On the possibility of a Hillenbrand pick-up

DMZ · July 19, 2006 at 9:57 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

The Blue Jays tossed Shea Hillenbrand aside after he tussled with the front office (it’s a weird story). I’ve already seen suggestions the M’s should pick him up since he’s free.

There are a couple things Shea can help a team with. He’s a right-handed hitter who’s about average for average and OBP, and he’s got a little more power than an average hitter. For a corner infielder, though, that’s not particularly good. It is, obviously, better than we’re getting out of our corners. He’s historically hit left-handers a lot harder than right-handers.

If the M’s picked him up, you’d play him at DH against righties and spot him at 1B/3B.

There’s a big problem with that, though: if they were going to use someone to spot at the corners, they’d be using Dobbs, but they’re not, as they haven’t used Petagine or Perez either. Someone other than Sexson or Beltre has started a game at a corner five times this year.

And if they’re looking for someone to DH against righties, Dobbs could outhit Everett at this stage and, as we’ve suggested elsewhere, there are various other ways you can andjust the lineup so Everett sits. For the time being, it appears that Hargrove is set on using Everett until his toy’s taken away from him, and for whatever reason, the team hasn’t taken the toy yet.

So then you have to assume the M’s are willing to accept another clubhouse guy to make a matched pair with C-Rex, and if you thought Carl was trouble when he thought he was being screwed with before, well… look out, because now the team would have one player complaining every time a lineup card didn’t have their name in it. If that means Hargrove starts trying to weasel them both in, that’s no good.

Hillenbrand wouldn’t solve any problem the Mariners have, and might make them worse. If he got picked up, they’d likely be making more moves than just offering him a deal.


95 Responses to “On the possibility of a Hillenbrand pick-up”

  1. Eugene on July 20th, 2006 9:02 am

    At this point in the season at 46-50 and in the rebuilding process, I really do not see a pickup of anyone on the far side of 30 providing a substantial boost to the team. If anything the front office should concentrate on eliminating spare parts that will not fill a role over the next couple of seasons (read Everett, Mateo, Pineiro, others).

    As has been discussed previously, the bulk of the team is there to stay and seemingly minor roster changes probably will not make much of a difference. At this point, even swapping Wilson Delgado for Carl Everett wouldn’t affect the M’s place in the standings or their winning percentage over the course of the season. Guys like Hillenbrand, even if free, won’t really help the team become substantially different, for better or for worse.

  2. msb on July 20th, 2006 9:07 am

    it is a wierd story

  3. bermanator on July 20th, 2006 9:15 am

    On second thought…

    “It had a lot to do with Hillenbrand writing: “This is a sinking ship” on the chalkboard where batting practice times are written.”

    …is probably a bad omen for a team with a message board named after a boat.

  4. msb on July 20th, 2006 9:22 am

    quote of the day:
    “That was the most ridiculous call I’ve ever seen. That’s a brutal call, terrible. It changed the whole scenario, all the momentum.”

    Mike Hargrove still upset at Mike Reilly? Nope– Alex, on the time-out called by the 3rd base ump yesterday 🙂

  5. Evan on July 20th, 2006 9:28 am

    And Hillenbrand isn’t likely to be free. Toronto might be happy just to get their roster spot back, so I don’t see them picking up a lot of salary.

  6. joser on July 20th, 2006 9:29 am

    The FO may still view Doyle as a rehab in progress. We don’t actually know what the trainers are telling Bavasi, do we? We also don’t know what might be percolating. Bavasi may be trying to swing something between now and the end of the month, with Everett-out/Doyle-up as the fallback option. Yeah, I’m feeling optimistic this morning, but it’s a sunny day and the M’s beat the Yankees yesterday, so sue me.

    From that Hardball Times article (which is an excellent distillation of everything that has been discussed to death on USSM, and should be mandatory reading for any of the barstool “experts” who post on other blogs or call up to blather on the radio, not to mention the local media) I get the impression the Angels would be a good fit for Hillenbrand. Certainly a better fit than the M’s.

  7. Evan on July 20th, 2006 9:31 am

    And a part of a team that relies that heavily on platoons and pseudo-platoons, Hillenbrand was a lunatic for insisting he play every day.

  8. joser on July 20th, 2006 9:34 am

    From that TOSun article linked by MSB (#52)

    “He was a cancer in this clubhouse,” another player said. “Shea’s day went the way the lineup card went. If he was in the lineup, everything was fine. If he wasn’t he’d sulk. Sometimes he wouldn’t even come out to hit.”

    Can you imagine him and Everett sharing the DH spot in the lineup, one or the other of them on the bench every day? Designated Cancer would be more like it.

  9. Christopher on July 20th, 2006 9:43 am

    #57 Except he wasn’t being platooned and he was playing every day until he left for the adoption. Its not like he was complaining about not being played all year. They did this exactly because he left the team.

    I want a player who wants to play every day as long as they can hit the ball. Ichiro hates it when he is forced to take a day off too.

  10. Christopher on July 20th, 2006 9:53 am

    Let me rephrase that. He played the majority of the games up until this event.

  11. Ralph Malph on July 20th, 2006 9:54 am

    Hargrove was on a fluff interview show with Rizzs last night and told a story about how, when he was with Texas, Billy Martin didn’t pinch hit for him twice late in a game with a left-hander on the mound, when he expected to get hit for, and he responded with a game winning hit in extra innings. And it made him feel really good about being able to come through for the team. As a result, he said, he may tend to stick with a guy too long.

    The strange thing about that story is that Hargrove has taken exactly the wrong lesson from it. Billy Martin managed the Rangers only in Hargrove’s first two years in the bigs. In 1974, Hargrove came up with Texas at the age of 24, after having played a total of only 30 games in the minors, all at class A. His rookie year, Martin made him the primary starting 1B, playing 131 games and he batted 323/395/424 (and being named rookie of the year).

    Martin left the Rangers during Hargrove’s second season, so his pinch-hitting story had to happen when Hargrove was 24 or 25. It seems to me the moral of the story is that if you give talented young players a chance, they may come through. But the lesson Hargrove seems to have gotten from it is to stick with veterans too long.

    Too bad Rizzs didn’t do enough homework for the interview to be able to ask Hargrove about that.

  12. jtopps on July 20th, 2006 9:59 am

    That Hardball Times article is brutal on the Mariners, in some cases deservedly so. Of the top ten holes in the AL, the Mariners have 4! With one honorable mention for Mr. Betancourt. And they never even got around to Adrian. (sigh)

    Pinning Jones on that list is a little unfair, as even though he is young and not really ready, its not like he is the reason this team has stunk so far. Call out Jeremy Reed if you want, but there are plenty of call-ups doing the same thing right now as Jones.

    And the Betancourt Honorable Mention seems like a stretch to me as well. Granted, the guy doesn’t walk a lot, but a speedy #9 hitting SS, batting .290 isn’t really a “hole” the way DH Carl Everett is. But Carl is on his own level, I suppose.

  13. Dave on July 20th, 2006 10:03 am

    Putting Betancourt on that list was just wrong. He’s an above average major league shortstop.

  14. revbill on July 20th, 2006 10:06 am

    And the Betancourt Honorable Mention seems like a stretch to me as well.

    That was my first impression when I saw this list. Was it written by a disgruntled Mariners fan? If you factor in Betancourt’s defense, and especially his salary, I’d hardly call him a “hole.” And the writer also says that Bloomquist is “Long one of the worst players in baseball” which is a little unfair. It’s not his fault he plays too much.

  15. msb on July 20th, 2006 10:11 am

    Too bad Rizzs didn’t do enough homework for the interview to be able to ask Hargrove about that.

    he was a last minute fill-in for Niehaus, who was caught in traffic. Not that Dave would have asked that question of Hargrove…

    re: the Hardball Times, I think the author is 12.

  16. John in L.A. on July 20th, 2006 10:13 am

    “Picking someone up for free who can have the DH roll full time and make it impossible for Hargrove not to sit Everett is a good idea.”

    Why assume that if we get Shea, Carl will sit? Hargrove has shown little willingness to do the right thing. WHy assume Shea will change that?

    “And its not like he complained because he wasn’t in the line up for one day. He was out of the line up two days in a row after being gone for 4 days. I’d be livid too if I was him.”

    Heh. Two whole days? Livid? Really? To the point where you would insult your teammates and your team?

    “Its a complete bone head move not to at least attempt to grab him. Worst case scenerio you drop him from the roster having paid minimally for his tallents.”

    We have no idea what he’d cost, and why bother when we already have solutions to this problem? Why do we keep getting mentioned with these same guys? It’s like management is a magnet for free agents that won’t help.

    “Just because Everett sucks doesn’t mean Snelling will be up soon either. Can you gurantee that Snelling will be up soon? And can you define soon? ”

    What the hell is that? Did you think you’re owed something here?

  17. lokiforever on July 20th, 2006 10:13 am

    36 Safeco Hobo

    Doing a people search leads one to a name that matches a certain GM with addresses in Seattle, and prior ones in Anaheim and Mission Viejo. One could spend the $30 and then mail out copies of the article.

  18. ccm on July 20th, 2006 10:25 am

    Funny baseball stuff in the Onion today: “PNC Park Threatens To Leave Pittsburgh Unless Better Team Is Built;” “Brett Myers Atones For Punching Wife With Solid Seven-Inning Outing.” hilarious.

  19. Christopher on July 20th, 2006 10:33 am

    #66 First because Shea fits the vet DH that Hargrove wants. Also his BA makes him look bad to the casual fan if he doesn’t.

    It wasn’t two whole days. It was two days after he had come back from a leave of absence. Thats just petty by the team.

    You’re right we have no idea what he would cost. Thats why you call and see.

    Do I think I’m owed something? Thats an ignorant comment. No I don’t. I think though that our wishful thinking that they’ll bring Snelling up doesn’t give us anything. If my choice is Everett, Shea, or Snelling then I’m all for Snelling. But if my choice is letting Everett’s option vest or going for a younger, better hitter I’m going for Shea.

  20. Ralph Malph on July 20th, 2006 11:07 am

    Hillenbrand has only been starting of late against lefthanders. The two games he’s whining about were started by righthanders. Why was it petty not to start him in those games when that’s been his usage pattern right along?

  21. scraps on July 20th, 2006 11:08 am

    Thats just petty by the team.

    Only if you assume that nothing else was going on. The manager said he liked the lineup he had.

    I have to wonder about Hillenbrand, who complains about the atmosphere and says no wonder we’re not winning, while playing for a team that’s ten games over .500 that nobody reasonably expected to be playing better than this. It does seem as though the “atmosphere” is all about whether Shea Hillenbrand is in the lineup.

  22. John in L.A. on July 20th, 2006 11:15 am

    69 – You seem to be playing create-your-own-dichotomy. Those aren’t your only choices.

    As to the other… asking someone to guarantee their statement is silly. Particularly when that someone may have their opinion influenced by information we don’t have access to.

    If Dave says just because Doyle isn’t here, doesn’t mean he won’t be…. that’s obvioulsy a true statement.

    For you to ask for a guarantee is ridiculous. Can you guarantee that Shea would be played? Of course not.

    It’s nuance, baby. When someone gives you inside information, even if the extent of that inside information may only be that he hasn’t heard that Doyle WON’T be called up, you read between the lines and leave it be and wait until he is in a postion to know more or be able to say more. You don’t press him on it and you don’t ask for a guarantee, for god’s sake.

  23. eponymous coward on July 20th, 2006 11:17 am

    Uh, why is Betancourt getting an honorable mention as a major hole at SS?

    Betancourt is coming out at 9.1 VORP. His EqA is .254- MLB shortstops as a whole have an EqA of .256.

  24. Christopher on July 20th, 2006 11:18 am

    The last game he played was against Meche. Who last I checked wasn’t a lefty.

    And considering our team dropped a player just so Kenji could see his son I do find what they did petty.

    And I don’t believe the manager’s quote one bit. Both games they replaced him with their Catchers who both have hit worse than him over the last month.

  25. Coach Owens on July 20th, 2006 11:22 am

    DMZ Since you don’t like possibilities of Hillenbrand or Soriano or probably not Todd Walker then who would you like to see the M’s pursue?

  26. Christopher on July 20th, 2006 11:24 am

    #72 My point was that the opposite of what he said was also true. Therefore his statement didn’t do anything to change the argument.

    Can I confirm that Hargrove wouldn’t play Shea over Everett? Nope. But I can confirm it would make him look a lot worse if he didn’t.

    And Dave’s statement wasn’t one that has any lines to be read between. He is 100% right that just because he hasn’t been called up yet doesn’t mean he won’t be. But its also true that just because he is a stud doesn’t mean he will be brought any time soon either.

    By the way Dave doesn’t need to be defended. He does an awesome job, like all the authors here. However, even they don’t agree on everything.

  27. Christopher on July 20th, 2006 11:27 am

    “But its also true that just because he is a stud doesn’t mean he will be brought [up] any time soon either.” Before I get called out on this I should add that with his history of being injured every time he comes up to the majors the team might be much slower this time at acting on his abilities.

  28. John in L.A. on July 20th, 2006 11:29 am

    77 – Hargrove can’t look a lot worse. It was equally absurd to sit Perez against a lefty in favor of Carl. The absurdity threshold has already been crossed repeatedly.

    And Dave’s statement was merely pointing out that your dichotomy was forced. So it did change the argument.

    And I’m not defending Dave, there is nothing to defend. I’m pointing out that asking for a guarantee and “how soon” is ridiculous.

  29. Christopher on July 20th, 2006 11:35 am

    Actually he wasn’t talking to me. And it doesn’t look equally absurd because 95% of the population doesn’t know the difference. Anyway we are both highjacking this thread so I’m going to bow out of it now.

  30. Mouse in a Bottle on July 20th, 2006 11:44 am

    Hillenbrand was also dissatisfied with his position as the DH. He wants to play third or first. The guy clearly has issues. To publicly call out the team for being benched for 2 days–whether or not the benching was justified–is ridiculous.

  31. Dave in Palo Alto on July 20th, 2006 11:55 am

    On the Onion article, Jose Canseco outs some unlikely Mariners. http://www.theonion.com/content/node/50815

  32. Karen on July 20th, 2006 12:05 pm

    (Posted this the first time in the wrong thread)

    According to some Red Sox fans who paid attention to Hillenbrand’s departure from that club a couple of years ago, there’s 2 wildly different versions of that event, too, Hillenbrand’s and RS GM Theo Epstein’s. Interesting discussion here about the vastly differing stories.

    Heck, C-Rex has alredy raised the same kind of ruckus with HIS manager (albeit behind closed doors), and absolutely nothing has happened to him (including improvement in his hitting). Hargrove must have the skin of an elephant to not react to that.

    So, even if Shea Hillenbrand has anger management issues with authority like Everett seemingly has, he should do OK in an M’s uniform.

    And his OPS is higher than any Mariner players except Ibanez and Ichiro! Go for it, BB!! He’d be only the 6th-highest-paid guy (not that Eddie G. is gone) on the 25 man roster…

  33. Mouse in a Bottle on July 20th, 2006 12:15 pm

    Shea Hillenbrand’s OPS will drop dramatically in Safeco.

  34. jtopps on July 20th, 2006 12:17 pm

    Re: the Onion article

    There must be some Mariner fans working at the Onion because this is not the first time they have pulled Willie Bloomquist’s name out their hat.

  35. Ralph Malph on July 20th, 2006 1:30 pm

    The bottom line with Hillenbrand is, while he’s a player with some value in the right situation, I don’t see how he remedies any of the Mariners’ weaknesses. Everett is no longer DH’ing against lefthanders, Perez is. Hillenbrand is not a better hitter than Perez against LHP. Even if Everett vanished off the face of the earth tomorrow (please?), Hargrove surely wouldn’t use a righty-righty platoon of Perez and Hillenbrand at DH.

    The Mariners offensive weaknesses right now are DH against RHP and CF. Hillenbrand isn’t the answer to either of those. We already have the answer to the left-handed DH problem down in Tacoma.

    As far as Sexson is concerned, here are his OPS’s by month:

    April 659
    May 611
    June 858
    July 873

    Sexson is nowhere near the top of the list of offensive problems for the M’s. Anymore.

    Beltre has been terrible in July, just as bad as he was in April and May. But I still don’t see him as being anywhere near the top of the priority list for this team. There’s far too much invested in him to give up on him yet.

    What the M’s need to do is axe Everett, bring up Doyle as (at minimum) a platoon DH with Perez, and (if possible) find a CF. That doesn’t make them a World Series team, but it makes them a team that would be competitive if they had a better manager.

  36. joser on July 20th, 2006 3:04 pm

    There must be some Mariner fans working at the Onion because this is not the first time they have pulled Willie Bloomquist’s name out their hat. I was just thinking that. However I’m not sure if The Onion staff includes a Mariners fan so much as a Bloomquist fan — albeit not in a baseball sense, but in a “reliable comedy gold” sense. Much as a joke writer might be fan of Enron, or David Lee Roth, or Vice Presidentially-induced gunshot wounds. Or Jose Canseco, for that matter. Of course at least some of the people at The Onion clearly adhere to the dictum “Pain is the essence of comedy” so they may just enjoy the thought of Ichiro and Bloomquist sharing a common outfield.

  37. joser on July 20th, 2006 3:31 pm

    BTW, does anybody have a list of all the crazy injuries in baseball over the years? You know, Sosa’s sneeze and the dude who ironed his shirt while wearing it, Wells’ barstool and Sasaki’s “luggage” incidents, etc? Because we have a new one to add to the list:

    Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield has a broken rib and is expected to spend at least three weeks on the disabled list, manager Terry Francona said Thursday.

    Francona said Wakefield doesn’t remember how he injured himself. It might have been from sleeping on it wrong.

    .(Not entire off-topic, with the Red Sox coming to town).

  38. jtopps on July 20th, 2006 3:43 pm

    Re: Willie and The Onion

    Perhaps, but Willie isn’t that funny. I mean, a lot of casual fans don’t know who he is outside of Seattle. And there’s plenty of guys like him that you can rip on: Neifi Perez, Royce Clayton. But The Onion, like our manager, prefers Willie. The grittiest joke of them all.

  39. mark s. on July 20th, 2006 4:10 pm

    If the only Everett had the relationship with Hargrove that Shea had with his manager.

  40. LB on July 20th, 2006 5:36 pm

    #87: The broken rib is nothing like Sasaki’s. Wakefield does not have an acute fracture, but a stress fracture (an overuse injury). Read all about it a href=”http://sonsofsamhorn.net/index.php?showtopic=6222&view=findpost&p=373254″>here.

  41. LB on July 20th, 2006 5:38 pm

    #90: Darn. Let’s try that again.

    #87: The broken rib is nothing like Sasaki’s. Wakefield does not have an acute fracture, but a stress fracture (an overuse injury). Read all about it here.

  42. LB on July 20th, 2006 5:41 pm

    #90,91: I used to know how to make links work in comments.

    Read all about Wakefield’s stress fracture at http://tinyurl.com/fo25n.

  43. BelaXadux on July 20th, 2006 7:52 pm

    No one who has ever cracked a rib “doesn’t know how he did it;” I speak from experience. I feel sure Mr. Wakefield has a story he wishes to remain private just as Sasaki did. Wait until Soxnation sniffs it out. *hee-hee*

  44. LB on July 20th, 2006 9:11 pm

    $93: For two weeks, neither Wakefield nor the doctors even knew it was a cracked rib. The symptoms were basically “back spasms and stiffness.”

    He’s been pitching for at least three starts.

    You seem to know a lot about this. Would that be because you’ve had a stress fracture (not an acute fracture) of your rib, or perhaps that your an orthopedic surgeon, like the poster here: http://tinyurl.com/qahks.

  45. Evan on July 20th, 2006 10:29 pm

    69 – According to the team, Hillenbrand showed up unexpectedly from his leave, missed all the workouts, and then complained they hadn’t written him into the lineup. That’s just idiotic behaviour.

    As Ricciardi says, this is consistent with his reputation. No one’s surprised Hillenbrand is behaving like this.

    Hillenbrand was being used down in the order from where he’d like, but he was 7th on the team in VORP (among hitters) and just barely ahead of the backup catcher (who was being used more and more as DH against righties).

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