The Mariners finally proffered an explanation of the Vidro trade, but, not surprisingly, it doesn't shed any vindicating light on the trade and probably makes the team look worse (if that's possible).
GM Bavasi said Vidro "provides a valuable contact hitter who will ... offset some of the teamís swing-and-miss tendencies." And that, as a contact guy Vidro "could keep innings going."
Fair enough. Vidro struck out just once every 10.65 PA last season, 23rd best in the majors.
But were the Mariners particularly poor in the K department last year? Well, three players (Johjima, 11.78 PA/K; Betancourt, 10.81; Suzuki, 10.59) ranked in the top 25 and a fourth (Lopez, 8.19) ranked in the top 50. As a team, the Mariners ranked 11th in PA/K (with Sexson's 4.31 PA/K (8th worst in MLB) a drag on their ranking). It would appear that four contact guys would be suitable.
But let's say that's not the case and the Mariners really, really need another contact guy. Why grab one so costly as Vidro? Vidro cost the Mariners $12 million (and a vesting option for 2009) and two prospects that could contribute this year.
How about gambling on, say, Todd Walker or Jay Payton? Both have even better PA/K rates (13.26, 11.31, respectively) than Vidro and both would have been significantly cheaper without giving up any prospects. Walker made $2.5M last season before re-signing with the Padres. Payton signed a two-year, $9.5M deal with the Orioles.
I'm not advocating either of those necessariy, but simply making the point that there are certainly less expensive options that provide similar skills as Vidro. Maybe the Mariners targeted some less-expensive Vidros and none wanted to come to Seattle. Who knows? But if that's the case, don't you just fold your hand instead of going all-in on mediocrity?
What's more, Bavasi says "Vidro has the skills to be a good No. 2 hitter," though he could see him batting "anywhere from second to sixth." You're not going to bat a guy with a sub-.400 SLG three, four or five. But if he bats second, which seems likely, you'd have four contact hitters in a row -- 8. Lopez, 9. Betancourt, 1. Suzuki, 2. Vidro. How does that help the apparent point of signing Vidro in the first place? How does batting those guys in order, rather than sprinkling them throughout the order, "offset the teamís swing-and-miss tendencies" that can "keep innings going"?
Hey, maybe I'm as clueless on this as I am on astrophysics. But, please, someone tell me how this trade isn't unlike paying first-class full fare for a middle coach seat next to two fat guys when an aisle coach seat in the exit row is on sale.