Apparently the Mariners are peddling the story that Rafael Soriano had to be traded last winter because he was a bad dude. According to the Seattle Times Mariners blog, there's been "back channel whispering" about it all year. Sounds like classic CYA to me. But let's take this "whispering" at its word. Even if Soriano was some kind of clubhouse cancer and you absolutely had to exile him, you still have to get a much (much!) better deal than ... Horacio Ramirez. Even if he had the social skills of Joey Belle, Soriano was worth much more than an injury-plagued pitcher who's career-best K:BB ratio is an ugly 1.39, and who probably wouldn't have been offered arbitration by the Braves anyway and instead just released, which means the Mariners could have had him for free.
And Even if you didn't get full-price for Soriano, you still had to get a working part that adds value to your club. Instead, the Mariners got quite possibly the worst trade in team history. Yes, worse than the much-lamented Jason Varitek/Derek Lowe-for-Heathcliff Slocumb trade. Consider the unintended consequences (in addition to Ramirez's total worthlessness and that Soriano is now closing for the Braves) of this debacle:
No. 1 pick Brandon Morrow replaced Soriano in the bullpen istead of going to the minors to develop as a starter. Morrow now is slated to go to winter ball to learn the starting ropes, though word around the sowing circle says Morrow isn't keen on spending his winter in Venezuela with Hugo Chavez and at this point would rather just stay in the pen. But even if Morrow acquiesces, six weeks or so of winter competition and then a month of spring training isn't enough time as a starter to join the big league rotation.
So the Mariners won't have Morrow available to start in 2008, and they won't have anything to show for losing Soriano (unless you've lost your mind like this guy and actually think the M's might bring Ramirez back), meaning they have to either sign or trade for two starters or fill the spots with mediocre farmhands, in which case their 2008 is guaranteed to mirror their 2007. Well, no one wants that, so -- the free-agent cupboard bare and the M's not deft at unearthing diamonds in the rough -- they'll be almost forced to trade a couple of their top prospects -- Adam Jones, Wladimir Balentien or Jeff Clement -- for starting pitching.
So, to sum up, because they traded for Horacio Ramirez, the Mariners won't have Morrow next year and/or Jones, Balentien or Clement for forever, and they still have Soriano's hole in the pen to fill.
That's a heckuva trickle-down trade. You'd think that would certainly cost a GM his job, no? Well, no. The Mariners announced Thursday that Bill Bavasi will return to his post in 2008. Sweet fancy Moses indeed.