Friday, August 15, 2008

On Mariners and Rotting Fish

As the Mariners roll into town today, we're reminded that sometimes the cliche about a fish stinking from the head down is accurate. And it's increasingly looking like the Twins biggest mistake at the trade deadline was targeting players on the Mariners as trade targets.

The Mariners management team is a mess. They fired their GM in July and fired their coach three days later. They replaced them both but haven't removed the interim tags from either. And as the trade deadline approached, and with a roster full of flotsam, they traded a grand total of one player - left-handed reliever Arthur Rhodes.

Among the bevy of teams they didn't trade with are the Twins. Prior to the deadline we heard that the Twins had talked to the Mariners about Adrian Beltre. Then, yesterday, Joe Christensen reported that the Twins claimed both Raul Ibanez and Jarrod Washburn, but weren't able to make a deal with the Mariners for either one.

You can think of Ibanez as being similar to Michael Cuddyer, except that he's a free agent at the end of the year. Which, for the rebuilding Mariners, means he's worth the compensatory draft picks they're likely to receive when he walks. That, at least, has some value.

But Washburn is another story. Washburn is under contract for next year, and he'll be paid $10.35 million. This for a guy with a 5-12 record and a 4.58 ERA in one of the pitching-friendliest ballparks in the majors. The Mariners should not only be willing to trade him for a warm bucket of spit, they should pay several million dollars to make it happen. If they were truly lucky enough to get the Twins to claim him on waivers, it's inconceivable that they didn't stick the Twins with that loadstone of a contract.

But even more stunning? Christensen's note that the Mariners asked for one of the Twins young starters in return for Washburn.

"In Washburn’s case, it sounds like the Twins did indeed win the claim and had
extensive talks with the Mariners. The Twins were willing to take on Washburn’s
contract, and Seattle could have dumped it on them. But the Mariners also wanted
the Twins to throw in one of their current starters. "

Seriously? So the Mariners management team wanted, in return for Washburn, a better starting pitcher who ALSO is $10 million cheaper next year? I should try that. How about I swap cars with Carl Pohlad AND he write me a $10 million check to do so. Savvy offer, that.

I can only imagine Bill Smith's reaction. I suspect it started with him staring at the cell phone speaker quizically. Followed by stammering "That's a, um, creative deal. But I think we'll pass."

(long pause)

"Is there anyone else there I can talk to?"


Anonymous said...

Ibanez has been a more consistent producer than Cuddyer. He's older, but I'd give him the nod. Their production this season hasn't even been close.

John said...

True on both points, but my point was that Ibanez was essentially being viewed by the Twins as a rental replacement for Cuddyer.

And I'll got a step further. Even with Cuddyer's terrible year, If they both hit the free agent market next year, I think Cuddyer would be the hotter commodity and garner the longer and better contract, given that Ibanez is seven years older than Cuddyer.

haasertime said...

Humor me and explain why the Twins would want Washburn? Insurance and innings? Who would he replace? Boof r' Bass?

Nick N. said...

Christensen reports that the Mariners balked at an offer of Bonser for Washburn. If that's true, Seattle is the biggest joke of a franchise in existence. Which is not to say that I'm upset about it, because I would have been absolutely livid with that trade.

John said...

I don't really want Washburn. As far as I'm concerned the Twins played this exactly right. They didn't get stuck with Washburn and they did block the White Sox from getting him. I wouldn't have gnashed my teeth too much if they ended up with him, either, because:

1) Liriano could become the dominant setup man the Twins need and
2) I hopee they could have ditched Washburn in the offseason to someone desperate for pitching, perhaps for a very low level prospect, or by including some money.

My point wasn't that the Twins should have made a deal like this happen. It's that it fell into the Mariners laps and they still F'ed it up.

Nick N. said...

Liriano could become the dominant setup man the Twins need

Are you sure that having him go full-bore in tight late-inning situations is the best thing for his recovery?

The Twins need to strengthen their bullpen, but doing so by weakening their rotation is not smart. If they want an upgrade in the 'pen, call up Korecky.

walter hanson said...

The White Sox angle was the only reason why we claimed Washburn. Especially with the injury to Jose they could use an expierenced left handed starter (especially if they rigged the order to get him to start one of the three critical games along with Danks).

The claim was to keep him away from the White Sox this year. Nothing else.

Walter Hanson
Minneapolis, MN

sploorp said...

No, I think the Twins definitely wanted Washburn. His ERA is a little deceptive. It was something like 2.85 before the all-star break. He's been roughed up a bit since then. He also lives in a small town in Wisconsin - about a 90 minute drive to the Dome. Washburn has said he would have loved to play here as well.

Even though he would have been another left handed arm, I think he would have been a great fit and quite possibly the 8th inning guy the Twins have been looking for. At the very least, he would have given Gurrier some breathing room and a big improvement over Bass.

The Mariners really messed this one up. Their front office makes ours look brilliant. Too bad for the Twins. Too bad for the Mariners.

sploorp said...
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