Hello, dear readers, it's been far too long since I've had the chance to describe my opinions to you.
And my, what a couple of weeks for opinion-fodder. ..
1: The trade
The acquisition of Ben Broussard is either purely great, or sort of bittersweet. It's all in one's perspective. DOV and PI are firmly in the camp that this move is nothing short of a coup; the M's get a real impact bat from the left side to match up with Perez from the right. Choo? Who cares, he was blocked anyway, and Hargrove refused to lose him. He had no future here.
All of that is true, of course. And yet, as Christina Karl wrote at BP (only to be savaged at LL...god, and they say Government overuses acronyms),
"The problem is that they've now dealt another top prospect to get the other half of a DH platoon in place, and while I like Broussard well enough, and like the fact that the Mariners recognize that the division's wide open and flags fly forever and all that, they've given up an awful lot to get bats that don't significantly improve their chances as much as they just paper over last winter's mistakes."
It hurts, but, for all the pshaws and 'Kahrl hates the M's' stuff, there's more than a grain of truth there. No one's arguing that Ben Broussard won't help the M's. He will, guaranteed. But why is it so easy to make a guarantee like that? We brought in lefty/switch DH-types in the offseason, and we spent a fair bit for them (well, for Everett). This move shows that Bavasi's off-season attempts to get a half-decent DH utterly failed. That's not exactly news to a region that's relished every opportunity to trash C-Rex, but it's also sort of tough to keep out of one's mind when reviewing the trades for our new two-headed monster DH. Other teams don't seem to need to give up quality 'spects, why do we?
I've said often that getting platoon guys to play DH isn't hard. I've never been a GM; I remain a guy with a computer, so feel free to discount that assertion. But really - the offseason has plenty of Hee Seop Chois, and Roberto Petagines, and Branyans and Thames by the dozen. I may be overestimating the ease with which you can find these guys, and the number of free agents signings the M's have DFA'd (correctly so, too) shows I might be. But even thinking the Broussard deal is awesome, you've got to start thinking that something's amiss in the way the team looks at freely available talent. That's not saying it's always free, or that plugging in AAA star X is guaranteed to do better than free agent Y, but dang it, I want OUR David Ortiz. Or at least our Kevin Millar.
The other problem (jeebus, I sound negative) is that this continues a trend wherein the M's seem to be conflating a hot streak with a player's true talent level. The M's got Eduardo Perez at the absolute peak of his value; I think even Perez himself would admit he's simply not a .980 OPS guy, even as a platoon partner. Broussard's seen his BABIP go from .287 last year to .371 this year. He's hitting fewer line drives and more GBs. DOV suspects that this is a good thing, and opines that this heralds a new, more sluggery approach at the plate (yes, that is a word. It was coined in honor of Ken Phelps.). It's a testable hypothesis. But does anyone think these guys are going to continue doing what they've done this year? Check out Perez' three year splits here , and then try and convince me he's a .600 slg RHB. Peruse Broussard's stats here or here and I think you get an idea why I'm, er, not quite at JAC levels of excitement.
I think a very optimistic forecast puts them at 80% of their current pace. And yet, 80% of their current pace is *amazing.* My problem isn't that the M's traded Choo for Broussard; the M's will get a lot out of Broussard, and seemed determined not to get anything out of Choo. Sometimes you need to make a deal, even though the timing and 'price' aren't really in your favor. This is an actual MLB season, and not some keeper league that you can brag about at Sickels' place ("i drafted Hunter Pence in the 5th round of my league!" "pfff... I nabbed Matt Garza in the 6th round of mine...and the draft was on April 4th"). So again - I love this move, and it definitely helps the M's chances to make the playoffs.
But, despite the fact that he didn't exactly light up the offseason this past spring, it's not totally Bavasi's fault that this move *was* necessary. The moves look especially great when viewed through the incredibly dysfunctional prism that is the M's GM/Manager relationship. Grover seems determined to assert control by sabotaging the minor moves of his GM. The GM then steps in and, as Paul describes below, removes the Manager's unhealthy obsessions. And so it goes. Seriously, is it like this everywhere? Am I incredibly naive, and it's basically a baseball truism that such a power struggle impacts the on-field performance of the team? Next you'll tell me that life isn't fair, that there is no Santa Claus and that when someone tells you they think you've got a 'great personality' *they may simply be changing the subject.*
I think Bavasi's done incredibly well under circumstances that suck. It's tough for those of us outside the team to understand how hard it might be to change those circumstances, but that doesn't stop us from offering up our unedited, rambling, strongly-held opinions on them.
2: nah, I've wasted enough of your time, dear reader, and I thank those of you who've made it through. More later.