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Phillies, Mets Have Rotation Woes

ERAs of the NL East rotations:

Braves: 3.27
Marlins: 4.28
Nats: 5.18
Mets: 5.77
Phils: 7.08!

The breakdowns on the Phils and Mets are scary. For them.

Phils: Brett Myers (5.03), Jamie Moyer (6.35), Joe Blanton (7.31), Cole Hamels (9.69), Chan Ho Park (8.68).
Mets: Johan Santana (0.46), Livan Hernandez (7.31), John Maine (7.47), Oliver Perez (7.80), Mike Pelfrey (8.10).

Without Santana, who faces the Nats tonight, the Mets' rotation ERA is 7.62.

Sure, we're only one-tenth of the way through the season this weekend. But if you think Nats fans have had an early-season scare with their rotation, imagine the Phils and Mets. Things will "even out," no doubt. But I still believe that April provides lots of tip-offs. Not the first week, but the whole month. Especially with starting pitchers.

I was talking to Mike Rizzo the other day and we've both noticed that the impact of overwork, age or injury almost always shows up the NEXT year. You never see a guy grab his shoulder and walk off the mound in the playoffs. But the next season you often see radically decreased performance. Lots of reasons/theories for this. The damaged or aged arm doesn't "rebound" as well when it is asked to build up for the next season and, in March, April or May you hear a "pop," something has blown and a career can change.

Nats: John Lannan (4.43), Shairon Martis (4.11), Jordan Zimmermann (3.00), Daniel Cabrera (4.50), Scott Olsen (9.00).

Lannan looks like he's back to his normal self and Z'nn may be special. Olsen's next two starts will be against the lefty-heavy Mets and Phils.This is one of the main reasons the Nats got him -- to match up with those teams. Can he be effective against them, like his quality start sgainst the Marlins? Or will he look more like his first two starts?

Martis and Lannan both depend on excellent, not merely good command. Lannan has proved over a span of about 40 starts that he almost always has this kind of precise control. Does Martis? You can project from minor league numbers that he probably does. But he has to prove it over an extended period. How will he react to getting hit harder, at times, in MLB than he ever did in the minors? Lannan bounces back.

Martis seems very calm, especially for 22. So, maybe he can do it, too. No need to mention Daniel Cabrera too much. I root for him for reasons I've explained at length -- he has limited athletic ability and has probably gotten about as much out of his 6-9 frame and hard work as can be expected. Probably another Jimbo "upside" mirage.

By Thomas Boswell  |  April 24, 2009; 2:00 PM ET
 
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Next: Lineups From Citi Field

Comments

Boz and all, could Cabrera make a switch to the bullpin or does he need to structure of the starters routine for him to be successful. Control seems to be his problem which would be needed for both...

Posted by: Berndaddy | April 24, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Who knew how many upside Jimbo mirages abounded? I think Cabrera is the weak link. Apropos the prior post, what do you think of signing Pedro Bos?

Posted by: adhardwick | April 24, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

If people were upset about Hinckley and his walks the other night, I can only imagine Cabrera in the bullpen...

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | April 24, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Berndaddy: Cabrera's high walk ratio poor plate location is a recepie for disaster as far as bullpen work is concerned that's why i avocated the team going after Pedro instead of Cabrera during the offseason.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 24, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Mets and Phillies pitching can be had.

I say the Nats get it together on this trip and go 4-2.

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 24, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

"I wonder how the tv-deal (which once looked terrible and now looks great) affected the $42.6M figure?" -- According to Forbes, the Nats have one of the ten best TV contracts in the league despite having by far the lowest ratings, not a bad deal at all.

"Probably the only number on the income side that Forbes had hard data on. On the expense side, the only hard data they had was probably player salaries. Everything else in that report is basically a wild guess on their part." -- Forbes has the Nats gate and concessions revenue based on the numbers they filed for tax reporting. The MLB revenue sharing money is also known. (Boras put it at $70 million.) Other factors such as operating expenses are smaller in value and not difficult to estimate.


Posted by: PowerBoater69 | April 24, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I ask these question about Cabrera just to see if there's something they can get for his $2+mil. Yes, other Bowden wild card gone wild, eh.

Posted by: Berndaddy | April 24, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I'm not so sure that Cabrera is the weak link in the rotation - it could very well be Olsen. Another two weeks should give us the answer. Let's hope it's not "both".

The rotations of NY and Phila. don't look very impressive, even discounting that they're pitching below expectations. It's hard to believe they wouldn't be calling Pedro instead of the Nats.

Posted by: macman3 | April 24, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

"If you listen to Jimbo, all your wildest dreams will come true." -- Napoleon Dynamite

Posted by: tailwagger | April 24, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

PowerBoater - does the Forbes profit estimate include debt service used to buy the team?

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | April 24, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

"Forbes has the Nats gate and concessions revenue based on the numbers they filed for tax reporting."

Maybe. If they asked for it. But I wouldn't be at all surprised if the DC government doesn't even have an accurate handle on that number itself. And does the FOIA even apply to state/city governments?

"The MLB revenue sharing money is also known. (Boras put it at $70 million.)"

Okay.

"Other factors such as operating expenses are smaller in value and not difficult to estimate."

Generic operating expenses, maybe. But how does Forbes have any idea what kind of money the Lerners spent on all manner of things from stadium improvements to front office salaries/bonuses to legal expenses to costs of the free RFK Shuttle (bet Forbes ignored that one entirely) to whatever, yadda yadda yadda? The Lerners aren't telling them. For example, Acta's salary has been announced, but Bowden's, Rizzo's et al never have. Forbes is pulling at least half of what it uses to come up with those team-by-team estimates straight out of its nether region. Thus they are only as good as the toilet paper they are printed on.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 24, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm not familiar with Cabrera or his history with the O's. The only time I saw him play is when he pitched against the Nats and looked horrible batting. Therefore, I am coming from this as fresh eyes. Cabrera has done very well in his few starts with the Nats. I don't know how he will turn out at year's end, but to me he is a good #4 or #5 guy. Sure, if he could cut down his walks and be more consistent he could be a sold #2 or #3 guy. No harm no foul taking the chance this year. The alternative was Perez or Redding (who is hurt).

Posted by: brothbart | April 24, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Part of me wants to talk to the Angels about one of Lannan, Olsen, or Martis. They have some useful parts out there that are not useful to them. Brandon Wood (who I'd move to 2d), Reggie Willits (classic leadoff type). Maybe Eric Aybar, too. If I could get Wood, I might swallow hard and send Lannan out there. I'd try to hold them up for Willits as well, and consider a lower tier arm if necessary.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | April 24, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm... let's see... go with the information gleaned by a respected financial organization broadly referenced across the industry or the contrarian naysaying of the anonymous and self-important NJ blogger nunof1?

Wow... tough call... mmmmm.

Posted by: outsider6 | April 24, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

you might not get wood straight up for lannan. while i like lannan, and he'd be a good "get" for LA this year, they always overvalue their own prospects and haven't made many trades because of it.

Posted by: sec231 | April 24, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

"Does the Forbes profit estimate include debt service used to buy the team?" -- I'm no accountant but I doubt it, the Forbes number was operating revenue, paying down the debt based on profits would not reduce the value of those profits.

While Forbes is of course guessing about many of the numbers, the biggest expense and revenue amounts are known, so the estimate is accurate enough that we can be confident that the Nats were easily one of the most profitable teams in MLB.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | April 24, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

"While Forbes is of course guessing about many of the numbers, the biggest expense and revenue amounts are known, so the estimate is accurate enough that we can be confident that the Nats were easily one of the most profitable teams in MLB."

What do you estimate is the margin of error in the estimates for each team? In other words, how big is the band between the lowest possible number it could be and the highest possible number it could be? If they estimate wrong, are they guaranteed to be either uniformly high or uniformly low, or could they be estimating high for some teams and low for others? Forbes does not provide any of these caveats along with its numbers, but it probably should. Especially if people are going to read them and take them as the gospel truth, when in reality all they are is wild a** guesses that provide fodder for discussions such as this one. There's really no way of knowing how right they are or how wrong they are, so really what's the point in coming to any hard and fast conclusions based on these numbers?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 24, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

This Forbes knows nothing ABM doubts everthing issues comes up every year.

Funny how Boz after defending Jimbo up to the end is know taking shots at him just like we did for years. Next year will Boz get off his high horse and take time to see Acta is really NOT a great game manager and pinch hitting Alex C instead of Josh W is NEVER a good move?

Posted by: JayBeee | April 24, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

1.) NJ just might be better than ever. Woot.

2.) I don't think Cabrera the reliever would be a success.

3.) Pedro Martinez would be a joyous signing. I love the guy. Also, guaranteed attendance bump.

4.) Sanatana's run support is 1.3333/game. No sweat tonight.

Posted by: nattaboy | April 24, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Carrying over, since tailwagger did.

Pedro offers you his protection. (I'm disappointed nobody said that yet.)

He should go to the Tigers. Only one letter away from Liger. Duh.

But seriously, folks. Interesting idea. Not sure what to think.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 24, 2009 3:55 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 24, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Nunof1 has made another friend.

Geez, what a mean-spirited, overbearing, fusspot.

Posted by: Section505203 | April 24, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

I think nunof just likes to argue. Seems like this whole Forbes estimate discussion is a monumental waste of time.

Big picture: are the Nats moving in the right direction, fiscally and in terms of developing talent, to make them viable in the District and keep MLB in our national capitol for many years to come?

I sure hope so.

Posted by: outsider6 | April 24, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

505203,

Sorry.. wasn't trying to be mean-spirited. Just don't understand people who refuse to look for merit in the ideas of others. Baseball's an odd game -- there are lots of different ways to do things and still be right. nonof seems to think he has a firmer handle on things than anyone else.

Posted by: outsider6 | April 24, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

I don't think that 505 was referring to you, outsider.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 24, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

{quote=outsider6}
I'm not saying Pedro will win 20 or turn the Nats into a contender, which the Mets are. I'm saying that he's still a more than capable starting major league pitcher, will add credibility to the organization as it tries to lure FA's in the future, will put butts in the seats, and brings a collection of intangibles that this team could parlay to its advantage as it establishes the foundation of a winning organization.{/quote}

recent performances (i.e., last year) don't point to "more than capable." 5.71 ERA is borderline 5th starter. 5 1/3 per start is borderline 5th starter. even cabrera's career averages (and in the AL east against yanks/sox/rays) are better. in fact, i'm pretty sure he beat those stats every year of his career.

please point out how he adds credibility to future FA signings. if Tex or Dunn were FAs next year, why would signing an aging and declining pedro to a 1 year contract mid-season to be your 5th starter make them more likely to sign with the Nats next year? that makes no sense to me.

define *how many* butts in the seats you really think this means. i can see a very small bump, but we're talking a few hundred per start, not thousands. this isn't the circa 1999 pedro. this is the 2009 guy with the 5+ ERA who doesn't go 6 innings.

personally, i'd rather see more of the guys we already have. cabrera will be out of the rotation by the end of the season (barring too many injuries), replaced by strasburg or another young guy.

Posted by: sec231 | April 24, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

No Outsider, I was not talking about you.

I was referring to "Mr. Happy", Nunof1.

Posted by: Section505203 | April 24, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I think that PowerBoater69 is absolutely correct on this. The true answer is that the way MLB is structured, it is virtually impossible to find out the TRUE P&L and Balance Sheet of any ball club. The union found this out during the last round of negotiations.

Expenses are relatively easy to track down (except of course that the ball club may purchase a piece of equipment, say a lawn mower, and use it for some of the owners' other businesses), but income stream may be more difficult. For instance, for quite a number of years, the Chicago Cubs, despite being carried on Superstation WGN, had exactly 0 revenue from TV. The TV rights were actually owned by the Tribune Company. The fact that the Cubs were owned by the Tribune Co. is irrelevant. The Cubs did not get the revenue.

The long and short of it is that, if the MLBPA, one of the most powerful unions in the country, was unable to get the clubs to open their books, anything that Forbes says is a guess. An educated guess, but a guess, nonetheless.

Posted by: Catcher50 | April 24, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm not arguing any point with respect to the Forbes numbers except to say that as with anything it's good to take a critical look at things like this rather than having your conclusions spoonfed to you. In a sense, this is the financial equivalent of the Baseball America organizational rankings that come out each year. People don't seem to have any problem with some commenters questioning that methodology. Why is it a bad thing to do the same with these Forbes numbers? Other than the fact that as someone already said, they're not relevent for much of anything anyway?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 24, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

"3.) Pedro Martinez would be a joyous signing. I love the guy. Also, guaranteed attendance bump."

Why would Pedro guarantee an attendance bump when Manny Ramirez couldn't pull any additional fans in last year, even with the Nats doing Susan O'Malley style "come see this great opposing player" marketing for him?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 24, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

231,

Pedro was still recovering from rotator cuff surgery last year. It's the 2nd year back where a pitcher typically regains his form -- if he regains it (trust me, I know!). I think if you asked 10 scouts if they'd prefer Pedro or Cabrera as is today, 9 would take Pedro.

As for organizational cred, the Lerners haven't exactly been spendthrifts. If they open the wallet for Pedro and he agrees to come -- not a sure thing -- that's a sign the organization might be serious about getting better. Pedro's a first ballot HoFer... I like Dunn and Tex is a tremendous ball player but neither has the rep Pedro does. It would be a good step. It's a matter of perception... to FAs AND their agents.

As for butts in the seats... I'm reminded of Tom Hanks in "League of their Own", saying in the locker room, "Let's take the field ladies... DOZENS of people are waiting to see us play." I think ANY additional butts on the seats is a positive! :)

But you overlook the greatest contribution I suggested Pedro could make: attitude. Whether you think he's finished or nearly so, I don't think any reasonable person would argue the man's not a winner and a presence on the mound. If he could help ZNN, Lannan, even Cabrera develop that sort of bulldog mentality it would be worth the cost of signing him.

Like I said, I completely acknowledge it's a risk. I just think it's one worth taking.

Posted by: outsider6 | April 24, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

"I think that PowerBoater69 is absolutely correct on this. The true answer is that the way MLB is structured, it is virtually impossible to find out the TRUE P&L and Balance Sheet of any ball club. The union found this out during the last round of negotiations."

Why are you saying PowerBoater69 is right and then agreeing with all the things I said that he's disputing? Are we both right?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 24, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Outsider6,

Agree that big question (and source of concern for many of us) is whether Nats/Lerners are moving in right direction. As Boz says, good signs lately--signings of Dunn, Beimel, e.g. But I still have a lingering fear that Lerners are putting just enough of the profits back to field a (barely) competitive team.

What would dispel my concerns? Strong showing in the upcoming draft (including drafting and signing of Strasburg),and progress in the international market. Yes, we seem to be cleaning up the mess in the DR, but having a presence in the DR seems to be the minimum requirement for an MLB club, and we haven't as yet exceeded that minimum.

Posted by: CapPeterson | April 24, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

i think the "rep" that pedro has, as far as getting signed at this point in his career, is all with the fans. other players know he's not that good any more. if you want "creditability" with players for signings, you have to sign good players to good deals. first ballot HOF, i'll agree with. but that's for his work in years past (and several years past), not the pitcher he is today. i seriously doubt signing pedro will enhance the perception the nats have as a FA destination. winning will. signing (or trading for) premium or at least above average FAs will.

even if he adds 100s instead of dozens, i don't know if i would consider that much of an argument to sign him. thousands? ok, maybe. "any extra butts" doesn't mean that much. winning a few more games would do the same thing and i'm not sure pedro provides that.

i'm not going to get too caught up in the "9 out of 10 scouts" argument. that's fairly random and is really your opinion. we can agree to disagree that there's a significant difference. higher risk with pedro, but i don't know that there's really that much upside any more. the guy's been breaking down for years. as i said, there's a reason he's still available, and it's not just the $5m price tag he's asking.

we'll have to disagree on this one. i don't think signing pedro helps move this team forward. i think learning more about our young pitchers does. as i said, cabrera won't likely be in the rotation all season (barring several injuries). as some of the younger guys (including strasburg, hopefully) come up, they'll push him out. might as well push him out instead of pedro.

Posted by: sec231 | April 24, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

btw, don't mistake that stance to mean i wouldn't like to see us trade for someone with some upside and future. i'm just tired of retreads and broken down guys we hope can make a comeback. let's either develop our own or sign guys who are really worth signing.

Posted by: sec231 | April 24, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

I have been advocating since Spring Training for the Nats to sign Pedro (heck, I'd take a flier on Mark Mulder, too). Sign him to an incentive-laden contract. Who wouldn't want this guy out there pitching inside to Utley, Wright, Hanley, Uggla every 5th day? Do it!

Posted by: erocks33 | April 24, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Nice ones, 1a.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 24, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I still say that most of the objections to Pedro are resolved if he can become the closer. He should be less likely to break down and won't block any young starter. Even if Hanrahan is a long-term solution at closer, he can be groomed as a 7th-inning guy for the rest of the year (where hopefully he'll regain some velocity).

Posted by: jcj5y | April 24, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Given how bad of of that pitching is in the division really is, the Nats can actually, dare I type it, compete. They can hit, they can largely field and the starters are no joke anymore. If the bullpen -- the strength for so long -- could get the last 6-8 outs, it could be interesting.

Posted by: dfh21 | April 24, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

dfh21: I agree. It may seem crazy to say after this start, but if the bullpen can be brought around, and maybe another piece added some time during the season either by trade or by checkbook, this team can compete.

Not win the division, necessarily, but compete.

Or it could lose 100 games if the bullpen doesnt get fixed and injuries again become a problem.

I really believe there is the potential for either, and if they are going to get it together this would be a great weekend to start.

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 24, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Waitaminnit -- the Nats' starting rotation is third in the NL East?!?

Well whaddayaknow, we don't suck! :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | April 24, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

I said in an earlier post that they could go 3-3 on this roadie, if Guz was back in the lineup i'd say it could be better that being said this is an oppourtunity to catch these teams while they are not playing well,we need to string some wins together and i'd like to see Maxwell get some ab's.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 24, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

pssst, juan-john. (whispering) that's only starting rotation. bullpen brings us down. we do kinda suck.
nl east team era
marlins 3.8
braves 4.26
mets 4.65
nats 5.36
phillies 6.31

Posted by: NatsNut | April 24, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

psst: NatsNut. (whispering) Shhh! Maybe nobody'll notice! ;-)

Posted by: Juan-John | April 24, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, CiL.

Too true about the 'pen, NatsNut. :-(

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 24, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

psst. juan-john, you can't whisper and (!) at the same time. ;)

Posted by: NatsNut | April 24, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

OTOH, how about that offense? (Disclaimer: Compared to last year's. Your mileage may vary. This offer void where prohibited.)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 24, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

LOL, NatsNut. Maybe it was a stage whisper.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 24, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Boz, Martis doesn't pitch anything like Lannan. Have you been watching? He has more power, more variety, more stuff, but less command. At least so far this year.

Posted by: paulkp | April 24, 2009 9:58 PM | Report abuse

This is still April Baseball, just one step up from grapefruit league. Yeah yeah, I know the games count, but once mid-may hits, teams change dramatically.

Don't forget the phils are missing JC Romero due to his suspension. He'll be back after 50 games (probably around July), so they'll have a quality reliever back well rested.

And even if the mets/phils have ERA's of 9.00, they'll still have better records than the Natinals.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | April 25, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

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