Friday, July 02, 2004

Womack?

Bob Smizik has a very weird new column in which he suggests the Pirates made a mistake by trading Tony Womack in 1999.

Here are some choice bits:

There were other reasons the Pirates traded Womack. There was a belief he wasn't quite good enough in the field and he didn't get on base enough to be a standout leadoff hitter.

That's surprisingly good thinking for Cam Bonifay. Womack's not good enough in the field, and he doesn't get on base enough to be a standout leadoff hitter. And he never has - his best season OBP is .332 (in a great hitters' park), which isn't nearly standout quality.

The Pirates were partially correct. Womack didn't make it as a second baseman. He made it as a shortstop. For the world champions.

Yes, that's true, but the 2001 Diamondbacks weren't the world champions because of Womack. No player becomes good simply by having the good fortune to play on a World Series-winning team.

I'm reminded of a couple posts about Tom Goodwin (I'll paraphrase them here) that I once read at Baseball Primer:

"What's wrong with Goodwin? Couldn't he contribute to a playoff-caliber team?"

"Sure, but Goodwin can be a contributor to a playoff team in the same way that Cap'n Crunch can be part of a healthy balanced breakfast. Yes, it's good for you, if you remember to include the orange juice and skim milk and oatmeal and fresh fruit."

Anyway, back to Smizik:

Letting him go, history tells us, was definitely the wrong thing.

No, history tells us that signing Pat Meares to a four-year contract was the real wrong thing, a move that pointlessly hamstrung the team and may have kept them from pursuing better options. Keeping Womack around for five more years would have been almost as disastrous. Womack is better than Meares, yes, at least in the sense that Womack currently has four fully-functional limbs, but any team facing the choice between paying millions to Womack or Meares should quickly choose C), neither of the above.

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