|Hey look, that's Jose Vidro in the background!|
(Wikimedia Commons, authors OlympianX & Andrew Klein)
Taylor is younger than Bloomquist and also a better player. He brings superior defense at shortstop and likely second base - and maybe even all the other spots Bloomquist plays if he is asked to go wherever just like Willie Ballgame has had to do throughout his career. Taylor also flashes surprising power in the minors for his build and swing type, but by no means is he a power hitter. Still, he probably possesses more power than Bloomquist.
So, basically, Chris Taylor is a better baseball player than Willie Bloomquist in all phases of the game. The most surprising part of this move is how long Bloomquist survived on the roster, given the M's depth of solid middle infield prospects. I don't know why the Mariners pulled the trigger on this move today or what kind of playing time Taylor will receive moving forward, but it is fair to assume that this move is skin deep as far as its motives. The Mariners are a more talented team with Chris Taylor taking Willie Bloomquist's place.
Few players have a career quite like Bloomquist. He is the definition of replacement level. In 3,136 plate appearances he has amassed a grand total of 1.0 WAR. For comparison, that's about what Mike Trout has produced every three weeks or so while in the majors. Bloomquist took about 12 years longer to accumulate the same amount of production.
I never understood why the Mariners signed Willie Bloomquist for two years in the 2013 offseason. Anyone could see the middle infield logjam developing from a mile away, and here we are. They signed him after they had Robinson Cano in the fold, and well before Nick Franklin got traded away. The deal never made any sort of sense, and while it didn't break the budget, it still seemed so unnecessary. In fact, why couldn't the money the M's threw at Bloomquist been used on a legitimate backup catcher?
None of these issues I have with Willie Bloomquist and his contract really have to do with Willie Bloomquist. It's amazing to look at his lengthy career in the majors, devoid of anything approximating a "career year" or anything that gave hope he might have a short stint as a serviceable starter, and wonder just how he hung around for so long. It's not like the Mariners were the only team to irrationally love him. Both the Royals and Diamondbacks employed him too. Maybe one organization could be dumb and make silly mistakes year after year. Three organizations making the same irrational choice is less likely.
I can only find one logical conclusion: Willie Bloomquist is legitimately one of the "good guys" in baseball. He must be fun to have around a clubhouse and the kind of guy that has the respect of his peers. Bloomquist never played much, and when he did he was neither an asset nor too large of a liability, so there is no good reason he should have stuck around the majors so long. He must have brought other things to the table that don't show up in box scores.
For instance, Peter Gammons tweeted out today that Adam Jones credits Bloomquist for much of his success. I find that fascinating. Jones didn't spend much time with Bloomquist as a pro. We barely got to know Adam Jones in Mariner blue before he left in the ill-fated Erik Bedard deal, and yet he was apparently around long enough for Willie Ballgame to do something influential and momentous for him.
So consider this my farewell to Willie Bloomquist. I like Chris Taylor quite a bit and thought he should have been on the ballclub at least a month ago, so I can't say I'm sorry to see Bloomquist go. However, Bloomquist's 72 at-bats this season are also not the reason the Mariners have struggled. They hardly made a dent on the field, in true Bloomquist fashion.