Mariners to Sign Willie Bloomquist
I’m not even going to bother with the commentary on this, because you can probably guess what I think of a guaranteed two-year deal for a replacement-level scrub. I’m just going to leave this here.
Nick Punto and Willie Bloomquist were born 19 days apart, back in 1977. Both of them are going into their age-36 seasons. Both have carved out nice long careers as utility infielders. Here are their career offensive numbers, side by side.
For all intents and purposes, they’re the same hitter. Punto walks a little more and Bloomquist has legged out a few more singles, but they’re both bad hitters who offset that a little bit with some baserunning value. You don’t hire either of these guys for their bats. They’re in the Major Leagues because of their ability to play multiple positions. But then there’s this.
During the last 15 years, Punto has been one of baseball’s elite defensive players. In 2,500 innings at shortstop, he has a career UZR of +33. In 2,500 innings at third base, it’s +38. In 2,500 innings at second base, it’s +11. He’s split his time almost evenly between the three infield spots, and he’s been excellent at all three.
Bloomquist, in 2,000 innings at shortstop, has a -6 UZR. In 1,000 innings at third base, its -3. In 1,000 innings at second base, it’s -1. In 2,000 innings in the outfield, it’s -15. Bloomquist has been a below average defender at every position he’s played.
Willie Bloomquist is Nick Punto minus all the things that make Nick Punto valuable. A few weeks ago, the A’s signed Nick Punto to a one year, $3 million deal. The M’s are reportedly going to give Bloomquist between $5 and $6 million over two years. The Mariners are paying more money to get a worse player.
It’s a bench player spot. Bloomquist won’t be targeted for that many plate appearances — just like Raul Ibanez wasn’t supposed to play much last year — and its not like a two year deal at this kind of money is going to wreck the budget. But the transactions the team makes tell you something about the way the front office values performance, and their ability to understand that “bench players” become “regulars” when injuries occur, as they always do.
Judge for yourself if the Mariners have actually learned anything from their past mistakes. Judge for yourself if this organization has any idea how to actually build a baseball team.