Nashville: Where You Go To See If What Is Said Is So
Just got on the ground in Nashville, and will begin trolling the lobby at the Gaylord Opryland Resort pronto. I'll keep you up to date with whatever news I can get tonight - which is generally an evening for the club to have a team dinner. Jim Bowden was getting in today, and the rest of the braintrust - Bob Boone, Dana Brown, Mike Rizzo and others, including Stan Kasten - will all be here this week.
But before we get going, let's identify the Nationals' main objectives here. And we'll start with what could be the most significant.
I believe they will continue to shop Chad Cordero, and if I were a betting man, I would guess they would travel back to Washington having sent him to another team. Cordero's pluses and minuses have been widely discussed here and elsewhere, but let's break it down a tad.
Since 2005, when the Nationals arrived in Washington, only four closers have more than Cordero's 113 saves - the Angels' Francisco Rodriguez, San Diego's Trevor Hoffman, Minnesota's Joe Nathan and Detroit's Todd Jones. Each of those teams has made at least one playoff appearance in that time; Cordero's teams have finished last, last and fourth.
His ERA of 2.79 in that time is fifth-best among NL relievers who have played in all three of those seasons (trailing Billy Wagner, Mike Gonzalez, Trevor Hoffman and Jason Isringhausen).
He is durable, having never been on the disabled list.
Perhaps most important, he is eligible for arbitration for the next two years, meaning he's not a free agent till after the 2008 season. Though he will receive a signifcant bump from his salary of $4.15 million this season, he will still be relatively affordable. Perhaps the best thing to happen for the Nationals, in terms of Cordero's marketability, was the four-year, $46-million contract signed by Francisco (no relation) Cordero with the Reds. That shows how much closers will cost, and contending clubs in need of a closer (hello, Milwaukee) could give Cordero a significant look.
In that same period (2005-07), only two relievers - Francisco Cordero and Scott Linebrink - have more blown saves than Chad Cordero's 20.
Of closers who have played in all three of those seasons, his save percentage of 85 percent ranks 15th in baseball - directly in the middle of the pack.
In each of those years, his ERA has risen - from 1.82 in 2005 to 3.16 in 2006 to 3.36 in 2007. Though his innings were almost identical in that time (ranging between 73-1/3 to 75), his number of walks has gone up, from 17 in '05 to 22 in '06 to 29 this past year.
And - and this could be the most damning - in those three years, only two relievers in all of baseball (the dreadful Jorge Julio and Scott Proctor) have allowed more than Cordero's 30 homers. More than half of those homers - 16 of them - came at RFK Stadium. A smart team analyzing this would have to consider that Cordero would almost certainly give up at least that many homers, maybe more, at his new home park. RFK allowed him to get away with more long fly balls, balls that might be homers at a place such as Miller Park in Milwaukee.
I'm going to leave it at that for now and get to the lobby to see who's around. But I'll leave you with this for Sunday night and early Monday morning: Do you want to keep Cordero long-term, or would you like to see him turned into a big deal?
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