Friday, December 31, 2010
Choices, Choices, Choices 12.6.10
"LaRoche had probably the 2nd best year at the plate of his 7 year career in 2010. But even still it seems as though he is give you similar numbers each year you put him out there. He is going to hit .260-.280, hit 22-27 bombs, drive in 80-90 runs, while providing quality defense at 1st base. What Nats fans should be most aware of is his UZR/150 score, 4.8 for 2010. What that means is that he saved his team 4.8 more runs, per 150 games, than the average first baseman."
Now, the "choices" has become "choice". LaRoche is easily the best option out there so lets delve a bit more into his statistics.
162-game offensive averages - .271 AVG. .827 OPS. 26 HR. 93 RBI.
Past 3 years of WAR - 1.7 in 2008. 2.6 in 2009. 2.1 in 2010.
Past 3 years of UZR - -4.8 in 2008. 0.2 in 2009. 5.2 in 2010.
Past 3 years of Fielding % - .993 in 2008. .999 in 2009. .991 in 2010.
Owner of a lifetime WAR of 11.6 LaRoche provides steady defense and consistent offense at a position that values moonshots and generates strikeouts. It should be noted that in the top 10 most comparable players is former-MVP Justin Morneau and Adrian Gonzalez, who just went to Boston for 4 prospects (2 top prospects).
LaRoche is a well-above average defender whose only rough years have come in a Pirates uniform, not too surprising. If the Nats were to finally ink LaRoche we would have an athletic infield that consists of Zimmerman at 3B, Desmond at SS, Espinosa at 2B, and LaRoche at 1B. That would make life for our pitchers (especially the sinkerballers) much better. Gone would be the days of infielders too scared to make the throw in case the first baseman couldn't pick it.
Back in the original post we called for LaRoche over all others, that long-shot has now turned into a near sure-thing; its now only a matter of years and dollars. Our guess? The LaRoche camp wants 3 years/$21 million, Rizzo doesn't want to go to 3 years, but wants a 2 year/$15 million deal.
In addition to all the benefits included in signing LaRoche and creating a defense-first approach for our young infield/pitching staff, the Nats would also be getting a smart ballplayer. We wouldn't have to worry about missed signs, bad baserunning, or misplays in the field. Coming from a family of baseball players (Father and Brother both big leaguers), he would bring a veteran presence and high baseball IQ into the clubhouse, something that is desperately needed to lead our newcomers.
The Nats may not have gotten their first choice (Pena), and the fans certainly did not get their first choice (Dunn), but I believe that they still have the chance to make the right choice. It seems to be a matter of time until we see the tweets start pouring in, announcing a deal with LaRoche. But this is baseball, and anything can happen.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
And on this Day, I announce to you that the next winner is...
Day was a holdover from the Montreal days and he began the 2005 season as the Nats #2 starter. This, however, didn't last too long...
His first start in a Curly W was for the Nationals first win in franchise history. And though he didn't record a decision he pitched a respectable 5.2 innings while only allowing 3 earned runs, with 3 strikeouts and 1 walk. The rest of his time in 2005 had a very roller-coaster-like feel to it, some good starts, some bad; a grand total of 12 appearances. Lets look at a couple of his 2005 greatest/worst hits.
April 20th vs. Atlanta - 7.0 IP. 3 hits. 0 R. 0 ER. 4 BB. 1 K.
May 23rd vs Cincinnati - 1.0 IP. 0 hits. 0 R. 0 ER. 0 BB. 0 K.
April 11th vs Atlanta - 4.1 IP. 9 hits. 7 R. 7 ER. 1 BB. 0 K.
May 7th vs San Fransisco - 1.1 IP. 2 hits. 4 R. 4 ER. 1 BB. 1 K.
May 25th vs Cincinnati - 2.0 IP. 4 hits. 5 R. 5 ER. 3 BB. 2 K.
Ouch. I find it amazing that his 2 best starts and 2 of his worst starts were against the same team... Just fantastic in his ineffectiveness. That May 25th start would be his last appearance in a Curly W in 2005, as he would be sent to the Rockies with JJ Davis for "slugger" Preston Wilson.
Day would stay with the Rockies for the rest of 2005 and would start 2006 as a member of their starting rotation. Things change quickly, however, when a starter allows 16 earned runs in just 3 starts. Day was placed on waivers and the Nationals jumped at the chance for another reclamation project. He made his 2006 Nationals Debut on April 30th. Here is a quick rehash of his 5 appearances.
April 30th vs St. Louis - 5.0 IP. 6 hits. 4 R. 4 ER. 3 BB. 1 K.
May 5th vs Pittsburgh - 7.0 IP. 4 hits. 0 R. 0 ER. 1 BB. 5 K.
May 11th vs Cincinnati - 7.1 IP. 7 hits. 1 R. 1 ER. 1 BB. 3 K.
May 17th vs Chicago (NL) - 4.0 IP. 8 hits. 4 R. 3 ER. 3 BB. 3 K.
May 22nd vs Houston - 3.2 IP. 4 hits. 6 R. 6 ER. 3 BB. 3 K.
May 23rd vs Shoulder Soreness
June 6th vs Rotator Cuff Surgery
October 3rd vs Release
2005 Nationals Stats: 12 Games. 6.75 ERA. 1.83 WHIP. 0.64 BB/K. 61 ERA+.
2006 Nationals Stats: 5 Games. 4.73 ERA. 1.50 WHIP. 1.18 BB/K. 92 ERA+.
Zach Day's career in a Nats uniform seemed to be on the upswing in 2006 until he came down with the dreaded "shoulder tendonitis". His WHIP was down, his walk to strikeout ratio was much improved and he seemed to have turned the corner. But at 27 years old, with a history of ineffectiveness and mediocrity, Day wasn't worth the trouble anymore. He would never again pitch in the big leagues.
I remember at the end of the Nationals' RFK era in 2007, your player shirt was displayed proudly, and at $5, next to another Former Nats Great - Termel Sledge. Congratulations to you, Zach Day, for joining the immortals in becoming a Former Nats Great.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Thompson had an interesting history with the Nationals organization, having come over here during the 2009 season in the Nick Johnson trade to the Fish. At the time he was a 22 year-old lefty from Florida, making his was through the Marlins Farm System. He came out of High School and was drafted 22nd overall in the 2005 First Year Player Draft.
Over the years his stats have been very back and forth, but one main problem has been evident; he has struggled with the higher levels of the minors. In 2008 Thompson had a 5.62 ERA and a 1.85 WHIP in AA Jacksonville. Held back another year by the Fish, Thompson stayed with the Jacksonville Suns and improved to a 4.11 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP in limited action before he was traded at the deadline. For the rest of the year he pitched for the Nationals at AA Harrisburg where he put up a respectable 3.31 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in 6 games.
2010, however, turned out to be a different story. He pitched the entire year with the Senators save 1 mid-April start at AAA Syracuse) and his stats took a nose-dive. In 26 starts he had a dreadful 4-13 record with a 5.80 ERA and 1.58 WHIP, while his BB/9 ratio ballooned to a career high 5.40 walks per 9 innings. Some other bad stats are a career high HR allowed (16), career high walks (53), and a career high runs allowed by 34 more runs (88 vs previous high 54).
Last year could prove to be an aberration in the young career of Aaron Thompson, or it could be a sign of things to come. The Nats obviously believe it was the latter. For now, Thompson goes to the Pirates, joining Joel Hanrahan and Scott Olsen, in the city where careers go to die.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
You know the stories of Wang and Ankiel, but you may not know anything about Mattheus, a 19th round pick for Colorado in the 2003 First Year Player Draft. He first came to the Nationals farm system in the trade that sent Joe Beimel to the Rockies. Just 3 weeks prior to the trade, Mattheus went under the knife for the all-too-familiar Tommy John Surgery. Fast-forward to this year, he was healthy enough to get in 10 games in, spread across the GCL Nationals and Vermont Lake Monsters. His stats: 10 games, 11.1 IP, 0.79 ERA, 3 R, 1ER, 11K, 3BB, .971 WHIP.
Mattheus will most likely start the season in the Nationals Bullpen.
These moves lead us to several decisions. We have 43 people for the 40-Man Roster. Who stays? Who goes?
Atilano, Balester, Broderick, Burnett, Carr, Chico, Clippard, Detwiler, Hernandez, Kimball, Lannan, Marquis, Martin, Martis, Maya, Mock, (Edwin) Ramirez, (Henry) Rodriguez, Severino, Slaten, Stammen, Storen, Strasburg, Thompson, Zimmermann
Flores, Ramos, Rodriguez
Desmond, Espinosa, Gonzalez, Marrero, Zimmerman
Bernadina, Brown, Harper, Maxwell, Morgan, Morse, Werth
We need space for Ankiel, Mattheus, and Wang. Lets look at the candidates.
Matt Chico: Career Totals: 7-15 Record. 4.95 ERA. 5.15 FIP. 1.56 WHIP. -0.3 WAR
Matt Chico was one of the stars of the 2007 Rotation Cattle Call, ending up as our #2 starter in 2008 before his career was sidetracked by Tommy John surgery. Never more than a placeholder, Chico holds value in that he throws a baseball with his left hand. At 27, he is running out of chances.
Luis Atilano: Career Totals: 6-7 Record. 5.15 ERA. 5.00 FIP. 1.49 WHIP. 0.2 WAR
Luis Atilano's only career experience came this past year when he had an outstanding Spring Training and became first in line to fill in for the 1st injured/mental-breakdown Nats Starter. When Marquis was embarrassingly bad to start the season Atilano came in and was highly effective for month, winning 3 of his first 4 starts. Then he looked down, saw the ground was far, far away, and fell apart. Atilano pitched in the rotation until July, and then was put out of his misery and sent back down to AAA Syracuse.
Shairon Martis: Career Totals: 6-6 Record. 5.33 ERA. 5.54 FIP. 1.43 WHIP. -0.2 WAR
The career of Shairon Martis was the precursor to Atilano's. Earned a spot in the rotation out of Spring Training in '09, won 5 of his first 7 starts (including an amazing complete game victory over St. Louis), and then never won another start. This was over a year ago. Martis didn't even scratch the Majors last year as he put up pedestrian numbers in AAA; 4.09 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. The plus side is that Martis is just 23 years old, so he still has some time to develop.
Garrett Mock: Career Totals: 4-13 Record. 5.17 ERA. 4.38 FIP. 1.67 WHIP. 1.1 WAR.
Mock has always been touted by Nats brass as one of the best "stuff" guys in the organization. What that really means is that he has all the talent in the world but he hasn't been able to harness it (Daniel Cabrera Syndrome). His ERA is dreadful, his WHIP is worse and he just hasn't been able to stay healthy. At 27 years old the only thing Garrett has going for him right now is his 8.03 K/9.
Atahualpa Severino: Career Totals (Minors): 26-9 Record. 2.77 ERA. 1.155 WHIP.
Severino is a 26 year old left-handed reliever, meaning he has yet to really find his niche as a pitcher. He has dabbled a bit with closing while in Potomac in 2009, but has been relegated to regular bullpen duty otherwise. His minor league numbers are pretty solid, but he is 26 years old and has yet to make the majors. Will the Nationals have a need for another lefty arm out of the pen?
Craig Stammen: Career Totals: 8-11 Record. 5.12 ERA. 4.34 FIP. 1.40 WHIP. 2.1 WAR.
Stammen seemed to reinvent himself over the 2nd half of last season; around August when he was demoted to the bullpen. In 16 appearances out of the 'pen, Stammen had 2 appearances where he gave up 1ER, 3 where he gave up 2ER, and 1 when he gave up more than 2ER. All of the rest of his appearances were of the 0 ER variety. The Nats are going to have a need for a solid long-reliever, and sinkerballer Craig Stammen has proven that he at least deserves a shot.
Justin Maxwell: Career Totals: .201 AVG. .698 OPS. 7.8 UZR. 1.5 WAR.
The Jim Bowden Special. Maxwell was once touted as a prototypical 5-tool player, but it has become evident over the past 4 years that he is simply a 3-tool player; speed, fielding, throwing. It's really nice to have a defensive specialist when you have a stacked line-up and little defense. Since the Nats are already planning on going into 2011 with 4 above-average defenders in the outfield who can also hit higher than .201, there is no need for a 27 year-old Maxwell to remain on the 40-Man.
Prediction: Martis, Mock, Severino, Stammen stay. Maxwell, Chico, and Atilano go.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Granted this player only had 15 at bats...
But anyway, the owner of these stats is the latest member of the Former Nats Greats.
Crash Davis! err.... Rick Short!
I kid, I kid. But seriously, this guy spent 11 years toiling away in the minors playing for the Bluefield Orioles, the High Desert Mavericks, the Frederick Keys, the Bowie Baysox, the Rochester Red Wings, the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx, the Iowa Cubs, the Salt Lake Stingers, the Omaha Royals, the Edmonton Trappers, and the New Orleans Zephyrs. 11 years. 11 whole years without a single call up to the major leagues. All this despite putting up fantastic career numbers; .319 AVG, 109 HR, 760 RBI, .339 OBP, in 1,473 games.
That is until the Nationals came calling.
I was at the game. I was sitting in the stands at RFK on June 10, 2005. And from my seat in Section 471, Row 5, and Seat 9, I saw a man who waited 11 long, painful, bus-filled years achieve his dream. It was the bottom of the 5th and Short came up to bat for Sun-Woo Kim and proceeded to hit an RBI single to left, scoring Brian Schneider. His first Big-League at-bat resulted in not only his 1st hit, but his 1st RBI as well. Just a great story.
The moment was short-lived, as he was sent back to the Zephyrs the next day. He came back up for a few days in July and then permanently in September.
His game log is to follow.
June 10 - 1-1, 1B, 1 RBI
July 2 - 0-1
July 3 - 0-0, BB
September 2 - 0-1
September 3 - 0-1
September 7 - 1-2, 1 HR, 1 RBI (the Nats lone run in a 12-1 shellacking by the Fish)
September 11 - 1-3, 2 BB, 1 HR, 1 RBI
September 13 - 1-1, 1B
September 21 - 0-0
September 22 - 2-3, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 1 R
September 23 - 0-2
September 24 - Career Over.
Career Line is as follows. .400 AVG, .933 Slug, 1.404 OPS, 4 Runs, 4 RBI, 2 HR. But what I love is that his WAR is a 0.2, in just 17 plate appearances! His value was rated by Fangraphs as $800,000; in just 11 games!!!
Rick Short went 6-15 in a Nationals Uniform and garnered national attention from the media for his amazing journey. And all told, he only got to play in 11 Games. He only played in 34.2 Innings. He only saw a grand total of 54 pitches (21 Balls, 33 Strikes if you are curious).
It is my privilege and honor to welcome Rick Short to the ever-growing list of Former Nats Greats. You are still vastly superior to Bob Short...
Friday, December 17, 2010
- He's a proven 19 game winner who is capable of pitching with a sub-4.00 ERA.
- He showed significant progress at the end of last season, and even pitched to live hitters.
- If he pans out, Rizzo and the front office will look brilliant, signing the 2006 AL Cy Young runner-up for a measly $1 million.
- Even if he meets all of his contractual incentives, and the club has to pay him $5 million, it's still a steal.
- The amount of media attention and merchandising the Nats will get from the Far East should Wang become a regular starter will make the Lerners even richer, which means even more big free agents to DC.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Willingham, though still under team control through this coming season, is 31 years old and his body is breaking down like a 38 year old. He has had numerous stints on the DL for a variety of maladies. And, while it hurts to see the Hammer go, sometimes you have to do whats best for the long-term good of the team. For a team that needs to get faster, more athletic, and better defensively, Hammer (and Dunn) don't fit that mold.
[Update - 3:27]
In return for Willingham, the Nats are receiving RHP Henry Rodriguez and OF Corey Brown.
23 year old right-handed power pitcher. Pitched 27.2 innings with the A's last year and put up a 4.55 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, and an absolutely filthy 10.73 K/9. In AAA Sacramento in 21.1 IP he had a 1.69 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and a more filthy 13.08 K/9.
Rodriguez has the potential to be a solid bullpen arm, who may even join the battle-royal for the #5 spot in the rotation.
Corey Brown is a 25 year old left-handed outfielder who has 30HR potential but has been sidelined in the past 24 months with a knee injury. A quick look at his stats show domination at the AA level (at age 24) but struggles at AAA. Last year in 90 games at AA Midland he hit .320, drove in 49, with an OPS of .916. But at 41 games at AAA Sacramento he hit just .196, with 20 RBIs, and a meager .631 OPS.
Brown is at the point in his career where its time to move on or be left behind (See: Justin Maxwell). At 25 he is reaching the point where he is too old to be a prospect and runs the risk of becoming the dreaded AAAA player (See: Justin Maxwell). In my opinion he doesn't project higher than a .260 hitter with mediocre power (See: Justin Maxwell).
The Nats were able to get 2 of the A's top 15 prospects for an arbitration eligible player that is coming off of knee surgery and who everyone knew wasn't going to be in DC for 2011 due to the Werth signing.
Trade Grade: B+
Stay tuned for more awesome coverage from your friends here at Capitol Baseball.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Without further ado, here are my thoughts on the MASN production of the Scott Boras and Jayson Werth Show.
12:57 - I now know more about the ECU Men's Basketball team than I ever knew before; in that, they have a Men's Basketball team.
12:59 - MASN Special Report!!
1:00 - John De(n)ver, does not sing Rocky Mountain High, but does introduce the team players. Riggleman, Rizzo, Werth, and Boras. In other news the "Phase Two" tally is now at 1.
1:02 - Jayson Werth is clean-shaven. Sad day for all bearded men. But he is rocking a nice Soul Patch.
1:03 - Photo-op of Werth in the new Nats Curly W-filled jersey. Takes him about an hour and a half to button it up. John Dever asks him to spin for the camera, working the catwalk.
1:06 - "Grittyness" "Will-to-win" "Unpolished" "Underdog" all out of Werth's mouth in a 10 second span.
1:07 - Big smiles from Werth about Matt Stairs.
1:08 - Wants to play "into his 40s"
1:08 - Dave Nichols asks about living up to the contract. "wants to be involved with something greater than we have seen before" "no undo pressure" "cliched answer" "going to war"
1:08 - Craig Heist says something, probably about how much he hates Ian Desmond.
1:09 - Zuck asks about having the weight of being the star "looking forward to it".
1:10 - Werth investing in lots of polish. As he says that word 3 more times.
1:11 - Feels strongly about the talent in DC.
1:11 - We Love DC says "Coors" in a very funny way. Almost like "Cooers". In a related note, Werth is excited about staying in the NL East.
1:12 - Man that profile view of the soul patch is something else...
1:13 - More cliched answers about preparation. He has been prepared by Boras pretty well.
1:14 - In my favorite moment, Werth says that he missed what happened in Philly with Cliff Lee. Fantastic.
1:15 - Werth has a no-trade clause?? News to me.
1:16 - I am curious what "Advanced training methods" Werth is referring to.
1:18 - Werth refers to his past relationship with Riggleman in 2004 with the Dodgers.
1:20 - Magic words "I hate to lose". Much better to have an athlete that hates to lose, rather than loves to win.
1:21 - "Scrappy"
1:22 - Tom Boswell!!! Awesome cable-knit sweater. "The more I play, the better I am going to get. That's pretty evident" Cocky. Love it.
1:24 - Last call!
1:26 - On Nats vs. Phillies, "If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best." "Over time, people will see that the Nationals are for real."
1:27 - John De(n)ver leaves us with "Take Me Home, Country Roads."
- Werth can be a pretty funny guy, but is a walking cliche-machine.
- Glad Boras didn't say a word.
- Glad there was no Debbie Taylor or Ray Knight.
- Only a few MASN-style audio glitches.
- Good for the Nationals for giving credentials to bloggers.
- Should be a fun year.
- Is it Spring Training yet???
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
We got Matt Stairs!
Who? Yea the pinch-hit machine that routinely kills fastballs for a living.
You may not know it, but Matt Stairs has 265 career Home Runs. That's incredible. Has anyone in their career hit 250 dingers more quietly than Stairs? His career Slugging percentage is a solid .481. Stairs has posted a positive WAR in 3 of the past 4 seasons, and he has a 16.2 WAR over his career. Over that 19 year career, he has put up very solid numbers per 162 games; 23 HR, 79 RBI, .264 AVG.
But most importantly, he can come in in a key situation and crush a pitch into the Nats bullpen.
Born in Canada, Stairs has said that the only reason he played professional baseball was because he wasn't a good enough hockey player. He will provide veteran leadership and a grinder-type attitude to a young and inexperienced clubhouse.
Stairs was signed in 1989 as a pitcher/shortstop (!!!) by the Montreal Expos, he made his major league debut with the team in May of 1992. By the time Spring Training rolls around, Stairs will be 43 years hold, having made his Major League debut 5 months before Bryce Harper was born. He will take his minor league deal, with an invite to Spring Training, and break camp with the club once the regular season begins. The consummate professional, he knows by now that he won't get too much action in the field and that his true value comes with his power bat off the bench.
Giving us something off the bench that the Nats have not seen since the early days of Wily Mo Pena and Alex Escobar (Former Nats Greats?). Using his patented "Swing-Hard-In-Case-You-Hit-It" approach, I look forward to his exploits in a Curly W.
In case of emergency, use Stairs.
- Tim Lincecum
- Matt Cain
- Jonathan Sanchez
- Madison Bumgarner
- Jordan Zimmermann - Brought in to be the 2nd starter behind Strasburg, he will have to take on a larger role this year than the team wants him to. This embodies the problem that this rotation has had for several years: forcing guys into more prominent roles than they may be ready for.
- Jason Marquis - Money. The reason Marquis is this high on the list has nothing to do with his performance last year, whether his relative success late in the year or his abhorrent beginning. It's all about the money, and with $7.5 million guaranteed to Marquis in 2011, there's no way he doesn't make the rotation barring an injury.
- John Lannan - Lannan showed signs of resurgence, and for the first time in a while, Lannan won't be the Opening Day starter. This is huge, as Lannan is probably a #3 starter at best. This might turn into more success for John as the years progress.
- Livan Hernandez - The Nats brought him back for a reason. That reason is probably more a mentor's role than anything, but it's hard to imagine either Maya or Detwiler making the rotation over a proven .500 starter. Livo is a good bet to make the rotation to start the year.
- Yunesky Maya - Maya will be an interesting decision. The Nats may go with a 4-man rotation to start the year, as they've done in recent seasons. However, with the bullpen a little more set than last year, they may decide to go with a 5-man rotation. If they do, and no other players are signed before Opening Day, Maya will probably be the guy.
- Ross Detwiler - Oh Rossy D, what has happened to you? He's been hurt, and when he wasn't hurt, he hasn't looked good. To make things worse, World Series Champ Madison Bumgarner and NL Rookie of the Year Runner-Up Jason Heyward were selected after Detwiler in that draft. But hindsight is 20/20 folks, and we're stuck with Ross for now. We'll see how much patience the front office has left as they set a rotation and bullpen for 2011.
- Collin Balester - The man, the 'stache, the legend. Balester really figured out his command in 2010, and I look forward to another strong season from the power reliever.
- Sean Burnett - The lefty specialist. Burnett came into his own in 2010, and eventually became Manager Jim Riggleman's go-to guy from the 'pen.
- Tyler Clippard - The flailing approach and devastating change up. Clippard started out 2010 with a bang, but struggled a little in the stretch.
- Doug Slaten - The other lefty. Slaten is the true lefty specialist here, not Burnett. He plays an important role in the bullpen.
- Craig Stammen - Starter turned long reliever. It still remains to be seen if Stammen can remain a part of the big league club in the bullpen after his not-so stellar attempt to be a starter. I'm hoping for the best, but it probably wouldn't hurt to go grab another Miguel Batista-like reliever.
- Drew Storen - The closer. Storen also made an appearance on the red carpet Monday night for the premiere of Owen Wilson's new flick where he's a Nationals reliever. I'm not ashamed to admit I'll see that movie just because of Nationals reference.
- C: Wilson Ramos/Ivan Rodriguez/Jesus Flores - The first two will be a strong until Flores is ready to give it a shot, and who knows when that will be. For his sake, I hope it's before 2011 comes to a close.
- 1B: Vacant - This is the question. A huge offensive hole has been torn in the Nationals lineup with the loss of Adam Dunn. How they fill it here could dictate a lot about the future.
- 2B: Danny Espinosa - Espinosa started out with a bang in 2010, only to flounder as the season came to a close. Hopefully he can adjust to opposing pitchers figuring him out, and the NL East's pitching didn't get any easier this morning (see: Lee, Cliff)
- SS: Ian Desmond - Desmond had the opposite experience from his middle infielding partner. He got hot at the end of the year, and looked like he could be a real rock in the lineup in the future. His defense still seriously needs help, though that improved as well as the season progressed.
- 3B: Ryan Zimmerman - Top 3 3rd basemen in all of baseball right now. Wanna argue with me? I dare you. Zimmerman may be the most underrated infielder in baseball though, and the Nationals better get on signing him to a contract extension quickly, I'm thinking 20 years.
- LF: Josh Willingham - This may change in the coming weeks. With a guy like Jayson Werth coming into the picture for the next 7 years, Willingham's worth (no pun intended) may have just plummeted to the front office.
- CF: Nyjer Morgan - Seems that Manager Jim Riggleman and Rizzo are pretty committed to give T. Plush another shot as the starter in center. If Morgan can produce like he did in 2009 and the second half of 2010, he'll probably earn that role for the season.
- RF: Jayson "The Beard" Werth - We won't go into this much, because there's somewhere around 3 million posts across the internet about Werth's arrival in DC. We will say that he has the potential to unseat Morgan should he falter, giving other guys the chance to succeed as starters at this position.
Monday, December 13, 2010
The winner is....
You may remember him from his fantastic, Italian name. Or you may remember him for being a mediocre pitcher. You may remember that he was the pitcher the Nats invited to Spring Training in '07 after not pitching in the big leagues since '04...
Simontacchi pitched 13 games for the 73-89 Washington Nationals. Brought to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee, he was projected to make the rotation out of camp but was sidelined for several weeks due to a groin injury. Though when Jerome Williams and John Patterson went on the DL, Simontacchi was ready to step right in.
His first start was May 8th vs the Brew-Crew, and he picked up the loss. 6 IP, 4R, 4ER, 1BB, 2K. Not too bad.
Lets take a quick look at his best and worst starts in a Curly W.
June 24th vs the Cleveland Indians. Simontacchi, facing an AL team in an NL ballpark, went up against an Indians team that was 12 games above .500. He went 6.0 innings, giving up only 4 hits, surrendering only 1 R (an ER). Somehow, he struck out 6 batters while walking just 1. He ended up picking up the win, as the Nationals won the game 3-1 on the bats of Flores and Langerhans.
Without question it was the start right before his best, June 19th vs the Tigers of Detroit. Simontacchi lasted a grand total of 3.0 innings, while giving up 10 earned runs on 10 hits; raising his ERA from 4.84 to 6.31. The Nats went on to lose the game 15-1 in front of 22,227 strong at RFK.
His last start in a Major League uniform was on July 15 where he came down with elbow soreness and was done after 5 ER in 4.1 innings.
Released at the end of the season, Simontacchi racked up a 6-7 record (earning a decision in each start). Some of his more memorable stats include his 6.34 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, and a .343 BABIP. What most impresses me is that his WAR (Wins Above Replacement) was only a -0.1, making him pretty much the exact definition of a replacement player.
For 13 glorious games in 2007 the Nationals were graced with Jason Simontacchi's presence. And if he never pitches in another Major League game (Odds: HIGH), he will still be the owner of a having a winning record over his 4 year career (26-17).
Congrats on joining Termel Sledge and Antonio Osuna as Former Nats Greats. I will enjoy a bottle of cheap Italian wine in your honor!
Thursday, December 9, 2010
The thing that I'll miss about Wil Nieves certainly isn't his .227 batting average, or his 5 career home runs in more than 700 career at-bats. Actually, it's not even his above average defensive ability behind the plate or the way he called games. It's his personality and his genuine ability to light up a room and give a great interview.
Nieves was one of the rare cases where everyone knew his baseball ability wasn't quite up to par for a team that desperately needed a great catcher to help a young rotation, but the players, and many fans, just loved him anyway. Sure, his at-bats would be frustrating when you have runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs, and he'd inevitably strike out. Or when there was a runner on 1st with 1 out and he'd ground into that double play. But again, this isn't why the Nationals kept him around.
It was for the times when he hit the towering home run at Sun Life Stadium in 2010 that would have gone for miles if the upper-deck seats didn't get in the way. It was about the joy on Wil's face; it was about the dugout jabs for still being able to count an entire career worth of home runs on one hand; it was about his enthusiasm for the game he loves so much.
At this point, I know some of you are probabably thinking, "wow, Capitol Baseball has really gone overboard with their praise for Wil Nieves here." But I assure you, we haven't. When you're listening to Charlie and Dave this season and you don't get to hear Wil's walkup song once or twice a week, you'll notice it missing. When you're hanging out at Nationals Park, you won't be able to look up into the press box and see Charlie and Dave dancing. And most importantly, you won't get the joy of leaping up when he gets that 6th career home run so he can stop counting them on just one hand.
So good luck Wil. I wish you nothing but the best in Milwaukee. Hopefully you can get Bob Uecker to give you an honorary dance. We'll see you in DC in April. I leave you with this, our farewell moment of zen:
Lets review the facts and figures on both of these former Cy Young contenders.
First, Chien-Ming Wang.
Wang debuted for the Yankees in 2005 and did an admirable job jumping into the rotation. In 18 games he put up 8 wins with a 4.02 ERA, to go with many other average statistics. This debut was only a start to a stellar 2 years stretch in his career.
In 2006 he won 19 games with an ERA of 3.63 and a WHIP of 1.31. Relying heavily on his commanding sinker-ball, he was able to get a GB% (Ground Ball Percentage) of 62.8%, an absolutely outstanding number. The other number from '06 that stuck out to me is an equally amazing 0.5 HR/9; that's half a HR per 9 innings. His WAR (Wins Above Replacement) was 4.7. All that domination lead to him finishing 2nd in the Cy Young voting to then-Twinkie Johan Santana.
His stellar numbers continued through 2007, though the Cy Young voters didn't take near as much notice despite similar statistics. He had an ERA of 3.70, a WHIP of 1.29, a higher K/9 ratio than 2006, and a 58.4% GB%; all while winning 19 games for the 2nd straight year. His amazing 0.5 HR/9 from 2006 went down to .41 HR/9 in 2007.
2008 started with a bang. Wang was the first pitcher to win 6 games in the AL, getting to that marker by May 2nd. That was the beginning of the end for him, he was never the same for the rest of the year. Only going on to win 2 more games the rest of the year; a year that saw him play his last game of the year on June 15th.
2009 was much more of the same. 9 starts and a 1-6 record with a Marquis-like 9.64 ERA. What's worse is that, a year after winning his 6th game on May 2nd, he didn't win his first game of the '09 until June 28th. Soon it was shoulder ligament surgery and the rest is history.
Wang, when healthy, is a top of the rotation starter. Last year we took a $2 million dollar gamble that did not pay off, and last week we cut our losses when we non-tendered the veteran RHP. Do we take the chance again?
Another sinker-baller, the former Diamondbacks ace has a much more storied history, despite the fact that he has been stuck in the desert for the past 8 years.
Over a three year span from 2006-08 Webb pitched well over 225 innings each year, while putting up, in order, 16, 18, and 22 wins (which we now know is Rizzo's favorite stat...). Hard as it is to believe, his peripheral numbers are even better than this.
ERA - 3.10, 3.01, and 3.30.
WHIP - 1.13, 1.19, and 1.20.
GB% - 66.3, 61.8, and 64.2.
And my favorite WAR - 7.0, 6.9, and 6.0.
In a three-year span Brandon Webb was worth a total of almost 20 wins above an average NL starting pitcher! That stat is absurd! The Baseball Writers Association of America agreed with the numbers when they voted Webb the Cy Young Award winner in 2006. In '07 and '08 he was voted 2nd place for the same award, behind Jake Peavy and Tim Lincecum respectively.
Sadly, on Opening Day of 2009, Webb managed to only get through 4 innings vs the Rockies before his season ended with a bad bout of Shoulder Bursitis. He hasn't seen the major leagues since.
His path back has been equally as rocky, and according to some reports his fastball hasn't gotten above the mid-80s. As of right now there seem to be at least 3, and as many as 6 teams interested in the former Cy Young Award winner; per mlbtraderumors.com.
It has been said that the Nats are trying to re-sign Wang after his non-tender, and I think it would be a good idea for the club to do that. I think the best possible scenario would be a base salary of about $1 million with incentives that can increase the total to around $4 million; peanuts. We could cash in with a resurgent pitcher with an enormous Taiwanese following (both in terms of fans and in media) that could expand the Nats' brand to the Far East. Well worth the bargain basement price.
Webb is a far different story. Baseball sources, as reported by mlbtraderumors.com, has said that Webb is going to be seeking a deal similar to the one signed by Ben Sheets last year where the oft-injured pitcher received $10 million after missing the entire 2009 season. The Nats would have to take a large payroll gamble just for the chance to catch lightning in a bottle.
Every now and then there will be a player who, despite extraordinary odds, is able to make a legitimate comeback (See: Rick Ankiel). But for every Meat Hook, there are 10 Ben Sheets; who went 4-9 before missing the last 2 months of the season with a torn flexor muscle in his pitching elbow.
Is it worth it?
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
But today, we'd like to announce that you can now get to our blog simply by pointing your web browser to www.capitolbaseball.com. Over the next few months and years, we're going to continue to evolve the site to add great features, making your browsing experience better and making it easier for you to find us.
For now, going to http://www.capitolbaseball.com/ will simply route you to the blog at section409.blogspot.com, but in the near future we hope to host the site somewhere independently. Until then, thanks for your continued support and readership. Keep those comments coming!
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Most national baseball writers and reporters out there forgot the Washington Nationals were an actual baseball team, save Opening Day 2005 and June 8, 2010, so I find it particularly comical that most are getting so upset about the Jayson Werth signing.
The Nationals are in a situation similar to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Kansas City Royals, and the Baltimore Orioles. They've become a joke, and jokes don't sign big name guys. At least that's what the trend has been, especially in the Pirates case. You have teams that don't contend year after year because they deal away their best talent.
Mike Rizzo, though, is trying to buck the trend, and the Lerners look like they're at least going to let him try. Spending $126 million over 7 years for a guy that is 32 years old is a monumental chunk of change. There's no doubt. But I firmly believe it was the right chunk of change to spend.
Rizzo even admitted that if the Nationals were better, they wouldn't have had to offer Jayson Werth the kind of money they did. But they aren't good, and so they have to overpay to get the talent. There are an unbelievable number of people out there who simply don't seem to get that.
People can argue all they want about which guy would have been right for the Nats, and why they didn't go after Carl Crawford instead, or why not Cliff Lee (although it may be Cliff Lee... apparently)? But Mike Rizzo is being honest with himself, honest with his ownership, and honest with the fans, when he says the Nats aren't any good, and he's trying to do something about it by digging into the Lerner's very deep pockets.
Several people at the meetings are reporting that the Nats truly aren't done yet, so let's see what they do over the rest of the week before calling this the craziest move of all time.
For our 2nd installment of Former Nats Greats, we head back to the very first week of 2005. Our piece for today focuses on a pitcher that threw just 2.1 innings for the ball club. And as you see, those 2.1 innings did not go very well at all. That being said, our mystery pitcher and winner of Former Nats Great #2 is...
Lets start with the raw stats.
2.1 IP. 9H. 11ER. 11R. 7BB. 0K. 42.43 ERA.
Wow. Where to begin? Lets start with that amazing 27.00 BB/9 (walks per 9 innings) ratio. Or maybe the fact that he gave up 11ER while only getting 7 outs. Does this paint the picture well enough? Yes, but lets keep going anyway...
WHIP ([Walks+Hits]/IP) - 6.86
HR/9 - 7.71
BABIP (Batting Average of Balls in Play) - .515
WAR (Wins Above Replacement) - -.3
WAR Value - $-1.1 Million Dollars (that's, once again, NEGATIVE $1.1 Million Dollars)
Had enough? Nope? You want to see all of his 4 appearances? Ok, you asked for it...
April 4th (Opening Day) - Pitched the 6th inning.
1IP. 2H. 0HR. 1R. 1ER. 0K. 2BB.
April 6th - Pitched the last out in the 6th.
.1IP. 0H. 0HR. 0R. 0ER. 0K. 0BB. (Things are looking up!)
April 8th - Got 1 out in the 8th.
.1IP. 3H. 1HR. 6R. 6ER. 0K. 3BB.
April 10th - Got 2 outs in the 8th.
.2IP. 4H. 1HR. 4R. 4ER. 0K. 2BB.
April 11th - DL.
May 12th - Surgery.
Oct 3rd - Released.
Sometimes you take a chance. You try to find that one key player; out there to score one final big league contract. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains. I would definitely classify this as a rain situation. Antonio Osuna went from a top 15 Baseball America prospect at age 22 to being listed as a Former Nats Great at age 32 for his final season.
Congratulations to you, Antonio Osuna. We hardly knew ye.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Initially, if you look at some generic stats, you could very easily lose it if you're a die hard Nats fan. Adam Dunn basically guarantees you at least 38 home runs every year, while Jayson Werth has never hit more than 36, and even that was probably an anomaly. Remember, Werth was hitting in Citizens Bank Park in half of his games played in the last 4 years. Furthermore, Dunn knocked in more than 100 runs in each of the last 3 years, while Werth has gotten 67, 99, and 85 in the last three seasons, respectively.
But we have to look beyond those numbers and dig into some other stats to find some of Werth's true value. Let's look at them in bullet-form. (If you're looking for a Sabermetric analysis, you're not gonna get it here. We're looking at straight up production.):
- Werth is capable of hitting near .300 (see partial season 2007 and 2010) while Adam Dunn hasn't hit above .270 in his entire career.
- Werth has stolen 20 bases in 2 of the last 3 years while Dunn hasn't stolen a single base since 2008.
- Jayson Werth hit 26 doubles in 2009 and 46 in 2010, while Dunn hit 29 in 2009, and 36 in 2010.
- While Dunn hits a lot of home runs, Werth's OPS in 2010 was .921 vs. Dunn's .892. Very comparable numbers.
- Werth has scored 73, 98, and 106 runs in the last 3 years, while Dunn has scored 79, 81, and 85 in those same seasons.
Sure, Werth's higher runs scored numbers are partially (mostly?) due to the fact that he played for the Phillies, while Dunn played for the Nationals, Diamondbacks, and Reds during the same time. But you certainly can't argue with the stolen bases that will put Werth in scoring position more often, or with his ability to make extra base hits with his speed, or with the higher OPS last year.
Other factors besides offensive prowess certainly played into the decision, although the people over at FanGraphs believe that Werth and Dunn are far more equal offensively than people believe. Jayson Werth is clearly a better defensive player than Dunn. Though I am one of those that believe that Dunn was a significantly improved defensive player in 2010, you can't rule out the fact that Werth is a Gold Glove caliber outfielder. In 2009, Werth had the highest range factor per 9 innings and range factor per game of any right fielder in the National League. He has the kind of range to be a center fielder when a certain #1 overall draft pick is ready to come to the majors (spoiler: it's Bryce Harper).
Werth and Dunn are essentially the same age (Dunn is 6 months younger), so why offer him the long term deal and not Dunn? Size certainly played a factor. Adam Dunn is football player sized. He weighs nearly 300 lbs., which has a negative affect on a players physical ability over time. Werth, at 6'5" and only 220 lbs., is at a weight that will give his body more longevity in the game than the Big Donkey. He is more nimble, which gives the team a significant offensive and defensive advantage. Despite their similar ages, Werth is simply a younger player.
Do these thing justify 3 more years than Dunn was asking for? Does it justify the average of $18 million/year that Werth will be earning? It's truly impossible to know until he hits year 4 of this deal. But one thing is for sure, for the next 4 years while Jayson Werth plays in DC and Adam Dunn hits in Chi-Town, there will be endless comparisons in their stats. I'm thrilled with the sign, all things considered, and I think that a Zimmerman, Werth, Willingham 3-4-5 provides a different kind of punch, that's not necessarily bad. Now if the Nats now take this opportunity to unload the Hammer, we'll be having a different conversation right here on Capitol Baseball.The great part about all this for Nats fans is that Mike Rizzo said "We're not finished," and he may have meant it according to Mark Zuckerman in his post this morning. The Nationals will be covered in the national sports media for the next few days, which is almost never bad. Keep checking in with Nats Insider for the breaking news and here at Capitol Baseball for analysis of any future moves.
Carlos Pena - The Frontrunner
AVG ------- .227 ---------- .196
OBP ------- .356 ---------- .325
OPS ------- .893 ---------- .732
HR -------- 39 ------------ 28
RBI ------- 100 ----------- 84
Runs ------ 91 ------------ 64
WAR ------ 2.8 ----------- 1.0
*UZR/150 - -6.1 -------- -3.7
For being touted as a superior defender, his UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating spread out over 150 games) this past season was WORSE than Adam Dunn's -3.3. Obviously he had a down year offensively in 2010, even though he did rack up 84 RBIs and 64 runs scored. What Pena brings to the table is his (supposed) glove and a high OBP (On-Base Percentage) and OPS (On-Base Percentage + Slugging Percentage).
Adam LaRoche - The Other Guy
AVG ------- .277 ---------- .261
OBP ------- .355 ---------- .320
OPS ------- .843 ---------- .788
HR -------- 25 ------------ 25
RBI ------- 83 ------------ 100
Runs ------ 78 ------------ 75
WAR ------ 2.6 ----------- 2.1
UZR/150 - 0.2 ----------- 4.8
LaRoche had probably the 2nd best year at the plate of his 7 year career in 2010. But even still it seems as though he is give you similar numbers each year you put him out there. He is going to hit .260-.280, hit 22-27 bombs, drive in 80-90 runs, while providing quality defense at 1st base. What Nats fans should be most aware of is his UZR/150 score, 4.8 for 2010. What that means is that he saved his team 4.8 more runs, per 150 games, than the average first baseman.
Paul Konerko - The Southsider
AVG ------ .277 ---------- .312
OBP ------ .353 ---------- .393
OPS ------ .842 ---------- .977
HR ------- 28 ------------ 39
RBI ------- 88 ----------- 111
Runs ------ 75 ----------- 89
WAR ------ 2.5 ---------- 4.2
UZR/150 - 2.1 ---------- -14.7
Konerko had a strong offensive year after suffering through 3 mediocre years in a row. Though while he as putting up Silver Slugger type numbers his defensive numbers went drastically down to well below average. It is widely assumed throughout baseball that Konerko will be joining the newly-signed Adam Dunn back in Chicago, to form a 1B/DH platoon that will cause a ruckus in the AL Central next year. Though if he were to go elsewhere, his new team could expect solid offensive numbers with lousy defense; therefore not necessarily an upgrade.
Michael (Don't call me Mike) Morse - The Insider
AVG ------- .250 ---------- .289
OBP ------- .291 ----------- .352
OPS ------- .772 ---------- .870
HR --------- 3 ------------- 15
RBI ------- 10 ------------- 41
Runs ------ 4 -------------- 36
WAR ------ .4 ------------- 1.4
UZR/150 - *17.3 --------- *13.4
Morse has some decent looking stats but what you need to be careful of is sample size. He played only 32 games in '09 (11 of them at 1B), and 98 games in '10 (19 of them at 1B). I believe that, in response to the Werth signing, Morse will be the new 1B. That being said, I would also not be at all surprised if Hammer now gets traded for some pitching, opening up LF for Morse. Rizzo said that "we're not done", this is all purely speculation at this point, but as of now I predict Morse will be at 1B.
In response to the Werth news, the Nats have some decisions to make. As of now we have a very Right-hand heavy lineup. If I were in charge I would trade Hammer away for pitching/prospects, sign Adam LaRoche for 1B, and run out an OF with Bernie in LF, Werth in CF, and Morse in RF. Or maybe this means that we are going to sign Pena so we can get a left-handed bat in there. So many choices! Hey, I heard that Nick Johnson was also available at 1B...
Thoughts? Leave them in the Comments or tweet me @CraigMac.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
[Update - 5:17PM]
Nats will lose their 2nd round pick, as Jayson Werth is a Type-A Free Agent. The Nats 1st round pick was protected due to their record being in the bottom 60% of the league. Though with Dunn signing a contract with the White Sox the Nationals will still have 3 picks in the top 35-40.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
K. Good. Now lets look at what exactly this means for the Nats; good and bad.
- The Nats lose a huge left-handed bat, a bat that hit 76 home runs in 2 years as a Nats; which places him 2nd overall in Nationals team history... in 2 years...
- Lose an on-base-machine. (.398 and .356 OBP in the past 2 years)
- Lose a clubhouse leader.
- Lose one of the best 3-4-5 lineups in baseball.
- Makes Zim sad.
- 2 compensation draft picks; the 23rd overall, and then one in the compensation round right after the first round.
- Regardless of who is picked, a better defender. They will make Desi, Zim, and Espinosa better.
- Don't have to pay, or play, a 36 year-old 1B in a 40 year-old's body.
I think everyone in NatsTown knows by now that the home team won't be contending this year, and, most likely, not next year. The 2011 MLB Draft is a lot deeper than the 2010 Draft was and, with Rizzo's penchant for scouting, having 3 top 40 draft picks can pay quick dividends.
A big bat is not something that a last place team needs, its a luxury. Dunn was brought in because we lost out on Teixeira and we needed to find someone healthy to replace Nick Johnson. It was a need based situation. Once again, losing teams do not need sluggers; those that think otherwise need to simply look at our projected rotation for next year, where our need truly lies.
Adam Dunn was a fantastic National. I loved watching hit shots over the bullpen into the 2nd and 3rd deck. I will most certainly miss his goofy attitude and the pink gum hanging out of his mouth after every hit. It sucks that he is gone.
Defense and pitching build contenders and Dunn just doesn't fit into that mold; at least not in the National League.
Lee is, without a doubt, one of the best starting pitchers in baseball today. He's in the class with Roy Halladay, Felix Hernandez, CC Sabathia, David Price, and Adam Wainwright. After Lee won is Cy Young in 2008 with the Cleveland Indians, people started to notice. I'm not saying people didn't know who Cliff Lee was in the first 5 years of his career, but it's hard to get noticed in Cleveland. Pitchers, like Lee and Sabathia who came from Cleveland, get noticed in big markets (see: Philadelphia and New York, respectively)
But in the last 2 seasons, Lee has played for 4 major league teams. When you really think about that, it's absolutely staggering. After 7 and a half years in Cleveland, Cliff Lee has become a "hired gun."
After winning a Cy Young in Cleveland, Lee decided to cash out a few times on big time contending teams. First in Philadelphia, then Seattle (yes... at one point people thought they could contend in the AL West), and then in Texas. But after making it to the World Series in 2010, Cliff Lee has a decision to make. Does he continue this jumping around?
Clearly he won't. He's the only pitcher of true value on the market this year, which makes him even more valuable. Wherever Lee signs, it's going to be for an insane amount of money and a preposterous length of time. The kind of money and time that a 32 year old starting pitcher should never get. Sure, Cliff Lee is in the prime of his career today, but a 6 year deal means he ends up playing for that team way, way past his prime. We've seen it in almost every truly great pitcher in recent years, Maddux and Smoltz, Moyer and Wakefield, and countless other great pitchers.
So the question of how much is too much is just irrelevant here. Whatever Cliff wants, he'll get. And whatever that is, it'll almost certainly be too much.
But what about the Washington Nationals? How much will be too much if they were to try and sign Lee? Again, almost any amount of money. The Nationals don't need a Cliff Lee in 2011. I know that's a crazy thing to say, but his addition to the rotation gives the Nats a few extra wins and still a negligible chance at making the playoffs in the NL East. It also ties up more than $100 MILLION over the next few years that could be spent to sign young, talented pitchers like Jordan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg for future years of success. And in the end, you almost certainly end up overpaying a fledgling former star.
I know these statements are controversial, and probably won't sit well with many in NatsTown, but I don't want Cliff Lee to be a National in 2011. Or in any future year. At some point, it will be the right time to sign a big name starting pitcher in his prime for a few years to really set the Nationals first true playoff push. But it's not now.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
In the past week, two of the Nats "target" free agent pitchers have signed contracts. Javier Vazquez signed a 1 year/$7mil deal with the Fish and, late on Monday, Jorge De La Rosa signed a 3 year/$32-33mil deal with the Rockies. Naturally the Natosphere has gotten a little crazy over these two developments. The usual refrains of "Lerner's are Cheap", "We can't evaluate talent", blah, blah, and blah.
I agree that it would be really nice to have picked up one of these guys to bolster our young rotation, but I'm certainly not crying that we didn't. Lets start with Jorge de la Rosa...
In the past 2 years his WAR (wins above replacement - from Fangraphs) went from 3.7 in '09 to 1.7 in '10. Before that makes sense to you, you should know that WAR is a complicated sabermatric statistic which uses all sorts of stats to calculate how many more wins per year a player is worth. So what this means is that in one year de la Rosa was worth 2 less wins than before. Which, calculated into dollars, is $13.6mil in '09 down to $7mil in '10.
His K/9 (Strikeouts per 9 innings) was down an entire strikeout, from 9.39 to 8.36. His FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching - reads like ERA, essentially only things pitchers control; HR, BB, K) went from 3.91 up to 4.30. And his BABIP (Batting Average of Balls In Play - basically how lucky a pitcher is) went down from .316 to .281 - which is pretty lucky.
On to Vazquez...
ALARM BELLS!!! This is a pitcher who is 34 years old, whose fastball went from an average of 91.1mph in '08 to a Livan-esque 88.7mph in '09. Ouch. To me this screams Scott Olsen as loud as possible. Based on zero stats, I am not taking this guy at a ridiculous $7mil/year, BTW Fangraphs had his value last year at NEGATIVE $800k.
Let's look at Vazquez bullet point style:
- '08 WAR - 6.5 -- '09 WAR - -0.2 (Yes, that means he was .2 BELOW a replacement player)
- '08 HR/9 - 0.83 -- '09 HR/9 - 1.83 (1 more HR every 9 innings...)
- '08 BABIP - .297 -- '09 BABIP - .276 (He was luckier last year than in '08!)
- '08 WHIP - 1.03 -- '09 WHIP - 1.40 (That's (BB+H)/IP )
- '08 FIP - 2.77 -- '09 FIP - 5.56 (WOW!)
- '08 K/9 - 9.77 -- '09 K/9 - 6.92 (I don't have words for this...)
So, what are we to glean from all this information? Sure, the Rockies and Fish could find lightning in a bottle, but they could also continue their obvious downward trends into Daniel Cabrera-ness. I am definitely not losing any sleep over going into next year with Zimmermann, Detwiler, Livan, a resurgant Marquis, and (hot spring training kid) as our rotation. I think I'll take my chances with the young guns.