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Same Song, Second Verse

During the winter, the Mariners decided that the only thing keeping them from contending last year was the back end of their rotation. They got disastrous performances from Jeff Weaver and Horacio Ramirez , but they still managed to win 88 games, so they decided that by improving on two of the worst starting pitchers in baseball, they’d make themselves a legitimate candidate for the A.L. pennant in 2008. They spared no expense, throwing a ridiculous amount of money at Carlos Silva and trading their entire farm system for Erik Bedard.

After those two moves, they announced that Jarrod Washburn and Miguel Batista were the new #4 and #5 starters, and that the improvement they’d get from those two over what they got from Ramirez and Weaver would be enough to make them the team to beat in the American League West. After getting pounded again last night, they now stand at 18-29 with the worst record in the junior circuit, and there’s this:

Jeff Weaver and Horacio Ramirez, 2007 ERA: 6.58
Jarrod Washburn and Miguel Batista, 2008 ERA; 6.56

The names have changed, but the performance is simply a rerun. Weaver and Ramirez combined for -5.26 WPA in 245 innings last season. Washburn and Batista have racked up a combined -1.40 WPA in 91 innings of work, which puts them on pace for -3.76 WPA over a comparable innings total, so at least the new struggles have come in situations that don’t matter quite as much, but that’s not the narrative this team was selling over the winter. The Mariners really believed they were going to have one of the best rotations in baseball with a staff or proven veterans and Mel Stottlemyre as the pitching coach, but instead, the starters ERA is 4.98 while pitching half their games in a pitchers park.

The season is already over in Seattle, and while the offense and defense have been horrible as well, the back end of the starting rotation has once again been a disaster. So much for proven veterans.