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?"