When teams hit some kind of extreme, good or bad, people come out of the woodwork to drop I-told-you-so’s like it’s nobodies business. And it really shouldn’t be anyone’s business. Keep that crap to yourself. But,...
When teams hit some kind of extreme, good or bad, people come out of the woodwork to drop I-told-you-so’s like it’s nobodies business. And it really shouldn’t be anyone’s business. Keep that crap to yourself. But, it happens. And the M’s recent embarrassing series qualifed as one of these ego-endorsing extremes.
One of the I-told-you-so’s came from The Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker, in regards to the Mariners passing on Michael Bourn, who is hitting well this season. He has posted a .364 wOBA and 131 wRC+ this year, which have helped attribute to his 0.9 fWAR to this point. Seeing Bourn play and his team trounce the M’s gave Baker the opportunity to criticize Jack and company for failing to do more in the offseason.
Baker said this of the situation:
But the Bourn thing, for me, is a classic example of how this rebuilding process has played out for the Mariners. It’s taken a long time to get where we are and I do think we could have seen some better baseball a bit quicker had the Mariners spent some dough this winter and in prior ones to shore-up where they were lacking.
He was a big Bourn advocate all offseason, probably more than he should have been. He may have overstated his value a little. But he is right: Bourn would have helped this team. He may not be hitting the way he is now, but he would be a clear improvement over what the Mariners have going on right now.
The thing is, he is right for the wrong reasons. Baker does not seem like a sabermetrically-inclined guy, so I doubt he likes Bourn for the 6 WAR he posted last year. I doubt he likes him for his 22.3 UZR last year. Heck, he may not even like him for his 10% walk rate. He probably likes him because he is fast, plays defense, and is generally thought of as one of the better leadoff hitters in the game.
But that doesn’t take anything away from Bourn. He is a valuable player, as seen in the 6 WAR I mentioned above. However, there is another problem with Baker saying what he did. This is a team that has suffered a lot of injuries that have forced them to play certain guys more than they planned to. It’s not like they came into the year with Raul Ibanez, Jason Bay and Endy Chavez penciled in as a time-share in left field. Chavez wasn’t even on the opening day roster, and Raul and Bay were meant to be 4th and 5th guys, pinch hitters, and spot-start DH’s. But when you lose Michael Saunders for a month, Michael Morse for a week, and then Franklin Gutierrez for eternity, plans change.
My first thought when I read Baker’s article was “You are wrong Geoff Baker.” This team didn’t need a defensive minded player and speed-only guy. But then I realized that he was only partially wrong, as stated above. And I was also partially, or mostly, wrong. People tend to put players into certain categories based on what they do and who they are. Bourn is the speedy leadoff hitter. Morse is the bat-0nly “outfielder”, et cetera.
Even us all-knowing sabermetricans do this at times. We look at a team that lacks power, and think they need to add power and nothing else. We forget something very important. Value is Value. It really doesn’t matter that much what kind of value that is. Sure, if the M’s had their choice of a 6 win player like Bourn, or a 6 win power hitter, they would probably take the latter. But 6 wins are 6 wins, and value is value. Bourn would have made this team a lot better than they are now. Only one of Morse and Kendrys Morales would be here, as Bourn would have replaced the other, which would be an improvement.
So if you want to criticize the front office for not getting Bourn and settling instead for Morse, then by all means. It is a very valid criticism, one worth roughly 4.5 wins. But don’t pull a Geoff and just say “this is a slow team. Bourn is the opposite of slow, and thus would make them better,” while simultaneously saying missing