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Thoughts on Marquis signing

So it looks like we'll meet Jason Marquis on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. Meantime, I'm curious for reaction to the signing; judging from initial comments, it seems like opinion is all over the place. The deal for Marquis -- two years, $15 million -- fits quite squarely under the category already established this offseason for respectable (but occasionally perplexing) veteran starters. Brad Penny received a one-year, $7.5 million contract from St. Louis. Rich Harden received a one-year, $7.5 million contract from Texas. Marquis gives you more consistency and less upside than either, but for a team in need of innings/reliability, that's probably a worthy trade-off.

Before I get along with a little poll (see below), here are a few items to note -- supporting evidence for both the Pro and Con crowds.

* For six straight seasons Marquis has won at least 11 games. The Nationals, since moving to the District in 2005, have only seen starters win 11 or more in a season three times.

* Marquis has more career wins (94) than all other starters on Washington's 40-man roster combined.

* After he beat the Nats 1-0 last year at Coors -- and man, it was a near-flawless performance -- losing pitcher Craig Stammen said, "He's a pitcher a lot like me... He's a guy I need to be like in the future."

* Marquis relies on his sinker, which means he relies on ground balls, which means he relies on defense. And Washington's infield, aside from one very golden corner, is worrisome.

* Marquis's effectiveness waned toward the end of '09, as he went 4-7 with a 4.58 ERA after the all-star break.

By Chico Harlan  |  December 21, 2009; 8:14 PM ET
 
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Comments

It's the going rate. What's an owner to do? You have to just say thank you and move on to the next free agent signing.

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 21, 2009 9:16 PM | Report abuse

While closer to the first choice than the others, Marquis is not a perfect fit; He's a good fit at a fair price. For now, it's good enough, given the market.

Posted by: BinM | December 21, 2009 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Going back to the previous discussion...

JayBee & dfhwhatever may be the same. WaPo, or its IT dept. has changed names on some of the posters (me, for one), so that, no matter how unknowledgeable and obnoxious they are, the name change may not be their (his/her) fault.

BTW, and I've brought this up before, if you are looking for a slick fielding 2b or SS, think locally. Looks like the Gints are giving up on Manny Burris.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | December 21, 2009 9:17 PM | Report abuse

For a staff of #4 starters, adding a solid #3 is a good pickup, but that's all it is. If they come up with a ++ glove at short by April, it'll be that much better, but then, so will the rest of the staff.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 21, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

If they are going with a young SS, why would they prefer Burris and his subpar hitting to Ian Desmond?

Posted by: raymitten | December 21, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

The Nats have organizationally moved from Levale Speigner to Jason Marquis. For that I am happy.

Posted by: imissrfk | December 21, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Not speaking for them, Ray, but in general, ss is the highest premium for defense, the hardest to get +defense, and the most likely position to eat a .220 BA in exchange for a great glove.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 21, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Having Burris on the team would be a good local interest story, but I'd rather have a good defensive player who can also get on base and get an occasional extra base hit than a great defensive player with a .560 OPS. That .260 slugging percentage is remarkably weak.

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 21, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Very happy with this signing - like how Rizzo discusses needs and then quietly goes about trying to fill them - Marquis would have been a help to a contender and yet he chose to play here I like that. We still need one more veteran starter (not Livo) and I would love to see them go after Capps and Hudson as well. Still, this is so much better then what we are used to. Not that anyone cares, I am moving from 309 to 105 next year, they made us an offer we could not refuse.

Posted by: sjm3091 | December 21, 2009 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Marquis has more career wins (94) than all other starters on Washington's 40-man roster combined.

***************

That's kinda cute, actually, only because we have babies for pitchers.

Posted by: NatsNut | December 21, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Good signing. More please.

Posted by: Kev29 | December 21, 2009 10:10 PM | Report abuse

This is one of the better signings that the Lerners have made on the FA market. Marquis will be better and more consistent than Redding, Perez, etc... Morevover, given that the Nats have just cleared a lot of payroll and having one of the lower MLB payrolls, this is a cheap signing for them.

Posted by: CountDemoney | December 21, 2009 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Hell No on Burris ! The orioles got a slick fielding none hitting shortstop and where did that get them? (Last Place)

Posted by: specialg7master | December 21, 2009 10:38 PM | Report abuse

No on Burris ! The orioles got a slick fielding none hitting shortstop and where did that get them? (Last Place)

Posted by: specialg7master | December 21, 2009 10:39 PM | Report abuse

I just hope Marquis doesn't catch the dreaded "day to day" nats syndrome.

Posted by: cabraman | December 21, 2009 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Are they still planning on signing one more starter?

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | December 21, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

If Rizzo is to be believed, yes they will try to sign one more. That second pitcher may not be of the Garland/Marquis level though. There is a long list of pitchers ranging from Smoltz to Livon. Maybe they will go toward the high end, but they might have to target the bargain bin for the second guy. Rizzo seems to be rather plain spoken so I expect another starter to be signed before spring training at the least.

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 21, 2009 11:40 PM | Report abuse

The staff just got better, so it's worth it. And like Livo a few years ago, Marquis can help with his bat too, which is worth a few of those $$$.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | December 22, 2009 12:18 AM | Report abuse

Man, $7.5 million per year doesn't get you what it used to. Like the player, not the price. (would rather have had either of the other pitchers who went for 7.5)

Posted by: Barno1 | December 22, 2009 12:24 AM | Report abuse

in all signings, the nats must pay sucky tax, quality players want to win and not be on the nats. we are lucky to find a guy who wants to be a mentor and will take what we can offer

Posted by: formerlylove1 | December 22, 2009 2:28 AM | Report abuse

I disagree with this signing. The Nationals need to focus on the long term. Marquis may help them achieve mediocrity for a couple of years, but it will come at the expense of younger pitchers like Detwiler who need playing time to develop their potential.

The goal should not be short-term mediocrity but long-term success.

Posted by: Dynatic | December 22, 2009 4:02 AM | Report abuse

How about "D - None of the above?" I like Jason Marquis. He's a middle of the rotation ML pitcher, but he's certainly not a top of the rotation guy, even for the Nats. Here's hoping that they either make another signing or that one of the kids emerges. BTW, why does everyone care so much about what they pay him and what do they base their opinions on? I may believe that I know BB talent, but how on earth can some lay person really believe they understand the nitty gritty of the economics of the game? Enough of the GM wannabes...

Posted by: truke | December 22, 2009 6:01 AM | Report abuse

"I know this is old "stuff" but I would like to know what austin kearns is doing or where he will go , etc. ???"

All the way to the bank, laughing.

Posted by: section309 | December 22, 2009 7:44 AM | Report abuse

1) He's going to deliver innings, and that's what this club needs: someone to burn innings. He'll go 6-7 innings/game, which means this fragile bullpen can get some rest.
2) When this club gets hot with the bat, they can punch up runs. We've seen a few streaks this past summer where there were runs aplenty. Marquis will generate wins during these streaks.
3) It plugs a spot in the rotation so that the club doesn't need to wholly rely on the kids.
4) Cost? It's what the market will bear.
5) Lastly, it makes the club more competitive. Not a lot more competitive, but just another step towards respectability, which in turn will lead to a quality FA signing or two during 2011 (when there will be a bumper crop of quality FAs).

Posted by: joemktg1 | December 22, 2009 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Guilty as charged....Like Catcher50 to MikeCatcher50 I have changed from JayB to JayBee over the past 4 years....hope you all can keep track of the my deception.....

I like the signing and we need Vet SP (Garland) and Backend BP (Capps) and teacher of how to win (Smoltz) and a Defensive Middle Infielder (missed SS boat which will really hurt).

Cost? Recall the profiteering days of Nook and Fick....Nats have to over pay because of the dysfunctional organization the Lerners and Stan created. They have tons of back cash to spend from the 2006 - 2008 seasons so they caused their own suck tax problem. Tough to feel sorry for them.

Posted by: JayBeee | December 22, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

While Marquis should throw a bunch of innings and help the Nats stay in some games, and Capps, if they get him, should close the door well, which is good stuff and all, unless they are going to trade for front end pitching (there is really none left on the FA market) his signing doesn't really mean much.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 22, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of pitchers, what's the status of Wilkie now?

Posted by: Natsgal | December 22, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse

I like the concept expressed above about developing young players like Detwiler, but disagree that the Marquis and other free agent signings will be detrimental. Marquis will not steal innings from the truly talented pitchers, he will make it possible for them to succeed by reducing pressure, taking a fare share of the innings load, and hopefully showing them how to get by on days when you don't have your best stuff. (Well hopefully he has his best stuff everyday but you know ...)

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 22, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

BTW, I JayBee is not me. He should be offended anyone would have thunk so.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 22, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

It would appear that Morgan and Burnett are lobbying publically for Capps to come to Washington. I'm trying to think of a time when that has happened in DC before. ... thinking, ... thinking, ... hmmmm, .... I've got nothing.

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 22, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

You forgot one of the "e"s, JayBeee.

I like this signing. He's no super star, and it is a sad commentary on this rotation to think anyone would call him "top of the rotation." As long as he maintains his health, he'll save the bullpen wear and tear. I hope it keeps the younger arms on a sensible development path. We do not need our top young starter feeling he has to pitch through an injury like Zimmermann.

Without a big improvement in our middle infield defense, his ERA will likely go over 4.50. No Troy Tulowitski / Clint Barmes combo behind him this year, but if Guz does shift over to 2d, and Desmond somehow steadies himself and keeps his range, it might work OK.

I disagree with those who say go out and sign Garland now. I view the Garland / Marquis / Davis choice as "One from Column A." I would like to see a Bedard / Wang / other injury recovery candidate as "One from Column B." Someone with upside. Lannan has another slot locked down, and out multiple #4s and #5 can fight it out for the 4th and 5th slot as well as fill in if Column B does not work out. I the alternative, a second Column B starter would be a good insurance policy and, best case if both Column Bs are healthy and good, great trade bait.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 22, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Marquis helps the young pitchers by letting the Nats build their innings gradually. And teams don't improve by 40 wins in a year - for the Nats to contend in a reasonable time frame, they have to make some progress in the next couple of years. So sign more pitchers. They've got the money. Capps has received more ink in the last month than he ever has in season. He's no savior but he's serviceable.

Posted by: utec | December 22, 2009 8:42 AM | Report abuse

With the Dunn signing, maybe (by Kearns and Zimmerman)?

---

It would appear that Morgan and Burnett are lobbying publically for Capps to come to Washington. I'm trying to think of a time when that has happened in DC before. ... thinking, ... thinking, ... hmmmm, .... I've got nothing.

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 22, 2009 8:41 AM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 22, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

I agree with jca's Column B pitching talent spreadsheet thoughts. The club should be looking for upside guys. Bedard on 1 year plus an option might be great.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 22, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Waddup NJ! Good to be back. My thoughts:

-We signed a free agent pitcher who has some talent and that always makes me happy

-I wish it was one of the better ones on the market

-More please

-The young guys can develop with in Syracuse. That's what it's there for.

-Early guess the rotation:
Lannan
Marquis
Martis
Free Agent TBD
Stammen

Could be worse

Hooray baseball!

Posted by: nattaboy | December 22, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Just checked out baseball-reference.com for the first time. I feel smarter. I was looking for the new guy's park-adjusted ERA - I disagree with those who say his ERA will go up because of our defense. I say it'll go down since we have a bigger park.

Alas, I was not baseball dorky enough. His ERA+ was a surprisngly low 99 last year, and I believe that takes ballparks into account?

Posted by: nattaboy | December 22, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I would say there are short odds of signing Garland and longer Wang.

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 22, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Just got done reading Mike Wise's column about the Redskins' ugly loss last night and his theory that Jim Zorn deliberately called a lousy play to stick it to the Redskins management.

And the comments after the column. Talk about ugly.

What a pleasure it is to come here and read about a team whose management actually seems to know what it's doing, and reader comments that seem hopeful and optimistic about the team's future.

Posted by: gilbertbp | December 22, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

If you're going the "one from column A, one from column B" route, the Chinaman Wang would have to be your man, right?

Posted by: section309 | December 22, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

@natsbiscuits: "I would say there are short odds of signing Garland and longer Wang."

How long have you been working on that one? :-)

Posted by: shepdave2003 | December 22, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

"I disagree with those who say his ERA will go up because of our defense. I say it'll go down since we have a bigger park."

One would think his ERA would go down since he's leaving Coors Field, but then he's a ground ball pitcher so the field should not make much difference to that, right?

Posted by: section309 | December 22, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

To me this is how the pitching staff shakes out going into Spring Training (assuming a couple of signings)

#1 Marquis
#2 Free Agent (Garland?)
#3 Lannan
#4 Stammen
#5 Olsen

Bullpen:
Long Relief - Bergmann, Balester or Mock (only one makes the team)
Situatational Lefty - Slaten
Situational Lefty - Burnett
Setup - Clippard
Setup - Bruney
Closer - Capps

Posted by: markfd | December 22, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

@Markfd

#1 Marquis
#2 Free Agent (Garland?)
#3 Lannan
#4 Stammen
#5 Olsen

Yes, one more starter like Garland would be great but wouldn't be horrible if the Nats go with who they have now especially if Olsen can move up to the #2 and Strasburg ready soon.

Lannan is a #3 or #4 on most teams, so these kind of signings are long overdue. This will help Lannan's matchups and you will see his confidence and wins will go up because of that.

Don't forget JD Martin, Detwiler, and Martis will all be in the mix too and then on June 1st I would expect Strasburg to unseat the weak link in the rotation.

This team is looking more and more like a MLB team!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | December 22, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

http://instantrimshot.com/

---

I would say there are short odds of signing Garland and longer Wang.

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 22, 2009 9:05 AM |

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 22, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Jason Marquis as the opening day starter??? I smell playoffs!!!!!

Posted by: TheycallmeThriiiiiiilledge | December 22, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I actually think that Markfd sums it up nicely. A 'D' option would have been nice if it read "D - I like, so long as we pick up another starter".

Like the Pudge signing, this will be a good move if we can make subsequent moves to improve the rotation. But as steps go, there is little to complain about. So we overpaid a little. Frankly it's about time we overpaid for someone not called Guzman or Kearns.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 22, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Nats Fans look at it this way, it took 3 years but the franchise is heading in the right direction, can't say that about the B&G!. Jason Marquis is not Halladay but in the big scheme of things the Nats don't need a Halladay for 2010 (are you listening Mr. Bozwell?). What they get is a solid starting pitcher who actually said on XM-MLB Homeplate last month (before any offers) that playing on the east coast close to home either Philly, NY, or DC was a priority for him and his family. So Rizzo got some fairy dust from Uncle Ted and he seeded the bed and up springs a decent #2.

After suffering through 5 years of rookies, retreads, has beens and never to be's, adding Jason Marquis, paying the price for SS, resigning Jimmy Olsen to essentially a perform or go home contract, and ponying up for Matt Capps (hopefully) I can finally say that the Nats will be a .500 or better ballclub in 2012!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | December 22, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Who's Jimmy Olsen?

Posted by: NatsNut | December 22, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

What do you see that points to 2012? SS and ZimmNN maybe depending on injury recovery...Storn maybe but not a sure thing at all....who else is on track to be any better than they are today? Time is now not 2012...get another SP Vet, Capps, MI and Smoltz and this will be the best chance to win.

Posted by: JayBeee | December 22, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

http://www.supermanhomepage.com/comics/who/who-intro.php?topic=olsen-jimmy

That's a joke, son, um, daughter. ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 22, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I like the move - feels like another "professional" kind of move - folks who (like me the last two years) are delusional about the Nats chances won't like it because he's not an all-star, but I'm totally on board with the slogan: "2010 Nationals - let's suck less than the last two years." The team has needed a kind of stabilizing presence, solid major-league regulars who can actually help take the pressure off of the kids. I'd much rather have one Marquis at $7.5 per than one Cabrera at $2. I can look at Marquis and I don't have to say "well, if only he develops, or if only he can find the plate, or if only..." With Marquis it's the standard "if he stays healthy and he is who he's been, he'll help."

Like the move, don't love the price, but such are the times.

Now. Go get Garland, Capps and trade for an MI guy. The other thing: This move and the next one (Garland?) makes some of the 4th starter backlog totally tradeable. If I were a Nats starter who's last name started with M (Mock, Martin, Martis), I might start wondering if I was going to make it to Viera.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | December 22, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Jimmy Olsen is the photgrpaher at the Daily Plabnet with Clark and Lois??

If it takes 3 years to START to look like you are headed in the right direction, the pace you at which you are moving is glacial.

Even after inking Marquis and presuming they land Capps (two nice, but unspectacular, players), the Nats are looking like they are going to reduce payroll for 2010, or maybe keep it flat. That amazes me. And now to placate the fan base they are working to assemble a club that might have a chance at 75 wins. And adding another middling 30-something soft-baller like Jon Garland is what we are hoping for right now? Pathetic.

Years of Lerner ownership has yielded very little. Zim is the only proven player locked up long term. At this point there should have been more pieces in place. The Lerners have simply not done what it takes to build a team. And now we’re stuck with The Plan 2.0, aka, The Extended Plan.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 22, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Agree w/ biscuit, UTEC et al that Marquis HELPS not hurts our young pitchers. Assuming Olsen is healthy we now have three decent big league pitchers, that is a massive improvement. Really want one more just like Marquis but would settle for a Smoltz. This lets Strasburg, Detwiler, Stammen, Martin, etc. pitch in minors this year and get call ups based on performance not lack of options on the 25 man.

Really solid off season. The FO hires are the biggest event. Bruney, Pudge and Marquis are good solid adds for where we're at.

If we were contending for the division, I would only be happy w/ Marquis as a #4 and Pudge as a back-up but we're very far from that.

I think the only way you improve when you're this bad is by adding pieces to give yourselves credibility and show progress. Have to sign a few FA's to speed up the process a little.

Very good signing. Really want one more arm each in rotation and pen and a trade for a plus glove middle infielder then we could actually think about getting to .500 in '10.

That will serve as a launching point to get top end FAs to add to our prospects and bridge the final gap to contention.

Posted by: Avar | December 22, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

I like the move - feels like another "professional" kind of move - folks who (like me the last two years) are delusional about the Nats chances won't like it because he's not an all-star,

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | December 22, 2009 10:26 AM

**********

295, but Marquis IS an all-star.

Posted by: NatsNut | December 22, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

One other thing on the bb-ref stuff. ERA+ is park-adjusted. And Marquis does have a 99 career ERA+, which means he's basically dead-on league average. But here's the thing - since he's become a starter, he actually performs to that level all the time - if you look at his stats, they're entirely regular. The high seasons ('04 and '09) aren't that high and the low season ('06) isn't that low. In between, he's been as regular as a metronome - three years of 100-102 ERA+, 4.4 average ERA, 188 IP/year. He's not a clear #1 by any strech, but if Strasburg is ready to go in 2011 and Zimmermann comes back, he and Lannan will look great as #3 and #4.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | December 22, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I like this move. It shows a little positive movement that Uncle Teddy opened up the checkbook.

However, I agree with JayB, a lot more needs to be done.

Taking what JCA said earlier, go after Wang or Bedard, or how about Ben Sheets. A little risk but, a possible big reward. But, I would do that along with signing Garland.

One of those three with Marquis, Garland, Capps and a defensive MI guy and I will feel much better about the Nats in 2010.

To much pressure is being put on the arrival of young arms like SS and Storen. Let them develop in the minors and bring them up when they're ready.

Posted by: Section505203 | December 22, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

@Hwy295: I agree that getting Marquis might free up some of the 12 starters on the roster for trades (or DFA, when other players are acquired). Thinking along those lines, it looks like Vazquez (Braves) is going back to the NYY, which will probably take Lowe off-market. That takes one possible trading partner away.

Does anybody out there see a viable trading partner? The Reds, Padres, Giants, D-backs?

Posted by: BinM | December 22, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

couple of interesting notes about the nats from olney's blog today...

===
From Katie Sharp of ESPN Stats & Information: With the Marquis deal included, the Nationals have now spent $22M on free agents this year. Amazingly, that is already the 3rd-highest total within the data that we have (since 1990) and just the 4th time they have spent over $10M...and its only December 21. Between the Nats/Expos franchise, the most ever spent in an offseason was $27.3 million in 2004, then $24.6 million in 2008. The team looks likely to exceed those totals in this offseason.
===

nice to see that for a change. regardless of whether you think they're spending enough, they *are* spending more and seem to be beginning to take building a professional roster more seriously.

===

The Nationals signed Jason Marquis to a two-year deal. From Mark Simon of ESPN Stats & Information: Jason Marquis has won 10-plus games in each of the last six seasons. He's 80-68, but with a 4.49 ERA in that span.

Since 2004, his win total ranks 13th in baseball, but that ERA (4.49) ranks 56th, his Opponent OPS ranks 57th, and his WHIP ranks 59th.

===

not amazing, but 50-60 range out of 150+ SPs and 200+ relievers isn't a terrible place to be for a veteran innings eater / #3 type pitcher. granted we don't really have a true 1/2 ahead of him, but baby steps... baby steps. last couple of years it wasn't marquis, it was daniel cabrera and odalis perez. or tim redding. this is a much better (and more expensive) signing.

Posted by: sec231 | December 22, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

NN - of course you're right!

Yeeha! All-star!

By the way, so's Garland. We could have TWO all-stars.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | December 22, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

dfh21-again, instead of complaining about the moves how about telling us what you'd be doing for the franchise right now.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | December 22, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I agree with others on this. It is a solid signing that will bring us back towards respectability. We need to get there before we can talk playoffs. It will helps sign players in the future.

I also agree that the team needs to take a flyer on someone like Bedard, Sheets or Wang with a 1 year deal plus a team option if possible. If they have a great year, you might have a Type A gree Agent at the very least. If they have a poor year, then you don't have along term slaary issue. It is a sensible bet.

Posted by: NatsWin | December 22, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse


I recommend the Nats take some chances, take on some payroll, get some MLB impact players and do it now. If they set about getting out of the bottom third of payrolls, they could add Holliday, a No. 1 starter and a closer -- why are they not doing so?

so he named one guy (holliday) and two positions. but there was only one #1 starter on the FA market and i thought he made it clear he wanted to be on a contender. two were traded (in the same deal). halladay obviously wanted to win more than he wanted money. so who's the available #1 that wouldn't cost more in trade than he was worth to the nats? there were none available to the nats in FA (lackey wasn't going to sign here). vasquez just cost the yankees a fairly young CF (melky is 25) and vasquez only has 1 yr left on his contract.

sorry, i don't see any top-of-the-rotation guys reasonably available to the nats. and trading for one would set the farm system back (or the ML roster way back).

closer: meh. waste of money for now.

impact bat? ok. i'm not as enamored of holliday as some, but if they signed him, i wouldn't be upset about it. but i'm not clamoring for them to do it, either. i'd rather seem them find a way to get MI help, but i'm not sure how much is really available out there. and they need long-term players if they're really going to make a serious investment, not older veterans on anything longer than 2yr contracts.

Posted by: sec231 | December 22, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

For those who continue to gripe, who amongst this year's free agent market would you have signed? I keep hearing that the Nats aren't spending, etc. but never read any concrete ideas about who the Nats should have targeted instead of Pudge, Marquis, etc. Lackey? Holliday? Who?

Posted by: jfromPG | December 22, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Umm, didn't Chico say in his article that Garland preffered the west coast, and that's why we went after Marquis? Sounds like we should be hoping for Smoltzy at this point.

Also hoping for Fernando Rodney. Could be cheap later on. Shout out to fellow Tigers fan Tracee.

Lannan is my personal #1 starter. Our stopper. I disagree that he'll never be higher than a 3.

Posted by: nattaboy | December 22, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

bah, the brackets i put around the first paragraph in my response above disappeared. the first paragraph is a quote from dfh21 from yesterday.

Posted by: sec231 | December 22, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

"Initially, according to one source familiar with the team's pitching search, the Nationals targeted Garland, a 6-foot-6 right-hander who typifies the sort of hurler Rizzo appreciates. When Garland hedged -- he is believed to prefer a West Coast team -- the Nationals turned their attention to Marquis, who lives in Staten Island, N.Y."

p.s. Boz? Can't wait to hear your take on the signing

Posted by: nattaboy | December 22, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

NatsNut; "Jimmy" Olsen is the counter to "Scott" Olsen, in other words in the context of the post its used as a term of enderement ala Chris "blowhard" Berman!

dfh21; Baseball is not the NFL, you don't draft players in April to be on your team in Sept. Baseball's young sprouts require feeding, caring and then sowing. That takes on average about 4 years (see Marrero, Hood, Burgess, Espinosa, etc.). I'd say the Lerners have built from within and now they are ready to see what might be beyond the velvet rope.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | December 22, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

BinM, i don't think either vasquez or lowe would be a great fit in DC. lowe seems to be slipping and is already 37 (and has 3 yrs/45m left, making him 40 when it's completed). just don't think that's the kind of guy we need to trade anything for.

Posted by: sec231 | December 22, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

The only good thing about Vasquez is he stinks come playoff time, something a Nats pitcher doesn't have to worry about.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | December 22, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

OK, Lackey was NEVER going to sign here, but you don't know Rizzo didn't put in a call anyway, just to see. I would've, and he's a lot better at this than I am.

Ballplayers do NOT all go for the highest bid, period.

What the FO *has* done is get guys who are accustomed to winning, who have a strong history of it. That is a big step up. If Smoltz wasn't just being polite about taking Rizzo's calls, he'd be worth a premium, too.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 22, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

8:37am: The Dodgers are exploring a trade for Reds starter Aaron Harang, reports Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times. The Reds seek "one or two players on the Dodgers' major league roster in return."
MLB TR

Who, off the ML roster, would get Harang from Cincinnati? (Disregarding the whole Bowden thing for now.)

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 22, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

You can quit talking about Vasquez. The Braves have traded him to the Yankees for Melky Cabrera.

Posted by: section309 | December 22, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I think they'd want Ian Desmond, and I don't think I make that trade.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 22, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

sec231 -- I hear you, but the Nats can take on salary -- it is not only FA's that they are fishing for. They could have had Kevin Millwood or Vazquez (he may have had a no-trade though), they could get Lowe, Meche, Harang, Bonderman, Robertson, etc.

I keep getting asked to post specific ideas as to whom they should get, as if my pleas for the Nats to be agressive require detail in order to be valid. The club has back to back 100 loss campaigns and among the lowest payrolls in the game --- not much evidence management is even trying to win games. Clubs all over are trying to reach the playoffs while the Nats are shooting for respectability in our life times. Again. I don't get the complacency from some of you guys. Baby steps? Someone keeps typing that as if it is some mantra to live by. Where has it been shown that baby steps work? KC? Pittsburgh?

My question is, should the Nats not try to get Matt Holliday? Theoretically, if he'd come to DC at a market deal, whatever that is, should the Nats not sign that guy and trade Willingham for pitching? Given the payroll flexibility they have, the strong market, geographic acceptability of DC, etc., should they not be at least trying to land a 30+ HR, 100+RBI, hits for exceptional average and never gets injured guy in his prime? If the time was right to try to make that kind of add last year with Tex, why is the time not right now? Again, keep in mind that Zim is the only proven player in the organization inked long term.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 22, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

OK, so if one Vasquez costs a Melky Cabrera, and Harang is probably Chin-Lung Hu and maybe one other MLB player, then Rizzo isn't likely to trade for a starter anytime soon. I'm prepared to be wrong, but Willingham and Bernardina together aren't going to get anyone better than Marquis.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 22, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

"Where has it been shown that baby steps work? KC? Pittsburgh?"

Kansas City and Pittsburgh aren't taking baby steps, they're staggering around like drunks on Sunday morning.

Florida takes baby steps. Colorado takes baby steps. Tampa staggered around for a long time before they took baby steps. Oakland takes almost nothing but baby steps.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 22, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

And again, I maintain that winning the World Series is not the yardstick we should be using. Winning, yes, but you don't have to win everything to win fans. Hell, the Cubs haven't won since 1908--notice any Cubs fans at the park last time they were here?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 22, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Holliday would nice, but if you know you have to overpay to begin with, that extra 10% or whatever can really add up when you get into 9 digits. I think they should (and probably did/do) try, but the odds aren't good.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 22, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

TUESDAY, 10:55am: Capps will decide between the Cubs and Nationals tomorrow night, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson (via Twitter).

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 22, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

OTOH--

By Ben Nicholson-Smith [December 22 at 10:24am CST]
Now that they're set to acquire Javier Vazquez, the Yankees have a surplus of pitching. Joel Sherman of the New York Post says (via Twitter) that the Yanks will try to trade Chad Gaudin or Sergio Mitre before Spring Training ends to free up some money.

Both pitchers will become free agents after the season. Mitre earned $1.25MM last year, striking out 32 batters in 51.2 innings for a 6.79 ERA (5.40 FIP). Gaudin earned $2MM, striking out 139 in 147.1 innings and allowing just 146 hits for an ERA of 4.64 (4.16 FIP). Gaudin would figure to have some value on the trade market.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 22, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Good signing. I know that the Nats have many needs, but I am still not incredibly excited about the rotation. Lannan, Marquis, Olsen (a question mark), then the usual suspects from last season. I sure hope Strasburg is ready for the majors fast.

Posted by: mw09 | December 22, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Benchmarks:
Boston offered Holliday five years, $82.5MM, and the Cardinals apparently were there, too.
So if he/Boras turned that down from two very good indeed teams, it might take Teixeira money to get him here, and he's good, but he's not *that* good.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 22, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

People complaining about the Marquis signing have no answer to the question, "then who?" You can't throw out the same poo poo platter of starting pitchers they did last year (and the year before). The off-season moves by Rizzo have been outstanding in building a stronger foundation for the MLB club, solidifying the farm system, strenghtening the front office and working toward a future (which is hopefully in not-too distant) where the Nats can be competitive.

The Lerners willingness to spend *smartly* on FO hires, high draft picks and select FA is a good sign. Rome was not built in a day, but the building blocks being put in place will help. Lock in Dunn and the rest of the off-season is gravy. GREAT JOB THA RIZZA!

Posted by: terrapin31590us | December 22, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

dfh21 -- absolutely right on. The $21m spent this offseason to suck slightly less in '10 and '11 is fine. Who wants another historically bad season.

But if it precludes spending to help the team long term then it stinks. We've already seen how this team operates when it comes to spending. They spent on SS, then went cheapskate on the rest of the draft for no good reason. I fear they are going that direction again.

Want to know who to spend money on? How about Aroldis Chapman? 21 years old, lefty throws high 90s. Hmmmm. How about that. According to media reports, the Red Sox offered $15m for 5 years. So for the price of 2 years of Marquis, you could have 5 years of a potentially dominant lefty fireballer.

And yes, Marquis is far more likely to be a useful pitcher. Fine. Sure. He's very likely to throw 400 average innings over the next two years. Hurray.

I'd rather take the chance on a guy who could throw 400-600 extraordinary innings from 2012-2015.

Here's the thing: THEY CAN AFFORD TO DO BOTH. They have the money. If they say they don't they are lying. Or they are incompetent. Yes, they've spent $21m this offseason. Oh, BTW they dropped $8m in payroll with Kearns and another $5 with Dmitri. More if you count non-tendering Olsen and Macdougal. Not to mention that payroll has been $20-$40m lower than it could be for the last few years.

And please, please for the love of all things holy stop with the Jon Garland crap. He wishes he was a mediocre as Marquis.

Take the column B guy instead. (Ben Sheets wants $12m, fat freaking chance. Give him $8m and he'd jump on it.) That's more than HardEn got and he actually pitched and pitched well last year. If the Column B guy pitches well, you can get something decent at the deadline. If not, nothing lost (except the Lerner's profit margin.)

Posted by: traderkirk | December 22, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Never said the nats couldn't take on salary, just that there are people it doesn't make sense to "dump" salary onto. There are especially players it not worth taking on salary beyond 2 years. I would put Lowe in that category.

I wouldn't argue against getting millwood instead of the Os getting him. Dunno what the rangers would have wanted. For all we know Rizzo asked and what they wanted from the Nats was more than he thought it worth.

For me, any trade has to be pure salary dump if it doesn't bring a long-term piece of the puzzle. it's not complacency to not want the team to give up prospects for short-term fixes. this team isn't going to win a pennant in the next two years, so the only thing they should be giving up to plug short-term holes is money or other guys who won't be here in two years.

"not much evidence management is even trying to win games"

you don't think any of the moves they've made this offseason will help them win more games? that's either blind rhetoric or foolishness. maybe it doesn't win as many more games next year as you want, but this team is already improved some, imo. i'd like to see at least 3 more moves (veteran RP who could close, veteran SP who can fill innings and/or has potential #1/2, defensive MI). but it's still december.

as far as "try to reach the playoffs" vs "shooting for respectability," that's really irrelevant for 2010, since playoffs are completely unrealistic for 2010. this team needs to be shooting for 2012 playoffs.

again, i have no problem with them going after holliday, depending on what they have to do to get him. if they had to give him a teixiera contract? no thanks. if they have to offer just a little more than what the cards are offering? i'm good with that.

look, we're not going to see the FO/ownership go from bargain basement to yankee/boston/cubs mentality overnight. the club is making smart moves now, not cheap moves. do i think they should make a splash? for sure. but not just for the sake of making a splash to mollify the fan base. it needs to make long-term (3-5 yrs) baseball sense. this isn't a team on the cusp of being a contender.

i certainly hope we're not following the pittsburg/kc mold. i'd prefer the atlanta/minny/oakland/(recent) colorado mold. the moves they're making right now look less like pittsburg/kc and more like atl/min/oak/col so far this season.

the kind of splash you seem to be looking for is what KC did a couple of years ago with meche, guillen, and last year with farnesworth and jacobs. they're trying to get out of most of that right now (already cut jacobs). no thanks to those kinds of deals.

Posted by: sec231 | December 22, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

traderkirk, i agree with you. they should spend the money on someone like aroldis. and i don't want the to not spend money, i just don't want them to throw big money into someone who won't be useful or around in 2 yrs. most of the big time FAs are either older guys who have a couple of years left before they decline rapidly or are big-time guys who want to win now. or both. neither fits in DC yet.

there is no quick fix to this problem. the issue is there was not enough mid- long-term fix being done the first couple of years and there was little short-term hole-filling beyond reclamation projects. they should have been signing the marquis's of of the world 3 years ago so they were fielding a team that might win 70-75 games instead of struggling to get 60 while the rebuilding is underway.

Posted by: sec231 | December 22, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

"OK, so if one Vasquez costs a Melky Cabrera, and Harang is probably Chin-Lung Hu and maybe one other MLB player, then Rizzo isn't likely to trade for a starter anytime soon".

Sec3, you're probably right in that regard; Didn't stop me from hoping though.

Posted by: BinM | December 22, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Martis, Lannan, somebody not named Livan. At least one of Stammen, Martis, Martin, or Mock will start figuring it out soon. Znn is out, I personally don't expect Olsen back but I could be wrong. Bergman may stay in the pen but I think we've seen the last of his non-emergency starts, along with Matt Chico. If Strasburg is up before Sept. 1, something will have gone very wrong, and it probably won't be pretty.

So yeah, they're not done.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 22, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Chapman would be great, but 5 years of Chapman would be 1 year of Chapman in AA, 1 year in AAA with a callup maybe in Sept., and 1 year learning how much better MLB hitters are than AAA hitters. Then, if you're lucky, 2 years of a dominant lefty.

Which is not necessarily a bad thing. I'm just saying, it's not 5 years of dominant lefty. By all accounts I've seen, he's a couple of years away.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 22, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

One thing that's not years away, more like one click, is the new post.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 22, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Of course, that should be "MARQUIS, Lannan ..."
I hope I don't do *that* all year.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 22, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Sec 3 - I'm with you. Desmond for Harang - no thanks. Harang isn't that different from Garland/Marquis, so if we're going to trade for him, I'd think it would be something like a Guzman/Balester/Bergmann for Harang/A-ball pitcher?

DFH- it's all well and good to push for them to be aggressive, but yeah, if you don't have in mind exactly how to be aggressive, it's not invalid, but it's just noise. You're creating a bar that can never be reached, unless they sign the perceived #1 free agent guy every year. And look how well that's worked out for the Redskins.

On the specific name you do cite - repeatedly - Holliday. I for one don't think he's the right guy for the Nats. His production is still largely a creation of the high altitude at Coors. Take Coors away from Holliday's stats and recompute his career totals and his rate line is .290/.362/.474.

That's a nice player, but hardly a world-beater. More to the point, that's almost EXACTLY Willingham's career line. Willingham over his career is .264/.362/.478. To get Holliday, you're going to have to pay some outrageous sum and he's likely to give you no more production than Willingham.

Don't get me wrong - he most certainly doesn't stink, but he's not a great fit, and he's not that big an upgrade in a year when what you really need is pitching. Besides that, Willingham is producing the same for cheaper, so if you sign Holliday and flip Willingham for a pitcher, all you really did is churn the roster, since Willingham wouldn't bring you back much more than a Harang-type, who is basically a Marquis/Garland-type.

I'm all for aggressive, but in this year, with these needs, Rizzo's been good and aggressive, in my view.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | December 22, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Adding Capps tomorrow night, stealing players from the Mets and Cubs, might start to actually bring some light at the end of the free agent tunnel. At some point we need to change this from a destination you go where no one else wants you to a place where FAs want to go... and if you think that isn't possible, just look at what the Phillies have done.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | December 22, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

probably a good fit for the Nats. Contending teams (Braves, Cards, Cubs, Rockies) have given up on him for his lack of 'coach-ability'...

Posted by: HankC_57 | December 22, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

One thing that this flurry of activity has made me wonder is "what the heck were they, and we, thinking last year?" After a 100 loss season, our big hope for an improved starting pitching staff going into spring training was ... Daniel Cabrera. We had Joel Hanrahan as the annointed closer. And Austin Kearns was holding down right field, fresh off his .217/.311/.316 season in 2008. And yet, some of us thought the team was going to be vastly improved. Hope springs eternal among the fans of losing teams I guess.

These moves show a seriousness of purpose that I'm very happy about. It's almost as if the Lerners said to Rizzo -- "We simply cannot be the worst team in baseball again. Do what you need to do to get us at least to the middle of the pack." It's not going to happen overnight, and that first great Nats team is still many years away and depends on alot of pieces falling into place that could just as easily fall apart (Flores, Strasburg, Storen, Espinosa), but at least they aren't sitting on their hands thinking that they can live with another bomb of a season as long as 20,000 fans a night fill their coffers.

Posted by: Section222 | December 22, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Chico--Do you think the Nats still might try to sign another Tier II pitcher such as Washburn, Garland, or Pineiro? Or will it be back to the retread bin (e.g., Livo). I'm sincerely hoping for the former, but appreciate your thoughts.

Posted by: JamWhitt | December 22, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

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