Earlier this week, I wrote about the Mariners trading Shin-Soo Choo for Ben Broussard, back in 2006. In the course of writing that piece, I asked my friend Mike Curto -- both then and now the lead broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers, the M's Triple-A affiliate -- what his impression of the trade was back then, when it happened. Here's Mike:
There was a lot of puzzled people in Tacoma (and around the PCL) when the Mariners traded Choo in 2006. He was one of the best players in the league, and appeared ready for a major league job both offensively and defensively. When they traded him for a left-handed DH in Broussard, people who watched him all year wondered why they wouldn't just call up Choo to be the left-handed DH/OF.
The one big drawback at the time - I heard it from many scouts - was a doubt that Choo would ever be able to hit left-handed pitching. That left some wondering if he would ever be a 150-games/season player. Personally, I had doubts about this as well, but figured he would hit enough vs RHP to still be a valuable player.
Which is exactly what he's done!
Just a general sort of wondering ... I wonder if franchises shouldn't somehow include their minor-league broadcasters in the decision-making process. Mike Curto saw Shin-Soo Choo play more than 200 games in the high minors. That was almost certainly more than anyone else in the organization and Curto had a better view than anyone in the organization, including Choo's managers.
Now, you might think that broadcasters are biased, and of course you're right. They're biased. We're all biased. But broadcasters see a lot of players come and go, and generally they don't become sentimentally attached to players. Not to the point where they become blinded by their talents or their foibles, anyway. If an experienced broadcaster like Mike Curto sees a guy for 200 games and believes he can play, I'll tend to believe he can play.
The statistics said Choo could play, too. The statistics said he'd be just as effective as the lefty two-thirds of a DH platoon as Broussard. Or close enough, anyway, to argue militantly against trading six years of Choo for two months and a season of Broussard.
Of course, the fact that the Mariners ultimately finished 15 games out of first place basically moots everything that came before. Somehow management convinced themselves that the difference between Choo and Broussard over the course of two months was enough to put them over the top. It wasn't. It wasn't on paper. It wasn't on the ground.