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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bloomquist Could Be Back

posted by Jon

At some point last season I saw a television interview with Willie Bloomquist in which he expressed his unhappiness with his role, saying something along the lines that he would be searching for something better once his contract expired after the '08 season.

If I had been blogging at the time I would have documented it or at least gotten an exact quote, but either way I had developed my own belief that he would not be back. Because of this belief I have defended Mike Morse on several occasions, because I figured he was a decent option to help fill the void left by Bloomquist.

Bloomquist is still slightly down on his role, but it seems he has learned to accept it and may be more willing to sign an extension with Seattle, according to this Kitsap Sun article.

Willing, but only if they show him the money.

Willie's 2007 paycheck was just shy of a million bucks, but he could be looking to double his salary. In the article he compares himself to utility men Alex Cora and Alex Cintron.

"Those guys are making somewhere around $2 million a year or something like that. In the past they have been everyday guys, but the bottom line is they're paid as utility guys. With all due respect to them, they're good players and they play short and second and maybe a little bit of third. I can throw in center field, right field, first and left field as well," Bloomquist was quoted as saying.

There is no doubt that he is confident in his role, referring to himself as "one of the better guys in the league at it" and passing along the Mariners' belief that he is "one of the best, if not the best at being a utility guy."

Could Bloomquist really command $2M annually? It's hard to find players as defensively flexible as Willie, but here are a couple utility men and their salaries:

Seattle's newest utility man, Miguel Cairo, just signed for $850,000 this year, and has not made more than $1M in his career (2006). Cairo plays all four infield positions and can play some outfield.

Former Oakland and current Toronto utility man Marco Scutaro will make $1.55M next season. Scutaro routinely gets more at bats than Bloomquist, but like Cairo he does not bring speed to the table and only plays emergency outfield.

Alfredo Amezaga of the Florida Marlins is fairly comparable to Bloomquist. Plays everywhere, steals bases, but receives quite a few more at bats than Bloomquist (400 last season). Unfortunately Amezaga is still under team control so it's hard to tell how much he could make with arbitration out of the way. Like Bloomquist he made just under one million last season.

Former Mariner bust Scott Spiezio has done well for himself as the Cardinals' utility man. He's been a better hitter than Bloomquist, but lacks defensive ability at center field and shortstop. He is currently making over $2M annually.

I could go on listing other utility men, but obviously none of them quite compare to Willie. He's not a great hitter by any stretch, not even a good hitter, but he plays solid defense at seven positions and not many players in the Major Leagues can boast that.

Is $2M too much to give a guy who has yet to eclipse 251 at bats in a season? Sure it is, but he is valuable in his own right. If you based the salary strictly on offense and speed off the bench he shouldn't be making any more than $1-1.5M, but his versatility could indeed push him to the $1.75-2M range if that is what it takes to retain him. That may be too much, but I believe the Mariners would like to keep him and $2M is practically pocket change for a team whose payroll is over $105M.

I can see why Willie would be reluctant to pursue a job elsewhere at this point. He will have to fight twice as hard as anyone else for a starting job now that he has been pigeon-holed into the utility role, and his family is rooted in the Seattle area. Bloomquist has hinted in the article that he doesn't want to deal with this during the season, so we could see him extended before Spring Training closes. We'll keep you updated.

Question to the reader: How much is Bloomquist worth?

5 comments:

canadian_rocket17 said...

Willie can play almost anywhere and has pruduced reasonably well with the bat and the glove. He can run pretty well too. He'd be worth the $1.5M that Jays SS Marco Scutaro gets. I have a question for you guys at this blog: How did you make your title? I have a Mariners blog (tbcmariners.blogspot.com) and would like to make some sort of a picture in my title. Just to try and make it a little more appealing.

Jon Shields said...

just a couple minutes on photoshop :]

Brian said...

If Horacio "Has got to go" Ramirez is worth 2.75 million (he's overpaid by exactly that amount)...Than Willie Bloomquist is worth $100 million, if of course we are measuring value in usefulness and overall contribution to the team's success...

Brian said...

I all seriousness though, Bloomquist is worth as much as $3 million a year in my opinion...

Scott said...

I think Bloomquist is worth no more than 1.5 mill a year, honestly. He's a great guy to have around, but he is a backup, hits like a backup, isn't outstanding at any position defensively, and should be paid like one, at a slight premium because of his versatility. I like the bloomin' onion as much as the next guy, but the fact is that he can't hit and has zero power.

It's funny, because everyone talks about how valuable he is, but I don't think any of us would ever want to see him start. And fortunately, this organization hasn't been put in that spot yet...but I think opinions on him would sour pretty fast if he came in and hit .250/.290/.320 full-time, which is pretty feasible. I'd love to keep him, but you can build a bench full of guys who can fill all your holes, as well as have speed. All the other organizations can do it, there's no reason to think we'd be losing that if we let Willie walk.