The Best Example Of Bad Process Ever

Dave · December 26, 2008 at 6:45 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Mike Cameron:

2002: +4.9 wins, 12.8 Million Dollar Value, $4.7 Million Salary, +8.1 Million Net Value
2003: +4.7 wins, 13.3 Million Dollar Value, $7.4 Million Salary, +5.9 Million Net Value

December 8th, 2003: Mariners non-tender Mike Cameron.

Cameron had established a level of play worth something about $13 million a season in the two years leading up to his free agency. The M’s weren’t interested in giving him a raise from his $7.4 million, however, so they decided not to even bother offering him arbitration, where he might have gotten $10 million on a one year deal. Read that again – the Mariners non-tendered a guy who was coming off two +5 win seasons. They had no interest in bringing a +4.7 win player back on a one year deal at a below market rate. An interesting quote from the same linked article:

“I was really holding my breath on this one,” Mariners manager Bob Melvin said. “Re-signing Shiggy, as valuable and versatile as he is, was a priority for us.”

Re-signing the 35-year-old middle reliever coming off a season where he was exactly the same +0.75 win pitcher as always but fluked his way into a low ERA was “a priority”, but the team had no interest in bringing back the 30-year-old +4.7 win center fielder. The bullpen was important, defense was not. That bad process led to those terrible, franchise crippling decisions.

The first big move of Zduriencik’s career – to weaken the bullpen in order to strengthen the defense – shows that after five years of bad processes, we’ve finally got a GM who gets it. Huzzah for Zduriencik.

Comments

24 Responses to “The Best Example Of Bad Process Ever”

  1. matthew on December 26th, 2008 7:03 pm

    Yeah, I’m still angry about that. It’s been 5 years. I wonder how long I’m going to be upset about the Jones++++/Bedard trade. 20-25 years? I’ll be on my deathbed cursing that trade.

  2. enazario on December 26th, 2008 7:13 pm

    I remember the media here in Seattle focused on Mike’s relatively low average and his strikeouts. No one here in Seattle saw his value.

  3. msb on December 26th, 2008 7:29 pm

    No one here in Seattle saw his value.

    well, Cammie’s agent did: “the change in Mike’s defensive impact won’t be felt until he’s not there,” said [Mike] Nicotera.”(Times)

    I didn’t remember that they (sort of) tried to work things out:

    “Cameron had indicated a desire to stay despite his struggles hitting at Safeco Field, and was willing to take a pay cut from his $7 million 2003 salary. The Mariners wanted him to accept something closer to $5 million, but nothing could be worked out. [Bavasi said] “I just think that we need to try to put together more offense on this ballclub by spreading the dollars around a little better than we could if we signed Michael, because he’s going to be in demand, and he understands that. He’s just a little bit out of reach for us if we want to, like I said, build up a more complete offense.”"(PI)

  4. diderot on December 26th, 2008 8:14 pm

    Dave,
    Two quick points on your post:
    –Maybe I’m misreading you, but the implication here could be that the Mariners chose between Cameron (outfield defense) and Shiggy (bullpen). Is it not possible that they could have retained neither of these guys…or both? I think the two moves need to be assessed independently (even if they were both wrong in retrospect).
    –Secondly, connected but in the end far more important, is the issue of trying to value a player in dollar terms. Team A may agree to pay at a level that says Teixiera is a smart investment at $20m+/year. But the Padres may actually want and need and value him even more in terms of increasing their ability to compete…but can’t afford to pay him nearly that much.
    My point is that making comments about who the Mariners paid what relies on an assumption, at some level, of their ability to pay, doesn’t it? And do we really know what Yamauchi’s tolerance is? We can look reactively at quotes like, “…just a little bit out of reach for us…”, but we know it’s blowing smoke–after the Kenji deal, we know the money is there if needed.
    Isn’t valuing players against a static salary metric corrupted? (I know it’s comparative, but not always applicable in the real world). ‘Market rate’ only applies if you can play in the market.

  5. JLP on December 26th, 2008 8:27 pm

    Is Franklin Gutierrez our new Mike Cameron? Very similar offensive numbers at the same stages in their careers (BA, OPS, HR, etc.), and they both play excellent defense.

    One can only hope.

  6. Joe C on December 26th, 2008 8:28 pm

    I know a lot more about baseball than I did back then (thanks Dave), but when they let Cameron go, all I could think about was all those strikeouts, but once he was gone, I could tell he was not out there next to Ichiro.

  7. Sports on a Schtick on December 26th, 2008 8:28 pm

    Adam Jones was a 1.6 win player in 2008. Expect that number to keep climbing up over the next few years while he earns a pittance in salary. Great job Bill. And Cameron was worth 4 wins last year. Dude is still ballin’.

  8. Emerald on December 26th, 2008 9:17 pm

    diderot –

    I don’t think it’s that the Mariners chose between defense and relief pitching, it’s just that they followed a bad process which resulted in a bad outcome. I think Bavasi was going for a little “dumb luck” and ended up with “poetic justice”. See Paul Depodesta’s blog on process.

  9. msb on December 26th, 2008 9:18 pm

    Hickey, Dec. 5, 2003

    “If the Mariners were to lock in Hasegawa, Rhodes and Cameron, that might mean there isn’t enough money left to pay Garcia, who made $6.875 million last season, and make a play in the free-agent market, with the focus on shortstops Miguel Tejada and Kazuo Matsui.”

  10. Emerald on December 26th, 2008 9:23 pm
  11. nadingo on December 26th, 2008 9:42 pm

    Mike Cameron is criminally underrated. He continues to get paid far less than his fair market value while stiffs like Gary Matthews Jr. cash in on flukey seasons that happen at just the right moment.

  12. coasty141 on December 26th, 2008 9:56 pm

    I’m not saying non-tendering Cameron (he’s still good!) was a grand idea. He was a good player and great value. But the 2004 Mariner OF wasn’t bad. Ichiro had a great year, Winn played about as well as you could expect out of him (yes winn is still undervalued) and Ibanez wasn’t as bad as he is now (Ibanez wasn’t going to be a DH or 1B with Edgar or Olerud around). It was the Boone, Edgar, Olerud (and who the F thought spezio was a good idea!) collapse that ruined the 2004 season.

    Sidenote: In 2003 the mariners allowed the 2nd fewest runs in MLB. In 2004 they were 21st.

  13. coasty141 on December 26th, 2008 10:01 pm

    A great example the “poetic justice” the M’s received in 2004 was getting a .305 wOBA from Jolbert Cabrera after giving him 384 trips to the plate.

  14. Breadbaker on December 26th, 2008 10:47 pm

    The epic fail of 2004 can be laid at a lot of feet, but the almost purposeful dismantling of the great defensive teams of 2001-03 was the one that wasn’t seen. The 2004 pitchers, who were the same guys as the 2003 pitchers, suddenly looked terrible as the whole left side of the defense was suddenly played by three matadors in Spiezio, Aurilia and Ibanez (yes, Raul was the best of them). Boone, Olerud and Wilson got really old really fast. And Randy Winn was playing a fine left field, only he was doing it in center. You can’t say it was all the decision not to re-sign Cammie, but it was like a canary in a coalmine: it was the sign of what the Bavasi administration was going to value and not to value.

  15. DMZ on December 26th, 2008 10:58 pm

    Wasn’t seen… by who? By the team? I remember carping about this at some length, saying that Bavasi set out to trade off defense to get some offense but was going to end up short.

  16. diderot on December 27th, 2008 12:28 am

    emerald,
    thanks for the link. I had read it a couple weeks ago but it’s one of those things that’s good to revisit.
    In those terms, my point is that while I believe using the WAR numbers is an excellent way to measure process (and build a team), the addition of a monetary value to those wins may lead further away from good process than toward it.
    Or, to put it a another way, bad process leading to a good outcome isn’t just dumb luck if some teams have enough money to buy their way past their bad process. And that’s not just the Steinbrenners, it’s John Henry and Arte Moreno, too.

  17. naviomelo on December 27th, 2008 1:40 am

    The fact of the matter is that the most effective way to build a ballclub is by maximizing defensive aptitude. That’s the most undervalued skill of all baseball skills, and as long as it is, that’s the way that enterprising GMs with budget constraints ought to go about building teams.

  18. dcs on December 27th, 2008 9:52 am

    You’d think that with as much crap as Gillick received for gutting the farm system, that at least he’d get credit for understanding the value of defense.

  19. Mike S on December 27th, 2008 12:20 pm

    My 85 year old grandfather, baseball player and fan his whole life, always said that Mike Cameron was the best center fielder (defensive) he had ever seen. He wasn’t a stat guy at all but he was pissed when Cameron was let go, arguing that his defense more than made up for his bat issues.

  20. coasty141 on December 27th, 2008 3:18 pm

    Another brillant move that offseason was getting rid of Carlos Guillen. Good thing we got him and his lazy ass out of the clubhouse. In 03 he got 2.5 mil but played like a 5.9mil player for us. In 04 Carlos got the same 2.5mil but played like a 15.4mil player for the Tigers.

  21. justinh on December 27th, 2008 5:27 pm

    How about getting rid of Chin Soo Choo? Look what he has done. I was looking at the fangraphs projections for Franklin Gutierrez and then looked at Choo. In 300 ABs last year he had 17 HR and a .940 OPS. Lord, didn’t we trade Choo for Cabrera? Choo wasn’t the greatest prospect, but it shows how BB could not judge talent.

  22. JMHawkins on December 27th, 2008 10:31 pm

    Lord, didn’t we trade Choo for Cabrera?

    No, we traded Choo for 1/2 of a DH platoon to take over for Carl Everett when he didn’t light a fire under everyone in the clubhouse with his left-handed sock.

    I can’t remember if we traded Choo for the half that retired at the end of the season after 87 ABs in an M’s uniform, or if we traded him for the guy we refused to let have a regular job for two years.

    Whichever it was, we trade Asdrubal Cabrerra for the other half.

    And replaced both halves with Jose Vidro.

  23. joser on December 28th, 2008 12:21 am

    It was the latter. The M’s sent Choo and a PTBNL (who turned out to be Shawn Nottingham — shrug) to the Indians for Ben Broussard and cash. After mostly not playing Broussard for two years, Bavasi sent him home to Texas in exchange for Tug Hulet.

    So essentially the M’s swapped a 2.5 Win guy who cost nothing for Bloomquist Lite. (Though having Choo in the outfield meant the Indians had an excess of outfielders, making the deal for Franklin Gutierrez possible…. yeah, I’m not buying that spin either)

  24. jjracoon on December 29th, 2008 12:28 pm

    Great defense – Good attitude – excellent speed
    good power – good OBP (.350 range) yet strikeouts
    and BA were his doom. The Mariners did such a good job of getting him, I still cant believe they let him go so easy. Oh wait a second BB liked to get rid of the ones we wanted to keep and keep the ones that EVERYONE but him knew we should get rid of (or not get in the first place).

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