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What pitcher should Nats acquire?

Nov 29, 2010, 4:45 PM EST

Javier Vazquez's signing with the Marlins yesterday depleted one more name off the list of potential Nationals pitching acquisitions, a list that is losing some of its luster.

Not that Vazquez's decision to take $7 million and move closer to home in Florida instead of coming to D.C. was a devastating blow to the Nationals' offseason plans. I don't think he would have been the difference between 75 and 85 wins in 2011.

But in a market boasting one really big fish (Cliff Lee) and plenty of less-than-inspiring alternatives, Vazquez seemed to be one of the better fallback options for a Washington club that is simply trying to stabilize its rotation while Stephen Strasburg recovers from Tommy John surgery and Jordan Zimmermann develops into a front-line starter.

So who's left for the Nationals to pursue? Let's break down the possibilities by four categories: 1) legitimate aces, 2) second-tier free agents, 3) trade targets, 4) low-risk options…

I think we all know only one free agent pitcher falls into this category: Cliff Lee. The Nationals have certainly made contact with agent Darek Braunecker and will attempt to be taken seriously by the left-hander.Read more »

  1. Anonymous - Nov 29, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    "three pitchers who have already re-signed with their 2010 clubs: Jake Westbrook (Cardinals), Jon Garland (Dodgers) and Hiroki Kuroda (Dodgers)."Garland pitched for the Padres in 2010, Mark.

  2. Mark Zuckerman - Nov 29, 2010 at 4:58 PM

    Whoops, my mistake. Just fixed it. Thanks.

  3. PAT TO PLAY - Nov 29, 2010 at 5:00 PM

    Garland already signed with the Cardinals.Outside of Cliff Lee, there is nobody on the list that is a big upgrade over what the Nats know they have which is why I think they will take a chance on Webb.This won't be a playoff team in 2011 so why spend the money unless you get a sure thing. Pavano is the one guy who could add some wins and eat some innings but is probably not worth more than $8.5 million a year. I would stick to improving the outfield in case Nyjer Morgan stinks like last year and signing a stud 1st baseman like Adam Dunn!

  4. PAY TO PLAY - Nov 29, 2010 at 5:07 PM

    Excuse me, Garland with the Dodgers and Westbrook to the Cardinals.

  5. Anonymous - Nov 29, 2010 at 5:09 PM

    Mark- I'm jonesing for Bryce Harper fix. What are the chances he gets called up next year?- Hoya Blue

  6. Sam - Nov 29, 2010 at 5:12 PM

    Garland signed with the Dodgers, not the Cardinals…Mark, I suppose Garza has produced more consistent ERAs over the past few years than Greinke, sure. But there is no way you would ever suggest that Garza is better, right? I mean, Greinke has thrown over 200 innings in each of the past three years at amazingly high levels. In this case, consistency is far less important than skill (that is, Greinke might be more inconsistent but is consistently better than Garza).

  7. Anonymous - Nov 29, 2010 at 5:12 PM

    Garza seems like a good bet. I would package Marrero as his fielding woes make him a candidate for the AL.

  8. Kevin Rusch, Section406 - Nov 29, 2010 at 5:16 PM

    Well, honestly, if we're not going to get Cliff Lee, then I say hire a bunch of reclamation projects, especially the ones who'd been good at some point. If we hang on to Wang, sign Webb, Bonderman, and Duchscherer, you have to figure one of those will pan out. If more than that do, we have chips to trade.

  9. Tank - Nov 29, 2010 at 5:22 PM

    I like Pavano; I'd be thrilled with Bedard and a flier on Webb. I'd be very interested in Grienke, but can't imagine that the price would be right. And Brad Penny isn't a half bad back-up plan.

  10. joemktg - Nov 29, 2010 at 5:27 PM

    Outside of Lee, there is nothing inspiring/attractive about this collection of professional pitchers. Having said that:1) Solis performed well in the AFL (looked good on the televised game). Not likely he can make the leap.2) Ditto Tom Milone: leap not likely.3) Detwiler needs to show something this February/March. Not a gimme.4) Maya: potential, but also not a given.They've got to pick up a 5th: the internal alternatives are not apparent. Pavano and de la Rosa make sense (discounting the "never posted an ERA under 4.22" given the past three years in COL). And de la Rosa as a 5th wouldn't require as many starts.

  11. Feel Wood - Nov 29, 2010 at 5:33 PM

    "For what it's worth, Greinke is coming off a down year after his Cy Young campaign of 2009."Really? Or was he perhaps returning to his norm? Look at several of his relevant stats for the years 2008-2009-2010:ERA 3.47 2.16 4.17K 183 242 181WHIP 1.275 1.073 1.245HR 21 11 18That year in the middle (2009) looks a lot more like an outlier than it does the norm for Grienke. Is he really worth the high price the Royals will be asking for him?

  12. Doc - Nov 29, 2010 at 5:36 PM

    With what's available in FA or trade, I'd stick with the current Nats pitching crew. They're probably no worse than what can be signed. It's a choice between the devil you know and the devil you don't know.CF is the more important need.

  13. Wally - Nov 29, 2010 at 5:38 PM

    It is very hard to say which FA you want without knowing the associated contract. I wouldn't go 4 years for anyone other than Lee, and I probably wouldn't give up the pick for De La Rosa or Pavano. I would take a 1-2 yr flier on Millwood, Harang, Penny or Bonderman at reasonable salary (<$7m per). As for trades, I would give up a lot for Grienke, and something less but still significant for Garza (or Shields).But pitching this offseason is swimming up river, so I would focus on the lineup. Trades, preferably. Gaby Sanchez, Seth Smith, maybe even Howie Kendrick. Would NoMo and Marrero be enough for Sanchez? Fla needs a CF, and he is fast and cost controlled. They can move Morrison to 1B, and go Coghlin, NoMO and Stanton in the OF.

  14. Donald - Nov 29, 2010 at 5:41 PM

    How would you rate the National's minor league pitching prospects? Do you think there's anyone there who could be as good as the low risk options you list by 2012? Also, what's your take on Maya? At times, his stuff looked great, but susceptible to the big inning. Do you think he has the potential to be a legitimate #2?

  15. Mark Zuckerman - Nov 29, 2010 at 5:50 PM

    Hoya Blue said…Mark-I'm jonesing for Bryce Harper fix. What are the chances he gets called up next year?Extremely remote. Harper will almost certainly start 2011 at low-A Hagerstown. Even if he explodes through the system, I can't see him beyond Class AA Harrisburg by the end of the season. Mid-to-late 2012 is the absolute earliest I think we could reasonably expect to see Harper in D.C.

  16. Mark Zuckerman - Nov 29, 2010 at 5:53 PM

    Sam said…Mark, I suppose Garza has produced more consistent ERAs over the past few years than Greinke, sure. But there is no way you would ever suggest that Garza is better, right? I mean, Greinke has thrown over 200 innings in each of the past three years at amazingly high levels. In this case, consistency is far less important than skill (that is, Greinke might be more inconsistent but is consistently better than Garza).No, I wouldn't suggest Garza is better than Greinke. All I was saying is that it's probably safer to project what Garza will do the next few years because he's put up pretty consistent numbers the last three. Greinke was incredibly good in 2009, then very pedestrian in 2010. Tougher to say with conviction which form he'll display the next few years. If he recaptures 2009 form (or close to it), he's a far better pitcher than Garza. If he picks up where he left off this year, he's not as good as Garza's established norm.

  17. Steve M. - Nov 29, 2010 at 5:56 PM

    Feel Wood makes a good point on Greinke. It should scare the $h-t out of any GM willing to give up a lot for him as 2009 could have been a fluke. Here's my starting rotation as of right now:1) J. Zimmermann (under team control thru 2014)2) L. Hernandez (signed thru 2011)3) J. Marquis (signed thru 2011)4) J. Lannan (under team control thru 2013)5) Maya or ??????We don't know what Maya can give the Nats in 2011 but there are a 1/2 dozen other arms in the system competing for the 5th spot in the rotation.Strasburg hopefully returns in September and I still see Detwiler as an able Lefty out of the bullpen and available as a long inning reliever.So what does the team do with all these guys behind Maya on the depth chart like Mock, Martin, Stammen, Detwiler, Atilano, Martis, Chico, Balester, and Wang?

  18. Mark Zuckerman - Nov 29, 2010 at 5:59 PM

    Donald said…How would you rate the Nationals' minor league pitching prospects? Do you think there's anyone there who could be as good as the low risk options you list by 2012? Also, what's your take on Maya? At times, his stuff looked great, but susceptible to the big inning. Do you think he has the potential to be a legitimate #2?Of the pitchers currently in the system who could be in the mix by 2012, I'd say Sammy Solis is the best. He still projects as a middle-of-the-rotation lefty, though, perhaps one step up from John Lannan. Maybe in a perfect world, he's a No. 2 starter. More likely a No. 3 or No. 4.Tom Milone, Danny Rosenbaum and Brad Meyers all could figure into the mix. All have had success at Class AA. None, though, has overpowering stuff and thus none projects as more than a middle-to-back of the rotation guy.The best pitcher in the system might prove to be A.J. Cole, but he was just drafted out of high school and has a long way to go.As for Maya, you don't want to make any absolute judgments based on five September starts. But I wasn't overly impressed with what I saw. He seems to have an understanding for how to pitch, but his stuff is nothing special at all, especially his fastball. He certainly deserves a longer look in 2011, but I'd be surprised if he ever amounts to more than a No. 3 or No. 4 starter.

  19. Steve M. - Nov 29, 2010 at 6:01 PM

    Mark Zuckerman said… Hoya Blue said…Mark-I'm jonesing for Bryce Harper fix. What are the chances he gets called up next year?Extremely remote. Harper will almost certainly start 2011 at low-A Hagerstown. Even if he explodes through the system, I can't see him beyond Class AA Harrisburg by the end of the season. Mid-to-late 2012 is the absolute earliest I think we could reasonably expect to see Harper in D.C.Mark – I agree with you that the earliest time for BHarper would be June 2012 as a full time player but what about as a September callup in 2011 after he crushes it in AA Harrisburg?

  20. Anonymous - Nov 29, 2010 at 6:01 PM

    @Donald,Sickels beat you to it. Although Sue Dinem may have a bit more substance to add to what Sickel's has already pronounced over at Natsprospects. As of now, according to Dave Huzzard, Sickel's says: There is always the chance that a minor leaguer surprises some people, but from the looks of the Nationals' minor league system it would be a surprise if a top of the rotation pitcher is developed in the next two years. –John Sickles at minorleagueball.comThat said he ranks AJ Cole and Sammy Solis as "B's" and Robby Ray a "B-". He probably doesn't consider Solis a top of the rotation type. The best possibility there is likely going to be Marcos Frias at this point. He isn't even ranked. I doubt that Sue Dinem will rank him high even though he did help Potomac, (As did Trevor Holder and Daniel Rosenbaum Mr. Sunderland!), in the second half. After that its the high school kids Cole and Ray. Most of what the Nats currently have are middle to back of the rotation starters with an emphasis on "back". That isn't good.

  21. Anonymous - Nov 29, 2010 at 6:03 PM

    Along with Frias, Garrett Mock probably has top of the rotation "stuff" and is closer to major league ready.

  22. Anonymous - Nov 29, 2010 at 6:11 PM

    Even if he explodes through the system, I can't see him beyond Class AA Harrisburg by the end of the season. Mid-to-late 2012 is the absolute earliest I think we could reasonably expect to see Harper in D.C.Most experts see him in 2013. Perhaps with the ubiquitous September call ups. At that point he would be about the same age as Ryan Zimmerman when he got started in the bigs.

  23. JaneB - Nov 29, 2010 at 6:30 PM

    I would go for Pavano, and if we can't get him at a decent price, stick with what we've got rather than invest in another reclamation project. We have a bunch of those already. Spend the money on, say, a heart of the order bat. Do you think Solis will be ready for the jump to the majors in the spring? But I truly don't know a thing but what I read, so who am I to judge…and yet…I do. ;-)How did the Nats know Capps would become Capps this last season, when they signed him? What do they look for, to see when someone is underperforming? AS you said in the previous post, Mark, we under estimate Livo all the time. I feel glad we have him and count him as a "real" pitcher.

  24. Harper_ROY_2012 - Nov 29, 2010 at 6:39 PM

    I would not pencil in more than 3 starters for next season:#2 starter – Jordan Zimmermann#4 starter – Jason Marquis#5 starter – Livan HernandezThis means we need a #1 guy and a #3 guy and neither Maya, Lannan, or Detweiler fit that bill, I think they will be in the battle of their professional lives with the following pitchers in camp:MartisMartinMockChicoAtilanoStammenWangThompsonAdd to that mix a handful of garbage non-roster invitees who could be the next Colby Lewis and I think you have to go after two guys, Cliff Lee (I know it is highly unlikely but who knows you have to give it a shot) and Zach Greinke (yes, it will take away one of our catching prospects and a middle infielder and a 4th or 5th outfielder).

  25. Kevin Rusch, Section406 - Nov 29, 2010 at 6:42 PM

    Please ridicule me as you see fit, but I want to be on the record now. I really think Harper will be in DC by September of 2011. He's done nothing but blow past every expectation that's been made of him.

  26. Paul - Nov 29, 2010 at 6:43 PM

    Here is an interesting article from Hard Ball Times on Grienke. Kind of wipes off some of his luster.

  27. jeeves - Nov 29, 2010 at 6:45 PM

    Unless they can get Lee, and I'm certain that won't happen, I agree with Doc–status quo, and try to get a good, young center fielder. The only trade I'd consider would be Garza, but not if Norris were to be included in the deal.That kids a keeper unless someone like Rasmus became available.

  28. Steve M. - Nov 29, 2010 at 7:10 PM didn't get any ROY votes but Topps saw him as the top Rookie starting RH pitcher.Nice!

  29. Anonymous - Nov 29, 2010 at 7:12 PM

    I listen to the Royals on local radio out here (Nebraska), and I can tell you that the Royals' announcers don't think Grienke is a great pitcher. They would fall in the group who think his Cy Young year was the exception. If the Nats trade for a pitcher, it seems to me that they have to get someone who is proven. Otherwise, go with what you have and wait for Strasburg and Solis in 2012. fpcsteve

  30. Sunderland - Nov 29, 2010 at 7:16 PM

    Without doing any research, my gut tells me that free agent pitchers underperform contracts at a very high rate.As much as I just want a good team in the curly W's, I really don't have much desire for a 2 year Pavano contract. It'll make little difference in W-L and cost a lot of dough. I'd rather see that money used to re-sign Dunn and Willingham. Not that we'll win 88 games anytime soon, but at least we'll be cheering for guys that feel like our own.Along with Doc, I'd rather see the front office address CF (and leadoff) than add a few more could be's to a rotation already full of could be's.Mind you, in April I'll be the one moaning about how lousy our rotation is. But is seems like it's gonna be lousy anyway.

  31. PAY TO PLAY - Nov 29, 2010 at 7:24 PM

    Harper_ROY_2012 said… I would not pencil in more than 3 starters for next season:#2 starter – Jordan Zimmermann#4 starter – Jason Marquis#5 starter – Livan HernandezThis means we need a #1 guy and a #3 guy and neither Maya, Lannan, or Detweiler fit that bill…I don't disagree with you but reality is the Nats are not getting a #1 until Strasburg is healthy to return and he is the only legit #1 out there as Cliff Lee isn't coming here so move everyone up on your list as the best I see is a #3 or #4 coming if they really find that necessary. Rizzo should not waste the money on some 4.50 ERA guy when there are other areas to improve.Out of this group, there has to be someone who can be traded in a package or step up to grab the 5th spot or a spot in the bullpen: Maya, Mock, Martin, Stammen, Detwiler, Atilano, Martis, Chico, Balester and Thompson with Wang as a long-shot to be retained.

  32. Water23 - Nov 29, 2010 at 7:37 PM

    I think Harper ROY might see -#1 Webb & #3 Wang. BTW, what is the status of last year's reclamation project Chen Ming Wang? Could he be the Livan of '11? Then the '12 rotation sets up nicely -#1 – Webb#2 – Strasburg#3 – Wang#4 – Zimmerman#5 – Livan et al.

  33. Bowdenball - Nov 29, 2010 at 7:41 PM

    Surprised not to see more talk of De La Rosa. He seems like a perfect fit. Most of the guys here are innings-eaters for next season. De La Rosa is a bit more of a gamble, but he's the only one other than Lee who could turn into a star, and even if he doesn't, he has pitched at least 130 innings for 4 straight years, so at least you're likely to get something good out of him. What's more, he's only 29, which means it wouldn't be surprising if he's actually outperforming Lee by 2013-2014, when the Nats might be a serious contender.

  34. Anonymous - Nov 29, 2010 at 7:49 PM

    Speaking of Matt Capps, any chance of signing him and giving Drew another year before we turn him into our full time closer?

  35. Keithcu - Nov 29, 2010 at 8:09 PM

    Is Bedard really a scrap heap type of player? I'd rather give him a chance than Webb who really seems done. Teams that lose 90 games should not be trading prospects for anything. Successful teams trade prospects to put themselves over the top, not to move from last to second to last in their division. I'm as tired of losing as anyone, but it's not time yet. Even signing Lee would be a mistake at this point. Gotta walk before you can run.

  36. Will - Nov 29, 2010 at 8:26 PM

    De la Rosa is a power pitcher with serious control issues. He's Daniel Cabrera, but a little bit better.There's a reason he's hitting free agency as a 30 year old, because he couldn't cut it in the major leagues until he was 27. Amongst NL pitchers with over 100 IP, he had the 6th highest walk rate/9 innings last year.I don't know how his agent managed to brand him as a "talent", because he's nothing more than a #5 starter.Who would you rather have in this comparison?Player A: 128 IP, 5.13 ERA, 4.06 FIP, 151 H, 13 HR, 85 K, 41 BBPlayer B: 122 IP, 4.22 ERA, 4.30 FIP, 105 H, 15 HR, 113 K, 55 BBThen what if I told you Player A was team controlled on league minimum salary, and Player B would cost about $7mil/year. Then who would you rather have?Player A is Craig Stammen, Player B is de la Rosa.

  37. PAY TO PLAY - Nov 29, 2010 at 8:28 PM

    Keithcu, I agree with your philosophy as I subscribe to that line of thinking but Free Agency costs you very little if you land someone who is a true difference maker. Easier said then done getting a difference maker, I think many of us agree that the Nats don't have a chance at any of those FA top line calibre players which is why they should sign Dunn and Willingham long-term which gives them extra trade chips down the road as farm system guys become available and stabilize the areas that they have more control over. If the Nats did nothing but do long term deals for Willingham and Dunn and waited for Strasburg to get better this team is better than last years with the addition of an improved bench.By mid 2012, this team can look like:1) CF 2) 2B Espinosa3) 3B Zim4) 1B Dunn5) LF Willingham6) RF Bryce Harper7) SS Desmond8) C Ramos9) Strasburg/JZim/XXXXX/XXXXX/LannanBench: Morse/Flores/BernadinaCloser: StorenThat potential 2012 lineup could be the best in the NL East.

  38. Doc - Nov 29, 2010 at 8:36 PM

    Gentleman's bet MarkMeister. Baring injury, Harper breezes through the Nats' Minors, with quick stops along the way, leading up to a few weeks at Syracuse. Oppo Boppo gets a September call-up. ST of '11???? Stay tuned Sportsfans! The BryceMeister will not have your average Minor League journey, in distance or time.

  39. Domaso - Nov 29, 2010 at 8:37 PM

    A few things:1. Matt Capps is under control for another year by the Twins, and I believed they tendered him a contract.2. I don't think Willingham should be signed long term until he can play a full season healthy. He will probably take $10 million a year and you don't want that on your DL for 65 games a year.

  40. Will - Nov 29, 2010 at 8:38 PM

    Keithcu, if anything Bedard is as risky if not riskier than Webb. Bedard hasn't been healthy since 2007, and has only managed 160 IP since 2008, missing all of 2010 and the second half of 2009.Webb's last full season was 2008, when he nearly won the Cy Young. Granted, he's pitched once since then. However, according to reports, he's back on the mound this offseason. His velocity is down several MPH, but Webb has always been much more of a finesse pitcher. There's been little news about Bedard. He made a couple rehab starts in July, but then was shut down for the season.

  41. natsfan1a - Nov 29, 2010 at 8:51 PM

    Answer: No clue. (Question: What do I have regarding which pitcher to acquire?) Thus, I don't tend to do the armchair GM thing. That said – what the heck. It's the hot stove and all. Would be nice to acquire a top-of-the-line (or not-quite-top-of-the-line) free agent, but I don't know that such a FA would feel the same about playing for the Nats, even with a non-contending team overpayment angle.I've seen more of Garza than Greinke and find him intriguing, but if the cost were high enough that the trade would hurt the Nats, eh, not so much.I'm kinda over the whole bargain basement thing, but sometimes it works out (See Livo; and for Anon at 2:49, I believe I read somewhere that the Twins re-upped with Capps). So, to summarize, and in closing. No clue. Guess I'd better leave it to Rizzo and Co., after all. ;-)(Off topic: my thanks to those who expressed condolences in re. my post on a prior thread. Y'all are part of the reason that this is my go-to site for Nats news. That, and the excellent coverage, of course. Heh.)

  42. Mark - Nov 29, 2010 at 8:51 PM

    I am with PayToPlay. Sign Willingham longterm if the dollars are right and find a CF as a top priority along with any solid upgrades to the starting rotation.Nyjer Morgan is still a huge question mark for me in his play on the field, attitude and character.2012 looks bright with a lot of luck!

  43. Bowdenball - Nov 29, 2010 at 9:04 PM

    Will, you've talked me out of De La Rosa to some degree. Although he's managed an ERA+ of 108 and 110 the last two years (his ERA and FIP doesn't take into account his home ballpark). He's certainly no #5 starter. I think he's better than most of our options for the middle of the rotation, he'll come cheap, and the Ks give him huge upside if he can somehow find a little more control. I've also been a longtime Stammen defender, so your argument there doesn't do much for me.Overall, though, you're right- he's not ideal, and frankly not as good as I formerly thought he was. But nobody else that's available is all that special either, and most of them are too old to potentially contribute to a contending Nationals team in 2-3 years.

  44. MM - Nov 29, 2010 at 9:12 PM

    Other possible targets in this category include plenty of red flags: Erik Bedard, Jeremy Bonderman, Dave Bush, Doug Davis, Justin Duchscherer, Jeff Francis, Freddy Garcia, Aaron Harang, Brad Penny, Jeff Suppan and Chris Young.i say sign them all.

  45. Steve M. - Nov 29, 2010 at 9:21 PM

    Bowdenball, that is the problem this year. It is forcing in signings that just don't make sense. The Marlins made a good deal with Vasquez as that was a no brainer on a 1 year deal. Pavano and De La Rosa probably won't do a 1 year deal at $7 million.Rizzo shouldn't feel like he has to make a deal if there isn't one there. The goal was to get a front of the rotation starter and one doesn't exist outside of Cliff Lee.Where they can easily improve is on the bench and in the bullpen. If the team doesn't sign Willingham or trades him then another hole exists in the outfield.

  46. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 29, 2010 at 9:22 PM

    As someone who got to see the young arms in Fall Instructional League, I'm all for "band aiding" a staff together for one more year without spending alot. We should see a couple of terrific arms emerge from next seasons minor league campaigns at every level. Be patient a little longer.

  47. Mark - Nov 29, 2010 at 9:41 PM

    Everyone's looking for starting pitching. Someone out of that Mock, Martin, Martis pile has to attract a team that needs a cheap fill-in for 1 AA or AAA oufield prospect.

  48. JayB - Nov 29, 2010 at 9:43 PM

    What happened to the Ton of Young Arms that all of baseball is banging down the door to trade for"…That is what Stan told just this past winter…..would Stan lie to my face? It was not an opinion thing…he said it was happening so right then…..did we miss the boat and over value them….why did the market dry up just like that?

  49. Stevie/SteveO M. - Nov 29, 2010 at 9:48 PM

    JayB, he wasn't lying. The ton of young arms were Stephen Strasburg, Steve Strasburg, S. Strasburg, Stevie Strasburg and Garrett Mock.

  50. Stevie M. - Nov 29, 2010 at 9:49 PM

    Sorry, that didn't add up to 2,000 pounds so throw in Matt Chico and 300 pounds of Livan Hernandez (he is young compared to Brett Favre).

  51. JayB - Nov 29, 2010 at 10:08 PM

    New Rizzo hire says you can not judge Nats progress on win or loses….great…just great another yes man for Lerner's twisted view of success.

  52. Mark - Nov 29, 2010 at 10:09 PM

    Steve M. – thanks for a great laugh to finish up my day. Stan's BS was legendary. Strasburg weighs about 225 so if he got at least 9 calls on Strasburg that's what he considered his TON of fun!

  53. Anonymous - Nov 29, 2010 at 10:22 PM

    I can't rememebr how many times our starters got yanked early last season beucase of defensive miscues that got them into big innings. I think improved defense is goign to do alot more for this team than any of the starters available (other thna lee who will never come to DC). Lanna, livo, marquis are going to be in the rotation next year and those pitch to contact guys need to hav e asolid defense behind them. The team needs to improve position players especially CF and bench play.

  54. Anonymous - Nov 29, 2010 at 11:16 PM

    Bedard also has a reputation as a bad teammate and a bad influence in the clubhouse (the report both in Baltimore and Seattle). Buyer beware. fpcsteve

  55. Anonymous - Nov 29, 2010 at 11:56 PM

    JayB, he wasn't lying. The ton of young arms were Stephen Strasburg, Steve Strasburg, S. Strasburg, Stevie Strasburg and Garrett Mock.He wasn't lying. Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, to a certain extent lefty Ross Detwiler. Solis should be added by the middle of next year. Then AJ Cole, Robby Ray, and hopefully someday soon Nate Karns.Throw in the bullpen arms, AND THE ARE ARMS after all is said and done ARE THE NOT? Bally Balester (finally), Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, and Kimball seems to advancing in that direction.

  56. Sunderland - Nov 30, 2010 at 12:14 AM

    I look at De la Rosa a bit differently than Will.De la Rosa has more upside than anyone else we could realistically sign. He is a risk for sure, but really no more than any other pitcher.The past two seasons he had 52 starts, to a 24 – 16 won / loss record. Prior to 2009, his career ERA was 5.56.Over the past two seasons, he pitched to a 4.32 ERA.Prior to 2009, his career WHIP was 1.66.Over the past two seasons, he pitched to a 1.35 WHIP.Prior to 2009, his career BB/9 was 4.94.Over the past two seasons, he pitched to a 4.05 BB/9.He'll turn 30 at the start of next season, he's shown good progression over the last couple of seasons, seriously, he's already better than Stammen will ever be.If we can get him a a market value contract, I'd be happy with that.

  57. Another_Sam - Nov 30, 2010 at 1:10 AM

    Add me to the chorus saying if not Clff Lee, don't bother.And I'm intrigued with Martis. In his brief stint with the big club last year he looked like he might be something.

  58. Will - Nov 30, 2010 at 1:33 AM

    Really? De la Rosa has the most upside? I think that title goes to Brandon Webb. You know the guy who won the Cy Young, then finished second the next two seasons. If Webb comes back half the pitcher he used to be, he'd instantly be the Nats' ace. By a mile. Oh, and he's only turning 32 next season.Yes, he's got a lot of questions surrounding him, but it's not like de la Rosa is a sure thing either. He's only pitched more than 130 innings once in 6.5 ML seasons.If I were Mike Rizzo, I'd be looking to sign an affordable innings eater- someone like Jon Garland, but willing to pitch on the East Coast (maybe have a look at Harang?), or a low cost-high reward type, like Brandon Webb, Bonderman, Bedard or Young.De la Rosa is neither of those. He's not reliable for almost 200 innings, his "upside" is tenuous at best, and he's not cheap. He made $5.6m last season, so add $1-2m for a starting point, and for what? Last season, which was apparently one of his best seasons, he was the 97th best starting pitcher with at least 100 IP (that's 97 out of 140). Furthermore, expecting him to improve simply because he's not pitching in Coors Field has no merit. His career number at Coors are actually better than his numbers away from Coors.

  59. Sec3mysofa - Nov 30, 2010 at 1:57 AM

    Sidd Fitch. More upside than Webb or Wang, and more likely to pitch fot the Nats than Cliff Lee.

  60. section3, my sofa - Nov 30, 2010 at 2:06 AM

    Srsly, this is a pretty grim set of options, considering it's still November. Doug Davis would have been a good get last year, and they passed on him, so maybe he's pissed; I wouldn't know, but it wouldn't surprise me.I guess I'm in the 'improve the pitching by getting more outs' school. Defense. You can't lose if they don't score.

  61. Anonymous8 - Nov 30, 2010 at 2:14 AM

    Another_Sam said… Add me to the chorus saying if not Clff Lee, don't bother._______________________Me too because I think the money will be better spent on key position players NOT named Carlos Pena and Derrek Lee. When this team is ready for the Playoffs, the top Free Agents will want to come. That is how it works.

  62. Anonymous - Nov 30, 2010 at 3:26 AM

    De la Rosa is close to re-signing with the Rockies according to Fox Sports. That's another decent free agent pitcher spoken for. At least Bowden, in spite of all his faults, did some deals. Rizzo is a big zero.

  63. Natman - Nov 30, 2010 at 4:52 AM

    Mark Z you might owe JayB an apology. Other than Cliff Lee (not going to happen) and Pavano (not likely to happen), the rest of the FA pitching class is full of re-treads and come back players. An ominous start for a verifiable front of the rotation starter talk by Rizzo, eh? Maybe he rebounds with a trade. But honestly Mark, do the Nationals really have enough for a trade, assuming Zimmerman and Strasburg are off the table?

  64. Sunderland - Nov 30, 2010 at 9:50 AM

    Will, this is interesting.You think that there's a chance that Webb will pitch more innings next season than De la Rosa? No way. All Star sinkerball pitcher, shoulder surgery, several MPH off his all star form, sound familiar?If Webb comes back at half the pitcher he used to be, he'll get rocked. With regularity.But even if I concede that Webb has huge upside, he's also by far the FA pitcher most likely to never pitch again, and to never pitch 100 total innings in the rest of his MLB career. If he is big upside, he's also the biggest risk.The way De la Rosa pitched the last two seasons, he'd have been our #1 (2009) and #2 (2010) starter the last two years. "Last season, which was apparently one of his best seasons, he (De la Rosa) was the 97th best starting pitcher with at least 100 IP (that's 97 out of 140)."Based on what?Over the past two seasons, the Rockies have won 54% of the games they've played. De la Rosa has a winning percentage of 60%, and they won just over 60% of all games he started. 53% of his starts he yielded 2 earned runs or less. 73.5% of his starts he yielded 3 earned runs or less. Even accounting for unearned runs, the numbers barely move, 51% and 73%. (FYI, Stammen performed at 34% (2 runs or less) and 55% (3 runs or less))Who on the Nat's current roster has done better than De la Rosa over the past two years?

  65. JayB - Nov 30, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    Mark,Does seem like the market has passed you and Nats by….Waiting for some set meeting date to make moves is seems to be so last century. The world has moved to real time decisions….Nats have not.

  66. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 30, 2010 at 12:24 PM

    JayB… Sometimes I think you believe the Nats operate in a vaccuum and can make any deal they desire at any time. Nothing has happened thus far that have fatally affected the Nats. Vasquez to Miami, the Uggla trade, and now DeLaRosa re-signing with the Rockies have all been things the Nats (and many others) are not willing to overspend on. Adam Dunn or Carlos Pena seem to be the deal that they've focused on and while the stated desire was for a "front end" pitcher, Lee is the only one out there.Garland wasn't leaving the West Coast so don't throw that out there.I remain patient that the club will be incrementally improved over last season and are looking towards 2012 as the big move year. The kid pitchers will be ready, Harper and Norris will be that much closer and free agents will see the improved horizon and start jumping on board.In the meantime, we all will accept your incessant complaining knowing that your frustrations are real and understanding that MLB does not exist in a vacuum and the competition is ready and able.

  67. Wally - Nov 30, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    I don't think De La Rosa was worth the pick; same for Pavano. I hope Rizzo doesn't panic and looks to other areas that he can improve. It looks like they will need to go with the same group of starters essentially, so improve the other areas.

  68. Will - Nov 30, 2010 at 1:33 PM

    Sunderland, I was basing it off Wins Above Replacement (WAR), which De la Rosa had figures of 3.7 and 1.7 over the last two seasons. Hardly anything impressive, and now hearing that the Rockies are offering De la Rosa 2/$21m with a 3rd year option for another $11m, I'm glad he'll be on the Rockies next year.I'll concede De la Rosa is better than Stammen, but is he $20-30million better?

  69. Phil dunn - Nov 30, 2010 at 1:36 PM

    De la Rosa—33 million over 3 years—the Rockies must be nuts.

  70. JayB - Nov 30, 2010 at 2:27 PM

    Rockies want to win….it takes money to win…you have to try to win…you can not sit back and do nothing.

  71. JayB - Nov 30, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    Yes he is better than any pitcher the Nats have now other than SS

  72. Sunderland - Nov 30, 2010 at 2:36 PM

    Will, I don't follow sabermetrics much, so I have no idea what a good WAR should be for an SP. And I was never strongly in favor of signing De la Rosa, I just had to respond to your earlier post. And giving up our first round pick as compensation would have stung, no doubt. It would have probably dictated we offer a 3 or 4 year contract (why give up the pick and only get 2 years of service?), and a 4 year commit of >$10M a year would make this an even bigger risk.Related, and to NatsJack too, it wasn't JayB that made getting a front line pitcher the offseason priority for the Nats, it was Mike Rizzo. From Kilgore: "The Nationals' stated, primary goal this offseason is to land a legitimate No. 1 starting pitcher to anchor their rotation." Rizzo well knows there's going to be pain either way to land a No. 1. Either free agent money, with perhaps a draft pick, or a trade of valued (and rare) prospects. Having free agents Garland, Vasquez, De la Rosa, Kuroda and Westbrook all signed by now basically means it will come by trade., or we'll be told that Webb is a legitimate No. 1.

  73. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 30, 2010 at 2:49 PM

    Sunderland… I only refer to Nats stated desires…. not JayB's. He won't be happy until the Nats have won TWO World Series rings and then he'll complain about who got rings.

  74. JD - Nov 30, 2010 at 3:20 PM

    Let's calm down here; Garland is no better than Marquis; he had a career year in a pitcher's ball park last year; not much improvement over Stammen. DeLaRosa was intriguing but not for 3 years at 33 mil. I don't think that the Nats missed out on anything here so far. The trick is to find this year's Matt Capps or Aubry Huff; someone coming off a so so year but with potential to exceed expectations not to throw money indiscriminately at mediocre players or players coming off career years.

  75. JD - Nov 30, 2010 at 3:23 PM

    To me the big miss was on July 31st when the Nats wouldn't flip Adam Dunn for Dan Hudson.

  76. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 30, 2010 at 3:23 PM

    Thank you JD. A true voice of reason.

  77. Bowdenball - Nov 30, 2010 at 3:29 PM

    Off-topic question for Mark that's appropriate given today's baseball news:Have the Nats ever given any thought to re-upping for the rest of eternity with Zimm, as the Rockies are doing today with Tulo? The end of the 2013 season is closer than we think.

  78. erocks33 - Nov 30, 2010 at 3:31 PM

    let's not get our panties all bunched up because Garland, Vasquez, De la Rosa, Kuroda and Westbrook all have signed. The last three re-signed with their current teams. Most of the time, someone would have to REALLY overpay to pry someone away from their current team. And Kuroda, Westbrook and De la Rosa aren't worth overpaying.As for Garland, well he's stated over and over again that he prefers the West Coast. No chance the Nats would have been able to sign him.And as for Vazquez, he stated that he liked the idea of playing for FLA because it's closer to his DR home. Plus, the Marlins offered him a FULL NO-TRADE clause as well as agreeing NOT to offer arbitration after next season. Sign a pitcher coming off a terrible season, having lost multiple MPH off his fast ball and then not being able to get anything for him during or after the season (via trade and/or draft picks)? No thanks.Plain and simple, the Nats have to trade for a front-line pitcher AND sign one of the walking wounded (Webb, Bedard, Bonderman, etc).

  79. Mark Zuckerman - Nov 30, 2010 at 3:50 PM

    Bowdenball said…Off-topic question for Mark that's appropriate given today's baseball news:Have the Nats ever given any thought to re-upping for the rest of eternity with Zimm, as the Rockies are doing today with Tulo? The end of the 2013 season is closer than we think.While I'm sure the Nats would be interested in something like that, I can't see Zimmerman doing that at this point. When he signed his extension in early 2009, he said he didn't want to play for a losing team forever. He's going to need to see some legitimate evidence of improvement from the Nats before he commits to another extension of any length.

  80. Bowdenball - Nov 30, 2010 at 4:15 PM

    That's what I figured. I was curious about Zimm's state of mind; whether he was firmly tied to the area as a Virginia guy and liked the idea of being a one-team, face of the franchise type guy, or whether there was legitimate concern that he might someday wear another uniform. Thanks for responding.

  81. Sunderland - Nov 30, 2010 at 4:28 PM

    JD / erocks:So your Rizzo, and you've already publicly stated that getting a legit No. 1 SP is you top priority for the offseason.If Garland, Vazquez, De la Rosa et al were not on your list of targets, then who was on your list?Will Rizzo make a trade to get a legit No. 1? Maybe. But it's hard to say it's probable when we have so little to offer and other clubs would be in the bidding as well.Will we sign Brandon Webb? Sure might.Is he a legit No. 1 for 2011? No way.Why publicly state a goal that you don't expect to meet?

  82. erocks33 - Nov 30, 2010 at 6:09 PM

    All I'm saying is that I think Rizzo's quest for a legit #1 will be acquired via trade and not necessarily by signing fringe FA's.the Nats offered contracts to Vazquez and De la Rosa. Both decided to turn the Nats down. Now I don't know what the exact details were for each offer, but if the reason why Vazquez didn't come to DC is because of the full no-trade clause AND the not offering arbitration, then I am perfectly fine with not getting him. Why any team would offer that to a pitcher like Vazquez is totally foolish, IMO. As for De la Rosa, I'm guessing the Nats didn't want to include a 3rd and/or 4th year (with or without either being an option year). Or maybe they did but De la Rosa decided to stay put. I don't know and neither does anyone else. I can't fault Rizzo for offering contracts that were turned down, especially since I don't know what was truly offered. It takes two to tango and the Nats just haven't found the right dance partner, yet. I just don't see why everyone is p-o'd at Rizzo for not signing these pitchers (most of which, BTW, are basically Jason Marquis-type pitchers).





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