Monday, January 17, 2011

Tom Gorzelanny: Mike Rizzo's Front-Line Starter [UPDATE]

So in a move that no one expected, the Nationals acquired LHP Tom Gorzelanny from the Chicago Cubs for 3 minor league prospects this afternoon (pending a physical). The details of the move are still a bit hazy, but one thing is for sure: a significant prospect will be sent to the Cubs, OF Michael Burgess. Burgess was a 1st round draft pick in 2007.

Here's a short bit about Gorzelanny: 28 years old, career 4.68 ERA, 1.60 strikeout/walk ratio. Gorzelanny has one outstanding season on his ledger in 2007 with the Pirates. He posted a 14-10 record, a 3.88 ERA, and threw more than 200 innings. Yes, with Pittsburgh. Besides that, he only has one other winning season in his career (2009), where he split time in Pittsburgh and Chicago and posted a 7-3 record and an outrageous 5.55 ERA.

Both Mac and Dave Nichols at Nats News Network have already pointed out that Gorzelanny is essentially John Lannan. Seems to be pretty accurate, though I think Gorzelanny's ceiling might be a bit higher despite his age. Though Lannan's career WAR is 6.4 while Gorzelanny's is just 4.1 over the course of a longer career. My problem isn't really that the Nats traded for Gorzelanny, it's that they gave up Michael Burgess and 2 other prospects for him. Would you have done that for John Lannan?

We'll have more on this "big" signing day (Gorzelanny and Cora) in the coming days, but I'll leave you with this. Is this the front line starter that Mike Rizzo was looking for? I know that Cliff Lee didn't happen, I know that Zack Grienke fell through, and I know that the Nationals starting rotation looks lackluster going into 2011. But I don't understand what was seemingly a forced move to get a 28 year old pitcher that has had one good season, when there are so many starters in the Nationals organization that need to be evaluated once and for all. Time will tell the results of this move, however.

At least Gorzelanny is a funny name to see on the back of a jersey...

[UPDATE - 4:55PM]
OF Michael Burgess inclusion in this trade has been confirmed, joining him will be RHP and 4th Round Draft Pick in 2009 A.J. Morris. Both of those players are included on Baseball America's Top 30 Nats prospects list, coming in at 19 and 18 respectively. There is reportedly another Nats player included in this deal, and according to Jim Callis at Baseball America this player is not on the Top 30 Nats Prospect list.

[UPDATE - 5:56PM]
The third player that the Nats are shipping off to Chicago has been confirmed by Bill Ladson of; LHP Graham Hicks. This player appears to just be a filler player. A 4th round pick in 2008, Hicks has put up a 5.33 ERA and a 1.628 WHIP in his 3 minor league seasons. This past year he went 2-6 in 16 games between Vermont and Hagerstown (1G and 15G respectively).


  1. Both Mac and Dave Nichols at Nats News Network have already pointed out that Gorzelanny is essentially John Lannan.

    You're joking right? Lannan is a soft tosser who projects (and always has!) into the #5 slot. This guy projects into #2? His walk rate, 4.63 per nine needs to improve but he does make up for it by striking out a ton of hitters, 9.13 per nine this year. Lannan will never be able to do that.

    Harris called him Scott Olsen. Mr. glass shoulder? The guy who chafed at going to the bullpen? While this guy did it both for the Pirates and Cubs? Gorzalanny has the better stuff. He needs to work on control.

    Get a grip people! He's not all that bad and better in 2010 than everyone short of Livo.

  2. Lannan-stats wise. Lets just take a look at career numbers.

    Gorzelanny - 4.68 ERA. 4.54 FIP. 1.49 WHIP. .301 BABIP
    Lannan - 4.10 ERA. 4.71 FIP. 1.41 WHIP. .288 BABIP

    Looks like Lannan's numbers are actually better. Who cares about stuff and which rotation spot you project if you can't back it up.

  3. I appreciate your unbelievably angry sentiment, Anon, and Mac's post is a great example of the similaries. I'm not saying that they have the same exact pitching style. I'm saying what they bring to an organization is similar in a low- to mid-rotation starter. I am just concerned about giving up a young, highly rated prospect for him for another pitcher with Lannan-like talent. Not saying it's the worst thing on earth to have happened to the Nats. I'm personally a John Lannan fan. But I would have liked to see other guys that are currently in the organization get a "once and for all" chance in 2011 so we can start weeding out the bad seeds.

  4. While Gorzelanny is not a "stud" his numbers have improved over the year and a half with the Cubs. His K rate has gone way up. He at least offers the potential for a LH starter that can strike out a batter or two which is a different look for our rotation. That could be just as important as anything. When you throw out soft tosser after soft tosser hitters get in a grove in a 3 or 4 game series. At least being able to separate the group Livan, Marquis, Lannan with JZimm and Gorzelanny will break it up some.

    Also not sure how Burgess is a significant prospect. He has a cannon for an arm and raw power but so far it hasn't really translated. While he is a mid level prospect, he is also blocked by Harper and Werth and was expendable.

  5. "Gorzelanny - 4.68 ERA. 4.54 FIP. 1.49 WHIP. .301 BABIP
    Lannan - 4.10 ERA. 4.71 FIP. 1.41 WHIP. .288 BABIP"

    Last year Gorzelanny's FIP was 3.92. Garza's was 4.09 for comparison.
    Lannan's was 4.58.

    And who looks better again? Lannan is in the decline his projected Bill James FIP for next year is 4.71? 4.71!!! Gorzelanny projects to a FIP of 4.01. Lannan is a soft-tosser on the decline which is even worst!

    What games are you looking at anyway? Still watching Livo reruns from 2005? Its 2011 remember? Turn those calendars forward please?