Walking The Tightrope

Dave · May 11, 2009 at 11:00 am · Filed Under Mariners 

The Mariners 1-6 stint last week did a number on their playoff odds. With the Angels surging even before the reinforcements arrive, this was a bad time for the M’s to fall on their faces. The contend-this-year plan was basically predicated upon getting an early lead and hanging on for dear life, as it’s hard to find too many people who think this team can actually chase down the Angels from behind in a pennant race. Now that the M’s are looking up at Los Angeles in the standings, I’d imagine people are once again getting comfortable with the idea that this team is probably not headed for October baseball, and that the franchise should be valuing 2010 over 2009 at this point.

For Zduriencik and crew, this presents something of a challenge. They cannot punt 2009 this early in the season, especially as the organization tries to get fans back to Safeco this summer. The team has played well enough to still be in contention through mid-May, and baseball is a weird game – just as they ran off six straight losses last week, they could run off six straight wins this week. They aren’t in a position to tell the guys in the clubhouse or the fans “Hey, I know you’re only 1.5 games out of first place, but we’re going to make some moves to get better for the future at the expense of the present. Thanks for a good five weeks.”

On the other hand, they have two volatile assets in Erik Bedard and Jarrod Washburn. They’ve ridden some high quality innings from those two to their strong start, and this rotation would be an absolute disaster without them. They’ve both been pitched like All-Stars so far, and given the constant demand in the game for quality left-handed starting pitching, the M’s could potentially get some real value back for both of them – yes, even Washburn. His salary is less of a hindrance now that free agency is over, and he’s pitched himself back into being movable.

However, the window of opportunity to trade these two for value could literally close at any minute. Bedard’s health is a constant question, and all it would take is a twinge in his shoulder that requires a short DL stint and he’ll move from “best pitcher available at the deadline” to “I’ll just sign Ben Sheets instead, thanks”. Every pitch that Bedard throws, his trade value is at risk. He could elevate his status a bit with continued success and health through May and June, but the downside is a lot larger than the upside. You might get a little bit better package for Bedard by letting him continue to prove he’s healthy and back to ’07 form, but the incremental increase in potential value has to be weighed against the risk that the value disappears entirely.

Same deal for Washburn, though for slightly different reasons. We’re not as concerned about him tweaking his elbow, as he’s generally a durable guy. However, his strong start to the season isn’t built on entirely sustainable improvements. Yes, he’s pitching better than he has in the past (that 3.11 K/BB rate is all Washburn), but his HR/FB% is 5.8%, and he can’t keep it that low. A few extra flyballs sailing over the fence, and his ERA could jump to 4.00+ pretty quickly. It’s a lot easier to get a team to swallow his contract and send back a prospect when he has a sub-3 ERA. It’s a start-to-start thing to see if he’ll be able to keep limiting the long balls, and like Bedard, his value could take a big hit with one bad night.

There’s a fine line that the M’s front office has to walk here. They have to keep Bedard and Washburn for at least a few more weeks while the team is still within spitting distance of first place. However, they also need to be in a position to move very quickly on a deal if they determine that they won’t be winning the AL West this year. The risk of holding Bedard and Washburn too long is very real. These guys are not CC Sabathia. You can’t assume that they’re going to hold their current value for two more months.

I know Zduriencik has publicly stated that the team hasn’t even considered trading players away in July, and I believe him. I’m sure that their work the first five weeks of the season was almost entirely focused on helping this team win as many games this year as they could. However, the job of a front office is to manage the long term health of the franchise, and so now, they have to prepare for multiple scenarios. They can’t wait until July to make some phone calls and lay the foundation for deals involving the volatile assets. Beltre, you can wait on. There’s no hurry with guys like him or even Batista/Branyan/Chavez, all of whom could potentially be dealt later this summer if the team falls apart or the Angels just run away with this thing.

But Bedard and Washburn are a different animal. Keeping them comes with a potentially huge opportunity cost, and the organization has to be able to avoid overplaying their hand.

I’m not punting 2009 yet, but I’m really hoping that Zduriencik has already started having preliminary conversations with teams like the Dodgers, Mets, Blue Jays, Phillies, Cardinals, and Brewers. Depending on how the next couple of weeks go, the organization might be best served pulling the trigger on deals for both Bedard and Washburn around the beginning of June.

Comments

80 Responses to “Walking The Tightrope”

  1. Mike Snow on May 11th, 2009 11:15 am

    Bedard to the Blue Jays is increasingly making all kinds of sense, as long as Toronto holds up and the Yankees and Rays fail to surge.

  2. Taylor H on May 11th, 2009 11:18 am

    @Mike Snow: Who might we get in return?

  3. bakomariner on May 11th, 2009 11:22 am

    I’ve been saying this all since we got off to a good start…we could be really screwed if things don’t go our way…

    I’m praying that whether the team is in it or out of it that Bedard stays healthy and Wash is still pitching well…

    If Branyan keeps it up, he’ll be a nice chip too…

  4. Mike Snow on May 11th, 2009 11:33 am

    Taylor, it’s probably premature to make up wishlists at this point, but what Toronto could put together is decent enough to pull it off. While there may be some urgency to move Bedard, you also need a little more time to make sense of this year’s performances among the players you’re acquiring, lest you overrate another Jeremy Reed. At any rate, it’s not going to rise up to the level of Adam Jones et al. though.

  5. nickwest1976 on May 11th, 2009 11:38 am

    What’s nice about this team the way Jack Z put it together this year is that there is upside to contend in a weak division but if not, there are lots of solid, veteran players on cheap one year deals…Branyan and Chavez come to mind as nice pieces that could really help contending teams.

    Then you have the more expensive guys like Washburn, Bedard and Beltre but in the case of Bedard and Beltre, the return in a trade could be pretty darn good if they are healthy and performing.

  6. JI on May 11th, 2009 11:41 am

    I was just thinking about this after Saturday’s game. Well said.

  7. Spanky on May 11th, 2009 11:42 am

    Dave…not asking for specific players…but what would the M’s be looking for in a trade for Bedard or Washburn? If they trade them, we would really be short of SP (especially with the Morrow and Aumont moves). Do they go after SP? A specific piece of the puzzle like LH hitter? Or just the best player available?

  8. robbbbbb on May 11th, 2009 11:44 am

    The other bit relating to Washburn and Bedard’s value:

    If some team wants them to help their contention status, then they’re more valuable in May than they are in July, because they get more starts with their new team.

    Yes, they’re volatile assets. However, if some team wants to make a playoff run with either (or both!) of those guys, then they’re better off getting ‘em earlier in the summer and maximizing the number of starts they can get out of ‘em.

  9. Bodhizefa on May 11th, 2009 11:47 am

    I really really want Alcides Escobar. I know it will never happen, but I want him on our team with his excellent defense at short so very much.

    :drool:

    And yes, I agree. This team needs to look at its longterm plans and see what they can do to maximize its potential down the road. I’ve enjoyed seeing the M’s contend up to this point, but I would also enjoy seeing the health of the franchise boosted by adding some talented youth to our middling minor league system.

  10. murphy_dog on May 11th, 2009 11:48 am

    [off-topic]

  11. bakomariner on May 11th, 2009 11:51 am

    [off-topic]

  12. Breadbaker on May 11th, 2009 11:51 am

    I’d be looking for a shortstop, a third baseman in case Beltre leaves and a left-handed or switch-hitting catcher.

  13. Jeff Sullivan on May 11th, 2009 11:55 am

    Anybody here feel like rosterbating?

  14. Daniel Carroll on May 11th, 2009 12:00 pm

    Wouldn’t we suppose that an injured Bedard makes it more likely that we pick him up again next year on a cheaper (and shorter-term) deal than we would otherwise?

  15. Mike Snow on May 11th, 2009 12:02 pm

    Why would we want to pick up an injured Bedard for next year?

  16. Dave on May 11th, 2009 12:11 pm

    Bedard to the Blue Jays is increasingly making all kinds of sense, as long as Toronto holds up and the Yankees and Rays fail to surge.

    Trading with Toronto is yet another reason to make a move earlier than later. They’re more likely to hang onto their lead if they have Bedard in the rotation for June and July. The longer you wait, the more likely they are to not be buyers.

    If Branyan keeps it up, he’ll be a nice chip too…

    You’re not going to get much for any of the Batista/Chavez/Branyan trio. Everyone in baseball knew what Branyan was, and he’s never been able to land a full-time gig. A few hundred good at-bats won’t change their minds about him. MLB just hates his skillset.

    but what would the M’s be looking for in a trade for Bedard or Washburn?

    I can’t imagine Zduriencik trades Bedard and doesn’t get a guy back that he can stick in the rotation. I think the Gutierrez deal is going to be the blueprint for how Jack sells off players – he’ll look for undervalued guys close to the majors, rather than toolsy guys who are years from developing.

  17. Daniel Carroll on May 11th, 2009 12:12 pm

    RE: Mike Snow

    If and when he does manage to get a full year only missing a minimal amount of starts, it may as well be for us so long as he doesn’t cost too much.

  18. Carson on May 11th, 2009 12:13 pm

    What worries me is that we hang out this 1-3 games back area into July. I figure that won’t be the case as the Angels get healthy, but it’s possible.

    So, at what point do you decide three games back isn’t spitting distance? If they’re at -3 on July 15, is GMZ just sitting on deals waiting for a losing streak to pull the trigger?

    If they’re still there on July 31, is he forced to stick to his guns and play with the hand he has because of the perception that they are still in contention?

  19. Mike Snow on May 11th, 2009 12:13 pm

    it may as well be for us so long as he doesn’t cost too much.

    He’s going to cost too much.

  20. terry on May 11th, 2009 12:25 pm

    Dave, a few questions:

    1) Is there still zero chance that the Ms can extend Beltre/Bedard?

    2) Your WSJ article identifies Ichiro as a guy the Ms would be wise to contemplate trading. You didn’t mention his name above. Do you think the Ms would actually consider such a move?

  21. Mike Snow on May 11th, 2009 12:27 pm

    Boras is still Beltre’s agent.

  22. coasty141 on May 11th, 2009 12:32 pm

    This is really where Z’s eye for evaluating talent comes into play. I’m really interested to see what kind of interest Washburn stirs up from other teams. Are other teams going to be willing to give up something of value for Washburn? Or will the M’s figure getting someone to pay the remainder of his salary for 09 is worth shipping him out? If the M’s aren’t presented with a deal with some upside, I would think they would hang on to Wash until the trade deadline and keep their options open.

  23. Dave on May 11th, 2009 12:32 pm

    I’m going to do a post later this week on whether the team should consider trading Ichiro and Felix. That’s not this post.

  24. Dave on May 11th, 2009 12:34 pm

    There’s no point to the M’s dumping Washburn’s salary anymore. The entire reason that moving him as a salary dump during the winter was prudent was so that the team could then turn around and spend that money to upgrade another part of the roster. That’s not an option anymore. Moving Washburn in a salary dump just makes the M’s bottom line a little better this year, and Zduriencik isn’t nearly as concerned about that as he is about making this team better.

    So, no, I don’t see the M’s pulling a trigger on a deal for anyone if they’re not getting talent back.

  25. Chris_From_Bothell on May 11th, 2009 12:35 pm

    Yup. First week of June makes sense.

    With the Ms seeing the Angels 7 times in the next 2 weeks, Boston running around the AL West for the next 2 weeks, and facing a couple of interesting pitchers from the Giants, we’ll know who and what this team is by end of May.

    I think it’s highly unlikely that most of the AL West will all stay less than 3 games away from each other by 3 weeks from now. Someone’s going to get buried, and make it a 2-horse race.

    Season’s still good by me if:

    a) Z can pull off a total return off of this season’s trades that is equal to what we got for Putz
    b) this summer we see evaluation and clearing out the AAA and AAAA talent still lurking about
    c) end the year .500ish

    Anything else is bonus.

  26. Kid_A on May 11th, 2009 12:53 pm

    I agree with Bodhizefa about Escobar, but Mat Gamel is also interesting and maybe even a more likely option. He has nowhere to play in Milwaukee – not because Bill Hall is awesome, but Gamel’s defense is awful. He’s a major league ready bat without a position.

    Obviously, the Brewers need starting pitching to keep up in that division and especially a lefty – unless of course they think Parra is top-of-the-rotation material.

    Z, Mat Gamel may only be DH material, but he is a big left handed bat (and a guy you probably drafted). We NEED his bat in the middle of this line-up.

  27. coasty141 on May 11th, 2009 12:55 pm

    Dave,
    Back when we the M’s had to make the choice to tender or non-tender Bedard you said tendering him with the thought of flipping him for prospects wasn’t not worth while. However, the M’s did tender Bedard(his medical issues turned out to be better than expected), he has given them some value as a starting pitcher, and the team is somewhat contending to make the playoffs. Hindsight, should the M’s have let him walk and use the portion of his salary to sign a top international free agent? Did the organization do the right thing?

  28. Dave on May 11th, 2009 12:58 pm

    They took a risk and it’s paid off. When risks pay off, they look like good moves. If he blows out his arm in his next start, it won’t look like a good move.

    That’s why I hate results based analysis.

    That said, the M’s certainly had better information about Bedard’s health than we did, so this is one of those cases where we should defer to their knowledge of the situation.

  29. zjmuglidny on May 11th, 2009 12:59 pm

    After the upcoming games against the Angels over the next two weeks if the Ms are

    in first, then I say you have to keep everybody and try to win the division.

    a few games out, you aggressively shop Bedard looking for a young, major-league ready, mid-level starter, and a few solid prospects in return. This is not completely punting, but not exactly going for it either.

    more than a few games out, you look to move any or all of the aforementioned players.

  30. coasty141 on May 11th, 2009 1:06 pm

    “They took a risk and it’s paid off.”

    I wouldn’t say they are out of the woods yet.

  31. ppl on May 11th, 2009 1:08 pm

    Branyan and Chavez will be useful to contending teams, but they are not going to bring great returns. They are at best good for Ron Villone for Yorman Bazardo & Mike Flannery or Arthur Rhodes for Gaby Herandez type deals. And Lesser guys could be worth the Dave Hansen for John Huber type returns. So it is for guys you will see in Tacoma, but rarely in Seattle. Once in awhile a guy acquired like that lands in the bigs and is useful: Sean Green for example. Once in a blue moon a fringe player is dealt for a kid who ends up being a star, it can happen, you can’t make any plans around it happening. But if they clearly are out of it in July by all means they should deal off as much as possible, and it will be a better G.M. making the deal this year, instead of Bill B. or Lee P.

  32. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on May 11th, 2009 1:17 pm

    I weep for my joy of yesterday (a week and a half ago). I, like most M’s fans, wait for the other shoe to drop, but why don’t I have any hope, even with things not being so so bad right now? I want that hope I had when I was 10 and every Mariner contest meant something to me, even when it meant nothing to anybody else.

    Oh well. I don’t envy Z’s position right now. It’s gonna be frustration to feel this out. And, as fans, don’t we hope for meaningful baseball as long as we can get it? Sure. But then part of me wants us to sell high and early on guys to get a nice return if we aren’t going to make the playoffs. These opposed feelings – of wanting each game to count, but also wanting the future to get brighter – is maddening at times.

    I suppose, if the guess work were taken out of it, we’d not love baseball nearly as much as we do. The rollercoaster of emotion is what binds us to the game from our youth to our graves. It’s what allows us to come together to argue every possible move. It’s what creates the heartbreak that makes the good times that much sweeter.

    For now, I’m just going to say, “Go M’s!” Today, I’ll choose to be an unthinking fan first, hoping that we rattle off those 6 wins in a row that change the analysis yet again. Tomorrow? Well, I’ll leave tomorrow in favor of today. I don’t want to think that hard just yet.

  33. Soonerman22 on May 11th, 2009 1:30 pm

    This next couple of weeks I think will determine the rest of the season for the Mariners. Are they a pipe dream or not? Even the Texas series is huge. They need 2 if not 3 from Texas to keep this thing going! It will also be interesting to see if they can get the offence going in the first four innings. I think we hang onto Bedard and Washburn till the first of June and see where the Mariners stand then.

    But the point on there value being game to game is well taken. It is why I am so interested in there starts. For the good of the team, but also to keep there trade value up.

    I have heard rumor of Bedard going to Toronto next year since he lives there (sort of). Any chance of getting more back if Toronto can do a sign and trade deal with Toronto. Has that happened in the past? I remember it happening many times in the off-season, but I can’t remember it happening in the season, but one could hope. I don’t even know who Toronto has in there system. Is there are any good prospects?

  34. Axtell on May 11th, 2009 1:34 pm

    There would be little to no point in trading guys like Chavez, Branyan, etc. because they would bring such little value in return.

    Trading Washburn and Bedard would make the most sense. Keeping either one long term would be a mistake (Washburn with his declining skills and Bedard’s questionable injury history), if we can get some nice pieces in return it absolutely makes sense to move them.

    2009 has been a nice surprise, but this isn’t more than a 80 win team.

  35. RoninX on May 11th, 2009 1:34 pm

    Hasn’t Boras confirmed that Bedard won’t sign before he test FA waters? I mean it is ultimately the player’s decision, and if Bedard really wanted to go a specific place, then maybe a sign and trade would be on the table… but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  36. dingla on May 11th, 2009 1:35 pm

    I’m going to do a post later this week on whether the team should consider trading Ichiro and Felix. That’s not this post.

    thanks Dave, im sure many are looking forward to that read.

  37. Soonerman22 on May 11th, 2009 1:36 pm

    With that comment I just made, I see Travis Snider is there top prospect and he is from Everett.

    Maybe????

  38. dingla on May 11th, 2009 1:39 pm

    doesnt bedard have the potential to be the best pitcher in the league? we have all seen glimpses of that. why would we want to trade him?

  39. Mike Snow on May 11th, 2009 1:40 pm

    Hasn’t Boras confirmed that Bedard won’t sign before he test FA waters?

    Boras is not Bedard’s agent. Mark Pieper is.

  40. Soonerman22 on May 11th, 2009 1:46 pm

    If by some chance the Mariners keep Bedard, Washburn and Beltre the whole year, and they sign with someone else next year. If we offer them arbitration and they decline don’t we get compencitory 1st round draft picks for each of them like Ibanez last year?

    What is the rule on that?

  41. JMHawkins on May 11th, 2009 1:57 pm

    What worries me is that we hang out this 1-3 games back area into July. I figure that won’t be the case as the Angels get healthy, but it’s possible….If they’re still there on July 31, is he forced to stick to his guns and play with the hand he has because of the perception that they are still in contention?

    Frankly, I’m more worried about them being out of contention before July. The long-term health of the club is about more than just what prospects you have in the pipeline. Butts in seats and fan interest do matter. Sure, winning produces bigger crowds, but there’s a lag effect and if 09 turns out to be a bust, that just delays the return of the fans by one more year. And given what we have in the cupboard for starting pitching, if Bedard and Washburn weren’t here, it would be a really, really, really (add a few more really’s) ugly last couple of months.

    It’s not like we have anyone in Tacoma banging on the door demanding a spot in the rotation (in fact, been more like the opposite, with guys in Seattle banging on the door from the inside saying “let me outta here!”).

  42. stevie_j13 on May 11th, 2009 2:01 pm

    I still want to give this team a shot to stay in contention. While they are not going to score as many runs as they did the first 25 games of the season, they are not as bad offensively as they were the last week, either. With Silva and Jack out of the rotation, some of the strain on the bullpen might go away, too.

    Having said that, if the Mariners do trade, they have to go for a shortstop, don’t they? With the questions surrounding Grant Green’s ability to stay at that position and Dustin Ackley’s hitting, there may not be a worthy SS at the two-spot in the draft. Who should this SS be? Maybe Dave and/or DMZ can shed some light here.

    I also think the M’s may have some extra pieces to deal. They are approaching a surplus in OFs, and Carl Crawford seems to be a perfect fit if he becomes a free agent after the season. Throwing a Saunders or a Halman into a deal for Washburn would make it much more likely to get multiple pitching prospects in return, or an SP and an SS.

  43. JMHawkins on May 11th, 2009 2:06 pm

    If by some chance the Mariners keep Bedard, Washburn and Beltre the whole year, and they sign with someone else next year. If we offer them arbitration and they decline don’t we get compencitory 1st round draft picks for each of them like Ibanez last year?

    It depends on how well they rank compared to others at their position, as determined by a semi-secret formula of the Evil Elias Sports Bureau. The top 20% are Type A, the next 20% are Type B, and it’s based on stats from the last two years. Beltre might be a type A if he gets it together. Washburn probably doesn’t make it to Type B status even with a good year, so we aren’t likely to get any comp picks for him. Because of his injury last year, Bedard is also unlikely to bring us anything great – can’t remember if he’s projected to be a Type B even.

  44. Dave on May 11th, 2009 2:18 pm

    Washburn’s the kind of guy who would do better in arb than as a free agent, to boot, so it’s pretty unlikely that he would get offered arbitration anyway.

    Bedard will probably be a Type B, so he’d bring you one compensatory pick in the sandwich round. The M’s should be able to do significantly better than that by trading him, though.

    Beltre’s the only one of the three that you think about keeping and offering arbitration too.

  45. Paul B on May 11th, 2009 2:18 pm

    doesnt bedard have the potential to be the best pitcher in the league? we have all seen glimpses of that. why would we want to trade him?

    This was sort of answered in the type A or B comments already, but the short answer is he is a free agent at the end of the year, and almost certainly not a type A.

    So they only keep him to the extent that they think they are in contention in 2009.

    Which Dave covered in the top entry.

  46. Diehard on May 11th, 2009 2:28 pm

    [deleted, OT]

  47. Matt the Dragon on May 11th, 2009 2:36 pm

    Washburn has an outside shot of being Type B but his last year and not being a SO pitcher makes it unlikely.

    Beltre will be a Type A provided he can get even vaguely out of his slump.

    Bedard will be a Type A with ease if he pitches a full [healthy] season. He was Type A following last season and as good as his 2007 really was, it wasn’t actually that great in Elias’ Bizarro World.

    He’s probably already done enough to qualify as a Type B, but obviously it’s a big risk hoping he stays injury-free if you can get an offer on the table now.

  48. slescotts on May 11th, 2009 2:40 pm

    Of course the M’s are headed for October baseball… then again, I think everybody is. I will be more careful to craft my wishes in the future–technically, thanks to the WBC, I was granted this one, just not in the way I was hoping.

  49. metz123 on May 11th, 2009 3:05 pm

    What’s the tipping point for making decisions like this? Just a few weeks ago we were talking about a team that was 5 games over .500 and potentially looking like a 88 win team and in contention for the division. 7 games later and we’re talking about making the team better for subsequent years by trading veterans with short term contracts. We’re one short streak away from either being contenders, in last place or the .500 club we all assumed the team would be this season.

    Do you wait for the trading deadline to make the call, start fielding offers now or go out on a limb and talk long term deals with some players?

  50. CMC_Stags on May 11th, 2009 3:10 pm

    For the M’s to compete in the AL West in the future, the team has to be willing to make trades like Billy Beane did last summer. With a team close to first place but without the horses to stay there for the rest of the season, Beane sold anything he could that would get him greater value in the 2009 season and beyond at the cost of 2008.

    This is what the M’s will be competing against for the next few years as well as Texas’s loaded farm system. Having a shot in 2009 at the cost of improving the team’s long term prospects isn’t something that I want to see. If players on the team can be traded at a cost to this season and a benefit to future seasons, I hope the team pulls that trigger.

  51. SonOfZavaras on May 11th, 2009 3:40 pm

    Um, Matt The Dragon.

    You do realize the whole Type A designation is based on a last-two-years basis, right? Last two years, only. And I’m pretty sure Bedard did not hold Type A status at the end of 2008.

    Bedard would need a 2008 Cliff Lee year in order to get within spitting distance of Type A. The odds of him acquiring that status are virtually nil, and certainly not worth taking the chance on. It’s a sucker bet that no GM in their right mind would take.

    It makes no sense to hold onto Bedard the entire year, when even a moderately good GM can turn him into something better than a 2010 sandwich-round pick.

    Bedard won’t re-up. He’ll walk when he can. The time to maximize his worth to the org is very, very close.

    Ipso facto, it makes no sense to hold onto Bedard any longer than what we have to- at a certain point (and I agree it’s late May to early June), his value decreases with every start he makes for us.

    Of all the guys currently wearing Mariner colors, Bedard is the most likely to be traded.

  52. Shizane on May 11th, 2009 3:41 pm

    It’s a lot easier to get a team to swallow his contract and send back a prospect when he has a sub-3 ERA.

    This statement is predicated on the fact that teams evaluate Major League players using results-based analysis (stats like ERA and WHIP) and not by skills-based analysis. Is this true? Would a team’s evaluation of Washburn change if his ERA was 0.50 higher and his skills did not change.

  53. Jon on May 11th, 2009 3:45 pm

    Thanks–this is a good description of the conundrum facing the M’s brain trust . There are way too many moving parts for this to be an easy set of decisions, which means they are ripe for criticism no matter what they do. The only good thing is we don’t have Bavasi, et al, pulling the trigger. The new regime may not turn out to be any better, but at least we have cautious optimism that maybe, just maybe, sensible and thoughtful decisions will get made.

  54. Dave on May 11th, 2009 3:47 pm

    Is this true?

    Most of them, yes. You might not be able to trade Jarrod Washburn to the Rays, but most of the teams in baseball still have a hard time getting past ERA when evaluating a pitcher.

    It’s why Jarrod Washburn got $38 million in the first place.

    The new regime may not turn out to be any better…

    The new regime will absolutely turn out to be better. We replaced ignorance with intelligence.

  55. ppl on May 11th, 2009 4:05 pm

    I don’t think anyone seriously has to worry too much about them squandering the future to contend this year. They are in enough of a “Rebuliding” mode to not mess around with that. But they are close enough, the division is weak enough, and maintining the interest of the fans important enough, that they should consider any reasonable upgrades. You might see them deal off a Gaby Hernandez, Cesar Jimenez, Andrew Baldwin or Robert Rohrbaugh type player or two, to pick up small upgrades. If anything valuable goes out it might be to get Yuni’s contract off their hands, and get a decent shortstop back for it. Clement is the wild card, if he has no future here, and other teams do happen to be interested, then he may be part of a deal that brings something meaningful here. Otherwise you could see the one bad contract for another type situation propsed over the weekend, Batista for Kearns. And that deal of one bad contract that ends this year for one that extends until the end of next year, has multiple pros and cons. The M’s will probably deal wisely,
    even if it means they join Oakland contending for last place. Atleast they are unlikely to make the kinds of deals BB made with Cleveland in 2006, to accomplish what? To win 78 games, finish last and dump Moyer in a wavier deal after the deadline. The M’s can hold their hand right now and do as good and probably better than that, and keep their future pieces intact. They should pursue useful players, that can be had relatively cheap and let the chips fall where they may, unless Clement is a key to getting something better. I personally think that Ramon Vazquez would be a player to pursue, but I don’t know if anyone else agrees with that.

  56. SonOfZavaras on May 11th, 2009 4:10 pm

    Contemplating Toronto….

    Toronto’s farm system looks pretty barren. Most of the promising names are several years away. And guys like Snider and Cecil (that are already in the bigs)aren’t likely to go in a rental deal.

    Not to get into full-blown rosterbation, but what organization makes the most sense to look at as a trade partner? The Dodgers? Mets?

  57. coasty141 on May 11th, 2009 4:14 pm

    “You do realize the whole Type A designation is based on a last-two-years basis, right? Last two years, only. And I’m pretty sure Bedard did not hold Type A status at the end of 2008″

    I think you’re mistaken

  58. Matt the Dragon on May 11th, 2009 4:16 pm

    Um, Matt The Dragon.

    You do realize the whole Type A designation is based on a last-two-years basis, right? Last two years, only.

    Um, yes, obviously, hence the comment about his 2007 season.

    And I’m pretty sure Bedard did not hold Type A status at the end of 2008.

    You’re wrong though he was closer to the edge than I recalled.

    Bedard would need a 2008 Cliff Lee year in order to get within spitting distance of Type A. The odds of him acquiring that status are virtually nil, and certainly not worth taking the chance on.

    Given that he was Type A following last season he’d be looking to come somewhere close to duplicating his 2007 season in the stats that Elias cares about: Games started (28 in ’07), wins (13), IP (182), ERA (3.16), W% (.722) and SO (221). W% is a stretch, but on those (admittedly ridiculous) terms, a full healthy season of Bedard will rate better for 2008-9 than what he posted for 2007-8.

    It’s a sucker bet that no GM in their right mind would take.

    I don’t disagree it’s a bad bet but there are a whole lot of GMs who would consider it. How many ML GMs are in their right minds is another debate though.

  59. eponymous coward on May 11th, 2009 4:29 pm

    Well, Dave, I think there’s plenty of precedent, though I suspect that a trade might go a little later in June: the 2002 Indians traded Bartolo Colon in late June once they realized that a) their goose was cooked and b) there were sheep to be fleeced, though there’s no way you’d get the equivalent of Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips AND Grady Sizemore for Bedard, and possibly not for BOTH Washburn and Bedard in separate deals (if GMZ gets that kind of return for both of them, I think we’d all be offering to have his babiesthrilled). And of course, even Bill Bavasi did the right thing in somewhat similar circumstances- Freddy Garcia was traded around the same time (late June), and it was the right deal, even though it turns out Jeremy Reed was really the next Todd Hollandsworth, not the next Lenny Dykstra.

    Are there cases of EARLIER trades where teams got blown up in early June? I am struggling to recall them- the infamous “white flag” trade for the 1997 White Sox was at the deadline in July, Harden’s last year was in early July and Blanton’s was a week later. It seems that GMs generally wait until the halfway point draws near- possibly to not subject the team and fans to a “sorry, we’re punting the next 100 games, better luck next year” sort of environment… but I might be missing something.

  60. SonOfZavaras on May 11th, 2009 4:41 pm

    Matt The Dragon, coasty141-

    Okay, I’m wrong about Bedard’s Type A status at end of 2008 (77.132? I had no idea). I’d forgotten how arcane Elias can be.

    “A full heathy season” would really be the key words in this equation.

    I still maintain Bedard’s 2008 numbers were so bad due to injury, that 2009 would have to be a quantum reversal for him to possibly get the precious designation. To do that, you roll the dice he stays healthy all year. No thanks. Trade him soon.

    And I understand you don’t disagree…but it’s simply not a strategic thing to do. No one should expect Bedard will be a Type A. No disrespect intended.

  61. Dixoner on May 11th, 2009 5:13 pm

    After Erik’s poor 2008 season cut short by injury there is no hope for a return like that for Webb or Santana.

    An accurate comparison would be the Rich Harden trade. For those who don’t remember; the A’s traded Harden and Chad Gaudin to the Cubs for Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton, Eric Patterson and minor leaguer Josh Donaldson.

    Any thoughts?

  62. qwerty on May 11th, 2009 5:49 pm

    Z– Stick to your plan. Don’t be distracted by that fun 3 weeks at the beginninng of the year.
    Build for 2010 and beyond!!!! It starts with the June Draft: Get as close to a ML ready SP as you can with pick 2 and some college talent with the rest of the picks.
    Decide if Clement is a 1b/3b. (He’s not a catcher. )If not, move him,
    Then move Bedard and Washburn and perhpas Lopez.
    Beltre if we must.
    You’ve planned your work, now work the Plan!!!

  63. aaron c. on May 11th, 2009 6:50 pm

    Get as close to a ML ready SP as you can with pick 2

    Assuming the Nationals aren’t insane and someone doesn’t come completely out of nowhere in the next month there aren’t going to be any pitchers worth taking at #2.

  64. DAMellen on May 11th, 2009 7:13 pm

    I’m almost cheering for us to fall further out of contention. I’m extremely worried about Bedard and Washburn’s ability to keep this up and I’d hate to watch them fall apart and end up with nothing. Wonder what we could get. How good is Daniel Murphy? Is there any reason to think he could make it as an infielder?

  65. joser on May 11th, 2009 7:18 pm

    I think you have to assume Clement is on the block also (not the centerpiece of any trade, of course, but a sweetener or a component in another Putz-style 3-team deal).

    Trading with Toronto is yet another reason to make a move earlier than later. They’re more likely to hang onto their lead if they have Bedard in the rotation for June and July. The longer you wait, the more likely they are to not be buyers.

    While that’s an argument for trading earlier, you don’t know if a contending team might have a pitcher go down with an injury in June. You can’t count on it, of course, but the demand side of the equation can change suddenly at any time.

    I have heard rumor of Bedard going to Toronto next year since he lives there (sort of).

    “sort of”? Bedard lives in Navan in the offseason, which is essentially Ottawa. Toronto and Ottawa are 250 miles apart. That’s like saying everyone in Spokane lives in Seattle (sort of). That’s like saying the University of Washington is in Eugene, Oregon, sort of.

    Also Soonerman, dude, “compencitory”? (Not to mention the “their” and “there” etc). I really don’t like being a grammar nazi, but we reach a point….

    So, at what point do you decide three games back isn’t spitting distance? If they’re at -3 on July 15, is GMZ just sitting on deals waiting for a losing streak to pull the trigger?

    Beane dealt Harden on July 8 when the A’s were five games behind the Angels and 3 1/2 games out in the wild card, but he had a lot of injured regulars at that point and clearly decided that the A’s wouldn’t be able to sustain, let alone climb ahead of those clubs. I still think he didn’t get as much for Harden as he should have, but Harden did have a history of fragility… just like Bedard. (Aside: does anybody think the “injury-prone Canadian pitcher” thing is one reason why the M’s were willing to move Aumont to the bullpen?)

  66. tmac9311 on May 11th, 2009 8:10 pm

    i have no problem dealing either guy, especially if Vargas starts hot and R-R-Hyphen-S is finally back. Wash would definitely be expendable. Bedard to Toronto would probably make the Canadian’s happy, to get a near ace, Who’s Canadian. If we can get something for Wash pull the trigger. Beltre i say hang on to. As far as I know (granted its not much) behind Adrian there isn’t much, and if he keeps hitting .220 his market may not be all that large in the offseason. If he gets it together we still got until July.

    Now i know we are in the minority, but i feel like Z could easily get away with trading Wash right now. All these moves like Aardsma, Guti, Endy, Branyan, etc. have to make the fans have faith in new management. It would be a harder sell for the casuals on Bedard, but winning solves everything, and even with a couple trades, i can’t see us falling off the standings. We may be able to sustain 3-5 games back come June and July, and people would still probably come, we still have everyone’s favorite in Jr. and Ichiro.

  67. slescotts on May 11th, 2009 8:36 pm

    First thing to do this month or by early next month is to unload Miguel Batista to the Nationals. An NL team (Atlanta) might pick up Silva, but I doubt anybody’d take his moolah. Batista or Washburn might also be dangled over the aquarium at Tropicana field…it’s possible the Rays might bite for either. If I were Z, I’d talk to those teams. I am just not quite sure what to ask for…

  68. JMHawkins on May 11th, 2009 8:51 pm

    Beltre i say hang on to. As far as I know (granted its not much) behind Adrian there isn’t much,

    Actually, (though I don’t advocate trading Beltre) replacing Beltre with Tui would be a smaller drop off than Bedard to, ah, who? Olson maybe? Silva? Batista? Or, move Lopez to 3B and go looking for that lefty 2B Dave was talking about a while back. 3B seems to be deeper than SP (though that’s in relative terms only).

  69. DAMellen on May 11th, 2009 9:01 pm

    The Rays are too smart to give up anything for Washburn.

  70. aaron c. on May 11th, 2009 9:02 pm

    An NL team (Atlanta) might pick up Silva, but I doubt anybody’d take his moolah.

    No one is taking Silva. No one. It isn’t happening. He’s bad. We’re stuck with him.

    Batista or Washburn might also be dangled over the aquarium at Tropicana field…it’s possible the Rays might bite for either. If I were Z, I’d talk to those teams. I am just not quite sure what to ask for…

    The Rays are one of the smartest (if not the smartest) franchises in baseball. They’re way ahead of most teams in terms of pitching analysis and they have one of the best rotations in the league and one of the premier prospects in the game in Durham. Why on earth would they want Batista or Washburn?

  71. Slurve on May 11th, 2009 9:55 pm

    Assuming the Nationals aren’t insane and someone doesn’t come completely out of nowhere in the next month there aren’t going to be any pitchers worth taking at #2.

    Matzek/Scheppers/White/Miller/Purke to name a few. There aren’t a lot of picks after Strasburg that you really would love at the 10th pick but not the 2nd it’s a pretty weak class at the 2nd pick.

  72. JMHawkins on May 11th, 2009 9:58 pm

    Batista or Washburn might also be dangled over the aquarium at Tropicana field…it’s possible the Rays might bite for either. If I were Z, I’d talk to those teams. I am just not quite sure what to ask for…

    It’s a good idea to update your scouting report at least twice a decade to avoid mistakes like this. I know it’s hard not to think of the Rays as hopeless g’dawfuls (and even harder not to think of them as the D-Rays) but Jeff Niemann is the only guy in their rotation that Washburn would be an improvement over this year, and I suspect the Rays would rather have Niemann for the future.

  73. Kid_A on May 12th, 2009 12:34 am

    If Phil Hughes pitches like he did in his last outing, the Yankees might be worth talking to. Steinbrenner’s gotta make it work this year some how and right now (though A-Rod was out and Teix in a major slump) he’s not looking so good.

    Hughes? Austin Jackson? You never know, it is the Yankees after all.

    The Rays might be a good trade partner by mid-season if Balfour, Percival and Wheeler are still pitching as poorly as they have been. But that’s for RP, definitely not SP. Hopefully Aardsma, Kelley and those guys will still be pitching well by then.

  74. WrathofLeeElia on May 12th, 2009 7:26 am

    Oooh! Trade speculation!

    Sometimes it’s worth waiting into July to see how the prospects coming back the other way are responding. The other team knows what it’s getting in Bedard, Washburn, et. al. In contrast, there’s more crystal-ball-watching involved in evaluating a Brett Wallace (St.L), Mat Gamel (Mil), or Brett Cecil (Tor).

    And yeah, that’s the caliber of player that would headline a Bedard package. I have a hard time thinking we’re going to get five-star prospects back for a few months of Bedard or Washburn. (Travis Snider? Insane.) The only guy who would make a trade like that is… Well, I just get depressed when I think of Bill Bavasi.

  75. Earl of Tacoma on May 12th, 2009 7:47 am

    Is it possible that this roster was built to showcase the aging starting rotation who still have some trade value? Improving the defense makes those pitchers look better. It would make sense to me that if there were a long term plan to restock the farm system, managment would want to maximize trade value for guys who won’t be around to contribute in 3 years anyway. If the plan was to seriously contend this year, seems they would have brought in at least one big bat.

  76. Jeff Nye on May 12th, 2009 8:01 am

    The plan for this season has always been pretty clear. Try to contend in a weak division as best you can while building for the future and not hamstringing yourself with bad deals.

    We aren’t three years away from contention.

  77. Dave on May 12th, 2009 8:13 am

    And yeah, that’s the caliber of player that would headline a Bedard package.

    No, it’s not.

  78. Osfan on May 12th, 2009 12:17 pm

    The only guy who would make a trade like that is… Well, I just get depressed when I think of Bill Bavasi.

    There are still some GM’s like Bavasi out there. Ed Wade for sure and, to a lesser extent, Ned Colletti, Dave Dombrowski, and Brian Sabean. Wade has already been fleeced pretty badly, but the other guys still have some interesting prospects. Dayton Moore made some questionable trades/free agent signings this past offseason revealing that he may not properly value his players. They could be robbed.

  79. joser on May 12th, 2009 12:37 pm

    If the plan was to seriously contend this year, seems they would have brought in at least one big bat.

    Who? The free agent “big bats” were all defensive liabilities or out-of-our-price-range guys like Teixeira (or in Ibanez’ case, both). I’m sure the M’s FO looked at trades to acquire a “big bat” but those guys don’t come any cheaper in players than they do in dollars on the FA market. Of the options available, maybe the best was to pick up a left-handed bat and stick him at DH where he’ll do no harm. If he happens to be a former local hero, now an aging superstar with his best years behind him, at least he’ll sell some jerseys and pull in a few nostalgic fans… and you never know, you might get one more year of pop out of him.

  80. irefice on May 12th, 2009 4:32 pm

    I’m not punting 2009 yet, but I’m really hoping

    Well, thank you for not giving up yet. I agree we need to be concerned about this skid, but their stronger-than-expected first month performance is precicely why we are already becoming alarmed by the past week.

    I agree that the management should think about the long term health of the club, but I do think we should always be playing this year’s baseball and this night’s baseball, and try to keep next year where it belongs.

    Basically, I am concerned about your interest in trading away two players who are each performing above what we have come to expect from them simply because we don’t think it will last. Is there any other reason to trade them besides our fear that they will stink in August/September (and if need be, October)?

    Wouldn’t it be better to trade quality prospects from the minors who will be ready to play later this year or next year but ones whom we do not have a need for just yet? My concern is that there are no secrets in Baseball. Everything you have cited here is well known among the scouts around the country. Do you think these players stock is really that much higher now than it was two months ago or will be two months from now? We would just end up trading a lemon for another lemon and what does that gain us for long term growth potential?

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