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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 15, 2008 10:41 AM

Why Twins wanted Washburn

Posted by Geoff Baker

Some folks out there are having a tough time understanding why the Minnesota Twins wanted to take Jarrod Washburn off the M's hands. This is understandable, given how the Twins have a reputation for building from within with cheap, cost-effective homegrown talent. They have a stable of young pitchers, like Nick Blackburn, who the Mariners have gone after before. Remember the Adrian Beltre talks last month? Yes, Blackburn was a name that came up at that point. Did he come up in the Washburn talks? I don't know. But the M's wanted a starting pitcher in the Washburn deal, from what I was told yesterday. Not necessarily him, though.

This article from the Star Tribune explains yesterday's talks pretty well from the Minnesota perspective.

No, this was not, as we mentioned yesterday, a "block" move by the Twins.

We've had this discussion before, but at this time of year, when playoff berths are up for grabs, teams tend to suspend the normal value judgments made on players. Even the so-called "good" teams have been known to do this. Especially when it comes to relief pitching. Think of what the Boston Red Sox gave up last summer in sending outfielder David Murphy, starting pitcher Kason Gabbard and teenage outfielder Engel Beltre to the Texas Rangers for a two-month rental of a washed-up-looking Eric Gagne.

Does this make Red Sox GM Theo Epstein a moron? No. After all, he still won the World Series. And that's always the goal. Not building a fantasy super-team. The goal is always to make the playoffs, then go as far as you can. The money generated off that can offset tons of moves that look foolish in hindsight.

It's why the Tigers shipped off catcher Pudge Rodriguez for reliever Kyle Farnsworth, of all people.

Why yours truly was not against dealing catcher Jeff Clement for an eighth inning reliever last year. If the alternative is to not make the playoffs, then sometimes you have to swallow hard and bite the bullet on a deal that would otherwise look lopsided. In hindsight, dealing Clement or Wladimir Balentien for Octavio Dotel or Al Reyes would now seem foolish. But how foolish? The M's have a surplus of minor league catchers. Balentien strikes out whenever he isn't hitting a home run. We still don't know how either will turn out. When Adam Jones was still here, Balentien was an afterthought. If the M's make the playoffs last year (had they not blown a 5-0 lead at home to the Angels, capping it with Rick White on the mound, who knows how things might have played out?), then Jones likely remains in Seattle and no one remembers Balentien.

But in truth, the moment Bill Bavasi failed to deal for another eighth inning guy, the 2007 season was over. The team knew it, the gassed relievers knew it. They crossed their fingers and prayed for a miracle. Prayed that Rick White, a washed-up waiver claim, might be their cheap "miracle answer" but he wasn't. The fact White was on the mound pitching in key games shows you just how dire the bullpen situation was. Don't even go by the stats. Talk to the relievers and they'll tell you: the bullpen was teetering on the edge of collpase come August. So, by not picking up a bullpen answer, the M's wrote off their 2007 playoff chance. Now, we're almost through 2008 and still no playoffs. Come 2009, there likely won't be any either.

Still, heck, the M's have Balentien. They have Clement.

Some teams, though, would take the chance of missing the prospects for a playoff shot. Is Epstein incompetent? No, he isn't. Is Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski incompetent? Only if you've lived in a cave the past 20 years without access to baseball coverage.

I'm not writing this to justify my support of a prospects-for-reliever deal last year. You're all going to have your opinions on it and may even be right in the end. I may have been wrong. But I'm trying to explain to you the mentality that goes into baseball decisions this time of year. It's easy to look at one-sided deals and say "That GM must be crazy!'' Or, you can try to understand why things happen this way. Why even brilliant GMs like Epstein can make insane-looking moves this time of year.

Now, on to why the Twins would take all of Washburn's salary and maybe give up even more.


One of the moves the Mariners tried to make last year, even before shifting their focus to relief pitching at the trade deadline, was to acquire another starting pitcher. Remember those Dontrelle Willis rumors? The M's wanted to bring in another starter, and then would have very likely moved Miguel Batista into the eighth-inning setup role. In my mind, that would have been a shrewd move. Even though Batista was the best starter the M's had going for much of last year. He was also a former closer.

We saw in 2005 how the Anahaeim Angels fared when starter Kelvim Escobar, coming back off injury, was made into a late-season reliever. Escobar threw 19 relief innings over nine September outings, holding opponents to a 1.90 ERA and a .169 batting average. He struck out 17 batters and walked only four. That's the type of eighth inning dominance the M's needed when it mattered in 2007.

In the playoffs, Escobar had 15 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings during the six games he appeared in. I saw all of Anaheim's post-season games and still contend that the only thing that prevented them from winning a World Series was two freakish ALCS plate appearances by A.J. Pierzynski of the Chicago White Sox (both against Escobar). On one play, catcher Josh Paul forgot to tag Pierzynski on an inning-ending Escobar strikeout in the dirt. On the other, Escobar tagged Pierzynski with the wrong hand on a dribbler up the line. Both plays saw Pierzynski reach first base safely and game-winning rallies followed.

But otherwise, Escobar to the eighth-inning role might have won Anaheim its second World Series.

So, inserting a starter, even a very good one, into a late-season bullpen role can work out very well.

The M's might have held on much longer last season had Batista, instead of White, been pitching to Kenny Lofton of the Indians or to Vladimir Guerrero of the Angels in the two games that ultimately put the nails in Seattle's 2007 coffin.

And now, the Twins are in a similar situation. Because of the collapse of the highly favored Tigers, they have an unexpected shot at the post-season. Against a White Sox team no one had all that much respect for heading into 2008 and which still might fade down the stretch. Though the Twins appear poised to have future playoff shots, you just never know in this game.

So, when the Twins look at their bullpen and see that gaping hole caused by the elbow injury to Pat Neshek, they are asking themselves some serious questions. Like, can they afford to go down the stretch -- as did the M's last season -- without a capable bridge to closer Joe Nathan? Or, must they do all they can to get another eighth-inning arm in there, even if it means taking on Jarrod Washburn's contract?

If you're going to take a guy out of that Twins rotation, you can't just replace him with a Class AAA guy who's going to go five innings. Well, you could, but then you'd be one of those teams that builds for the future and misses the present-day playoff shot.

Say what you want about Washburn, but he's gone six or seven innings on a regular basis since late-May, without giving up a ton of runs. Put him in front of that Twins defense and -- if some of your theories about him being lucky hold true -- he should produce even better results. Maybe Denard Span can take away some of those home runs he gives up?

Anyhow, Washburn, in theory, should prove no worse than a No. 3 starter for the Twins of he keeps doing what he's been doing and has a better defense behind him.

That allows the Twins to maintain what they've done to this point in the rotation, as well as seriously upgrade in their late-inning relief. And when you consider what past teams have done to acquire bullpen relief this time of year, taking on Washburn's salary doesn't exactly rank among the craziest moves ever. It's why I still think these teams might be able to work something out. Maybe not for another starting pitcher. But for a decent prospect who can be moved to Seattle ahead of time, say for a player-to-be named (with Washburn being put on waivers again after that). Or, you can just do an honor system thing and work out who gets what, or what happens if Washburn was to be claimed by someone else. Word of mouth gets around fast in this game and nobody would deal with the Twins or M's if they tried to pull a fast one on each other. You can work out a gentleman's agreement and get a Washburn deal done on a second try. Or at least try to get one done. This isn't the schoolyard. Honor still means something in baseball.

So, anyway, there you have it. That's why the Twins wanted to do a Washburn deal. Don't yell and scream at me. I'm just trying to explain it to you. We can either keep scratching our heads every summer and proclaiming every GM an idiot when he makes what looks to be a lopsided deal for some late-inning relief, or we can try to understand the mindset.

Yes, the playoffs are what matters in this game. Building for the future has its place. And it is key to getting into position to make the playoffs, as the Twins have shown. But sometimes, even with the best laid plans, you need that final push. And the "wait until next year" rule doesn't apply. Some GMs wait for next year the rest of their careers. This time of year, when it comes to these decisions and evaluating talent, all bets are off. Sometimes, a GM will sleep better at night just making the move and not wondering "what if?'' for years afterwards.

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Posted by meagain

11:03 AM, Aug 15, 2008

"Honor still means something in baseball."

Wow. That's a big statement. And I happen to agree with you, Geoff, especially where the M's and Twinkies organizations are concerned.

No one knows what Washburn's value will be the rest of this year and next. But it's a cinch he would have more value to some other teams than to the M's.

My question is, how would he like to stay in Seattle? Just watching and listening to him, I've formed the opinion that he's ready to go.

Posted by Adam

11:03 AM, Aug 15, 2008

I still don't agree, Geoff, but we'll see if you are right if/when the Mariners put Washburn back on waivers.


If the Twins want him, they'll claim him.


But regardless, that's twice the Mariners have failed to allow another team to take Washburn off their hands. They really are stupid.

Posted by Kelly

11:12 AM, Aug 15, 2008

Rumor is that the Ms turned down Boof Bonser for Washburn and his $10 million contract. If that is true then we are dumber than even their worst critics have imagined.

Bonser will make $500k next year. His ERA is ugly, but we all know that you can't evaluate a pitcher based on ERA. What we do know is that he's striking out 7.04 guys per 9 innings pitched. This is inline with his historic numbers. His BABIP is .330, which is really high. I'll bet that if you went back and looked at his starts he's been victimized by his defense and bad luck. People are slugging .440 against him.

Washburn will make $10 million next year. His K/9 ratio is a thoroughly average 5.17. His BABIP is .315. People are slugging .458 against him.

In other words, THEY ARE THE SAME PITCHER except that one guy is much younger and makes a fraction of what the other guy makes. If anything, Bonser is BETTER than Washburn but he's had some bad luck.

If we turned down Bonser for Wasburn then we are just stunningly stupid.

Posted by WeNeedChange

11:14 AM, Aug 15, 2008

I still cannot believe Washburn is a Mariner. The FO continues to overvalue their players and make dumb moves, or non-moves. Who cares if you don't get a player back for Washburn. Acknowledge the mistake with the contract given to this guy and dump it on someone else. I would love to hear McLovin's reason for not twice taking the chance to totally dump Washburn's salary for free. Although, I'm guessing that Chuckie and Howie had their hands in this also, which is why they need to be fired because they know nothing about baseball. Geoff, have you any quotes from the Mariners FO on why deal with the Twins did not happen.

Posted by Faceplant

11:16 AM, Aug 15, 2008

beltre is so done as a mariner if i was GM, id DFA him so fast and try to deport him aswell for grand theft

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

11:16 AM, Aug 15, 2008

I don't understand the ragging on Beltre either.

Beltre is hitting .250/.316/.419 in 456 games this year, that's why fans are "ragging" on him. The complaints comes from rational people that don't believe Beltre has the magical bad luck phenomenon, proven as a "fact" by Lord Adam and his line drive percentages.

The argument has been made that Safeco Field according to Lord Adam, hurts RH hitters. There is no conclusive statitical evidence presented by Lord Adam, we must take him for his word.

The way I see it, Safeco should not induce poor plate approaches at the plate as Beltre has shown.

Safeco Field and every ball park in Major League Baseball must have the same exact diamond sizes.

The large dimensions of any ball park should only effect home runs not ground balls, and actually can favor doubles in the gap.

Yes, there is a rare exceptions as in Fenway Park's green monster walls, this park is a heaven for doubles especially the way right hangs inside the outfield for cheap home runs and ground rule doubles.

In my opinion, Safeco's dimensions would logiclly assist gap power hitters with the spacious gap in left-center field. Logically, Safeco should only hurt dead-center home run hitters.

In 2007, 2008, Beltre showed an advantage hitting on the road. Howver, the statistical evidence is not consistent or conclusive that Lord Adam is correct.

Statistical research shows Beltre hit 16 home runs in 291 at bats at Safeco Field versus 9 in 329 at bats in 2006.

In 2005, Beltre hit .263/.312/..382 at Safeco versus .248/.295/.440 on the road.

Conclusion: stats don't back up Adam's claim Safeco hurts Beltre. To say it hurts all RH hitters is just not factual unless proven correct.

Posted by BWare

11:18 AM, Aug 15, 2008

Geoff:

Sounds plausible on its face, but maybe the Twins were playing the "block gambit" on Washburn...

1) they prevent a ChiSox claim, and

2) they knew the M's would pull Washburn back, and thus would not be out of $13 million

If the M's put Washburn back on waivers, and the Twins don't make a claim, then you know that blocking was their prime interest.

Two chances for the M's to rid theirselves of the Washburn liability, and they've swung and missed both times.

Posted by scottM

11:27 AM, Aug 15, 2008

Adam,

Please explain why you have a problem with the M's trying to get a prospect back for Washburn, in addition to dumping his salary.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

11:28 AM, Aug 15, 2008

Re: Gagne trade

I was on record blasting the deal here when it went down. It was a stupid trade. Theo makes plenty of mistakes along with others. The difference is that Theo has already built a great foundation with the Red Sox. They have won championships with that nucleus. So he can afford to make a huge mistake.

The M's only had an 88 win season no championships, not even a division title. Big time baseball analysts along with Geoff were premature in believing the M's were a proven contender based on a meaningless 88 win season and were a Erik Bedard away from post season play.

Hopefully, a lesson learned. Don't deal prospects for bullpen help that is easily replaced from within the farm system.

Posted by meagain

11:29 AM, Aug 15, 2008

Resin, regarding one thing you wrote at 11:16--

"In my opinion, Safeco's dimensions would logiclly assist gap power hitters with the spacious gap in left-center field. Logically, Safeco should only hurt dead-center home run hitters."

You go to ballgames, I assume, so you know about the prevailing winds there. On most nights, anything but the hardest line drives to left are knocked down considerably. I did see one Jose Lopez fly ball pushed from foul to fair, but that's by far the exception.

I think the Safe is a very tough park for fly ball homers from left all the way over into center. That, plus the dimensions, make it a tough park for righty hitters; so much so, that I think it makes it a place some veteran players want to avoid. (Never mind other factors.)

Posted by bartkofoed

11:32 AM, Aug 15, 2008

Wow, you may have been wrong about Al Reyes. Whats next, GWB may have been wrong about Iraq? Get outta here.

Posted by Alaskan

11:37 AM, Aug 15, 2008

Resin,

I won't speak for Adam, but when I googled "safeco park factors" I found this: http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/home-run-park-factor-a-new-approach/

If you believe it (I didn't bother to try myself, but if you're interested...), they suggest that HR's to LF and left-center are heavily impacted by the dimensions. On top of that, they talk about the impact weather can have. My understanding was that because of the park's orientation, winds coming in to home plate from left are common, additionally hampering HR's.

As you pointed out, though, you would think that wouldn't hurt balls that stay in the park as much. So where does that leave Beltre? The difference between the two, if you compare the stats side-by-side, is that Ibanez has 15 more doubles and 2 more triples. Their walk and SO rates are surprisingly (to me) similar, with Beltre doing the latter a little more often.

In other words, if the doubles are really just bad luck as Adam seems to be suggesting, maybe Beltre really isn't doing as poorly as it seems. I really don't know, but since you seemed upset with Adam with not providing evidence, I thought I would mention what I found.

Posted by Frejus

11:38 AM, Aug 15, 2008

Who is running this team? This is clear evidence that this currenty Mariner GM should have his name of interim changed to former GM. Not to mention the president of the team. I would really like to know what deal was offered that wasn't good enough to dump Washburn's salary. Someone from the front office has to step in and say, get rid of these guys. I can see maybe holding on to Ibanez if need be. They need someone with major league experience next year, who can drive in runs. But Washburn should be gone!

Posted by Adam

11:41 AM, Aug 15, 2008

In 2005, Beltre hit .263/.312/..382 at Safeco versus .248/.295/.440 on the road.

Conclusion: stats don't back up Adam's claim Safeco hurts Beltre.


I'm a bit confused as to why you'd put those two sentences back to back. Beltre had a better year away from Safeco in 2005. But why stop there?

2008 - .649 OPS in Safeco; .828 OPS away from Safeco
2007 - .745 OPS in Safeco; .858 OPS away from Safeco
2006 - .778 OPS in Safeco; .805 OPS away from Safeco


Conclusion: the stats say Safeco hurts Beltre.

Further, Sexson's career stats away from Safeco are better than at Safeco. Same with Kenji and Lopez.

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

11:41 AM, Aug 15, 2008

"Anyhow, Washburn, in theory, should prove no worse than a No. 3 starter for the Twins of he keeps doing what he's been doing and has a better defense behind him."

Yeah, and Vidro would be a good hitter if he only hits more doubles. I don't want to revisit my disagreement with your claims about Vidro, Geoff, but sometimes it's important to realize that some players are what they appear. Vidro was a washed-up, no speed, empty batting average guy last year who had no business being the DH of a little league team, let alone the Mariners. We couldn't will him to be more, and it turned out he was worse than even I thought he'd be.

Washburn, too, is a streaky #5 starter who, just like last year, is going to go through phases of effectiveness mixed in with stretches of getting shelled. That's what he does. What evidence do you have that he's improved to an effective #3 starter in his thirties? He's nobody's #3 starter, but if he's playing well now, let's sell high!

But I don't understand your post. Instead of explaining to the "ignorant masses" why the Twins should want Washburn -really who cares, I wouldn't ask "why me" if I won the lottery - AND wanted to give us something like a very cheap rotation part in Bonser (hell a bag of balls is a steal if they take Wash's salary), you need to be trying to explain why the M's front office made one of the most bone-headed moves we've seen in a long time. I feel you should be focusing on why we have -twice now - let free money walk out the door.

Keep knocking on Lee/Chuck/Howard's doors until they tell us why they let salary relief for a pitcher who is not going to be important to this team in any plan escape our easy grasp. Ask them why the burned our $10mill lottery ticket!

Posted by fred

11:42 AM, Aug 15, 2008

Geoff: You are extremely generous to the Ms. Washburn should have been traded before July 31 or, failing that, yesterday for anyone willing to take his salary and throw in a used catcher's glove.
The Mariners need to clear space for a younger starter next year. The saved millions could have been used over the winter for better purpose than salary for a bottom-of-rotation, fading Washburn.

Ibanez, too, should have been traded before July 31 or yesterday. The two draft choices the Mariners stand to receive, next June, because Ibanez goes elswhere, are problematic. A low percentage of draft choices make it. Even if the Ms strike it lucky, one or both of those choices typically will not be major-league-ready for three or four years.

This whole exercise underscores why the Gang of Three--Lincoln, Armstrong, Pelakoudas---should be gone ASAP. If new ownership does not takeover the team, the present Board members should take their case to Japanese ownership directly and demand Lincoln et. al. be gone.

Trouble is, Lincoln, Armstrong, Pelakoudas play donkey baseball. These should be put on non-recallable waivers and put out for claim. No one would claim them.

Posted by Patrick

11:45 AM, Aug 15, 2008

Full Disclosure: Die hard Twins fan living in Seattle, but I like the M's.

"We can either keep scratching our heads every summer and proclaiming every GM an idiot when he makes what looks to be a lopsided deal for some late-inning relief, or we can try to understand the mindset. "

I haven't proclaimed anyone an idiot because they made what looks to be a lopsided deal for a reliever. I've called the M's front office idiots because they've asked for one of the Twins' young starters. That's absurd. ABSURD. This might be stepping on toes and I could be breaching some blog ettiquete here, but this is from my guy Joe Christensen's blog at the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

"Oh no. I have indications the Mariners insisted on getting one of the Twins’ current starting pitchers. Yeah, like Nick Blackburn or Kevin Slowey. That, friends, is sheer lunacy.

Throughout baseball, there is a growing frustration with the Mariners. Teams that deal with them aren’t really sure who’s in charge. Interim GM Lee Pelekoudas is a good baseball man, but it’s not always his say. Apparently, there is great fear in the ownership ranks about the losses mounting and any appearance that the M’s are starting a fire sale.

Teams have tried telling the Mariners that Washburn’s value isn’t exactly on the rise. He’s the type of player who gets moved in July or August, only because other teams are desperate. Come November, the Yankees, Twins and White Sox will have a whole slew of choices on the free agent market.

Maybe the Mariners think they can get someone at least as good as Bonser if they wait until the winter to trade Washburn. No chance."

It sums up the situation pretty nicely. I don't understand how the M's don't understand a salary dump is a win-win situation and I don't understand how anyone could defend their obstinancy.

Posted by Alaskan

11:46 AM, Aug 15, 2008

Also re: Beltre

His avg is about 20 points below the last two years (about .270, now .250). That's about 9 hits over the season. So unless you've always thought he's a bad hitter, I wouldn't call this year a disaster by any stretch. Keep in mind that his OPS+ (park-adjusted by baseball-reference.com) is 98. So he's only slightly below average this year, by that measure.

I think perhaps we're focusing on the negative too much. I don't know.

Posted by Capo

11:47 AM, Aug 15, 2008

Minnesota just threw McLovin a bone, and he rammed it right up his ass.........seriously.

If the M's have any fans left after this season, it will be a miracle.....there is simply no excuse at all for the decisions being made by the idiots in charge

Posted by Adam=wrong!!

11:51 AM, Aug 15, 2008

beltre sucks and adam defends him just to argue with people. Baseball tonight, espn.com, sportsline.com and joe morgan all agree he is a huge bust and not worth the a-rod numbers he is paid!!

Posted by ChicoV

11:54 AM, Aug 15, 2008

I'll have to side with Adam on this one. How many chances do you need to unload a guy you NEED to unload. I don't buy the 'we don't need to save money' argument, every penny saved should be rolled into next years team.

This year is OVER you FO idiots!

Posted by NB

11:55 AM, Aug 15, 2008

1) The Twins attempted to out-stupid the Mariners but the M's would have none of it.

2) The Beltre hate is hilarious. He is almost literally the litmus test for whether someone's baseball opinion is worth listening to.

3) To Adam:

If you really are a Lord may I humbly submit my request to be your VP of Common Sense?

Posted by Adam

11:55 AM, Aug 15, 2008

Thanks Alaskan, I think I've read that a while ago.

In any event, there's some evidence that Safeco has the worst ballpark factor to LF and LCF, combined (since RFK is no longer in use).

Posted by Alaskan

11:57 AM, Aug 15, 2008

Adam=wrong,

A couple of points:

Joe Morgan is not smart about baseball. He was a great player, but he is a very poor analyst.

ARod makes 28 million. Beltre makes 13.4 million.

Posted by kaseyswagger

12:01 PM, Aug 15, 2008

Um Geoff Giving up Clement or Wlad for Reyes or Dotel would have been flat out dumb I dont care who you are or what your team needs you dont trade your top prospects for old rental relievers.And Theo Epstein does look bad I mean Gagne sucked and then was gone and now there is a guy named David Murphy who is leading all rookies in RBI and looks like a great player who could of filled there Manny gap but instead the Redsox end up giving away even more talent just to get Bay.

I dont how you can go from these guys are rookies give them time to adjust to who cares if we give them away for nothing they arent performing now.Plus the RedSox farm is stacked the M's is garbage we need to keep all the prospects we can get.

Posted by Sounders

12:04 PM, Aug 15, 2008

The Twins were just playing games with us, hopingto sucker the good ole M's again. I'm only guessing, but I would bet they don't have very many players making 10 mil per. They were only gonna take Wash if we paid most of his salary. Pele-puke-ass asked for someone in return. They said no. They're not fools. The Mariner FO are fools.

And they've screwed themselves into a hole that it'll take years to get out of. I,for one, do not have confidence in anyone Howie or Chuckie pick to rebuild. But they'll probably go with Lee,or some other fourth rate GM.

They need to go. Now!!!

I'll be watching. If by two weeks after the season's done they aren't all gone and a competent GM installed we can rest assured that Mariner Mediocrity will be all we have to look forward to. Hwhaaugh!!!

Posted by joebbaseball

12:05 PM, Aug 15, 2008

In other news, Sexson just got released, again. Rumors are, seattle is interested.

Posted by Esteban

12:07 PM, Aug 15, 2008

So Chris Tillman tops Baseball America’s Prospect Hot Sheet (www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/prospect-hot-sheet/2008/266701.html):

“If the Orioles end their 10-year spiral of consecutive losing seasons (not counting this year), the Erik Bedard trade haul will go a long way toward reviving the franchise. Adam Jones and George Sherrill have helped this year's O's be better than expected, and relief righty Kam Mickolio (already in Triple-A) has shown considerable promise. But Tillman may prove to be the biggest piece.

He struck out seven in six shutout innings against Trenton in his latest start, has 28 K's (and just three walks) in 18 August innings, and is climbing the leaderboards for the entire minors despite his age and inexperience. His 9.94 strikeouts per nine innings ranks eighth among full-season pitchers; his 3.49 ERA ranks third in the Eastern League, and his 131 K's ranks third. His improved walk numbers might be the most important piece, as with 57 he's tied for third in the EL but showing clear progress.”

'Erik Bedard haul.' (sigh)

Geoff, can you please go over again why you thought this trade made ANY sense? I just can’t seem to remember… And anybody seen Bedard lately?

Really, though, this is great for Tillman and Butler, as their future success (for Tillman ‘domination’ might be more accurate verbage) is largely predicated on their development (as opposed to their ‘being challenged’) at the minor league level. They will no doubt flourish in a real organization – kudos to MacPhail.

Posted by The Ultimate Optimist

12:14 PM, Aug 15, 2008

I am one of the ones on here yesterday doing a lot of assuming that the Twins were blocking the White Sox from getting Washburn - that they weren't interested in him at all. Now, I'll be the first to say that Geoff is far more knowledgeable on baseball and the inner workings of a front office than I and obviously has contacts within the league, I don't. But I do have this questions about the Twins move:


If they are really and truly interested in moving one of their young guys to the 8th inning and replacing him in the starting rotation with an innings eating decent pitcher, why did they release Livan Hernandez? He is doing nearly as good a job this year as Washburn. He is eating innings like crazy. He's far cheaper than Washburn. Seems to me that they could have done this kind of move in house rather than try to get Washburn and pay his bloated salary and lose a prospect as well. It's a weird move by the Twins. Seems so much more likely that they were mostly blocking the White Sox, who are a game behind and need SP's.

Posted by scottM

12:14 PM, Aug 15, 2008

WEEKEND PREDICTION:
The M's will trade Washburn to the Twins during this series and after good face-to-face negotiations either get a decent prospect not on the 40-man roster and a salary dump, or will pay part of Washburn's salary to get major-league ready player on the Twins 40-man roster in a two-be-named-later gentlemen's agreement.

Pelekoudas meant what he said that the M's are not in a salary dump mode now. There won't be a fire sale.

Posted by Esteban

12:18 PM, Aug 15, 2008

I meant to say ‘Erik Bedard TRADE haul’.

Follow-up question: Can anybody name any recent trades that they feel have been more one-sided than the Bedard – ‘ton of talent, both present and future’ debacle? I can’t.

And for Geoff: any truth to the rumor that wiji boards and rancid bongs outnumber PCs in the M’’s offices?

Posted by Patrick

12:22 PM, Aug 15, 2008

"If they are really and truly interested in moving one of their young guys to the 8th inning and replacing him in the starting rotation with an innings eating decent pitcher, why did they release Livan Hernandez?"

Because Livan Hernandez is either last or second to last in almost every major pitching stat. No exaggeration, he's the worst starting pitcher in the league. He was allowing baserunners per inning at an historic rate. Don't let his W/L record fool you. He was awful for the Twins.

Posted by doug

12:24 PM, Aug 15, 2008

Livan had wins. Joe morgan will back me up.

Posted by Tek Jansen

12:35 PM, Aug 15, 2008

"But in truth, the moment Bill Bavasi failed to deal for another eighth inning guy, the 2007 season was over. "

That is incorrect, unless you can show how Reyes or Dotel would have helped the M's win enough games to make the playoffs. Did you really think that assertion through? How would Reyes or Dotel alone save a gassed bullpen and propelled the team into the playoffs? I am glad Bavasi is gone, but I am also glad he didn't deal anyone for Al Reyes.

Posted by Balentienforcer

12:37 PM, Aug 15, 2008

Always good to read sportswiters for other markets, only to realize that we are quickly becoming the biggest joke in sports. Other teams don't know who's running the show, Lee P has to ask Chuck and Howie's permission to do anything, bonehead non-moves, waiting too long to make any moves, etc.

Also almost gratifying to know that factions of Mariner ownership are becoming extremely nervous....hope it leads to a bunch of FO(ols) let go soon, with a shift at the very top.
After reading what I've read from araound the majors today, I'm EXTREMELY EMBARRASED to be an M's fan.

Posted by ChicoV

12:44 PM, Aug 15, 2008

Beltre is awesome, leave him alone! If Kenji gets to keep his money then beltre should be given a raise! The Washburn conversation should not revolve around is he worth it or not, we all know he is good enough to be on just about any ballclub. The argument should be that he has NO future with Seattle and this season is OVER! Give the freakin money to Felix if you just HAVE to spend it. When someone wants to buy your overpriced house you don't argue, you sign!

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

12:45 PM, Aug 15, 2008

Adam=wrong said, "beltre sucks and adam defends him just to argue with people. Baseball tonight, espn.com, sportsline.com and joe morgan all agree he is a huge bust and not worth the a-rod numbers he is paid!!"

Adrian Beltre's defense says hello. Do you actually knowwhat A-Rod get's paid? You should probably do some preliminary research before spouting off with silly claims like this.

Posted by Top pick in 09 draft

12:48 PM, Aug 15, 2008

I saw a recent blurb that because of the huge sales & profits generated by the Nintendo Wii software, Yamauchi is now the richest person in Japan with a net worth of nearly $8 billion. If he does decide to sell the team, it definitely will not be for financial reasons. Somehow, he needs to realize the extent of fan unhappiness with the present M's FO - Lincoln & Armstrong esp. who have run the franchise into the ground performance wise. Yamauchi may decide to keep Lincoln around because the team continues to make $ however getting him to give Armstrong the boot would be a huge victory for M's fans. It doesn't matter who the GM or field manager is so long as you have an interfering bozo like Armstrong hindering progress - not to mention the fact that no real baseball man would want to be a GM with that guy around interfering with baseball-related moves. You would only get another yes-man like Lee P willing to come here.

Posted by bartkofoed

12:53 PM, Aug 15, 2008

Since nobody seems able to wrap their head around what the M’s FO was thinking by not just giving Washburn away for salary relief I’ll give it a shot.

If they believe next year will be part of a rebuilding year, then freeing up salary room for next year isn’t as important as a) freeing up salary for 2010 and b) acquiring prospects. Next year both Adrian and Washburn will be more attractive at the trade deadline because whoever takes them isn’t stuck with a bloated salary for the following year. And, if Bedard can stay healthy he should be an even hotter commodity than those two. So, by next years trading deadline we should have a pretty good read on Wlad, Clement, RRS, Reed and Morrow as well as having at least 3 nice trading chips (if Fields ends up looking like a stud you could potentially throw JJ in as well) to acquire some more young talent.

That’s how I see it, even though I don’t necessarily agree because it looks like a log jam is forming at the back end of our rotation in 09, but I can see where it would be good for 2010.

Posted by Anything Can Happen

1:10 PM, Aug 15, 2008

I think the "irrational hatred" of Washburn on this blog is distorting some logic here. If Washburn were in his final contract year, I suspect more of us would agree that the Twins would be willing to pick him up.

So it really comes down to this: why would the historically penny-pinching Twins be willing to shell out $10 million for Washburn next year? If they think Washburn will help them in the playoffs, it might be worth the $10 million. And don't forget that not only did the Twins decrease their payroll this year, they also will open their new park in 2010, and attendance is likely to increase next year already with fans getting in queue for season tickets at the new park (I have friends who started this year already), allowing a bit more room for a potential $10 million mistake.

What does Washburn offer the Twins? I've alluded before to his numbers in AL central parks, but I suspect few have bothered to look:
Lifetime ERA, WHIP and BAA:
Metrodome: 2.76, 1.05 and .219
Kauffman: 2.34, 1.09 and .231
Progressive: 3.84, 1.06 and .210
US Cellular: 3.92, 1.11 and .224
Comerica 6.21, 1.43 and .284 (yeah, it's ugly)

Plus decent numbers if they end up facing AL East:
Tropicana 1.89, 1.18 and .233
Yankee Stad. 2.82, 1.25 and .267
Fenway 3.60, 1.37 and .250

Yes, I know the sabermetricians will fault some of these metrics, but they certainly suggest that compared to his overall lifetime averages of 4.11, 1.31, and .261, Washburn pitches comparatively well in these parks. I don't have the time for fantasy baseball or mastering sabermetrics, but those of you who do can perhaps share your assessments of how well Washburn pitches in these parks and why the Twins might just be willing to gamble on him (rather than simply calling them--or Geoff--stupid).

For me, the real question is why the Ms would hold up this deal for another starting pitcher which they don't much seem to need at this point, unless perhaps as trade bait.

Posted by dr

1:11 PM, Aug 15, 2008

Geoff - Actually, in 1997, the Ms DID make just the kind of player move you advocated last year - they traded Lowe and Varitek to Boston for Heathcliff Slocum, a "closer." That year, the Ms had enough horsepower to make it to the post-season IF they could acquire even a mediocre closer....which is pretty much what they ended up getting. They bit the bullet, the Ms made the playoffs but lost to the Os. Today, few remember much about that 1997 playoff (I do because my wife and I had tickets) but a lot of Ms' fans still regret giving up two All-Star players for a guy named Heathcliff. Was it worth it? Probably, but that's without any benefit of hindsight. The Ms did get to the playoffs and people were totally psyched about it at the time.

Last year, the Ms weren't close. They were not a mediocre 8th-inning guy away from making the playoffs. The offense was as maddingly inconsistent then as now....and lest we forget, we had HoRam and Dream Weaver, too boot. I really don't think the season was "lost" because we didn't have Octel or Reyes (even if Octel had stayed healthy). Neither guy was the finishing piece to a playoff puzzle.

Sometimes, there is a difference between "biting" the bullet and TAKING a bullet.

Posted by RustyJohn

1:15 PM, Aug 15, 2008

If you think the M's missed the playoffs last year because they didn't have an 8th inning guy, you are smoking crack.

Posted by Tek Jansen

1:21 PM, Aug 15, 2008

Maybe Geoff meant to write that the 2007 was basically over when the M's trade Soriano for HoRam. At least that assertion would be easier to defend.

Posted by Norwester

1:24 PM, Aug 15, 2008

Makes sense to me, Geoff. Good post, even if the Washburn-haters rip you for it.

Posted by scottM

1:41 PM, Aug 15, 2008

Bartkofoed 12:53

excellent post.

I would add that the M's ARE seriously trying to move Washburn right now. What would be helpful to know is whether their stated preference "not just to dump salary" also extends to a willingness to pay part of Washburn's salary if the right player/s can be packaged coming back this way.

What I don't understand is why so many people in here who lambast Bavasi for giving players away, have no respect for Pelekoudas for trying to get player value in return for Washburn.

Posted by MC Nuggit

1:46 PM, Aug 15, 2008

GB, seems like Washtub's freakish success in domed stadiums is part of the picture here. The dude has been unhittable indoors, and the Twinkies know that better than anyone. Picking him up just to pitch in home games would ensure some good innings for him and them.

Posted by Esteban

1:55 PM, Aug 15, 2008

Joe Christiansen, from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune:

“Throughout baseball, there is a growing frustration with the Mariners. Teams that deal with them aren’t really sure who’s in charge.”

Looks like the M’s are kind of the North Korea of MLB. Poorly run AND enigmatic.

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

2:19 PM, Aug 15, 2008

ScottM said, "What I don't understand is why so many people in here who lambast Bavasi for giving players away, have no respect for Pelekoudas for trying to get player value in return for Washburn."

It might be because they've done some actual analysis and determined that Bavasi gave away decent talent for nothing or less than comparable return (or in the case of guys like H. Ramirez, worse than that - a black hole in the rotation). What Lee is trying to do is get much more than Washburn is worth because for a limited stretch he's looked better than he really is. It's not that hard to understand, really.

Both errors of judgment highlight the same problem - inability to evaluate talent.

Posted by Top pick in 09 draft

2:23 PM, Aug 15, 2008

ScottM: Speaking for myself, I associate Lee P. too closely with the Lincoln/Armstrong duo and I don't see a lot of hope for the future with those two calling the shots. Lee P. has been a 29-year employee and most of those years, he has been working under Armstrong who is being exposed more and more as a complete bozo who has no business being club president - i.e. in charge of a MLB team's baseball operations -

Posted by pbk13

2:24 PM, Aug 15, 2008

Getting Dontrelle Willis would not have been a shrewd move. The Mariners, contrary to your opinion, was not going to make the playoffs last year, and certainly not this year.

But that's life in Delusion Central, also known as Geoff Baker's blog.

By the way, did anyone notice how Chris Tillman is tearing it up in AA?

Hey now THAT was a great trade, idiots.

Posted by twinsfan

2:28 PM, Aug 15, 2008

Anyhow, Washburn, in theory, should prove no worse than a No. 3 starter for the Twins of he keeps doing what he's been doing and has a better defense behind him.

His numbers suggest otherwise. He's a #5 on the Mariners and would be a #5 on the Twins, that is if the Twins didn't already have 6 better options on the major league roster already. In reality, not theory, he would prove to be no better than the team's 7th best starter.

Thankfully the Mariners "brain trust" outsmarted the Twins.

Posted by WeNeedChange

2:56 PM, Aug 15, 2008

What really happened-

-ring, ring-
Chuckie- 'Hello.'
Lee P.- Hey, sir, this is Lee.'
Chuckie- 'Who?'
Lee P. 'Uh, the interim GM, sir.'
Chuckie- 'Oh, yes, yes, I remember now. You look like that McLovin' character from that movie.'
Lee P. 'Uh, yes, sir I just wanted to report that the Twins have offered to take Washburn's salary for nothing.'
Chuckie- 'Fine, fine. Who do we get?'
Lee P. 'Uh, well, we could get one of their lower-tier prospects.'
Chuckie- 'That's an outrage. Washburn's a grizzly veteran. Try and get a Blackburn.'
Lee P.- 'They already said no...'
Chuckie- 'Then no deal. I'm a business baseball man, LeeLee. If you trade a player away, then you need to get a player back. It's simple math, my boy. Otherwise we would have a hole in the roster.'
Lee P.- 'But, sir, I really think we should...'
Chuckie- 'No deal. Ha, you have a lot to learn in this business, my boy. And oh Lee...'
Lee P.- 'Yes, sir...'
Chuckie- 'Howard and myself need to have our backs oiled again. So, bring your little magical hands on up here. And bring the scented oil this time.'
Lee P.-sigh- 'Yes, sir.'

Posted by flightrisk

3:50 PM, Aug 15, 2008

No need to defend the Twins side of this, really. The point is to make the playoffs. Why the M's didn't bite, though, that's the puzzle -- when the other team is thinking short-term, you can take long-term advantage.

Posted by boofM

6:41 PM, Aug 15, 2008

If scottM is really Brett J Miller (or is that Brent J Miller), then who is Brett J Miller (or is that Brent J Miller)?

Posted by boofM

6:51 PM, Aug 15, 2008

Does Brett or Brent equal CS?

Posted by boofM

6:56 PM, Aug 15, 2008

scottm = Boone Brothers

Recent entries

Aug 15, 08 - 05:12 PM
Thoughts from Pelekoudas

Aug 15, 08 - 04:46 PM
Game thread, Aug. 15, Mariners vs. Twins

Aug 15, 08 - 04:37 PM
Bonser rumor shot down

Aug 15, 08 - 02:35 PM
Washburn: "I'm disappointed"

Aug 15, 08 - 10:41 AM
Why Twins wanted Washburn

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