Without Bedard and Washburn? -11 games back

An interesting debate now runs ...

(1) this ballclub's record is actually worse in Bedard and Washburn starts than in other games, so (2) if you want to contend, don't you fret yourself about shedding Bedard and Washburn.  Not even if it's for minor-league "thickener."

It's 1975 calling.  They want their almanacs back.  Hey, Freddy Norman went 4-12 for us; let's ship him to the Reds...

Bedard (5-2) and Washburn (6-6) have modest records because they've battled low-scoring games to a draw.  They've gone .500 in the games we've scored 2 runs, leaving the other guys free to win when we score more.  (Yes, I know.)


Still, I'll play.  Let's go alternate reality.

Let's forget abstractions for a second, and look at the ACTUAL 2009 baseball games that Bedard and Washburn pitched.  And what would have happened in those real games, with .... average ... or lousy ... starting pitchers going.

It's one thing to say that ON AVERAGE, over the course of 1,000 seasons, this many runs would produce that many wins.   What about in this season?  Erik Bedard has pitched 13 times and still hasn't given up more than 3 runs.  What would the Mariners' W/L be in those 13 games if a #5 or #6 or #7 starting pitcher had been going?


=== Let's! Go! To! the Video! Tape! on Bedard ===

First off, let's see how many individual games occurred in which Erik Bedard was the cause of the LOSS, compared to a league-average SP and compared to a #5 SP (who would replace Bedard if he left).

As mentioned, Erik Bedard has started 13 games and he has allowed more than 3 runs in .... drumroll .... NONE of them.

And he allowed 3 earned runs in only TWO of those games!   Yowch.  This replaceable media-fave has given up 0, 1, or 2 runs in 11 out of 13 starts.   Somebody go check Walter Johnson's game logs.

I hope that the lurkers ;- ) will forgo the quibbles if we conclude that Erik Bedard has caused the loss of ZERO games in 2009.

Possibly Ryan-Rowland Smith would have outpitched Bedard on April 29 and the M's won that game.  But notice below that there are several easy Bedard wins that we're assuming RRS would not have botched.  Those "uncredited" easy Bedard wins more than cancel out any hypothetical RRS no-hitters.


In how many games did Bedard cause a WIN, compared to a league-average SP, and compared to a #5 SP?

1-0 over Oakland, April 12 ... I trust nobody will quibble if we suggest that the Mariners might have lost this game with a Rainier starting.  Bedard pitched into the 9th.

6-1 over Oakland, May 27 ... this was a pitcher's duel tied 1-1 into the 6th inning.  

In the 6th, the Mariners took a 3-1 lead, and with Bedard dealing (77 strikes in 108 pitches) then Oakland went to the back of its bullpen.  In the late innings, the Mariners added on against Russ Springer.

If the Mariners give up a league-average 4.5 runs per game, Oakland goes to its big guns with a late-inning lead.

A probable loss with league-average pitching and a near-certain loss with a poor start.   We'll call it .5 with league-average starting and .7 of a game with a lousy starter, generous since it was a pitcher's duel into the late innings.

4-2 over the Twins, June 7 - with league-average pitching 4.5 runs per game, the M's lose.  With a #5 starter against Mauer, Morneau, Cuddyer etc. it's worse.

Scoring 4 runs, call it .5 of a loss with a league-average starter and .7 with a #5 starter.

5-3 over the Rangers, July 12 -- the M's went into the 7th inning tied 3-3 against the smokin'-hot Rangers, and scrounged a couple of soft runs late.  

The Rangers had scored 58 runs in their previous 8 games (7.25 per game) against the -- Angels and Rays.  With league-average pitching they had at least a 50% chance of losing; with a lousy starter that's another 70% chance of losing that game.


Now, we are assuming that a meatball #5 starter costs the Mariners wins in NONE of the other games, such as April 24 vs LA, when the Mariners were tied with the Angels 1-1 in the 5th but pulled away to win.  But what if a starter gets knocked out early in that game?

We're not crediting Bedard for ANYTHING in the May 10th game, in which the Twins led 2-0 late but the Mariners rallied in the 8th to win.   But if a #5SP gets rocked in that game, the Mariners go on to lose.

We're not crediting Bedard for anything in the June 2 game, in which the M's led 5-1 going into the 8th.  But what if a #5 SP gets knocked out early?  Could they have lost?


Of the 7 games the Mariners have won with Bedard starting, that's -2.5 losses with a league-average SP or -4.1 with a lousy SP going -- and that's assuming that a lousy SP didn't get rocked and blow any of Bedard's other wins.



You can detail this one for yourself.  Here's the game log and here's the exec sum:


LOSSES:  A league-average SP might have (.7) won May 13 at Texas (6-5 Rangers win) and a #5 SP also might have (.5).

A league-average SP might have (.7) won June 12 at Colorado (6-4 Rockies win).  A lousy SP might have (.4).

A league-average SP would have won May 18 vs the Angels (10-6 Angels) and a lousy SP had probably a .8 chance of winning.

Washburn's other losses are littered with 1-0, 2-1, 3-2, 3-1 and 4-2 scores.

Right around -2.4 actual games an average performance figured to have won, -1.7 a lousy pitcher would have won.  Those are games you might have won if somebody other than Washburn had been starting.


WINS:  For sure the Mariners lose April 9 (2-0!) and June 6 (2-1).

With league-average starting pitching, the Mariners probably lose April 21 (4-2 Rays), June 19 (4-3 DBacks) and July 11 (4-1 vs. hot Rangers).  A lousy SP does lose those games.

We'll give absolutely no credit to Washburn for his other 3 wins, though if an RRS gets blasted in the first or second, the complexion of those games change.

+4.1 wins vs an average SP, close to +5 that a AAA pitcher would have lost.

Net -1.7 vs. an average SP, -3.0 or more as compared to game outcomes if a lousy SP had been going.


=== Dr's Diagnosis Dept. ===

Replace Bedard's and Washburn's sterling performances with those of typical #5 SP's and the Mariners go 8-22 in those low-scoring games, as opposed to the 15-15 they have actually gone.

Even if the M's get solid, league-average starting pitching out of their #6 and #7 starters -- no easy feat -- they go no better than 11-19 in those games.  And they're 8 games back right now.

If Washburn's 2-0, 2-1, 4-3, and 4-1 victories don't occur, and if Bedard's 1-0, 4-2, 5-3, and 5-3 victories don't occur, the M's are scrapping their season right now.


=== Dr's Prognosis Dept. ===

Forget all of the above.  Assume you don't buy any of the math (and we grant it's not dogmatically calculable).   Suppose you think that with #5 starters going for Bedard and Washburn, the M's are only -7 or -8 GB, rather than -4.

-8 back at the ASB, folks are still demanding that the Mariners quit.  Right?


Whatever your own math is:  it's real simple, Sherlock.  :- )   This isn't an offense that is going to win in July and August with #5 starting pitchers on the mound.  

The score is 2-2 every night going into the late innings and there has been zero margin for error.  Start getting your #5 SP's hit and this season is over real fast.  

Starting pitching is the Falklands of pennant wars.  As Bill James memorably put it, baseball history was Drysdale against Marichal, Gullett vs Messersmith, Clemens vs Stewart, Zito against Mussina.  It wasn't Kelley against Oliver.  

You want to base your ballclub on defense, and accept a mediocre offense, you'd better have the aces to back it up.   Pitching-and-defense was fine for the 1965 Dodgers, but they didn't trade Koufax and Drysdale for prospects because starters didn't matter much.


NONE of this article even TOUCHES on the concept of ballclub chemistry or confidence.  We haven't even broached the idea that a ballclub with Felix Hernandez, Erik Bedard and Jarrod Washburn believes it can win, and a ballclub with four PCL starters is ashamed to look the Big Dogs in the eye.

You can trade Bedard and Washburn if you want, but you could get more for Felix, probably.


Dr D



Taro's picture

Its kinda crazy how polar oppposite USSM and DOV are. Dave's worst analysis comes when he overfocuses on the negatives and loses sight of the overwhelming positives (Lincecum, Bedard/Washburn, Lester/Papelbon, etc.) and Doc I think your worst reccomendations have come when overfocusing on the postives and losing sight of risk/negatives (Zito, Schmidt, Millwood, pretty much expensive FA pitching).
My guess is that Dave hated the Bedard deal and hated Washburn's contract so hes subconciously biased against them. Heck, I can't really blame him since I'm no Washburn fan. I will say this. You trade Bedard AND Washburn for JJ Hardy and your season is OVER. Just Forget it.
I think one of the reasons Dave is missing this is because of an overfocus on WAR. Bedard and Washburn have both been worth roughly 4 WAR combined so far and Dave is probably figuring for another 2 WAR from Hardy for a half a season with 2 WAR combined from Vargas/Olson/RRS..so no loss right?
It just doesn't work like that. Bedard and Washburn are LH starters in Safeco with the best OF defense in the league. Neutralizing LHBs and pitching to contact while limiting Hr/FB% in THIS park with THIS defense is going to create an even bigger advantage for Bedard/Washburn than a neutral RH pitcher would receive. Washburn's CAREER HR/FB% is 8.6%. This year its 8.0%. He kills the LHBs that normally do well in Safeco and keeps the RHBs in the park DESPITE high FB rates. Bedard also KILLS LHBs and limits HRs. His career HR/FB% is 8.8%, his CAREER HR/9 is 0.82. Not only are Bedard and Washburn TOR starters this year, but they are GREAT fits for your park and defense. WAR also assumes Bedard misses more time, and if were going to compete this year, we NEED a healthy Bedard down the stretch.
In reality a healthy Bedard (which we're going to need if we intend on competing)+Washburn are likely worth closer to 9-12 Wins over a full season to the Ms. Yes Washburn's FIP is 3.88 and thats boosted by Safeco, BUT stylistically neutralizing LHBs (with the added sinker) and throwing strikes to RHBS (while keeping them in the park) is going to serve him VERY well in Safeco behind this defense. If he keeps this up hes going to run a sub 3 ERA all year long. YES, the D helps him and the park helps him as well, but again, he has the toolset to uniquely take advantage of this. Its kinda like having a Manny Ramirez in Fenway..
The same is true of Bedard but to a larger extent. The guy is capable of running a sub 3 ERA for the rest of the year if he can continue pitching at a '06/'07 level. If he stays healthy he has a real good chance of making a Felix-like impact in the second half of the season.
Guys like Jason Vargas and Olson are lefties, but they have ability issues as well as gopher issues. A guy like Morrow has command issues and gopher issues as well. The gap between Bedard and Washburn over these guys is HUGE. You cannot downplay it.
Neither Bedard or Washburn are replacable for the Ms this year if they're looking to compete.


Remember, the complaint wasn't that the Bedard-for-Jones trade was "questionable" or "risky."   The complaint was that the trade was idiotic, absurd, that it proved Bavasi's stupidity, etc.
The clamor to trade Erik Bedard has never let up, since almost the day he got here.  Can't give Erik the chance to prove the trade reasonable, much less to prove it right ....

OOBF's picture

I find it highly ironic that a goup of guys (USSM) who routinely lambast and ridicule people who use thing like ERA and pitching wins in their arguments are now using... yup pitcher wins to claim that Erik Bedard and Jarrodf Washburn are basically useless to us.  Seriously if they had any credibility before, they have lost it now!  I just don't understand how they can think pitching wins are stupid, but then in the very next breath use them in an arguement to offload 2 of your best 3 pitchers!  Don't they know that it makes them look very silly?


How much scorn would be directed toward, say, Bob Finnigan for saying "hey, Bedard is 39-22 the last four years" or "Washburn's ERA is 2+" ?
Then here comes an argument that, hey, the M's won-loss in these 30 games is X, so let's conclude that all of the Koufaxes and Pedros and Saberhagens of baseball history were overrated?
I'm sure there were other arguments made, as well.  But as you note, OBF, we apparently have the green light to run with very short-term W-L records now :- )

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