Being James Bond

Jeff · August 29, 2005 at 2:42 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.”

If I might borrow the words of James Bond’s nemesis Auric Goldfinger for a moment, let me apply them to Seattle P-I columnist John Levesque’s unhealthy obsession with Willie Bloomquist. The malady manifested itself again today, marking a trifecta of tedious homilies to Seattle’s most famous dirtier of uniforms.

Like a drowning man, Levesque’s going down for the third time signals a point of departure from which there is no return.

For, as the movie villain’s rhetorical flourish suggests, this constitutes “enemy action.” Not against, you, or me, or the blog, but against — you’ll forgive the hyperbole — logic and reason itself.

I argued as much previously, and there’s naught but confirmation in this latest hollow epic of homerism. He plays hard! Yes, but poorly. He plays several positions! Which makes him best suited as a utility player, not a regular. He got a hit in these few situations, which I will enumerate! But very, very few other situations.

People tend to see what they want to see. If you want to prove that a player — any player — should be a regular, you can pick his best performances and write about them ad nauseum.

It’s intellectually dishonest, though, and it serves ill the very readers to whom Levesque is pandering.

Sincerely, this is the last topic I wanted to write on. When accused of Bloomquist-bashing, we’ve replied with affirmations of what we think the man does well — offering bench depth and pinch-running at the league minimum.

Contrary to the scurrilous assertions of Levesque and others, none of us root for Our Man From Port Orchard to fail. As a fan, I root for him to hit a home run in every plate appearance. Is it critics’ fault that we’ve only seen this happen thrice — one for every laudatory Levesque column — in nearly 700 major-league at bats ?

Are we not rooting hard enough? Will Bloomquist struggle and Tinkerbell die if we do not improve our clapping?

The trick is not let your wishes run faster than your neurons can fire. It’s fine to love Willie Bloomquist, whether it be for his hustle, his attitude, or what have you. But have the courage to love him for what he is, not what you want him to be.

Appreciating Bloomquist must involve realism. It must acknowledge that yes, I appreciate this player for the grit and determination shown in the two at-bats I describe in this column, but I also see the ugly results from the other 135 at-bats since he’s been in the lineup every day.

An honest assessment would say hey, I like watching this guy play. That’s true even though he’s started 32 of the last 33 games and shown precious little. With 137 at bats, he’s raked just 34 hits and walked a mere three times, getting on base at a .264 clip. Only seven of those knocks have been for extra bases, none a home run.

True appreciation demands clear sight, and that means seeing what’s there rather than what you wish were there. If one wants to see a starting-caliber player emerging from a slump, though — well, that’s what one is likely to see, with neither fact nor formal logic to say thee nay.

A friend’s high school wrestling coach advised us, as young competitors, thusly: be James Bond, he said.

Bond was never the largest guy in the fight, we were told, nor the strongest. He was the smartest, and the most flexible, using his intellect to adapt to emerging dangers. In life and in the sport, we were told, this is worth emulating. It still is.

James Bond would only let himself be distracted by one pet obsession, and here’s a clue: it wasn’t the plight of a backup major league infielder.

Be honest. Be flexible. Be James Bond, John. Let it go.


91 Responses to “Being James Bond”

  1. Evan on August 29th, 2005 4:51 pm

    George Lazenby.

  2. Jean-luc Perrier on August 29th, 2005 5:11 pm

    During the early 1970s, Lazenby worked in Hong Kong, and was going to make a film with Bruce Lee right before that actor’s untimely death. A few years ago, after a long layoff during which he raced cars, he returned to acting. He often attends James Bond fan events. In 2002, he was married for the 2nd time to former tennis pro Pam Shriver.

  3. Yet Another Paul on August 29th, 2005 5:17 pm

    I’m still holding out hope that this extended playing time will give people a real look at Willie. People used to say “give consistent playing time he’d hit well.” Well, now they have given him a true long look with extended playing time. The results speak for themselves. If letting Willie play the rest of the year means the team sees him for what he really is, I’m all for it (okay, I’m dreaming again, but we can at least hope).

  4. Brian Rust on August 29th, 2005 5:34 pm

    Actually, Jeff, after another even more careful reading, I still don’t think Levesque is objectively saying Bloomquist should be starting because of his value to the team. I don’t know the HTML stuff so I’ll quote him the old-fashioned way: ” . . . in the minds of those who appreciate stoutness of heart and dirtiness of uniform, Bloomquist again displayed the stuff of a guy you want playing every single day.”

    Now, if he said, “. . . in the minds of those who appreciate what it takes to win ball games and make it to the World Series, Bloomquist displayed the ability of a guy who can lead them there,” you’d have a point. What he actually said was more like ” . . . in the minds of those who appreciate a lightweight superspy with a bad British accent, Brosnan again displayed the stuff of a guy you want playing this part every single movie.”

    See the difference? It’s entertainment!

  5. Jeff on August 29th, 2005 5:53 pm

    C’mon, Brian. You’re playing Devil’s Advocate here.

    Even if you had a case with this column, and you don’t, Levesque has written two other columns where he expressly urges the team to start Bloomquist.

    At no point in any of the columns — any of the three — does he suggest that Willie should start for entertainment purposes.

    Just look at the breakdown by paragraph of the most recent column:

    Graphs 1-4: Bloomquist tries hard, not like lazy Ichiro
    Graphs 5-10: Bloomquist is the team’s best baserunner/basestealer
    Graphs 11-14: I swear the fact that he can’t hit is just a long, protracted slump, plus I’m going to make a bizarre Saddam Hussein reference
    Graphs 15-17: Bloomquist’s defensive versatility adds to his value
    Graphs 18-20: Bloomquist unnerved Freddy Garcia, which means he should play regularly

    Besides the line you quoted, there is no reference to entertainment value in the entire column. None. Zero.

    And in fact, the line you quoted does not even support your argument. From context, it’s clear that he includes himself among those who “appreciate stoutness of heart and dirtiness of uniform” and think Bloomquist should play every day.

    If you want, I’ll call him up and ask him. I think that’s really the only only way it could be clearer. There’s just no evidence to support your claim.

  6. curt on August 29th, 2005 5:54 pm

    Blaming Bloomquist for the Mariner’s season long slump is laughable to say the least. He is still quite young and has an upside contrary to what some of the people reading this blog might believe. So, who on the team is a better at second base right now? The answer is no one and that’s why Willie is playing. As for Lopez, he has had a couple of chances to get in the line up, but to date has not shown he can handle ML pitching. At his age why not give him ample time to develop in the minors rather than letting him languish as a sub .230 hitter in Seattle?

    Get a grip, Willie is the least of our worries and at least he is entertaining, which is more than can be said for many of the other 24 overpaid, underperforming losers going through the motions most of the time.

  7. mark from Oly. on August 29th, 2005 6:05 pm

    I ask my friend who is a HUGE sports fan about the W.B..

    He likes WB because every team needs a “spark plug” to get things going.

    So my question is how does WFB compare to say Joey Cora or Charles Gipson or Mark McLemore* or any of the other guys from the bench the M’s have had over the last 10 years?

    I mean, is he really that much worse?

    *though I have to say I liked McLemore alot, it was just that he got alot of attention as a utility player with the M’s

  8. DMZ on August 29th, 2005 6:16 pm

    Blaming Bloomquist for the Mariner’s season long slump is laughable to say the least.

    No one has done this.

    He is still quite young and has an upside contrary to what some of the people reading this blog might believe.

    He’s 27. This is when players, as a group, peak.

    And as to “upside” — what evidence is there of this? Bloomquist has never demonstrated a good batting eye or power, and has never hit well against major league pitching for any stretch of time.

    So, who on the team is a better at second base right now? The answer is no one and that’s why Willie is playing.

    Even if I granted that it was true that there was no one better, it does not make Bloomquist good. You can’t move the goalposts like that and claim victory. If he’s playing because there’s no one else, that’s no endorsement at all.

    As for Lopez, he has had a couple of chances to get in the line up, but to date has not shown he can handle ML pitching. At his age why not give him ample time to develop in the minors rather than letting him languish as a sub .230 hitter in Seattle?

    The same could be said about Mr. Bloomquist. Take just this year.

    OBP: Lopez .241, Bloomquist .291
    SLG: Lopez .304, Bloomquist .336


  9. Rusty on August 29th, 2005 6:19 pm

    Thanks for the synopsis, Jeff. I can’t bring myself to read the real thing, and your summary of Levesque’s column is as entertaining as any player with stoutness of heart or dirtiness of uniform.

  10. Gomez on August 29th, 2005 6:20 pm

    I wonder if Levesque is motivated to write these columns by all the Willie loathing we see in forums such as this.

    I agree that Willie’s value, while above that of your average utility guy, isn’t all that high. If Bloomer asks for more than $400K in arbitration he should be laughed out of Bavasi’s office and left for the highest bidder elsewhere.

    Right now, however, he’s done more overall than others put in his current position (2nd base), and it’s not like the Mariners have a deep bench or farm system where .280/.380/.500 players in waiting are being held back. Find someone who will outperform Bloomquist (since the consensus is that there’s so many players who can, despite Jose Lopez hitting .230 in extended work with the big club and lagging on the basepaths, and Jeremy Reed hitting a wall at the plate, in one case literally on the field), then put Willie on the bench. Until then, why bench a guy who has shown that he can produce more than others put in his position on a bad, thin team, even if that isn’t much sabermetrically? He may be an out machine 71% of the time, but not many 25th-man utility players can bust ass, steal bags and come up with the occasional RBI extra base hit.

    Levesque may be going overboard in his Willie-love but it’s not like we’re talking about a .155/.180/.200 hitting player with no footspeed, glove or desire whatsoever. No, he’s not a seven-position gold glover with power, but he’s not Scott Spiezio either. Get someone who outplays the guy, put him on the field, and if that guy performs, that’ll shut the fish-hack up.

  11. Grizz on August 29th, 2005 6:24 pm

    This year, there are 133 players in the AL with 250 or more plate appearances. Out of those 133 players, Bloomquist ranks 130th in OPS:

    130. Bloomquist .627
    131. Finley .625
    132. Buck .605
    133. Womack .546

    (If he was still around) Mickey Lopez would have made a better starting second baseman than Bloomquist.

  12. Rusty on August 29th, 2005 6:39 pm

    Wow! I knew Willie was weak but I didn’t realize he was 4th from the bottom. He really fools ya with all that hustle.

  13. lefty on August 29th, 2005 6:47 pm

    The difference between WFB and McLemore is about 60 points of OBP, and about 75 points of Slugging% in favor of Mr. McLemore.

    The difference between Joey Cora and WFB is a similar advantage for Mr. Cora. I think Joey had an even higher Slugging percentage (he hit a lot of doubles and a few home runs). They were more productive offensively.

    Charles Gipson was used mostly as a pinch runner and defensive replacement. He was huge upgrade over WFB defensively in the outfield.

  14. Colm on August 29th, 2005 7:06 pm

    Gomez: “If Bloomer asks for more than $400,000 in arbitration he should be laughed out of Bavasi’s office.”

    That’s the danger with misleading columns like Levesque’s. They might build Willie’s expectations and build up support for signing Bloomquist to a four year $6 million contract.

    Oh, the horror.

  15. -jz- on August 29th, 2005 8:30 pm

    Willie’s only position on any team should be utility player. His best assets are the types of things that make a good utility player. He can play anywhere and he’s a good baserunner (pinch runner). His range at second is ok, but it certainly isn’t the type of plus that can offset his bat.

    Well, looks like we might have an ignition flameout. Willie’s hurt.

  16. Brian on August 29th, 2005 9:37 pm

    Re: 57 and 63
    Cora’s career line: .277/.348/.369
    Bloomquist’s career line: .262/.309/.342

    Not only that, Cora’s best year (’97) was in a Mariner uniform, when he hit .300/.359/.441 hit 11 homers and had 54 RBI. That’s 8 more home runs than WFB has in his 660+ AB career.

    So yeah. He’s really that much worse than Cora.

    Gipson’s career OPS is .642 to WFB’s .649. Enh. A wash offensively, but Gipson (as mentioned had speed and defensive skill).

  17. PapaLima on August 29th, 2005 10:02 pm

    Gomez said…

    “He may be an out machine Editor’s note: That should be capitalized, it’s “Out Machine” 71% of the time, but not many 25th utility players can bust ass, steal bags, and come up with the occasional RBI extra base hit.”

    Well, neither can the Out Machine, depending on you define “occasional”.

    In any case, what you mention- give a lot of effort, maybe steal some bases, and occasionally play the part of the blind squirrel- those are EXACTLY the things that most 25th-man utility types of players can do.

    It’s because of their lack of ability to hit that they ARE 25th-man types of guys. Willie isn’t so slick with the glove that you wanna play him even without hitting, like Pokey Reese is. Willie’s main defensive asset is that he can play many different positions tolerably well, meaning he won’t embarrass himself out there.

    But he’s just not much more than a utility guy, and even at that he’s not really all that great.

    Tell you Willie apologists what. There’s a well-known bet that some economists had one time, where they bet that the earth was running out of crucial resources. They made a “basket” of these things and bet whether or not they would be more or less expensive in the future. (They were cheaper, BTW, and the environmentalist lost the bet.)

    If Willie really has much value, he’ll still be playing ball in, say 4 or 5 years. If he doesn’t, he’ll not be playing for a ML club.

    I’m willing to bet anyone a reasonable sum of money that Willie Bloomquist, aka the Out Machine, is not on the 25 man roster of any ML team for over 80 games in the 2010 season.


  18. Kelly on August 29th, 2005 10:07 pm

    Guys, for those of you who are Bloomquist backers, you really need to understand that we aren’t bashing him for the fun of it. He does play hard, but the numbers really don’t lie: he is TERRIBLE at the plate.

    The fact that he isn’t that much worse than others on the team is immaterial to the fact that he is TERRIBLE at the plate. Even in tonight’s game most fans (including Niehaus and Fairley) saw him dive for a ball (get his uniform dirty) and make a decent play. But they just ignore the fact that he is, as of now, 0 for 2. (They also forget the play before where he threw a ball that pulled Sexson off base.)

    Again, it isn’t like we get a thrill out of pointing this out. Believe me, I WISH Bloomquist was having a Boone 2001 year, but he isn’t. And there is no evidence to say he will.

    All of this talk in the press and on the radio about Bloomquist being a special player because he hustles is counter-productive in the extreme. It tells the Ms management that we don’t want them to put players on the field who are so good that they make the game look easy. (Think DiMaggio, Ichiro, Clemens, or any other amazing player.) Rather, it tells them we’d rather just have a team of “hustlers” who get their uniform dirty because it looks like they are playing hard. It tells Bavasi that he should give several million to a guy who can be replaced immediately with any one of 50 guys who are floating around the minors, of which Lopez is just one.

    It also tells them that we are so stupid that they can count on us to confuse “effort” with results.

  19. TeacherRefPoet on August 29th, 2005 10:48 pm

    I was one of those who liked seeing Willie play in early July when he had a little hit streak going. It seemed plausible at the time that he had it together due to playing regularly for the first time.

    That’s not the case.

    A hitter who doesn’t get on base much and has no power. I’m not going to lose my temper over it, and I’d actually like to see him around as a 25th man. But the numbers are too overwhelming to ignore, and those who want Willie batting second must ignore them…and willfully.

  20. Jake Brake on August 29th, 2005 11:46 pm

    Willie F. Bloomquist will continue being promoted by the Mariners Corporation until the #1 organizational priority is winning baseball games. Instead, it is always #1 about maintaining a profitable enterprise.

  21. Aboba on August 30th, 2005 1:10 am

    Re: #70:

    The problem is that the Mariners are not sufficiently focused on “maintaining a profitable enterprise”. The club could cut payroll by $20 million or more a year *and* put a better team on the field. In fact, I’d argue that by forcing a large cut in payroll, the club would be forced to give the farmhands a chance to play. They might find a few Scott Podsedniks in the process.

  22. RickL on August 30th, 2005 7:39 am

    I agree that Willie Bloomquist is not a great player. I do, however, think that you focus on the negative as much as Levesque focusses on the positive. When he was coming off the bench, I used to think as you do, that he was a worthless piece of crap. Now I think that he is better than that. I think he could play the role on the team in 2006 that MacLemore played in 2001, playing often and at different positions to give the regulars some rest.

  23. RickL on August 30th, 2005 7:45 am

    58. Your figures seem to support the fact that Bloomquist has done better than Lopez this year. I don’t get the point you were trying to make.

  24. Dave on August 30th, 2005 8:09 am

    It’s amazing how people have flipped on Jose Lopez. Last year, I had to write several big pieces explaining why I wasn’t as high on him as the rest of the world, even though I thought he was a solid prospect. Now, everyone and their mother is writing him off, and I’m apparently going to have to write a big long post explaining why you’re all underrating him.

    And, really, those who want to see Bloomquist play over Lopez because they feel he’s a better player are just simply wrong.

  25. Brian Rust on August 30th, 2005 8:46 am

    Baseball IS entertainment. TV watchers are intelligent enough that Levesque doesn’t have to state the obvious in a TV column. He shouldn’t have to in a baseball column, either. If anyone thinks he’s betraying objective journalism in these columns, they’re taking him WAY too seriously.

    And who knows, he might be right. Look at last night’s game:

    With Willie in the lineup: SEA 4, NYY 0
    Without Willie in the lineup: NYY 7, SEA 0

    Devil’s Advocate, indeed. Thanks.

  26. Jeff on August 30th, 2005 8:52 am

    It isn’t a TV column. Levesque used to be their TV critic. Now he’s a sports columnist.

  27. Steve Thornton on August 30th, 2005 8:53 am

    To be fair to Boomstick (and I have grown to actively hate the sight of the little guy), he’s NOT the fourth-worst player in the league. Once again you are forgetting the power of Safeco to suppress offense.

    If you go by a park-adjusted VORP instead of OPS, with the same restrictions (AL, min. 250 PA), Wee Willie is 117th out of 130. His VORP is slightly higher than Jeremy Reed, #118 on that list, in about half the PA. Of course, that VORP is calculated against replacement 2B, and would be much, much worse if Willie was a true LF. And I don’t want to even think about Willie in center.

    But as a 2B or as a general baseball player, he sucks, but he’s not on the very bottom. He’s bad, but he’s not all-world bad. He’s not even in Tony Womack’s league. He’s not even as bad as Sammy Sosa!

  28. Adam S on August 30th, 2005 9:01 am

    Isn’t Lopez obviously the Mariners second baseman for the next few years? Do the Mariners (Bavasi/Hargrove) understand this?

    When do you think Lopez will be back up. Lots of people are counting the days to Sept 1, but with the Rainiers season going until 9/5 and the team likely in the playoffs, I think it will be after that. Not sure what good it does to bring him up sooner; if they didn’t care about him finishing the season, they could call him up today and option back Dobbs or Strong.

    Feel free to answer in your Lopez post.

    On Steve’s comments on the worst players, it pains me to say this (seriously) but Sosa is done. He is the worst starting OF in the AL and he may be forced to retire. I don’t think anyone will offer him a big contract and he’s too proud/arrogant to sign a low base salary, incentive laden deal.

  29. Grizz on August 30th, 2005 10:09 am

    As a hitter among AL regulars (250+ PA), Bloomquist is all-league bad. In terms of OPS, he slipped behind Finley last night to 131 out of 133. Using EqA, a park-adjusted, non-counting metric, Bloomquist (.240) is 124 out of 133, ahead of the KC infield minus Sweeney (Berroa, Teahan, Gotay, and Buck), Infante, Punto, Finley, Uribe, and Womack (.213). Bloomquist’s EqA, as is his VORP, is helped by his baserunning success. You can increase Reed’s value by telling him to stop running; you cannot increase Bloomquist’s value by telling him to hit better.

  30. DMZ on August 30th, 2005 10:16 am

    Oh man, is this week’s PI bit going to make some of you happy and some of you less happy.

  31. Brian Rust on August 30th, 2005 10:41 am

    TV critic, sports columnist. What’s the difference, really? Seriously, if you want to make a case that baseball is somehow something MORE than mere entertainment, I’d be interested in your point of view.

    Otherwise, Levesque is nothing more or less than an entertainment critic, free to judge entertainment by his own standards, and to write about it under no obligation, journalistic or otherwise, to adhere to any particular philosophy, objective or otherwise, regarding the evaluation of talent.

    Frankly, I think it’s ludicrous to presume anyone in the Mariners’ organization takes Levesque the least bit seriously. I’m sure Willie himself will catch quite a bit of ribbing in the clubhouse.

  32. DMZ on August 30th, 2005 10:47 am

    By that standard, I can write anything I want, factual or otherwise, about any TV show, radio program, internet site (unless it’s news-related), public personality, or anything I can vaguely relate to entertainment without my article having any basis in fact or reality. All rules are off.

    Friends? A short-lived show about Internet denziens who incessently pester people with leading questions.

    Hugh Downs? Supported Pinochet through secretly encoded messages in the back of “Mini-truck Monthly”

    Wheeeeeeeeeeeee, it’s entertainment.

    Wait, this frees us from any obligation of any kind, since we’re writing about sports! Why have we spent so much time trying to make rational, reasonable opinions? There’s no need! It’s sports!


  33. Jeff on August 30th, 2005 11:11 am

    TV critic or sports columnist, Levesque is making a particular argument. His argument is that Willie Bloomquist in the starting lineup helps the team win.

    I am criticizing that argument, because it has no basis in reality.

    You are pushing a totally different argument from Levesque, that Bloomquist in the starting lineup brings entertainment value.

    You say that this is Levesque’s argument, but there is zero evidence for your claim and mountains of evidence against it. He wrote three columns making his argument without once referencing yours. If you want the final word, I will seriously call Levesque and ask him if he intended to make your argument.

    Would hearing straight from the horses mouth satisfy you? I’m not even sure. Because I suspect you are just arguing for the sake of arguing.

    Why do I say this? Because your next-to-last post contradicts itself. You write:

    And who knows, [Levesque] might be right. Look at last night’s game:

    With Willie in the lineup: SEA 4, NYY 0
    Without Willie in the lineup: NYY 7, SEA 0

    This acknowledges that Levesque’s argument is, in fact, that Bloomquist helps the team win — not, as you have been claiming all along, that he merely finds Bloomquist entertaining.

    To be clear, I pretty much only care about what’s going to help the team win. If Levesque (or anyone else) had written an “it’s fun to watch Willie play” column, I would have ignored it.

    So if want to continue to argue that Bloomie is entertaining, or whatever, knock yourself out. I think I’ve said all (more) than I need to say on this. Levesque made an argument, I answered it. Done.

  34. Steve Thornton on August 30th, 2005 11:23 am

    71: why on earth would we want to find more Scott Podsedniks? He’s terrible, one of the worst LF in baseball. Adjust for park, and I’m not sure he’s any better than Boomstick.

  35. theberle on August 30th, 2005 11:43 am

    I wonder what the impact WFB batting 2nd has had on Ichiro. Not that they had much incentive before WFB was moved up in the lineup, but why would a pitcher throw Ichiro a strike?

    Same with Beltre. Yes, he’s not hitting like 2004, but he’s got Jeremy Reed batting behind him instead of Shawn Green. Say what you will about Shawn Green, but his OPS was above .670.

    Bat WFB in the bottom 3rd of the order, and it would be an improvement. Give a prospect some AB’s, or sign a replacement level player in the offseason, and I’d be even happier.

    More generally, have there been studies done on the effects of “protecting” a batter by adjusting the lineup? Is there any way to analyze the effect of Barry Bonds batting behind Rich Aurilia in 2001? Or is there not enough data?

  36. mark from Oly. on August 30th, 2005 11:47 am

    #63, #66

    thanks for answering my question.

    for those that missed the question it was basically this:

    In comparision to other untility players the M’s have had over the last 10 years how does W.B. stand up?

    Is he that much worse then those that have recieved equal amount of attention for their “hustle”, “determination” and “flexability”?

    thanks again for replying. If there is more to add to this question then please do so, thank you.

  37. msb on August 30th, 2005 12:36 pm

    FWIW, one difference between writing a television column and a sports column is audience perception. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone reference a sports opinion piece they have read, treating it as an objective (that word again), fact-filled, researched news piece. I can’t recall anyone ever quoting a tv review to back up an argument….

  38. rich on August 30th, 2005 1:18 pm

    spooky – there was a documentary called “being Ian Fleming” on UK tv yesterday night.

  39. Steve Thornton on August 30th, 2005 6:09 pm

    Mariners Utility Players

    I selected every Mariner with at least ten games played at 2B or SS, and at least ten games played at some other position, and at least one game played at a minimum of three positions. Some of these guys were infield utility only, but every one of them played at least a fair amount of the hard positions. Then I looked up their EQA — I wanted a rate stat, to account for different levels of playing time, and I wanted one not adjusted for position, to allow a more even comparison. Here’s the list:

    1977 Larry Milbourne .193 41-2B 40-SS 1-3B 1-DH
    1978 Larry Milbourne .199 32-3B 23-SS 15-2B 10-DH
    1979 Larry Milbourne .233 65-SS 49-2B 11-3B
    Bill Stein .235 67-3B 17-2B 3-SS
    Bobby Valentine .271 29-SS 15-OF 4-2B 4-3B 2-C 1-DH
    1980 Larry Milbourne .233 38-2B 34-SS 8-DH 6-3B
    Bill Stein .248 34-3B 14-2B 8-1B 5-DH
    Jim Anderson .219 65-SS 33-3B 5-DH 2-2B
    1981 Lenny Randle .227 59-3B 21-2B 3-SS 5-OF
    1982 Paul Serna .179 31-SS 18-2B 15-3B 2-DH
    1984 Larry Milbourne .225 40-3B 14-2B 6-DH 5-SS
    Domingo Ramos .155 38-3B 13-SS 5-1B 3-2B
    1985 Domingo Ramos .189 36-SS 20-2B 7-3B
    1986 Danny Tartabull .279 87-RF 31-2B 14-LF 3-DH 1-3B
    Domingo Ramos .151 21-SS 16-2B 8-3B 2-DH
    1989 Mario Diaz .140 37-SS 14-2B 3-3B
    Greg Briley .275 96-LF 10-2B 10-RF 2-DH
    1990 Jeff Schaefer .180 26-3B 24-SS 3-2B
    1991 Jeff Schaefer .216 46-SS 30-3B 11-2B 1-DH
    1992 Jeff Schaefer .091 33-SS 21-3B 7-2B 2-DH
    Rich Amaral .218 17-3B 17-SS 3-OF 2-1B 1-2B
    1993 Rich Amaral .254 77-2B 19-3B 14-SS 9-DH 3-1B
    Greg Litton .277 21-LF 17-2B 13-1B 12-DH 7-3B 5-SS 2-RF
    1994 Rich Amaral .243 42-2B 14-LF 7-SS 6-DH 2-CF 2-1B
    Luis Sojo .240 40-2B 24-SS 2-DH 1-3B
    1995 Luis Sojo .251 80-SS 19-2B 6-LF
    1996 Luis Sojo .152 33-3B 27-2B 19-SS
    Andy Sheets .174 25-3B 18-2B 7-SS
    Rich Amaral .264 63-LF 26-CF 15-2B 10-1B 6-DH 5-RF 1-3B
    1997 Brent Gates .225 32-3B 21-2B 5-Ss 1-LF 1-1B 1-DH
    Alvaro Espinoza .117 17-SS 14-2B 1-3B
    Rich Amaral .229 39-LF 14-1B 11-2B 9-CF 6-RF 3-DH 13B 1SS
    1998 Rich Amaral .252 43-LF 11-2B 9-RF 7-1B 5-DH 4-CF 1-3B
    1999 Raf. Bournigal .233 28-SS 17-2B 8-3B 1-LF 1-DH
    2000 Mark McLemore .243 129-2B 14-LF 1-CF
    David Bell .237 93-3B 48-2B 7-1B 1-SS 1-DH
    2001 Mark McLemore .291 63-LF 36-3B 35-SS 9-2B 8-CF 2-RF 2-DH
    2002 Desi Relaford .261 40-SS 38-3B 25-LF 11-2B 10-RF 2-DH
    Mark McLemore .280 82-LF 14-2B 12-CF 4-DH 2-2B 1-SS 1-RF
    2003 Carlos Guillen .266 76-SS 32-3B 1-DH
    Wil. Bloomquist .232 37-3B 18-SS 10-LF 10-DH 7-2B 3-1B 1-RF
    Mark McLemore .227 38-SS 29-3B 16-LF 10-DH 6-2B
    2004 Jolbert Cabrera .246 36-3B 23-1B 21-LF 18-2B 14-SS 3-DH 1RF 1CF
    Wil. Bloomquist .226 20-SS 31-3B 19-1B 8-LF 6-DH 1-2B 1-CF
    2005 Wil. Bloomquist .230 32-2B 21-SS 15-CF 6-3B 1-LF 1-1B

    Willie B. compares pretty well to some of the guys we ran out there in the 70s and 80s. But over the last ten years, our utility guys have been substantially better, like Amaral and McLemore, Relaford, Bell, and Cabrera. Or, if they were as bad as Willie or worse, they were regarded as failures and abandoned at the nearest opportunity, like Andy Sheets, Brent Gates, Alvaro Espinoza; or they represented formerly useful players who had fallen off a cliff, also to be abandoned: late-stage Sojo, Amaral and McLemore.

    Willie Bloomquist in his career has never been as good a player as Jolbert Cabrera, yet few fans even remember that he was with us last year.

    If you look at the results in a different way, the worst EQAs with over 250 plate appearances, no matter what position, Willie looks a little better, simply because the Mariners have a long-established penchant for sticking with awful, awful players. But again, notice that we had many more of them in the distant past, and fewer lately. The only recent player with as long and determined a history of suckitude in the past decade here has been Dan Wilson. But that’s another essay.

    Lowest EQA, min. 100 outs, 1977-1986

    .145 1986 Rey Quinones
    .158 1979 Mario Mendoza
    .173 1984 Darnell Coles
    .174 1983 Manny Castillo
    .179 1982 Paul Serna
    .185 1983 Todd Cruz
    .186 1983 Rick Sweet
    .189 1985 Domingo Ramos
    .193 1977 Larry Milbourne
    .194 1986 Steve Yeager
    .195 1980 Larry Cox, 1983 Spike Owen
    .196 1978 Leroy Stanton
    .199 1978 Larry Milbourne, 1983 Orlando Mercado, 1984 Pat Putnam
    .204 1979 Larry Cox
    .205 1983 John Moses
    .209 1982 Todd Cruz
    .210 1986 Harold Reynolds, 1986 Ivan Calderon
    .211 1983 Al Cowens
    .212 1978 John Hale, 1980 Mario Mendoza
    .213 1977 Juan Bernhardt, 1981 Jim Anderson, 1984 Bob Kearney
    .214 1977 Craig Reynolds, 1980 Ted Cox
    .216 1982 Bud Bulling, 1982 Manny Castillo, 1982 Jim Maler
    .218 1980 Juan Beniquez, 1984 Gorman Thomas
    .219 1978 Danny Meyer, 1980 Jim Anderson, 1982 Jerry Narron
    .220 1978 Juan Bernhardt, 1981 Joe Simpson
    .221 1980 Rodney Craig
    .223 1985 Bob Kearney
    .225 83 Jamie Allen, 84 Larry Milbourne, 84 Jim Presley, 86 Spike Owen
    .226 1980 Willie Horton, 1981 Dave Henderson, 1985 Donnie Scott
    .227 1981 Lenny Randle, 1982 Joe Simpson, 1986 Bob Kearney
    .230 1977 Jose Baez, 1980 Julio Cruz
    .231 1977 Dave Collins, 1986 John Moses
    .233 1979 Larry Milbourne, 1979 Joe Simpson, 1980 Larry Milbourne
    .234 1980 Joe Simpson, 1982 Rick Sweet, 1984 Spike Owen
    .235 1979 Bill Stein, 1982 Bobby Brown, 1983 Ricky Nelson

    Lowest EQA, min. 100 outs, 1987-1996

    .145 1995 Felix Fermin
    .152 1996 Luis Sojo
    .178 1994 Dan Wilson
    .190 1993 Mike Felder
    .192 1992 Bret Boone
    .197 1989 Omar Vizquel
    .198 1991 Scott Bradley
    .199 1990 Scott Bradley
    .204 1996 Doug Strange
    .207 1993 Mackey Sasser
    .214 1995 Alex Diaz
    .216 1991 Jeff Schaefer, 1991 Dave Valle
    .217 1990 Mike Brumley
    .218 1988 Glenn Wilson
    .219 1987 John Moses
    .220 1993 Omar Vizquel, 1995 Alex Rodriguez (!)
    .223 1990 Omar Vizquel, 1991 Omar Vizquel
    .225 1988 Jim Presley
    .226 1987 John Christensen, 1988 Mike Kingery, 1991 Dave Cochrane
    .229 1996 Russ Davis
    .230 1987 Scott Bradley, 1988 Scott Bradley
    .231 1990 Pete O’Brien, 1991 Alvin Davis
    .232 1994 Keith Mitchell
    .233 1995 Doug Strange
    .234 1989 Jim Presley, 1989 Edgar Martinez (!)
    .235 1988 Rey Quinones, 1989 Darnell Coles, 1992 Dave Cochrane

    Lowest EQA, min. 100 outs, 1997-2005

    .128 2005 Miguel Olivo
    .130 2004 Miguel Olivo
    .159 2005 Wilson Valdez
    .199 2003 Jeff Cirillo
    .203 1998 Shane Monahan
    .206 1999 Brian Hunter
    .212 2003 Dan Wilson
    .213 2000 Dan Wilson
    .214 2004 Jose Lopez
    .219 2000 Raul Ibanez
    .220 2004 Dan Wilson
    .224 1999 John Mabry
    .225 1997 Brent Gates, 2004 Scott Spiezio
    .226 2004 Willie Bloomquist
    .227 2004 Rich Aurilia
    .229 1997 Rich Amaral
    .230 1999 Dan Wilson, 2000 Al Martin, 2005 Willie Bloomquist
    .231 2002 Jeff Cirillo
    .232 2003 Ben Davis, 2003 Willie Bloomquist
    .234 2001 Tom Lampkin
    .235 1999 Russ Davis

    So, we can see that Willie B. is indeed a throwback — to the good old days when the M’s couldn’t compete, winning 60-70 games every year, and being the butt of jokes all around the leagues. Willie B. is Larry Milbourne. He’s not the worst player in the league, but the problem is, the accolades he receives are those of a much better player. Aurilia are grotesque failures; why is Wee Willie, who hits the same, considered to be a sparkplug?

  40. Steve Thornton on August 30th, 2005 6:10 pm

    The pre tag doesn’t work for me.

  41. Jason on August 31st, 2005 8:05 am

    Here’s what I wrote to the author the day the article was published…

    Dear Mr. Levesque,

    I appreciate your writing, and I’m glad you cover the Mariners for the P-I. I take issue, however, with your article today about Willie Bloomquist.

    I am glad that he’s on the team, but think his value to the team is his defensive versatility and as a late-game pinch runner who makes the league minimum. I agree that he’s one of or the best base-stealers on the team, but I strongly disagree with your assertion that he is or should be a front-line starter on this team, or any other MLB team. He has had multiple opportunities to shine as a regular, and he has not done so. He doesn’t hit for average and doesn’t hit for power. This has been clearly demonstrated over the last several years. I believe he has only 3 walks and just 7 extra base hits this year in 137 at-bats, which just doesn’t cut it.

    Playing hard is great, it’s awesome, and it’s the main reason why I might dislike a certain player or two, when they don’t maximize their talent. It’s why I most appreciated Bret Boone during the 2001 season, watching him NOT get out on the back end of a double-play, simply by running hard. That being said, playing hard does not a major league player make. Especially in Mr. Bloomquist’s case, since he has been given several extended opportunities over the last few years to prove otherwise.

    To be clear, I like Willie, and I cheer for him every time he’s on the field. I just wish he were better. . . but wishing doesn’t make it so. He’s as good as his statistics, which is great for a pinch-runner and a defensive sub at multiple positions, but not to be in the starting lineup. Wishing doesn’t make it so, Mr. Levesque, and I think you are absolutely wrong in your assessment of Mr. Bloomquist. Further, and without offense intended, I think you do a disservice to your readers by making such an argument.

    Thank you, however, for your commentary on the Mariners in general.

    Best Regards,