Remember a long time ago when the Mariners had this scrappy little ballplayer with the middle name “fucking?” He played so hard and he did all the little things. He played a lot of positions, and we equate that to our jobs, where we value the guys that are willing to put a lot of different things on their plates.
At one time Willie Bloomquist was either a fan-favorite, or the absolute personification of an old school mentality in which value is derived more from the variety-of-cliches-applicable than actual production.
Willie Fucking Bloomquist is back. He’s still not a good player, and if you’ve been anywhere near Twitter, you know that a lot of peole also know that he’s not a good player. He’ll be making $5.8 million in two years, going into his Age 36 season, as already a not-good player.
The Bloomquist signing represents a fundamental flaw in the Mariners front office philosophy. The Mariners are bad at evaluating talent, not only in the separation of good players from bad players, but also in the process of appraising what a player’s positive attributes are worth.
Imperfection doesn’t mean they aren’t good at anything though, though the sum total still seems pretty bad. And bad decisions on a small-scale aren’t the same as bad decisions on a large-scale.
For example, lets say the Mariners had paid way too much money for Josh Hamilton last offseason, but followed it up with a bunch of savvy signings. Hamilton probably still would have stunk, but the Mariners would be buried under a terrible contract.
This isn’t even close to as bad as when the Mariners traded Michael Morse, a highly-paid player who couldn’t handle anything but first base defensively, and who had only one year of team control for John Jaso, a reputed defensive butcher in his own right, but one that played a premium defensive position, made very little money, hits the hell out of the ball, and had three years of team control left.
Willie Bloomquist doesn’t deserve $6 million, I agree on that. But this move is a low-impact signing, and low-impact means low negative impact, too.
Sure, the Mariners may get the most out of Bloomquist by cutting him the day after his deal is official. Sure, ZiPs projections have him as a -0.3 WAR player in 2013. Steamer has him at about 0.4 in less than 300 plate appearances. If Steamer is right then Bloomquist is worth his annual salary, basically. If Steamer is right and Bloomquist’s presence allows the Mariners to go get something like a platoon partner for Justin Smoak, or a quality designated hitter that is bat-only, he could be worth more.
Willie Bloomquist has an opportunity to provide some value, perhaps even surplus value for the Mariners.
That said, I don’t like the signing. The team could have gotten a better player for less money. They could have gotten a different, equivalent player for the same money, we assume, and avoided the backlash they’re sure to face from the stat-savvy corner of their fan base.
Or maybe they couldn’t. Maybe they are all over every utility man, and the best they could do was Willie Bloomquist. I tend to be of the mind that says “let Carlos Triunfel have a shot.”
Bloomquist is a quality defender at second base, third base, and shortstop. He’s a notch below average hitting against lefties for his career. He provides the Mariners utility, and there are natural instances in which he should be able to contribute. The team won’t need a metaphorical shoehorn to fit Bloomquist in their lineup on occasion.
Signing Bloomquist won’t stop the team from signing Jacoby Ellsbury, and they don’t have to give up anything besides money. It’s an overpay, but a relatively small one.
Flaw in philosophy? Sure. But we have to let the offseason play out, not because the organization has a history of having some divine plan that outpaces logic regularly, but because our alternatives are to either find another team to root for, or stop watching baseball.