It was all going so well....
The free agent market was out of control; the M's had strength/surplus in the bullpen (though that was diminished recently with the prognosis on Mark Lowe), and a seller's market for relief help. Bill Bavasi had made a couple of nice, under-the-radar deals to improve the club. He's skillfully charted out a middle ground with the fans: he's made it clear he's willing to deal Richie Sexson (cheers from the USSM crowd) but not just as a salary dump - he wants something cool in return (cheers from the anti-USSM crowd).
I've been planning a 'this off-season is awesome' post for a while. It was going to talk about how, despite their huge advantage in young talent, the Angels have pissed away a lot of their cash advantage through stupid deals, and how the M's wisely avoided over-committing resources in the next few years (when their young talent/low payroll will allow them to make a big splash in free agency/make the playoffs/win pennants). There are few times when just sitting there make sense, but this just may have been one of them.
In one afternoon, all of those positive feelings are gone. In one move, Bavasi has put paid to every positive thing ever said about him. I'm trying not to go too negative based on one move, but ferchrissakes, if he gets credit simply for hiring his friend (Bob Fontaine, who happens to be competent) and sitting still when the market goes crazy (who's to say he didn't offer $48m for Gary Matthews?), then he's absolutely gotta take credit for this crap. He saw an inefficiency in the market for 3/4 starters (Meche/Lilly/Weaver offers) and then overspent from another fund source. Hint to Bill Bavasi: you wouldn't pay $15m/year for Horacio Ramirez; don't pay the equivalent in talent. It doesn't matter if you offer to pay cash for a 19" black and white TV that's on sale for $2,000 or if you 'finance' it with 'zero down' payments and a low interest rate. It's still remarkably stupid.
As Jeff at Lookout Landing demonstrates here, the man's a younger version of the bad Joel Pineiro. His slugging against isn't quite as bad; that makes him a replacement-level MLB pitcher, and not a replacement level minor league mascot. His K:BB ratio is so bad, I can't in good conscience repeat it here. I know they're different types of pitchers (FB/GB), but the dude reminds me a whole lot of Damian Moss. Seriously, Moss used to be in the organization; I think he flamed out of the NPB - *he can be had*. If we're looking for guys who cleverly walk as many as they strike out (you know, to put hitters at ease - all the better to pounce later), and who have good stretches where the FBs don't leave the yard, and when the balls seem to be hit right at people, well, why *not* Damian Moss? I know it's a sore f*#$@ing subject, but why not Damian Moss AND Raffy Soriano?
The most depressing part of this is that it's now basically impossible to give Bavasi the benefit of the doubt. No, check that, the biggest part of this is losing Raffy Soriano to the poor man's Clint Nageotte. But still, one problem is that Bavasi seemed to fixate on a deal for Soriano (clearly, ANY DEAL), when his preferred deals - one involving Manny Ramirez or Adam LaRoche - were turned down. His behavior resembles nothing so much as your crazy drunk friend, who, upon being turned down by a smart, beautiful, charming girl, inexplicably becomes fixated on the questionably gendered mouth-breather at the bar. It doesn't make sense; you want to blame the alcohol, but you figure that even the alcohol excuse has its limits, and that the behavior is actually indicative of a long-supressed fetish. Seriously, how do we *really* know that Bavasi wasn't the one pushing to keep Pineiro on the 25 man roster all of 2006?
It all makes sense now, doesn't it? Join me in another drink....