Seattle Times M's beat writer Geoff Baker continues to show why he was a great hire by the paper after Bob Sherwin retired last year. The guy just gets how a blog can enhance his coverage of the team, and his is the best blog to come Seattle fans' way since Mike Sando's Seahawks Insider.
But where Sando mostly sticks to straight reporting with solid analysis (and with good reason), Baker often will veer into commentary -- a welcome stance in the day-to-day duldrums of the marathon of a 162-game season.
Yesterday, he took the M's management to task for not just putting Cha Seung Baek in the rotation to begin the year, analysis I think was spot on.
Baker doesn't claim to have known that Baek would be so effective, and neither do I. But he says that those who get paid to see these things coming should have, and that's as much of an indictment on GM Bill Bavasi and the M's front office than anything else: They just have been absolutely abysmal at evaluating talent and the relative value of said talent.
"Hard to believe the Mariners did not want [Baek] in their starting rotation to begin the year," Baker writes. "I mean, that 4-1 record last fall, did anybody see it? Baek had fifth starter material written all over him. I can understand the temptation to throw $8.3 million at Jeff Weaver. Theoretically, he could have been an improvement had he pitched like he did for St. Louis in the post season.Ouch. But right on.
"Could have, but didn't. So, the team is out $8 million and finally has the right guy in the rotation. Should the M's be criticized for this? Absolutely. They underestimated Baek's talent and overestimated Weaver's. And cost their owner big bucks, not to mention all those lost games.
"Sure, it's hindsight. But plenty of people in that front office are paid top dollar to make accurate assessments. A Mariners team with three rotation vacancies could have saved itself plenty of headaches by filling one of those spots with a no-brainer internal move. That way, perhaps, the team could have been a little more discriminating with how it went about plugging the remaining two openings. Instead, they've got two underperformers on the DL and Miguel Batista."
Here are some other interesting things I ran across while surfing the 'Net on this lazy Sunday afternoon:
- Caron Butler is a stud. Not that I think athletes should do stuff like this all the time -- they have lives, just like we do -- but how much better of a place would our world be if more athletes realized how they can make someone's day with the simplest of gestures? How can you not read this and not think Butler is a great guy?
- A little Ichiro note to make you laugh, in case you missed it, courtesy M's Insider Larry LaRue.
- The Cougars continue to make inroads in basketball recruiting, showing they might not just be a flash in the pan under coach Tony Bennett. Getting Michael Harthun isn't exactly like landing Spencer Hawes or Quincy Pondexter, but it's a far cry from landing B-listers like Nick Graham and Justin Lyman ...