In the wake of Shin-Soo Choo's big new deal with the Rangers, I wanted to write something about the Mariners trading Choo for a platoon Designated Hitter. I wasn't interested in writing some sort of hatchet job. I was just curious. I wondered what people thought about Choo and Ben Broussard (the platoon Designated Hitter) at the time, and about the trade itself.
In the pursuit of my curiosity, I found whatever contemporary material I could find, but I also reached out to Mike Curto, the Tacoma Rainer's radio broadcaster then (and now), and also to Bill Bavasi, the Mariners' general manager at the time.
I didn't hear back quickly from either of them, so I went with what I had (however incomplete, it didn't lack for length). Then I heard back from Curto, and published this addendum (which is also a testament to minor-league broadcasters and their utterly unique perspective).
A few days passed, and still no word from Bavasi. Which neither surprised nor bothered me. He's long been regarded as a stand-up sort of fellow, willing to confront his critics without rancor. But that summer of 2006 can't be a particularly fond memory, and I couldn't fault him for ignoring my query, or simply demurring.
Thursday, Bavasi e-mailed me:
More than anything else, the trades that year were just good old-fashioned disasters.
There was no specific pressure from above to make any specific move at that time. But I was not operating on the same platform they are now. Without going into great detail ... When I got there it was made REAL clear they didn't want any five-year plans … and that I'd get a mulligan in 2004 but, from then on they'd expect consistent improvement toward a postseason. When I say "improvement" I mean relative to our record. So even though we operated under some pressure to tangibly improve on a regular basis, the Choo and Cabrera trades were a product of my own stupidity and good work by the Indians.
By the way, I'm not complaining about the "no five-year plans" attitude. Again, without going into detail ... I knew the score going in.
We had good things to say about Choo at the time. We certainly didn't know what we know now -- what a star he'd be -- but our people liked him, knew he had skills, great make-up and a high sense of responsibility. We had good, smart people. I just blew it.
I've written a few times that Bill's father Buzzie belongs in the Hall of Fame, and I believe he'll be there someday. Bill's probably not going to wind up with his dad in Cooperstown. But when somebody builds a Hall of Grace, he's got my vote.