of my column.

    But, please, put it in context and acknowledge that it came at the end of my column, after I made my case and use facts to rebut image-based claims.

    To me “arrogance” is arrogance only if you don’t back it up with anything other than a haughty, argumentative, self-righteous demeanor. Hopefully I did a little better than that.

    For what it’s worth, I didn’t want any of this be true. I like Willie Bloomquist. As I said, he works hard, does what he’s asked to do and appears to have an endearing personality. I saw hyim play in high school several times, both as a star prep quarterback who won a state championship and as a rake-alicious baseball player. I rooted for him. And, at first, I got excited about what he did when he came up in 2002, despite deep down knowing better. I’d love it if he was worthy of more in his profession than he is.

    But he just isn’t.

  17. PositivePaul on January 10th, 2005 11:20 am

    Paul, I’d agree with you if the statement you excerpted from my column was isolated like that, or if I said it at the very beginning of my column.

    But, please, put it in context and acknowledge that it came at the end of my column, after I made my case and use facts to rebut image-based claims.

    Actually, it was at the very end of the article, and from a reader’s perspective (especially at first glance), things both at the beginning and the end tend to stick out. I also stated that that was at first glance, and after I read through it again I saw your point.

    As writers, we can’t always assume our readers have a deep understanding of what we’re talking about — especially when the point of our writing is to educate people. To make things worse, it may take a little bit more time to digest what you’re trying to teach. This causes the context of your argument a little less clear. The more we explicitly state “I know more than you do” even if it’s contextualized, the more our readers are likely to ignore the context of our statement and isolate the statement. Especially at the end of the article, when the data and information you use to support your claim could be blurred.

    Now, Jim, I’m not calling you arrogant — I feel you’re better than that. I’m just trying to point out the need to be careful — that readers don’t always perceive things like you expect them to. So, they tend to remember the first and the last things you say and cling to those, especially since they may not completely understand the context and the information you’re presenting. In the end, I did take the time to contextualize your statement. I’m just saying that all of your readers won’t.

  18. Jim Thomsen on January 10th, 2005 11:24 am

    Fair point, Paul. Thanks for the follow-up. It was difficult to state my case in space allotted to me without turning the column into a dry lecture on Sabermetrics 101. I tried to stay away from that, and by necessity, did not entirely succeed.

  19. Pilots fan on January 10th, 2005 2:06 pm

    Graham, #13:

    Spezio hit .215 last year, not significantly different from either side of the plate (vs. Bloomquist’s .245). He hit 10 HR’s in 367 AB’s (not our HR threat off the bench I hope). He can play some defense, but not better than Bloomquist and only at 2 positions. They have very similar OBP and SLG’s.

    The key for me off the bench is speed and versatility, and I don’t see Spezio having anything to mitigate that with. I don’t also don’t see him rebounding in a bench role, and $3M next year does not make him totally unmarketable in the right situation.

  20. Graham on January 10th, 2005 2:33 pm

    Spezio is better than he has shown last year. Bloomquist, on the other hand, is not. For 1B and 3B defense, let’s compare stats…

    1B Range Factor – Spezio: 8.87, Bloomquist: 7.09. 1B ZR – Spezio: .83, Bloomquist: .722.

    3B Range Factor – Spezio: 2.86, Bloomquist: 2.44. 3B ZR – Spezio: .771, Bloomquist: .681.

    I’d argue that Spezio’s defense is significantly better at his two positions that Bloomquist’s. As for home runs: Bloomquist has had something like 3 in his career. I agree that the Mariners need a speedier bench, though.

    And Spezio still has another 2 years left on his contract at a total of $6.2 million, plus a $250 K buyout for 2007, according to Dugout Dollars. I don’t think any team really wants to burden themselves with that contract.

  21. Brian Thornton on January 10th, 2005 2:58 pm

    Wouldn’t Leone, for all of his inability to play second, be a better option off the bench than Bloomquist? He’s fine defensively at the corners, has decent speed on the paths, and hits better than either Bloomquist or Speizio. He’s also a lot cheaper.

    I realize that Speizio’s contract is on the books, but Bloomquist has reached the point in his major league career where his time-in-service makes him a pretty bad investment, money-wise, don’t you guys think?

  22. Graham on January 10th, 2005 3:10 pm

    Yes, I’d rather have Leone on the bench than either Spezio or Bloomquist. If the M’s are planning a 5 man bench, it’ll probably look something like: Wilson, Jacobsen, Spezio, Leone, Bloomquist/whatever UT infielder Bavasi can get. Cora would be nice, but I’m not sure if he’s still available.

  23. Adam S on January 10th, 2005 3:38 pm

    Don’t they need an outfielder on the bench? Assuming Ibanez is the DH, they have no one in case they want to PH for Reed in late innings or give someone a rest in a blowout (or an injury).

    Seems like Wilson, Jacobsen/Ibanez/Reed (whoever isn’t playing), Spiezio, UT IF (Bloomquist/Leone) and OF TBD. Would the Mariners bring up Leone to have him get 4 or 5 AB/week instead of playing regularly at AAA? Is Leone a legitimate backup SS or 2B?

  24. Pilots fan on January 10th, 2005 4:20 pm

    I think we’ll see the M’s end up with a 4-man bench. Given our somewhat questionable pitching and their health, they’ll probably go with 12 pitchers. Olivo/Wilson and Bucky lock up 2. I would love to see Spezio get it together, but I don’t see him as a defensive replacement for Beltre or Sexson, and I don’t see him pinch hitting or running for either one, either.

    On the other hand, I can see Bloomquist pinch running a lot for a lot of different guys, given that he can play more positions.

    Which brings me to Adam S.’s comment about an outfielder — what about Jamal Strong for a bench job? He’s a proven .300+ hitter in AAA, plays great defense and can run better than Willie. No one talks about him. I haven’t seen him play a lot, and we already have Ibanez to mix into LF, but isn’t he worth considering.

    For me, I saw enough of Justin Leone last year. I personally don’t want them to save a spot for him on the 40-man roster.

  25. Graham on January 10th, 2005 4:30 pm

    If you have 4 outfielders playing, why would you need one on the bench? I’d assume you could just switch positions so that, say, Ibanez could rotated out of DH into LF as part of a big defensive switch. I’m not entirely sure as to if that’s allowed or not though.

  26. DMZ on January 10th, 2005 4:31 pm

    I’m not entirely sure as to if that’s allowed or not though.

    You lose the DH then.

  27. John Delahanty on January 11th, 2005 11:00 am

    Could someone please explain–without defending him–why Bloomquist is on the Mariner 25-player roster?
    (I think it has something to do with the travel burden–less than fifty years ago, Cleveland was considered a western team.)
    [Please do it soon–before they DFI him.]

    BTW, re # 26: Is it always such a bad idea to lose the DH? Isn’t losing the DH somewhat akin to a late-inning sacrifice, where you give something up (an out; the DH) to get something that’s more valuable (a run, hopefully the game-winning run; flexibility)?

  28. Jan on January 12th, 2005 12:02 am

    It seems that Willie Bloomquist must play with some consistency this spring, or he will be released or moved out. As with many MLB players, they show some sparkle at times, but have no consistency. It is true that Willie had a horrible sophomore season, and when he did have some decent games such as getting on base, stealing and scoring a run, even in these games was pulled out in the later innings. You could see this destroying his confidence. NO ONE PLAYED well in 2004, so let’s not make Willie the scapegoat of a whole season of underperformers.

  29. Pilots fan on January 12th, 2005 7:22 am

    I like Bloomquist as a reserve because of his defensive versatility and speed. Please see my posts on this — #12, #19, #24. Summary: In close games, he gives you a lot of pinch-run options that can change the game, and then not have to use two players by then putting someone else in the next half-inning for defense (1B, 2B, 3B, LF, DH).

  30. John Delahanty on January 12th, 2005 7:44 pm

    Re: Willie Bloomquist (29) “…and then not have to use two players by then having to put someone else in the next half-inning for defense (1B, 2B, 3B, LF, DH)”
    What if he pinch-hits (or pinch-runs)for a player that plays one of the other four positions–which is the case almost half the time?
    You’ll still need two players.

  31. Pilots fan on January 13th, 2005 8:43 am

    Re: John D., #30 … “which is the case almost half the time?”
    I don’t see Willie running for Reese (SS), Winn/Reed (CF), or Ichiro (RF). So that leaves only catcher, which is why you need (and we have) two good ones.

  32. SAL on February 25th, 2005 3:12 pm

    ahh poor willie . . .
    allow me to stick out my neck for just one minute for the most reviled mariner since Al Martin (Martin deserved it). Willie, as a last resort pinch hitter and versatile utility guy, aint all the bad. The problem is, for the past several years, he’s been forced to play, and more importantly hit, WAY TOO MUCH. It’s not Willies fault that he has been the fill-in for terrible players (Spiezio), guys that used to be good (aurilia, cirillo) and guys that might be serviceable major leaguers in a few years (Lopez,Leone. Its also not Willies fault that the organization seems to believe in him. He is at best a mid-range utility player, and may not even be that. With Beltre and Pokey arriving, Bloomquist is now completely redundant, but give the guy a break, it’s not his fault the team is getting better either. Lastly, what freakin difference did bloomquists (lack of) production make last year? Not one bit. So blame Olerud, Boonie, or Jamie, or GILLICK/BAVASI/LINCOLN/ARMSTRONG/MELVIN for the travesty that was 2004, but leave willie alone.

  33. Jordan on February 25th, 2005 3:18 pm

    Willie is better than spiezio hands down. Willie dosn’t play every and if he did he would rip it up. Spiezio almost played every day and hit .205. He sucks and thats that. We need to trade him for a single-A or AA player.