Monday, February 27, 2006

The Tatonka List: 2004

Another day, another Tatonka. Today we have to delve into the deepest, darkest recesses of our repressed Mariners memories.

That's right, we're talking about the 2003-04 offseason.

Bill Bavasi sort of took the helm of the M's during this offseason, and it seemed at the time that he wanted to make a mark right away. In hindsight, it is hard to distinguish between the bald one's moves and those directed by the lame duck Pat Gillick regime.

I am not really exaggerating to say that the only offseason move that inspired a great deal of positive reaction was the inking of Eddie Guardado on 16 December 2003. He signed a weird three-year deal, in which he was given $4 million for 2004 (good) and then a pair of mutual options at different salaries for 2005 and 2006. Due to injury, he exercised his player option ($4M) after 2004, and the team subsequently exercised its more expensive option ($6.25M) for 2006.

This was a relative bargain for a Proven Closer(TM), and although the Mariners didn't particularly seem to need one, there was nothing wrong with the signing (we should note that it turned out later that Kaz Sasaki was leaving, so we did need a closer after all). The bigger issues, as many of us the fans saw them, revolved around the black hole named Jeff Cirillo at third base. Still, this was a team coming off a 93-win campaign, and Guardado's status as Tatonka rests mostly on the fact that none of the other signings that offseason met with any sort of optimism amongst fans.

It is clear now that disaster was looming. And I mean disaster in the classic, "as you crest the hill, you see a bunch of giant weapons" sense. (Inside joke, sorry.) But from a Tatonka point of view, I would argue that while fans were disgruntled about the free agent moves that Gillvasi made (adding Scott "I R ClassY" Spiezio, Rich Aurilia, and Raul Ibanez, all for too much money, whilst trading away Carlos "Glass" Guillen for a wet bag of hammers, and Cirillo for the least valuable major leaguer in the history of the game), no one was too incredibly depressed about the way the offseason went.

Well, I was, but I was pessimistic before the 2001 campaign as well; look where that got me.

In any case, the 2004 Tatonka representative turned out to be by far the best move of that offseason. Moreover, the lamented Ibanez signing (which combined what seemed at the time to be an above-market contract to an aging slugger whose park effects in KC made him seem to be worth more than he was, with the seeming foolishness of signing him early enough to forfeit a draft pick in compensation to the Royals for signing him) has actually turned out OK as well, at least until yesterday when M's management decided to guarantee him money and a roster spot for his age 35-36 seasons. Did someone forget to change the locks when Pat Gillick left?

So far, we have not really encountered that complete disaster that is Tatonka himself. I suppose that's to be expected, but it is interesting that after enduring two of the most awful years of Seattle Mariners history, our "best" offseason deals each season have not busted in such spectacular fashion.

To sum up so far:

Tatonka List
2006 Kenji Johjima
2005 Adrian Beltre
2004 Eddie Guardado
2003 next up


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