- Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik sounds like an executive stuck in the middle. His brain tells him that his club is just not good enough to make the playoffs this year while his heart keeps creating scenarios in which somehow they sneak in.
Hey Adrian Beltre is due off the DL on Tuesday and Erik Bedard the week after that, and now the Mariners have the sure-handed Jack Wilson at shortstop. So maybe, just maybe Seattle could make up either the 7 1-2 games it is out in the West or the 5 1-2 in the wild card.
But when I noted to Zduriencik that his club is minus-43 this year in run differential and no club has ever made the playoffs with a mark that bad (the worst was minus-42 by the 2005 Padres), Zduriencik said, "we are on the outside looking in and it would take extraordinary things to happen." In fact, the longer we talked, the more it felt to me like Zduriencik was willing to move Jarrod Washburn before tomorrow's 4 p.m. deadline.
Has anyone raised the possibility that Zduriencik worked so hard on improving the Mariners' defense before this season with -- at least in part -- the aim of making the club's veteran starters more attractive as midseason trade bait?
If so, mission accomplished. Washburn is walking fewer batters and giving up fewer home runs than ever before, but what's most striking about his season is that he's given up only 7.4 hits per nine innings. And that, of course, is due to an absurdly low .249 batting average on balls in play.
As you know, that's mostly luck. But it's a little bit of defense, too.
I don't mean to diminish Washburn's accomplishments this season. Those walks, and those home runs? That's him, and he deserves our applause. But that 2.64 ERA is not all him. And if the M's can shake loose a top prospect -- whether from the Yankees or elsewhere -- for Washburn, Zduriencik will deserve his own raucous clapping.