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The starting pitching, Pt. II

Following a few more conversations with Nats people, I wanted to refine my thoughts about the starting pitcher conversation. Namely:

* For now, Washington seems to have preliminary interest in almost every established free agent starting pitcher except the A-lister, John Lackey. So, the Nats would entertain the possibility of Jarrod Washburn, Joel Pineiro, Vicente Padilla, Jason Marquis, and John Smoltz.

* The team's primary desire? They want an "innings-eater." (Sorry, that's a dreadful phrase. But it gets the point across. The better a pitcher's chances of giving the Nats a reliable 200 innings, the more they like him.)

* For now, the team appears to have no primary target. The Nats are content to wait things out, see how the market develops. "I don't think we'll see anything happen soon," one front office member said. "One will fall to us."

By Chico Harlan  |  December 9, 2009; 2:09 PM ET
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Next: Nationals notes: Dukes, L. Hernandez


Does the quality of the innings-eater count? There are lots of guys who can give you 175 IP with a 5.60 ERA.

Posted by: leetee1955 | December 9, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

i remember about 25 years ago jayson stark wrote about rick mahler of the braves that he was as hittable as a pinata, but he gave the team INNINGS! that season he gave up 283 hits and 95 walks in 237.2 innings. just say no to the livos and his ilk.

Posted by: surly_w | December 9, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Yeah I don't think that Smoltz is an inning eater. Looked like he was having trouble making it through 4 innings with the Cards. I think the innings are eating him.

Posted by: Brue | December 9, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Please Mike Rizzo, please don't be the sucker that overpays for Joel Piniero. He had a career year and will command a multi year deal - let someone pay for his 2009 performance. His 2010 numbers won't resemble his 2009 numbers.

Posted by: comish4lif | December 9, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Well with respect to free agents, I actually agree with the "one will fall to us" philosphy because I don't see a lot of free agent pitchers that clearly rise above the others (except Lackey). But hopefully, they are also looking at the trade market and perhaps there, they could be a little more aggressive.

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 9, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

"I think the innings are eating him."

That was funny.

Posted by: BobLHead | December 9, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

"One will fall to us."

Kinda takes the touchy-feely "we wanted Joe Bleaux all along. We targeted him from the start of free agency and are very happy he's on the team" comments off the table. Gotta make the lucky one who "falls to us" feel simply aces about playing in DC.

I know the market isn't fantastic but considering the needs of the team and their own admitted understanding that they are going to have to pay a premium to get talented FAs to come here, I wish they'd simply zero in on the "best of the rest" not named Lackey and make that premium offer.

Quite simply, it's impossible to over-emphasize the "we are serious about improving our team" message this off season.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | December 9, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Ditto that thought Rickety. Saying we'll settle for the last one standing is typical Nats philosophy circa 2006-2009. Hey O'Dallas, stayed tuned...

Posted by: howjensen | December 9, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Kevin Correia will be joining the ranks of free-aget pitchers...

Posted by: js_edit | December 9, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

"The ball is evidently gone! The Nationals have apparently won the game! Justin Maxwell seems to have hit a grand slam! I am quite possibly the worst announcer in baseball!"

In Carpenter's defense, he does not have the luxury of waiting until after the play has developed to make his call, since the people hearing his call are going to be watching the play right along with him - unlike a radio announcer such as Slowes who never has to utter a word until he's sure of it. (Try taking a radio to the game with you sometime and listening to Charlie and Dave. You'll see that the timing of their calls often lags the play on the field by a fair piece.)

In the case of Maxwell's grand slam, I was there in the park when he hit it and it was not immediately clear that the ball was out of the park. I was in the lower deck behind the first base dugout, closer to the play than Carpenter was - although the angle was probably better for him in his perch up in the press box. I had to watch the reaction of the fans in the LF Corner seats before I really knew what had happened. That's probably what Carpenter was doing too, but he was forced to call the play at the same time he was trying to figure out what had happened. I will agree that the call he came up with was not the most elegant or memorable choice of words, but it was better by far than if he'd made an emphatic and dramatic call and gotten it wrong.

Posted by: section309 | December 9, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I thought the Nats were also giving a look to Jon Garland? Or did he sign somewhere else and I missed it?

Posted by: yatesc1 | December 9, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Looks like The Team Whose Name Shall Never Be Mentioned on this blog has their "veteran innings-eater." Baltimore Sun reporting Keven Millwood is a Bird in exchange for Chris Ray. Wonder if the Nats asked Texas about Millwood?

Posted by: leetee1955 | December 9, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I thought the Nats were also giving a look to Jon Garland? Or did he sign somewhere else and I missed it?

Posted by: yatesc1 | December 9, 2009 2:48 PM

Plenty of baseball writers think the Nats are indeed going after him (Gammons, Ladson, etc). Rizzo confirmed it but is being tight lipped otherwise. I'd say that's a pretty good sign.

Posted by: Kev29 | December 9, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

"The ball is evidently gone! The Nationals have apparently won the game! Justin Maxwell seems to have hit a grand slam! I am quite possibly the worst announcer in baseball!"

To echo 309, I was sitting in Section 307. We all thought that the ball had been caught and the game was over. We did not realize that there had been a grand slam until we saw the Nats rushing the field. We looked at each other, saw the fans in left field celebrating and put 2 and 2 together. There is no way Carpenter could have seen that with the naked eye live. His call seemed perfectly appropriate.

I don't know and don't really care what some of you have against him, but I thought that teamed up with Dibble, Carpenter was quite good. I thought the two of them made a horrible season kind of enjoyable to watch.

Posted by: bananas | December 9, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the taking note of Kevin Correia apparently hitting the market, js_edit. He could be a very solid pick-up, and posted solid numbers even away from Petco Park (8-5, 4.18 ERA), and even better, is under 30 and probably less expensive than the vast majority of names currently being bandied about. Let's make him our #3 pitcher, keep some money in the tank for Garland, and see what kind of trades we can work out for some more help.

Posted by: faNATic | December 9, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Uh, I believe the reason the radio calls are "a good piece" behind live play is because it broadcast on a delay, like all radio is. Duh!

Posted by: jmurray019 | December 9, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo - run down the hall and make an offer for Correia - offer him Martin or Martis or someone from our surplus of half-assed starters. The Pads should take something - something is better than letting him walk.

I'd much prefer him to Piniero. Correia's 3.97 ERA and 1.303 WHIP are more in line with his career numbers. And the 33 starts and 198 Innings are nice.

Posted by: comish4lif | December 9, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Actually, there's nothing wrong with a TV guy waiting a couple seconds to make a call when it's a tough play to see. TV guys have the luxury of waiting longer than radio guys if the play is not clear, precisely because the fans are watching the game along with him. They can see the play too. If he's not sure what's happening because the play is difficult to see, he can be quiet and not say anything until he *is* sure. Have you ever heard Bill White's TV call of Bucky Dent's famous home run? Great call, partly *because* he waited and called it as the play unfolded and as he saw it. It's all in the presentation.

Carpenter's problem, by contrast, is that he believes he needs to be talking non-stop, and he asks his "questions" when he is calling the play ("did he get it?"). By setting himself up like that with the useless question, and thinking that he needs to keep talking, he puts himself in the awkward position of having to answer the question and keep talking, even when the play is hard to see. There's no question that it was a difficult play to see (and I was at the game with a better view than Carpenter). But it was still an awful call.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | December 9, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

"Uh, I believe the reason the radio calls are "a good piece" behind live play is because it broadcast on a delay, like all radio is. Duh!"

Yes, of course there are delays. And delays differ depending on the medium you're listening on - for instance, if you listen on there's additional delay from what you get if you listen over the air. But over and beyond that, the announcers have the luxury of delaying their call of a particular play if circumstances warrant it, and believe me they do that. One benign example of this is if they're late coming back from commercial and the first pitch of the inning has already taken place. They delay the call, and the listener is no wiser. Duh yourself.

Posted by: section309 | December 9, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

CoverageIsLacking's problem is that he just doesn't like Bob Carpenter's style. CoverageIsLacking needs to get over that, because Carpenter ain't going anywhere, it would appear.

Posted by: section309 | December 9, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Section 309--you should stop worrying about other commenters personally, and if you want to respond to the substance of what they have to say, go for it.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | December 9, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

And I for one appreciate Carpenter's chatty style, because I'm often not plopped in front of the TV when I'm watching the game. I'm up and doing something in another room a lot of the time. With Carpenter's calling style, I can still be in touch with what's going on in the game, which is a hell of a lot more important to me than how elegant the call might be.

The alternative of course would be to turn down the sound and listen to Charlie and Dave, who admittedly are better announcers than Carpenter. But the TV delay is much greater than the radio delay, so when I am watching the TV I end up hearing the entire play unfold before I even see the pitch thrown. That's a lot worse than having to listen to a chatty Bob Carpenter.

Posted by: section309 | December 9, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I am not sure that I like the strategy of one will fall to us because someone will and it will be because no other team wants him. Randy Wolf would have been a great addition but the let's wait attitude let him get away. Like it or not we need two "inning eaters" so that the bullpen can combine to throw 3 innings a night instead of 5 a night, I hope Livo comes back as our #5 starter (where he belongs) and that we can get a guy who can be our #2 or #3 guy to make some matchups more favorable for our pitchers, it would be nice to get Lackey but I doubt we want to pay what he will command in dollars as well as years.

Posted by: markfd | December 9, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I guess they still need to shore up the bullpen some more if they need an "innings eater."

Posted by: futbolclif | December 9, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

'nother post, this time from sheinin.

Posted by: surly_w | December 9, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

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