New York Yankees Need to "Wash" Up the Back End of Their Rotation

Sam FogelgarenCorrespondent IJuly 24, 2009

NEW YORK - JULY 01:  Jarrod Washburn #56 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the New York Yankees on July 1, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The New York Yankees are currently among the most productive teams in baseball. At 58-37, the Yanks trail only the Dodgers for the best record in baseball.

But don't be fooled by this statistic; the Yankees, like many other teams, have issues that could bite them in the near future.

The main problem is pitching, and more specifically, the back end of the rotation.

C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett have formed a formidable 1-2 punch in the beginning of the rotation, and Andy Pettitte has done a decent job holding the number three spot.

But the number four and five spots have produced, shall we say, inconsistent results. 

We've seen Joba Chamberlain struggle this season. Though nothing horrible has happened, his inconsistency and tendency to throw a lot of pitches has held him back from becoming a great pitcher.

On June 12th against the Mets, Joba threw 100 pitches in just four innings. The incredible amount of pitches in the tiny amount of time is what holds Joba back from becoming an elite starter; he should be placed in the bullpen.

But that argument is for a different day. 

Chien-Ming Wang's situation is unfortunate. Wang was recognized as one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball over the last three years, until something happened this year. An apparent injury took nearly everything off of his famed sinker and caused an implosion for Wang, who is now 1-6 with an ERA of 9.64 over nine starts. 

Whether it's due to injuries or pitch management, the undeniable truth is that the Yankees have issues, and they need to take care of them now.

That is why they need to make a trade for Jarrod Washburn.

Over the course of the last nine seasons, Washburn has proved to be as consistent as anybody in the league, going 89-96 with an ERA of 3.97 over 256 starts. During those same seasons, Washburn has had four losing seasons, three coming over the last four seasons with Seattle.

Perhaps Washburn's worst season was the '08 season. But Washburn's 5-14 record, along with the 4.69 ERA, aren't as bad as they looks. From June 9th until the end of the season, Washburn was 3-7—due to the minuscule run support he was receiving—with an ERA of just 3.52. 

Washburn is a solid pitcher. Thought he's not going to give you 20 wins and an ERA below three, he will give you at least five solid innings each game he goes out; most importantly, he will keep you in the game.

If you think he's still mediocre, consider this: Over 19 starts this season, Washburn is 8-6 with an ERA of 2.71. He's 35-years-old and in the last year of his contract. 

If the Yankees do get Washburn, they have much more flexibility with Wang's rehab and Joba's development. If the Yankees feel as if Washburn can pitch effectively for a few more years, that could convince them to move Joba to the bullpen—assuming Wang comes back the way he was. 

The Mariners signed Washburn to a four-year, $38 million contract prior to the '06 season. Even with Washburn's magnificent performance this season, he won't be getting another four-year, $38 million contract again. If the Yankees do choose to resign him, they could easily land him for a two-year, $10 million deal.

Given that Washburn isn't the only pitcher who might get traded this off-season, the Yankees might make a move for another pitcher. A name that has been tossed around is Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo, 32, is known for his contributions to the 2004 World Series winning Red Sox team.

Now on the Cincinnati Reds, Arroyo is decent, but not what he used to be. Over 20 starts, Arroyo is 10-9 with a 5.21 ERA. These are decent numbers, but nothing amazing. That 5.21 is nearly double Washburn's 2.71 ERA, and Washburn is three years older.

The last aspect of this trade, which is what would scare many Yankee fans, is what to give up for Washburn. Though 35, expensive, and in the last season of his contract, Washburn is pitching lights out baseball, and the Mariners aren't sure what to do. Many have been speculating whether Seattle is buying or selling right now.

If they decide to sell, Seattle wouldn't be asking for too much, considering it's the last year of the deal and the fact that he's 35. Two middle of the line prospects would probably do it. If they can get by with giving up George Kontos and Juan Miranda, the Yankees should make the deal. Though Miranda is recognized as a top prospect at first base, he won't be seeing much playing time with the presence of Mark Teixiera. 

In short, Jarrod Washburn can provide the Yankees with consistency in the back of the rotation. He won't cost them too much talent, and if the Yankees decide to resign him, he will not be asking for a lot of money.