The ninth in a non-alphabetical and irregularly updated series of review pieces for each(?) of the players we predicted last spring.
LL/USSM Community: .280/.355/.357
Actual Line: .234/.274/.338
If 2008 was the complete opposite of 2007, then Jose Vidro was the poster boy. After benefiting from a run of good luck two seasons ago that gave him the superficial appearance of being decent, last year Vidro's regression arrow overcorrected itself, and in so doing brought its host body back to Earth with a resounding thud, or thwock, or some other funny noise. Vidro came to the plate 308 times last summer, and among the 281 players with at least 300 PAs, his BA ranked 254th, his OBP ranked 278th, his SLG ranked 237th, and his wOBA* ranked 266th. He was 13 runs below average at the plate while logging only a half season of work. He did this as the team's designated hitter. If somebody were to ask you to explain what went wrong with the Mariners last year in 50 words or less, there are countless different directions you could go with your answer, but the easiest and most telling response would be pointing out that our DHs as a unit were out-hit by Paul Bako.
As we watched Vidro's long and successful career as an everyday player come to a close, there was no last gasp. There was no grand finale. There was only a whimper. Vidro's average never rose above .239, and only twice did he record extra-base hits in consecutive games. And as if his numbers weren't already embarrassing enough, on 13 occasions he was slotted in to bat cleanup, at which point even more attention was paid to his lousy performance. By the time the break came around, it had become apparent to everyone that Vidro was counting numbered days. It wasn't a matter of if he'd be cut; it was a matter of when, and how quickly.
The day finally came in early August. God only knows what Vidro's been doing since he got his release, but he sure as hell hasn't been playing any baseball. Two years ago, Bill Bavasi traded for a bat to help make the Mariners competitive, and today that bat can't find any work. The way the whole Vidro saga played out speaks so many volumes about our old leadership that someone ought to build a memorial library.
For whatever it's worth, Vidro wasn't as bad last year as his raw batting line would suggest. His .245 BABIP in no way did justice to his line drive rate, which remained the same as it was in 2007, and a few more grounders found gloves than one would ordinarily expect. If you apply a little healthy regression, Vidro's line jumps from .234/.274/.338 up to .269/.307/.373, which - well it's a lot better anyway. But here's the problem: not only is that still totally awful, but we also never should've had to watch him struggle that often in 2008 in the first place. Applying the same regression process to Vidro's 2007 spits out a .277/.349/.343 performance, which is down quite a bit from his raw .775 OPS. And that's a much better reflection of Jose Vidro's true talent. Anybody could've seen that Vidro was set for a major statistical decline, and a smarter GM might've braced himself by finding another bat and putting Vidro on the bench, but Bavasi kept on going with his blissful ignorance until his ignorance was no longer nearly as blissful. I know it's hard to reduce the role of someone coming off a .314 season, but when it comes to flukes, you have to be proactive. When Vidro's luck didn't return for a second helping, the Mariner offense was doomed.
At this point, with his regular career dead and buried, all Vidro has left to look forward to are a few years spent scrounging for bench gigs and NRIs. The end is seldom flattering. Meanwhile, we look to close a shameful chapter in Mariners history, a three-year period during which the only competent DH the organization had was assigned to play left field. Carl Everett was a bust, the Ben Broussard/Eduardo Perez platoon was a bust, and Jose Vidro was a bust. And while Vidro chose a strange path to follow, at the end of his time in Seattle, he'd amassed a batting line of .285/.344/.374 over 232 games, which you may recognize as being almost exactly what we expected him to do. Jose Vidro was not a surprise in 2007, nor was he a disappointment in 2008. Jose Vidro was what we thought he'd be, and while his numbers bounced around in every direction, his underlying skillset remained the same, and it wasn't a skillset built to DH. It was hardly a skillset at all.
Good riddance to you, Jose, and to everything you signified. Our disappointment with the trade was never about Chris Snelling or Emiliano Fruto; it was about you, and how you weren't in any way equipped to do the job you were given. And while we hated the deal at the time, it is only now that we are being run by a competent front office that we can truly appreciate just how stupid of an acquisition you really were. Turns out old, broken-down middle infielders don't make the best DHs after all. Who knew? It's good to learn lessons.
I can't believe we survived this.