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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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July 22, 2008 10:50 AM

Should M's keep Washburn?

Posted by Geoff Baker

indians0718 012.jpg

For anyone who hasn't seen it, here's the latest blog post from Ryan Rowland-Smith, written after his demotion to Class AAA.

"It was the toughest day of the year for me,'' he writes. "I left Safeco Field upset and very confused. I'm not sure if people understand the feeling of being sent down, it's tough no matter what.''

It goes on into more detail. Interesting to read his thoughts. I'd have thought he'd be happy once he thought of the bigger picture, knowing that he really wants to become a starting pitcher. Then again, it's easy for all of us to sit and talk big picture. These guys have a limited shelf life when it comes to their athletic careers.

By the way, for those of you asking me about the Manny Ramirez story and how I got it: let's just say that the Times has plenty of reporters and columnists who are Mariners fans and go to games on their own dime. If you're going to have a run-in with a cop, it's best not to do it right in front of those Times reporters and columnists trained to take down notes and get in-close to the action.

Back to Rowland-Smith. He is, as we mentioned, being groomed to take over a rotation spot. Why? Well, part of the reason is the uncertain status of the two lefties in the rotation. Who knows whether Erik Bedard will be healthy enough to pitch at 100 percent efficiency the rest of the season? Or whether or not Jarrod Washburn did enough last night to get himself traded.

Now, here's the part that's going to get me in trouble with some folks: should the Mariners be trading Washburn?

I mean, yes, we've all heard the conventional wisdom. That Washburn is regressing with age and will be a worthless hunk of lefty mound waste by next season. One that will cost more than $10 million.

But if all the M's are going to do is dump Washburn's salary in a trade, would it benefit the team more to be keeping him? You know my take on it. I still think the team should hedge its bets and try to save money. Namely because it has some lefty starters who could step in and do a borderline, replacement-level job right about now. Or, within weeks. Like Rowland-Smith.

The big question becomes, how "real'' is this mid-season transformation by Washburn? Because it appears that, if he keeps this up the rest of the year, he will wind up producing very close to the same numbers that he did in 2007.


I can hear the screams of "results based analysis" already. Well, yes. We've already seen that some statistical projections can be off. We've heard for two years now about how Raul Ibanez's defense is getting worse by the second. And yet, there are now some zone rating statistics that show Ibanez is having his best defensive season in years playing left field. He's still an above average American League performer among peers at his position, even with a regression at the plate. If his bat keeps progressing as it has the past two months, he could wind up having a better overall statistical season than in 2007. Don't forget, offensively he's been an above .800 OPS guy in three of the season's first four months. It's a .673 OPS in May that's killing Ibanez's overall hitting totals right now, but the impact of that lone month will be negated as more time passes as long as Ibanez keeps up what he's done.

And yet, we've been told time and time again that Ibanez is done. That he's terrible defensively and his bat is going to plummet. But the one thing veteran players -- some of them anyhow -- learn how to do over the years in make adjustments. They learn how to overcome in-season difficulties. Not all. We haven't seen Jose Vidro or Kenji Joihjima do that yet in 2008.

But we've seen Ibanez do it before. And now, Washburn claims he's done it as well.

How bad has Washburn really been this year?

Let's see: his strikeouts-to-walks rate is still 2-to-1, like it's always been. He's on-pace for 180 innings, instead of the 193 2/3 he threw last year. But if he keeps up this pace of the past two months, throwing six innings every time out, he should come in right about 194 innings, pretty much dead even with last year.

Right now, his ERA+ is down to 84. That's well off his 100 from last year. But part of that is a function of the league ERA as a whole, which is way lower than in 2007. Once again, if Washburn keeps up what he's been doing since June began, he'll wind up with pretty much the same results he did in 2007. His batting average against on balls put into play (BABIP) is .327 this year, compared to .291 last season, so you can't really make a claim that he's been "lucky" in that regard.

In other words, if he keeps it up, he'll be a league average starter. So, is that so awful? Even at $10 million per year? For a lefty? Not really. Not the way pitching costs go. Yes, you can find cheaper guys and some will give you 33 starts per year, close to 200 innings and a league average ERA. But they are not a dime-a-dozen, especially from the left side.

And no Seattle starter, other than Felix Hernandez, will come close to replicating what Washburn has done over nearly 200 innings. That's the ticket. Some of them have put up nicer numbers. But if you can only get those about 65 percent of time, it lessens the impact of those numbers.

Where Washburn did himself in, in the hearts and minds of plenty of fans -- and reporters, let's be honest -- was bombing out early on in the season when this team still had a chance. When the games still meant something.

But then again, I can make the same claims about Ichiro, can't I?

About how the latter's .683 OPS in April helped doom this team and that little else he did later on really mattered. Come on, we can do that with just about every player on this team, both the popular and unpopular guys.

So, what will happen with Washburn? I'd say it's still up in the air right now. Complicating things even further is what will happen if the M's trade Erik Bedard this winter. If Washburn winds up dealt this summer, that would leave the team heading into 2009 without a lefty starter who has proven capable of putting up league average results.

A small consideration, to be sure. But a consideration nonetheless.

So, how do we know that what Washburn has done isn't all smoke and mirrors? Well, we don't. But consider this. Yes, he padded his record against some weak teams. But he also had his numbers driven up to ghastly proportions by some teams that hit the ball very well. If we're going to discount one set of results, do we discount those others-- like his massacre in Detroit at the hands of the Tigers?

I just find this whole question interesting.

To me, a team with options, like Rowland-Smith, or a healthy Ryan Feierabend, would do itself a favor by shedding an eight-figure contract from a veteran lefty. Especially if it has no serious chance of contending in 2009.

But contending or not, somebody has to pick up innings for the team next year. Somebody has to help keep the team from losing two of every three games, in order to keep the turnstiles flowing and the cash coming in for what is still very much a business. If you think Washburn has found something and that he can deliver close to 200 innings of league average stuff next season -- at a cost that still isn't the end of the world -- then keeping him is not as laughable a prospect as it would have seemed back in May.

And besides, he only has to be "for real" another few months into next season. You can always unload him at the 2009 deadline and then he only costs you about $6.5 million.

Sure, it's still a gamble. He could regress even worse than he did back in May. But everything is a gamble of sorts in the business of baseball. What I'm saying is, things aren't always the slam-dunk they appear to be at first glance. Not everything is as black-and-white as it's made out to be.

Hey, if we can't talk about this stuff and keep things interesting, it's going to be a very dull final two months of 2008, don't you think?

ADDITIONAL NOTE (12:35 p.m.): For ConcentrationGuy in the comments section, if ERA+ is indeed a measurement of a pitcher's ERA relative to the rest of the league and that league is indeed putting up ERA numbers better than a year ago, it stands to reason that this is causing Washburn's ERA+ to be worse, does it not? After all, take Washburn's same ERA stats and compare them to the league a year ago, where the average ERA was higher (worse), and Washburn's ERA+ numbers would be better. Hope you get it now.

For Tangotiger, I appreciate what you are saying. But if American League ERA has fluctuated between 4.35 and 4.63 for the past five years, is it not unreasonable to expect this year's 4.14 ERA to "regress to the mean" once a full sample size of one season is played? I mean, I haven't checked this out, but I'd imagine the effect of interleague play and throwing to weaker NL lineups has taken the AL ERA to better heights, which will regress once more games against AL squads offset that? AL ERA hasn't been this low, at least not by season's end since 1993. That's why I find it hard to believe this year's ERA will remain so low come the end of September.

Yes, you could make the same argument that Washburn's ERA will rise accordingly as well. But then again, not necessarily to the same terrible level he was at in May, when squads were obliterating him. I don't expect his ERA to regress at quite the rate the league's will. Even if he regresses slightly from where he's been the past eight starts as we move forward and he faces more AL squads, his overall ERA could still improve, just because of how poorly he did early on. At that rate, his ERA+ would also improve, so long as AL ERA regressed to its usual standard of the past 15 years. Am I wrong?

For Brian L., Ibanez's RZR (Revised Zone Rating) of .872 is the best it's ever been for him in left field. His OOZ (plays made outside his zone) are also on-pace to beat out last year's total and perhaps be the best of his career in left field. Also, his RZR is the third-highest of any American League left fielder, trailing only Johnny Damon and Carl Crawford, as is his OOZ. And that's while playing half his games at Safeco Field, which, as you've mentioned, is not an easy place to play left.

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Posted by shane/olympia

11:10 AM, Jul 22, 2008

washburn is at his highest value right before the trade deadline get rid of him for whatever you can get!

mariners need a youth movement!

Posted by Mike

11:15 AM, Jul 22, 2008

I think the question is, is it wiser to spend $9M on league average to below league average pitcher next year or spend that $9M elsewhere?

Posted by Jonathan

11:15 AM, Jul 22, 2008

I would move him for the simple fact he doesn't fit into the team's long term plans. I think Bedard and RRW will start next season the lefties in the rotation. I don't think it would be wise to trade Bedard until next year, even this off-season I think teams are going to low ball the M's.

Washburn has done admirably but really considering the overpayment of Silva and Bautista they need to get his salary off the books. That way maybe they can move Bautista and eat some of his salary.

Good topic, but I really don't see the point of keeping washburn. I don't mind keeping Ibanez but Washburn and Vidro are two guys who I think absolutely need to go. One for underperforming and one for the good of the franchise.

Posted by Chuck

11:18 AM, Jul 22, 2008

In the Tacoma News Tribune, Both Stottelmeyer and the Sheriff said they weren't sure whether RS is a starter or reliever. If the coaches don't know, I can understand why the young man is perplexed. apparently the decision maker and suits aren't talking to the coaches. It is really amazing to me how the Ms are rudderless--no plan at all!

Posted by Court Jester

11:19 AM, Jul 22, 2008

Many said the exact same things about Jamie Moyer, but he seems to be doing fine in Philly right now.

Reminds me of the old bull / young bull story.

Young bull says, "Hey, why don't we run down there in get one of them cows."

Old Bull says, "Why don't we walk down there and get them all...."

But I do agree it's time to trade Washburn. The M's need to make payroll room and acquire youth. Washburn's value won't go up over the off season.

Posted by Mr. Sabermetrics

11:23 AM, Jul 22, 2008

Mr Sabermetrics says trade him while his value is high!

Posted by dfb

11:24 AM, Jul 22, 2008

Everyone wants to get rid of everyone so quickly. Look, if the M's can get something for him now then move him now. But they can trade him at the end of the season if they want so the only reason you do it now is if you can get something for him. But he is definitely not a below average pitcher, especially as a lefty, and with prices continuing to go up for experienced pitching the new GM may want to be able make that decision. Ibanez is the only guy who should be traded for sure by the deadline simply because he has value on the market and the M's can re-sign him next year if they want. The M's have an entire off-season to re-work this team. Don't be hasty unless a good deal comes down the pike at the deadline.

Posted by cesame

11:25 AM, Jul 22, 2008

I say cut salary as much as you can and the let the kids play. See what kids stick, and then spend on positions where there is a hole. Probably going to be 1B at least, because there really isn't a viable option at 1B in the M's organization at this point.

You know you'll have Felix and Silva going into next year for sure. I think you can put Dickey and RRS in there and feel comfortable that those guys will give you innings. Then bring along Feierabend for the 5th slot. On a rebuilding team that should be going through a youth movement, that's a good enough rotation. You even have Morrow in consideration for next year also. Hopefully anyways.

The huge problem with this team is the offense. There are a lot of holes to be filled, and changes to be made IMO. I think the M's need a new middle-infield, 1B, and they absolutely need to figure out the OF. Ichiro in CF is a start. Put Wlad in RF.

Want to know what's funny? The M's could be making these changes right now. But they're not, and they're delaying the process. It's terrible management.

Posted by Ryan

11:26 AM, Jul 22, 2008

Jarrod Washburn has pitched much better than his 4-9 record indicates. I believe he is dead last in the league in run support, he was close to that last year, and in 2006 as well. It's not his fault that our offense is pathetic. He is probably about the only person, along with Ibanez, on this team who has any trade value. I say get for him wahtever you can get but don't get lowballed. I'm sure there are plenty of teams in the race that could use a midlde of the rotation starter.

Posted by Mr. Sabermetrics

11:28 AM, Jul 22, 2008

Well, if we keep him we will never KNOW if RRS can be a league average starter.

He'll need starts and Mr S would rather give him those starts through the end of the season. This year is lost and to sit here and think Wash will help us next year is being silly.

Wash is pitching great. He is more consistent than Mr. S's fellow sabermetricians give him credit for. Problem is, we have a kid capable of league average performance for a fraction of the cost down at Tacoma! Smart teams sell high on guys who don't fit into future plans. RRS can be a good starter at this level. His stuff is superior to Jarrod's at this point.

The jury is in...trade Washburn and give RRS his spot NOW.

Posted by Jonathan

11:29 AM, Jul 22, 2008

I agree with you cesame, the pitching staff although a little shaky in the rotation for the most part is not the problem. It's the AAA lineup that their putting out.

I like RRW and Dickey for their value/cost as #4/#5 starters.

I think we're stuck with Silva but I think moving Washburn maybe gives you some flexibility to start Bautista in the bullpen next year and hope he can slightly raise his value. If he does maybe you get a team to take him the last 2 years on the grounds you eat some of his salary. Trading Washburn might enable you to do that? I don't know...

Posted by Ryan

11:30 AM, Jul 22, 2008

As for another thought. If we dump salary, we could make a push for Mark Teixiera next year. We would have to convince him, and show him that there is a product on the field that could be competitive. I don't think he'd come here unless that was the case. I don't know what the cost will be to sign him, I'm sure he won't come cheap. With Felix, Bedard and possibly RRS, that's the makngs of a pretty good 1-3 in the rotation, assuming Bedard can stay healthy. The bullpen is pretty solid. Where we need help is offensively.

Posted by shane/olympia

11:31 AM, Jul 22, 2008

jester your last 2 lines are dead on !

the m's are rebuliding - you think who can really be in the plan?

felix
wlad
clement
beltre
marrow
ichiro
lowe
green
reed
bloomquist
uni
jose

not i repeat not!
vidro
cairo
washburn
bautista
raul
rhodes
burke

Posted by Matt W

11:41 AM, Jul 22, 2008

It is about (i) can the salary be used better elsewhere (ii) could the sopt on the roster more usefully used by a cheap yougster and (iii) at this moment in time is Washburn's value at about the maximum it is ever likely to be.

Johjima says "hai".

Its pretty straightforward. The answer to all three of these questions is an easy yes - it would be Bavasi-esque not to trade him now.

Posted by cesame

11:42 AM, Jul 22, 2008

Btw, let's all remember just how bad the signing of Johjima is. The worst possible move...ever. Way to block one of the best hitters in your organization. Good job.

One day I'd love to see Chuckie and Howie sit in front of reporters that aren't afraid to ask tough questions. I'd love to hear some of their responses. I'm guessing it would be pretty laughable.

Btw, if the M's sign Tex, I'm not positive, but they might lose their draft pick. That's not what this team needs, if that is indeed the case.

Posted by Jakob

11:45 AM, Jul 22, 2008

Who said Ibanez's bat was done? The argument's been that he's better suited for DH.

And what defensive measure shows him turning around? UZR had him as the worst left-fielder in baseball not a month ago (at -20 runs, an astoundingly bad mark). There isn't a good defensive metric that likes Ibanez.

(link: http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/how_well_can_we_project_team_defense_and_other_uzr_data/)

Posted by Flick

11:47 AM, Jul 22, 2008

I hope those idiots that write and comment on USS Mariner read Rowlands blog. They seem to think that because "Chemistry" isn't in the box score, it clearly doesn't exist, and anyone who doesn't agree is dumb. They don't think anything happens that can't be recorded with a number; that players don't get hurt feelings or have emotions. I like Rowlands blog because it gives a glimpse into the life of a real athlete and real team member.

I wish those bloggers had an ounce of athletic talent and weren't so pig-headed, then perhaps they would know what it is like to be on a TEAM. Those bloggers run a personality cult.

Keep up the good work, Geoff. you're the only blogger in Seattle that isn't so obsessed with everyone agreeing with you that you ridicule anyone who doesn't.

Posted by Henry

11:49 AM, Jul 22, 2008

Buster Olney reporting that the Yankees are scouting Washburn.

Igawa and prospect for Washburn...DONE!

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/

Posted by Flick

11:50 AM, Jul 22, 2008

Oh, we should definitely trade Washburn! He costs a ton and doesn't get along with anyone. Whatever we can get for him, at least that guy has a CHANCE to be on a Mariner's playoff team... Washburn will be retired by that point.

Posted by lwl

11:54 AM, Jul 22, 2008

never trade a pitcher away. Get all you can get and hope for more. You never have enough.

Posted by dwyesman

11:54 AM, Jul 22, 2008

Dont dump Washburn just to dump him. Has there been a better attitude on the team?? Unless you get decent to good prospects in return, Keep Wash and unload Erik "you get 3 questions and that's one of them" Bedard. Wash will have value in off season too...assuming he keeps up his present pace. Texeira?? Bad clubhouse guy in already imploding clubhouse.

Posted by Sell high Buy low

11:55 AM, Jul 22, 2008

Trade or drop him..... You trade you get something in return... you drop him you get picks in the draft but maybe on the hook for his pay next year. They guy is done. was done b4 we gave him money. If someone is interested in trading him for his arm and his salery for a bag of gum do it!

Posted by casetines

11:55 AM, Jul 22, 2008

Trade him. Thats 10 million we can use on a hitter which is what we really need.

RRS and Morrow are already two guys not starting now that should be starting next spring. Add in Felix and Bedard and thats as good a 4 as a lot of teams have right now.

Look at Minnesota. They traded away Garza and Santana and are making due with what they've got and they still haven't had anything from Liriano.

RRS is as good as a Nick Blackburn, if not better, or a Scott Baker.

The M's should try to move the contract and maybe, MAYBE, get a decent player in return, perhaps a first baseman thats ready to play now.

Posted by ConcentrationGuy

11:58 AM, Jul 22, 2008

Way to prove, again, that you have no idea how statistics work. You think Washburn's ERA+, which measures his ERA relative to the league average, is lower because the league average is down?

Wow.

Just give up using numbers. You don't know how to do it.

Posted by Bill

12:04 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Yeah, let's keep the Bavasi-signed, overpaid, mediocre veteran free agent and block the younger player that can give the same or better productivity. Go M's!

Posted by Paul

12:11 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Besides the Buster Olney report that Jakob mentioned, is there even any indication that teams are interested in Washburn? I know the trade deadline's approaching and pitching is always in short supply, but you'd think we'd have heard something more substantial at this point.

Geoff?

Posted by David Gee

12:17 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Look, Washburn has been given almost three years to be the pitcher than he was with the Angels, no less in a better pitchers' park, and it hasn't happened.

Further, Washburn isn't getting any younger, and what have we seen happen to players here in recent years once they hit that age? They've all gone Batista on us.

I don't want to watch Washburn go Batista on us next year for nine million. Hell, it almost happened this year.

Get what you can for him now.

Posted by Joe C

12:20 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Come on Geoff - first you say trade Ichiro (an undervalued player), then question whether they should keep Washburn (who is hopefully an overvalued player right now). Washburn should be traded just because he is owed $10 million next year. The Mariners could use that money to go get someone to fill one of the gaping holes on offense long term. I don't see the Mariners contending next year and it makes lots of sense to trade Washburn now if there are any offers that give us a player and pick up his salary next year. He won't be one the team in 2010 and won't get them to the playoffs next year, so why hold on to him now? Billy Beane would have done it last month, but Billy Beane wouldn't have signed Washburn in the first place.

And what's next Geoff, advocating more at bats for Vidro and Cairo?

Posted by Top pick in 09 draft

12:24 PM, Jul 22, 2008

The only way I would trade Wash to NYY for Igawa (so far a big bust) is if NYY would take Johjima's contract also. If Posada is out for the season, the Yankees will be needing a catcher in the worst way which Joh is. I don't have any confidence in our inexperienced interim GM to make any trades however - so far, he just seems to be a caretaker and a career yes-man to the bumbling duo above him.

Posted by neilmber

12:42 PM, Jul 22, 2008

In three years Washburn has:
* Never had season with more than 10 wins
* A .367 winning percentage (a .633 losing percentage)
* An ERA of 4.55

Is this the stuff to build a strong rotation nest year? Add to that the fact that he has always been streaky, with stints like his recent performance ending after 6 or 8 starts. The innings he might provide will be pitched, perhaps by some who will be part of a solid rotation in a year or two.

Take whatever the best offer is, free up the salary, thank Washburn for his disruptive influence in bashing his team's catcher publicly when he himself has been a weak performer, and welcome whatever prospects we can get.

Posted by Oly Mike

12:56 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Because it seems that the Mariner FO and Field management cannot put together a team that wins, or is cost effective and pleases Northwest/ Seattle fans, they could take a simple approach that would not strain their intellectual capacity, nor pocketbook, yet field a team that would out-perform the one they put on the field currently. They should have drafted only players that were born or went to high school or college in Idaho, Oregon or Washington (NW). If they had done so they would have a team that might look like the following:
Infield
1. Lyle Overbay 1B (Blue Jays)
2. Willie Bloomquist 2B (Mariners --I know, but he was all I could find from NW)
3. Brendan Ryan SS (Cardinals rookie)
4. Travis Hanson 3B (Cardinals rookie)
5. Kory Casto back up middle infield (Nationals rookie)
6. Scott Hatteberg backup 1B/DH (Reds)
7. Josh Phelps backup 3b, 1B (Cardinals rookie)
(Sorry about all the Cardinal Rookies but they were the only current NW players found at those positions)
Outfield
8. Grady Sizemore CF-leadoff hitter (Indians)
9. Jacoby Ellsbury RF (Red Sox)
10. Jason Bay LF (Pirates)
11. Travis Buck back-up OF/DH (As)
Catcher
12. Ryan Doumit Primary catcher could also DH (Pirates)
13. Mike Redmond backup catcher/DH (Twins)
Starting Rotation
14. Tim Lincecum RHP (Giants)
15. Jon Lester LHP (Red Sox)
16. Jeremy Bonderman RHP (Tigers)
17. Matt Hendrickson LHP (Marlins)
18. Kevin Gregg RHP (Marlins)
Bull Pen
19. Bobby Jenks RHP Closer (White sox)
20. Keith FoulkeRHP 8th Inning Set-up (As)
21. Alan Embree LHP (As)
22. Jason Hammel RHP (Rays)
23. David Riske RHP (Brewers)
24. Glendon Rusch LHP (Rockies)
25. Brian Burres LHP (Orioles)
The make-up of this team is not ethnically diverse, in fact it is rather Milk toast but it meets the intent of making it easy on Mariner management. They dont have to think and they could have put together a team that could compete for a play-off spot. By simply drafting only players that were born or went to high school or college in Idaho, Oregon or Washington (NW). The glaring weakness on this team is obviously the infield. Only Lyle Overbay, Scott Hatteberg & Willie Bloomquist have any MLB experience. But the others are promising rookies that could be good given an opportunity. The rest of this NW team is exceptionally good. The starting rotation could be very dominant. The Bull Pen can get batters out. The outfield is good especially with Grady Sizemore and the catchers are solid and can hit very well. So I for one would take this team any day over the current Mariner team and it didnt take any over thinking and evaluation to put it together. And the bonus for this team would be that it would draw a lot of NW fan attention.

Posted by matt

12:56 PM, Jul 22, 2008

"Way to prove, again, that you have no idea how statistics work. You think Washburn's ERA+, which measures his ERA relative to the league average, is lower because the league average is down?"

Care to explain why Geoff's use of ERA+ is in error?

Posted by Kris

12:57 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Washbum needs to go, but Carlos Saliva and Miguel Betoasta must precede him. Saliva is 1-11 after April and Betoasta has lost his confidence and touch.

You guys agonize over the nuances of who to keep. Feliz Hernandez is a keeper and uh, er, hmmmm............. One guy and that's it. Perhaps Jeff Clement if he and we can hang on to the light at the end of his tunnel.

Otherwise, I'm for the Mariners being sold to Mr. Starbucks so Howie Schlock can get the 'team' sold and hustled outta town as soon as possible. Oklahomely City would be a fine destination for da Mariners.

Posted by tangotiger

1:01 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Geoff, the idea behind ERA+ is that if you have a 4.50 ERA and the league is 4.50, and then next year you have a 4.00 ERA and the league is 4.00, you have not improved. Whatever it is that causes the league to go from 4.50 to 4.00 in one year (say larger strike zone, or deader ball or whatnot) affects everyone. Therefore, you have to treat ERA+ as a "normalized" ERA, similar to treating your money in "real dollars" as inflation-adjusted.

Your point is only valid if you believe that there's been an influx of good pitchers who came in all of a sudden in one year. The presumption is that the overall quality of pitchers and batters does not change much (at least is not noticeable) in any two consecutive years. Certainly over a 10 or 20 year period, it may change, but over 2 years, no one will be able to tell.

Insofar as your statement in the article is made, it doesn't hold.

Posted by smith

1:03 PM, Jul 22, 2008

The Yankees just put Posada on the DL again. Maybe they would be interested in Johjima?

Posted by whitey on tha moon

1:11 PM, Jul 22, 2008

OLY Mike said 'The make-up of this team is not ethnically diverse, in fact it is rather Milk toast '

damn, you got that right Mike. That team is whiter than Mt. Rainier in December. That team is so white, the fans would have to wear dark sunglasses just so they wouldn't get blinded by the glare. Damn that is a white team.

but I imagine the good ole boys that run this current club would just love that shit.

Posted by john

1:17 PM, Jul 22, 2008

lets keep them all,,,,,,,,, this is so fun every year

Posted by Miles

1:21 PM, Jul 22, 2008

My general view is that the M's shouldn't trade anyone signed through next year or beyond unless they are getting something back that is close to major league ready and fills a need. Why? Because if the next GM thinks the team can contend next year, we will be back to paying similar money for similar pitchers. Might as well keep Washburn under those circumstances rather than take a low level prospect that will take years to contribute.

Now, if the view is that the team won't compete again for years, then go for it. But I thought we were going to let the next GM make that decision.

Posted by Oly Mike

1:21 PM, Jul 22, 2008

To: whitey on tha moon

The ethnic makeup of the team was not the point. It was simply a compilation of current active players from the NW. Maybe youshould try putting together an all Dominican Team if it is bothersome to you.

Posted by john

1:26 PM, Jul 22, 2008

this team needs blowin up,
I watch and wait, make the deals........
I thought the new kid had a chance to be a hero
yesterday, but they pulled him for vedro,
could have been fun , but I didnt want vedro to get a hit,
they hurt us and let us down so often, the only thing worth watching is the new kids looking toward the future. and what do we get with the game on the line more freekin vedro ,,,,,,,sending cans of corn to the outfield, someone wake me when the future starts toi play.

Posted by BrianL

1:27 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Geoff, just which metrics seem to like Raul Ibanez as an outfielder? RZR doesn't like him, UZR hates him. Even if he's an average left fielder, that means nothing. The defensive spectrum at Safeco Field is backwards of the rest of baseball. In our park, LF is far more difficult to field than RF.

As far as Washburn goes, if someone comes along and is willing to take his salary and offer a warm body, I pull the trigger. That's 10 million off the books and one less obstacle to get in the way of seeing Ryan Rowland-Smith or Brandon Morrow start.

You also might want to read up on tangotiger's explanation of how ERA+ (a statistic I'm not overly fond of) works.

Posted by Jarred "Bauer" Washburn

1:34 PM, Jul 22, 2008

I don't even know why this is a debate Baker. We all the Stand Pat Mariners are going to send out Ibanez, Beltre, Silva, Bedard, Washburn, Yuni, Willie and the rest of the losers on this ballclub next year thinking, "Hey it was just an off year." Here's to another 100 loses next year.

If I were in charge I'd dump Washburn while he's valuable. I'd surely get rid of Ibanez and Beltre if there were takers and start from the ground up at replacing these overpaid duds.

Posted by Maria from TJ

1:34 PM, Jul 22, 2008

OlyMike, you are the one race baiting to begin with. What was your original point anyways? Just a random list of NW players?

Posted by scottM

1:50 PM, Jul 22, 2008

from GEOFF: "But if all the M's are going to do is dump Washburn's salary in a trade, would it benefit the team more to be keeping him?"

YES. Having Washburn in '09 while some of the minor leaguers can further develop makes more sense than simply dumping his salary.

Too many bloggers assume that getting rid of the salaries of Sexson, Vidro and possibly Washburn and Ibanez implies that the M's front office will allow its new GM to replace those dollars with new players. WHY DO SO MANY FANS WORRY ABOUT WHAT THE M's ARE PAYING FOR ITS PLAYERS? Much more relevant is knowing what sort of budget the M's plan to have in '09. If we're dumping Washburn just to free up his salary, HOW DOES THAT HELP THIS TEAM?

Washburn is an average lefty, and arguably not so good in must-win games. I don't care much for the guy, but right now he is the M's #3 pitcher behind Felix and the injured Bedard. Will the M's get a MLB-ready player in return, or a blue chip prospect in addition to freeing up that salary? That would change my answer. If not, then keep him at least until the 2009 trade deadline makes sense, especially if next season is a bust like this one.

Posted by Lenny Randle's Breath

1:53 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Yes, as long as they can get a solid hitter for him. Wonder if they have any package deals in the works? A Beltre - Washburn combo? How about a Yuni - Washburn special?

Posted by Adam

1:55 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Is Washburn a different pitcher since June?


In April and May, he pitched 53 2/3 innings, with 68 hits, 13 BB, 32K, 969 pitches and 602 strikes thrown.

In June and July, he pitched 56 1/3 innings, with 63 hits, 19 BB, 33 K, 961 pitches and 585 strikes thrown.


So, he isn't throwing more strikes, and he isn't striking out more hitters. His control is actually worse. What has been the difference is that in APril and May, he gave up 27 extra-base hits, while in June and July, only 18.

According to the graph at the bottom of this screen:

http://www.fangraphs.com/graphs.aspx?playerid=40&position=P&page=7&type=full

it looks like his BABIP has been favorable to him for the past few starts. So while he was definitely unlucky earlier in the year, he's been lucky lately.


Personally, I don't think he's much different from what he was earlier in the year. His stuff hasn't gotten any better. He is what he is: A league-average pitcher at best who is making more than we need to pay him.

You could get Greg Smith, John Lannan, or Paul Maholm (all have FIPs very similar to Washburn) and get the same production for a fraction of the cost.

If you get a chance to trade Washburn for anything of value, you do it.


Shoot, I'd offer the Yanks Washburn and Arthur Rhodes for Ross Ohlendorf and say goodnight...

Posted by Anything Can Happen

1:58 PM, Jul 22, 2008

I was a Washburn fan last year--he typically pitched shut-out ball for 4-6 innings and then had one bad inning in the 5th, 6th or 7th. I argued for keeping Washburn since in a pennant race I would happily keep a guy who can shut out an opposing team for 5+ innings IF the other starters are throwing 7 innings and the BP is rested and can come in and finish off a strong Wash start. But this team is not in a pennant race and likely will not be next year. And if he pitches well in the next 1.5 seasons, he could demand a big contract (even at 35 years old) or walk.

If the Ms will not be contending in the final years of his contract, it's a no-brainer to trade him (at least for Billy Beane). RRS has three huge advantages over Washburn: he's 9 years younger, about $10 million cheaper, and he has a tougher attitude (and I've never heard him complaining about not having an "out" pitch--he finds ways to avoid Washburn's foul-off after foul-off after foul-off that runs up the pitch count). And, I would add a fourth possible advantage: I think once RRS gets a bit more stretched out, he will be a bit more efficient with his pitches. And with his resilient attitude, he could give the Ms a solid 7 innings every start.

No, please not Igawa--he's 29 and has yet to prove himself.

Who would want Washburn? Historically he has pitched best in Tampa, Yankee Stadium, Cleveland, KC, and Minnesota (close to home--maybe Milwaukee too?). Unfortunately for the Ms, his best numbers are at Tropicana, but Tampa doesn't need him--though that might be sufficient incentive for an AL East rival to pick him up. Minnesota doesn't really need him either, but given his numbers in AL Central parks, he could make them a real contender.

Posted by Mike

1:59 PM, Jul 22, 2008

"WHY DO SO MANY FANS WORRY ABOUT WHAT THE M's ARE PAYING FOR ITS PLAYERS?"

Because the budget is not infinite. If you think you can get Washburn-like results from RRS, or Morrow for a fraction of the cost, that allows you to target $9M to other areas of need.

Posted by Mike

2:03 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Adam---Some of Washburn's better results could be that the defense has been better. DER is improving with addition of Reed to outfield and Cairo playing first. LL has a piece up on this.

Posted by Adam

2:11 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Mike - That's a good point about the defense. All the better to take advantage of and get what you can for Washburn

Posted by Mike

2:19 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Agreed

Posted by whitey on tha moon

2:31 PM, Jul 22, 2008

yo Oly Mike

your list is not bothersome, I was simply stating a fact that DAMN that is one LILY WHITE team. you tha one actin all huffy now....so be it whatever who cares

Posted by BrianL

2:34 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Mike - Good point.

It's easy to forget how important a good outfield is to pitch-to-contact pitchers. Though our outfield isn't by any means stellar, it has improved dramatically with the addition of Reed. Put an average defender in left and our outfield could be one of the better crews in the game.

Ever wonder how Joel Piniero and Ryan Franklin put up good numbers for a season in Seattle? The answer's obvious.

Winn/Cameron/Ichiro

Posted by Mike

2:44 PM, Jul 22, 2008

I wish I had appreciated them more then. I miss Mike Cameron.

Posted by Waz

2:47 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Honestly, the statistics of Washburn is not the best but he's good enough. I do understand the point of salary and I hope that M's make a wise decision for a trade and receive that players that are very usable for M's.

I was observing Washburn's stats, he tends to allow less than 4-5 runs most of games comparing to Silva and Batista. Silva and Batista are way worse and allow 6+ runs in most of games. It makes me sick.

Yesterday game wasn't Washburn fault, he tried and only allowed TWO runs and the M's offensive is the weakness.

So If Washburn gone, will it help the team? He isn't an issue for the M's. M's need to get rid of Batista, Silva, Cairo, Vidro and Johjima and find something better if possible.

Posted by tangotiger

2:49 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Geoff, the expectation is that what has happened to the league has also happened to Jarrod. You are suggesting that it's possible that we've got a sampling issue, in that what has happened to the league is not necessarily real, and therefore, we shouldn't, at this point, be too crazy about comparing Jarrod to the league. It has some validity to it, if this were early in the season. At this point, I don't think it's true. However, it is a fair point, and one that could be explored further.

Posted by Kelly

3:08 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Even if the Ms got nothing back in return, but got his salary off the books, it would be a win. His salary would be much better spent on signing next year's draft picks or on international scouting and signings.

The only strategy that makes sense for the Ms is to lose games by the bucket load so they can get high draft picks.

Posted by Ryan

3:10 PM, Jul 22, 2008

I'm not really sold on Kei Igawa. Has he even pitched this year?


Adam,


Would you trade Washburn and Rhodes for either Ian Kennedy or Phil Hughes??

Posted by Ryan

3:11 PM, Jul 22, 2008

I guess the better question would be if the Yankees would do that deal though.

Posted by Mike

3:12 PM, Jul 22, 2008

"Also, his RZR is the third-highest of any American League left fielder, trailing only Johnny Damon and Carl Crawford"

Not to pick nits Geoff but saying he's #3 might be a tad misleading as only 6 LFers have played enough to "qualify." If, however, you look at LFers who have played 300+ innings, Raul ranks 10th out of 13.

Posted by JP

3:38 PM, Jul 22, 2008

SELLERS MARKET!!! Especially for left handed pitchers! Look Washburn has been playing above his head for the last two months. That being said now is the time to trade him. At least at this time we could get some decent prospects. Not major league ready ones, but some future pros.

Bedard we are stuck with! Hopefully we could unload him next year at the deadline but even then with his contract up at the end of the year good luck getting anything in return that will help us.

RRS is a good back of the rotation guy. If Bedard could get his head in the game and stop being such a sissy the rotation next year may not be that bad.

Felix
Bedard
Silva
RRS
Morrow / Dickey / Badtista

Silva will drop some pounds in the off season i truly beleive that he is just frustrated by how little run support the offense gives him along with the other starters. If your mindset is i have to press and shut out the opposing team in order for us to win then i think they try to hard and mind screw themselves out there.

By the way Fields is a Boris guy so i don't see him pitching until winter ball. Might be could might as well save his arm until next year. No use over using him since GU went deep into the College World Series this year.

Posted by scrapiron

3:45 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Washburn: $10.35M 2009
Igawa: $4M 2009
$4M 2010
$4M 2011

So overall you'd only save $2M picking up Igawa, although over a longer term.

Igawa was terrible for NYY in 2007, (6.25 ERA) but some say he just needs to get out of the bright lights of New York. It's possible. Being around Ichiro and Johjima wouldn't hurt either.

At AAA this year, Igawa:
9 Wins, 5 Losses, 113 IP, 90K, 32 BB, 3.82 ERA, 1.17 WHIP.

Toss in a long-term player with upside like Jesus Montero, Kevin DeLeon or Dellin Betances and you got a deal.

Posted by Lamda

4:09 PM, Jul 22, 2008

I know what you mean Geoff - i've been thinking about this as well. Should we trade Wash? I think if we can get something of value then great, lets do it. If not and it's just a salary dump only - I see little point. I have seen some other sites that suggest trading teams want us to pay his salary this year and atleast half of next years salary. I am ok with that if we get back a good prospect that will be in the bigs someday. But to give away all that money and get some low prospect who might never see AAA - that seems a huge waste to me. I'd rather we tried to package him as part of some deal this offseason instead.

Posted by Oly Mike

4:23 PM, Jul 22, 2008

To All The Politically Correct: Maria from TJ & whitey on tha moon.

I apologize for my post. The point was that Mariner Management could have put together a better team if they had simply drafted all players from the NW rather than the team they have now. All players were selected randomly. I guess I could have said all players from the Sothwest (incl. So. Calif) which would have been more ethnically diverse or the Dominican Republic or maybe Japan. Then would we have this race issue discussion? I believe not. Overall the Mariners have the most etnically diverse team in MLB but that does not make them a good team. It is more about the individual caliber of the players. Which Mariner Management does not know how to judge but a simple regional selection plan would do better. It is like arguing which team was better the 1980's Celtics (mostly white Byrd, McHale, Ainge) or the Lakers (Jabbar, Magic, Worthy). Each team beat the other and won championships. It was good player against good player not anything to do with race.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

4:34 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Better way to look at it is, when are the Ms going to have a better chance to get prospects? Trading Washburn, Ibanez, Beltre while their values are high could net you AAA / AAAA guys that would take years to develop in-house.

Posted by Adam

5:03 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Ryan - In a heartbeat, but as you guessed, there's little chance the Yankees would do that.

Washburn, with his salary, isn't worth much.

Posted by bellgingham Steve

5:04 PM, Jul 22, 2008

You should read rotowire.com. There's a good writeup on Washburn today. He is what he is -- not good.

Posted by Armstrong must be canned!

5:36 PM, Jul 22, 2008

TRADE WASHBURN now!
I don't want him on this team. He is a loser just like his bosses Chuck Armstrong and Howie Lincoln. They must be canned too!

Posted by bammy

6:15 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Great post.

Posted by AD

7:21 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Geoff, what makes you think that Rowland-Smith can't replace Washburn's stats exactly if not be an improvement next year? So far from what we've seen from him, he has great movement on his pitches and knows how to pitch and has stayed healthy. Personally, I see no reason why he can't replace Washburn without missing a beat and then when you throw in Morrow in the rotation as well next year that allows Batista to move to the pen or retire (hopefully).

And if the club decides to trade Bedard in the offseason, well I perfect replacement could be found on the free agent market with Ben Sheets.

Posted by Colin Wyers

7:53 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Geoff - A higher RZR, especially for an outfielder, doesn't necessarily mean an improvement. BIS changes the zones between seasons - I know they like to say that an RZR between two player seasons should be comparable, but I really don't think that it is. For reference - and I'm not at home so I don't have the exact figures in front of me - but for 2004 and 2005 I'm pretty sure that outfield RZR was on average in the high .600s. It increased dramatically in 2006 and fluctuates pretty wildly year-to-year.

STATS, Inc. ZR tends to be more stable year to year. For what it's worth, his STATS ZR is .784 in 2008, and a weighted average of his past few seasons - 08 included - is 0.817, both of which are... not good.

Posted by Dave from the coast

8:26 PM, Jul 22, 2008

think Washburn has been very consistent over his last few appearances. Perhaps he's not the greatest pitcher in the world, but if the M's pitching staff had more like him, I'm sure things would be a lot better. I see nothing wrong with Washburn, not really. Sure, I wish he could throw 95 miles an hour, but again, he's been consistent. Let's keep our consistent guys and go get some HITTERS. And if there's one other person we should keep, it's Ibanez. He's solid. Sure he's not getting any younger, but who is?

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