The terror was palpable among intelligent Minnesota baseball fans yesterday as reports surfaced that the roster spot opened by Bobby Keppel’s departure to Japan would be filled via a signing of Jarrod Washburn. That roster spot will instead be filled by 34-year-old reliever Clay Condrey. For the moment, Twins fans can breathe a sigh of relief.
The Detroit Tigers learned last August and September what many of us, including Jack Zduriencik, already knew: Jarrod Washburn is not an ace. Despite his 2.64 ERA through July, Washburn tanked with Detroit, posting a 1-3 record with a 7.33 ERA and 7.00 FIP.
Now, of course, neither his partial season with Detroit nor his brilliant start with Seattle are indicative of his true talent. Put the two together, and you get something much closer, as Washburn’s final line resulted in a 4.58 FIP and a 4.79 tERA, and that’s with his lowest walk rate since 2004.
Given that Washburn will turn 36 in 2010, it’s not likely that he improves upon those total numbers, especially with the lack of exceptional defenders in the Twins’ outfield. As an extreme fly ball pitcher, Washburn is likely to give up an above average number of home runs, and without defenders to make to turn deep fly balls into outs, he will also give up an above average number of extra base hits.
That said, Washburn isn’t nearly as terrible a pitcher as some would make him out to be. He probably tops out at a 4.50 FIP, and a standard projection will place him in the 4.60-4.90 FIP range, which nears 2 WAR value in 170 innings pitched. A fair one year contract for Washburn would probably come in at about 7-9 million dollars.
However, in the case of Minnesota, it just wouldn’t make sense to dedicate that amount of resources. Even without considering the fact that their defense wouldn’t leverage Washburn’s skills at all, the increase over Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano, or Brian Duensing probably doesn’t eclipse one half of a win. As such, Minnesota would only be realizing about 2 million dollars worth of value on their 7+ million dollar investment.
Clay Condrey isn’t a terribly useful piece. CHONE projects him for all of one run above replacement. However, Condrey is probably going to receive the minimum if the deal is even guaranteed. As such, this move won’t dent the Twins’ financial ability to fill their need at either 2B or 3B, where the player acquired will actually be replacing a replacement level player.
Of course, there is still time, Bill Smith. I’m not stopping you.
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