Jack Z. must decide–soon–whether to attempt a Bavasi-like rapid improvement program.
Jack Zduriencik and I are in the same boat. I’m trying to figure out whether to go to Hawaii in October, and he’s trying to figure out whether to trade a prospect for a left fielder. Both decisions hinge on how we assess this question: Do the Mariners really have a shot at October’s playoffs?
I’m skeptical. On offense, we’ve got no power, and that’s not likely to change unless Zduriencik places a call to Barry Bonds. The bullpen is combustible, with journeymen like David Pauley and Jamey Wright seemingly pitching over their heads. And I don’t have much confidence that rookie Michael Pineda and fragile Erik Bedard can continue their stellar performances.
It all reminds me of another season when we had a mediocre team and a general manager in his third season. Bill Bavasi, feeling the pressure to keep the M’s in the pennant race, tried to upgrade the Mariners’ weakest offensive position, DH. He made two separate trades with Cleveland, cumulatively trading Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera for Ben Broussard and Eduardo Perez.
Broussard had 15 homers over a two-year stretch as a part-timer. Perez was out of baseball at season’s end, having hit just one homer in 102 plate appearances with the Mariners.
Cabrera and Choo are the cornerstones of the Indians franchise. If he hadn’t traded them, Bavasi might still be the Mariners’ general manager today.
“We were trying to get better fast,” Bill Bavasi told ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick recently, in an attempt to explain two disastrous 2006 trades that cost the Mariners two young stars. “The 2006 club was sort of starting to get it together and we believed it was important for the players to see we were serious about maybe not winning but at least getting better now.”
“Sort of starting to get it together.” Does that sound like any baseball franchise you know?
I’m thinking Zduriencik avoids the Bavasi trap and continues with his rebuilding plan. I’m thinking he holds on to all of the Mariners young hitters, even if he’s offered a solid left field option like the Padres’ Ryan Ludwick. I’m thinking he sees this team for what it is–a great group of guys playing over their heads–but not far enough over to justify reinforcements. And I’m thinking I’ll book that trip to Hawaii.