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Position analysis: Rotation

Oct 6, 2011, 11:00 AM EST

US Presswire photo
Jordan Zimmermann established himself as a front-line starter this year.

Throughout the week, we'll be breaking down the Nationals' roster by position (catcher, infield, outfield, rotation and bullpen) and looking both where things stand at the end of the season and where things might stand moving forward. Today's position: The starting rotation…

Stats: 1-1, 1.50 ERA, 24 IP, 0.708 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 0.8 BB/9
1.1 WAR
2011 salary: $2.5 million
Contract status: $3 million in 2012, arbitration-eligible in 2014, free agent in 2017
Where he fits in: With five brilliant September starts, Strasburg proved beyond a shadow of a doubt he's 100 percent healthy following Tommy John surgery. Now he'll get a chance to rest up all winter and return next spring ready for the long haul. The Nationals will limit his innings in 2012 and likely shut him down in September (just as they did with Jordan Zimmermann this season) but Strasburg will be allowed to go seven-plus innings each time he takes the mound with no hard-and-fast pitch count.

Stats: 8-11, 3.18 ERA, 161.1 IP, 1.147 WHIP, 6.9 K/9, 1.7 BB/9
3.4 WAR
2011 salary: $415,000Read more »

101 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Gonat - Oct 6, 2011 at 11:07 AM

    Great analysis. Can't add much except to say that most of the starters especially JZim suffered from a lack of run support.

  2. Joe Seamhead - Oct 6, 2011 at 11:15 AM

    Shairon Martis looked too good to stay down much longer. I wouldn't be surprised if he was a part in a trade. I would be very suprised to see Livan or Gorzelany back next year.

  3. MicheleS - Oct 6, 2011 at 11:30 AM

    I think we need another front line starter, just looking at this list and seeing the break down of stats/money/durability,etc. Not sure if we would go after Buerhle, Wilson, etc. I think that the Rays may trade Shields, the question would be what would they want for him? And don't give them the farm plus the kitchen sink for him.

  4. Natslifer - Oct 6, 2011 at 11:37 AM

    Mark – I loved watching Peacock work in September but he's cut from the same mode as SS and JZ. I know we want a balance of righties and lefties but what's the school solution on having different styles of pitchers in any 5 man rotation?

  5. Gonat - Oct 6, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    Joe, I agree with you. Shairon will need to be put on the 40 man or if the Nats release Martis with the hopes he will clear waivers, this time it won't happen as he will be scooped up.

  6. Nats1924 - Oct 6, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    Im not making any accusations, but its still bothersome to see Strasburg listed as the #1 for the Ws in 2012 He'll be on a inning limit and Jordan Zimmerman pitched well enough in 2011 to have this title.With that being said, until 2013 – JZimm should be on the bump on opening day 2012 and the #1.Go W's!

  7. Nats1924 - Oct 6, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    another note – The nats went after CLee last year, you think they'll make an effort for CC Sabathia?

  8. Nats1924 - Oct 6, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    – Sabathia- JZimm- Strasburg- Lannan- DetwilerThis would be a pretty nasty rotation

  9. ehay2k - Oct 6, 2011 at 12:23 PM

    Nats1924 – I would have agreed with you had Strasburg not been lights out this year. After more rehab, and all of ST, he will be better and stronger. I believe he is now, and will continue to be, our best pitcher. To me, he is the obvious number 1 next year.The innings count is just baking in the probability that the pitcher will spend time on the DL. Not a reason to make time the number two. You want SS, not JZ, going against the other teams' best pitchers.

  10. baseballswami - Oct 6, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    Nats 1924 – agreed about JZim at the #1 for 2012. A relatively inexperienced pitcher, coming back from surgery with an innings limit at #1 – even if it is Strasbur?, Let him go #2 for a season , then we can have co-aces like the Phils. I think our rotation depends on whether or not we are going for the post-season in 2012 or 2013 – if it's 2012 we probably need another starter, if it's 2013, give some young aces a year to develop and be the pieces. I am shocked by how low some of the salaries are ( well, for ball players). More money for Ryan Zimmerman. Well – and Jayson Werth, of course. This off- season should be very interesting. I am watching the cf/ lead-off situation, one more starter and the bench.

  11. Gonat - Oct 6, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    JZim is the #1 until we see Stras over 26 starts in 2012.Personally I liked the suggestion someone had of pushing back Stras to #5 in the rotation. On CC, I am sure the Nats will be linked to all the big FAs. Will they get CC, no.

  12. Anonymous8 - Oct 6, 2011 at 12:47 PM

    Dreamers on CC Sabathia. Texas now has that post-season money to go after CJ Wilson. I think it comes down to Mark Buehrle or trading for Wandy Rodriguez.At this point I like the idea of Buehrle.

  13. Anonymous - Oct 6, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    Buehrle and Lannan are very similar pitchers. Close XFIPs the last few years.

  14. DFL - Oct 6, 2011 at 1:36 PM

    Question. If the Nats make a playoff run next season and Strasburg reaches 160 innings on August 30, will he be kept out the rest of the year. Might he be given two or three weeks off so that he pitch twice more at the end of September and pitch as part of the playoff rotation, if the Nats reach the playoffs?

  15. Nats1924 - Oct 6, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    DFL He'll be out. Once he hits his innings, he is donzo

  16. Mark'd - Oct 6, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    Difference is Buehrle goes an inning longer each start and is a leader.

  17. SCNatsFan - Oct 6, 2011 at 2:03 PM

    One thing we forget – now that we show some progress players might want to come here like happened in Philly; all of a sudden it wasn't like being banished to baseball purgatory. If I'm a pitcher and know I can pitch with Zimm and SS infront of me and lots of young talent behind me, coupled with an owner ready to spend some cash, then all of a sudden DC looks like a pretty nice destination. Its not like whoever we get has to carry the team and be the #1 starter which takes alot of pressure off the expectations of whoever we get; some guys like that.

  18. Grandstander - Oct 6, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    What are some thoughts about going to a 6 man rotation? The White Sox did it this year and some other teams dabbled in it as well. Could be good to stretch out Strasburg to pitch into September and maybe give some of our other guys an extra day off here and there.Davey has also repeatedly said he wants to move to a 6 man 'pen with an emphasis on 2 long relievers. That leaves you with a full bench.

  19. Mark'd - Oct 6, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    The Nats were #7 in the Majors for team pitching. The only team ahead of the Nats to make the playoffs was the Phillies. I will reiterate what SteveM has been saying for months, you need balance to win unless you are a fluke like the SF Giants last year. The Nats were #23 in team offense and #17 in team defense. #14 in team speed.So maybe we are looking at this all wrong. Leave the rotation as it is unless a starter happens to be available. Work on offensive players who are not big defensive liabilities or hinder team speed and athleticism. The other point was how much better Nats pitchers would APPEAR with league average run support. The Greinke comparison is case and point as Jordan Zimmermann, John Lannan and Livan would have all looked like superstars.Maybe Carlos Beltran is the player the Nats need.

  20. Hondo - Oct 6, 2011 at 2:29 PM

    Beltran will be 35 and is a health risk. Coco Crisp gives you a cheaper price tag, huge speed, and clutch hitting. His UZR was great in 2010 and nosedived in 2011. He looked good to me which is why I don't like UZR.Get rid of Nix and Gomes and bring back Willingham as a 4th outfielder and backup 1st base. He is one of the top run producers in the Majors. His OF defense isn't great but all thing considered, he will get you 100 RBIs if you can play him 140 games between OF and 1B.

  21. Hondo - Oct 6, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    By the way, the ageless Jamey Carroll is a Free Agent. His OBP was .359 in 146 games. Probably doesn't fit in here but what a great player he turned out to be. That was one of the many bad trades JimBo made before Kasten arrived.Jamey was an Expos call in September 2002 at the age of 28. Still hope for guys like Antonelli and Blake Kelso.

  22. Natslifer - Oct 6, 2011 at 3:03 PM

    Re SS vs. JZ as #1… In Davey's presser after the last game his quote was something like "Did you see Strasburg today!!?? I don't have to worry about picking my opening day starter for 2012…"

  23. DL in VA - Oct 6, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    Wow! No mention at all of MAYA.

  24. Mark Zuckerman - Oct 6, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    Maya will be in tomorrow's bullpen analysis. I debated whether to include him with the starters, but I just don't get the sense from anyone in the organization that he's a realistic candidate for a rotation spot unless a whole lot of guys get hurt. He could, however, wind up as a long reliever.As for me listing Strasburg ahead of Zimmermann here, don't take that as me declaring him the Nats' Opening Day starter. That's still to be determined. But he will wind up as their No. 1 starter next season, no matter what the order of the rotation is. Just like Zimmermann wound up as their No. 1 guy this year, even though he didn't start Opening Day.

  25. natsfan1a - Oct 6, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    I always liked Jamey but he wasn't even a trade. He was sold down the river, as it were.

  26. Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 6, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    @Mark … will you be posting an Ariz. Fall League thread? I'm here in Phx for a few games this weekend.

  27. The Joker - Oct 6, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    Perhaps the Nats could allow Strasburg to take August off, let him take Jessica Simpson for an extended stay at, say, the Ladera Resort in St. Lucia, trade for a Marquis, and have a rested Strasburg return for September.

  28. Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 6, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    For a $350,000 bag of balls, so to speak. Bowden must have needed them pretty badly.

  29. Nats1924 - Oct 6, 2011 at 3:21 PM

    another question…Would the W's be interested in acquiring AJ Burnett, IF the Yankees ate 80% of his contract?1) I think Burnett would do very well back in the National League and in a Wash DC type of market2) I believe his wife is from the DC area, so the Nats prob seem attractive to him.

  30. Hondo - Oct 6, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    Nats1924, AJ Burnett and his remaining 2 years will probably not be moved as he is still a decent starter for the Yankees.

  31. Anonymous - Oct 6, 2011 at 3:49 PM

    It's possible Mike Rizzo listens to offers for Lannan, but the GM isn't going to be actively shopping him.And if the low-for-a-major-market team payroll Nats sign CJ Wilson? Heck they might even go ahead and sign Edwin Jackson as well … then what? There are too many left-handed pitchers with more talent than Lannan. PERIOD. He has been if anything LUCKY at this stage in his career. It behooves Rizzo to trade the lefty before he loses the small value he has gained … perhaps to the Yankees?Detwiler, Milone, Purke, Solis .. and if the Nats add CJ Wilson? Need one say more? Throw in the valuable swing-man Gorzelanny who also can start? Lannan won't fit … unless they again option him to the minors? And that just wouldn't be fair.Just acquiring Wilson and Jackson would be the equivalent in WAR of a 90 win team. They wouldn't have to do anything else.Milone looks better.

  32. Anonymous - Oct 6, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    Texas now has that post-season money to go after CJ Wilson.Put it this way … if the Nats go after Wilson and he decides to go elsewhere it won't be about money … but I suspect with Johnson managing and the improvements seen last season he will likely sign.

  33. Hondo - Oct 6, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    Anon, the Free Agent market is thin. There will be 10 teams on CJ Wilson. Study the team pitching, it was the strength of the team. Really could stand firm. Spend the money on Crisp and Willingham.

  34. Buzz Killjoy - Oct 6, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    Wouldn't it be great to have Livo in the bullpen as a long reliever and have him come in to replace an injured starter against say the Phillies(for example)… Imagine 100+ warm-up pitches. That could sure take the steam out of an offensive roll by the opponents.

  35. N. Cognito - Oct 6, 2011 at 4:48 PM

    Buzz Killjoy said… "Imagine 100+ warm-up pitches. That could sure take the steam out of an offensive roll by the opponents."How?

  36. N. Cognito - Oct 6, 2011 at 4:49 PM

    Nevermind. Missed "injured starter."

  37. N. Cognito - Oct 6, 2011 at 4:51 PM

    Scratch Willingham. I would bet he does not want to play as a 4th outfielder. He'll find a job as a full time player.

  38. Anonymous - Oct 6, 2011 at 4:58 PM

    Going after CC Sabthia would be even dumber than signing Werth. He will want $25 million per season for at least five years. He's going on 32 and he's pitched a ton of innings. Worse yet, he's in terrble physical condition; listed officially at 290 lbs. but actually weighs somewhere between 350 and 400. Furthermore, he would never sign with the Nats. He only wants to pitch for the Yankees or a west coast team.

  39. N. Cognito - Oct 6, 2011 at 5:02 PM

    If CC declines his option with the Yankees, it's to extract a bigger contract from them. The Yankees need starting pitching; they have to re-sign him, and will.Do not be surprised if the Nats do NOT sign a free agent starting pitcher.

  40. FS - Oct 6, 2011 at 5:09 PM

    Like someone said, it all depends on whether Nationals want to contend next season or not.I hope they do. In that case, a rotation of JZ-JL-CMW-RD,etc will get us close to wild card but not close enough. Remember SS will be shut down eary Sept / late August. They will obviously not tweak his schedule to see him pitch in September so forget about him for last month or so. We most certainly need to add another solid starter. We would all love to have a Wilson, a Buehrle, and a CC, but I don't think they would be willing to come to a club that may or may not contend. I think our best option will be betting on a trade candidate. I still like J. Sanchez as a second lefty in our rotation. He is gonna earn more than $4.8 million next season and Giants may be interested in trading him if they want to keep both TL and Cain without expanding their budget much. We have enough in-house options for spot 4 and 5, but they could come in handy once SS is shut down for the season. Going into the season, a rotation of SS-JZ-JL-JS-CMW would look good.I don't think our rotation right now is as good as some of you like to imply. Our offseason priority might be getting a top of the order hitter, with high OBP and great speed, but our rotation is not ready to contend in 2012.

  41. Mark'd - Oct 6, 2011 at 5:10 PM

    Mark, I went to the Cots site and it looks like the Nats have guaranteed contracts of $50 million between Werth, Zim, Strasburg, LaRoche, Maya, Harper, Burnett, Purke, and Rendon. Add to that arbitration players in JZim, Morse, Clippard, Lannan, Flores, Bernadina, Detwiler, and Gorzelanny and the Nats are at $70,000,000.That is $70 million prior to paying the remaining 12 active players which could certainly include 2 higher priced Free Agents. I could see the payroll at a minimum of $80,000,000 to a high of $94,000,000.Do I have that correct?

  42. Hondo - Oct 6, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    FS said…I don't think our rotation right now is as good as someof you like to imply. Our offseason priority might be getting a top of the order hitter, with high OBP and great speed, but our rotation is not ready to contend in 2012.————-Last year was Livo, Marquis, JZim, Lannan, Gorzo.Next year is JZIM, Strasburg, Lannan, Wang, Milone if they do nothing.You don't think that next years "as is" is better???

  43. FS - Oct 6, 2011 at 5:23 PM is not going to earn much from Arb. Tom is definitely a non-tender candidate and if he signs, it will be for less than what he made this season. I see big raises for Morse and Clippard only, and maybe JZ. I am not sure how you jumped from $45 million to above $80 million.

  44. Maxwell Smart - Oct 6, 2011 at 5:24 PM

    I know this is crazy but here it goes. The Nats look to have an excess of starting pitching but no great centerfielder while the Red Sox are in desperate need of pitching. Why not trade Lannan, Detwiler, Gorzelanny and Wang to Boston for Jacoby Ellsbury?

  45. Mark'd - Oct 6, 2011 at 5:33 PM

    FS, your spreadsheet doesnt have Rendon and Purke on it. It's closer to $49 million and I rounded up.Add in your Arb numbers and you are nuts to think JZim gets any less than Lannans $2.75 million and I am estimating $4 million for JZim and $2 mill for Clippard and $5 mill for Lannan.

  46. Hondo - Oct 6, 2011 at 5:34 PM

    Maxwell, you. Said it, you are crazy.

  47. FS - Oct 6, 2011 at 5:36 PM

    WOW Maxwell, you just traded potential 2/5th of rotation for a position player. Besides the point that we dont have Wang under control, what makes you think Boston will buy into one #3 (or less in AL East) and 3 unknowns for their leadoff hitter when they don't have one?Hondo, definitely our rotation looks better than it did end of last season. but do you think it is a rotation that can contend with that of phillies, giants, or even Cardinals (w/o Adam)?

  48. Anonymous - Oct 6, 2011 at 5:39 PM

    Next year is JZIM, Strasburg, Lannan, Wang, Milone if they do nothing.You don't think that next years "as is" is better???Actually, well except for Strasburg no not really? CJ Wilson has a WAR of 5.9. NO ONE on the Nats had a WAR of 5.9 this year. When its a starter in your rotation it lends additional impetus. One can readily see why this free agent left-hander has the attention of Nats management.Except for JZImmnn (possibly) and Strasburg most of the others are just as likely, (Starting with John Lannan who barely squeaks by as a #5 Mark. #3? #3? What games have you been watching again?) to regress as to improve WAR-wise. For many of the younger prospect pitchers the jury is still out and I include Detwiler on that list.Edwin Jackson, that's right the guy many here constantly oppose coming to the Nats has a higher WAR!!! Just signing that guy immediately improves the starting rotation!Its positional where we've seen constant and consistent improvement. Without the bullpen the starting pitching likely would not have looked pretty this year and it is none finished above .500 in wins except for Marquis who was traded before he could regress.

  49. Anonymous - Oct 6, 2011 at 5:44 PM

    Do not be surprised if the Nats do NOT sign a free agent starting pitcher.With Wilson and Jackson out there? Just the opposite I expect. I believe Davey will convince Rizzo to go with Werth in CF. With Morse in Left they should be set until Harper is ready. Its just possible that Brian Goodwin might rise fast as well. He bats left and should be a lot better than Morgan.Putting expensive aging veterans in spots that block Harper and Rendon makes no sense whatsoever.

  50. Hondo - Oct 6, 2011 at 5:45 PM

    Anon, with a 3.80 ERA Lannan is a #3 on most teams. I'm most concerned about Wang's durability.

  51. FS - Oct 6, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    Mark'd, from 415K to $4 million. That's a big jump for first Arb case. He still has 3 more cases. Like I said, huge jump based on one season of success. Same thing in Clippard's case. I think 2 million is a lot if we keep increasing his salary every following year, we can't possibly hold on to him for long.Anyways, I noticed JL's jump from $458K to $2.75 million and I understand your point. But paying those figures to these players would be an overpay. Then again, who isn't overpaid in this game?

  52. Anonymous - Oct 6, 2011 at 5:58 PM

    Anon, with a 3.80 ERA Lannan is a #3 on most teams. I'm most concerned about Wang's durability.Again, thank the shutdown bullpen led by Clippard, Storen, Rodriguez and Ryan Mattheus (when he was healthy). Todd Coffey less so but he was better than what most teams could muster.Lannan's FIP ( a better and more accurate gauge than ERA) was 4.28, his xFIP was 4.24.By comparison: Tommy Milone FIP 3.56, xFIP 4.59 Jordan Zimmermann FIP 3.59, xFIP 3.35 Stephen Strasburg FIP 1.87, xFIP 2.14 Bradley Peacock FIP 3.86, xFIP 6.27 Chien-Ming Wang FIP 4.57, xFIP 4.19 Tom Gorzelanny FIP 4.19, xFIP 4.03 Livan Hernandez FIP 4.38, xFIP 4.53 Jason Marquis FIP 4.05, xFIP 4.02 again, John Lannan FIP 4.28, xFIP 4.24 EVEN on this STAFF he ranks as a #5 starter along with Livan Herandez. And honestly, given that he can act as a swing man Livo looks better but better still is lefty swing-man Tom Gorzelanny. Lannan is a #5 and just BARELY!!!!!!!

  53. Anonymous - Oct 6, 2011 at 5:59 PM

    Signing Jose Reyes or perhaps Rollins is the way to go. Desmond is to our fielders what Lannan is to our pitchers; someone we like out of proportion to their true worth because they came from our system.Lannon is a 5th starter. Desmond is young Jerry Hairston. Both are successful major leaguers but neither are substitutes for elite talents. CJ Wilson is borderline elite; and a lot of teams will want him.Reyes is elite and he isn't the only shortstop on the free agent market. The Yankees don't need a shortstop (or can't sign one), the Mets are financially dysfunctional. Reyes can be had.Better fielder than Desmond. Better hitter than Desmond. Natural leadoff hitter. And by the way, how many teams can risk big money on a player who only plays 130 games a year … just one, the team that would have Ian Desmond (or perhaps Jerry Hairston) on the bench as a super utility man.

  54. Anonymous - Oct 6, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    IMO Mark, like Goessling, favor Lannan for some reason. The stats definitely DO NOT back them up. In point-of-fact the stats DO back up Nat's management's interest in CJ Wilson and Edwin Jackson. Jackson makes a far better #3 or #2 in the rotation than does Lannan. But if he and Wilson were acquired Rizzo would likely do as he has suggested time-and-again and push JZimmnn down to #3/#4 given that last year was his first full year in the majors, and first post-TJ. and perhaps Stras to #2/#3 given his innings limitation. But with Lannan, Wang, and LIvo as the "veterans" in the rotation you really can't do that now can you?

  55. N. Cognito - Oct 6, 2011 at 6:05 PM

    He'd be a great improvement over Desmond, but Reyes is a narcissist, and for that reason alone is probably not on the Nats interest list.

  56. N. Cognito - Oct 6, 2011 at 6:10 PM

    "IMO Mark, like Goessling, favor Lannan for some reason."Don't know about Goessling – don't read him, but I don't think Mark "favors" Lannan. I think Mark is making a perfectly logical assesment of the situation based upon the current 40-man roster. If the Nats trade for a pitcher or sign a free agent pitcher, that changes things and Mark has acknowledged that.

  57. Anonymous - Oct 6, 2011 at 6:10 PM

    Reyes is elite and he isn't the only shortstop on the free agent market. The Yankees don't need a shortstop (or can't sign one), the Mets are financially dysfunctional. Reyes can be hadHe's only elite in contract years. Prefer Espinosa at shortstop if Desmond is replaced.Jose Reyes 2010 : .282/.321 OBP 2.9 WARJose Reyes 2011: .337/.384 OBP 6.2 WAR

  58. SCNatsFan - Oct 6, 2011 at 6:13 PM

    Ant Reyes will command a fortune and that's alot of payroll for a guy who seems destined to play 115-120 games a year. That's one thing if he's making Desmond money but he'll be making Werth money and this team can't sustain two huge paychecks on questionable players. SAve the $ and give it to Zimmerman then start building the statue of Ryan outfront of the park!

  59. Hondo - Oct 6, 2011 at 6:40 PM

    For all those calling for the Nats payroll to rise, you get your wish. The natural progressiion mixing Arb players with Free Agents and bonus babies and long term players.

  60. Wally - Oct 6, 2011 at 6:47 PM

    I think that if we stand pat, our rotation will be better in 2012 than 2011. That is solely because Stras comes in for 160 innings and his entire track record, even this brief appearance recovering from TJ, suggests that it will be at ace-levels. Bump JZ's slot to #2, and the improvement at those top two spots (or just Stras's improvement over #2) should cover a modest fall off at #3-5 (if there is one).Is it enough to contend? I don't think so, unless the lineup gets drastically better. It is possible, but unlikely. To seriously contend, I think that we need another SP that is clearly better than Lannan, et al (I am not knocking Lannan or the other guys, just see them as #4-5 guys). A lot of names have been thrown around, and to me, almost any of them would be an improvement. Wilson, Jackson, Beuhrle, Oswalt; some trade candidates like Danks, Shields, Floyd, Dempster.My hunch is that Rizzo goes hard after Jackson. He is probably my least favorite guy on this list and I worry that he will get a big overpay, but I see him as an improvement.

  61. Theophilus - Oct 6, 2011 at 6:52 PM

    Can't fathom the infatuation w/ Wilson. "Elite" he ain't. In 4 post-season series, his ERA is nearly five. With the Texas offense Ramon Ortiz could win 16 games. An "elite" pitcher who, as likely as not, pitches w/ a four-run lead should win 20 and show up and be counted in the ALDS. The Nats' most pressing needs are on offense and the bench. (For the most part, I expect the offense will correct themselves w/ experience, returns from injury, and shrugging off bad seasons.)The Nats have so many pitchers on the roster, or nearly ready for the roster, or likely to be on the roster in 2-3 years, it would be a shame to waste money on an over-priced veteran unless and until somebody — Lannan, Gorzelany are prime candidates — gets traded. Lannan isn't a No. 3 or 4 here or anywhere else. He's slow out of the blocks in every game, nibbles around, struggles for two or three innings at a time to throw strikes, and pretty soon the team is 3-4 runs down. If not for the great double play combination(s) behind him — counting Zimmerman, Desmond and Espinosa — his ERA would be somewhere around 4.5.Take the $12-$15 MM a veteran starter would cost, spend half of it on a veteran infielder (Carroll would be a good idea), a RH platooning CF to pair w/ Ankiel and a backup catcher, and bank the rest for Zimmerman's extension.

  62. Theophilus - Oct 6, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    Jackson? Eek. He gives St. Louis six innings and 2 ER and they act as shocked as when manna fell from the heavens. How many teams has he played for? Six? Career record 60-60, ERA 4.46? How is that an improvement?

  63. Wally - Oct 6, 2011 at 7:06 PM

    Theo – he has thrown 400 innings the last two years with around a 3.7 FIP, generating almost 8 WAR over those two seasons. K/BB rates a little better than 2:1. Also throws hard (95mph avg FB velo)I think he is an improvement at #3 over Lannan, Det, Wang. I don't love the guy, which I said above, because I think that he has never pitched up to his stuff, but he would add value to the rotation. I worry that it takes 4/$50m or so to get him, though. I would not do that deal.

  64. Wally - Oct 6, 2011 at 7:15 PM

    Sammy Solis starting today in the AFL. Harper in LF, no Norris.

  65. Anonymous - Oct 6, 2011 at 7:20 PM

    Pitchers with a sub-4.00 ERA and at least 180 IP this season: 49. John Lannan is one of them.Pitchers with a sub-4.00 ERA and at least 180 IP in at least 3 of the last 4 seasons: 22. John Lannan is one of them.I honestly don't get all the anti-Lannan sentiment around here. Oh wait, his FIP is too high. Cause it makes a lot more sense to evaluate a guy based on stats that show how he SHOULD have performed instead of stats that show how he ACTUALLY performed. Give me a break.Is Lannan an ace? Not in a million years. Is he a No. 2 starter? No. But is he a 3 or a 4 on a good team? Yes. How do I know that? Because only 48 other pitchers in baseball did what he did this year, and only 21 others have done what he's done the last 4 years. That's fairly select company.

  66. Hondo - Oct 6, 2011 at 7:24 PM

    Wally, I guess u agree with my comment at 1:21

  67. Hondo - Oct 6, 2011 at 7:37 PM

    I have heard for 3 years how lucky John Lannen is. Time to say he finds his way out of many of his jams. He had an amazing June. Definitely a 3 or 4. Give him RUN SUPPORT!

  68. Wally - Oct 6, 2011 at 7:45 PM

    Hondo – I do (which I think I said in my original post, although not by name).Anon@3:20 – let's say it is September 2012, and we are heading into a 3 game series in Atl (or STL, MIL, etc), 1 game ahead in the WC standings.Would you rather have our rotation lineup as JZimm, Lannan, Wang or JZimm, [Oswalt or insert one of the guys that I mentioned @ 2:47], Lannan? The benefit of adding a quality SP is not just an improvement at the #3 slot, but by pushing everyone down a spot, they get better too.

  69. Theophilus - Oct 6, 2011 at 8:27 PM

    MLB teams average 4.28 runs per game. Nats average about 3.8. Lannan gives up close to 4.5 (it's a function of the number of baserunners — around 14 per nine innings pitched). In other words, when Lannan is pitching, the Nats have to score close to one-third more than their usual output, and about .75 runs over the MLB average, to have a fifty percent chance of winning. He's not a bum, but stopping excusing him by saying he's unlucky, or doesn't get run support.

  70. sjm308 - Oct 6, 2011 at 8:33 PM

    I have done lots of reading and this is really a win/win situation. If we stand pat, we finally have enough depth to probably be better than this year. I don't think Rizzo will do that but it looks to me that if we just sign Wang we have taken a step forward. If he gets a legitimate #3 and pushes Lannan and Detwiler/Peacock/Milone etc back one then all the better.Gonat: I was the one suggesting the 6 man rotation quite some time ago and I am guessing Davey/Rizzo will not think outside the box on this but I would dearly love to get to the last month and be WC relevant and have SS for some of those games. A name I have not seen bandied about is Marquis. I believe he is also a free agent and while injured right now, he actually did a decent job for us before being traded. I am not pushing for him, my first choice is Buehrle – well actually my first choice if we really had no limits would be Sabathia but he will never sign here and I only want him for 3 years (I am a tough negotiator). OK, my vote after all that is staying put with our pitching, putting the money toward signing Zimmerman, and if possible finding a CF/leadoff type guy.

  71. Anonymous8 - Oct 6, 2011 at 8:51 PM

    Theophilus, your numbers don't work in your Lannan example. Lannan finished with an ERA at exactly 3.70 which is always admired to 9 innings. He may leave some games in the 6th giving up 2 which is an ERA of 3.00 for that game and the next game pitch 6 and give up 3 which is an ERA of 4.50 so for 2 games would be 3.75. That is about his average. The rest depends on the bullpen and runs scored. As you say the Nats score 3.80 whereby Lannan by the law of averages would be close to a .500 winning percentage.If the Nats came closer to scoring that average 4.28 then with that law of averages a pitcher with a 3.75 ERA will win more than .500 by theory.

  72. baseballswami - Oct 6, 2011 at 9:02 PM

    I think it's kind of funny that we judge our players and pitchers so harshly, especially John Lannan. It's like we got so used to being bad that we just have to find fault and expect them to be terrible. The Yankees anointed AJ Burnnet as a God among men after he finally had a not terrible game and went maybe 5 innings for a rare time this season. Their pitching rotation would look like the worst in baseball if they didn't have that gazillion dollar offense.They have been making excuses for Burnett all season long. The stats show that our pitchers are pretty darn good.We just can't seem to believe it because — IT'S THE OFFENSE THAT NEEDS WORK!!!!! We would think our pitchers were geniuses, too if we had run support for them. Not saying another pitcher wouldn't help, maybe it would, but we are pretty deep right now and so the deal would have to be really good. We can focus on the pitching all you want – and I know that the starters are Mark's subject du jour, but they really need some run support this next year. They pitch under horrible stress all the time – they need a break.

  73. FS - Oct 6, 2011 at 9:12 PM

    Could Angel Pagan be a candidate for next season's leadoff position?Fast, better OBP than any Nats that could possibly leadoff, and not a bad CF glove (this is more of a guess).We could give him a tryout in ST if Mets non-tender him.

  74. Gonat - Oct 6, 2011 at 9:13 PM

    SJM, Marquis is a first half winner. Can't explain how he does it, but his .620 win percentage over pre-AllStar is no fluke. He has a long career of April to July consistency and he doesn't abuse the bullpen until August.Lannan is bullpen abuser barely getting into the 6th inning of work, and I fear Wang will not go deep into games and certain Detwiler would be a drain on the pen. Can't have the 3 of those in the same rotation and can't pitch any of those in consecutive days.When judging pitchers evaluate ERC (component ERA), FIP, and WHIP, double plays turned and average innings. You need 3 starters who average at least 6.50 innings per game and need to make sure the other 2 are in that 5.5 range. That means your bullpen is working no more than 14.5 innings over 5 day periods. For a 7 man bullpen that is an average of 2 innings every 5 days and 60 innings a year per reliever.

  75. Gonat - Oct 6, 2011 at 9:28 PM

    Baseball swami, read Mark'ds point at 10:16am. BALANCE. The pitching is #7 in the ENTIRE MAJOR LEAGUES. The OFFENSE is 23rd. That is NOT balance.Funny coincidence, take 7+23=30 and divide by 2 = 15 guess what, the Nats ended up at the 16th best record.Other factors come into play in team rankings but if the Nats scored 80 more runs on offense they would have made the playoffs. Keep the pitching the same and score that additional 1/2 run per game and PLAYOFFS!!!!

  76. Maxwell Smart - Oct 6, 2011 at 9:30 PM

    StrasburgZimmermanLannanPeacockMiloneGorzelanny at spotJust a wild hope, however. Kansas City decides to dump Alex Gordon and his future salary and the Nats trade Lannan, Lombardozzi and Flores for him.

  77. The Chief - Oct 6, 2011 at 9:35 PM

    Ok, Max, that's a little more reasonable than trying to get Ellsbury from the Red Sox, but I still think you're feeling the effects of that 'cocktail' that CHAOS slipped you. Why don't you take Agent 99 out for dinner? She'd like that.

  78. Anonymous - Oct 6, 2011 at 9:55 PM

    I don't know what games you have been watching but Peacock looks to be the real deal, why waste money on guys who are going to give you a mid 4 ERA. Peacock will give me that and his upside is a lot higher. If he develops one more pitch he's your #3. The Nats problem is not pitching, it's finding someone who can drive in a runner from third base with less than two outs. How many games did we lose because of strikeouts in that situation.

  79. Anonymous8 - Oct 6, 2011 at 9:56 PM

    Smart, a 2 year rental of Alex Gordon for all of that? I would almost consider that trade but I would try not to include Lombo. Better chance to get Alex Gordon on July 31st as a trade deadline deal. I would do that exact deal for Gordon and Lorenzo Cain. By the way, that's the best trade name I have seen in a while. I would love to see Rizzo be that creative.

  80. BinM - Oct 6, 2011 at 9:57 PM

    The starting rotation is finally showing some real depth percolating up from the minors, after six years in the wilderness. While Rizzo still states his desire for another SP to add to the mix, at least it's no longer an imperative. As 2011 showed, the combo of Marquis & Strasburg coming back from injury basically covered the inability to sign a pitcher in the 2010 hot-stove season.This off season, should an SP with a reasonable-length contract (2 year +/-) become available through trade or via Free Agency, Rizzo should grab him. Otherwise, play the hand he currently holds (including Wang, Gorzelanny & Livo), and focus on adding to the offense; A gain of 1/2 run per game could go a long way toward making the existing staff better in wins & losses.

  81. Anonymous - Oct 6, 2011 at 9:59 PM

    Just a question? Why is no one talking about Matt Antonelli? His OPS is .390 with Syracuse. Does he deserve a look or not?

  82. Cassandra - Oct 6, 2011 at 10:09 PM

    You don't have to listen to me — my dad never did — but remember that a typical rotation is going to lose at least one full starting pitcher-equivalent to the DL each season. Such a loss may come in little chunks or it may come all at once, but that's the norm. And it could easily be more. The Nats need to be prepared with a six (or seven) man rotation. Two of those should probably be Milone and Peacock, starting the year in AAA and ready to be called up (and sent back down) as needed.

  83. BinM - Oct 6, 2011 at 10:13 PM

    Anon 5:59: Antonelli had a good season in SYR, but got lost in the shuffle between Bixler's early season start (.314/.439/.407) that earned him the callup, and Lombardozzi's climb (.309/360/.430 in HAR/SYR). He'll be a minor-league FA this off-season, so maybe the Nationals will bring him back, but his future may lie elswhere.

  84. Gonat - Oct 6, 2011 at 10:15 PM

    Antonelli was mentioned above in the Jamey Carroll post.

  85. Nats Outsider - Oct 6, 2011 at 10:16 PM

    Anon@5:55 said: "I don't know what games you have been watching but Peacock looks to be the real deal, why waste money on guys who are going to give you a mid 4 ERA. Peacock will give me that and his upside is a lot higher. If he develops one more pitch he's your #3. "I think that the Nats consider Peacock to be trade bait. I keep thinking about what Johnson said when he was shut down at the end of the season: There was no reason for him to pitch again, because we've seen what he can do, and the rest of the clubs have seen it as well. Sounds to me like Peacock was being showcased, and it would not surprise me at all to see him included in a package for a CF, big name starter, or whatever.

  86. BinM - Oct 6, 2011 at 10:31 PM

    Cassandra: You raise a very good point. A team can't be thinking only 5-6 pitchers deep for a starting rotation anymore (see BOS-2011), but needs to have a reasonable comfort level down to ten starters deep if they think they could contend. The 2012 Nationals might be close to that depth level, with what they had in-hand at the end of 2011 (Strasburg, JZimm, Wang, Lannan, Detwiler, Milone, Peacock, Livo, Maya, Gorzelanny & Stammen). You're rarely going to be capable of replacing an 'ace' with another 'ace', but if the pipeline contains talent, the dings & dents that a season brings don't look as bad.

  87. NatsLady - Oct 6, 2011 at 11:14 PM

    I think the Nats are going to have to keep Gorzy despite his high price for a long reliever, and that will let out Livo, i'm sorry to say. I don't think another team will take him, as evidenced by his clearing waivers, and I think he is just marginally enough valuable not to be released. Teams might trade for Lannan, but they aren't going for Gorzy, IMO.Gorzy will take the Miss Iowa job, rain delays, starter gets lit up early, platoon for a pitcher comming off the DL if/when that happens. I don't think you can even think of beginning the season with Gorzy in the rotation, there are too many other solid candidates.

  88. The Chorus - Oct 6, 2011 at 11:42 PM

    Tragic, that is.Cassandra said… You don't have to listen to me — my dad never did

  89. Anonymous - Oct 6, 2011 at 11:43 PM

    Back to Reyes.As has been mentioned 100 times in this threat; our pitching is OK, our starters good for 5, our bullpen excellent.Our offense has been weak. Lot of reasons. LaRoche disaster. Desmond disaster. Werth disaster …but the fact remains that we need to improve our offense. A stud CF or a stud SS(or 2nd baseman) are the best places to look. CF because our production was so bad; SS because there is a good free agent class to mine. 2nd because Espinoza did slump and could move to 2nd or be traded.It would be advisable to not let our defense deteriorate. So that's another bullet in favor of keeping Espinoza another year.How are you going to get a CF in this market? Trade Desmond/Espinoza/Peacock+How are you going to get a SS in this market? Write a check.I hear that Reyes is a head case; I hear that Reyes is oft-injured, I hear that Reyes is only playing well because its a contract year.Guess what. Bad Reyes is better than good Desmond both at the plate and in the field. Good Reyes is really, really good.Davey can handle Reyes. If Reyes is hurt, you try to plug the gap with Desmond (if not traded), Lombardozzi or a Bixler/Hairston. Not really much different than keeping Desmond imho.How can I improve the team the most? Reyes!How can I give up the least? Reyes!How can I hurt division foes the most? Rollins :) Though Reyes is a close 2nd!It would be insane not to try to bid up both Rollins and Reyes. If they don't come here, we'd like both to leave the division.One more point, there is alot of concern about payroll on the thread. Get real. In the short term, we have a really, really cheap pitching staff. What are the Phillies paying for Halladay,Lee,Oswalt, Hamels? Top dollar all. Stras, JZim, Peacock, Clippard, Storen, Detweiller, Wang all promise to be bargin basement.What are the Phillies paying for Howard, Utley, Rollins? Top dollar; we are paying top dollar for Werth. Zimmerman is due a raise; but that's really it. Sign Reyes for big money upfront (3 years*20M + 2 years at 15M) mutual options. By the time Rendon is ready and Espinoza is proven, we are either ready to flip Reyes or keep him. In other words, spend on Reyes now when Payroll is artificially low and move him or at least watch his salary drop when our young guns start getting raises.I am screaming it from the rooftops; get a shortstop!Reyes will like the idea. Money upfront is the best money, and few teams structure deals that way.

  90. BinM - Oct 6, 2011 at 11:55 PM

    NatsLady: The jury is still under deliberation on Gorzelanny; He's arb-eligible (again) and as MarkZ noted, the Nats might choose to opt-out on what they see as a long reliever earning $2.5M+ for 2012. For the Long Relief, "Miss Iowa" job, I'd look for a pitcher with better-than-average BAA/WHIP splits against hitters from either side of the plate, capable of 30GP+ & over 2IP per appearance. Current candidates would include Livo, Maya, Balester, Stammen, & Gorzelanny, or reaching out to the FA market. I haven't done the supporting research, but there's a starting list at least.

  91. John C. - Oct 6, 2011 at 11:55 PM

    I agree with BinM on Antonelli, and I'm a fan. He's a minor league free agent and with his background and a strong season in Syracuse he may well have earned a spot on a 40 man roster someplace. Unless there's a trade, I can't see the Nationals making that space for him at this point. They already have eight IF on the roster (not counting Cora, who is a FA, or Morse).Given Antonelli's age (he turns 27 in April; Lombardozzi just turned 23 a couple of weeks ago) I'd like to see the Nationals give him a shot at the Cora/Hairston role. I think they were grooming him for that at Syracuse – he played 25 games at 2b, 44 at 3rd, 19 at SS and 6 in LF. But I have no idea how effective he was at those positions, and the Nationals may want a veteran in that role. I do hope that he gets a chance somewhere, though. And if no one offers him a spot on a 40 man roster, I hope the Nationals invite him to ST to compete for a spot on the roster.On pitching, I'm surprised that no one has yet mentioned Yu Darvish as an option. Doesn't even cost a draft pick! :)

  92. BinM - Oct 7, 2011 at 12:38 AM

    NatsLady: Here's the return data on the LR candidates; I mixed & matched between 2011 & career numbers to make it look more like a standardized set. Long Relief prospects – 2012(all stats via Gorzelanny, Tom (L) – 2011 vs RHB – 349PA, .287/.351/.476, 13HRA, 2.36:1K-W.vs LHB – 98PA, .157/.216/.281, 2HRA, 5.80:1K-W. Balester, Collin (R) – career vs RHB – 399PA, .271/.332/.469, 16HRA, 3.00:1K-W. vs LHB – 342PA, .275/.364/.490, 15HRA, 1.32:1K-W. Hernandez, Livan (R) – 2011 vs RHB – 398PA, .286/.324/.431, 9HRA, 2.75:1K-W. vs LHB – 353PA, .297/.352/.438, 7HRA, 1.69:1K-W. Maya, Yuniesky (R) – career vs RHB – 132PA, .313/.394/.473, 3HRA, 1.00:1K-W. vs LHB – 128PA, .307/.357/.456, 3HRA, 1.75:1K-W. Stammen, Craig (R) – career vs RHB – 547PA, .273/.332/.475, 17HRA, 2.24:1K-W. vs LHB – 501PA, .283/.320/.427, 10HRA, 1.83:1K-W. Long story short, Gorzelanny killed it against LHB, but gets mashed by RHB. The best compromise Long Relief candidate is probably Stammen, then Livo, IMHO.

  93. BinM - Oct 7, 2011 at 1:00 AM

    Anon 7:43: Reyes could be a consideration for the Nationals, but not at the salary terms you state. He'll be looking for a long-term agreement (5-8 years), with a likely AAV of between $13-20M. Do you really think Rizzo & the Lerners are willing to sign off on another 7-year contract in excess of $120M for a leadoff hitting SS with no power and a spotty health record?

  94. Anonymous - Oct 7, 2011 at 1:26 AM

    This years rotation was 7th in the NL and put the team in position for its first winning season in DC. And it's going to improve. Pitchers are never 100% after their first year coming back from Tommy John so Znn who at one point had a 2.6something ERA will be even better than he was this year while pitching a full year. Then you have Stephen "Jeezus" Strasburg who will be better than Znn coming off TJ. Lannan has always put this team in position to win. And he is a clubhouse leader. The only reason to trade him would be if there is someone else better. That means Peacock, Milone, Detwiler if they are ready for the rotation.Wang satisfies as the free-agent acquisition. He's a former #1 starter, Cy Young, and 19-game winner. yeah he's coming off of injury but he's better than Jackson and Wilson will resign with Texas. What more do you want?What needs to improve is the offense. But it doesn't necessarily need a free-agent. The offense missed its best player (Zimmerman) for half the season. And Laroche will come back next year. Lineup:Desmond: in his third year and he gets better every yearEspinosa: first half NLROY frontrunnerZimmerman: face of the franchise for good reasonMorse: 31 HR, almost 100 RBI, .303 average=Beast ModeLaroche: had 25 HR past 3 seasonsWerth: will pick it up after a down yearRamos: one of baseballs best catching prospectsCF: position may still need to be filled but Ankiel or the Shark may be alright

  95. Cassandra, yet again, - Oct 7, 2011 at 1:34 AM

    It gives me no pleasure to predict this, but — just like last year with LaRoche and Zimmerman — someone we expect to produce will spend significant time on the DL next season. Get some more bats.

  96. Anonymous - Oct 7, 2011 at 1:52 AM

    or TegwarThe Giants are going to go after Reyes big. No contending team needs a SS more than they do. If the Giants don't get Reyes the Nationals may be able to pull off the big Rizzo trade that will upset most of the people on this board. Who will they get from the Giants? Matt Cain! Sounds impossible, The Giants payroll is starting to get too high Cain is getting a 10 million dollar raise next year and it will be his walk year, Lincecum becomes a FA in 2014 and they will need to lock him up sometime next year. Matt Cain is an elite pitcher that Rizzo covets. Rizzo has tried to trade for him before.What will it take to get him? The Giants will get to pick either Desmond or Espinosa and a good young pitcher maybe Peacock or Cole someone with upside and low cost, the Nat will probably throw Bernadina in. The Giants will ask for Storen but Rizzo probably won't trade him.The Giants will get a SS next year and they will need to reduce payroll somehow. The pieces for this trade are there and Rizzo really likes Cain.

  97. FS - Oct 7, 2011 at 2:05 AM

    I believe Japanese players have to go through posting system to get signed by a MLB team. I can't imagine the amount of money it will take to sign this guy. Don't think Nationals could afford that.It does not make sense to give up too much for one year rental of Matt Cain. He will soon hit free agency, we should wait for that if interested.What amazes me most is about the range of confidence shown in the offense. Some have written us off like we are Padres of '11 and some are banking on us to produce like the Yankees of '09.

  98. Eugene in Oregon - Oct 7, 2011 at 2:30 AM

    FS said…What amazes me most is about the range of confidence shown in the offense. Some have written us off like we are Padres of '11 and some are banking on us to produce like the Yankees of '09.——————————The 2011 Nats scored 624 runs. Even if we get that high OBP outfielder and LaRoche returns to his career norms, I'm thinking we're still a lot closer to the Padres of '11 (593 runs scored) than the '09 Yankees (915 runs scored).

  99. Anonymous - Oct 7, 2011 at 3:05 AM

    or TegwarFSThey would sign him to a 5 year contract extension at around 85 to 90 million.I take Rizzo at his word he wants an impact pitcher. We saw what he reportedly was going to give up for Greinke and Cain has post season experience and he has tried to get him before.Outside of Espinosa or Desmond The Nats would not give up any current roster players and they may be able to fill that position with with Lombo. Cain is still young 27 and Rizzo would have the trio of pitcher he says he wants. The pitching staff would be set for the next 3 or 4 years barring injury and Cassandra could tell us about that if we would only listen to her. The Giants would like a better bat than the Nats can offer and I was going to suggest Morse except I did not want to hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth. If you look at the Halladay trade that the Phillie's made with Toronto it would have to be close to that. There are only a few impact pitchers that the Nats have a chance of signing next year. CC is not coming here, Oswalt might but he would cost as much as Cain is 8 years older and C.J. Wilson is going to want a long term contract and is 3 years older and does not have the same track record as Cain. It will take a lot to pry Cain from the Giants and it might not make the Nats better next year but if Harper and Rendon make it up by 2013 the Nationals would be a playoff caliber team.

  100. Steven - Oct 9, 2011 at 1:07 AM

    Zimmermann isn't arb eligible this year.

  101. Steven - Oct 9, 2011 at 1:17 AM

    or I guess he's a possibilty for super 2. has that been announced yet? not till after the WS, I think.





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