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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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August 18, 2008 10:46 AM

Happy Jarrod Day

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?

Washburn's contention is that he's become a better pitcher since late-May because of two things: his return to a split-fingered fastball as an "out-pitch" of sorts. He resorted to it in desperation in May, trying anything he could to get hitters out. Doesn't throw it more than a half-dozen times per game because of the strain it had previously caused his elbow. But he used it to strike out Vladimir Guerrero in Anaheim last week with two men on base. So, he does have an "out pitch" he can, contrary to popular belief, go to in a pinch.

More importantly, he says he has finally gotten a feel for his change-up after years of trying. This is the more important development because he will throw this pitch more often and in all types of counts. Washburn does not have a mid-90s fastball. He needs to keep hitters off balance to be successful and can only do this by changing speeds and location.

Once again, some have scoffed at Washburn's claims of having made an in-season adjustment. They will note that both Miguel Batista and Carlos Silva made similar claims only to revert to previous poor form. Those people would be correct about Batista and Silva. They did not sustain the improvements they felt they had found by making adjustments. Does this negate Washburn's claims? No, it does not.

The thing about baseball at the major league level is that pitchers and hitters all make adjustments of some sort on a week-to-week basis. Very few ever stay the same. Can't afford to. The game is played at such a high level in MLB that any weakness can be exploited by the other side. Staying the same throughout a season invites the opposition to scout you and find the holes in your game. So, looking at a player who clains to have made an adjustment and then disputing that adjustment because of a poor result is not the most sophisticated way of looking at things. You can dispute the success. If Silva says he found a better feel for his sinker the final four innings of one game, gets a bunch of groundouts and strikeouts, then gets shelled his next time out, it doesn't mean he was lying. It means, he could not sustain the success beyond that one outing.

It happens. Pitching is not like riding a bike, where once you do it you never forget how. A pitcher can come up with the perfect feel for his sinker one game and then forget it the next. Mechanics are a complex thing. Many pitchers keep detailed notes on the grips and mechanics they use so that they can remember how to repeat them. Mark Lowe did this with his slider earlier in the year and was finally able to replicate some of the success he had two years ago. But it's not always sustainable.

Washburn says he's having success at getting hitters to "mis-hit" the ball. In other words, he's keeping them off-balance and not allowing them to square-up on him like they were earlier in the year. Other than nearly three months worth of improved results, is there anything to back up his claim?

Well, first, I'd submit that it isn't up to any pitcher doing their job to justify it to critics. In my world, if the critics want to dispute something happening right in front of their eyes, it's up to them to make the case.

In Washburn's case, the critics have made theirs.

They say there is no discernable change between Washburn's flyball and line drive rates from earlier this year. That what he is achieving is mostly a "fluke" because pitchers usually -- there's that general term again -- can't control the results on their line drives or flyballs.

I'd agree with that to a point. Some pitchers can't control it. The typical groundball pitcher might not be able to control it. But what about pitchers who make their living off of flyball outs?

From what I've seen watching Washburn this year, he has improved in the quality of flyballs he's allowed. Let's face it, not all flyballs are created equal. The flyball that is taken in shallow left by an outfielder -- but could have been caught by the shortstop -- is not the same as a drive that makes Ichiro sprint 50 yards to the gap to try to prevent a double. Can a pitcher be responsible for this? Why not? If hitters aren't squaring up on him like before, who's to say he can't turn those extra-base hits to the gap into pop flies to the shallow part of the outfield?

But they will all be measured the same.

Let's take a closer look at Washburn's raw numbers from both before and since his supposed May 25 turnaround:

He has slightly reduced his overall flyballs and line drives per batter faced, from 33 percent to 31 percent for the flies and 19 percent to 17 percent for the liners. His strikeouts are actually down slightly, from 14 percent to 12.6 percent, but he's gotten more groundballs -- 29 percent versus 27 percent before.

Remember, that's a percentage against the total batters faced. So, slightly more grounders and fewer flyballs and line drives -- at the expense of some strikeouts. Washburn is not a strikeout pitcher. When he's striking guys out it's usually because he's pitching a great game or in a lot of trouble and trying to make hitters miss. When things are going well, he wants hitters making contact -- poor contact. That's his game.

So, a small case can be made, above, that the contact has been less squared-up than before.

Let's dig deeper. What is happening to all of those line drives and flyballs? Are they damaging?

On the surface, less so than in April and May. Washburn had an OPS against of:

April: .838
May: .974
June: .781
July: .656
August: .835

The August numbers have come up again. This is due to getting shellacked by the Orioles and having to face a bunch of extra hitters his last two times out because of errors by Yunieksy Betancourt and Adrian Belte against the Angels and Twins. But no, the numbers can't continue at this level for a much bigger sample size or it will be the sign of a problem.

Still, up until then, Washburn had significantly cut down on the extra-base hits allowed. That would tend to suggest the line drives off him are leading more to singles than doubles and triples. And that the flyballs are being caught instead of leading to serious damage.

But how do we know this isn't just luck?

Well, for starters, Washburn doesn't exactly have a Gold Glove defense behind him. Yes, the team has made some outfield defense improvement -- elevating this team more to an acceptable norm than the horror show it had been before. But as we mentioned in a prior post, there's been little or no change in the infield defense.

Let's look at other stats used to pinpoint "luck".

Washburn's Fielding Independent Percentage (FIP) of 4.59 is the lowest it's been in five years. That means he's relying less on others to get outs for him. His Defensive Efficiency Ratio (DER), a measurement of batted balls being made into outs behind him, is only .691 -- the worst it's been in five years. So, that would suggest the defense has done little to help Washburn this season, contrary to the belief that his improvement is because of improved gloves.

The opponents' batting average on balls put into play (BABIP) against Washburn has been, by month:

April -- .324
May -- .352
June -- .320
July -- .257
August -- .322

Considering the average a pitcher should expect is about .290, one can conclude Washburn may have gotten a little lucky in July. But that he has also been unlucky every other month.

So, the luck argument isn't holding much water so far. If anything, Washburn's stats should be better than they've been.

So, what about all those line drives and fly balls? Is he really just getting lucky, or is sustainable?

Well, let's see. In the home run department, 9.9 percent of Washburn's fly balls have left the yard. It was 9.4 percent last year, so, he's actually given up a miniscule amount more this year. It was 11 percent in 2006, so, he wasn't as lucky there. But it was 9.8 percent in 2005, his "salary-drive'' season in Anaheim. So, in all honesty, I don't see him being all that "luckier" than he's always been with home runs one way or another.

A better look at the "quality" of the flyballs and line drives he's yielded in the two parts of this season?

Up until May 25, he allowed 113 fly balls and line drives. Also allowed 24 extra-base hits. So, for every line drive or fly ball allowed, he surrendered an extra-base hit 21.2 percent of the time

From May 25 onward, he's allowed 183 line drives and fly balls and 30 extra-base hits. So, for every line drive or fly ball, an extra-base hit 16.4 per cent of the time.

That's quite a drop. It may not sound like much, but factor it over a season and it adds up to a whole lot of reduced extra base hits and runs against. It would also tend to suggest that the quality of contact being made off Washburn is not as damaging as before. Yes, I realize that a handful of extra-base hits could have come on grounders, but most of them usually don't. We're just giving some rough indications here. That hitters, it appears, are "mis-hitting" the ball. If the line drives being given up are singles, they are less damaging if not followed by a bases-clearing double. Simple stuff, right?

But nothing is simple where Washburn is concerned.

Look, no one is arguing he should win a Cy Young Award. But I'd submit that he's shown, for most of this season, to be every bit the league average pitcher the M's thought they were getting. That perhaps, outside of a handful of games, he's been even better than that and may be on to something. Is that ironclad? Nope. Very little is in baseball.

But it seems more plausible than trying, unsuccessfully, to dismiss him as a fluke every time out going on nearly three months now. Perhaps it's time to take a closer look at flyball rates and what they mean for extreme flyball pitchers? A closer look at the quality of the flyballs, perhaps? Just a thought.

And yes, the M's should have traded him by now.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS (1:10 p.m.): For Meagain in the comment thread, Jeff Clement already did miss a pop-up, in Washburn's last start against the Angels. And it kept Vlad Guerrero at the plate with two on. Not only did Washburn not "throw him under the bus" for it, he picked his catcher up by striking Guerrero out.

For Rodrigo, the reason I have to write so long is that so many people miss the point when you write short. Washburn's BAIBP does not show he was mostly lucky. If anything, it shows he's been largely unlucky for every month this season but one.

To Anything Can Happen, you make a good point about Washburn's pitches per inning. They are indeed down, along with his strikeouts. This would appear to suggest a lot of quicker resolutions to at-bats. In other words, fewer strikeouts are not leading to more runners getting on because of hits or walks. If anything, they arer swinging into outs much more quickly. Hence, the "mis-hit balls" theory.

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Posted by Scanman

10:56 AM, Aug 18, 2008

Geoff, you could have boiled it all down into something like “ Wasburns pitching today, Try Monday Night Football instead”

Posted by Balentienforcer

10:57 AM, Aug 18, 2008

If you're that bored Geoff, I have some yard work you can do.

Posted by Henry

11:03 AM, Aug 18, 2008

Dear FO,

Why is Washburn still on our team? Stupid!

Posted by David Gee

11:07 AM, Aug 18, 2008

Geoff, I don't understand why you're perplexed that Washburn has been "vilified" and Felix has not. Just because we're Mariner fans and not Yankee/Cub/Cardinal fans doesn't mean we're all stupid. Felix is the future of our franchise and he has improved each season. Washburn is in his third lousy season with the ballclub and we're not fooled by his sudden turnaround which of course coincided with rumours that he could be out of Seattle - and now that those have cooled he's the same ol' Washbum.

Posted by Bill

11:24 AM, Aug 18, 2008

Geoff, Washburn seems to be your favorite player to analyze lately. With all the discussion last night and this morning about Ichiro being on the decline, could you offer some analysis as to why Ichiro's OPS w/ RISP this season is over .200 points below his career OPS w/ RISP. In other words, the 2008 Ichiro turns into someone in between the 2008 versions of Bloomquist and Reed (using Bloomquist and Reed's overall OPS) when he's up with RISP.

Posted by azfan

11:25 AM, Aug 18, 2008

Washburn is a fine 4 or 5 hole pitcher, just not for the price we're paying -- that's why he is vilified. We could have a league average pitcher for much less money, and use the money saved on something else.

Posted by cesame

11:28 AM, Aug 18, 2008

Why no post on Carlos Silva and him not making himself available to the media after getting shelled and going down with an "injury"? That doesn't sound like he took accountability to me, which is as we all know, the absolutely, most important thing in sports.

Posted by Blair

11:30 AM, Aug 18, 2008

Between the $14 million in Sexson salary and the $10 million that could have been saved on Washburn we could make a run at Sabathia. Of course, he would have to want to come here. And huge contracts or deals for SP are a little risky (Zito, Willis, Bedard) Who do you think we could target in the off season?

Posted by fred

11:32 AM, Aug 18, 2008

Geoff: You could not be more right about the Mariners' need to have traded Washburn by now.

Either Pelakoudas is too dumb or unskillful to bring it off---given the offers for Washburn. Or he is operating under wraps, being directed behind the scenes by Lincoln and Armstrong, who demand the last word.

Either way, the failure to trade Washburn is inexcusable and underscores all the more the need to bring serious senior-managment people into the Mariners picture.

By the way, can you update us on the Mariners draft choices who were signed before last Friday's deadline. The Mariners website offers no clue. Nor have the Times or P-I apparently pursued this information. Perhaps you can do it.

Posted by Joe Renton

11:39 AM, Aug 18, 2008

Geoff, oh man:

"But I'd submit that he's shown, for most of this season, to be every bit the league average pitcher the M's thought they were getting."

Yes, true. And that's the problem. League average pitchers shouldn't be given FOUR-year, $38 million contracts. Washburn isn't an awful pitcher; he's not a great pitcher; he's mediocre as can be.

Posted by Lance

11:41 AM, Aug 18, 2008

Trading Wash over the winter won't be tough. Teams are always looking for quality left-handed starters. It's just a matter of what they'll get in return, and what contracts they'll be willing to take back in return.

I'd prefer they trade Bedard instead, but they may as well hang onto him to start 2009 because right now you'll never get even close to what you gave up to get him.

Posted by BWare

11:46 AM, Aug 18, 2008

The problem with Washburn is not his production -- the evidence is clear that he has turned the corner from those fiasco outings -- the problem is the fact that he possesses a significantly north-of-market contract for his demonstrated pitching skills.

I don't know how other GMs feel, but if I were a GM, and Lee P approached me with an offer for Washburn where I assume the ENTIRE contract AND fork over a mid level prospect, I'd hang the phone up in his face (or something to that effect).

There's nothing wrong with asking for something -- the answer is always no until you ask -- but I find it hard to believe that Lee P believes that's a fair value exchange. That's an insult -- one that I wouldn't take to kindly as a GM.

I've always regarded GMs as professionals at what they do, even if they fall on their face ala Bavasi. For the sake of professionalism in their shared craft, I'd think that GMs don't go around making preposterous trade proposals without some sort of compelling dog-and-pony show to boot.

I can only imagine the dog-and-pony shows that Lee P made to the Yankees and Twins trying to sell this deal.

Truly sad, I must say...

Posted by Scanman

11:51 AM, Aug 18, 2008

Bill, you hit the nail on the head

Posted by ricofoy

11:54 AM, Aug 18, 2008

Don't trade Bedard now. He's going to have a great year next year and be as injury free as the pansy can be.
It's his walk year - we'll take the great year before he officially turns into Carl Pavano Jr.

Posted by scottM

11:55 AM, Aug 18, 2008

Fine statistical assessment of Washburn, GEOFF.

The concern with Jarrod is not that he's a major detriment to this team, but that for all his mediocrity, I've only seen him elevate his game when he wants to showcase himself. In the last three years he didn't prove himself to be a gamer in:

2006- During that 11 game losing streak in August when, only four games out, we went to Texas and Oakland. (Gil Meche tanked even worse, when it counted then).

2007- During the great August fade when the team had another long losing streak.

2008- In April and May when the M's tanked before they ever got going. (Not that Washburn bears the brunt of the blame, but that he was one component of the fade).

The best he's pitched in 2006, 2007, and 2008 has been this season when he was being shopped.

Moreover, Washburn's comments after last week's waiver trade negotiations with the Twins fell through, were a strong indicator of his attitude on the M's.

We've talked often in this blog about the M's needing a Culture of Winning. Jarrod Washburn is an adequate journeyman lefty who is overpaid by about $3m per year. He's just professional enough to be a serviceable #4 or #5 SP. With the M's he seldom won for his team when it really counted for them. The disappointment he expressed a few days ago spoke volumes: Jarrod Washburn is all about Jarrod Washburn.

This said, Jarrod Washburn is more of a sure bet for the 2009 rotation than RRS, Dickey, Feierabend, Morrow, Silva, Batista, or, because of injury, Bedard.

GEOFF, your position that he should have been traded by now, only makes sense if the M's, internally, have written off the 2009 season. Otherwise, the only reason to have traded him by now is if the M's were to receive legitimate player value in return. With Sexson's and Vidro's salaries off the books in 2009, Washburn's $9mil is not the deciding factor in whether the M's will or will not reload via free agency. A replacement FA lefty of Washburn's journeyman caliber will cost at least $6mil and probably closer to the $9mil we would unload.

Finally, the fact that pitchers of Washburn's quality are paid this much money is an indictment of the MLB marketplace, not of the Mariners per se. Pitchers ARE expensive.

So, while I'm not a big Washburn fan, I have no problem with the M's trying to get more than a salary dump in return for Jarrod. He's compensated plenty well with the M's for any of us to feel sorry that Washburn is not getting what he wants. He has helped create this Culture of Losing here. Let him lie in what is, in part, the bed of his own making.

Posted by NorDawg

12:02 PM, Aug 18, 2008

I'm so shocked that a sportswriter admits that he doesn't know what a team is doing! Wow!!!

Posted by bomberboy

12:24 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Good data, GREAT data...but you mentioned "you can't cherry pick" the data. Not only can you, YOU MUST!. First, everyone quit managing the M's wallet for them. Face facts, this is Seattle and NOBODY will sign here for the going rate. Until things change a lot we will pay more for any free agent, period. Second of all, Wash is a 3rd or 4th type of pitchure. look at sinnable games, what % of his starts fall into the categaory of winnable game. Everybody acts like Bedard is garbage, but he gave up nearly 50% of his total earned runs in two games. So in 11 of 14 starts his ERA was just over 2.1, Not great but not hoorible. Wash' performance has been just fine , not great but just fine. Few teams have better #3s or 4s. As ffar as trading, if Seattel is not frothing at the moouth to dump salary why would they trade him for anyone who has NO chance of helping Seattle. Our team and entire system is full of marginal players. The last thing we need is another Jeramy Reed light or Mike Morse. I hear people get all excited about Bonser...??? OUr team needs to imporve. Either get a REALLY good player (which is not available0 or trade for young A level guys. My gus is you might see Wash and others packaged with Clement or others later in the year to try and get some lower farm hands.

By the way, we are stuck at catcher...I am afraid we will trade Johnson and I think he may be the best we have.

Posted by could the M's be any more stupid?

12:24 PM, Aug 18, 2008

In addition to being a bunch of sad sack players with no testies, managers, owners, and employees, the M's can add to it being horrible in the draft.

Lincecum leads the majors in strikouts (192) and leads the NL in ERA (2.60).

Good job Mariner idiots. Here was a local guy right in your own backyard and you were too stupid to draft him! So, while he's possibly on his way to his first Cy Young, we've got a guy prepping in AAA.

*Bleep* the M's are a *bleeped* up organization!

Posted by Tek Jansen

12:24 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Geoff, you are right when you say that Wash is a league average pitcher the M's thought they were getting. Unfortunately, it is stupid to pay 39 mil over 4 years for the league average. That's why the M's are bad.

"A replacement FA lefty of Washburn's journeyman caliber will cost at least $6mil and probably closer to the $9mil we would unload." --scottM, that is incorrect. Look at Randy Wolff's contract. Look at 2RS. Look at Oakland's pitchers. It is possible to find league average pitchers for far less than Wash/Silva money.

Posted by downonstrikes

12:27 PM, Aug 18, 2008

No need for me to ruminate about Washburn. This blogger will continue to slam management and how the team is run overall; even on Jarrod Washburn day, Geoff. All of these discussions would be moot if the FO had made moves at the right time and benched our poor bats early this season before the pitching staff got discouraged and psyched out. This season's bad record falls directly on all those on the management side of this club, not Washburn or Silva alone.

Posted by SchoolyD

12:32 PM, Aug 18, 2008

"But I'd submit that he's shown, for most of this season, to be every bit the league average pitcher the M's thought they were getting."

You missed on ehuuuuuuge ppoint, Geoff. Washburn has been getting paid at a rate way above that of a league average pitcher. The root problem statistical analysts have had with Wash since he signed here is not that he's terrible, but that at his absolute best he is in no way worth the money that he is sucking out of the M's payroll. And in that sense, he is emblamatic of the argument that the M's brass has no freakin' clue how to evaluate pitching talent and pay appropriately for it.

Posted by ChicoV

12:37 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Geoff thanks for wishing us a Happy Jarrod Day, no one else remembered.

I didn't read the rest of the post too many words and numbers and such.

The first word of the first sentence and eveything after the same word in the last sentence would have been just fine.

You work way too hard man.

Posted by Adam

12:50 PM, Aug 18, 2008

I brought up this point a couple of weeks ago - Washburn really isn't pitching any better than he was in his first two months.

His K rate is down, his BB rate is up (meaning his stuff isn't any better), and as I mentioned, his only real change is the fact that he's given up fewer XBHs.

Washburn is the same pitcher he's been for the last four or five years. He's not that good, and the Mariners blew TWO chances to get rid of him.

Too bad Lee P. is as stupid as Bavasi so as to think they can and should get something of value for Washburn.

Go Knicks.

Posted by Troy206

12:52 PM, Aug 18, 2008

The thing about it is this, everyone knows we need to rebuild this thing so folks need to make up their minds (and this includes Geoff). If you want to see the m's do this the right way and rebuild from within then it is going to take time and people need to settle in an realize this. Everyone is clamoring for them to do this but they want to see the turnaround happen in the next three months. YOU CANT REBUILD WITH PROSPECTS BY NEXT SPRING! It made absolutely no sense to trade one of the few people, Washburn, on our team with actual value because of his performance this year for a straight salary dump. Espiecially considering the fact that the m's can afford to pay him next year. If a team wanted to pick up Silva's deal straight salary well then of course you do that. But no team would be willing to do that because he sucks and has a terrible three years left on his deal, there is NO VALUE there for a team to be interested in. Regardless if we can contend next year or not, we should never hand over a player with value just to unburden our team of salary that we won't spend this offseason anyway because we want to rebuild from within.

If anything not trading Washburn shows that the FO is finally trying to change its longstanding philosophy of building through spending and more spending. WE need to support that because they are a very reactionary FO.

Posted by AC

1:02 PM, Aug 18, 2008

i could go on and on, but the bottom line is pitchers are highly unpredictable. There are certain things that can mitigate that unpredictability (strikeouts, ground balls), but even the best pitchers have good stretches and bad stretches when they don't do anything differently. Washburn doesn't to anything to mitigate his unpredictability. He could throw the exact same game today that he's been throwing his entire career (he is remarkably consistent), and get absolutely shelled.

In other words, past results are not a guarentee of future performance, especially with a pitcher of Washburn's skillset.

Posted by meagain

1:06 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Here's my take on Washburn. He doesn't want to be in Seattle. The first time Clement misses a popup behind him, will he throw Jeff under the bus too?

Too bad he didn't get a chance to showcase himself against the Twins, since that's his destination of choice.

I think the M's need to continue to look for useful ways to trade him. I have no beef with his pitching ability at fourth or fifth in the rotation. On a decent staff, he's a marginal three. On the M's, he's a de facto second starter.

Declaring people de facto is fun!

Posted by Wasburn_got_no_game

1:19 PM, Aug 18, 2008


Here's one for you. I'll go slow so you can keep up.

One makes half a mill, the other 10+ mill, one will be around for several more years, the other wants out now. One has been pretty darn good since arriving, the other NOT so much. Please let me know if you need help figuring out what I am talking about.

Posted by deepthroat

1:21 PM, Aug 18, 2008

When the catcher situation gets resolved THEN we can start hoping good pitchers will come here. I don't see ANY top pitchers who would venture a stay in Seattle as long as our catchers all suck arse. Our best catcher is the third string guy nobody knows.

Posted by Charlie don't surf

1:23 PM, Aug 18, 2008

GEEZUS CHRIST GEOFF!!! is your freakin post long enough? Is this what the season has come to? Over ANALysis of Jarrod Washburn? I mean really...who freaking cares? It is what it is

Posted by Rodrigo

1:28 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Geoff, give it a rest.. your incessant attempts to make us all belive Washburn is a good pitcher, are getting real tiring..

Stop using ERA and Quality starts... u should know better...

I see u did use BABIP, which is good, and obviously shows Jarrod Washburn's success for most of the summer was based on alot of luck.. balls finding gloves..

So please stop tryin to PO the fanbase with your attempt to act like Washburn is giving just as much as Felix is

Posted by Seth

1:29 PM, Aug 18, 2008

with Silva the M's should have draw up a special contract. They give him a yearly salary of 1 mill then at the end of the contract he gets all his money, IF he

A) does not get any more obese

B) does a respectable job pitching


C) does not eat the Mariner Moose or any of the batboys

Posted by ChicoV

1:34 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Don't pay any attention to them Geoff a writer writes.

How many ways can you say the M's are crap on a stick?

This season is OVER!

* Your next assignment*
Now write an even longer post on why the hell we signed Johjima to an extention that he didn't deserve and that makes our catching a laughingstock! We want interviews, answers, go to Japan and get us some the freakin word.

Posted by Miguel Tyrone

1:41 PM, Aug 18, 2008

whatever, crazy lady

Posted by PackBob

1:44 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Great post, Geoff.

Posted by Bums

1:49 PM, Aug 18, 2008

The problem with Washburn is that he has had a lack of focus over the past two years or so (maybe tanking a bit). The minute he was rumored to go somewhere else he bucked up, focused, and started to do well. Don't worry Geoff Wash will start to perform as well expect him to do now that he knows he is doomed to stay here. But, if does start to get a little bummed all he needs to do is check his bank account and smile because Bavasi was a GM when he became a FA.

Felix may lose focus because he is young, but the upside is so huge it is hard not to embrace him, make him feel loved, and hope he stays.

Posted by scottM

1:50 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Tek Jansen:

"A replacement FA lefty of Washburn's journeyman caliber will cost at least $6mil and probably closer to the $9mil we would unload." --scottM, that is incorrect

The key phrase here is FA (free agent). Look how much Gil Meche––an equally mediocre M's pitcher made going to the Royals, $10 or $11M/year for several years. He was a farm system product of the M's who is a journeyman and happens to be the Royal's "Ace", a label of dubious distinction. Free Agent pitchers are VERY expensive, and Washburn's salary is not way out of line for a journeyman lefty. Of course, farm grown talent like Felix, Meche is way cheaper for a while.

To the bloggers who yell about bringing up Morrow/RRS/Feierabend/Dickey to replace the suckfest of Washburn/Silva/Batista, this will require great patience, far more than most bloggers a capable of showing.

Morrow is not exactly lighting it up in AAA.
RRS has shown he knows how to get shelled.
Feierabend's '08 debut started with him giving up 5 runs in the bottom of the 1st.
Dickey is hot or cold, he only gets shelled every other time.

Washburn is relatively stable by comparison.

Again, tell me if the M's front office has thrown in the towel in 2009, and I will tell you if they should salary dump Washburn.

Posted by meagain

2:10 PM, Aug 18, 2008

I know, Geoff--I was watching.

I'm now declaring you a bully for catching it.

Posted by Cynical Optimist

2:11 PM, Aug 18, 2008

I think it's funny how statheads dismiss and look down on terms such as "clutch" and "chemistry" but talk all the time about luck. Either dismiss them all or they all have a place because they're all intangibles that noone can prove exist.

Posted by Tek Jansen

2:29 PM, Aug 18, 2008

"The key phrase here is FA (free agent)." scottM -- This is why the M's should stop using the FA market as a means to find league average talent. It is destroying them. Good ballclubs don't spend that type of money on mediocre talent. Just look at Batista, Silva, and Wash. What a waste.

Posted by scottM

2:32 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Imagine the great irony of the M's Trade Deadline 2009:

Imagine Beltre, Bedard and Washburn all playing their hearts out to open 2009 because it's a contract year for them and they will want to showcase themselves for a contender.

Imagine Felix taking the next step toward Cy Younghood.

Imagine Ichiro and maybe even Johjima actually coming into Spring Training in '09 ready to play (not needing April and half of May to get going, in Ichiro's case).

Imagine both Yuni and Lopez elevating their games defensively, and Yuni REALLY focusing on being a more patient batter.

Imagine that the M's bring in two free agents with legitimate power, one at DH, and the other at either 1B or outfield (with decent defensive ability, too).

Imagine JJPutz finding his old groove as our closer.

At the All-Star Break, imagine the M's neck-and-neck in the standings with the Angels. The culture of losing becomes a culture of winning. The M's decide to keep Beltre, Washburn, Bedard for a run to the playoffs.

If so, it's not too far-fetched to imagine the attitudes of all these players doing an about face. The new skipper and GM will be perceived of as miracle workers. And maybe, just maybe, Seattle will again become a team that Free Agents will want to join.

A whole lotta ifs, I know. And one thing that Bavasi was correct about: it's largely up to the players. So look in the mirror Washburn, Silva, Ichiro, Beltre, Yuni, Lopez, Bedard, Johjima...

Posted by Nick in pdx

2:39 PM, Aug 18, 2008

"could you offer some analysis as to why Ichiro's OPS w/ RISP this season is over .200 points below his career OPS w/ RISP"

sample size?


Such a long post to write to make such a small point. "The M's should have traded him by now." That could've been the whole post.

The chance to get out from under $13 million for a back-end-of-the-rotation starter. That's what it all boils down to, boys and girls. In the 2005-06 offseason the M's paid a premium for an 81% LOB rate that was obviously totally unsustainable, and have gotten jack for their investment; and having a chance to cut their losses, they failed to do so. This whole discussion of exactly how much better he's been before or after Date X is totally irrelevant.

Posted by goofus

2:41 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Adam posted @ 12:50

"I brought up this point a couple of weeks ago - Washburn really isn't pitching any better than he was in his first two months."

good for you Adam. You are so smart and awesome! You are like The Fonz of this blog. Therest of should bow down and worship your coolness. Damn how did you ever get so awesome? Please share with us! Pretty please all mighty Adam

Posted by Anything Can Happen

2:47 PM, Aug 18, 2008

A bit late to this conversation, as usual, but I see two claims that need to be addressed:

1. a number of posters continue to claim that Washburn stunk in April. A look at his game log suggests that he pitched reasonably well until April 30--and could have had 3 more wins in April had the offense produced more than 1 run in his 3rd and 4th starts and had the bullpen not blown this 5th start. Remember that the problems in April were lack of offensive production, not poor pitching--that began in May.

2. Adam (at 12:50), whose posts are usually a bit better argued, is ignoring every piece of evidence Geoff has assembled and suggesting that Washburn had not improved because his K rate is down and BB rate is up. Regarding the K rate, Geoff rightly suggests that the K rate may be a contrary indicator for a contact pitcher. That is, if a contact pitcher is pitching well, the count may not get to 2 strikes very often. A lot of strikeouts might suggest that he's not fooling batters.

I will agree that an dramatic increase in the number of walks might suggest a decrease in effectiveness, but a slight increase might be the result of poor defense putting a pitcher in the situation where he has to pitch around more batters and thus risk more walks. And, of course, it might be worthwhile to factor out IBBs as they are, at best, a secondary indicator of performance.

A better metric for a contact pitcher--and especially for Washburn--might be a comparison of average pitches thrown/inning and/or average foul balls per game. When Washburn isn't fooling batters, they foul off pitch after pitch after pitch until they get something to hit.

And yes, I think the Ms should have traded Washburn to the Twins, but as ScottM noted (at 11:55am), that assumes the FO has written off 2009. The refusal to dump salary (Washburn) and to trade Raul suggests that they have not.

Posted by scottM

2:51 PM, Aug 18, 2008

from Tek: "This is why the M's should stop using the FA market as a means to find league average talent. It is destroying them. Good ballclubs don't spend that type of money on mediocre talent. Just look at Batista, Silva, and Wash. What a waste."

I couldn't agree more, although I would say that such mistakes have "tied the M's hands" and "gummed up the works" more than it has destroyed the franchise. As a journeyman FA lefty, Washburn's salary is not way out of line. Silva's actually wouldn't be out of line if he pitched like a #3 SP, rather than a batting practice slacker.

I would argue that Ichiro (with his fan appeal considered, too) and Beltre (defensively, especially) have earned their big salaries. Keen talent assessment is the best thing we can hope for from the new GM. The money spent on Johjima, Sexson, Vidro, Batista and Silva has been an egregious waste.

As for the dilemma facing the M's as the team moves forward, if the F.O. chooses to undergo a complete rebuild where Ichiro, Beltre, Washburn, Bedard, Yuni, Lopez are unloaded and new players brought in, then the fan base that allows for the larger salaries will be jeopardized by a spiraling decline of attendance. This would reduce the ability of the team to sign legitimate star players. Regaining the 24,000 fan/game average would be exceedingly hard to restore once lost.

Again, a GM who can tell the difference between legitimate rising stars and above average players in decline (Sexson) is critical here.

Posted by tomtom

2:53 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Two THIRDS of the Rays will be free agents after the Season is done.

Next year they are a last place team.

Are they young? No. Next year a third of the "young players" turn 30. What the DUCE makes you think being YOUNG will solve the M's problem, you ridiculous puke.

Last year we had 2 of the ten youngest MLB players in the Leagues. IS THAT what you think won more games? A third on the list was signed outside the Country by the M's when he was 15,,, and later traded like so many "young" players. Did THAT young guy drag his team into the Playoffs???? NO.

Adam JONES was DRAFTED a couple years ago, and he got TRADED by the M's this Season because we needed a Starting Pitcher more than we needed YOUTH in the Oot Field. Today Adam Jones is sitting at home with a broken foot. SO MUCH FOR THAT "YOUTH MAKES YOU GREAT" theory

This is just one year later, last years youngest players are only 22 this year, yet I see some ridiculous blogging about NEEDING a YOUNGER team.

Why, so we can lose them to injury or the Market? that is retarded thinking in the same manner that the Racist remarks I see when someone suggest we trade Ichiro.

Ex-Mariner by choice, Junior, now THE OLD GUY, sits in Chicago waiting for the Play-offs or the Market to take him again. The guy has quite a record, but never once DRAGGED HIS WHOLE TEAM into the playoffs.

To suggest that we burn down the whole team so that we can CHERRY PICK some "YOUNG" guy or guys, that will bat .599 and hit 162 Grand Slams each year.....

Proves you are RETARDED when it comes to baseball, the Draff, Trading for Players, and the M's future.

There is NO CHERRY TREE, ya useless dork.

Posted by geezer

2:58 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Geoff, if you don't know the difference between Felix Hernandez and Jarrod Washburn, I don't know what to tell you.

Posted by Bill

3:01 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Nick in pdx: I'm not buying it based on your explanation.

Posted by jesse

3:07 PM, Aug 18, 2008

tomtom should change his name to dumdum or drunkdrunk. Most likely a combination of both.

Posted by Sounders

3:10 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Riggleman Post Game Press Conference:

Reporter: What exactly do you mean when you say the team is going to get turned around.

Riggleman: (pauses, then starts dancing a jig, singing) "And now...the end is near...and so I face... the final curtain...."

Posted by Top pick in 09 draft

3:20 PM, Aug 18, 2008

I totally agree with the posts by Tek and ScottM that FA is not the way to develop your sp. Because of the lack of starting pitching around the league, you have to severely overpay in both years and $ just to come up with a .500 sp. In 2007, Ted Lilly and Batista ended up being the best FA sp pickups for that season. Next season, I can see the top free agent starters from this year (Sheets and CC) both slumping - Sheets due to injury and CC likely will becomes some other team's El Buffalo within a couple of years.

We desperately need a GM who can place an emphasis on developing your sp from within - esp. the top of the rotation guys. Also, I don't think Mel is the pitching coach who can work well with young starters; I wonder if Rick Peterson who worked so well with the young Oakland pitchers a few years ago is still available?

Posted by Eburg T

3:22 PM, Aug 18, 2008

[quote] Washburn's contention is that he's become a better pitcher since late-May because of two things: his return to a split-fingered fastball as an "out-pitch" of sorts.[/quote]

Mid-season mechanical adjustment yields aberrant results for pitcher.

Do you just keep one of these stories on file, delete "Silva" and put in "Washburn" depending on who hasn't been sucking as much as they normally do of late?

Regression to the mean commencing in 3, 2, 1 ...

Posted by Eburg T

3:26 PM, Aug 18, 2008

[quote]The August numbers have come up again. This is due to getting shellacked by the Orioles and having to face a bunch of extra hitters his last two times out because of errors by Yunieksy Betancourt and Adrian Belte against the Angels and Twins. [/quote]

Actually, it's due to him not being a very good pitcher and not being as lucky as he was in June and July.

Not to quibble semantics.

Posted by kaseyswagger

3:31 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Cmon Geoff dont give us this Felix Hernandez only has 4 fewer earned runs in that time frame and yet Washburn is not talked in the same light as him.

I'm sorry but we as fans are not fooled by a couple good months of pitching after horrible years from Washburn but apparently the FO and u are.

Felix is a phenom and has put together a great season not a couple good months he has done it from beginning to end and better then Washburn.

Thats like saying Washburn is better then Josh Beckett because Beckett has struggled lately and Washburn has not.

Posted by Sounders

3:46 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Top Pick:

Agreed. Mel should go back to his garden in Issiquah

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

3:49 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Washburn is the least of our worries for fixing this team. Those brainwashed by reading another blog have horse blinders fixed to the sides of their faces. RRS, Jimenez, Feierabend, are not the answer to the rotation. Are people watching the games? Our pitching sucks!

If we are stuck overpaying Washburn next year and he doesn't implode like Silva-Batista and Dickey, that actually is a good thing for us. Is Washburn a good pitcher, no he's average and probably a #4 or #5 pitcher on most teams.

Heck, we are overpaying just about everybody on this team including $16 million for a lead-off hitter that couldn't carry a Triple-A team on his back much less the Mariners. You see what Manny Ramirez is doing for the Dodgers? That's what a $16 million dollar player does for your team.

The bigger issue is locking up our franchise player: Felix Hernandez. Bigger issues=fixing a horrible starting rotation. We are in big trouble next year if Felix and Washburn is all we have. We are going to have to move Silva into the bullpen to mop up.

Bottomline, a new shortstop that everyone has been begging for or a low level prospect in return for Washburn won't fix the biggest gaping hole in the ship which is starting pitching.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

4:04 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Re: Starting Pitching

Bavasi has left us a bare dead farm system. We have absolutely zero pitching options to help the major league club in the upper and mid levels of our minor league system.

One must look all the way down to low A ball before we have anything to look forward to in the likes of Phillippe Aumont, Nathan Adcock, Ramirez, and maybe Pineda.

None of these players have even reached High-A yet. That leaves the new GM the only viable sensible option is to trade an Ichiro, Ibanez, Beltre for starting pitching that is close to helping now or a year away.

Posted by khardy

4:39 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Resin -

You're damn right in saying that Washburn is the least of our worries.

I just wasted a couple minutes of my life reading USS Mariner's response to Geoff's post. It was like a tantrum, but in word form.

Posted by ragarm

4:44 PM, Aug 18, 2008

I'm afraid you are right. The situation for the M's future is as bleak as its present standing.

It is sad to think of delaing those three players, but that's about all the men of value we have right now.

So, ditto.

Posted by Stalinist

4:51 PM, Aug 18, 2008

(deleted, off topic)

Posted by meagain

4:58 PM, Aug 18, 2008

I don't think you guys have it right. Geoff isn't even implying that Washburn is as good as Felix; he's just using a numbers comparison to set up his contention that Washburn actually has improved since early this year.

While Geoff's reputation for cynicism preceded him here, and it's great fun to twist his tail, there's no need misrepresent his views in order to disagree with him.

Posted by PackBob

5:05 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Forget about the money. It's meaningless.

And Washburn's stats weren't a whole lot different than Felix's last year either.

Oops, I said something that could be misconstrued as criticism of the King!!! Blog, have mercy on my soul.

Posted by The Ancient Mariner

5:06 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Given previous postings concerning Washburn, this love fest is rather amusing. Can Washburn really be the answer to one of the starting pitching options for next year. In my opinion, the answer remains no, which I have consistently argued on these pages since April. However, I have not the insight of such the statistics that Geof has given us today. Still I watch the games and critically assess the day to day performances. It is from this perception that I see no real change in Washburn and his ability to help this team in the future. Perhaps the M's will prove me wrong but the proof is in the experience.

At any rate, I cannot endorse Washburn beyond next season's trading deadline. It further seems to me that this embrace to Washburn results from the perception that Feierabend bombed yesterday. Yes he gave up some runs in the first yesterday, but he is just a kid and as we have been calling for a youth movement, we need to be patient with our best prospects as they audition in the majors. Give Feierabend a chance to prove himself, he did very well in AAA and surely he cannot be as bad as he looked in the first inning yesterday.

With RRS and Feirerabend, both young non overpowering left handers, the M's might do well to look to the old ace - Jaimie Moyer. Wouldn't it be great to bring Moyer back to tutor Washburn, RRS, Balwin and other lefties in our system. Moyer was more than a Mariner in Seattle, he was so deeply entwined in the community that is was a real shame to see him traded away, but that is my sentimental take on him. More importantly, he is the master of wily craft when setting up his "fast" ball with his change. As both RRS and Feirerabend are not blazing fast ball hurlers, they might truly learn to pitch with a mentor such as Moyer.

Feierabend needs a chance, he has earned our patience given his recent fine work in Tacoma this year. Lets not judge him prematurely. While many of you might not agree, this team has become much more exciting since we began playing some of our triple A talent. It may be that La Hair is a fine hitter against right handers, although it may be that he is best served in a platoon system. There is David Morse who can bat right handed and complement LaHair at first. He was played out of position when he injured himself, he too deserves another chance with a dose of patience.

Really patience is our best bet given the nature of the season and our options for next year. Still this team needs to continue to explore trade options for some of its veterans including Ichiro and Beltre, as well as Washburn. Move them in the off season or before the trade deadline, there may well be suitors who will emerge during the off season.

Sadly, I cannot share scottM's unbounded enthusiasm for building this team with one or two carefully selected free agents. The talent on this team is just over estimated and regarded beyond its performance. A few choice free agents is not likely to bring this team to respectability. There is a real lack of talent manifest in the repeated losing. Those who brought us to the ball are the same players who set the pace for this year's one hundred plus loss season. We need to commit to a rebuild plan that will give us a better chance to compete in 20010.

Posted by tomtom

5:19 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Five of their top 10 Draft picks REFUSED to sign their draftee contract with the Mariners. All of them were Pitchers. That means Seattle doesn't pay enough of a signing bonus, or the word is already out... Seattle is not going to buy position players to support the Pitching staff, nor spend money drafting good "YOUNG" Pitchers. And what do the young guys really learn in AAA AA and A? What is teaching them to play in the MLB? From what I have seen of the PCL,,, nothing nor nobody is teaching them anything but "Life is a Summer Carnaval"..

So.......We know one thing for certain, the player's PCL training is not worth a load of garbage. A non-M's guy I know went from .367 in the PCL, to .154 in the MLB in the same season. Wlad is that same kind of guy, a star in the PCL and a goat in the MLB.

Posted by Faceplant

5:28 PM, Aug 18, 2008

"But I'd submit that he's shown, for most of this season, to be every bit the league average pitcher the M's thought they were getting."

I'm I'll have a few things to say about the broader pount you are making, but I had to respond to this line before anything else.

Come on Goeff! The Mariners aren't paying Jarrod Washburn nearly 10 million per year to be a league average starter, and any suggestion that they did is extremely dishonest.

The M's gave Jarrod Washburn a giant contract because they thought he was a top of the rotation starter. He isn't. Jarrod Washburn is a perfectly serviceable number 4 starter. But you don't pay number four starters 38 million dollars over 4 years. THAT is the problem with Jarrod Washburn.

Posted by Oly Mike

6:00 PM, Aug 18, 2008

WASHBURN IS A LOOOOOOSERRRRRRRRRR!!!!!! Does that fit into the equation. If he is on this team next year you can be assured of at least 15 or more losses!!!!!!

Posted by Doug

6:34 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Yep, washburn sure is better than felix.

Posted by twinsfan

6:59 PM, Aug 18, 2008

There's a lesson of some type here.

When you have a mediocre pitcher, with mediocre stuff, and mediocre peripherals that have been established through years of mediocre pitching, it's a pretty safe bet that a small stretch of "decent ERA but nearly identical peripherals" is largely meaningless.

Posted by Al

7:12 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Actually Geoff if you do the research Washburn has run into a similar stretch of pitching where he seems like he's a totally different pitcher and I would have to argue that it's more of luck or a fluke than anything.

Look at last year he had a great stretch of 10 games to start the year, that's 2+ months of games, that's an extended period of pitching where he was having similar success to his 2008 stretch in question.

In the end I am not buying this BS new pitch or whatever. It's luck in my book. Oh and if the M's thought he was going to be a league average pitcher, why the hell did they ever give him that fat contract or why would they insinuate the notion of having "5 Aces" in the rotation when it was evident there was only 1 with the potential in Felix.

Posted by brock

7:14 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Here's a question. Lee Pelakoudas seems to be asking for what his colleagues call impossible deals. Does he really have the full authority of a GM and is asking for impossible deals actually a smoke screen covering up his lack of authority? I think the latter. He's been in baseball too long not to know he's blowing people off the line.

Posted by Anything Can Happen

7:18 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Ancient Mariner (5:06 pm): It's awfully optimistic of you to suppose that the Mariners can compete by 20010. By then we'll all be rather ancient.

Typos aside (Mike Morse excepted), I agree that patience is needed, and that I find the Ms more more exciting with some of the AAA guys playing. Spring Training was fun, too, and then Mac and Bavasi killed it by sticking with overpaid, over-the-hill veterans. How this season might have started differently if Morse, LaHair, Hulett, and others had gotten a chance to play--they made things happen.

Regarding Washburn, I'm sure Chuck and Lee are feeling brilliantly smug right now (yes, that's sarcasm).

Posted by downonstrikes

8:15 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Happy Jarrod Day indeed!

The results are in for his performance tonight and it is not pretty.

Lot's of what you wrote seems to have been invalidated, Geoff.

We lost our chance at dealing him. Jarrod is washed out.

Posted by M'sFANinReno

8:48 PM, Aug 18, 2008

Well, so much for happy Jarrod day, The statical analysis broke down with 8 ER in 4 and 1/3.

Posted by ness77

12:23 AM, Aug 19, 2008

Money is not meaningless.

The Mariners, like it or don't, have a limit on payroll. Having Jarrod Washburn take up almost 9.85 million dollars of a 107 million dollar payroll prevents the team from using that money on other, more cost-effective and more straight productive players in the free-agent market. It's a simple concept.

Posted by M's Fan

3:20 AM, Aug 19, 2008

Washburn freakin sucks. The Twins wanted to hand the Mariners 13 million bucks AND take Washburn off our hands, and the M's didn't go for it.

That right there sums up how poorly this franchise is run, and your rah-rah cheerleading (and that of the rest of the Seattle sports media) is only enabling them.

Isn't it hard to type that kind of blog entry with Chuck Armstrong's cojones on your chin? Pathetic.

Posted by great gonzalez

11:37 AM, Aug 19, 2008

"I think it's funny how statheads dismiss and look down on terms such as "clutch" and "chemistry" but talk all the time about luck."

Woah woah woah. Chance (luck) is totally different than clutchiness or chemistry.

Chemistry may or may not exist (evidence is shaky at best) and completely unpredictable even if it does, and decisions shouldn't be based on something you can't quantify, predict, or understand.

The illusion of "clutchiness" is created by humans trying to see a pattern (in chance) where none exists. (For instance, Derek "King Clutch" Jeter has gotten some memorable hits in the playoffs, but his AVG/OBP/SLG in the regular season is higher than in the postseason.)

On the other hand, chance obviously exists or we'd get the same results every time we had the same conditions. Standard deviation is critical to statistical analysis.

Posted by great gonzalez

11:53 AM, Aug 19, 2008

Also, to put the whole "luck" thing another way: there are events players can control, and events that come down to chance. For instance, Batting Average On Balls In Play (BABIP) tends toward an average (.300?) for all batters, best and worst and average. A batter can control how many balls they put in play, but not how many of those balls turn into hits or outs. A good batter might have a high line drive %, low strikeout %, and other "good batter" stats, but be unlucky (lower-than-average BABIP) and have a low batting average. A poor batter might get lucky (higher-than-average BABIP) and have a high batting average.

That doesn't change how they actually did last season (or whatever), but if we're talking about trying to project future performance, it'd be a good idea to look at controllable stats, maybe regress others to the mean (for example, if Adrian Beltre had an average+ BABIP he'd be having a monster season; he's been unlucky, sending line drives right at fielders, etc)... but analysis based on results tends to give inaccurate results.

Jarrod Washburn is a good example of a pitcher with pretty terrible "controllable" numbers (BB%, K%, GB/FB, others...) but despite the odds has gotten decent results. Only people who think that means he is a decent pitcher are surprised when he sucks.

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