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Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Campaign To Unhorse Bavasi Begins

We have seen this coming for years now, though probably the signing of Adrian Beltre was, if not a mile marker down a road to perdition, then the very banner of reckless gambles raised aloft on the Mariners' own Mount Suribachi. Just as with the Angels five years earlier, Bill Bavasi had run out of ideas, though the official reason for his exit was his differences with then-team President Tony Tavares. He took on the Seattle job in a situation even worse than that the Angels suffered from at the end of his career there, with nothing in the farm and a slate full of aging players primed for decline.

That is, once again, he was in over his head. The trades he made were exactly of the wrong kind. Jolbert Cabrera for Ryan Ketchner? He should have been stockpiling young pitching, and instead he was frittering it away on replacement-level utility infielders. Willie Bloomquist, a low-average, low-OBP, no-power fourth outfielder not only continues to have a job, but a multiyear extension. In all probability, he will also get in excess of 200 at-bats, torpedoing the team's chances of winning anything.

Quixote rides again

Unsurprisingly, then, U.S.S. Mariner has launched a jihad of sorts to unhorse Bill Bavasi. Along the way, they have decided to go contra the Menckenian axiom that says all newspapers must be against something, and have set out as their boy one Mssr. Chris Antonetti, assistant general manager of the Cleveland Indians. Aside from the Boy Scout virtues we would attribute to him as a given, the philosopher-kings at USSM impute him with knowledge of scouting and advanced statistical methods in player analysis, humility, and people skills — in other words, exactly the same raft of qualifications Paul DePodesta brought in his lunchbox when Hurricane Frank McCourt unceremoniously evicted Dan Evans from the GM's chair in 2004.

I am not the only one to make this observation, as I see in the comments of that post:

So, I’m curious. What sets him apart from Paul DePodesta — how would those differences help his chances of getting hired on as a GM?

DePo lacked basic interpersonal skills. People hated working for him, and he avoided the media like it was a disease. DePo just doesn’t have the personality to be a public figure. He’s a great behind-the-scenes guy, but he can’t be the face of your organization.

Antonetti can.

Having watched while the lazy, prejudiced LA media filleted Paul DePodesta from without (starting on the very first day), and very likely, Tommy Lasorda busied himself undermining DePo from within, I note in passing the author presents no evidence to support this assertion. While I imagine the Seattle reporters are far tamer than the abject hacks and character assassins masquerading as newspaper writers down here, at some point, the wins have to flow or else blood will.

Some of that is always chance; if you get lucky, your opponents have their own afflictions, and worse than yours. But Seattle is uniquely unlucky now, in that Arte has a big bankroll and is plying his trade in ever-wider swaths of the largest media market in the division, the A's hope to harvest the fruits of their new park soon, and the Rangers have a sort of idiot Roman emperor as an owner, willing to spend with or without result. The hook, no matter who they haul in to replace Bavasi, perhaps as early as the middle of next year, will be shorter in coming than it was for the job's current occupant. Giving that to someone of unknown press relations skills is perhaps asking for even more trouble.

Can Bill Dwyre read? Or is it Randy Harvey heading the ship at LAT Sports? They're both nice guys, at least via e-mail but I don't know how either one can justify Plaschke/Simers over Weisman/McMillin.

Great stuff, Rob.
High praise, indeed. Thank you, Clayton.

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