Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.
August 18, 2008 8:56 PM
Posted by Larry Stone
This is getting monotonous. The Mariners got crushed tonight, 13-5, as Jarrod Washburn didn't make it out of the fifth inning. He gave up eight runs and is now 0-4, 7.36 in four starts since the July 31 trade deadline. Here's Washburn's assessment of his night:
"Early in the game, I thought I made some good pitches. All the hits in the second inning were on good pitches. Swisher's homer was on a changeup that Jeff (Clement) said would have been a ball, low and away. I don't know if he was guessing changeup or what.
"In the fifth, the walk (to No. 9 hitter Juan Uribe) didn't help. The home run by Cabrera was a fly ball in most parks. After that, I lost concentration a little bit.''
A couple of other tidbits: Betancourt's homer was his first since May 28, a span of 241 plate apperances; the seven wild pitches over the last two games is a club record. I'd guess it's pretty close to a major-league record, but I'm not sure how to look that up tonight. Maybe we'll find out tomorrow.
The one bright spot was three hits by Clement, the first three-hit game of his career. He's now 6-for-9 in his last three games and says he's starting to relax at the plate. He did some of his damage tonight against a lefty, Mark Buehrle. All good signs on an otherwise lousy night. Ichiro and Ibanez also had three hits as the Mariners managed 15 hits in a losing effort. One key stat: 13 LOB.
I'll leave with Riggleman's obligatory glass half full quote:
"It's demoralizing to continue to get beat, but I'm also encouraged to see the progress we've made the last month offensively,'' he said. "Now the pitching is struggling. One of the two has gotten us for what seems like weeks at a time. It's a shame to waste all this hitting we've gotten in the last month.''
On second thought, maybe even Riggleman's glass is only a quarter full.
August 18, 2008 4:45 PM
Posted by Larry Stone
Seeing Mark Buehrle in the lineup reminds me of one of my favorite games I ever covered, right here at U.S. Cellular in 2005. It was Mark Buehrle against Ryan Franklin, a Saturday day game, and it was over in 1 hour and 39 minutes. The White Sox won 2-1. I believe Ichiro had all three hits off Buehrle. I think I was back in my hotel room, all written, by 5 o'clock.
Speaking of which, Ken Griffey Jr. held a press conference in the dugout before the game, and when he was asked the biggest difference in coming back to the American League, he replied, "Time of game. Every now and then, you get a 2:14 here."
You never know what persona you're going to get with Junior, but he was relaxed and personable. When he's like that, there's no one more fun to talk to. I'll be writing about the interview for tomorrow, but here's an interesting tidbit. Someone said that Jim Thome called Griffey the best hitter he's ever played against, and Randy Johnson the best pitcher he's ever faced. Griffey was asked to name the best pitcher and hitter he's played with or against.
"Probably the best pitcher was Pedro in his prime. The best hitter was probably two: Edgar being one, and Barry Bonds being the other.
"There was nothing Edgar couldn't hit. You'd try to jam him one time, and he'd shoot it to right field. You'd do it again, and he'd pull it down the line. You just didn't know what he was going to do with the bat. Plus, he had short arms. You couldn't really jam him.''.
I asked Junior if he thought that Edgar, who will be on the Hall of Fame ballot after the 2009 season, should be a Hall of Famer.
"No doubt,'' he replied.
Then I asked if he thought Edgar WOULD be a Hall of Famer.
"I hope so. In my book, he's a Hall of Famer.''
Unfortunately, Griffey isn't in the starting lineup tonight. He's been struggling since he got to Chicago -- .225 (9-for-40) with no extra-base-hits.
Miguel Cairo 1B
Raul Ibanez LF
Adrian Beltre 3B
Jose Lopez 2B
Wladimir Balentien CF
Kenji Johjima DH
Jeff Clement C
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Jarrod Washburn P
Orlando Cabrera SS
A.J. Pierzynski C
Carlos Quentin LF
Jermaine Dye RF
Jim Thome DH
Paul Konerko 1B
Nick Swisher CF
Alexei Ramirez 2B
Juan Uribe 3B
Mark Buehrle P
August 18, 2008 10:46 AM
Posted by Geoff Baker
Yes, I know it doesn't have the same ring to it as Happy Felix Day, but at least every Jarrod Washburn start gives the Seattle blogosphere something new to ruminate about other than how its favorite team managed to lose that day's game.
Washburn has become perhaps the most interesting aspect of the 2008 Mariners. He's lived out two different seasons: the one before May 25 and everything since. Ever since May 25, he's compiled an earned run average of 3.27 over his last 14 outings, posting nine "quality starts" of at least six innings pitched and three earned runs or fewer allowed.
By comparison, over the same period of his last 14 starts, Felix Hernandez has thrown exactly the same number of innings as Washburn (88), while compiling an ERA of 2.86 with 10 quality starts.
The difference? Hernandez has thrown one more quality start and allowed four fewer earned runs than Washburn over the exact same number of innings going on three months. And yet, one ballplayer is lionized and the other, villified. Interesting, to say the least.
We won't get into another debate about whether the M's should have traded Washburn or not. Obviously, they aren't going to. I thought they might be able to work out a deal with the Twins, but given that 30-day waiting period the now have to go through before they can put Washburn on waivers again, it isn't going to happen. I honestly don't understand what the M's are doing. If they can pull off a better deal this winter, they'll change my mind, but it seems a needless risk to take. I'd mentioned before July 31 that there was no need to deal him until August, if money was all the team wanted, and, as you saw, there was at least one other taker in the Twins. So, we know that two AL contenders thought enough of Washburn that they were willing to take on $13 million of his salary through 2009. Never mind teams in the NL, where he'd have probably been better-suited.
The M's are obviously gambling that there will be a broader NL/AL market come this winter. But I still don't get the gamble. I know the team says it doesn't care about money, only value, but $13 million buys you plenty of value on the player front. Especially for a team that likely won't be contending in 2009. I agreed with Seattle waiting past the July 31 deadline and their move proved correct. They advanced from the cash and a token Yankees prospect to at least talking cash and more serious players with the Twins. But this latest move, I think, stretches things too far with little more to be gained. We'll see.
On to Washburn, the reason his "turnaround" has been greeted with such skepticism is obviously not in the results he has produced. By any measurement, they have been more than acceptable. In fact, his entire season's numbers have been skewed by three starts in May in which he gave up nearly a third of his earned run totals over just 11 2/3 innings. Take away those three starts, against the Indians, White Sox and Tigers, and Washburn's ERA falls from 4.58 to 3.47.
No, obviously you can't cherry pick this way. But, for all of those skeptics shrugging off Washburn's stretch of the past 2 1/2 months as a "fluke" a skeptic might say those three outings were the abberation and that he's actually had his best statistical season in years. The truth, I suspect, lies somewhere in the middle.
Some of those who look at more advanced statistical measurements for pitchers have scoffed at Washburn's results. Why? It boils down to the way he compiles them. Washburn, simply put, does not have the look of the kind of pitcher fancied by these analysts. He gives up too many flyballs for their taste. Too many line drives as well. Doesn't strike out as many batters as they'd like.
And they are right. Washburn does give up a lot of flyballs. This is nothing new. He's been a flyball pitcher his entire career. Does he give up a lot of line drives? Too much for the liking of the analysts, though not all that much more than he has his entire career. The last year Washburn was in Anaheim, his line drive rate was 21 percent. This year, it's jumped to 23 percent, which, yes, is too high in general terms.
But should we be looking at Washburn in general terms?