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Does Jason Marquis have a future with Washington Nationals?

Morning roundup

Apologies for the tardiness of today's Morning Brushback. Let's call this a West Coast version.

Looking ahead, it is difficult to form any conclusions about Jason Marquis and the 2011 season. Marquis has made just one injury-free start this year, and that came after rehab from elbow surgery, which he viewed as something like a second spring training. But it is also hard not to consider the effect of Marquis not being able to recapture his form. The Nationals will be left no good options if they have an ineffective starter making $7.5 million.

The contract already looks bad because of the misfortune of Marquis, a durable pitcher his entire career, forming bone chips in his right elbow. But, again, his wretched performance so far this year does not mean he can't salvage next season. After this one-season blip, Marquis could go back to being a steady innings eater who can pitch in the back end of a strong, playoff-caliber rotation.

But what if he doesn't? What if Marquis's days as a steady member of a pitching staff are over? The Nationals in 2011 should be able to cobble together a competitive, if not very good, rotation out of all the options they have. They will be able to pick from, among others, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, John Lannan, Craig Stammen, Yuneksy Maya, Livan Hernandez, Scott Olsen and Chien-Ming Wang.

That's without including Marquis. It's obvious, based of Marquis's injury-plagued performance this year, that five of those pitchers could be better options than Marquis by next April. But Marquis will be making $7.5 million. The Nationals would either have to declare Marquis a sunk cost and figure out a way to not use him or keep running to the mound a 33-year old pitcher and block someone who, all things being equal, could perform better.

Once again, Marquis could take a lot of worry by salvaging the rest of his season. As ugly as the first inning was, it could have been avoided. Scott Podsednik fouled off a couple tough pitches before drawing the walk. Marquis made a bad play when he flubbed Ryan Theriot's bunt, but mishandling a ball in the grass is fluky and has nothing to do with Marquis's pitching ability. Lots of right-handers walk Andre Ethier. From those three batters, things just degenerated.

The Nationals' future with an ineffective Marquis is so far away it may not be worth thinking about. But if you do, it's not a pleasant thought.

FROM THE POST

Making his first start in months, not much changed for Jason Marquis in an 8-3 loss to the Dodgers that prevented the Nationals from finally winning a road series.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Syracuse 7, Rochester 4: Danny Espinosa went 1 for 3 with a home run and a walk. Espinosa has hit two homers in his first two games with Syracuse. Jason Botts went 2 for 4 with a double. Brian Bixler went 2 for 4 with a triple. Josh Wilikie allowed one hit and struck out two in two scoreless innings, earning his sixth save.

Harrisburg 9, Atloona 6: Brad Coon went 4 for 5 with two doubles and triple. Aaron Thompson allowed five earned runs in five innings on four hits and five walks, striking out six.

Potomac 4, Myrtle Beach 3: Tyler Moore went 2 for 4. Sean Rooney went 2 for 4 with a double.

Kannapolis 5, Hagerstown 4 (Game 1, 7 innings): J.P. Ramriez went 2 for 3 with a double and a home run.

Hagerstown 9, Kannapolis 4 (Game 2, 7 innings): Rick Hague went 2 for 4 with two doubles. Brett Newsome went 2 for 3 with a double and a triple. Rob Wort pitched three perfect innings in relief and struck out four.

Vermont 6, Batavia 1: Chad Mozingo went 2 for 3 with a double and a walk. Tyler Jordan allowed one run five innings on five hits and a walk, striking out three.


By Adam Kilgore  |  August 9, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Jason Marquis  
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Comments

Remember back when we were looking forward to that rosy future when the cavalry would arrive in mid-season to save the pitching staff?

It's starting to look like Custer's last stand:

Strasburg: brilliant but DL (until tomorrow, we hope)
Wang: nowhere in sight
Detwiler: MIA
Olsen: We'll see
Zimmermann: well, to be fair, no one expected him to pitch this season.

Back in spring training, people were already looking past 2010 to 2011, when it was believed the Nationals would have a really solid rotation. Now, Adam writes, "The Nationals in 2011 should be able to cobble together a competitive, if not very good, rotation out of all the options they have. "

How's that for lowering expectations?


Posted by: Meridian1 | August 9, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

AK,
you say "the nationals could consider him a sunk cost" -- he _IS_ a sunk cost, whether he throws no-hitters every 5 days or can't get anyone out. The numbers on his paycheck should HAVE NO BEARING AT ALL on whether you hand him the ball. If he can get guys out, great. If he can't, he shouldn't be on the hill. It's utterly irrational to allow a player's salary to determine his playing time. That's how teams end up like the redskins.

Posted by: Section406 | August 9, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Well, lower expectations are what the Nats are all about. From a rookie owner and GM to a $600,000 manager, it seems what the Nats are all about is spending as little $ as possible while still fielding a team.

Based on past performance, the Nats will keep Marquis because of the contract, and get rid of Dunn because he's too high priced for the owner to stomach.

My guess is Papa Lerner is asking why do we have to pay that kind of money for a 1st baseman when the old Senators got Roy Sievers for next to nothing? He seems to want to bring back the old days (and the old salaries) and, with the single exception of Strasburg, he sure is making a good effort at it.

Posted by: JohnRDC | August 9, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I don't think that Livo is not under contract for next year, and the fact is that even with a healthy, career norms level Marquis, the club cannot likely compete in the NL east with a rotation toggled from the list above.

The Phils, Braves and Fish all have better SP, and the Mets may also (presuming they do some off season additions). The Lerners need to add something close to a true ACE, and not some reclamation, maybe he'll get healthy or find the old lost form, coming off shoulder/elbow surgery guy. They need someone who is an honest to goodness front of the rotation threat. Hopes and dreams that it is Wang, Lannan or Zimmermann are nice and all, but a stretch.

Posted by: dfh21 | August 9, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I was sooo looking forward to seeing the Nats' West Coast jaunt among the winning road trips featured on TWIB. Seriously, I need to get a life...

Thanks again for all the coverage from the Left Coast, Killer, um, Kilgore.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 9, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Jason Marquis was expensive by Nats' standards--the only fairly expensive free agent Rizzo has been allowed to sign. However, Dunn is the only $20 million and above free agent that the Nats have ever signed under Lerner. Nor have the Nats ever under Lerner traded for any player who makes average MLB salary or above. So Dunn is unique, even considering Marquis.

On Dunn, I can understand the reticence in re-signing him if he was one among several talented free agents the Nats have signed over the years. You can't keep them all. Dunn is a keeper (and the only keeper so far among the two fairly big money guys that Nats' GMs have been allowed to sign). Marquis may not be a keeper when his contract is ready to expire.

Since Dunn is the only $20 million-plus free agent ever under Lerner, you would think it would be easier to sign him, especially since he is such a consistent slugger and the Nats have no farm system replacement for him.

So you sign Dunn, and move on from your mistakes, like Marquis is shaping up to be.

Posted by: EdDC | August 9, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Adam chose his words poorly here; his comments about the quality of the 2011 rotation were meant, I believe, to be positive not negative. The line "The Nationals in 2011 should be able to cobble together a competitive, if not very good, rotation out of all the options they have." SHOULD READ something like: "The Nationals in 2011 should be able to cobble together a competitive, AND POSSIBLY very good, rotation out of all the options they have."

Posted by: outsider6 | August 9, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Livan and Wang are free agents at the end of the season. Although Livan has been pretty good, his season is likely a statistical outlier. Marquis should be dealt with the Nationals picking up about $4M of his contract. None of these pitchers should be re-signed.

That Nationals can play for the present and the future next season without the need for veteran presence in the rotation. Strasburg and Zimmermann will be at the top of the rotation. Stammen, Detwiler, Lannan, Olson, and Atilano have enough talent to solidy the bottom three slots of the rotation. If they need veteran presence, they should get a veteran reliever and not mess with the young rotation.

Better yet, hire a recently retired successful pitcher as a second pitching coach or bullpen coach. Veteran presence is so highly overrated, it should not be discussed as an option.

The Nationals could have a very effective pitching rotation, that would cost them less than $4M for the season. Take the saving from the rotation and re-sign Dunn.

Posted by: jeffreyt211 | August 9, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

outsider6,

I like the way Adam phrased it. He may not have meant it that way. But it still makes sense.

Posted by: EdDC | August 9, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Jason Marquis is to the 2011 Nationals what Heath Shuler was to the 1995 Redskins. It doesn't matter how bad he is this year, if he seems to be healthy, he will get another shot next year. That's because he's under contract for $7.5 million and the Nats will give him every chance to prove he's not worth it. Obviously, if he doesn't pitch well, nobody's going to want him with that kind of contract. It's the business of sports. He'll be back next year.

Posted by: baltova1 | August 9, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

The Nat's 2011 pitching rotation is a Schrodinger's cat-like apparition which cannot be measured until you actually open up the box and look inside. Let's just hope it's not another damned dead cat.

Posted by: joebleux | August 9, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Ed -- I assume you read it as a positive as well then?

Posted by: outsider6 | August 9, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I'm reminded of the Cubs post 2003 season. They had two aces (Wood and Prior) in 2003, but when they got hurt in 2004 the team floundered. From 2004-2006 it seemed every season "The Cubs will be good if Wood and Prior are healthy," which didn't happen and the team finished 4th, 5th, and 6th in those seasons. The Cubs didn't get good again until they built a team that could success without Wood and Prior in 2007.

If the Nats need Zimmmermann and Stras to carry the team next year then it is a risk (similar to counting on Wood and Prior). The durability of these two is certainly questionable and to count on them to provide ace-like performance is unreasonable.

If the Nats want to compete in 2011 they need a formidable rotation without these two that could get them to .500. Then if Stras and Zimm add anything it will go toward a playoff push. Instead of the No. 1 and No. 2 starters I think they should be considered the No. 4 and No. 5 guys. The frustrating thing about the Nats staff is that everyone should be counted on to perform like a No. 4 and No. 5 guy.

Posted by: natsfanintexas | August 9, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Marquis, Strasburg, JZIM, Scott Olsen, Livan Hernandez and Lannan.

Take Strasburg & JZIM out of that line-up and just replace the rest w/Manny, Moe, and Jack or Moe, Larry, Curly and Shemp!

John "soft tosser" Lannen, Jason "the 15M man who can't get a guy out in the first inning" Marquis, Livo "the second coming of Harry Houdini" Hernandez and Scott "I'm not crazy" Olsen. Mike "The pitching will come to us" Rizzo, you just can't make this stuff up!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | August 9, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Ed -- I assume you read it as a positive as well then? Posted by: outsider6 | August 9, 2010 11:42 AM |

I read it for what it was. The rotation does have a chance to be competitive. I can't go beyond that until some guys step up.

Most of the guys are cast-offs and low-budget pickups. Detwiler was a draftee willing to sign for slot. He could be OK, but who knows? He does not have blow-away stuff, and is a #4 or 5 candidate on most teams. But Ross is not a sure starter on other teams by any means. Z-mann could fully recover-- if so he still needs to prove himself, and he is no automatic either. SS is great, while most of the Nats' #4 or 5 guys would have trouble making other teams' rotations.

Where are the #2 and #3 guys? Maybe Z-mann, if all goes well. And how many of the #4 and #5 guys can really be counted on?I'm looking forward to Maya and can't say yet.

Possibly competitive. Is that positive?

Posted by: EdDC | August 9, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

"Livan and Wang are free agents at the end of the season."

Wang is still under the Nats' control next year. That's why I'm sure they would like to see him pitch at some point this year to help them decide whether or not to offer him arbitration this winter.

Posted by: FeelWood | August 9, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Concur in part, mostly dissent.
In order:
"Livan and Wang are free agents at the end of the season."
--Livan is, but CMW's contract has a club option, which they may choose to exercise if they decide "he was worth a shot, and the shot missed, now move on." So he's not a free agent unless they drop him, but ok, close enough.

"Although Livan has been pretty good, his season is likely a statistical outlier."
--Unless he repeats it, in which case it's not. There is every reason to think he could do this again, at least one more year.

"Marquis should be dealt with the Nationals picking up about $4M of his contract."
Who in their right mind is going to agree to pay Jason Marquis $3.5MM a year? And give up a bag of balls, too? Somebody desperate might pick up on a minor league contract next year, if the Nats were to cut him outright, but otherwise, they'll just be paying him to pitch for somebody else (or switch careers, more likely).

"None of these pitchers should be re-signed."
--The arguments have been made over and over again, so I won't rehash them, but how can you not sign Livan now? Of course you sign him. There's little point in pattersoning Marquis, unless they need the room on the 40-man (which they might).
And it's "Neither should be re-signed." There's only two of them.

"[The] Nationals can play for the present and the future next season without the need for veteran presence in the rotation. Strasburg and Zimmermann will be at the top of the rotation. Stammen, Detwiler, Lannan, Olson, and Atilano have enough talent to solidy the bottom three slots of the rotation."
--No, they do not. They just don't. Stammen might figure it out someday, or he might not. Detwiler was a wasted pick. Lannan is looking through. Olsen is through, as soon as he gets hurt again, in 3... 2... 1... Atilano just isn't that good. There might be a #5 in there somewhere, among them, but it doesn't look probable now.

"If they need veteran presence, they should get a veteran reliever and not mess with the young rotation."
Young starters look to old starters, not old relievers, for help. Different jobs.

Still, Hernandez, with Strasburg and Zimmermann as long as they're not on the DL, and Maya if he really is all that, are a credible start. If they get a fifth from the rest mentioned, and at least two fill-ins for the inevitable injuries, that might be a rotation for a .500 team, if they don't make too many errors, and the hitting holds up, and the manager doesn't double-switch them into AAA.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 9, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

@outsider...that's how I read it, too. I think A.K. meant that the 2011 rotation -- even without Marquis returning to form -- should be competitive, and possibly very good. And I agree with that assessment.

Regardless, the first start after a DL stint is a little too early to write Marquis off. We'll see what he does the rest of the season, or if he even makes it through the rest of the season. We'll see. The Nats certainly do have plenty of rotation options if he can't get it together.

On the bright side, looks like Ramos had another good night at the plate for Syracuse. I don't know what he's hitting since the trade, but it seems as if every time I look at a box score, he's had at least one hit, and has scored or driven in at least one run. I know he was struggling at the plate with the Twins organization, so maybe the change of scenery (and being a legitimate shot to be a Major League catcher) has been good for him. I'm looking forward to his (presumably) September call up.

Posted by: js_edit | August 9, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm really looking forward to seeing Maya. Having a hard time figuring how we got him for 4 years @ 8 million if he's all that good. Mid-rotation starting pitching is usually a little pricier than that.

Posted by: joebleux | August 9, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I think that Wang is arb eligible, so they have him next year. Who knows what he'lll look like. I think only Zimmermann has front of the rotation stuff from the enitre group listed by AK. Marquis is a 3 or 4 compared to what the Braves, Phils and Marlins can bring to hte table right now.

The bottom line is that the club has no direction. Despite all the talk for several years, they have not built the farm very well, and we all know too well how bad the big club has been and how cloudy the future of the club looks.

The sorry state of the club is either the Lerners fault, for not paying the freight to compete, or it Rizzo's for not making the obvious moves to improve the roster. Willingham should be gone, Dunn should be signed already or gone. The club should be in better shape than it is right now. Check out Rosenthal on Fox, what are the Nats' brass thinking?
http://msn.foxsports.com/video/MLB?vid=22d77a49-73b6-44f1-ac55-0cf38c831e12

Posted by: dfh21 | August 9, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I don't put much stock in Rosenthal, but "trade everybody except Zimmerman and Strasburg" is just playing bad gin rummy. It's what the Pirates do.
And if you are going to trade Willingham and/or Dunn for prospects, because you think you can get someone better than them plus somebody else useful, why stop there? Ryan Zimmerman should bring back some serious prospects, and if you're deciding the team won't be any good for the next couple of years anyway, then all the rationale for trading Willingham should apply to him, too--moreso, because he's more valuable. And gone as soon as the door cracks open, if they trade Willingham and Dunn.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 9, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

StanK sez the starting pitching is here. I'm not worried.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | August 9, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Marquis is not quite the failure yet. Most likely you go to spring training with him able to compete for a spot. Equally possible he does not grab one of the top five spots but still makes the team. Either way he's likel to start some significant number of games next year. When they signed Marquis it was probably with the thought that he could become a trade chip at some point when the other pitchers came along. That could still happen - though probably not until July 2011.

Posted by: natbiscuits | August 9, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I understood very little of that post sec3. -- maybe I need more coffee in me today or something.

But, I am saying either built it or tear it down. The are not building it -- last place every year, holes all over the roster, middle of the pack farm -- and they are not tearing what there is of it down. They have a once in a generation talent in Stras and at the moment they are poised to Grienke him to death by surrounding him with a lousy club.

They have blown it too many times too many ways for me to think that NOW they have some plan in place to right the ship -- it looks like they made a bad play in keeping Dunn (or not signing him when they could get a discount) because they actually made a bad play. Too timid to trade to timid to sign.

The club has done very little over the years to earn some benefit of the doubt from us. They are rudderless.

Posted by: dfh21 | August 9, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I have never seen an injury-prone pitching staff as fragile as the Washington Nationals. Maybe the Nats ought to hire Jim Zorn for his screw-ball, game-day conditioning techniques. He can hurl medicine ball grounders toward their legs to simulate hits by the opposing team. Maybe that'll keep 'em on their toes!

Posted by: richs91 | August 9, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Totally agree, dfh21. The Nats are and have been at a real crossroads - there is nothing on this team save for the obvious few that you could build a competitive team around. The farm system has some pieces, but it is far from loaded and we all know based on the rotating band of position players and pitchers that it is a giant crap shoot. They mishandled Dunn, appear to be unwilling to trade Willingham while he has value, and have done very little to address the competitive future of this club - and that is NOT going to be 2011, or 12.

Posted by: bendersx6 | August 9, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Nats trainers suck. They botched Flores and could've saved us almost ten million dollars we could use resigning Dunn by not assessing Marquis and Wang properly.

Well, Marquis might be more on Rizzo....

Posted by: CJArlington | August 9, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

The Nats run product out on the field. They do not expect the region to go nuts over the Nats. DC is a very large and wealthy region. It is easy to get 20,000 people out to the ballpark. If you keep expenses low, that's all you need. The Nats are near the bottom in payroll but near the top in profit (Forbes site) year after year. So it is a business, as we all know.

How do you sustain the business model in years to come? Like televangelists, they have to promise a better hereafter than life on earth (the diamond) right now. SS provides that. Harper will be a bargain in keeping the small fan base interested, no matter what he signs for.

Looking over the Forbes list, it is not cost effective, from a short term profit standpoint, to increase payroll--unless you get really lucky with your expenditures and the team catches on fire.

As far as an increase in payroll goes, it should be done. Owning a club is a civic gesture and a leadership opportunity for the wealthy. It is not meant for short-term profits. The big money comes in long-term club appreciation, built on growth of the fan base (see Red Sox Nation). However, Ted Lerner is too short-term oriented. Perhaps his son, Mark, will be different when he takes over at some point in the future. Hope so!

Posted by: EdDC | August 9, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

He seems to want to bring back the old days (and the old salaries) and, with the single exception of Strasburg, he sure is making a good effort at it.

Posted by: JohnRDC | August 9, 2010 11:10 AM

Strasburg is not the exception - he's the best value for money in baseball right now. As the guys at Fan Graphs pointed out a while back, he's probably being paid about 5% of his total worth to the franchise (even with a record shattering rookie contract)! The Lerners are going to make a king's ransom on Jesus. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if the $15 million has been earned back already - leaving them 3+ more seasons of gravy. And if/when they don't add more to the total payroll next season - cha ching - more net profits to pay down their debts!

Posted by: Kev29 | August 9, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I wish I could be optimistic about this team's future, but I fear it is so badly run by cheap owners that there is little optimism to be had. Pitching is just plain bad, on non-Strasmass and non-Livo days. We have a real jewel in Adam Dunn, a great player and great guy who wants to stay here, and we can't sign him. Pathetic. How many real pros would want to come to a team run like this? If we cannot sign Dunn, there is no hope at all. Explain to me, Uncle Teddy, why I should continue my ST package? If you won't pay for an MLB team, why should I pay MLB ST prices to watch a minor league product? I can do that by purchasing a $5 game day ticket--heaven knows there are always seats available (unless you sell them all to Phillies fans, but thanks to my miserable opening day experience, I am not going to any more of those games anyway).

Posted by: NatsFly | August 9, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

It's funny, everyone bashes mgt. (including me) about not signing Dunn when we have no idea what Dunn wants. The common number is 60/4; what if he is asking 80/4? Maybe he overvalues his value like he overvalues his defensive abilities...

Posted by: SCNatsFan | August 9, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

SCNatsfan: You have a point that we do not know exactly what Dunn is asking for, and perhaps he is asking too much. However, given what he signed for before, we also have no reason to believe he is doing so. We do know that the owners are cheap beyond all reason. So, were I to bet, I would bet on Dunn being more reasonable. Moreover, I have not heard of Dunn over-valuing his defensive abilities either. All I ever hear from the guy is modesty, for example when, after hitting 2 home runs in one game and driving all 6 runs, he downplays it and says he "just hit mistakes."

Posted by: NatsFly | August 9, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I understand some of the disappointment and frustration with Nats' ownership. And I agree with some but not all of it. It took a while for the Nats to get in this shape (with the considerable help of MLB). I doubt that anyone can turn it around as quickly as we would like. There are time constraints that can't be overcome or ignored in the short run. So while the FO, Riggleman, and the Lerners deserve some criticism, they have also been given a tough hand to play. It is worth remembering what they're up against. For example, I don't think Cliff Lee would come here next year under any (financial) circumstances for competitive reasons that can't be changed in the short run. The foundational "stuff" will take some more time.

Posted by: fpcsteve | August 9, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

fpcsteve,

Your analysis ignores key facts. Why have the Nats never under Lerner traded for anyone making average MLB salary or higher? Why is Dunn the only $20 million or more free agent in all years under Lerner? Why do they draft so many slot and under-slot guys (except for top draft picks, when they have no choice)? Why only one significant international signing? Are you saying the Nats have no choice but to keep their payrolls among the lowest in all of baseball?

Ted Lerner is an awful owner. assuming you look at the facts. If not, then he is OK and just requires some patience.

Posted by: EdDC | August 9, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

EdDC, you make your point - in every post - about the NAts never trading for a guy who makes the MLB average but to be fair most teams now are built thru free agents, minor deals and the draft. To get someone making the average you'd almost certainly have to part with someone making the average, and as few of our players do that makes things difficult. It's hard to trade for superstars when you have little in the way of expendible ML talent ad even less in the minors; picking up a high salaried albatross to simply add payroll makes no sense.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | August 9, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

No, I'm not saying that they have to keep payroll low. I am saying that in rebuilding the franchise there are players who would not at this point choose to play for the Nats (everything else being equal). The issue of the Nats' drafting is something you know more about than I do. You've got me there. Your thesis will be proven correct, however if they don't sign Dunn because that is within their control. I guess what I was trying to say is that the Nats have to build a foundation that attracts significant free agents to Washington. You admittedly have me on the draft issue. And I don't know how well our farm teams are managed. I do know the Rockies built through their minor league teams and signed free agents occasionally. I guess I'm looking at the Nats through that lens because I saw that up close (in Tulsa--Rox AA farm team).

Posted by: fpcsteve | August 9, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

EdDC, you make your point - in every post - about the NAts never trading for a guy who makes the MLB average but to be fair most teams now are built thru free agents, minor deals and the draft. To get someone making the average you'd almost certainly have to part with someone making the average, and as few of our players do that makes things difficult. It's hard to trade for superstars when you have little in the way of expendible ML talent ad even less in the minors; picking up a high salaried albatross to simply add payroll makes no sense. Posted by: SCNatsFan | August 9, 2010 2:33 PM

Not true! The smart teams get better through salary dumps from the cheap teams. Because you take on salary, you do not have to give up as much in talent. Soriano (in the pre-Lerner days, when MLB owners allowed the Nats to trade for someone earning a decent salary) was a salary dump to the Nats. Jason Bay was a salary dump to the Red Sox. Willingham was a salary dump to the Nats (even though his salary was 200K below MLB-average, it was still $2.95 million when traded, and thus a salary dump by the Marlins). There are lots and lots of examples, but I'm not going to research them all. You see them every year.

The Nats' hands are not tied as much as you, fpc and others seem to think. They are not helpless! They can try much harder.

Posted by: EdDC | August 9, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

See. Here's where the stupid front office and that "anything you say boss" Riggleman are coming from. They send Craig Stammen to the Pen who's been just about their best starting pitcher these last few weeks because they spent the money on Marquis. Does that sound like these guys are trying to win? A stand up manager would have done just that - stand up!!!

Posted by: Dog-1 | August 9, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I think Marquis will be fine; give him a few more starts to get in a groove. He'll bounce back.

Posted by: swanni | August 9, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

EdDC again what your asking is for us to take on salary dumps. Outside of making the fans feel better by knowing management is making less money I don't think that's the solution the the nats 5th place finish every year. You can argue drafting players for signability (which the Nats certainly didn't do this year with the likes of Cole) is cheap but the MLB draft is so flawed for both players (see Arizona's first pick this year and the misery that has become his life at the DBacks won't sign him) and teams that complaining about the draft is useless until the whole system is changed.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | August 9, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

swanni, I'm leaning more your way than the "Marquis is done, DFA him" notion.

He's had 10 years of success as a back end rotation guy. He's a good professional pitcher. He's not top of the rotation, never has been. But to complete an assessment on him now is foolish. He deserves a few more starts this year, he deserves a winter to regain his health and strength and flexibility, and he deserves a full shot at the rotation next spring.

He was never going to be an ace or savior or shut down starter. He was hopefully going to be a capable innings eater, a good veteran, a help to our bullpen and our youngsters. He could still be all that.

Posted by: Sunderland | August 9, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Is Wang still in picture for 2011? He will be arbitration eligible (not that he would win but he can only be cut so far)

Posted by: Pensfans | August 9, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Sunderland - Marquis looked like he was coming around after the 1st inning. Let's see how he does the next time or two. The Nats will need a veteran presence or two in the rotation next year.

Posted by: swanni | August 9, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

For the last couple of years I have read many comments regarding the Lerners, most of them negative. I haven't as of yet chimed in, having no inside knowledge or other basis to do so. However, last Saturday I was listening to the Dodgers' pre-game radio show (waiting for Vin Scully's 3 innings of play-by-play) when Mark Lerner was interviewed. I was astonished at his performance--- he sounded as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. His answers to the softball questions were rambling, bordering on the incoherent. For someone with his background and (assumed) exposure to pressure situations, it was all very amazing. Maybe his dad does all the important Real Estate stuff, and Mark has the ball team to play with (literally)? Perhaps this incident sheds some light on things.

Posted by: Slidell | August 9, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

>Sunderland - Marquis looked like he was coming around after the 1st inning. Let's see how he does the next time or two. The Nats will need a veteran presence or two in the rotation next year.

Posted by: swanni

He did look like he was at least starting to throw some strikes, the problem is that he doesn't throw nearly as hard as he used to, and he had to re-invent himself last year as a sinker baller when his ERA ballooned. Unfortunately, the Nats knew that before they signed him, that he was re-learning how to pitch. If you're at 85 mph, and you're not on the black, you're in deep trouble. The other problem is - Marquis knows that, so he nibbles. Same problem that Lannan has when the hitters don't go fishing out of the zone. So he's going to end up throwing way too many pitches, and run out of gas in the 5th inning or so, if he's lucky. None of these guys are built for 7-8-9 innings, they're all 5-6 inning pretenders. Why do you think the bullpen gets lit up now? Have you seen some of the numbers of appearances they've got now? Burnett's got 52 appearances, Clippard's got 55, and there are 50 games left. You get relievers that hit 70+ appearances, and they invariably cook their arms for future seasons.

Posted by: Brue | August 9, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo is the one calling the shots on how this team will be built, not Mark Lerner. I don't care how nervous Mark Lerner gets when he's being interviewed by Vin Scully. All I care about is that he's writing the checks when Rizzo tells him it's time to write them. And from all indications he is. I don't even care if he gets nervous when he writes the checks - as long as his signature is legible.

Posted by: FeelWood | August 9, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I second FeelWood re. Lerner's interview (which I did not hear), (a) Lerner is not a broadcaster and (b) it was Vin Freaking Scully. ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 9, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

@EdDC, fpcsteve, outsider6,

I believe what Adam perhaps should have said was ... "cobble together would could possibly be a competitive rotation but it depends too much on some short/long shot gambles". Just as with this year that could infer that it might end up being not very good?

The way I see it:
Strasburg (has to pitch lights out next year and consistently for
better than 6 innings) [short]
Zimmermann (has to be fully recovered and able to pitch to his
full potential and for more than 6 innings
consistently which he has yet to do.) [long]
Maya (has to be able to do what he did in the WBC and in
Cuba in the major leagues, keep in mind he has
El Duque and brother Livan to help with that.) [short]
Livan (Most consistent and reliable starter this year. Can his
guile repeat?) [short]
Marquis (Has to recover form that made him an all star. But in
the same year he lost it and was left off the playoff
roster. Six innings plus like LIvan.) [very long]
Olsen (Has to stay healthy and continue to pitch effectively as
he has shown he is capable of over 6+ innings) [long]
Wang (After pitching horribly for parts of 2 years and then
basically missing 2 more due to surgery come back
and be effective.) [very long]
Detwiler (Mechanics still a problem thus the hip.) [long].

All the rest are pitch to contact guys ... best bet may be Martis?
Milone?, Chico, Arenson, Martin, Atilano, etc. can any be consistent pitchers beyond six innings? [very long]

They do indeed manage to sign Cliff Lee. [very long]

Posted by: periculum | August 9, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

All I care about is that he's writing the checks when Rizzo tells him it's time to write them. And from all indications he is. I don't even care if he gets nervous when he writes the checks - as long as his signature is legible.

Posted by: FeelWood | August 9, 2010 3:41 PM

Seriously? You think any general manager in professional sports is choosing - completely on his own - to have the 23rd 'highest' payroll in their league?? Without any input from the owners or team president??

The Lerners came into this league tsk-ing at the prices on baseball's free agency market. They are not here to spend money at the behest of a GM, they are here to make money. Maybe this will change - I certainly hope so.

Posted by: Kev29 | August 9, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

"The Lerners came into this league tsk-ing at the prices on baseball's free agency market. They are not here to spend money at the behest of a GM, they are here to make money. Maybe this will change - I certainly hope so."

I think the truth lies some where in the middle between EdDC claim that Ted Lerner is a terrible owner and they are good/okay owners. They are certainly the most solvent owners of any professional baseball franchise ever operated in the DC and Baltimore area.

I still believe that the baseball man Mike Rizzo has to "manage up" and educate them on when to pull the trigger and sign critical big-ticket free agents. They did go aggressively after Texiera, Chapman, possibly others. They did sign Dunn. They did sign Zimmerman, and they did get Strasburg into the fold.

I believe Marquis and his agent misrepresented him to MIke Rizzo. That's definitely going to follow Marquis from here on out. That can't have helped Rizzo's credibility with Ted.

A guy like Cliff Lee could truly give the Nats one of the best rotations in baseball. Along with most of the players they already have that could end in a playoff run.

Posted by: periculum | August 9, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps Lerner was slightly intoxicated at the time of the interview? Who knows? Not a smart thing surely ... and Ted might have something to say to him about it? In the end Ted is running the show. That's what his title says.

Posted by: periculum | August 9, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Or maybe he just got done taking a fly ball to the head during BP?

Posted by: FeelWood | August 9, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

BTW, while everyone is bemoaning the state of the pitching staff and just how horrible, terrible, awful it is, maybe a little reality check is in order.

The Nats are now 9th in the league in ERA. That's up from 16th (you know, last) in '09. They still give up a lot of hits but they're now 12th in the league, as compared to last in '09. Believe it or not, they're sixth in the league in walks allowed, compared to 16th last year.

Is that really terrible pitching? Why isn't that considered an improvement, especially when you've debuted the best young starter in the game and a quality young reliever to go with some other good young pitchers? Are we being a little too critical here?

As for Marquis, a simple question: if we're willing to believe that Livan's good season is more than just an outlier, why aren't we willing to believe that Marquis' bad season is also an outlier, especially when he's got an excuse? For all of the talk of his ERA "ballooning" last year, it actually was lower than any year in his career since 2005. He had a bad month of August, when his ERA went from 3.47 to 4.04. But still, a 4.04 ERA when you're pitching half your games in Coors Field isn't bad. Because of his contract, he's going to be with this team next year, so let's consider that an opportunity for him to refind his groove.

We'll have to wait and see how these August and September auditions go for the starting pitchers before we make any grand conclusions about next year. But maybe it's time we accepted the fact that this is an improved team already.

Posted by: baltova1 | August 9, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

>Or maybe he just got done taking a fly ball to the head during BP?

Posted by: FeelWood

Now that's funny. That was totally comical when ol frog eyes swaggletooth was out there shagging flies. Oy - who gets hurt, it's only batting practice??!!!???!!! We're talking about PRACTICE man! PRACTICE!!

Posted by: Brue | August 9, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

The Nats are now 9th in the league in ERA. That's up from 16th (you know, last) in '09. They still give up a lot of hits but they're now 12th in the league, as compared to last in '09. Believe it or not, they're sixth in the league in walks allowed, compared to 16th last year.

Posted by: baltova1 | August 9, 2010 4:16 PM

Very fair points - I'm with you, baltova.

The only thing that this club is really, really bad at right now is allowing far too many errors and unearned runs.

I might bash the Lerners a lot, but I'm generally not that pessimistic. I think the pitching will be good to very good next season (fingers crossed). There is some sort of plan in the works - it's not been fast enough for us, but they are trying to build something - like the Rays did last decade. Problem is, when you take a decade to build a respectable team, you run the risk of losing an audience forever. The Rays are an excellent team that struggles to get 20k to watch their games.

I worry that the Lerners have this club teetering on the brink of being labeled losers to the point of no return. Another reason why you sign Dunn.

Posted by: Kev29 | August 9, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

The club has been better than last year, no doubt. But last year's club was historically bad as was 2008's and management has been promising us a rose garden of youthful talent from the farm to come save us, telling us that our misery would be rewarded by patience, every year -- well it is 4+ years in to the Lerner rule and the club is still in last place with midling talent on the farm and holes all over the palce on the MLB roster. Modest improvement over that length of time is not good enough, not by a long shot. The club should be striding towards contention at this point not taking baby steps toward respectability. It is well beyond time for this club to be bold. To take some risk -- i.e., add pay roll to get better now. To put a team on the field that has a chance to WIN, not merely a chance to be decent if they're lucky. They need to add proven MLB talent to compete with that of Philly, Atlanta, NY and Flordia every year, but they lack the will to do so. No more excuses, no more lost seasons by June 1.

Posted by: dfh21 | August 9, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Problem is, when you take a decade to build a respectable team, you run the risk of losing an audience forever.

Kev29, totally agree with this. The biggest failing of the Lerner years hasn't been fielding a bad team (which is bad enough) but not fighting harder for their share of the sports fan base in the market.

I actually believed that when the Nats arrived, they had a shot at knocking off the Redskins from the top of the heap in this town. Baltimore went from being a football town with the Colts to a baseball town with the Orioles starting in the late 70s to becoming a football town again at the turn of the century with the Ravens. I thought the Nats had a similar opportunity here.

The Skins have stunk, the fan experience at the games is awful and the overall enthusiasm for the franchise is at an all-time low, at least for modern times. If the Nats had come in, taken aggressive steps to field a competitive team, and built on that success along with the positive qualities of the new park, they'd have had a fighting chance in the market. In my opinion, 2-3 Adam Dunns would have paid for themselves in ticket and merchandise sales and put the team where it needed to be in the market.

Now, they're going to find themselves in a battle with the Caps and Wizards for second place. A missed opportunity.

Posted by: baltova1 | August 9, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Feelwood: to clarify--- M. Lerner was not being interviewed by Scully. I'm not a broadcaster either, and not a Type A. But, I've been interviewed on the radio and managed to hold it together. It may be harsh, but the point is that people who are in positions of responsibility are fair game for being evaluated on their ability to handle a bit of stress. Some might suggest that stress management has some relevance to the quality of decision-making.

Posted by: Slidell | August 9, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Wow - long thread, and I have to confess I haven't read it all. So what follows may be a repetition of a point already made.

I don't get the writers who say they've seen enough of Marquis. All you've seen is one start. Before that, he was pitching injured. If he'd been healthy, you could draw conclusions from that. But you can't conclude he's no good just because he didn't pitch well his first start back. If Zimmermann gets shelled when he returns, will y'all be saying you've seen enough of him after just one start, too?

Posted by: gilbertbp | August 9, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Has everyone read Kilgore's story on Strasburg's return? Lots of continuing discussion about the long-term effects of his pitching motion, with, of course, no firm conclusions.

I did like this part at the end: "Last week in the Nationals clubhouse, a few minutes after Strasburg had walked by, McCatty again wondered aloud how long Strasburg's right arm will allow him to pitch. He shrugged. McCatty pointed toward the ceiling, keeping his elbow below his shoulder, and said, 'That guy up there knows.'"

The "guy up there?" You mean, Rob Dibble???

Posted by: baltova1 | August 9, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

"Oy - who gets hurt, it's only batting practice??!!!???!!"

You mean, other than ARod?

Posted by: nunof1 | August 9, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

"Now that's funny. That was totally comical when ol frog eyes swaggletooth was out there shagging flies. Oy - who gets hurt, it's only batting practice??!!!???!!! We're talking about PRACTICE man! PRACTICE!!"

He was out there in full Nats regalia shagging flies in CF in LA.

Posted by: periculum | August 9, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

The negative perspective has its finer points ... its hard not to sometimes wonder if a rotation with the brothers Hernandez: Orlando and LIvan might not provide more consistent starts into the sixth inning ... over all the other choices. Throw in their "little brother" Maya and maybe you've got the Three Amigos instead of the Three Stooges. LOL

Posted by: periculum | August 9, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

>He was out there in full Nats regalia shagging flies in CF in LA.

Posted by: periculum

Say it ain't so, Shoeless Joe! Omg - hope he had his high-dollar european shades on man. And more than one pair available. Mark 'waiting to get smacked in the head by your daddy' Lerner

Posted by: Brue | August 9, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

I think the truth lies some where in the middle between EdDC claim that Ted Lerner is a terrible owner and they are good/okay owners. ...Posted by: periculum | August 9, 2010 4:01 PM |

peric,

For the owner to achieve your Below Average (which is way up from my Terrible), Lerner will have to do 3 things:

1. Sign Harper.

2. Re-sign Dunn or someone as good as Dunn. If they do not, they will be going backwards from a last place team, which is Terrible.

3. Maybe add a few good pieces in addition to simply maintaining Dunn (or someone as good).

If they do all three, I'll go with your Below Average. Deal?

Posted by: EdDC | August 9, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

"For the owner to achieve your Below Average (which is way up from my Terrible), Lerners, Kasten and Rizzo will have to do 3 things:

1. Sign Harper and Solis at least. Cole might be harder if you get him huge bonus! Then much improved with the Maya signing.

2. Re-sign Dunn or someone as good as Dunn. Texiera isn't even as good as Dunn offensively? If they do not, they will be going backwards from a last place team, which is Terrible.

3. Maybe add a few good pieces in addition to simply maintaining Dunn (or someone as good).
Sign Cliff Lee. If they do nothing else that would be enough ... IMHO

If they do all three, I'll go with your Below Average. Deal?


I was leaning more in your direction until I saw what Rizzo said about the organization in 2006. He said it looked worse than Arizona when that franchise was first starting out. Look at them now? I think we need to give Rizzo a chance and see if he might convince his bosses to give him a 85-90 million payroll to work with.

So, then let's add one more item?

4. They trust Mike Rizzo and his staff enough to give them an 85-90 million dollar a year payroll to work with. Still on the austere side for a major market team but I think enough for Mike Rizzo and staff to make the proverbial lemon aid from lemons.

Posted by: periculum | August 9, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

I was not on board with the Marquis signing last winter(did it matter?)yes the Lerner's are cheap(how do you think they got so wealthy?)but StanK is a know-nothing as far as i'm concerned i said it yesterday in my last post F.Robby should have been retained in an advisory capacity that's the biggest mistake this franchise has made so far(other than the Marquis signing)LMAO!! anyway the Marquis and Wang fiasco's are on Rizzo, when Rizzo took this job i was 100% behind him now i'm not so sure the Ramos for Capp's deal was a no brainer the RF(Dukes) situation is still in limbo bottom line we're no better off in term's of our future than we were last year and if the Lerner's don't spend any money tehn what?

Posted by: dargregmag | August 9, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

peric,

If we add your #4, that will bring Lerner to AVERAGE. The franchise would soon be unrecognizable, and ready to start winning. That's beyond my hope level, but I sure like the idea of it.

Posted by: EdDC | August 9, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

We interrupt this post-loss off day thread for a bit of (perhaps) irrational exuberance.*

Call me a wacky optimist but I wonder whether our guys might be due for a prolonged hot (or at least warm) streak. Now, I'm not a real big stat person, but here's the cipherin' behind my flight of fancy: 29 of the remaining 50 games are at home, where the Nats are 29-23, as opposed to 20-40 on the road (sigh). Further, 33 of their remaining games are vs. the NL East, against which they are 20-19. So am I delusional, or what? (Let me down easy, now.)

--
*No, you're not seeing double. I also posted it over on the Nats Insider. :-)

You may now return to your post-loss off day laments.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 9, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Call me a wacky optimist but I wonder whether our guys might be due for a prolonged hot (or at least warm) streak. Now, I'm not a real big stat person, but here's the cipherin' behind my flight of fancy: 29 of the remaining 50 games are at home, where the Nats are 29-23, as opposed to 20-40 on the road (sigh). Further, 33 of their remaining games are vs. the NL East, against which they are 20-19. So am I delusional, or what? (Let me down easy, now.)

--
*No, you're not seeing double. I also posted it over on the Nats Insider. :-)

You may now return to your post-loss off day laments.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 9, 2010 7:11 PM

I think we'll see, starting tomorrow. If we want to get somewhere - has to start by beating the second worst team in the division.

Posted by: Kev29 | August 9, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

dargregmag, so now we're longing for a return of Frank Robinson AND Elijah Dukes?

Really?

Posted by: baltova1 | August 9, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

My hope is that the Marquis debacle does not deter the Lerner's from the free agent market. The Nats are still a low payroll team. They should still do every thing they can to get Carl Crawford, Cliff Lee, or Jason Werth next season.

Posted by: cr8oncsu | August 9, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

For those of us grousing about the track record of Rizzo under the Lerners, let us consider the fate of the Seattle Mariners, with Jack Zduriencik as GM...

In 2009, the team made a 25-game improvement, to post an 85-77 record, moving from last to 3rd in the AL West. One of his initial moves is to acquire the oft-injured SS Jack Wilson from the Pirates. In the off-season, "Trader Jack" then swaps a handful of prospects to the Phillies for a 1-year rental on LHP Cliff Lee, exchanges SP Silva to the Cubs for OF-DH MIlton Bradley, then signs "A-level" FA-3B Chone Figgins from the Angels, and signs Kotchmann as a 1B, letting the injured 1B Branyan go in FA.

He also signs another handful of ex-Nats (Bard, Cordero, Colome, Langerhans, Shell, & Speigner to Milb contracts, along with Eric Bedard (who was injured for must of his previous tenure w/the club) on a speculative 1.5M contract.

As mid-season approaches, seeing that he mis-judged Kotchmann, he re-acquires the still injured Brannan from the Indians. With Bedard still on DL/rehab (D'oh!), and the trade deadline approaching, "Trader Jack" then 'flips' Cliff Lee for less than half of what he payed out in prospects to the Rangers for yet another 1B, Justin Smoak.
Adding insult to injury, today he fired the Manager & 50% of the staff that compiled the 25-game improvement last season.

Be happy that the Nationals decided on Mike Rizzo as the teams GM; They could have done much, much worse, in my opinion.

Posted by: BinM | August 9, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

It's too soon to call the Marquis situation a debacle. Although we should know the answer by the end of August, after four more starts, at most. I say "at most" because two more lousy starts may see Marquis and Stammen switching places between the rotation and the bullpen. While Marquis doesn't have all the time in the world to make the grade, he's not at the end of his rope yet. The end is in sight, however, unless he starts pitching better.

Posted by: bertbkatz | August 9, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

On my overly long post re: the Mariners, I forgot to add that a number of pundits felt that he had improved the team greatly in the off-season, and that they should challenge for the AL West title in 2010. Ha-Ha! (to quote Nelson, from 'the Simpsons').

Posted by: BinM | August 9, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

"Livan is, but CMW's contract has a club option, which they may choose to exercise if they decide "he was worth a shot, and the shot missed, now move on."

OK. I stand corrected on Wang but there is no reason to pick up that deal.

"Unless he (Livan) repeats it, in which case it's not. There is every reason to think he could do this again, at least one more year."

He won't. His ERA has been around five for the past four seasons. His sabermetric stats have been the same for the past five seasons, including this one. He's been a BP pitcher for most of the last four seasons prior to this one. Only this one is different. He won't repeat it and shouldn't be allowed to with the Nats.

"The arguments have been made over and over again, so I won't rehash them, but how can you not sign Livan now? Of course you sign him. There's little point in pattersoning Marquis, unless they need the room on the 40-man (which they might).
"And it's 'Neither should be re-signed.' There's only two of them.

I don't know who would pick up Marquis for $3.5M but the Nats thought he was worth $7M, so someone might. If not, release him as a sunk cost. Since you are the grammar Nazi, then neither should be re-signed. Livan will want too much money for an outlier season that he is unlikely to repeat.

"No, they do not. They just don't. Stammen might figure it out someday, or he might not. Detwiler was a wasted pick. Lannan is looking through. Olsen is through, as soon as he gets hurt again, in 3... 2... 1... Atilano just isn't that good. There might be a #5 in there somewhere, among them, but it doesn't look probable now."

You think like the Pirates front office, who for years have invested in veteran presence and have nothing but 18 years of losing to show for it.

"Young starters look to old starters, not old relievers, for help. Different jobs."

You have no idea what you are talking about. I doubt you know any of them. I do. I know several of them. They look at older veterans more as taking their jobs, rather than as mentors. Worse still, very few of the vets are or want to be mentors.

You appear to be on of those "old school" baseball types who don't understand statistical analysis and would rather rely on neat little myths, like veteran presence and small ball. Anyone who did understand such quantifiable analysis would see that Livan won't do again, what he is doing this year. He would see that Marquis is likely done. He would see that young pitchers, like Stammen, Detwiler, Olson and others are hitting their prime years while pitchers like Wang, Livan and Marquis are in their decline years. The Nationals should be building to a long term repeatable, successful model rooted in young players. They should not be settling for the short term mediocrity of Livan, Marquis and Wang.

Posted by: jeffreyt211 | August 9, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Given the current situation with Dunn, I personally think that FA targets like Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford & Jason Werth are already 'off the board', as far as the Nationals interest goes. The Lerners' most likely have a 2011 budget in mind ($70-75M as a guess), and Rizzo will have to work within it, to the detriment of the team & the fans.

Based on prior behaviour, it won't include any player asking for four or more years, or over $16M in average salary, imo. That seems to be the 'hanging points' in Dunn's possible re-signing, and also rules out any of the previously mentioned players.

I can only hope that Kasten & Rizzo realize that if the Nationals lose Dunn to Free Agency, they'll most likely lose Zimmerman, Willingham, & Strasburg as well. The Lerners' need to wake up to the realities of what it costs to own a sports team, and either 'buck-up' or sell out.

Posted by: BinM | August 9, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

jeffreyt211: You need to watch "Bull Durham" again...

I guess I am "old school" too...but, at the end of the day, this is a simple game that should be enjoyed...

If you want to sit behind your computer and wax sabremetrics...have at it....

Posted by: TimDz | August 9, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Sec3, I believe you are wrong about Wang. He has a one year deal with no option. Wang is arbitration eligible (good luck in the hearing).

http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/2005/01/washington-nationals_01.html

Posted by: jeffreyt211 | August 9, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Realistically, the Lerners are not any worse than any other of the Washington owners stretching over parts of three centuries. They are all bush league, all the owners, past and present.

My hope remains Mark. If he is incoherent, as reported in an above post, then that means he may not have a mind of his own. That's a good thing, a vast improvement.

Posted by: EdDC | August 9, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

yes to crawford and lee, pass on werth, and resign livo and dunn

Posted by: jpt1002 | August 9, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Batlova1: No! i am not longing for the return of Elijah that ship has longed since sailed my point was that the RF position is a hole and no one's stepped up and claimed it, yes RB and MM have had their moments but that's it again that' on Rizzo imho, as far as F.Robby is concerned i think he would have been invaluable to this franchise in term's of scouting and advice to the young players(Lord knows they could use it!) and overall knowledge of the game no one in this orginazation has played in or witnessed more baseball than Frank and this complacent attitude that has engulfed this franchise since Frank left makes me sick to my stomach. This we'll get em tommorow mindset is exactly why the Nats lead the league in errors and why the starters are less then average sans Livo and SS it's the reason why the season went down the sh#t shooter against two woefull franchises (O'S & Tribe) when those bumm's and teams like them(Brewers & DBacks) should have been swept or at the worst won 2/3. This team needs an attitude adjustment and Riggleman is not the captain to steer that ship.

Posted by: dargregmag | August 9, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

I agree with @BinM, MIke Rizzo, Davey Johnson and Rizzo's dad Frank are way on top of things ... and the guys he hired to oversee the minor league system, scouting and player development look top notch.

It does take years, it really does ... and Rizzo really just started this year. There was only so much he could do under Bowden. He has to earn the trust of the Lerners (Well, Ted when all is said and done.) Then, perhaps Ted will give him enough of a payroll to work with ... he's building a first class organization but eventually they will need to increase the salary level to support it.

Posted by: periculum | August 10, 2010 12:12 AM | Report abuse

@jeffreyt211

"You appear to be on of those "old school" baseball types who don't understand statistical analysis and would rather rely on neat little myths, like veteran presence and small ball. Anyone who did understand such quantifiable analysis would see that Livan won't do again, what he is doing this year."

Ah, dude you don't know as much as you claim? First Yunieski Maya could be a #1,#2 starter RIGHT NOW. As good as a Matt Cain perhaps? Believe this dude, he will and does listen to Livan and Orlando Hernandez ... both are heroes in Cuba.

Players are not all just a bunch of brash teenagers like Harper. They respect guys who have talent and can do things even to an advanced age as Livan has shown he can. Livan is staying unless Rizzo is an idiot. I don't think Mike Rizzo is an idiot.

Posted by: periculum | August 10, 2010 12:18 AM | Report abuse

"He won't. His ERA has been around five for the past four seasons. His sabermetric stats have been the same for the past five seasons, including this one. He's been a BP pitcher for most of the last four seasons prior to this one. Only this one is different. He won't repeat it and shouldn't be allowed to with the Nats."

The "illegal curve" as the Zona announcers referred to it, or the "Bugs Bunny" curve as many here call it has improved dramatically from last year to this. Perhaps it was a matter of Livan getting on himself about physical conditioning.

I don't think its a statistical fluke. Statistical flukes don't last into the seventh and eighth innings and beyond as often as he has. This is the John Lannan BAIP luck at work. This is real pitching, as opposed to throwing.

Livan Hernandez has actually become a better true pitcher ...

Posted by: periculum | August 10, 2010 12:25 AM | Report abuse

Periculum. I did err in leaving out Maya. I did not err in how young players view older players. I know about half the players on the Nationals pitching staff. I can tell you that they would not miss Livan or Marquis next year.

Maya is even more reason to jettison veterans. They have a legitimate top three and enough talent among the other pitchers to round out the bottom two without keeping Livan and Marquis.

Furthermore, unless this team decides to buy some additional offense, a hard hitting right fielder and a center fielder who can lead off by getting on base consistently, they aren't contending next year. Because they aren't likely to contend next year, they should go with a young pitching to prepare and develop for the future, when they do contend. I would not want to lose that developmental time to keep Livan and Marquis around for their presence.

Its highly unlikely that either pitcher will be here after 2011 anyway, so get rid of them now.

Fans may not like but 2011 is another developmental year, unless big changes are made. Let the young players develop, so that they are the seasoned veterans when its time for the Nationals to contend.

Posted by: jeffreyt211 | August 10, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

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