Doug Fister

Today I’d like to do an early check in on the Doug Fister trade. (Maybe someday this will be known as the Charlie Furbush trade, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.) For starters, what did the Mariners give up? Doug Fister was until the trade having his best season, going a brutal 3-12, but with a sparkling 3.33 ERA. Even adjusting for Safeco’s aid to pitchers, he add an ERA+ of 113, meaning he was 13 percent better than league average, even when adjusting for park effects. He was giving up less than a hit per inning, and he averaged roughly 3 strikeouts for every walk. Then he went to Detroit. The sample size is minuscule, as he has only pitched 3 games, but they have been brutal games. He is averaging less than 5 innings a start, going 1-1. He has given up 24 hits in only 14.2 innings, with an ERA of 6.14. That works out to an ERA+ of 65, 35 percent worse than league average. So far, this resembles the Jarrod Washburn trade of 2009, when Washburn went from a 2.64 ERA with the Mariners to a 7.33 ERA with the Tigers and helped the Tigers miss the playoffs after losing a one-game tiebreaker.

David Pauley tells the same story. After a 2.15 ERA in 39 games with the Mariners, while giving u only about 6 hits per 9 innings, he has collapsed in Detroit. In 5 games, after throwing a bit over 5 innings, he has posted an ERA of 4.76, and he is giving up nearly 16 hits per 9 innings. His ERA+ has dropped from an astounding 176 to a painful 87. The sample size for Pauley is even smaller than for Fister, but so far the numbers are brutal.

Charlie Furbush

What did the Mariners get in return? The rookie Charlie Furbush has had interesting results. He went 1-3 for Detroit with a 3.62 ERA, but in Seattle he has gone 2-1 with a 4.76 ERA. The win-loss record has improved even though he has gone to a much weaker offense. In Furbush’s case, the effect of a small sample size is evident. He has pitched a single bad game against Texas, throwing only 4 innings while giving up 6 earned runs, walking 4 and striking out none. In contrast, against the league’s best offense, he beat Boston, giving up 1 run over 7 innings, with 6 strikeouts and only 2 walks. So far, the return is good. We will see if Furbush can keep it up.

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Second year outfielder Casper Wells has had an outstanding run in his short time in Seattle. After hitting .257 in Detroit with a .323 on-base percentage and a .451 slugging percentage, he has hit .333 in Seattle with a .415 on-base percentage and a .583 slugging. He hit 4 home runs in Detroit and has already hit 3 in Seattle. This hot streak won’t last, but he still looks like a productive future outfielder.

The other two players were minor leaguers. Francisco Martinez is 20-year old third basemen hitting poorly in AA. He is young for the level, so he still rates as a solid but not spectacular prospect. The player to be named later is supposedly one of Detroit’s top 3 picks in the 2010 draft. If that is correct, we should find out the PTBNL shortly. Regardless, we are looking at another solid prospect.

Overall, the Fister trade is looking excellent for Seattle so far. Fister and Pauley were both traded at peak value. Furbush and Wells were both bought at low ebb, and both look like they have a future in Seattle. Further, a pair of minor league prospects could be very useful. Overall, this looks like a clear Seattle win as of the middle of August. We will have to keep watching to see if the success remains.

  • Verdun2

    Interesting idea here. You’d think that movign to Detroit would help, not hurt Fister. Be interesting to see how this turns out.

    • JohnHarr

      Something I don’t discuss in the article is the impact of leaving the Mariners defense.  Yes, Safeco is a pitcher’s park, but so is Comerica in Detroit.  But an outfield of Ichiro, Franklin Gutierrez, and recently Trayvon Robinson is substantially better than being backed up by Austin Jackson, the corpse of Magglio Ordonez, and the statue known as Delmon Young.  So not only is Fister moving to a slightly less favorable park, but he is a flyball pitcher losing a flyball pitchers best friends, talented outfielders.  But the better run support in Detroit will surely count for something over time.

    • Detroit would only help in the run support dept.

  • It was tough to see Fister go. In the long run, I think we got the better part of the deal.

  • Verdun2

    The comment on the quality of the outfield is good. Wish I’d thought of it.