Washburn's hot start

Jarrod Washburn is 3-0 for the first time since 1998. Geoff Baker, for one, is happy for him:

    The Washburn I've gotten to know the past few years has always pitched that way: through pain and other obstacles. His real life persona is not quite what some fans have thought about him. They are entitled to their opinions, but he really did not receive a whole lot of run support his first three seasons as a Mariner.
    Washburn --snip--

    "Hopefully, it never ends, this is fun," he said. "All the guys in here are having fun. It's exciting, we're looking forward to coming to the park. Winning's fun. I'm out there yelling and screaming, I don't even know what I'm doing. But I like it when it's happening."

    Washburn is 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA. Not bad for a fourth starter. One big reason this first-place team is now 9-5. If he keeps this up, that $10.3 million salary might no longer be the first number quoted whenever his name is mentioned.

    Now who ever would have dreamed that possible? Not him, that's for sure. But this early season has been full of surprises.

Entering this season, Washburn's record with the Mariners was 23-43. Was he really that bad? No, not really. With just average luck and opposition he would have been roughly a .500 pitcher over those three seasons. Is a .500 pitcher worth $27 million over three years? Well, no. But when Washburn signed with the M's after the 2005 season, that's roughly what they were getting. At least the durable ones, and Washburn had been pretty durable.
It wasn't a good contract. As I believe I wrote at the time, the Mariners overpaid because they thought Washburn's 3.20 ERA in 2005 meant more than 4.64 and 4.34 marks in the previous two seasons. But it wasn't a crazy contract, in the context of that free-spending time. And if Washburn wins more than a dozen games this season, it won't look crazy in this particular time, either.