Sunday, February 12, 2006

Bowden Fires A Silver Bullet Through Carroll

Jim Bowden traded Jamey Carroll to the Rockies for a small sack 'o cash. The $300K that Carroll netted will go a long way towards paying off a small portion of the free agent contracts he's handed to the following other infielders this season: Damian Jackson, Marlon Anderson, Royce Clayton, Alf Soriano, Bernie Castro (Keep filling out the list on your own).

Carroll needed to be traded only because Bowden's transactions squeezed him out. Is Carroll a great player? Nope. Is he a good player? Eh. But none of the cast of thousands that Bowden brought in all that much better than Carroll.

Rocket Bill regurgitates the party line the way my cat spews her Friskies on my rug:
However, Bowden was bothered by the fact that the Nats' bench was unproductive in 2005[1], and he didn't feel Carroll was a good fit[2]. Carroll didn't drive in enough runs [3]and some in the organization felt that he was not good enough defensively to replace a player like Guzman[4].

I've added the numbers so we can conviently refer back to them to beat the hell out of those strawmen. Well, maybe they're not all strawmen, but they're weak-ass arguments.

1: Can't argue with that. But isn't the problem with the bench more a function of carrying (at various points) Tony Blanco, Kenny Kelly, Matt Cepicky, Jeffrey Hammonds, JJ Davis, Gary Bennett, Wil Cordero, Deivi Cruz, Brandon Watson, Endy Chavez, Brendan Harris, Tyrell Godwin and Henry Mateo, to name a few. How is their collective crappiness Jamey Carroll's fault?

2: Not a good fit? There's a nebulous argument. I dunno, a backup infielder who runs well, gets on base at a decent clip, and who can fill it at all infield positions seems like a pretty fit for an NL club.

3: If you're looking to your backup infielder to drive in runs, it tells you that your GM hasn't done a good job building your roster. The fourth and fifth outfielders, as well as your backup cornermen should be the ones driving in those runs. Carroll's job is to move runners over, pinch run, and do allow Frank to doubleswith Guzman out of the lineup. When he came to the plate he had no power, but his .333 OBP was eleven points higher than the team's average.

4: Caroll didn't seem like he had a ton of range out at short, but if you're looking for a stopgap -- someone to fill in for a few games -- he was a good sub. But the only players who can play short on the roster are Royce Clayton (who's really no lock to make the team) and Damian Jackson. Jackson isn't as good as Carroll, and Clayton was never a gold glove-type SS, and he's turning 54 -- or something like that. Even if Bowden's contention was true, releasing Carroll doesn't mean the team has found someone who is capable.

Carroll's not a perfect player, and I'm not going to pretend that the loss of him is going to adversely affect the Nats record next season. The difference between Carroll and Jackson (or whoever) in the limited amount of PT they'd both get is almost negligible from a stat angle. But the little things do matter -- the hustle, the attitude, the acceptance of a role -- all things that Carroll excelled at. Plus, on a team where PR and good news is at a nadir, Carroll's was the face that everyone saw, usually beaming a smile. He was, more than any of the other players, a goodwill ambassador. And that counts for something.

The transaction is also emblematic of Bowden's biggest weakness: the lack of -- or at least the appearance of a lack of -- a plan. Like I just said, there's not an apreciable difference between Carroll and the other players he's brought in. Why Royce Clayton instead of Carroll? (And don't give me the competition crap -- Guzman's a sure bet to be better just because it's not possible to suck that much two years in a row.)

There are two things that Bowden looks for in a player: power, and speed. They're the sizzle on the steak. Jamey Carroll has zero power. He does have some speed, even if he's not a base stealer. Someone like Jose Guillen, who has tremendous power, is his kind of guy. Someone like Brandon Watson, who blazes down the line when he weakly taps the ball in play, is his kind of guy. If a player excels at either or, he's golden with Bodes, dis/ir/regardless of whatever skills the player possesses.

If you're one of the unlucky ones like Carroll or Brad Wilkerson who excel at lots of things, but don't wow Bowden with the two tools he's looking for, he will overlook you.

And in this case, as with a number of his decisions this offseason, it's not clear that the team's any better for it.


  • This is an excellent and very fair analysis of the Carroll dump, and the offseason more broadly. Frustrating as all get out to read, but after this offseason how could it be otherwise.

    By Blogger Sam, at 2/13/2006 9:19 AM  

  • And on the pedestal these words appear:
    My name is Alfonso Soriano, King of Kings,
    Look on my tools, ye quietly competent, and despair!
    Nothing beside remains.

    By Blogger Nate, at 2/13/2006 10:22 AM  

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