The bad deal

Dave · December 6, 2006 at 8:10 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Okay, so the deal of doom has been reported by just about every media outlet known to man. The Mariners are still refusing to officially confirm that a deal is in place, but they’re no longer denying it, and it’s clear that this trade is going to happen, barring an 11th hour miracle.

The Mariners have traded a good 27-year-old pitcher for a mediocre 27-year-old pitcher.

Forget everything else you’re going to hear for a minute. Forget the starter vs reliever designations, years of service, groundball rates, all of it. The M’s traded a pitcher who will be 27 in two weeks for a pitcher who turned 27 two weeks ago in a straight up, one for one deal. It’s a challenge trade, essentially. The M’s chose left-handedness and a designation as a starting pitcher over talent and performance. They swapped a good pitcher for a mediocre one, and none of the issues about rotation vs bullpen can wipe that away.

This is a bad deal. We’re obviously against this in every way, shape, and form. Horacio Ramirez is not the kind of guy you trade arms like Rafael Soriano’s for. Horacio Ramirez is the kind of arm you pick up as a throw-in to a deal or that you sign for a cheap, one year contract as a free agent. Like they were going to do with John Thomson. He’s John Thomson’s left-handed twin.

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, this deal still has a good chance to look okay for the M’s in retrospect? We were in favor of dealing Rafael Soriano this offseason for the same reason the M’s were willing to give him up – I believe that it’s only a matter of time until he needs surgery on his arm again, and that he’s one of the highest risk pitchers in MLB. There’s a very real chance that he blows his arm out in May and spends the next year and a half rehabbing, returning just in time to become a free agent after the 2008 season.

That chance that Rafael Soriano was going to turn into a near useless asset if they held onto him, and that he was going to be used as an 8th inning setup man, made it wise to deal him. There’s still a very real chance that Rafael Soriano is going to turn into a near useless asset. He comes with all kinds of risk, and the reward for the Mariners wasn’t as high as it should have been.

And, for all his mediocreness, Horacio Ramirez does some things well. In 520 innings in the majors over four years, he’s posted a groundball rate of 49.7%. He uses a two-seam fastball to induce a lot of grounders, which reduces the need to post an excellent strikeout rate. Miguel Batista, for instance, has been using this skillset to be a decent back-end starter for years, and there are plenty of left-handed, 50% GB guys who don’t strike anyone out and regularly post decent to average seasons in the rotation.

Most of them have better command than Ramirez does, however, and all of them have better health records. For all the talk about Soriano’s arm, Ramirez isn’t exactly a workhorse. He’s already had shoulder surgery, and missed half of 2006 recovering from problems with his arm, his groin, his hamstring, and his finger. Durable isn’t a word used to describe the man.

He’s only got three full years of major league service, so he’s not free agent eligible until after 2009, and he’s certainly going to command less in salary than a comparable free agent starting pitcher. If he’s healthy and everything goes well, he could give the M’s 200 league average innings for the next couple of years, in which case this trade would probably be a win for the Mariners.

But trades aren’t evaluated by the performance of the best case scenario for the guy you’re getting and the worst case scenario for the other guy. Yes, this trade can work for the M’s if Ramirez stays healthy and Soriano blows out his arm. But that’s not how you evaluate whether you should make a deal or not.

Soriano’s just a better pitcher than Horacio Ramirez, and the M’s a worse team for having exchanged the two.

To this deal, I just have one word: Boooooooooooooooooooo.


180 Responses to “The bad deal”

  1. Mr. Egaas on December 7th, 2006 1:29 am

    From an Atlanta fan, I think that y’all got FLEECED!

    Yeah. We know.

  2. Wishhiker on December 7th, 2006 1:49 am

    Totally agree…

    It’s pretty much all been said.

    Some career numbers to compare the 2. I include Soriano’s horrible dead arm 2004 numbers and his rookie year in which he made 8 starts that weren’t very quality, yet compare to Ramirez’ career. In fact I added Soriano Rookie year (10 games, 8 starts) as a comparison of the worst I would expect from him starting. Just consider he gave up 8 HR in those 8 starts (again Rookie year).

    Player GO/AO WHIP SlugA OBPA BB/9 SO/9
    Ramirez 1.77 1.40 .426 .339 3.45 4.28
    Soriano 0.53 1.09 .346 .278 2.79 9.32
    ~2002 0.49 1.29 .443 .303 3.04 6.08

    The only thing that looks better among Ramirez’ numbers is GO/AO. How are these two anywhere in the same class? How could anyone look at Soriano and not rather see him attempt to start with his talent over having Ramirez start for more money? This is the dumbest trade I’ve seen since Duquette was barely able to hold back the phrase “I said Varitek or Lowe. Soriano would appear to be a better starter from this evidence…Oh wait he’s 0-3 as a starter. Is W/L record really a good way to look at it?

    I haveto hope there’s more to it, because I thought Woody was gone and we’d never see anything like this again.

  3. Wishhiker on December 7th, 2006 1:58 am

    To be fair there’s some reason to believe that with Sorianos ‘dead-arm’ issues he might not hold up as a starter.

  4. Mr. Egaas on December 7th, 2006 2:07 am

    To be fair there’s some reason to believe that with Sorianos ‘dead-arm’ issues he might not hold up as a starter.

    There’s many teams that want to use Soriano as a closer. I doubt he ever makes it as a starter, that’s fine. He’s lights out in the 8th or 9th inning.

  5. Tom on December 7th, 2006 2:46 am

    Goodbye 2007!

    And 2008, 2009, 2010, etc. until this team is sold to someone who gives a crap.

  6. Wishhiker on December 7th, 2006 2:58 am

    There’s many teams that want to use Soriano as a closer.

    Totally. Alot of Seattle fans have envisioned him as an option to close for years, justifiably. He’s been second in line in the pen most of his years here. I’d rather see stuck at second string here than get a marginal player for a dominant endgame pitcher.

  7. terry on December 7th, 2006 4:41 am

    This is a awesome site, but really, is it necesary to talk about the Ms so much? 🙁

  8. Mustard on December 7th, 2006 5:35 am

    Just to top things off, the Toronto Star is reporting that Bavasi has inquired about the availability of Josh Towers from the Jays.



    Yes, I just made that up…but in light of yesterday’s news, would anyone be surprised by this?

  9. vj on December 7th, 2006 5:44 am

    He’s John Thomson’s left-handed twin.

    BTW, what is the status of that signing?

  10. Christopher Michael on December 7th, 2006 5:57 am

    This team makes it really hard to be a fan.

  11. ira on December 7th, 2006 6:41 am

    Okay, so I’m the eternal optimist, and don’t want to believe that Bavasi would do something that appears to be really stupid. So here’s my theory:
    Like Soriano, Horacio Ramirez got hit in the head with a baseball last season.
    Bavasi has secret knowledge that the hit in the head caused Ramirez to become a very good pitcher, a fact that no other GM’s figured out.

  12. MickeyZ on December 7th, 2006 6:52 am

    What bothers me the most is that I don’t see this as part of any sort of plan for the future. Bavasi clearly isn’t putting together a contending team for next year, neither is he stockpiling prospects for later. I don’t see the point of spackling a team together year after year so they can finish below .500. If we have to have a losing year, why not get something out of it?

    At this point I think they ought to cash some veterans for prospects and build for the future.

  13. terry on December 7th, 2006 7:05 am

    #161: i corrected your post for you…. 🙂

    Okay, so I’m the eternal optimist, and don’t want to believe that Bavasi would do something that appears to be really stupid. So here’s my theory: Like Soriano, Bavasi got hit in the head with a baseball last season.

  14. Beniitec on December 7th, 2006 7:11 am

    I know, I know… Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve been looking at this all backwards. Mr. Bavasi isn’t trying to make the M’s better. He’s helping the Dodgers get better. He could care less about the Mariners and thier future. He helped the Dodgers get rid of Beltre, and now somehow helped the Dodgers secure some great talent. Let see, Jason Schmidt and Luis Gonzalez… Guess what? I bet Bavasi will be there to pickup anyone the Dodgers need to dump too…Like Brad Penny. This is horrible… We were supposed to go out and get a good front line starter… This is what we come up with?

  15. Spanky on December 7th, 2006 7:12 am

    I’ve already stated I hate this deal and can’t for the life of me figure out what Bavasi is thinking. However…

    I work with people in GA who are Braves fans. I mentioned this morning that they stole Soriano from us in this deal. One of the guys, who described himself as a Braves Pessimist, said that Ramirez is a very good pitcher that he expects to be a top-tier pitcher in the league…but that he’s experienced some health issues that have delayed his development the past couple of years. He said that if he can stay healthy, he thinks Mariner fans will be happy with him.

    Okay…I’m grasping at straws here…but I need something to give me some hope that this will turn out good.

  16. patnmic on December 7th, 2006 7:17 am

    Do you wonder if the ownership group has closed the books on this year? Is it possible at some point this off-season they said “We missed on the players we wanted and things have gotten to expensive, we’re not one player away, so let’s minimize the damage by asking Bavasi to make a contending team this year without making a big contract deal or trading any major prospects.” This strategy would allow the incoming management team to have more flexibility next year and not start in a hole. Ownership also has the added bonus of pocketing the profits from this year and they have a GM for one more year that will shore up the minor league system before his departure. BTW I don’t consider Soriano a prospect anymore so he was fair game.

  17. Free Range Chicken on December 7th, 2006 7:20 am

    Well, at least we won’t have Gil Meche to kick around anymore. Fox Sports says…

    ORLANDO, Fla. – In a winter meetings stunner, free agent right-hander Gil Meche is close to signing with the Royals, has learned.
    The deal is for 4 years and $45 million, according to MLB source. Both the Cubs and Blue Jays offered Meche deals for 4 years and $40 million, sources said.

  18. Spanky on December 7th, 2006 7:30 am

    BTW…Kudos to Dave for nailing this on the head…

    This could be a great or terrible thing for the M’s. If they use the money earmarked for Schmidt to pursue Tim Hudson, then fantastic. If they panic and decide they can’t get left without a starter and throw a ton of money at Ted Lilly or Jeff Weaver, then this sucks.

    Well, it wasn’t a ton of money, but it was throwing a great ballplayer for a Braves cast-off Horacio Ramirez.

  19. Dave Laster on December 7th, 2006 7:33 am

    Braves fan here. Just to respond to the above coment about HR being a potential “top-tier pitcher in the league,” I have watched this guy pitch basically every one of his ML starts and he has not really improved much over the years. The case could have been made after his 2004 season that he had some potential for improvement, but that promise is now so far gone that I can’t even remember the last time anyone was excited about him. This trade is a gift for the Braves, and I am just absolutely shocked that all Bavasi could get for Soriano is….HR. Unbelievable.

    On a positive note, I always thought he’d make a good LOOGY, but that was really only to get him out of the rotation.

    Sorry about this one, M’s fans.

  20. doug on December 7th, 2006 7:38 am

    Could be worse, we could have offered Meche 4 years and 45 mil.

  21. PADJ on December 7th, 2006 7:39 am

    165: He said that if he can stay healthy, he thinks Mariner fans will be happy with him. Hmmm. Where have I heard this before? Have we become the major league rehab assignment?

    169: Same sentiment on this coast…

  22. Choska on December 7th, 2006 8:02 am

    The ONLY bright spot in that moves like this will ensure another last place finish for the Ms. Then, finally, we can get new management.

    I choose to look at this the way Churchill would. This isn’t the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

    At least we now know that next year will suck, and we can prepare ourselves for it. Let’s suffer through next year and all of the pain it will bring, get some new management, and start again.

  23. msb on December 7th, 2006 8:09 am

    just two notes– John Thomson has been told they are looking at him as a fall-back plan, which is why he hasn’t been signed and Felix is not sitting on a sofa eating doritos. Well, he might be eating doritos, but he is also working out everyday at the Academy, per his GM.

  24. msb on December 7th, 2006 8:46 am

    the closest thing to a big move they could get in on would be to light $100 million on fire by signing Barry Zito

    which is the favorite choice of the radioheads– I just don’t understand why anyone thinks that Zito would come here.

  25. Frozenropers on December 7th, 2006 8:49 am

    Giving away our teams most valuable trading chip this offseason for Horacio Ramirez is inexcusable.

    Its unfortunate that Bavasi just can’t seem to find value in the trade market, because it appears he’s (his team) done a decent job drafting the last couple of seasons and its helped put some valuable arms in the lower level of the system.

    As it looks now, I have little faith in Bavasi making another solid move for a starting pitcher this winter. I can’t believe he’s not beating down the Cubs door trying to trade Reed to them for one of the extra young starting pitchers they have stockpiled.

    Anyways, the way it looks now, we will probably see Hargrove and Bavasi fired around mid-season. Hopefully they’ll be able to hire a capable GM before the trading deadline, who might be able to make some solid moves for the 2008 season.

    This trade just puts a horribly sour taste in my mouth. How is it that everyone in the world can see what a horrible trade this is, except for the M’s front office? Just pathetic. Can’t wait to hear the “spin” on this one from the press conference.

  26. mycroft on December 7th, 2006 9:21 am

    I can’t say I’m delighted by this trade, either, but the level of hyperbole has reached a level that I feel a need to play devil’s advocate.

    I fear that some are blasting Bavasi for trading Soriano, the player we wish he was, instead of the player he actually is. We’re blaming Bavasi for not getting the value for the player that Soriano once looked that he could become, as if other teams would pay us for that player.

    Soriano is a very talented, very fragile reliever who’s good for an inning or two per game for some portion of the season. Further, it seems pretty likely that there’s already an operating room picked out for him. He’s not a starter and I don’t think it’s realistic to ever think he’s going to become one.

    If the shoe were on the other foot, what would you give up to acquire him? I would venture that if Bavasi had paid a significant price to obtain a player like Soriano, the site would have been filled with comments bemoaning the fact GMs will never understand that relievers are replaceable commodities, closers are overpaid, and teams should never pay high prices for a bullpen. People would have tripped over themselves to look up the number of games he’s missed. Then, the comment would likely end with a throw-away like “what can you expect from the dumbest team/GM in baseball?”

    Should we have gotten more for Soriano? I don’t know. But these ideas that he was on the verge of being a starter or even high-valued trading chip are probably not right. Several years ago, when he was all potential the story might have been different. He’s not that player any more.

  27. Mr. Egaas on December 7th, 2006 10:19 am

    people can Manny Ramirez ManRam.
    and Hanley Ramirez HanRam.
    So do we get to call Horacio Ramirez HorRam at least?

  28. ALversionCubs on December 7th, 2006 10:36 am

    Another in agreement that this deal was inexplicable.

    I don’t believe Bavasi is the worst GM in baseball, but he does have a major flaw in talent/value evaluation. Saying he should never, ever make another trade is a bit extreme, but his inaction would likely benefit the Mariners in the long run.

  29. BigB on December 7th, 2006 2:15 pm

    I couldn’t believe it when I read it. Soriano is my favorite Mariner pitcher not named Felix, and is one of the best Setup men in the majors, not to mention a guy who used to be a starter and could’ve possibly returned there. I hope this doesn’t haunt us like the Heithcliff Slocumb debacle years ago.

  30. West Coast King on December 7th, 2006 2:37 pm

    Unfinished business: Despite deals for Ramirez and White, the Mariners might not be done looking for starting pitching. Bavasi wants to add another starting pitcher and another bat as a complement to lefty Ben Broussard as a designated hitter platoon.

    GM’s bottom line: “It’s one of the more miserable Winter Meetings I’ve ever been to. I think it’s the lack of activity and the volcanic market.” — Bavasi.

    Well, that’s great! The Mariners are still interested in starting pitching. I’d hate to see them tread out there on opening day with Felix, Washburn, Ramirez and White in the rotation.

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