A very brief reiteration of our position on Mr. Bloomquist
I think this is a rare instance where I can safely speak for all of the USSM authors. I’d like to be quite clear, in the wake of his extension, where we stand.
We acknowledge that Willie, as a professional baseball player, is a supremely talented athlete. Even as we may lament his inability to hit better, it is a wonder that anyone hits that well at all.
We believe that Willie has value to the team, in that he is indeed defensively versatile, can steal a base, and is not totally helpless at the plate. He’s a guy you can push onto the field to rest a regular or even as multi-position insurance. In particular, we think that makes him a fine choice to fill out a 25-man roster.
We appreciate that he seems like a nice local guy, and that there is, indeed, a contingent of fans that likes him a lot. That he’s occasionally prodded into saying he should be a starter doesn’t seem to have ticked off any of his teammates. The media love and frequent overselling of his abilities is grating, but not at all relevant to his performance on the field.
We also feel that there is absolutely no evidence that he can hit major league pitching. There is no evidence he’s suitable for any starting job, especially no evidence that his offense would improve enough to make him suitable if he played regularly, and this is supported by repeated trials as a starter.
We also feel that players with Bloomquist’s skill set are not that hard to find, and that it is also easy to find players with different skillsets who contribute as much as their team’s success.
Because of this, it’s not worth paying Bloomquist much above the major league minimum. If the team feels that his PR value is high enough that it makes it worth paying him a premium (for instance, paying him twice league minimum, or 2.5x) that’s still not as huge an error as wildly overpaying Carlos Lee. It’s a little annoying, because we’d love to see that money spent on something more useful, but it’s not the end of the world.
Where this is really harmful is getting him 250 at-bats a year. If Bloomquist gets that many at-bats, something is badly wrong with the way the manager is using him. 250 at-bats for a guy hitting .247/.320/.299 is bad for the team. It costs them runs, and runs cost the team wins, and we want to see the Mariners win games and compete for pennants and go to the World Series and win it, because we’re fans.
Building winning teams takes two things: roster management, where you assemble all the best tools you can, and the actual use of those tools. While a million dollars is too high a price to pay for Bloomquist, he does have value when used correctly. Paid too much and used so badly, he’s a symptom of what’s wrong with both the roster construction and on-field management of the Mariners, and that makes us sad.