Jarrod Washburn is a prime example of how much team defense can help a pitcher. Washburn is a flyball pitcher who strikes out very few hitters and needs defense, particularly in the outfield.
In 2008, the only competent defensive outfielder for the Mariners was Ichiro. Raul Ibanez and whoever happened to be play center field that day had very poor range collectively. Washburn's ERA/WHIP: 4.69/1.46
Now this year, he has Ichiro in right, the best defensive CF in the majors in Gutierrez, and Langerhans/Chavez in left, both arguably the best defenders in Safeco's massive left field.
This year he has three centerfielders. Washburn's ERA/WHIP: 2.87/1.09 (as of July 22nd).
This article is by no means a knock defensive value. I myself love it. I love watching our outfield do work everyday, and I love to see our front office finally entering the 21st century.
But the bottom line is, no matter how much you stop the other team from scoring, you have to put something up on the scoreboard yourself if you plan on winning.
Way too many Mariners fans think Ryan Langerhans is worth more than a Carlos Lee, just because Lee is a pretty bad defender, which he is.
Way too many Mariners fans, especially on B/R, think management want to put the best defenders out on the field, however light hitting they may be.
I think management wants to win every year that they can. They wanted to turn this thing around in one year and the quickest and cheapest way to do that was through defense.
They realized that our starting staff, outside of Silva. wasn’t as bad as their standard stats would show, and that the defense let them down. They realized that our pitching, with a great defense, was enough to carry us to over .500.
As long as we have Zduriencik in charge of operations, power will be increasingly the name of the game. Look at his top positional draft picks in Milwaukee.
2001: JJ Hardy, well rounded SS defensive minded but could handle the stick; Brad Nelson was the same but more bat less glove, still pretty well rounded.
2002: Prince Fielder...he got some pop.
2003: Rickie Weeks, well rounded second baseman
2005: Ryan Braun and Matt Gamel are both big hitters who are average-to-below average defenders.
2007: Matt LaPorta is a second Ryan Braun.
What we see here is that at premium positions (C, SS, 2B, CF) he values defense (although Weeks is below average) and he reinforced that with the acquisition of Gutierrez and the dumping of Betancourt.
However in positions like 1B, 3B, LF, and RF he wants hitters. If he can get some defensive value out of them, then so be it.
Once again, the quick fix for this year was to put a heavy emphasis on defense. I can almost guarantee you we will start to see more of an emphasis on sheer power players like Russell Branyan.
So, next time you rule out a move to acquire a hitter because he doesn't fit "Z's defensive ways," think again. In years to come the hometown nine will see defensive minded table setters up the middle, with big boppers at secondary positions.
Defense AND offense win championships, not one or the other.