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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 29, 2008 10:17 AM

Ichiro's 3,000 worthy?

Posted by Geoff Baker

texas0728 026.jpg

All quiet on the Jarrod Washburn front. Like I said, what you've got here is an old-fashioned standoff, with neither the New York Yankees nor the Mariners budging from their positions. This writer in New York even used the same "game of chicken" comparison we talked about yesterday morning. He's right. This story describes the usual trade scenario we've mentioned, that it was going to be either Melky Cabrera or Brett Gardner going to Seattle along with Washburn and all his salary off to New York. Never both players for Washburn. That would have been a fleecing and the M's rarely end upon the plus side of one of those deals.

Anyhow, the M's just might have to be willing to hold on to Washburn. We've had plenty of debate about this before. Is he for real? Are patsy opponents and an improved defense making him look better than he is? More on that -- especially the defense -- later in this post.

But now, let's deal with the 20,000 pound elephant in the room.

At some point tonight, Ichiro will likely notch the 3,000th hit of his combined major league and Japanese League career. We've heard a lot of commentary about the vailidity of this milestone. I go back and forth on it, personally. In fact, I was willing to dismiss it outright until Jim Riggleman mentioned something yesterday that cannot be overlooked. The fact that Ichiro has compiled his major league hit total of 1,721 (he had 1,278 in Japan) faster than any other player in history.

In actuality, Ichiro is compiling his major league hit totals faster than he did in eight seasons of professional baseball in Japan. Perhaps the era of the three-run homer in MLB caused teams here to position themselves to defend against the big hit rather than the infield and slap singles that Ichiro tends to pile up? Who's to say he wouldn't have already been at 3,000 hits had he begun his career here?

Don't forget. He also played minor league baseball in Japan.

So, this isn't the same as saying that if you reward Ichiro, you have to take the Class AAA stats of all other players and count them as well. The Japanese pro ranks are superior to minor league American baseball. Some would call it a AAAA league.

But I'll throw this out there. Who's to say the hit totals of Amercian ballplayers weren't being inflated throughout the 1990s steroids era? Maybe it was actually tougher to get hits in Japan, playing in a league where rampant drug use wasn't nearly as prevalent -- or tolerated?

Baseball isn't the only sport where the caliber of "professional" leagues comes into play. Let's talk about local football legend Warren Moon. I actually watched him play live in the Canadian Football League a few times as a kid growing up cheering on my Montreal Alouettes against his Edmonton Eskimos. Many folks want to discount the passing yardage he compiled in Canada, as they do with Doug Flutie, when it comes to looking at career totals. They say the level of competition is not as serious in the CFL.

To that, I say, major pro ball is major pro ball. Moon spent six years getting knocked on his back by guys good enough to play in the NFL in many cases. In temperatures of 40-below when it came to playoff time. The difference between the CFL and NFL can often be boiled down to a few more talented guys at certain skill positions. They are different games. But they are played at full speed at the highest levels. Dexter Manley did not go up to the CFL and dominate. Neither did Mark Gastineau. They were done as players and exposed badly, even in the "inferior" CFL. Joe Theisman won a Super Bowl. But he failed to win his only Grey Cup (CFL title) game. Others, like Moon, Flutie, Jeff Garcia, or "Rocket" Ismail, do well in both leagues. Some don't.

When a team of National Hockey League stars went over to Europe to play club teams during the 1992 lockout, they often found themselves in over their head. When NBA stars played for the U.S. at the World Championships this decade, they were hammered by Argentina and Yugoslavia. A club team from Israel beat the Toronto Raptors in an exhibition game. Pro is pro. Once again, the difference between one league and the other can be marginal. Yes, the NHL is the best hockey league in the world, the NBA is the best basketball league and the NFL the best football league. And MLB is still the best place to play baseball. But by what margin is it the best?

I'd argue, not as much as you'd suspect. Many times, whether you play in one league or the other can come down to politics, height and weight. Is that the best measurement? Hey, if sheer size were all that mattered, a lot of those Ultimate Fighting matches would be over before the opening bell. But watch the fights themselves. The size of a guy's biceps is rarely what decides the outcome.

To that end, I think it's somewhat insulting to Ichiro to discount all of his Japanese hits out-of-hand as the product of playing in the equivalent of a AAA league.

Let's face it, at his age, he may never get to prove he could notch 3,000 hits in a major league uniform. The fact that I have to qualify that statement -- leaving open the possibility he still might do it -- shows you what kind of talent he is. Based on the evidence in front of me, I see no reason to believe he would not have done it. So, why not reward him for the next best thing?

I'll let you chew on that for a bit and get back to Washburn for a moment.

After last night's discussion, some of you wrote in making the argument that Seattle's improved defense has been the driving force behind Washburn's sizzling numbers over the past two months -- namely, a 2.89 ERA in his last 11 outings. You pointed out that the addition of Jeremy Reed and Willie Bloomquist in center -- but more so Reed -- plus Ichiro in right field over Wladimir Balentien has helped make the M's a more defensively efficient team. Same with the addition of Miguel Cairo at first base over Richie Sexson.

Well, I can't argue with that. The M's are a better defensive team overall. But let's limit the discussion to Washburn for a moment, since we're talking about him.

Since the start of that 11-game run of success, dating back to May 25, Reed has played center field in exactly four of those outings. In three of the outings, he didn't play at all. So, I'd say his impact as a center fielder has been minimal for Washburn. He did play four games in right field, replacing Wladimir Balentien, which is an upgrade. But how much difference will an upgrade in right field alone matter to a pitcher? I know it matters, but to a lesser degree than an upgrade in center.

Let's take a look at first base and the impact swapping Sexson for Cairo has had on Washburn. I'd say very little so far. Cairo has played good defense at first base, but Sexson was still the actual first baseman for seven of the 11 outings during Washburn's stretch. Jose Vidro was the first baseman for one and no, I don't consider him a defensive upgrade. Bryan LaHair got the last two first base assignments with Washburn pitching and while he may be an upgrade over Sexson, it's tough to negate the previous nine starts by Washburn just because of that. Cairo has had exactly one start at first base behind Washburn -- back on June 15.

So, I'd say the "improved" infield defense for Washburn is negligible. Have Jose Lopez and Yuniesky Betancourt improved defensively during those 11 Washburn starts? If they have, it's been minimal again. And I'm not sure it's to the point where it would even be statistically relevant to the pitcher.

Raul Ibanez has been the left fielder for all of those Washburn starts. Ichiro and Willie Bloomquist have been in center for seven of the 11. As for late-game defensive substitutions, I'd say they're largely irrelevant to the fate of a pitcher going six or seven innings and who is out of the game by the time those subs become an issue.

In other words, based on the only sample size we have to go off, Washburn has benefitted most from improved defense in right field. Perhaps a bit in center. Almost nothing at all in the infield. Is that enough to shave two runs off his ERA over a two-month period? Or get him up to six or seven innings -- even eight -- per start as opposed to anywhere from three to five? That's stretching things a bit. I have no doubt it helped, but at some point you have to give credit to the pitcher. We've been hearing the "he's going to implode" line for two months. What if he isn't?

And wait, let me flip the argument around. If indeed this defensive boost is what's really propping up Washburn, then should the M's not keep him? I mean, the defense isn't going anyplace. Trot out a Big Three of Felix Hernandez, Erik Bedard and Jarrod Washburn next season.

Why cash-dump Washburn if he's really a seven inning guy with a sub-3.00 ERA thanks to a few defensive switches? Maybe it was -- based on the defensive arguments I'm hearing -- the previously poor D that was causing Washburn to look so bad?

Like I said, I'm not totally buying that. But it does give you food for thought.

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Posted by Chris from Bothell

10:35 AM, Jul 29, 2008

Re: Ichiro - The 3000 hits thing is not going to change anyone's mind about him, or be seen objectively. People who like him will celebrate it. People who don't will dismiss it. I think it's unique and interesting, but I am, as Mr. X can attest, an Ichibot.

Re: Washburn - Defense, schmefense. His game only picked up when he was auditioning to go to a better team, and when he got done throwing Joh under the bus for a lousy start to the season. The thought of pitching into October inspired him to focus, and to refine another pitch. If the Ms keep him past August, then for the rest of 08 and into 09 you'll see more of what he was like in April / May.

Posted by BrianL

10:42 AM, Jul 29, 2008

Fascinating writeup concerning the 3,000 pro hits for Ichiro, Geoff.

As for Washburn, I think the defense changes since June have had a part in his improved results, but I would think the clubs he's been pitching against since June has something to do with it. Really, the only true offensive-laden club he's squared off against is Boston. During this stretch he's pitched against Atlanta, Washington, Kansas City, Oakland, Toronto, and San Diego.

Those are not good offensive ballclubs. He's done his job and capitalized against these weak hitting clubs (the fact that Silva and Batista failed to pitch well against them is rather disconcerting), but I wonder what would happen if Washburn were to begin pitching in the hitting-rich AL-East regularly.

Honestly, I don't know. I suspect that the results he's gotten despite his high FB rate and line-drive rate aren't sustainable. I'm guessing Washburn will come back to Earth soon, but stranger things have happened. However, If I'm in the M's front office, I'd do everything I can to move Washburn. Sell high now, because I don't expect Washburn will keep pitching this well.

Posted by Pirata Morado

10:47 AM, Jul 29, 2008

Don't forget that Japan won the first edition of the WBC, and every nation was at "full force", I only remember a few japanese players who already played in the MLB like Ichiro.

Even my country, Mexico, defeated the USA in the WBC. You could use that to point that Ichiro's 3000 hits are legit.

Posted by Chuck

10:49 AM, Jul 29, 2008

Ichiro: Like Ms trades you can discuss it to death, but MLB is only going to count his MLB hits.

Washburn: Basically the Yankees position is that now they want to make salary an issue while saying something else (we don't mind increasing the size of the payroll...). For these two teams--since neither is much concerned about paying players ungodly amounts of money, it should be looked at as a player for player deal instead of a player for cash deal. It should be Washburn for Cabrera--and each team pays the salary of the obtained player. The Yankees are pulling their usual "something for nothing deal." I hope our new GM doesn't read the same book as Boovasi and take their deal.

Posted by Mike

10:51 AM, Jul 29, 2008

I think the infield D is less of a factor with a flyball guy like Washburn than the outfield D. I'd argue that Washburn might be okay if you replaced Ibanez in LF with a good defender.... not $10M of okay but better.

My semi-informed guess is that he will regress even with the defensive upgrade. He's still not missing bats and he's still a FB pitcher.

Posted by Tek Jansen

10:51 AM, Jul 29, 2008

When Iron Chef Morimoto went from Iron Chef Japan to Iron Chef America, his victory totals from the Iron Chef Japan carried over and are tallied along with his victories in kitchen stadium here in the U.S.A. Of course, this example is completely and perfectly analogous to Ichiro and should be reason enought to combine Ichiro's Japanese and MLB totals.

As for Washburn, he is a league average pitcher who get paid a lot of money. He doesn't miss bats and he doesn't induce ground balls. Some better defense, a few weak offenses, and a little luck make a league average pitcher look really good.

Posted by Mike

10:54 AM, Jul 29, 2008

Combining baseball and Iron Chef. My day is now complete.

Posted by Tek Jansen

10:56 AM, Jul 29, 2008

And Geoff, I do share your CFL sympathies. Unless the Super Bowl champs have the cajones to play the Grey Cup champs, they should be prohibited from declaring themselves "world champions."

Posted by Adam

10:57 AM, Jul 29, 2008

I wrote about this a week ago or so.

In June and July, Washburn's not really pitching any differently. He's walking the same number of hitters, he's strikiing out FEWER hitters, and he's throwing a bit fewer strikes.

The main difference is that he's giving up fewer extra base-hits. So he's doing that without improved stuff. Sustainable? I doubt it. But nevertheless, the time to sell Washburn is NOW. His value will never be higher, and the Mariners would do better without him and his $10 million-plus salary next year.

And as for Ichiro - Resin and Mr. X need to relax. Nobody's saying this is the same thing as getting 3000 hits in MLB. But like it or not, 3000 hits is a milestone in baseball, and this is just a fun milestone in Ichiro's career. So take a pill.

Posted by chawktim

10:57 AM, Jul 29, 2008

I would like to add that as far as Ichiro goes, Japan, plays less games than MLB. So Ichiro had less of a chance to compile hits while in the Japanese leagues. To me, this should make up the difference when we compare Japan vs. MLB.

Posted by Bill

10:59 AM, Jul 29, 2008

No offense, Geoff, but I'm not really sure I buy your argument about the defense. I don't think you can say "because this guy is a better defender than that guy the RF defense is automatically better." I think you need to look into how many balls were hit to RF while Washburn was pitching. If the number is small than a supposed upgrade in RF defense would not matter as much and perhaps the defense has improved for reasons beyond just substituting one player for another. Players improve and digress in all facets of the game in spurts throughout the season.

Posted by Fett42

11:00 AM, Jul 29, 2008

Another huge point in Ichiro's favor... one plays about 30 games less in an Japanese baseball season, meaning hundreds of less hits over his career.

Not to mention he'd probably have better years from 22-26 than 30-34.

If Ichiro played his whole career in MLB, hit hit total would likely exceed that of MLB + NPB.

Posted by SeaHokie

11:02 AM, Jul 29, 2008

Am afraid MLB will always consider anything else "inferior" for both statistical and marketing purposes, no matter how many WBC titles other countries rack up.

Then again, when was the last time Bud Selig & Co. right about anything? Hapy 3K, Ichiro!

Posted by PayClayBennett

11:04 AM, Jul 29, 2008

1278 hits in MLB Geoff? I think as of this morning he has 1720....

Posted by Lopez' Hunger Pains

11:04 AM, Jul 29, 2008

"Like I said, I'm not totally buying that. But it does give you food for thought."

Geoff, please don't mention the word food around Vidro and Lopez.

Posted by scottM

11:05 AM, Jul 29, 2008

Re Chris from Bothell's Washburn comment at 10:35- I agree completely. If Jarrod isn't traded in the next two days, let's keep a close eye on his next outings. I hope he proves us wrong, and I would love to have the Washburn of May 25-July 28th in an M's uniform for next season, but the pitcher I think we'll see is the same old, go-through-the-motions, never-gives-quite-enough-to-win player we overpaid for three years ago.

BTW, Where's good ol' Adam? Did he start his own blog?

Posted by meagain

11:05 AM, Jul 29, 2008

First, Ichiro has 1,721 major league hits, with 1,278 in Japan.

I have Ichi-bias, so take my comments with a grain of salt, or several grains.

I have watched Japanese baseball live. I rate it somewhere between AAA and major league baseball; feilding can be both smooth and slick, but arm strength is generally less. Fewer lapses in attention (a la Yuni) on the part of the fielders. So, Ichi's Japanese hits are real hits and deserve to be honored, but not for HoF consideration.

If Ichiro had started in the US minors, he would never have been allowed to hit with his current style, in my opinion. That he can bail the way he does and still get his bat on the ball with unusual frequency is incredible to me. He is a unique creature of circumstance.

My assessment: Ichiro is a four-tool player with great concentration and focus, sometimes to the detriment of team relations. Will have to get 2,500 hits to be legitimately considered for the HoF. He must play two more seasons to be considered officially.

Posted by scottM

11:06 AM, Jul 29, 2008

Ooops. There's Adam 10:57 and back from vacation!!

Posted by KP

11:09 AM, Jul 29, 2008

Umm no, Washburn is not that good. He def isn't a "seven inning guy with sub 3.00 ERA" as Geoff asked. He has had a fluke month or so, coinciding with sub par opponents and a chance to leave. The Mariners would be absolutley completely off the rocker to stick with him. If they don't dump his ludicrous salary on someone else, then they are by far and away the worst and dumbest front office in baseball... wait whats that? They already are? Sigh... guess i better get ready for another season of Washburn....

Posted by scrapiron

11:09 AM, Jul 29, 2008

As long as Sadahuro Oh (Japan) isn't the Home Run king, and Josh Gibson (Negro Leagues) isn't in second place, then Ichiro doesn't have 3,000 hits that count. A great achievement, and it should be honored, but it shouldn't get him into the Hall of Fame.

If Ichiro gets 3,000 MLB hits, he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Posted by Ned

11:11 AM, Jul 29, 2008

Adding support to your argument, who won the last World Baseball Classic? Japan.

Posted by scrapiron

11:14 AM, Jul 29, 2008

As for Washburn, is it just a coincidence that he has pitched better since Reed/Bloomquist have been playing CF and LaHair/Cairo have been playinjg 1B?

I think improved defense is the key to the Washburn improvement. He's still a mediocre pitcher, sell high.

Posted by KP

11:18 AM, Jul 29, 2008

I can see the OF defense argument, as it's very valid, since it has been a problem for a few years, and won't fully be answered until we move Raul and his creaky legs to out of LF. But I think we're putting too much into the 1B D "upgrade." I highly doubt removing Richie for a former middle infeilder (Cairo) or a AAAA player (Lahair) can make Jarrod washburn go from suck to good.

Posted by dwyesman

11:30 AM, Jul 29, 2008

well, i would think hes going to play another 6 years somewhere and get 180 plus hits each year so it will be a moot point.

Posted by Joe in Boise

11:33 AM, Jul 29, 2008

I think you have to look at 2 starts to make a good judgment on Washburn. He got shelled twice in consecutive starts in May, starts that were separated by a 1 inning save. Those 2 starts were a combined 7 1/3 innings and he allowed 16 earned runs. If you remove those 2 starts from his season total his ERA is just under 3.5...not bad for anyone's 5th starter. Isn't it possible that Washburn was going through what Ichiro, Ibanez and basically every other player on the team has experienced at some point this season...a slump?

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

11:50 AM, Jul 29, 2008


All one must do is go back through the past several seasons and see that this is the same debate we have every year with Washburn. Has he turned a corner? Has he changed some mechanics or worked on that new pitch that accounts for his success? But the indicators don't lie. Washburn is not having a sustainable performance increase. I wish it were otherwise, but if the M's keep pressing for something they'll never get for him, the Yankees will turn their attention elsewhere and we'll be stuck with 3/5 of next season of crappy Washburn, with just a little bit of this same discussion about him turning the corner. It's stupid and the M's should be happy to get rid of his salary without having to eat any of it. It's that simple. Results-based analysis of individual performances is a poor way of making decisions for baseball. Assuming that something is working because of "x" without any actual evidence that "x" is the cause is a recipe for a lot of . . well bad trades and signings . . sound familiar?

In short, we've danced this dance before. Sell now on Washburn or hamstring the next GM that takes over. He's not doing anything differently that can account for this annual version of "is the better Washburn upon us?" debate, and so rather than guess if this is sustainable, sell. Sell now. For his salary and one of those little machines that paints the lines on the field.

Posted by Sean E

11:51 AM, Jul 29, 2008

RE: Washburn and Defense

Rolling out a big three of Bedard, Hernandez, and Washburn will not help if the offense remains as aenimic as it is. Any run behind those three would require career type efforts from the likes of Bloomquist-Reed-Cairo-types. Also, the first half proves that the Mariners see a much better defensive team than they are in their mirror.

Isn't the line of the thinking you bring up the reason the Mariners ended up where they did this season? They need to get deeper and less dependent on lightning in a bottle.

The only answer is to trade Washburn and anyone else you can to get a quality prospect now.

Posted by Seattledad

11:52 AM, Jul 29, 2008

Good column and thoughts, Geoff as always. Want to put out another little tidbit in the Ichiro argument, which I support keeping him and his eventual internment in the HOF. Take away the Japanese hits, if he plays even close to his current effeciency, for another 6 years, and gets 200 hits per season, guess what, fans? He gets 3,000 hits WITHOUT including the Japan stats! His batting average of .330 career wise in only the US, and his incredible defense (not my claim by the way, ask his peers around the league and find out why they don't run on Ichiro!), he is a LOCK LOCK LOCK for the HOF. Wouldn't it be great, Griffey has already said he wants to go in as a Mariner (LOCK AGAIN), probably not Randy Johnson, but 2 players, wow!

Regarding Washburn, I agree with you, stats are minimal effect. I would like to keep him, especially if his 2nd 1/2 numbers continue. May be the 3rd best pitcher or even 2nd best on this team, depending on what happens with Mr Personality, Eric B.....


Posted by Adam

11:55 AM, Jul 29, 2008

To illustrate what I said earlier:

In April and May, Washburn threw 62% strikes, striking out 5.36 hitters per 9 IP, and walked 2.18/9 IP. He also gave up 27 extra base-hits in those two months.

In June and July, Washburn has thrown 61% strikes, striking out 4.89/9 IP and walking 2.94/9 IP. However, he's only allowed 20 extra base-hits in the past two months.

Also, his BABIP is well above his season average in the past few starts he's had.

So, is he a better pitcher? Well, he's missing fewer bats and he's walking more hitters. Maybe this increased wildness is keeping hitters off-balance. I doubt it, but maybe that's it.

In any event, I don't think he's a better pitcher now than he was in April and May. As such, getting rid of his ridiculous salary now, even for almost nothing in return, would be a good thing.

Posted by M Dogg

12:04 PM, Jul 29, 2008

Hmmm...What do Hall of Famer's Frank Robinson, Lou Brock,Dennis Eckersley,Reggie Jackson,Goose Gossage and Paul Molitor think of Ichiro?

How surprising that the HOF members have a totally different opinion of him than 'X' and Resin.

Posted by scrapiron

12:11 PM, Jul 29, 2008

In April and May, Washburn's Strand rate was 58%. In June and July, his Strand rate was 83%. That's the big story. Almost every other stat is identical. Not fewer baserunners, just more being left on the bases.

Being that Washburn is a flyball pitcher, I say the improved outfield defense is the key to more baserunners being stranded.

Posted by ricofoy

12:37 PM, Jul 29, 2008

Of course Ichiro's hits shouldn't count towards his overall total. I guess that means that Tuffy Rhodes has 415 HR''s ...13 in the Majors and 402 in Japan.
On the other, Ichiro doesn't need those hits to make the Hall. If he were to retire after playing the minimum 10 years in the bigs, he'd have done enough to make it.
And as far as comparing the CFL and NFL - give me a break. A few more skilled players? More like the whole damn team. There's probably 10 players total in the CFL that would make the NFL - after all the CFL is filled with nothing but failed NFL players.

Posted by ricofoy

12:44 PM, Jul 29, 2008

On another note, I see Jose Guillen wants out of KC. Not speaking with the manager. Gee, what a surprise!
The cancer that is Jose Guillen strikes again. Goes for the big money grab and now he's not happy because he's on a losing team. What a bleep!

Posted by batura

12:53 PM, Jul 29, 2008

Not true on him piling up the hits faster in the MLB. You have to remember that the Japanese season is shorter. In Japan, he had 1278 hits in 3619 ABs-- 1278/3619 = .353. In MLB he has 1721 hits in 5209 ABs -- 1721/5209 = .330. So there was a little fall off, but still pretty good.

Posted by ken

12:56 PM, Jul 29, 2008

Since KC was the only reported team interested in offering Silva a multiyear deal other than the M's, maybe a straight-up trade of Guillen for Silva could be a way out for both teams. $'s would be about equal for the next two years as each is making $12m/year. Guillen seemed to be genuinely happy here and he definitely provided a spark that would help to keep the young Latino guys like Yuni focused. Prized prospect Carlos Truinfel also sounds like he may have some focus issues and having a strong leader on the team to help guide him would be welcome.

Posted by Jake

1:10 PM, Jul 29, 2008

Ichiro's stats are a joke. He gets rookie of the year...even though he's been a pro in Japan...and now we're counting his hits from Japan to come up with 3,000??? If the hits in Japan count, why was he considered a rookie his first year in the states??? I don't understand the logic at all.

And, btw, when are we getting rid of the most overpaid softball player in history? The guy slaps the ball like my 12 year old daughter. Bring in a slugger and maybe I'll start watching the M's again.

Posted by scrapiron

1:16 PM, Jul 29, 2008

I would approach the Royals like the Yankees are approaching us with Washburn. Either the Royals eat his salary and we give them a low level prospect, or the Mariners take on Guillen's salary (Jose said he'd defer some money to accommodate a trade) and no prospects.

If Guillen would defer $2 mil a year his salary would come down to the amount they were willing to offer him last year. I say absorb the salary and put Guillen in right field and move Ichiro back to center. You could then move Reed in a deal as he has nowhere to play. Balentien should be your everyday left fielder.

Posted by Faceplant

1:22 PM, Jul 29, 2008

"Ichiro's stats are a joke. He gets rookie of the year...even though he's been a pro in Japan...and now we're counting his hits from Japan to come up with 3,000???"

Do I have to point out how contradictory your arguments are here?

Posted by Jack

1:23 PM, Jul 29, 2008

Thank god the Jakes of this world are few and far between.

Posted by M's Fan

1:28 PM, Jul 29, 2008

Either scenario to bring Guillen back sounds good to me. His clubhouse fire, not to mention his bat have been sorely missed.

Posted by scottM

1:33 PM, Jul 29, 2008

Silva for Guillen straight up.
Bedard for Halliday.
Washburn for a Salary Dump.
Ibanez for top Mets prospect (then re-singed here as '09 DH).
Beltre for a run-of-the-mill prospect and salary dump.
Vidro for President (of the Assoc. of Retired DH's)
Johjima to the Nagasaki Nintendos
Ichiro for the HOF
Yes (and we all chip in for Mr. X to attend the ceremony)

Posted by drake

1:34 PM, Jul 29, 2008

One thing left out of the Warren Moon / CFL argument is the CFL is built for a passing game, playing on a much wider field. So not only was Moon working against inferior defense, but also working within a game 'rigged' for passing stats.

Posted by matt

1:37 PM, Jul 29, 2008

For those who advocate getting rid of Washburn for salary sake alone, you make an assumption that the cost savings necessarily equate to a good thing. For you or me, yes, but we don't know what the M's will do by saving the money. If the end result is we lose a major league pitcher with nothing to show for it on the cost savings end, then it is a bad deal.

Posted by meagain

1:37 PM, Jul 29, 2008

I look forward to seeing which team drafts Jake's 12 year old daughter. I hope I'm in the ballpark when she gets her fifteen hundredth major league hit. (I'm lowering the number because she may be a little slower than Ichiro.)

Posted by scrapiron

1:40 PM, Jul 29, 2008

ScottM - I like all of your assessments, but one. I think Edgar needs to be president of the Association of retired DHs. Vidro just needs to be a member of that club. I second that motion!

Posted by Mike

1:43 PM, Jul 29, 2008

"For those who advocate getting rid of Washburn for salary sake alone, you make an assumption that the cost savings necessarily equate to a good thing. For you or me, yes, but we don't know what the M's will do by saving the money. If the end result is we lose a major league pitcher with nothing to show for it on the cost savings end, then it is a bad deal."

True Matt. If for instance the Ms lowered their budget for payroll by that amount we'd have the same amount of salary room and be poorer by one mediocre pitcher for one year. The critical assumption about dumping Wash is that the $10M could be spent in a way to actually help the ballclub. With the recent track record of our FO, maybe not great assumption.

But I still say relieving ourselves of the salary is a great thing and if we help ourselves talent-wise, that's a bonus.

Posted by BWare

1:45 PM, Jul 29, 2008

This Washburn impasse is a good example how not having a new GM in place really hurts.

While I have no basis to really criticize the brief reign of GM Lee P, it is very clear to me, via this Washburn impasse, that he is also not completely divorced from the emotions that drove the train prior to Bavasi's departure. This is very problematic.

The implicit statement being made in the Mariner's position is that the Washburn investment is the highest and best use of $10m for 2009. As such, the M's are giving the Yankees a bargain in a salary dump, and that the M's don't believe that they can closely replicate Washburn's value by efficiently and reasonably spending the $10m that become liquid post-trade.

Personally, I think you can buy a league average pitcher in 2009 for less than $10m. You probably don't have to spend more that $4-7m for that - presuming a free agent acquisition and not a minor league call-up or trade.

This leads me to conclude that Lee P is still emotionally invested in Washburn's anticipated value when he was originally signed, and not his current market value. This is typically what happens when someone buys an overpriced security on the stock market, only to not let go of it while the stock is in freefall because they hope the price will come back to their purchase price someday.

Having a new GM in place - one who is not emotionally attached to the actions and valuations of the prior regime - will enable actions that consider and recognize the realities of the moment.

No real progress will be made until the M's leadership is in a position to divorce itself from the emotions of past transgressions and misadventures...

Posted by good ol' george

1:55 PM, Jul 29, 2008

Here's a better trade idea - Washburn and Jose Vidro to Boston for Manny Ramirez. I don't think it wlll happen; just something to ponder.

Posted by scottM

1:56 PM, Jul 29, 2008

from Drake: "One thing left out of the Warren Moon / CFL argument is the CFL is built for a passing game, playing on a much wider field. So not only was Moon working against inferior defense, but also working within a game 'rigged' for passing stats."

And, Drake, there one sorry-assed fact you're neglecting to mention about Warren Moon. When Moon graduated from the UW in 1978, there was still a belief that blacks couldn't play QB in the NFL. This is the real reason that Moon was "penalized" by having to play in the CFL. His later great success in the NFL is a testament to his fortitude as an athlete/human being and to the positive evolution of American society.

Similarly, is it fair to penalize Ichiro for not beginning his career in MLB when he was part of the first wave of Japanese players to come here? When Ichiro gets into the HOF it will be because of an exceptional 12 year MLB career, just as Warren Moon went into the NFL HOF for his illustrious NFL career.

Posted by Bill

1:57 PM, Jul 29, 2008

I don't share the lovefest with Ichiro that many M's fans do, although I think he is a great player. Regardless of whether his hits in Japan should count, if he continues to produce on the pace that he has throughout his MLB career (without any serious decline as he gets older), for the required number of seasons to make him eligible for the HOF, then he should be in. If he has a problem getting in it would be because the M's have not been a good team, save for one season, since Ichiro has been here.

Are there any other HOF'ers in a situation similar to Ichiro? Such as former Negro league players? What were their stats like in MLB?

Posted by Mike

2:06 PM, Jul 29, 2008

BWare---Is it emotional entanglement or are the Ms just woefully behind their rivals in terms of knowing how to construct a roster?

There are so many areas the Ms seem to be behind the learning curve. I'll focus on defense since that is something of a pet topic of mine and Geoff brought it up.

Despite a lineup that regularly contains 5 of the worst 30 hitters in the AL, the Ms are playing .450 ball since Riggleman took over and the ensuing defensive moves took place. Our offense is still terrible. Our second best starting pitcher is out. Our closer is just coming back. Yet we've been playing near .500 ball. Will our FO learn from this and build a strong defensive team in the future or will they continue to run Raul out to LF? Oakland understands this. It is how they can run out a light hitting no name lineup and compete year after year with a seemingly bottomless supply of pitching. Yes, they probably evaluate pitching talent better than us but also know that quality defense improves pitching dramatically.

That's just one area.

Posted by M's Fan

2:07 PM, Jul 29, 2008

ScottM: I agree with your list top to bottom. Hope some of them come true....

Posted by M Dogg

2:09 PM, Jul 29, 2008

"Washburn and Jose Vidro to Boston for Manny Ramirez" george: time to put down the cough medicine.

Posted by tugboatcritic

2:17 PM, Jul 29, 2008

Mike- I'm not sure that the M's could be counted on to "re-spend" the cost savings though. I do believe that the critical assumption you pointed out and what many local bloggers are using isn't nearly certain. The M's payroll remained fairly static for the period of 2002-2006 and even dropped by 6 mil. or so one season during a re-build.

Most blog-land opinion makers scoff at the notion of contending next year. Ok, so its a re-build, which the M's have done (not well) a few years ago. But there will most likely be a large cut in payroll associated with a tear-down.

Trading Wash, Bedard (which is a bad idea) Ibanez et al is great for saving the M's money. What is not certain though, is whether the M's will re-apply that money elsewhere, and even in doing so, whether they upgrade intelligently.

Also, some have advocated a re-load with the same money. Well, trading Wash is fine, he is replaceable for less money, probobly at 80% or so. But Bedard, I wouldn't let him go in that scenario because you have to wade right back into the market to replace a number 2, and don't have a viable in-house candidate.

Posted by George

2:21 PM, Jul 29, 2008

The fact is that Washburn has pitched the best stretch that he has as a Mariner starter. So, do you dump his salary now that he's finally earning it? I think not. I think that you only trade him if the trade itself makes sense, which means that you trade him for at least one everyday player or don't bother.

Posted by doug davies

2:25 PM, Jul 29, 2008

The debate over Ichiro's hit total really is irrelevant. The record book is for your time in MLB. Whether other leagues are comparable isn't the point.

Posted by greyguy

2:28 PM, Jul 29, 2008

You can't judge pitchers on small sample sizes like "the last 11 starts," or whatever. Pitch-to-contact players like Washburn can have wildly varying success just from random chance.

Washburn is the same pitcher he's always been. I don't actually hate him, he's a lot better than many other pitchers out there. But he's nothing special and overpriced. We'd do well to dump his salary.

Posted by Mike

2:31 PM, Jul 29, 2008

George---If I believed that Washburn had turned some magical corner, I'd agree. But I don't think he has mostly because of the reasons layed out by Adam and BrianL.

Tugboat---With a few smart moves and a budget that remains about where it is, I think we can compete next year. We certainly won't be favorites but with Felix & a healthy Bedard combined with improved defense, our run prevention gets better. Then you replace the giant huge piles of suck at 1B and DH with around league average production from those positions and you improve the offense by leaps and bounds.

Posted by Bill Chen

2:31 PM, Jul 29, 2008

"Ichiro's stats are a joke. He gets rookie of the year...even though he's been a pro in Japan...and now we're counting his hits from Japan to come up with 3,000???"

"Do I have to point out how contradictory your arguments are here?"


That's exactly the guy's point - it's contradictory to bestow Rookie of the Year on Ichiro AND count his hits in Japan to get to 3k. No one's disputing his hits with the M's. I do agree that the I'd rather see a slugger - Manny perhaps? - than the Softball Slap.

Posted by OlyHomer

3:02 PM, Jul 29, 2008

ESPN is reporting that the Mets might be interested in both Ibanez and Rhodes. Add in Vidro and get some high level or decent outfield or pitching prospects I'd take the deal.

Silva and Reed for Guillen, I'd take the deal.

Bring up Balentein in left with Ichiro in center and Guillen in right. Call up RRS to start in Silva's place. Then whoever else to fillout the roster.

That is my two cents worth.

Posted by scottM

3:23 PM, Jul 29, 2008

Teixeira to the Angels. The rich get richer and the M's get____.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

3:26 PM, Jul 29, 2008

ESPN reports Texiera is now an Angel. LAA just got tougher to beat next year if Tex stays.

I also read the Washburn deal is dead.

In the spirit of Geoff discussing a make-believe 3,000 hit mark I included a link for those fantasy fans. Substitute the word "lightning bolt" with "3,000 hits"

make believe 3,000 hits

Posted by Bill

3:27 PM, Jul 29, 2008

I'm glad the Angels got Tex and kept him away from the Sox/Yanks. I'd have no problem with the Angels representing the AL in the WS. If only the M's were as well put together.

It's not like the M's are going to catch up to the Angels in 08 and Tex could just be a rental. Hopefully he won't resign with them after the season.

Posted by pbk13

3:38 PM, Jul 29, 2008

Congratulations Ichiro! 3,000 is just a number, but reaching it is a great achievement. He'll have his detractors -- hell even Babe Ruth had critics -- but so what who cares what those knuckleheads say. No one will take his 3,000 hits away from him. If he stays healthy he may get that many in the U.S.

Posted by andre

3:43 PM, Jul 29, 2008

Are we not going to make any trades before the deadline??

Posted by Mike

3:48 PM, Jul 29, 2008

So if Ichiro were to get to 3,000 hits over here, his combined hits would pass Pete Rose, 4,279 to 4,256.

Posted by putzy

3:50 PM, Jul 29, 2008

hit'em were they ain't

Posted by meagain

3:52 PM, Jul 29, 2008

High five, Mike. That's strong and hilarious at the same time.

Posted by Victor

4:05 PM, Jul 29, 2008

Something for those who will watch the deadline closely and that is:

That the trade deadline is sort of an artificial one. A guy like Jarrod Washburn would clear waivers easily and could be dealt in August. The real deadline is Aug. 31 when the rosters have to be set.

After the recent words of chicken being played etc - this is a more likely scenario and if the Yankees starters falter - the M's are in a better position. Ofcourse they could do better and kill the trade altogether or falter so badly that they wouldn't need Washburn period.

I think these are the factors that really matter. Ofcourse having a backup GM and a backup Manager doesn't help either.

Posted by Top pick in 09 draft

4:13 PM, Jul 29, 2008

If reports of the proposed deal of Washburn are true and the deal has fallen through, I'm happy that we didn't just cave in and do a salary dump. I think Washburn may have figured out that he no longer has a fastball that can get batters out and is having to rely on location and changing speeds. To me, he looks like a solid #4 sp in next year's M's rotation behind Felix, probably Bedard, Morrow and ahead of Buffet Silva. Now they just have to figure out a way to manufacture some runs with an everyday lineup that lacks AL-type power.

Posted by drake

4:23 PM, Jul 29, 2008

scottM - you're right on Moon... I should've included Flutie to make my point, which I was making independent of the Ichiro argument, as the comparison has a lot of weaknesses.

I'm a fan of Moon and his situation is somewhat unique... really everything, included the glass ceiling he faced, should be taken into account. But that also includes looking at the CFL stats responsibly, right?

Posted by Ben

4:24 PM, Jul 29, 2008

Aren't we supposedly in "sell" mode though? Shouldn't we at least try to sell someone off to help replenish our farm system?

Is there really no value on this team that we can leverage?

Posted by BandwagonJumper

4:33 PM, Jul 29, 2008

Question, if improved defense is the key to Washburn being better, then why haven't all our other pitchers improved? They have similar defenses. I think Washburn has changed his pitching style just enough that the balls being hit off him are just enough slower that they can actually be fielded. I would argue that his pitching style change has made the defense look better and not that the defense got better. If our defense was that much better we'd be winning a lot more close games.

Posted by Mike

4:38 PM, Jul 29, 2008

Bandwagonjumper---Actually since the change the Ms D has gotten better overall. We've moved from last in the league in turning balls in play to outs to something like #20. And we are winning more games than before....even with a bad offense and injured pitchers.

Posted by scottM

4:39 PM, Jul 29, 2008

from Drake. "really everything, included the glass ceiling he faced, should be taken into account. But that also includes looking at the CFL stats responsibly, right?"

Sure. However, Moon was inducted into the NFL HOF because of the merits of his NFL stats alone. I suspect that same will be true for Ichiro in MLB, too, when all is said and done. Actually, if (hypothetically) either player presented a borderline situation, both having spent much of their careers in leagues that are NOT comparable, then the argument is much stronger to include someone with Moon's circumstances rather than Ichiro's. Moon's situation is more analogous with Jackie Robinson's (although not nearly as groundbreaking). There was no formal barrier keeping Ichiro from coming to the US and playing here.

All said, 3,000 hits is an impressive accomplishment, one for which Ichiro should be justly proud.

Posted by all4ms

4:51 PM, Jul 29, 2008

Re: Ichiro - I don't care what MLB counts as Ichiro's hit total. All I know is that getting 3,000 hits across NPB & MLB is a personal milestone for Ichiro, and it's a big deal for him. He probably started having ambitions of getting 3,000 hits the moment he broke the single season hits record in Japan in his rookie season over there as a 20-year old kid. And because it's a big deal for him, it's a big deal for me.

MLB can count what it wants to, but that won't stop me from celebrating a huge personal achievement.

Posted by msmesb

10:35 PM, Jul 29, 2008

RE: Ichiro

As several indicated, combining hits contradicts his having
received the R of Y in his first year. The JL should feel very
good about that there are those who consider legitimate to do so.
How about scheduling the Global Series between the winners of
WS and JS?. If the score is 4-3 or better, then there is a strong
case of combining hits.

Posted by JP

4:37 PM, Jul 30, 2008

Congrats Ichiro on getting a total of 3000 hits combined. On the same note, congrats to the hundreds of other MLBers who are approaching a combined milestone in their individual career (AAA, Japan, Latin leagues, whatever). And that's the level they should be celebrated at: "Individual", "Private" becuase it has no bearing on the big leagues.

Trust me, I'm a big Ichiro fan. He is destined for the HOF but the Majors are the Majors. Combined 3000 hits is a secondary milestone here. Sorry but that the way it is. The real deal is when he hits MLB 3000.
*For comaprison, Wayne Gretzky was recognized for his NHL career only and although playing in a competing pro league, his stats from the defunct WHA (which he tore up for a 104 pts in one season), are not considered. Just as it should

Posted by intcom

4:19 PM, Aug 01, 2008

Can someone refer me to story link that would provide details about reported complaints Seattle pitchers had about Johjima? Also any story with specifics about the vague references I keep reading about Ichiro's 'locker room presence?' [i.e. is he really a good teammate?]

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