Booze, Baseball, and another "B"

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

None for the money....

As I was reading the PI's Mariners coverage, I was kind of surprised to notice that the fact that the Mariners have gotten rid of their entire starting infield from 2004 did not dawn on me earlier.

Scott Speizio was released earlier this week (which was a long-overdue move, he should have been dumped long before Boone), which was the last of the 2004 guys to get dumped, and they all were.

I remember going to Opening Day on April 6, 2004, with very high expectations for the Mariners. They had tried to trade off Carlos Guillen over the course of the offseason for Omar Vizquel, and that trade fell through when Omar failed his physical. I was astounded that they would make a move like that, since Omar's defense is better than Guillen's (but it's not a day and night difference), and their offense was about the same at the time. Of course, since that failed trade, Guillen was traded to Detroit, and since he finally had a fire lit under hit, he's blown up into one of the best shortstops in the AL, if not throughout the majors.

After trading Carlos, the Mariners signed Rich Aurillia, who was a signing more in line with moves the Seahawks would make (signing old players who were good some time ago). I thought the Aurillia signing was a dumb move, since it seemed as though the Mariners were trying to bring in some veteran leadership, but they already had a clubhouse full of it! On Opening Day, Aurillia was a flop. He was only credited with 1 error, but Aurillia looked awful in the field. He tried to make up for it late in the game, with a 2-run double, but by then the damage had been done. That game was, as Mariners fans know, the beginning of the end, as the Mariners ended up going from a 93 win team in 2003, to 63 wins in 2004. Aurillia was basically let go, but the front office was able to swing a deal to get a little money from the Padres in exchange for him.

Later that season, the Mariners would jettison Johnny 5, John Olerud, in much the same way they would later let Boone go, by designating him for assignment. Olerud caught on with the Yankees for a little while, and did alright. This year he's played a little bit with the Red Sox.

Boone, as I have written about earlier in this blog, was dropped for next to nothing this season. Speizio was just let go, making him the last part (3b) of the 2004 infield to be let go for nothing.

Unlike Boone and Olerud, who did not last as late into the season as Speizio did before getting dropped, Speizio was begging to be let go. His .064 batting average was only part of the equation, and as Boone said about himself when he was released, Speizio really needed a change of scenery.

This latest move highlights the tenure of Bill Bavasi in Seattle quite well. Bavasi has made a plethora of moves, and very few of them have paid off. Signing Richie Sexson was a solid move, but certainly not rocket science. Plus he wanted to play here, so it wasn't like it was a tough signing. Signing Beltre I would say the jury is still out on. There are people who think that Beltre is doing just fine, and there are others who think that he really needs to step it up this year. I think that he's doing alright. His numbers are pretty close to his career averages, and he had to switch leagues. When compared to some of the other free agents the Mariners have brought in who've changed leagues, Beltre is doing fantastic. Again, as with the Sexson signing, getting Beltre was no amazing feat. Scott Boras was asking way too much for his client, and all of the teams knew that. Bavasi was able to come in a give Beltre a deal that he and his agent liked, so the deal got done; again, not as tough as putting a man on the moon. This coming offseason, and next season, I think will be a good way to measure whether or not Bavasi is worth keeping around. General Manager turnover is not always good for a team, but sometimes it has to be done.

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