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Wang makes his case for 2012

Sep 18, 2011, 10:07 PM EDT

Associated Press photo
Chien-Ming Wang earned his third win with 6 2/3 strong innings.

The way he’s throwing these days, it’s easy to forget just how far Chien-Ming Wang has come in a short time.

Only two months ago, Wang was laboring through a couple of rehab starts at Class AAA, raising some questions about his ability to ever recapture the form it would require to win again at the big-league level.

“In Syracuse when he was rehabbing, you saw glimpses of it, but the velocity wasn’t there,” said Tommy Milone, who has now shared a rotation spot with Wang in both the minors and majors. “He was still mid-80s, and his sinker was working occasionally. I think now, just from throwing every fifth day, he’s back to what he used to be.”

If Wang hasn’t completely resurrected himself into the pitcher that won 19 games for the Yankees in both 2006 and 2007, he sure seems close to it. And during the Nationals’ 4-3 victory over the Marlins Sunday afternoon, he took another key step toward completing that comeback, recording 20 outs and throwing 93 pitches for the first time in three years.

It was by no means a perfect outing, and it certainly ended on a sour note — Brett Hayes belted a two-run homer with two outs in the top of the seventh — but it did provide further evidence of how much Wang has progressed and how he has positioned himself to return to the
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  1. Anonymous - Sep 18, 2011 at 10:13 PM

    Mark, any guess what kind of incentive-laden contract offer it would take to avoid an extended cometition and eventually bidding war. My guess is the Yankees won't be ashamed to make him an offer.

  2. Steady Eddie - Sep 18, 2011 at 10:29 PM

    What those who assume Wang will go to the highest (contending) bidder don't understand is that he was raised in the values of a Confucian culture. Those in every level of a pretty well-defined hierarchy have their duties and obligations. So when the Nats stuck by him for two years when it looked pretty hopeless after one, Wang would tend to feel that he had incurred a corresponding obligation to reciprocate that loyalty. As long as the Nats' offer is a reasonable one for the quality of what Wang has showed to this point — and he's already (in his current contract showed a willingness to take a relatively low base with lots of incentives — they should be able to bring him back. Of course, this is also consistent with his own enlightened self-interest. He knows that the Nats are steadily improving each year (as frustrating as that slow is for those who agonize at the improvement process day-by-day), and he's seen how quickly disposable you can be with the Yanks etc. if for any reason you don't fit perfectly right away.

  3. Anonymous - Sep 18, 2011 at 10:51 PM

    Steady Eddie: Do you actually know anything about how Wang was raised (culturally)? Or are you making your own big leap of assumptions. This is a question, not an attack.

  4. sunderland - Sep 18, 2011 at 10:58 PM

    Regardless of cultural commentary, I agree with the bottom line of Steady Eddie. We make a legit offer, he will sign here.Also, carrying over from previous thread, I don't see Livo returning. No rotation spot, and we have better bullpen options.based on where we are today, the 2012 bullpen looks to me like:StorenClippardHenryBurnettSeverinoDetwilerStammen

  5. Anonymous - Sep 18, 2011 at 11:08 PM

    Sunderland: So back to my original question. What would constitute a "legit offer"? Would it have to be multi-year? Player or club options? A 2010 or 11 livo-like offer wouldn't be legit, would it?

  6. sunderland - Sep 18, 2011 at 11:24 PM

    Dunno. It's a negotiation. No idea if Wang would prefer a multiple-year deal or a one year deal. Rizzo and Wang camp will figure it out. Point is that for two years now Rizzo and Team Wang have figured it out. I am presuming that there is mutual respect. They worked it out last year, they will work it out again this year. And no, a Livo like offer would be an insult. I'd guess a $4M minimum, plus incentives to $10M.

  7. Anonymous - Sep 18, 2011 at 11:34 PM

    Thanks! I agree that good faith negotiation will make it work. My preference would be a one year deal with a club option for a second. If he becomes a 15 game winner next year (one can hope!), I'd hate to have to negotiate again. After that, good possibility one of our younguns will be ready to step up as solid #3 starter.

  8. baseballswami - Sep 18, 2011 at 11:50 PM

    A sign of how things have changed — people posting about next year's competition for starting and bullpen spots. I love it. Missed everything about the game today – completely out of touch. It was nice to catch up tonight and see a win against our nemesis. That Marrero kid can hit. It seems to me that he could teach our more veteran players a bit about the sac fly. The kid seems to understand the concept of moving runners around, too. Nice to see him holding his own. Has he made any errors since that first game? He is no Adam LaRoche(yet) but he does fine – seems like a very smart ballplayer to me.

  9. Steady Eddie - Sep 19, 2011 at 12:14 AM

    Anonymous @ 6:51 — No, I gotcha, it's a fair question. I'm largely but not entirely operating by informed surmise. Apart from the baseball side, I don't know a great deal about his personal life except that he went to public schools and his (as he later found) adoptive parents ran a small manufacturing plant. What this says is that, growing up in the midst of a particularly traditional East Asian culture — which Taiwan is — the specific context he was raised in would have placed him right in the heart of the networks and teaching of these Confucian hierarchical obligations (in other words, the opposite of being raised in a setting where he was isolated or in a position to be alienated from it). Also, what he's said about his situation is very consistent with this perspective.Of course, as sunderland implied and I wrote earlier, staying here for a reasonable deal is also consistent with own enlightened self-interest, so take it as you wish.I also think sunderland @7:24, though maybe a touch low on one part (base) or the other (incentives), is probably also pretty much in the ballpark.

  10. Steady Eddie - Sep 19, 2011 at 12:22 AM

    A propos of what I wrote @ 8:14, I just saw this quote from Wang (at http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/nationals-watch/2011/sep/18/chien-ming-wang-and-his-future-nationals/)which is what I had in mind: "I really appreciate their patience the last two years. Hopefully in the future I can win more games for them."

  11. Wally - Sep 19, 2011 at 12:32 AM

    Well, not trying to be a buzz kill, but I am not as bullish that he gives us a favorable deal. Maybe, but after last season, when we gave him more guaranteed money and he didn't even pitch in the minors, he still needed to test the waters for what was available before resigning with us.I am also not as positive that I want him back as some of the rest of you. I really hope that they shoot for a higher quality SP. Wang has been a great story and I am happy for him, but he seems to be a 4 or 5 at this point, given injuries and age (which is remarkable by itself). I would love to see them add a 3. I guess that I might offer him something on par for a 5 and also keep trying to trade for that 3.

  12. Nats Outsider - Sep 19, 2011 at 12:45 AM

    I don't envy the choices that will be necessary from the coaches, manager and front office next spring. Unless they can pick up a couple of solid starters in the off season (unlikely, of course), it looks like the Nats will have a whole bunch of probably/almost/maybe pitchers. After JZimm and Stras, the next 3 slots could go to any of a whole bunch of others. Detweiler, Wang, Milone, Peacock, Livo and others have all had good games, but none of them have reached out and put a mortal lock on a starting position for next year. Even after spring, I suspect that the Nats will have to just make some guesses as best as they can. As I said, I don't envy their position.

  13. Baseball-Reference.com - Sep 19, 2011 at 1:04 AM

    @Baseball Swami – no errors for Marrero since his first game, fielding percentage of .989 on 180 chances.

  14. baseballswami - Sep 19, 2011 at 1:29 AM

    Thanks for the stats. One of the ways I plan on entertaining myself after the season ends is to learn how to use all of the stat sites. Not sure how to find the info I am looking for and apply it – is baseball reference the best? What other sites do you all consult regularly? By next season I will be a pro!

  15. NatsLady - Sep 19, 2011 at 1:32 AM

    swami– great goal. I use baseballreference.com and fangraphs.com the most because they are both free. They come at things from slightly different angles. Would love to know if other people have suggestions!

  16. D'Gourds - Sep 19, 2011 at 1:42 AM

    I would prefer going with Milone and Peacock as #4 and 5 rather that Wang. Give them the experience to build on so we can be incredible in 2013. Strass, Zim, Lannen, Peacock and Milone could be a Really good rotation eventually.

  17. Joe Seamhead - Sep 19, 2011 at 2:18 AM

    The impatience of CMW is unfair, as just like SS has to "re-establish his command" after TJ surgery, so does Wang after his shoulder surgery. Davey said as much today when he said that CMW is pitching better as he gains confidence that he is indeed healthy. I can see Wang winning 12-15 games next year if the club can give him close to 4 runs per start. And he made it clear in his post game talk that he would like to pitch here again.

  18. Grandstander - Sep 19, 2011 at 2:23 AM

    @ swamiThe sites NatsLady listed are the best and both are free. If you get super into stats and sabermetrics, Baseball Prospectus is worth the subscription if you have the money. If you wanna get more into the different stats being used these days, there are a lot of really good books you could pick up as well.First of all, Moneyball, which is now a major motion picture being released soon, is a great read about Billy Beane and his use of sabermetrics and Oakland's success a decade ago.A little less narrative and a little more informative is Baseball Between the Numbers. A seriously awesome book that could change the way you look at stats.Both can be found on Amazon for very little and well worth reading for any baseball fan, regardless of interest in sabermetrics.

  19. A DC Wonk - Sep 19, 2011 at 2:24 AM

    Anybody remember just a few weeks back when so many were complaining that we'd already seen everything CMW can do, and it was a waste of time, and etc etc etc?

  20. Drew8 - Sep 19, 2011 at 2:52 AM

    1. Strasburg2. J. Zmnn3. Peacock (very promising speed differential from 93 down to 82)4. Detwiler (Lannan has a slightly better ERA. Detwiler has a better fastball, WHIP and strikeout-to-walk ratio.)5. WangObviously, I'm partial to guys who can get out of the big inning by striking people out. I like Tom Milone a lot, but he's got to be very fine his second time through the order.I hope Craig Stammen makes the club as the RH long man, instead of Porn Stache. Stammen's a gamer. He can give you three innings. He can hit. He can bunt. He can run the bases.He's a ballplayer.

  21. NatStat - Sep 19, 2011 at 3:27 AM

    Thanks Grandstander, I'm getting that last book that you mentioned.With all due respect to CMW and the Confucian culture, this is the same culture that institutionally steals American software, and sets up ersatz Apple Stores.I'm glad Wang respects that which the Nats have done for him. His prospects, along with the others will sort out accordingly. Like Gomes, I see Wang getting stronger for next year.I'd like Gomes to be on the team too, but it's starting to get crowded on the bench. I think Davey is leaning towards having Marrero occupy a place on the starting 25.

  22. Anonymous - Sep 19, 2011 at 5:31 AM

    Somewhat off topic, but I can't think of a better place to ask, so here goes: Is CMW becoming something of a fan favorite? At the game today, he was getting bigger applause from the crowd than just about anyone else other than Zimmerman (and not just from the Taiwanese contingent of fans). Maybe it's because a late-season crowd for a game against the Fish (which is going head-to-head against a Skins game) is going to be made up mostly of die-hard fans who appreciate that CMW has been grinding his way back for 2 years. Or maybe I'm just imagining things. But in addition to my completely subjective view of crowd noise at the game, there also seemed to be a lot more people wearing his jersey (not just Taiwanese fans, either) than you'd expect for a possible 4th/5th starter working his way back into form.So am I completely crazy, or for whatever reason, has CMW kinda caught on with Nats fans?

  23. Anonymous - Sep 19, 2011 at 5:48 AM

    CMW a fan favorite? Like Strasburg he has been pitching rehab starts this season to determine whether he could get back as close to the 2007 version of CMW as humanly possible. The real decision then becomes whether the Nats use CMW as that stabilizing veteran at the top of the rotation they so desperately need or is he now a #4/#5 starter? So far, this season its the latter NOT the former. A replacement for Livo in the rotation? IN the end they have to see what he looks like in the Spring after a decent amount of starts in 2011. Its still looking in the crystal ball no matter what perspective you may wish to take.'They still NEED a young, healthy, top-of-the-rotation ace. If Peacock and Detwiler make the grade and you have Zimmnn and Strasburg that really leaves only one spot left? Its likely not going to Wang. Goessling is wrong to say that its definitely going to Lannan. There are a lot of names out there, a lot of possibilities my guess is that Rizzo lands him that one to put the exclamation point on 2012.

  24. Analytical Nat - Sep 19, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    Wang has already indicated that he wants to return to the Nationals and that money will not be an issue. What else does he need to say to convince everybody of his loyalty?

  25. Wang - Sep 19, 2011 at 12:52 PM

    "Hopefully I can come back here, but the decision is made by the team," said Wang, who joined the Nationals in 2010. "But personally I would like to come back. "I really appreciate their patience the last two years. Hopefully in the future I can win more games for them." as quoted by Ladson

  26. JamesFan - Sep 19, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    The Nats could stand pat for next year with Stras, Znn, CMW, Peacock and Malone/Lannan. However, that may not be a rotation that would be competitive. Look at what the Phillies and Braves return in 2012 and they will be looking to upgrade as well. Plus, Stras will be on a serious pitch/innings count, P&M are basically untried and no one knows if CMW's shoulder will hold up over the long-term. Lannan is Lannan.Signing CMW is a must. Decent price with loads of incentives is reasonable and probably doable.The Nats need one more quality pitcher who can eat up 200 innings at a high level to really compete and there aren't many of them available. To get one will either cost a lot of money or a costly trade.Then there is the huge question of the Nats' offense next year. We've got to have some contact, high OBP people in the lineup or our pitching won't matter so much.

  27. That 14-year-old sense of humor - Sep 19, 2011 at 3:23 PM

    Fan favorite? I think maybe people just like wearing jerseys with "Wang" on the back.

  28. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 19, 2011 at 5:54 PM

    I dunno, it never really worked for "Johnson"

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 91 64 --
ATLANTA 76 80 15.5
NEW YORK 76 80 15.5
MIAMI 74 81 17.0
PHILADELPHIA 71 85 20.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Monday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (3) 91 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 89 68 3.0
y-ST. LOUIS 88 69 4.0
-------------------------
PITTSBURGH 85 71 --
SAN FRANCISCO 85 71 --
MILWAUKEE 80 76 5.0
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Monday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Marlins at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Marlins at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
(End of regular season)
MON: OFF
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