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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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August 6, 2008 9:36 AM

End of Vidro/Bavasi era

Posted by Geoff Baker

So, here we are, the Mariners now 1-0 in the post-Jose Vidro era. For me, the Vidro trade with the Washington Nationals truly symbolized the Bill Bavasi regime. It's funny, too, in a way. Because an argument can be made that Bavasi actually "won" that deal. But it was one of those wins that may not have been worth the effort. Like so many Bavasi moves, he might have actually out-thought himself on this one. Bavasi thought that, given the right circumstances, Vidro could go back to being a line drive doubles hitter and deliver an on-base-plus-slugging percentage that would be right up there with other DH types typically paid more money for hitting home runs. Sort of like an undervalued "Moneyball" type.

But here's where he out-thought himself.

First off, Vidro wasn't cheap. He cost two players plus $6 million per year in cash -- not to mention a vesting option for 2009. We've told you all along that the vesting option would not become a factor this year (once the M's fell out of contention) and it wasn't. Too much ink spilled on that one. There was plenty else to get antsy about with Vidro without having to nit-pick over a token contract clause. Only way it would have mattered was if he'd produced and the team contended. Then, as he approached the magic number of plate appearances, the team would have a painful choice to make between playing Vidro and sitting him.

Not once the team fell out of it. But where Bavasi might have helped himself was by simplifying things and simply sticking to the commonly held perception: that a DH is all about getting the guy most likely to rake home runs and extra-base hits with no defense required. And that they are generally easy to find.


In any event, Vidro himself is not to blame for what happened. He actually put up a respectable season last year, one that would have been more than OK if he was still an infielder. But the team tried to make him a DH. He was badly miscast and knew it. He tried his best to remain professional as he was being villified throughout Seattle. The one thing about Vidro that fans really failed to see was that he was a class act. Knew how to act professionally in the clubhouse and in public. Didn't take it personally when he was ridiculed, or when folks -- this one included -- called for his job. He knew the score. Knew this was a business. Tried his best to produce the numbers expected of him.

No, he did not produce what he had to. But he's hardly alone in that department. There's a certain veteran catcher on this team with a huge fan club to match his contract extension who has done as little or less than Vidro -- both at the plate and on defense. But he never got villified the way Vidro was. I think a lot of the venom directed towards Vidro was unjust.

But that's baseball.

So, who "won" the trade?

Yuck. What a set of facts to pore over.

The Nationals recevied Chris Snelling and Emiliano Fruto from the M's and wound up paying $4 million in salary for a player -- Vidro -- who was no longer with them.

Snelling's career has gone nowhere. He is what he was in Seattle -- only less. An off-injured player now with his second organization since the deal and playing in Class AAA with the Phillies. The player received by the Nats, outfielder Ryan Langerhans, broke into the majors in 2002 but is still a part-timer/AAA guy with little to show for offensively.

Fruto was also dealt by Washington, to Arizona and then Boston in a three-way deal. The player the Nats received? None other than outfielder Wily Mo Pena, a supposed power hitter who has produced numbers even worse than Vidro's.

Arguably, the one full season of .300 hitting produced by Vidro last year, bad as it was power-wise in the DH spot, trumps anything the Nats got back. Plus the fact the Nats had to pay for Vidro to hit in Seattle. But it was just the one season -- if anything, the second-half of last year. This year, Vidro was awful, freakish RBI total or not.

So, unless Langerhans magically transforms into something worthwhile, I'd say that if anyone "won" this forgettable trade, it was the M's, using Vidro to help with their 88-win season in 2007. But as far as wins go, this one was so slim, it's barely even worth remembering. The fact that both Seattle and Washington are neck-and-neck for Worst Team in Baseball honors tells you all you need to know.

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Posted by r0ryAK

9:52 AM, Aug 06, 2008

Whether we "won" this trade or not, something tells me the Nationals (or any other team) would do it all over again if they had the chance.

Any prospect > aging, declining, overpaid, Vidro.

Posted by PR

9:58 AM, Aug 06, 2008

Geoff--

Why the need still to suck up to Bavasi now? He's gone.

Posted by Mike

10:03 AM, Aug 06, 2008

A couple of things. Vidro wasn't going to play for the Nationals and they would have had to eat all of Vifro's $16M contract unless a sucker came around. So they unloaded $12M and got two prospects who didn't pan out. Meanwhile Vidro managed an extremely hot 6 week run that inflated his numbers enough to fool the Ms into thinking they had an answer at DH. I see your argument Geoff but I think the Nats came out on top. Especially when you consider that Carlos Pena and Jack Cust were acquired the same offseason for little cost in terms of salary or prospects.

I think you might be a tad generous to Bavasi saying he outthought himself. You say he was looking to acquire undervalued talent a la Moneyball. But the idea of undervalued talent is that you don't pay a lot for it. Bavasi paid a fairly steep price for undervalued talent.

Posted by NightGame

10:07 AM, Aug 06, 2008

Viva Vidro!!

Posted by Ziasudra

10:09 AM, Aug 06, 2008

Geoff - This is the sort of journalism that we all appreciate - information, obtained, and well summarized. Thanks.

Posted by Sounders

10:11 AM, Aug 06, 2008

Geoff,

A power hitting DH is

"generally easy to find?"

I don't think so. Bavasi got Vidro because no one else wanted to come here, for however much money.

Is anyone else sick of Brett Farve? That guy. What an idiot.

Posted by alpenfan

10:17 AM, Aug 06, 2008

I always liked Vidro as a person and appreciated it when he would occasionally take a pitch or two on this team of mad hackers. Yeah, his skills are on the decline, and he was pretty miserable as a DH this season, but it wasn't like Sexson who perpetually seemed to be striking out and flipping his bat away in disgust. Vidro just seemed to do his best and took his reduced playing time in stride. You gotta like that even if a guy can't produce any more.

It's good to have room for the young fellas to play, but I also wish Jose Vidro the best. Sexson, not so much.

Posted by mpowercc

10:19 AM, Aug 06, 2008

One other factor to consider when juding the winner of this trade is the roster spot that Vidro took up. Whether in the DH spot last year or in an embarrasing "platoon" of overpaid, underperforming veterans with Sexon, Johjima and Cairo in 2008, Vidro blocked the M's from moving up players from the minors. I will grant that there is no kind of guarantee that any of them would have put up better numbers than Vidro during the timeframe, but it is more valuable to the M's to find out if they have a long term solution in their farm system than to field a player who isn't going to be a part of the next good M's squad. In this respect, Vidro could have been free and it still wasn't a good deal for the Mariners.

Posted by BrianL

10:20 AM, Aug 06, 2008

The problem of the trade was that the premise was bad.

Think about it: We traded an oft-injured, but cheap, young, and potentially useful outfielder and a cheap but rather mediocre pitching prospect for an oft-injured, expensive, old, perhaps useful infielder.

Then cast him as a DH.

That isn't a Moneyball move, that's just an example of awful player evaluation.

Sure, Snelling didn't hit a lick for the Nationals, but if you're their GM, you make that move every single time.

Posted by Bill

10:23 AM, Aug 06, 2008

It's been really great to watch the M's win at home the past two nights. That was a great catch by Ichiro to end it last night. Putz's split looked good but his fastball was not under control and he wasn't getting any close calls on the outside corner from the umpire. Hopefully he gets his FB figured out.


There has to be a drastic difference in team speed with no Vidro and Kenji on the bench. Maybe small ball would work with this team if they can take pitches, steal bases and put balls in play...are you listening Yuni?

Posted by Tek Jansen

10:24 AM, Aug 06, 2008

The trade wasn't "won" by the Mariners. The Nats got rid of a bad, expensive player who was of no use to them. Vidro is another example of Bavasi's inablity to find a DH.

Everett/Perez/Broussard/Vidro are examples of poor roster construction and talent evaluation. The fact that Fruto and Snelling didn't turn out for Washington is not a consideration. Bavasi could have used those players in a package for a useful player. Instead, he wasted those two assets, which is what they were at the time, on a player who hit like a reserve middle infielder and fielded like an aging DH.

Posted by Scott

10:27 AM, Aug 06, 2008

Geoff -

Nice piece of writing and analysis to wrap up the Vidro era.

Posted by scrapiron

10:30 AM, Aug 06, 2008

Don't compare the Bavasi-Vidro experiment to Moneyball. Moneyball is famous for trying a well calculated statistical approach to find undervalued performers.

No sabermetric person in his right mind would have approved the Vidro experiment. The idea of trying a OBP player instead of a SLG player as a DH is good in theory, but Vidro was never that guy. Few extra base hits, no speed, poor fit for a DH. If Bavasi really wanted to try his OBP-DH experiment, he should have picked up someone like Kenny Lofton, who would have come much cheaper.

Posted by Leftie Specialist

10:35 AM, Aug 06, 2008

Geoff -

Do you think with Joba Chamberlain possibly going down, something could be in the works with the Mariners and Yanks again

Posted by meagain

10:41 AM, Aug 06, 2008

With Leftie's question in mind, let's hope for a good outing by Washburn tonight.

There was an intereting byplay in the outfield before Friday's Orioles game. Separated from Washburn by about 100 feet, the Oriole's catcher Hernandez pointed to the outfield turf, as if to ask, "are you staying here?" Washburn threw his arms wide in the air, indicating, "who knows?"

Posted by lwl

11:05 AM, Aug 06, 2008

Bavassi ! ! !
His imprint is everywhere....Washburn, Bedard, Silva, Batista, Johjima, and others who are helping their new teams. Beltre has returned some value but that is about all. I hope ownership finishes the reorg in the FO.

Posted by drake

11:09 AM, Aug 06, 2008

Don't know if anyone else saw this, but Teixeira again confessed his love for Safeco Field (and Yankee Stadium, and added Anaheim, since that's his current employer)

http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-simers6-2008aug06,1,732295.column?page=2

Posted by Henry

11:10 AM, Aug 06, 2008

Pretty sweet comment from Big Tex:

http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-simers6-2008aug06,1,732295.column?page=2

Says that Seattle, NY and LA have his three favorite stadiums.

I'm not a big fan of paying him an outlandish amount of money but he would help bring in some power (though, I would like to see LeHair get a chance the rest of the way out) and Gold Glove Defense. I say five year max at $18M per. I know he's said no to more before, but I figure the market is going to be tight w/ most teams fairly stable at 1B.

Posted by Zack

11:11 AM, Aug 06, 2008

Yeah there is no way in heck we won that trade. We paid a bunch of money for a year and a half of a guy who made the team worse than if we'd found a competent left fielder and moved Raul to DH. Washington got Vidro off the books and paid very little to two players who had little or no impact on their ML club.

Posted by 7hourlinedrive

11:14 AM, Aug 06, 2008

Of course, the Mariners won this deal, no matter what the basement-dwelling SABREmetricians think or thought when the deal was made. Even if Vidro didn't hit the "requisite" number of extra-base hits expected of a DH through the first part of last season, he consistently hit the ball and didn't strike out... and then the extra-base hits increased later in the season. He had only done exactly what had been doing throughout his career - hitting the ball. I believe Bavasi saw Vidro potentially as an (I know, bordering on blasphemy here) Edgar Martinez figure who could consistently hit, spray doubles and occasionally hit the home run; at times, he did those things, last year, in the Mariners' 88-victory season.. just not enough for the experiment to be successful.

Of course, he started terribly this season, but, as Geoff points out, he wasn't alone. He was starting to hit again in recent weeks (12-for-38, including 4 multi-hit games and three 0-fors in his last 10 games).

Incidentally, I think that not only will a team pick him up this season, I think he could be picked up within the week. Seriously.

Consiidering the players the Mariners unloaded to get Vidro and considering his role in what they did with him last year, the Mariners won this deal. Chris Snelling, whom certain local Websites lauded as the perfect model of OPS, will never be healthy enough to play an entire season, great eye or not, and Emiliano Fruto was superfluous within the Mariners' scheme of things.

Vidro never deserved the extra-special slice of derision handed to him.

"Why the need still to suck up to Bavasi now? He's gone."

Why the need to throw dirt on Bavasi's grave now? He's gone.

Posted by Mike

11:16 AM, Aug 06, 2008

"Says that Seattle, NY and LA have his three favorite stadiums. "

And coincidentally enough, all three are big payroll teams. Next thing you'll tell me he's a Boras client.

Posted by wag the dog

11:20 AM, Aug 06, 2008

Finally.

Well, now I'll just keep hoping that the next GM places a premium on finding and acquiring young talent as opposed to relentlessly pursing expensive, mediocre veterans.

Bavasi's philosophy always seemed to be one of "if I pay the guy like a star, he'll play like one (even though he never has, or hasn't in several season, or appears ripe for a major decline just after I back the Brinks truck up to his house).

Viva la youth movement.

Posted by BrianL

11:22 AM, Aug 06, 2008

7hourlinedrive -

"Of course, the Mariners won this deal, no matter what the basement-dwelling SABREmetricians think or thought when the deal was made."

Off to a flying start. I'll give you a C+ effort for trolling on this one.

"Even if Vidro didn't hit the "requisite" number of extra-base hits expected of a DH through the first part of last season, he consistently hit the ball and didn't strike out"

If by hit the ball you mean "weakly pop up" or "ground to short" then yes, he consistently hit the ball. Good for Vidro, we shold have given him a contract extension.

"I believe Bavasi saw Vidro potentially as an (I know, bordering on blasphemy here) Edgar Martinez figure who could consistently hit, spray doubles and occasionally hit the home run"

If Bavasi really thought that, he needs to get his head examined. Vidro is as far away from Edgar Martinez as humanly possible. One is a soft singles hitter, the other had power to the gaps and the ability to put 25-30 in the seats every year.

The only thing those two had in common were being slow and unable to take the field.

"Chris Snelling, whom certain local Websites lauded as the perfect model of OPS, will never be healthy enough to play an entire season, great eye or not, and Emiliano Fruto was superfluous within the Mariners' scheme of things."

Chris Snelling is the perfect model of a cheap player. Not a particularly high ceiling, but potentially useful. At the very least, he could have been traded for another useful player.

Instead we got Vidro and his contract.

Posted by Donovan

11:24 AM, Aug 06, 2008

The conventional wisdom is that productive DH's are plentiful, but I think this is yet another case where the CW is wrong. It is difficult and expensive to go out and sign a premier DH in the FA market. It is even more difficult and very risky to find production in the second tier DH market as Bavasi proved repeatedly. This just highlights why the M's should sign Raul to be their DH next year and they should do it right now. He has the skill, the focus, and the experience. He's also a mentor and a stabilizing force in the clubhouse. He's everything that Bavasi couldn't give us, and that the team hasn't had since Edgar retired. He's also the best we are going to do next year, and he presumably wants to be in Seattle.

Sign him Lee.

Posted by scottM

11:28 AM, Aug 06, 2008

mpowercc: "Whether in the DH spot last year or in an embarrasing "platoon" of overpaid, underperforming veterans with Sexon, Johjima and Cairo in 2008, Vidro blocked the M's from moving up players from the minors."

Well said (although Cairo is not overpaid, and has delivered what was expected of him with a good utility glove and marginal bat. One Willie B was enough, and Norton should have stayed over Cairo.).

There are the two extremes: The Buy-A-Winner New York Yankees VS Develop-From-Within Tampa Bay Rays. Both approaches can work, but the monied teams prevail more often. The teams that are perennially competitive, like the Angels, A's, Twins, Tigers, tend to work both approaches at the same time.

There is nothing wrong with paying your legitimate stars big money, such as Ichiro, Felix(soon), and Beltre. The biggest problem with Bill Bavasi's approach was in paying too much for players that are not bona fide stars––Sexson, Vidro, Silva, Johjima. At one level, it's not my money so I shouldn't care. However, I also want to see the M's field a winning team.

What we clearly saw the M's do during the Bavasi era was allow those big salaries dictate who played. This was irrespective of performance. This created the "entitlement" problem that seriously infected this team–– until Riggleman.

We suffered far longer than we should have watching Sexson and Vidro. There's a chance we will see too much of Silva and Johjima over the next three years, also. (Let's hope Carlos and Kenji begin to play at a level that even partially justifies those paychecks).

The lesson to be learned is simple. The all-youth solution, and building from within, is only part of the answer. Spending big salaries for legitimate stars is fine (for winning and drawing crowds). However, spending big money on middling stars that may or may not produce creates a managerial problem. It is better to take your chances on several $1-5m/ year players, than on those $6-15m/ year semi-stars. For example, Wilkerson came into 2008 with a $3m salary. He didn't produce so we dumped him in early May. Vidro at $8m was poor, too, yet stayed until August 6th. The other approach is to pay almost-star-level-players more money for a short duration. $12m/ year for four years of Carlos Silva is not looking too good right now.

I understand that it's far easier to jettison a Brad Wilkerson at $3m than a Richie Sexson at $15m. However, moving forward, the M's should be much more cautious about putting themselves in this position––gumming up the works with entitled players that don't produce.

Posted by BrianL

11:31 AM, Aug 06, 2008

scottM - "There is nothing wrong with paying your legitimate stars big money, such as Ichiro, Felix(soon), and Beltre. The biggest problem with Bill Bavasi's approach was in paying too much for players that are not bona fide stars––Sexson, Vidro, Silva, Johjima. At one level, it's not my money so I shouldn't care. However, I also want to see the M's field a winning team."

I just want to applaud you for writing this, because it is a point often lost on people

If you have the payroll (Seattle does) It's okay to give big money to good players. Our problem for years has been that we've given big money to mediocre and bad players.

Posted by Mike

11:32 AM, Aug 06, 2008

"Of course, the Mariners won this deal, no matter what the basement-dwelling SABREmetricians think or thought when the deal was made."

Well, I'm a fan of the SABR community and I don't dwell in a basement. I play many sports, I have a beautiful wife and child, successful careeer and I'm 25 years out of college. How about you not stereotype me and I won't refer to you as a behind the times, mouth breathing, flat-earther who thinks eclipses are the work of the devil?

Vidro was the worst full-time DH last year which was his "good" year for us. His OPS was good for a middle infielder or catcher but not a DH. We got to pay $13M and give up prospects we might have been able to trade elsewhere for the privilege of seeing him in our lineup every day.

"Incidentally, I think that not only will a team pick him up this season, I think he could be picked up within the week. Seriously."

His knees preclude him from playing everyday and his bat precludes him from DHing on 13 of the 14 AL clubs. If you are correct it will be as a pinch hitter on a team that could use a switch hitter but since he will cost nothing, sure, it might happen.

Posted by Henry

11:41 AM, Aug 06, 2008

Mike,

Obviously this is a marketing ploy by Boras/Tex, but you have to appreciate that he isn't afraid to sell himself. This is a business and he's kissing the right as*es!

Take it for what it's worth, understandably.

I personally wouldn't mind seeing a sell off this year(waiver wire) and next. Trade our team of veterans for new, young players. I know we have the payroll capability but let's be honest, starting from scratch makes the most sense. Get rid of Washburn, Beltre (I don't care that we don't have a replacement, bring up a young guy or pick one a stop gate in FA. When we have a chance to actually contend, spend the money), trade Ichiro if you can get value in return, let Ibanez go (and get the type 'A' draft picks), if anyone is willing to take a waiver claim on Silva/Batista (unlikely scenario), let them go for nothing, trade Putz (if and when we get Fields signed - replace w/ Lowe/Cocoran or Batista if he's still w/ the team and then call up Fields as soon as he's ready). Trade Yuni if any team is willing to give up a good prospect and replace him w/ Truinfel or Chen.

If you can keep Bedard on the cheap w/ an extension, do it. We gave up too much to get the guy and when healthy he is a gamer. He should have won the CY last year if he'd had stayed healthy. If he's will to do 4/$48M w/ incentives, do it. Pitchers of his stature (again, when healthy) are very hard to come by. Imagine our staff w/ Felix, Bedard, Morrow, Washburn/Dickey/RRS/Feierabend/Silva. Between them, a solid mid-relief squad and your choice of Putz (only trade if you can sell high) or Fields and you got a pretty solid pitching staff.

It's time for a change in philosophy. Don't get me wrong, it's great to have a team spend money to contend, but we're not a team that can contend in it's current form. Sign your top, young players (Felix, Bedard...that's not a very long list; sad). Develop from within and fill in the holes with smart FA signings.

Posted by scottM

11:45 AM, Aug 06, 2008

BrianL: "If you have the payroll (Seattle does) It's okay to give big money to good players. Our problem for years has been that we've given big money to mediocre and bad players."

Yes, it's all about investing wisely.

One BIG point missed by those who advocate that we fans stop going to games until this F.O. gets its act together, is that, without a healthy attendance and Radio/TV following, Seattle will not have an above average payroll to spend on players that will make us competitive. I would much rather see Seattle bring in a savvy G.M. who can make wise investments in legitimate stars, shrewd trades for players with untapped upside potential, AND build from within.

Also, enough of the no-player-would-want-to-come-to-Seattle crap. The M's, despite themselves, have a great fan base, wonderful stadium, and one of the finest cities in the world in which to live.

Bottom line, there is NO reason the Seattle Mariners shouldn't be in the playoff hunt EVERY season.

Posted by Truth

11:49 AM, Aug 06, 2008

The Mariners have had a pretty good DH for quite a while now. His name is Raul Ibanez. Unfortunately he's been in LF the whole time.

Posted by Mr. Sabermetrics

11:51 AM, Aug 06, 2008

Geoff, Snelling has played for THREE organizations since leaving Seattle: Washington, Oakland and Philly.

Posted by scrapiron

11:56 AM, Aug 06, 2008

7hourlinedrive - "I believe Bavasi saw Vidro potentially as an (I know, bordering on blasphemy here) Edgar Martinez figure who could consistently hit, spray doubles and occasionally hit the home run"

I shot milk out my nose when I saw Edgar and Vidro in the same sentence.

CAREER OBP SLG OPS
Edgar .418 .515 .933
Vidro .359 .445 .804

To put it another way, Vidro never put up a single season OPS that matched Edgar's career .933.

So how is it that Bavasi, or 7hourlinedrive, or anyone on this planet, thinks Vidro is, or ever was, a DH like Edgar?

Posted by Adam

11:57 AM, Aug 06, 2008

Not only did Vidro cost too much and fail to produce, he also cut into the development time of Adam Jones, Wlad Balentien, and Jeff Clement, and also caused the Mariners to continue to run Raul Ibanez out to LF on a nightly basis.


Of course, Bavasi got caught up mumbling "professional hitter" to himself over and over again, and failed to even consider the domino effect.

Posted by BrianL

11:59 AM, Aug 06, 2008

Henry - You trade players in order to get value back. Trading via waivers makes it very, very, very hard to get value in return. Either trade them in the off-season, or trade them before the deadline.

I'm not arguing to build the team via free-agency. I'd rather see this team built internally with FA signings to fill in the missing pieces. Doing that leaves more payroll, and more payroll means you have the financial resources to go after better players.

Posted by Mr. Sabermetrics

12:03 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Not only that, Adam, but look at how WELL the kids are responding to playing everyday. Even Clement appears to be more comfortable up there.

It sure is proving that Bavasi was wrong about rookies.

Posted by Klatzy

12:04 PM, Aug 06, 2008

The criticism against Vidro may have been overdone. But it's still warranted whereas the relative lack of criticism of Johjima is understandable.

Johjima plays a demanding position where relative lack of hitting is accepted because of the defensive needs.

Vidro played DH, which requires no defense, where all you're asked to do is hit.

The blogosphere can't really critique player's "professionalism" and clubhouse contributions.

Posted by meagain

12:06 PM, Aug 06, 2008

I think Henry's proposal is a sure-fire way to achieve crowds, and a budget, like the Oakland A's. And Billy Beane is not the Mariner GM.

Posted by scrapiron

12:07 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Henry - good point on Bedard. Bedard's value is at its' lowest right now. Yet when healthy he still has the potential to be a #1 starter. The Mariners would be foolish to trade him this off season. If he put up solid numbers in August and September then maybe, but that isn't going to happen this year.

Now would be the time to sign him to a long term deal. You can still trade him later when his value is higher, but you can deal him when you want to and not be painted into a corner.

Posted by Davis

12:10 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Vidro was not bad last year despite what you stat heads say. he hit for over 300, rarely struck out and drew tons of walks. he was the definition of an asset. snelling is always hurt and SUCKED. Sure vidro wasnt as good as we thought this year but he was better than : balentien, clement, johjima, burke and yuni. He was not the problem.

Posted by hoser

12:11 PM, Aug 06, 2008

To make the deal a win for the Mariners, you need to ignore sunk cost.
At the time of the deal, the Nationals had to pay $16M for a player who was only good as a pinch-hitter at the end of the bench. Afterwards, they were $12M plus two marginal players ahead.
At best, the Mariners lost $12M and two players for nothing. They might have gotten better production from Ben Broussard and Snelling (effectively free), or spent $12M on someone useful. A strikeout is better than a ground into double play.
Best yet, they could have started DHing Raul and given Adam Jones some serious break-in time, maybe allowing them to avoid a much bigger mistake.
My analysis has the Ms as huge losers.

Posted by BrianL

12:14 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Davis - Jose Vidro had an incredibly high amount of infield hits last season, attributing to his high BA. Those kinds of results, especially with his speed, were not sustainable. Add to that, his BABIP shot up to a well-above league average .337. All of the signs pointed that he was likely going to come crashing down to earth. Jeff Sullivan commented about this over at Lookout Landing all off-season: Jose Vidro was not going to repeat his 2007 success.

Lo and behold, 2008 rolls around and he regresses to a .243 hitter that still can't hit for power and can't run the bases.

Posted by Henry

12:21 PM, Aug 06, 2008

BrianL,

At this point, what kind of value do you think you can get in Batista? Do you really want to pay $9.5M for a middle reliever? Even as a mediocre SP? Dump him if someone is stupid enough to make a waiver wire claim (on a side note, I do like how he is involved in the city - definitely a good character).

Washburn...I would love for him to pitch like he did the past couple months but I don't know if he has the drive. We paid him an absurd amount of money after his one/best season w/ the Halos and he hasn't done much for us since. I think getting a player like Melky would be nice, but if he continues to tank the rest of the season, he won't be worth much. I think it's a definite possibility we can make a trade for him via the waiver wire. Our position (2nd to last in the Majors) allows us a certain amount of wiggle room to make claims. If not, I say we try and trade him in the off season, but then again, it all comes down to how he pitches the rest of the season.

Beltre is a great defensive 3B with above average power/stats. If we can package him for a bevy of prospects from the Twins or any other team, it wouldn't make sense not to trade him. Unless we overpay, my gut (no rhyme or reason, just a feeling) tells me he'll go a different route, maybe back the the NL.

meagain,

Luckily for management/ownership, Seattle fan's love baseball b/c it's baseball. We have a great stadium, a great experience at every game - win or lose and enough die hards (and not bandwagon fans) to keep the stadium full enough. Realistically, w/ the loss of the Sonics (I hate you Clay) that's a whole new spectrum of fans looking to support a local team. Grant it, many of the fans enjoy all Seattle sports, but it's just more dollars going to one team to another in city.

Since we have payroll flexibility, one year of trading down to allow prospects to play and develop in the majors will allow for us to come strong the following year. A foundation of young players with a mix of solid veterans and a super star or two will be the balance that the Mariner's have needed since their run in the late 90's and early 2000's.

I am a fan and will continue to buy tickets, memorabilia and listen/watch games on tv/radio.

One to two years of rebuilding for a run of ten years of good baseball is not giving up much. We need a sold foundation before we try to become a powerhouse such as the BoSox, Yanks or even the Angels.

Posted by BrianL

12:27 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Henry - You're not going to get anything out of Batista, period. Personally I would just DFA him after the season. Frankly, until RR-S or Morrow is ready to be recalled, someone's going to have to take turns through the rotation.

Since you're not going to get anything for him, just hang on to him and DFA him after the season is over.

"Beltre is a great defensive 3B with above average power/stats. If we can package him for a bevy of prospects from the Twins or any other team, it wouldn't make sense not to trade him. Unless we overpay, my gut (no rhyme or reason, just a feeling) tells me he'll go a different route, maybe back the the NL."

Beltre is the kind of player that you can overpay (see ScottM's post above). You don't put him on waivers to trade him. If you do trade him, you trade him at next year's deadline. The smart thing to do is try to extend his contract, since there are no viable 3B options on the horizon.

As for Washburn, that's one of the few times a Waiver dump can work. Some team will place value on him, so go ahead and place him on waivers.

For the most part, however, using waivers isn't the best way to make roster moves.

Posted by the torpedo

12:32 PM, Aug 06, 2008

From the other part of the sports page I see Ned Yost has taken himself out of contention for the M's skipper next year I just don't want cookie-cutter players," Yost said. "I want guys that compete. I want guys that play with fire and passion. And sometimes when you do, things like that happen.

"I'd much rather deal with this than a bunch of guys sitting on the bench getting their butts kicked every day and not caring about it."

Before we bury Vidro, he brought something this team sorely needs, taking pitches. This team does not get on base. Two guys in the top 100 in OBP, none in the top 50. We need a guy that walks and hits doubles, remember Edgar. Good lineups work pitchers. It's a game of atricition and the M's aren't atricin'.

Posted by Ziasudra

12:35 PM, Aug 06, 2008

To Klatzy (12:04) You missed a critical point on Joh - yes, he plays a demanding defensive poistion, BUT HE PLAYS IT MORE POORLY than anyone else in the major leagues. If he's not putting up Mike Piazza numbers offensively, he's not an asset.
Period.

Posted by meagain

12:47 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Henry, thanks for a level-headed response. From where I sit, there's a difference between rebuilding and cleaning house. Beltre, Ichiro, Raul: if all of these guys go in the same year, the fan base will be offended. I know this kind of thinking led to keeping Edgar one year too long; I'm glad they did it anyway, if it kept him out of another uniform.

There are a lot of ways to look at a baseball team. I'm willing to take the downs with the ups. The M's have been managed unwisely for the past few years, and the changes aren't in place yet to straighten that out. But dumping every beloved player simultaneously isn't going to help matters, in the short or long term. It's hard enough to get good players to come and stay here as it is.

I, for one, would drop from around 25 games a year to around 5 if your formula were adopted. And I love baseball.

Posted by scrapiron

12:51 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Morrow in Tacoma

Morrow pitched today. 34 pitches, 21 strikes. 1 2/3 innings, one hit, one strikeout.

Didn't stretch him out much, but a good outing while he was in there.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

12:56 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Donovan: This just highlights why the M's should sign Raul to be their DH next year and they should do it right now. He has the skill, the focus, and the experience. He's also a mentor and a stabilizing force in the clubhouse."

I disagree on that last sentence. Geoff himself has done articles / blog posts before talking to Raul about his approach to the plate or to going about his conditioning / prep every day, and Raul comes up with some insight... and then Geoff asked Raul if he thought about teaching it to others on the team and Raul responded with an honestly blank look of surprise. Raul is a lead-by-example guy, i.e. goes about his business quietly, answers questions if asked, but is not a natural teacher. And he doesn't have to be, to be effective (as this week's RBI totals for him has shown...). But it's incorrect to re-sign him with the intent of having him be a leader, mentor, teacher or clubhouse guy.

If he were such, the 08 M's clubhouse wouldn't have fractured and gone to hell in late April / early May.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

12:58 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Went away when the Guillen nonsense peaked, back now that there's actual stuff to talk about.

Should the DH spot be a rotating rest-players/get-playing-time deal for the rest of the year? Or should it be one person's role for an extended tryout?

I know most people would likely want to see Raul at DH and Balentien/Reed at LF for the rest of the year. But there might be value in shuffling around to get different looks at different people week to week...

Posted by Joe C

12:59 PM, Aug 06, 2008

I'd take the National's side of the Vidro deal anytime... just to dump the Vidro contract.

I'd also say that if the Mariners were smart enough to dump Washburn on the Yankees, they'd win that deal hands down.

Obviously the same goes for Silva, but since Bavasi hasn't caught on anywhere yet, that's not going to happen.

Posted by Ben

1:00 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Sweet - they're going with pretty much the same lineup for today's game. Reed is still in there just as a DH. That's good - he should get to play every day.

Now if Clement can pick up the pace a bit.

Posted by scottM

1:08 PM, Aug 06, 2008

from Chris of B: "Went away when the Guillen nonsense peaked, back now that there's actual stuff to talk about."


Actual stuff like frogs, locusts and the end of the world is OK when its coming from you, but using the José Guillén question to get at the underlying direction and make-up of this club is beneath you. I've always respected your input here, Chris, but this arrogance on your part is surprising.

Posted by ancient mariner

1:09 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Bavasi was and is a terrible judge of baseball talent. The new GM will need several years to undo the damage that Conehead inflicted.

Posted by Scanman

1:11 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Meagain, it would seem that even if you offend the fan base, people keep filing up the seats. Case in point, this year. Just look at this years attendance figures and I don’t know how mush more offensive the FO. Could have been.

Posted by Bill

1:14 PM, Aug 06, 2008

I could get used to seeing today's lineup, although I would prefer to have Ichiro in CF and Raul DH, but at least we get to see some young, hungry players playing for their jobs.


Geoff, any thoughts about what the M's plan to do with their glut of catchers? It doesn't really make sense to carry 3 on the roster.

Posted by pbk13

1:25 PM, Aug 06, 2008

What a horrible way to evaluate the trade. Vidro cost us the latter part of 2007 of Adam Jones. Because Vidro was perceived as a productive hitter (and that is surely debatable) Jones had to sit. He was called up from AAA to play, but he sat and wasted everybody's time. The Mariners lost that trade, and then they lost Jones. We are all losers as a result.

Posted by Big Ebu

1:34 PM, Aug 06, 2008

scottM

Good posts. Investing wisely is important (just like stocks!). But another advantage of being a high payroll team is that it gives the Mariners more margin for error if they guess wrong in the free agency market and get stuck with a bad contract. While nobody intentionally gives big money to bad/mediocre players, it does happen. No organization is going to be right 100% of the time (our recent history of course is much worse than that). But the Mariners can absorb some hits and still have payroll flexibility to field a good team. Our problem is that Bavasi collected bad contracts faster than he could get rid of them which has impacted our ability to build a roster.

I agree that in a 4 team division that does not include Boston or New York we should be competitive every year. The fact we are not shows how badly the FO has been the past several years.

Posted by Ben

1:45 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Did Washburn really just strike out the first two batters looking?

He's throwing rocks tonight... thus far... knock on wood....

Posted by Jonathan

1:51 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Lol at Snelling being an internet hero and never coming close to panning out.

Posted by James from Walla Walla

1:59 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Geoff,

I finally was getting excited about the Mariners getting the 1st pick in the draft. Then, they win
three straight exciting games. Can't we at least get the #1 pick to justify how Pathetic the Mariners have played to this point?

Oh, Have you heard whether we signed our #1 pick from this year yet?

It is nice to see we are FINALLY bring up some of our young guys to get some experience. Why did we have to wait SO LONG to get rid of Vidro??

Posted by Sig Menchel

1:59 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Geoff,
Please save the microanalysis for the SABR geeks. Bavasi was a mediocre GM with the Angels and a lousy GM here with the Mariners. He got by on his family name and the fact he has been in baseball forever.
The real problem with the Mariners is in the upper echelons. Will the Lincoln/Armstrong monster relinquish power and allow a strong-minded baseball man to run the organization. In my opinion, that is the only chance the Mariners have for success.

Sig in Bellevue

Posted by Sounders

2:54 PM, Aug 06, 2008

SIG In Bellevue:

Agreed. I simply can't get on board again until those clowns are gone. They make being an M's fan feel like he's.....well, I won't even say.

That's why I keep posting seemingly goofy things. I simply cannot take the M's seriously until they become a baseball team and a baseball organization. Until then I will view them as Big Time Wrestling

Posted by Henry

3:13 PM, Aug 06, 2008

BrianL,

I definitely don't think you trade Beltre via the waiver route. I meant that w/ him, you'd wait until the off season and then see what you can get for him. The last thing I would want to see if Beltre playing for the M's and losing. If we can get a SP or a position player for him in the off season, go for it.

I actually think you put Batista on the waiver wire, see if any picks him up, if not, you have to keep him. There's no point of DFA this year or next since you a) owe him a ton of money and b) he's versatile enough to spot start, pitch long relief or possible close (as he did w/ the d'backs). Grant it, he hasn't been good at any of those options this year, he still isn't bad enough to cut and pay off w/o some kind of return.

meagain,

As a huge M's fan my whole life, I wouldn't be happy w/ a totally blow up of a team but would understand that it would be for the best. I have enough fun w/ friends going to the beer garden on a sunny summer day. Of course, I want the M's to win, I want them to develop talent and be what they use to be in the glory days. I figure that if you can do something similar to what the Indians, Marlins and even the Brewers are doing currently, that it will lead to a much better product for years to come. 1-2 years of pain I believe will be worth, hopefully 5-7 years of solid Seattle baseball.

(if there's a response, want to put it up on the most recent post?)

Posted by hoke

4:09 PM, Aug 06, 2008

I am astonished that anyone besides the M's front office can remotely justify the Vidro acquistion.

The blogosphere had the acquistion of Vidro as a huge mistake from the moment it was announced. Most of the posts on this thread have it right, but that the Vidro trade has defenders....unbelievable.

The idea that the M's thought they could actually trade him.....laughable. He would not even be on the roster of any other major league team, let alone be playing. Only the M's were stupid enough to have him on the team....and to actually bat him cleanup? Bavasi was not the only idiot....he had help.

Posted by Big Ebu

4:17 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Geoff,

Interesting post. Kind of like trying to determine a winner of a Nuclear War.

Maybe the Mariners “win” based on the players involved in the trade, but as many have pointed out the trade itself resulted in a roster construction problem that led to many other “negatives” for the Mariners. In this sense I think the Mariners as an organization came out in worse shape.

Posted by Faceplant

5:24 PM, Aug 06, 2008

"The problem of the trade was that the premise was bad."

This is why I hate it when people try and judge trades based on the results they got back. I can trade my house for a lottery ticket. Even if I strike gold with it, it was still a stupid idea.

The M's traded a young, cheap, oft injured outfielder with a decent bat when healthy, and a young cheap live armed reliever for the right to pay an old, oft injured middle infielder who hadn't hit well for two years. Especially well enough to DH. There is no possible justification for that move. A move made worse by the fact that the Nationals would have DFA'd him anyway, and the M's could have picked him up for nothing.

Not to mention that there are guys all over the M's minor league system who could have put up similar numbers.

Posted by Andrew I.

10:16 PM, Aug 06, 2008

A little confusion with the names mentioned. Snelling was traded by the Nats to the A's for Langerhans. All this says was "the player the Nats received was. . ." Also, Fruto was never dealt to Boston. Boston sent Pena to Washington who then sent Fruto to Arizona who then in turn sent IF/OF Chris Carter. As far as who won, I'm going to have to say the Nationals with an emphatic hands down. They shedded some salary and the return (present day) is Wily Mo Pena and Ryan Langerhans. Langerhans won't live up to his early round pedigree (is 3rd considered early?) but he can be a serviceable 4th/5th outfielder or 4A player to tickle everyones fancy when a starter goes down or slumps. Pena has a big swing and is Pedro Serrano-esque when it comes to breaking balls, but has yet play a full season, so in my eyes, the jury is still out.
As far as the Mariners, they had one good year from a second basemen who miss-cast as a DH and 3 hole batter one year, and a terrible year the following year. I dont quite understand how someone is DFA-ed one day, but is batting third during the week leading up to it? This was long over due so why not put someone else there atleast to get more ABs (Clement, Balentein, or the immortal Bryan LaHair). No groundball, singles hitter should be in the 3 spot for 150 games, his GIDP stats last year were pretty gross to look at. And thats with one of the fastest in the league hitting in front of him.
I could go on for hours about the mistakes Bavasi made, and this trade wouldn't be in the top 5 for worst deals. (Asdrubal for an ESPN anchor might be #1)
Shaun Alexander is still a free agent, maybe he can hit 3rd?

Posted by Norwester

1:26 AM, Aug 07, 2008

jThe Bavasi Era will be over when Batista, Silva and Washburn are no longer Mariners, and not before.

Posted by Craigmont

1:58 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Is there anyone who wouldn't rather have the team before the Vidro and Bedard trades than the team we have now?

Recent entries

Aug 7, 08 - 10:12 AM
Adam Jones revisited

Aug 6, 08 - 06:14 PM
M's drop finale

Aug 6, 08 - 04:10 PM
Minnesota Twins at Mariners: 08/06 game thread

Aug 6, 08 - 09:36 AM
End of Vidro/Bavasi era

Aug 5, 08 - 11:29 PM
Putz "closes" ninth

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