Another Mariner could be joining Richie Sexson with The Pinstripers. The New York Yankees have been in heavy talks with the Seattle Mariners about the 33 year old ( turns 34 on August 14th) lefty Jarrod Washburn. Washburn is currently 4-9 with a 4.75 ERA and 65 strikeouts with 32 walks in 110 innings. In his career he's 97-95 with a respectable 4.12 ERA. He's signed through 2009; he'll get $9.85 million this season and $10.35 million next season. So trading for him would also give him a spot in next year's rotation most likely; if he doesn't block a trade (he has a limited no trade clause that includes the Yankees). Nevertheless, I think this could be a good deal.
The Bronx Bombers currently have Sidney Ponson (6-1, 4.02 ERA) and Darrell Rasner (5-7, 4.83 ERA) in the back end of the rotation. While they have both won lately and had their moments, I doubt they will make the playoffs with that combo in the tail end. Ponson does a Houdini act every inning; always being on cusp of implosion and getting out of it. But against good teams (Boston, Tampa Bay, Angels), he'll get killed. And while Rasner has shown he can be effective in the majors, when he doesn't have his pin-point control he gets knocked around because he has nothing to fall back on. These guys are dangerous pitchers to stick out there in a big spot. So there's no debating that the Yanks could use a pitcher (among other things). But there's still the question of is Washburn worth it?
Well, I'll admit that the contract bothers me. It would've been perfect if it was a 1 year deal and then we could just go our separate ways after the season, but it's never that easy. With that said, the Mariners aren't looking for much. The main reason the M's would trade Jarrod is for a salary dump and some sort of pitching prospect. Kei Igawa (9-5, 3.80 ERA in minors) has been mentioned recently and it's that's true, sign me up right now. Igawa has been an utter disaster ever since he signed the dotted line to come to New York. Maybe a change of scenery would wake him up like it did to Kaz Matsui (who if you remember was hyped like crazy when the Mets got him, he was a bust with them, got traded to the Rockies for Eli Marrero, and ever since has been a solid little player). The Mariners might want the Yanks to also take Jose Vidro ( .223, 5 homers , 41 RBIs ) off their hands. I wouldn't be crazy about that seeing as he'd cost more money, has been struggling this year, and isn't an outfielder.
Now with actual Washburn. I know he isn't a top notch pitcher, but who is on the market anymore? Washburn brings some nice looking things to the table. For one, he's an experienced lefty that's always been in the American League. He's a dependable starter who works his innings. And while his stats aren't that pretty this year, take into account a couple things. He's pitching for a terrible Seattle team with no pulse right now and with a better offense backing him up the wins should increase. Another encouraging sign is Washburn has done pretty really good since May 25th; posting an ERA of 3.03 in 62.3 innings. In 2 starts against the Yankees in the ALDS in 2002, he went 1-0 with a 3.75 ERA when he was an Angel. To top it off, in Yankee Stadium he's 1-4 with a 2.82 career ERA in six starts. Ignore the losing record because wins-loses don't say much here. Overall, his lifetime ERA against the Yankees is 2.56. His performance against the AL East isn't great:
Against Boston, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, and Toronto: 23-19, 4.07 ERA,
But once again, in a big game I'd rather have him on the mound than Ponson and Rasner. It's always good to have lefties against the Red Sox and Rays and Washburn has a WS ring (that 2002 Angel team). And while he isn't the best pitcher available I'd rather trade for him than some of the other guys:
A.J. Burnett (10-9, 4.84 ERA) - He's injured too much and sometimes doesn't try his hardest. But the worst thing about him is the contract. It's a lose-lose situation for any team that trades for him besides of the fact that you just gave up some good prospects. If Burnett helps a team make the playoffs and does great, he'll opt out and go demand a colossal deal. If he gets injured or under performs, he'll just stay with your team and collect his money so now you're basically stuck with him. No thank you.
Bronson Arroyo ( 8-7, 5.61 ERA)- Simple here: He's been bad this year. Regardless of pitching in a great hitters park, he just doesn't have it right now. I know he has experience pitching in big games and knows how to pitch in the AL East, but he'd cost more and the way he's going right now I'm not sure a move to the AL would help him.
Paul Byrd (4-10, 5.28)- No way I would even come close to Byrd. Ever since getting busting for steroid possession before Game 7 of the ALCS against the Red Sox, he (and the whole Indians team really) has not been the same. He has a .300 BAA this season and has allowed the most homers of any pitcher in baseball.
To be honest, I'd really want Derek Lowe. He's doing good enough this year (7-8, 3.97 ERA), is a free agent after 2008, knows the Red Sox and the AL East, and has a ton of big game experience (clinched the DS, CS, and WS rounds for the Sox in 2004). But the Dodgers are 1 game behind in the pitiful NL West right now and would truly be brainless to trade him now. I do think the Yanks should sign him when he becomes a free agent if they still need a pitcher.
So, barring this trade, the Yanks' rotation would be as follows:1. Andy Pettitte (11-7, 3.86 ERA)
2. Mike Mussina (12-6, 3.49 ERA)
3. Joba Chamberlain (2-3, 2.52 ERA)
4. Jarrod Washburn (4-9, 4.75 ERA)
5. Sidney Ponson (6-1, 4.02 ERA)/Darrell Rasner (5-7, 4.83 ERA)
While it's not great, it's by no means terrible. Pettitte is usually great in the 2nd half, Mussina has somewhat reinvented himself this season, Joba still hasn't reached his full potential, Washburn adds depth and experience in the back end, and when Phillip Hughes comes back he can take over the 5th spot. The Yankees still could use a lefty reliever (Damaso Marte? Brain Fuentes?) and a right-handed corner outfielder (Jason Bay? Xavier Nady?)
But right now, this is the most realistic move for the Yanks where they don't give up much, improve the rotation immediately, and with an arm that's more worth it than most out there. When you first hear this rumor, it sounds like a waste of time. But when you delve deeper, it's one of the best alternatives out there.