Add a Bat and Keep Washburn

=== The Bakery ===

Geoff axs, are the M's lucky to be contending, or not?

They are not, no.

The Mariners have great pitching and a terrible offense:  they are a .500 team.  Baseball Prospectus W2/L2 stat is based on EQR and EQRA -- expected runs based on bases gained and bases lost -- crossed with the Pythagenport Theorem that gives expected wins based on runs gained and lost.

W2/L2 has the Mariners at 34-34. 


The Mariners' "luck," if you will, consists of the broader fact that they play in a division with no powerful team.  Are you "lucky" to be in the National League or American League?  Fine.  

But are the Mariners "lucky" to be close to the Angels and Rangers ... meaning that we should expect them to fall behind at any time?  No.

The Rangers have terrible pitching, and their actual record of 37-31 is lucky.  They should be 34-33.  Like the Mariners, they're a mediocre team with (relatively) extreme strengths and extreme weaknesses.

The Angels have been, and will remain, chop-blocked by injuries and by an offense that never had a lot of talent in the first place.  (Last year's Angels had an OPS+ of 94.)   The Angels know how to win, and they execute beautifully, but their offense was always questionable and now their rotation is not healthy enough to make it up.  

The Angels' W2/L2 is only 34-34.


So the Mariners, Rangers, and Angels have been three mirror-image .500 teams.  A bounce here, a bounce there, and one team is ahead or behind a few games.  That's all.

Each team has extreme weaknesses and that means it is easy for each team to improve.  The Rangers could import pitching -- or get it out of their hotshot minors system; the Mariners could add an Adam Dunn type.  The Angels might have a harder time improving, because their rotation is set.  Lackey and/or Santana will pitch better, but Matt Palmer will cancel that out by falling off the table.


Larry Stone has an article in which Capt Jack hedges about whether it's realistic to contend.  Why would it not be?  The Mariners are, as they stand, as good as Texas and LAA.   Why wouldn't they add to their pathetic offense and push for the 2009 pennant?

Why are you playing, if you're going to get to July and find you're as good as anybody, and then not try to win?


=== Acquiring a Bat ===

Ergo, dealing prospects for an ML hitter is ... .it's simply what you do when you're in the thick of a pennant fight.  As Beane put it, "you play two months to see what you have, and then you play two months while trying to get what you need, and then you play two months with the team you want."

Dealing quality talent out of the minors, for a MOTO hitter *even if a rental*, is a no-brainer.  QED.

Capt Jack talks about feeding off Junior's big HR -- guys come in the next day "proud to wear the uniform."  According to that logic much does the 2010 squad feed off of a 2009 playoff appearance?   Or even a last-two-weeks fight for first place?


=== Trading Washburn ===

But here's where it gets tougher.   In May, dealing Washburn seemed like a no-brainer itself.  If there is ever a guy you wanted to sell high, this was the definition of it.

There is no way in the world that Washburn is as good as he looks right now -- and he's gone after this season.  In the "big picture" that Zduriencik talks about, he's absolutely forced to cash Washburn in.

But what kind of hit are you going to take in the #5 rotation slot?  This is the photo-negative of the previous question.  

If and only if you think you can get (1) a #5 SP rolling -- RRS or Jakabauskas or Olson or Batista or "the field" -- who will pitch ABOUT AS WELL AS WASHBURN WILL GOING FORWARD (4.00 ERA) -- or (2) get super hot prospects for Washburn -- then you trade him.

I don't believe that Washburn will bring mega-prospects, do you?  Would he even bring back more than the draft picks?  So don't set back your pennant drive for a trade package that is no big deal.

Or so it sez here,

Dr D



OBF's picture

Says I :)
Seriously, for what we would have to pay, and what we would lose defensively to import a big bat I would rather just stick with what we have.  Beltre is heating up and has been for the last six weeks, Wlad (I believe) is going to get comfortable and start mashing in LF (and be just about as good as Endy defensivly, a little less range a little more arm), Branyan and Ichiro will keep steaming along with great D and great O.  Hopefully Jose comes back and picks up where he left off (an average 2b with an .850 OPS bat!).  I think we can cobble together an SS between a reinvigorated Yubet and the solid veteren Woodward.  F-Gutz is already an above average player with room for a little growth in his bat.  Griff will continue to DH.  The only place we could really upgrade would be for a stud SS, but there are so few around that I don't think we could reasonably find one for sell and then find the spects to pay for him.
I think that with the players we currently have we can contend for the AL West crown AND be built for short playoff series' (Felix, Bedard, Washburn and Morrow OH MY!)
The offense right now is pretty bad, but not nearly as bad as it was in April and May, it has steadily gotten better:
April OPS - .683
May OPS - .709
June OPS - .734
In June we are actually middle of the pack in the AL (8th( with our great pitching that should be enough to contend.

Taro's picture

Agreed Doc. With Griffey heating up though, I'm wondering if the solution is LF instead of DH.
I keep coming back to Gabe Gross.
Obviously my suggestion of trading for Gabe Gross and Ben Zobrist early in the season is impossible now with the season Zobrist is having.
Still Gross should be attainable despite his bat waking up. Hes STILL blocking Matt Joyce in AAA.
Not a sexy addition but a guy that gives you excellent defense in a corner, a good arm, and an underrated bat against GB+neutral RH bats. He won't cost much and still fits a huge need.


I'm not sure how much Gross helps at this point, Taro...Wlad has been looking a bit better at the plate the last few games...I'd like to give him time to see if playing every day helps him the way it helped Branyan.

Taro's picture

I think Gross is a HUGE upgrade both defensively and offensively over Wlad against GB+neutral RH pitchers.
It would be a nice platoon, and might give Wlad a chance to break in against favorable matchups.
Heck, if Wlad doesn't show improvement before the deadline, I wouldn't be opposed to benching him full-time for Gross. Gross is mashing LHs this year (in an admittedly super small sample), maybe hes a guy like Branyan that just needs an opportunity. 
Go get Gross. Go get Gross. :-)
Seriously what the downside? He turns into Nick Swisher with an even better glove and arm?


The downside would be his hitting for a 96 OPS+ like he's done for his whole career.  Which would be significantly worse than Swisher.

Taro's picture

The downside is a 100 OPS+ fulltime hitter(hes not the same rookie hitter as in '04/05) with tremendous defense in a corner IMO. Of course hes going to be better than that platooned. Hes a good fit for the Ms if they're not looking to sell the farm.
I think he has upside too with the bat. After showing roughly .190 IsoP in the NL, his IsoP was down a little in his first season in the AL. The second half in Tampa was significantly better and hes been productive this year after a slow start in April.
His wOBA THIS year is .365. Thats pretty dang good for a guy that everyone seems to think is useless. That would make him the 3rd best hitter on the team IMMEDIATELY (by a comfortable margin). Its not like he brings a lead glove either. Hes tremendous defensively with a good arm.
I think the upside is a .265/.370./.460 type hitter. This is if his power reaches the level it was back in the NL. Even if it doesn't hes roughly a .250/.350/.420 hitter. Which is still 3rd best on the team.
Gross gives you a LH bat with good OBP, averagish power, great D in a corner, with a good arm. Stylistically he also mashes the type of pitchers that the Ms struggles against most (that being groundball pitchers and RH pitchers). I think this guy is really underrated and a great target if you're not looking to give up premium prospects.

Sandy - Raleigh's picture

Doc asks a fair question -- if you appear to be right in the thick of a pennant race on July 1st, if you don't try to win then, when do you try?
Ultimately, the answer is simple in conception - and massively complex in reality.  You make that move when the COST for that move is not excessive.  The decision of going for it or not is not just about the odds of winning this year -- it is also about the costs and lowered odds of winning in the future.  What are they?
What if the question is phrased this way?  Is it worth it to improve the chance of winning the division this season by 5% -- if the odds of winning 60 games a year for the next 4 years rises by 10%?  I would say everyone who stood up and said - "Yes, the Bedard trade is a good idea, even with the risk," was agreeing to the concept that if the move fails, then I am willing to accept miserable performance for the team for some number of years hereafter.
But I haven't heard anyone stand up and say -- "Well, we went for it in 2008, and failed.  But, it's worth it to me to be an also-ran for the next 6 years, because we were willing to go for it, when it APPEARED that we had the chance."  No, the masses are standing up and once again champing at the bit to "go for it" all over again -- and hand waving away the costs associated with doing so.
You want a big bat.  Bedard can bring a big bat.  (but that doesn't exactly improve the shot at the brass ring, does it?).
When can you make those go for it moves?  *AFTER* you have built an infrastructure of development and depth on your farm that the trading away of prospects is not crippling.  Atlanta was castigated a couple of years ago for trading away Andy Marte - a drool over prospect on nearly everyone's list.  Atlanta didn't act out of desperation -- they acted knowing what else they had on the farm.  Escobar, Prado, Diory Hernandez, etc. 
Z's problems with this decision are exponentially more complex than just to try or not.  The question starts getting hard at "try with WHAT?"  Fans might not be too upset if Clement were dealt at this point -- but a failed audition as a hitter and unable to field ANY position drives his current trade value way down. 
Halman is the #1 prospect for the Ms at this moment, (and having a dreadful season).  Gee, another wonderful sell-low candidate.
You know who the Ms could move to get a big bat?  Someone who really has NOT been critical to their success in 2009?  Brandon Morrow.  There are plenty of teams out there that have reason to believe they can deal with him better than the Ms have.  Of course, once again, we're not talking someone whose trade value is peaking, are we?
Whatever decision is made -- the 4000 pound gorilla is this -- what is the 2010 roster (and beyond) going to look like?  At this point - the only certainties are:
CA - Kenji; 1B-Carp; 2B-Lopez; 3B-????; SS-YuBet; LF-Wlad; CF-FGut; RF; Ichiro; DH-???
SP - Felix; Silva; Vargas; Olson; RRS
The difficulty in figuring out a "go for it" trade are TRIVIAL compared to the complexities involved in attempting to build a winning organization.  Honestly, the optimal way I see for the club to potentially go for it, without severely hurting the future is probably to deal Morrow.  His market value is probably still extremely high -- and he hasn't been integral to the success in 2009.  And, maybe just maybe, Z can swing a Putz-like deal the includes some immediate help AND some future potential as well.

Taro's picture

You could just go get Gabe Gross if you don't want to give away any meaningful prospects.
I'm not opposed to getting an impact player either though since the McLouth deal established this as another extreme buyer's market.
Man I'm probably driving people crazy with Gross talk, but I can't see the downside there..


...but both myself and Dr. D here have been on record saying we still think the Bedard deal was a good try at winning in 2008 and 2009 and that we don't regret having made that deal.
I do not, however, believe the odds of sucking in 2010 will go up all that much if we make a move for a bat this July.


That might be the farthest I've ever seen a right handed hitter crank a ball to left at Safeco...Wlad definitely has that light-tower power...LOL  You absolutely certain Gross is an upgrade, Taro?

Taro's picture

The Padres are throwing some AAA starters out there. If its me I'd want the deal done BEFORE this next 9 game stretch.
660 OPS with mediocre D. I wouldn't mind platooning him with Gross early on, but he has to start hitting. If not hes relegated to the #4 outfielder role and he can get occasional starts.
Gross's OBP ALONE is nearly 100 points higher, and hes FAR better defensively. I don't see how Wlad fits in the OF long-term and hes just not a good solution in the short term.


It seems like Ichiro hits a disproportionate number of his home runs leading off ball games.  yesterday was the 29th time he's done that in his career...and let's not forget, Ichiro has a grand total of 79 home runs in the big leagues. :)
After that, LeBlanc almost got out of the jam until Rob Johnson got a much needed 2-out clutch double.  Maybe he'll get a little hotter with the bat and his spot won't be such a miserable black hole on offense.  We're also about to get Johjima back (eeeeeep) the better Johnson hits, the better it is for the team because the more playing time he gets down the road.


He should be getting 22% of his HR's in the first AB, but actually has what, 38%?
Would be interesting to know why.  Am sure it's not an accident.  Maybe later in the games he's always trying to make sure he gets a multi-hit game?

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