Bloomquist as a CF

Dave · April 20, 2005 at 5:03 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

A lot of people have brought up issues with Mike Hargrove so far. Personally, I haven’t found any of their points overwhelming, and by and large, I think he’s done fine. He’s been exactly what we expected: a manager who doesn’t get in the way of the talent he has. He’s not Earl Weaver, but he’s not Bill Plummer, either.

But, playing Willie Bloomquist in center field… that’s just stupid. Randy Winn, despite public opinion, is a pretty decent center fielder. Ichiro would almost certainly be one of the best defensive center fielders in the game. Using Bloomquist in CF simply for the purpose of leaving Winn and Ichiro in their “regular” positions is just a poor decision. Bloomquist is an inferior player being put in a premium defensive position because… well, there’s no real good reason for it. The longer this goes on, the more it hurts the M’s.


77 Responses to “Bloomquist as a CF”

  1. Evan on April 21st, 2005 10:40 am

    Olerud WAS the second best hitter on the team when he was released, plus he played adequate defense.

  2. TypicalIdiotFan on April 21st, 2005 10:46 am

    “No, you haven’t.”

    Yes, I have. Why you haven’t surprises me.

    Y’know, I’m not even going to try to defend Willie Bloomquist in such hostile environments. It’s nearly impossible to convince any of you anyway.

    What I want to know is, why some of you latch onto such irrational disgust and / or hatred for some players? Bloomquist is just one. I think the pattern, though, is that most of you kvetch about anybody who plays while lamenting that your favorite minor leaguers don’t get a chance to play. I can see that. I can definately see a frustration in not having guys like Hernandez, “Doyle”, AJ Zapp (when he was in our club) etc on TV everyday playing baseball because they’re good strong talents. But I think a lot of you forget that MLB teams are managed meticulously and not just wontonly based on stats. Utility players like Bloomquist dot every team. Why are they all there? Well, because they’re necessary to keep a team fully functional and to give the manager some options. You could argue that other people can do that too, but why bother bringing up someone else who can do that when you already have someone who can?

    I’m not going to say the “I” word, but sometimes you have to take those things into account.

    (For those not following along, the “I” word is “intangibles”, something that nobody here can mention without being torn to shreds)

  3. Jon Wells on April 21st, 2005 10:48 am

    Let’s not forget that he slugged a wholly inadequate .360! 5 HR’s in 261 AB’s (a pace for 9 HR’s in 500 AB’s)

    And his replacement, who wouldn’t have been given a shot in the majors if Olerud weren’t dumped, slugged .500 with 9 HR’s in 160 AB’s (a pace for 29 HR’s in 500 AB’s).

    So the evidence is in — I guess we should have kept the rotting carcass of John Olerud’s career instead of kicking him to the curb…

  4. eponymous coward on April 21st, 2005 11:03 am

    2) I have no problem with slap hitting outfielders. I actually like slap hitting outfielders with speed (which Winn has). But they become a problem when a) you sign them to multi-year contract for more $$$ than they’re worth b) they potentially block cheaper power hitting alternatives c) they play below average defense.

    Uh, beg pardon, but who’s being refereed to here in item B and C, when it comes to the Mariners? The last guy who remotely resembled B. from our minor league system was Jose Cruz Jr.

    And Winn’s overall offense comes out as being equivalent (EqA last tweo years: .280/.281) the last couple of years to guys like Cliff Floyd in 2004, Pat Burrell in 2004, Geoff Jenkins in 2004, Hideki Matsui in 2003. He doesn’t hurt the team in LF offensively- he doesn’t HELP a bunch either (a corner OF with an EqA of .280 is basically a skosh above league-average performance)…but a league-average performer at a position is nothing to sneer at either, it’s just not a strength of your team.

    And I don’t think Winn is below average in LF- considering the “average” includes Mann Ramirez, Lonnie Smith and Lou Brock, who were all pretty awful. There are a lot of teams with statues in LF. A fielder with a weak arm and very good range, to my thinking, is ABOVE average in LF- the throwing part of the job isn’t as important as it is in CF or RF, and this was born out by our good OF defense in 2003 (with Winn, Cammy and Ichiro).

  5. paul on April 21st, 2005 11:12 am

    I take no position on the whole stats v. non-stats thing, or rather I take the position they’re both worthwhile; I will say this, however, and I will say it without reference to any specific player.

    Statements like “I’m sure Player X is really good, and I’m waiting for him to finally display it/waiting for him to bust out/waiting for Godot/whatever” are essentially meaningless. If Player X was really good, don’t you think he would have busted out already, in the chances given him to date?

    Is it all part of Player X’s calculated plan to get to the majors, be the 25th guy on the roster, futz along for a while being neither good nor bad, then one day, out of the blue, be awarded an every day roster spot because he’s a swell guy and then say to himself “That’s all I need, now I’ll go hit 45 HR and drive in 125 runs”? Um, no. Doesn’t really happen that way. If you’re good, you’re good, and if you’re 25th man material, that’s where you’ll stay. No amount of game exposure is gonna turn a guy with marginal skills into Carlos Beltran. Or even Carlos Baerga.

  6. eponymous coward on April 21st, 2005 11:13 am

    (For those not following along, the “I” word is “intangibles”, something that nobody here can mention without being torn to shreds).

    That’s because much of the time “intangibles”, when brandished at a “stathead”, is short for “Don’t bother me with the facts or a well-suported argument- I’ve already made up my mind on whatever it is you are talking about, based on old baseball chestnuts like ‘hustle’ and ‘little ball, stolen basea and sac bunts are the key to winning baseball games’. I am totally unwilling to examine anything at odds with my current beliefs with an open mind”.

    Damn right that should be torn to shreds. Either put up or shut up. Why is Bloomquist talented in ways that you don’t see in a box score? Why isn’t he simply a marginally tealented major leaguer who’s trying to keep his job via hustle in good baseball tradition (as detailed by the Seattle press)?

  7. Jon Wells on April 21st, 2005 11:14 am

    #54 “who’s being refereed to here in item B and C”

    I wasn’t only referring to minor leaguers making the minimum, such as Cruz in ’97 (or someone like Choo), but also to guys the M’s could pick up on the free agent market or via trade for less than $3.75 mil a season.

  8. johnb on April 21st, 2005 11:28 am

    Bloomquist has value because he can play just about anywhere, and that is what you are looking for in your 25th man/utility player. He brings a good attitude to the clubhouse, and the management thinks he has intangibles that help the team win. Those intangibles are not measured statistically.

    Now as he heads toward arbitration in coming years his tools at a more expensive price may not be as desireable.

    The guy who really has to go is Speizarillo.

  9. Dave on April 21st, 2005 11:43 am

    Bloomquist has value because he can play just about anywhere

    The ability to play six positions poorly is not valuable. Darn near anyone can take a glove and be below average at a whole bunch of different spots on the field.

    and that is what you are looking for in your 25th man/utility player.

    There’s no law that says a team is required to carry a utility player, or even have a 25th man. Good roster management maximizes each roster spot, getting full value out of every player, and not wasting spots on guys who contribute nothing on the field.

    He brings a good attitude to the clubhouse

    How do you know? And why do you care?

    and the management thinks he has intangibles that help the team win.

    The management thinks a lot of things that aren’t true. Blindly nodding our heads and agreeing with their decisions isn’t going to help anyone.

    Those intangibles are not measured statistically.

    They aren’t measured at all. They are simply applied to players whom have no discernable skills on the field as a way to justify their spot on the roster. The Mariners led the league in character guys with intangibles last year. All that niceness got them 99 losses.

  10. Grizz on April 21st, 2005 11:43 am

    Hargrove has been a disappointment, but not a disaster. I do not subscribe to the “never sacrifice, never steal” philosophy, but Hargrove has used them in questionable situations — Reed sacrificing in the 1st inning, sending Winn to 3B with no outs, double steal by sending Dan Wilson(?!?!) to third. Boone’s steal last night made sense — close game, one out, with four poor OPS guys (including Ibanez v. LHP) coming up, so a big inning is unlikely and you probably need that extra base to score. Valdez’s attempt the other day did not.

    Hargrove gets credit for not being afraid to pull starters a batter too soon than a batter too late, but his bullpen moves are often puzzling — using Thornton in close games, leaving relievers in too long (Thornton against Texas, Nelson last night), not having relievers warmed up, underusing Mateo.

    Granted, the holes on the bench and the lack of healthy talent on the pitching staff are not his fault, but with this team, Hargrove’s margin for error is low if this teams wants to stay competitive.

    And from where I was sitting last night, Bloomquist looked lost playing Kotsay’s double.

  11. Jon Wells on April 21st, 2005 11:58 am

    Willie will be on KJR at 12:05 PM today to defend his start in CF last night…

  12. Tangotiger on April 21st, 2005 1:28 pm

    Oh, if it was only for 1 game, I don’t see the big deal in who plays CF or LF. That decision will cost at most 0.1 runs for 1 game, and really much less than that. Over the course of say having Reed sit out for 30 games, it’ll be a 1 or 2 run decision at most, if WB is indeed better suited at LF with Winn at CF.

    In return for having a suboptimal setup, you get Winn to concentrate at LF only, and you’ve got Winn and Ichiro aligned a certain way for Reed and another way for WB.

    I’m not a fan of moving guys into multiple fielding positions, unless it’s for a concentrated amount of time. That’s not the case here.

    If Jeter goes down a couple of games, I wouldn’t move ARod over, even if it would make more sense than the alternatives.

    It seems the issue the fans are really having is seeing WB at all, and deciding to take it out on the LF/CF thing, so as to limit the number of times WB can be seen.

  13. Sane on April 21st, 2005 2:28 pm

    Re: $49 – While we’re talking about bias opinions hindering a persons ability to objectively evaluate a player’s skills, how about referring back to the original USSM post that triggered this thread? You know, that one about Willie Bloomquist being a terrible center-fielder and an “inferior” player, with no supporting evidence whatsoever. That seems to fall along the exact same lines as what you’re discounting Jon’s statements for.

    You’re exactly right, however, with that last line of your reply. “‘I’ve watched him and telling you he sucks’ isn’t a credible argument.”

    I suggest you practice what you preach.

  14. Dave on April 21st, 2005 2:43 pm

    I said Bloomquist was an inferior center fielder to Winn. I don’t even think thats an arguable point. That’s all I said. Everything else in your argument are your words, not mine.

    Now, go take your strawman elsewhere.

  15. Brian Rust on April 21st, 2005 2:53 pm

    One number you Willie-bashers should keep in mind is 19. That’s the number of years Mark McLemore spent on major league rosters as a second-baseman-turned-utility-player. His offensive numbers in his first 10 or so years were comparable to or worse than Bloomquist (except SB and BB/K ratio).

    Yeah, I know, I know. 19 years just gos to show all Mac’s ball clubs were run by idiots. But still, it wouldn’t hurt to have some perspective. Willie IS, after all, a major-league ball player.

  16. DMZ on April 21st, 2005 2:57 pm

    Ummmm…. wow. So all crappy players should be kept around until they turn good? That seems like a low return argument.

    Willie IS, after all, a major-league ball player.

    Also… that’s meaningless. Players don’t get twice as good because they’re promoted to the 25-man.

  17. paul on April 21st, 2005 3:09 pm

    Given 19 years of training, practice, and coaching, I could become as good a ballplayer as Willie Bloomquist. Can I have a contract now, please, Bill Bavasi?

  18. Brian Rust on April 21st, 2005 3:35 pm

    Ummmm…. wow. So marginal = “crappy”?

    The perspective I was hoping to illuminate is this: You’ve got four subs to cover eight spots. One is the #2 catcher, and two are LH hitters. The fourth guy has to be versatile to give you flexibility with your two pinch-hitters. It also helps if he’s not an asshole.

    I recognize your opinion and where you’re coming from, just as I hope you can reciprocate. But remember, this is not Strat-O-Matic — the roster is made of real people. Lots of GMs, and managers, and fans think there are reasons to keep a guy like Bloomquist. Just because they’re not based entirely on his statistics does not mean they are not valid.

  19. paul on April 21st, 2005 3:53 pm

    #68 –

    I don’t mean this in a confrontational way, but what exactly are the reasons to keep a guy like Bloomquist around? “Good clubhouse presence” doesn’t count, because it doesn’t help a team win on the field; nor do his “intangibles” – if they’re not tangible, they’re not useful.

    And I don’t mean that last in a statistical sense – the fact that Willie Bloomquist plays the piano is an “intangible”, and it matters not a whit as far as his baseball playing goes. What matters is what he can do on the field and at the plate, and in that respect, actions speak louder than words.

    I think the whole point of this whole thing is that intangibles aren’t enough. Talent plays a big part, and Willie’s main talent seems mostly to be polarizing these comment threads.

  20. Brian Rust on April 21st, 2005 4:23 pm

    Reasons? I only know what I see on TV, and read in the Times, P-I and USSM, but here goes.

    1) I don’t think he’s nearly as bad a defender as the bashers make him out to be. In fact, I think he’d compare pretty well to the current Boone at 2nd. He beats Raul, or Bucky, at 1st. He’s at least as good as the Leone of last September at 3rd. He looks lost in the outfield at times, and might cost you a game there someday, but not by making a bad decision (like Byrnes last night).
    2) He’s good enough at the plate that you’d be hard pressed to find a much better hitter with his defensive ability and versatility, who isn’t already a regular somewhere, or bound to be, or too expensive.
    3) Near as I can tell, he’s not an asshole. Sorry if that is “intangible,” but I’ve worked with assholes in marginal roles, and nobody needs that kind of attitude fouling up their workplace. Like I said, this is not Strat-O-Matic.

  21. Terry Benish on April 21st, 2005 5:06 pm

    Randy Winn’s defense in cf is bad enough that he would not start for
    a division contending club in cf. Visually, his impediments stick out,
    yet there are allusions made to a higher knowledge of his capabilities.

    So how does he measure up to other American League CFielders? Are
    you using the defensive efficiency numbers? Total Chances? What is it?
    In two plus years here, I’ve yet to see go near a wall on top of goat trail routes and no arm.

  22. Mycroft on April 21st, 2005 5:08 pm

    So, I don’t think anyone is claiming that Bloomquist is a great player. Obviously, he’s not. So, why is he on the team? Why do so many teams have players like him on their rosters?

    Here’s a thought. When Jose Lopez gets healthy, should we bring him up to replace Bloomquist? He might perform better. Still, I would hate to see it. Lopez is still developing and I’d rather he get the work in Tacoma than sit on the bench here. We need him to be ready for next year.

    I would say that bench players generally share these qualities:
    1) They’re not good enough to start. If they are, we should either play them or trade them.
    2) They’re probably one-dimensional, either as pinch hitters or defensive subs. See #1.
    3) They’re basically finished products. At least, we don’t feel like the long-term good of the team is hurt by having them sit on the bench.

    So, should we blame Bavasi for having Bloomquist on the roster? It may sound funny, but I think I’d be more critical of Bavasi if we had a quality player in that spot. In that case, I’d want to know why we have such a valuable asset wasting on the bench when we have so many other holes to fill.

    BTW, I think it’s very interesting that Dobbs is up with the team. I think that means that the M’s have decided that he’s a career pinch hitter.

  23. paul on April 21st, 2005 5:21 pm

    #70 –

    Can you please lay off the Strat-O-Matic comments? Nobody’s arguing that baseball is a board game or a statistical thesis here, and things like that just serve to cheapen your argument. Thank you.

    As for your points, I’ll give you Bloomquist as a marginal hitter (and I can’t prove this without hitting the stats, so I won’t go there), and that he would beat Bucky at first. But then, a dead cat could probably beat Bucky at first – Bucky’s a hitter, nothing more.

    Your point that Bloomquist is versatile is something that’s been noted here many times, with little debate – but I would suggest that doing six things at par or slightly below is less valuable to a club than doing one thing reasonably well (like Bucky, or like Ibanez as DH). If Bloomquist says “Hey Grover, put me in at short today”, and he muffs a routine ground ball, then tomorrow Hargrove puts him at second to shake things up, and he does it again, he’s just hurt the team twice; if Bucky strikes out as a DH, he’s only hurt the team once.

    Yes, it’s a bit of a reductionist argument, but hopefully you can see the point I’m trying to make.

    As for the asshole thing, Michael Jordan was widely reputed to be the biggest asshole in the NBA. He seemed to do all right. If a guy’s that much of an ass, nobody will talk to him in the clubhouse anyway (see Bonds, Barry), so I don’t think that’s as big a problem as you seem to.

  24. TypicalIdiotFan on April 21st, 2005 6:04 pm

    “so I don’t think that’s as big a problem as you seem to.”

    See also:
    Everett, Carl
    Garciaparra, Nomar
    Segui, David (but only around Randy Johnson)
    Guillen, Jose
    Bradley, Milton

    All distracting clubhouse influences on and off the field who, probably, have effected their teams in one way or another. I can’t say for sure without going and talking to every single player they ever played with and getting direct testimony, but it is interesting that those people mentioned have rarely played for championship teams.

    Jordan and Bonds might be comparitive examples, but those are also the extremes.

    Back to Willie. Let’s turn the question around on you then, why do YOU think the Mariners management has kept Willie Bloomquist on the team? You want us to come up with something, but you’re the ones questioning it, not us. You tell us why he’s stillt here. The answer of enlightenment will only come from your own journey. Or some such crap.

  25. paul on April 21st, 2005 6:53 pm

    The reason Willie’s still on the team, in my un-insider-perspective-no-real-knowledge opinion, is that he’s local, and he makes for a good story in the local media as scrappy local dude.

    If what people want out of their team is a bunch of lovable scrappers, by all means load the team up with the Bloomquists and the Dan Wilsons of the world. If, however, people want the M’s to be a playoff contender (which I think most people on this site do…), there are other options to fill that spot (like the aforementioned Chone Figgins) who would do a far better job than Willie.

  26. eponymous coward on April 22nd, 2005 9:33 am

    I wasn’t only referring to minor leaguers making the minimum, such as Cruz in ‘97 (or someone like Choo), but also to guys the M’s could pick up on the free agent market or via trade for less than $3.75 mil a season.

    OK, let’s look at some sample FA’s we could have signed instead.

    Raul Ibanez? Ooops, bad example.
    Jose Cruz Jr.? Not really better, but I guess that’s an example.
    Juan Gonzalez. Uh, whoops, probably would have been a bad idea.
    Jose Guillen? Well, in 2003, sure. He’s making 3.5 million now, though.
    Ruben Sierra? Well, he makes less. But he also is a worse player.

    You have some better examples of players who’ve been consistently at league average for corner OF and uninjured the whole time? Otherwise, I’d say Randy Winn really isn’t a bad deal at his current salary (especially when you consider the inflation that happened this offseason).

    I also don’t think Choo is likely to be a substantially better player anytime soon- if he turned out to be Randy Winn (.350 OBP/.425 SLG/25 SB’s) we’d be doing pretty well. To be honest, NONE of the M’s starting OF’ers and best prospects (Ichiro, Reed, Winn, Ibanez, Snelling, Choo) have the kind of consistent .500 SLG/25+ HR slugging power you classically associate with a corner OF’er. Winn, Reed, Choo and Snelling ALL strike me as guys who have to hit with a pretty high average to be good, because they aren’t likely to ever hit 20 bombs (though Winn’s the least likely of them to do so since he probably will K the most).

    Randy Winn isn’t the problem, really. I’d argue the problem is we haven’t produced a power hitter from our farm system at ANY position since Jose Cruz Jr. (unless you count Ibanez, and I have a hard time classifying someone whose career high in HR’s is 24 as a power hitter).

  27. eponymous coward on April 22nd, 2005 9:51 am

    Back to Willie. Let’s turn the question around on you then, why do YOU think the Mariners management has kept Willie Bloomquist on the team? You want us to come up with something, but you’re the ones questioning it, not us. You tell us why he’s stillt here. The answer of enlightenment will only come from your own journey. Or some such crap.

    That’s easy- he’s a built in good story (“local, scrappy kid tries hard every day, blah blah blah”) that gets you positive coverage in the media because he keeps his nose clean, he’s one of the few recent draft picks that hasn’t totally washed out yet (and thus the team has an inflated perception of his worth), and he embodies a number of baseball cliches that tradtional baseball thinking really overemphasizes as being part of “winning baseball” (clubhouse chemistry, hustle, little ball things like stolen bases and bunts, as examples of “intangibles” we hear about endlessly). Plus he’s not eligible for arbitration yet and is thus relatively inexpensive as your 25th player, and at least theoretically can be used as the backup for multiple positions- which is important if you are carrying a 12 man bullpen, as that means you really only have 3 bench spots outside of the backup C.

    It’s not a disaster to be carrying Willie Bloomquist on your bench, necessarily. If this bench had a backup C who could hit pretty decently, Dave Hansen as a late inning PH backup corner IF and a decent 4th OF, having Willie B. as your primary pinch-runner, “hustle guy”, middle IF backup and final utility guy would be quite defensible (assuming that your infielders are pretty healthy and only need the occasional day off)- at least until he starts costing you much more than the minimum, at which point you find the new Willie Bloomquist. Yeah, ideally David Eckstein would be your backup IF. Sometimes you don’t get your ideal.

    The problem is that the entire bench is basically people who hit like Willie Bloomquist, and the team seems to think a bench full of hustle guys who seemingly can’t hit water falling out of a boat (Wilson/Dobbs/Spiezio/Willlie) is a great idea. Willie gets some of the backlash from that here.