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Odalis Perez (4.34 ERA) vs. Randy Wolf (4.30)

So, the Nats signed southpaw Odalis Perez to a minor league contract in the last day. He'll "have a chance to make the team in spring training." That's as low budget as you can go. Guess they won't be going after Randy Wolf who, just a couple of weeks ago, was being talked about as $9-million-a-year for three years free agent for the Dodgers, Nats or "other."

At least by the numbers, it looks like the Nats may have gotten back a mediocre but useful pitcher (he started the Opener in Nats Park) who is not too far behind the mediocre Wolf.

Perez, pretty much unwanted, made only $850,000 last year as a late pickup, but had a 4.34 ERA for Washington in 159 2/3 innings over 30 starts with 14 quality starts.

Wolf made $4,750,000 last season with a 4.30 ERA in 190 innings over 33 starts. Almost no diference in ERA and only three more starts for Wolf. Perez faded fast late in season.

In his career, Perez, 31, has a 4.46 ERA in 1,335 innings. He's made $32M. Wolf, 32, has a 4.26 ERA in 1,468 innings. He's made $36M in his career. Seriously, how much difference can there be between them? They may seem different because the lefty Wolf was 12-12 last year while Perez was 7-12 for the 102-loss Nats. As for health. both have had problems over the years, but, from '03 through '07, Wolf managed only 66 starts while Perez took his turn 96 times. Big edge to Perez.

Maybe the difference in their career records: 90-78 for Wolf to only 73-82 for Perez, is the difference between a "winner" and a "loser." Or maybe it's a total fluke, signifying nothing, between two roughly equivalent run-of-the-mill, pretty-good-at-times lefties. Wolf strikes out more men, but at these career ERA levels, who cares?

How quickly, and strangely, the perceptions of players change. Two years ago, Perez earned $7.8M and Wolf $7.5M. Now, Wolf, off 12-12, is seen as a solid part of a rotation for a contender, while Perez, 7-12, is seen as chunky, aging and disposable.

The Nats are probably correct to go the no-risk road here. (Besides, it leaves budget room for Adam Dunn. Yeah, right.)

By Thomas Boswell  |  February 6, 2009; 5:06 PM ET
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Pretty much confirms that the Teixeira offer was a publicity stunt. I can picture the heart attacks if he had said yes.

Posted by: rowandk | February 6, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

What on earth does this have to to with Teixeira, and how does it confirm ANYTHING about that deal?

Posted by: wahoo2x | February 6, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Based on statistics, both pitchers are similar, with Wolf having a slight edge in most categories; he has also been a SP for his entire career, while Odalis has spent time in the BP, and is proven to be a 5IP starter, at best.

Overall advantage = Wolf.

Posted by: BinM | February 6, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Wolf's numbers in Houston -- that tiny park and against some mashing NL Central lineups -- last year were impressive, while Perez folded like a lawn chair in tghe late summer heat. The ability to strike guys out and get the gorundball is what makes Wolf sexier. But, nice way to show that the Nats got a real bargain in Odalis.

Posted by: dfh123 | February 6, 2009 7:01 PM | Report abuse

One thing you have to add in when assessing Perez is he means more innings out of middle relievers, who are usually weaker than these two 4.3 ERA guys. I still like the signing, and I don't think there is $6 million /year difference between them.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | February 6, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

There is no such thing as a 180 million dollar publicity stunt.

Posted by: dand187 | February 6, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

For the money Perez is a much better value. If money was not a factor, you would definately want Wolf, but money is a factor. Its a big factor for everyone not the Yankees. You have to assume that there was not a single team willing to give Perez a guaranteed contract.

And its hard to argue with the National's approach - especially in light of the Ben Sheets health scam. A player perfectly willing to sign a big money contract with at least some knowledge of his health issues. Maybe he did not know the extent of the injury, but he had to have suspicion. No wonder Kasten is reluctant to spend money on free agent pitching.

Posted by: natbisquit | February 6, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Jason Stark has a column up at ESPN where he seems to argue that there is a conspiracy among owners not to sign the players. He says he's not charging collusion, but then goes on to infer that there is significant cooperation among the teams. He acknowledges economic downturn, but seems to dismiss it as a base cause.

He does not acknowledge that income from tickets, advertising sponsors, and merchandising are down. He finds it currious that all but a few owners would be tightening their belt at the same time.

The media - particularly online and broadcast media - are more aggressive in seeking management comments on pursuit of players, but he finds it evidentiary that five GM's have come out and specifically denied interest in Manny. No clue that the communication could be public relations damage control within the respective markets.

More than 55,000 employees nationwide were laid off in one day last week, but Stark seems to think that the reluctance to sign aging players to long term contracts is inconclusive evidence of an economic reality.

It's hard to buy into his innuendo.

Posted by: natbisquit | February 6, 2009 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Kinda like arguing over whether you'd like to go down on the Titanic or the Queen Mary.

Neither arm is gonna help the Nats gain some respectability. We should have overpaid for Lowe and Smoltz.

Posted by: howjensen | February 7, 2009 4:04 AM | Report abuse

Hands down Perez is the better sign for the money. Had he perhaps been pitching for a more advanced team last year, his W-L record would have been a bit more Wolf like. I saw Randy in Viera with the Dodgers a couple years back and I wasn't that impressed, albeit it was only spring training.

Posted by: cokedispatch | February 7, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

@ natbisquit: it's a little easier to buy into suggestions of ownership collusion (in both good economic times and bad) when you consider that management has been successfully proven guilty of collusion in a number of judicial and arbitration forums. jerry reinsdorf isn't dead yet and neither is bud "invertebrate" selig, so there is no reason to think they have stopped doing what they have always done.

Posted by: natty-bumppo | February 7, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Gotta have pitching to be successful.....actually great pitching will win games but not unless runs are scored behind that pitching, correct? Nats need some run producers.......unfortunately I don't see them any much better than last I didn't renew my half-season plan.....pls helf y'selves to my seats. Can't stand to see bad baseball......can ya blame me?

Posted by: teddybeartwo | February 7, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

at this rate of improvement, we're bound to lose 98-99 games...

Posted by: outrbnksm | February 7, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | February 7, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Last year, after the All Star Break, the Nats averaged 4.48 runs per game, .12 runs below NL average. Does anyone here think the offense is not better than the 2d half of last year?

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | February 7, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

If Odalis can give us 4.35 ERA for his 5.3 innings again this year, and we have a bullpen that is about the same level as last year, then he'll have a .500 record.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | February 7, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

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