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Posted at 12:03 PM ET, 01/ 7/2011

Could the Nationals have trumped the Cubs' offer for Matt Garza? Probably not.

By Adam Kilgore

The Chicago Cubs and Tampa Bay Rays have apparently agreed upon a framework for a trade that would send Matt Garza to Chicago and four Cubs prospects to Tampa Bay, according to a report by the Daily Herald of suburban Chicago.

The potential would strike something of a minor blow to the Nationals, who were interested in a trade for Garza. The Rays have six starting pitchers and are trying to slash payroll, which made Garza, who is eligible for arbitration this season and under team control through 2013, available. He may have been the last, best shot for General Manager Mike Rizzo to add a legitimate frontline starter for the start of the 2011 season.

But considering the reported offer, the Nationals likely didn't stand much of a chance. Baseball America's Jim Callis, a foremost authority on minor league prospects, said it would have been difficult - and not worth it - for the Nationals to match the Cubs' offer.

Per the Daily Herald's report, the Cubs will send Chris Archer (a top pitcher), Hak-Ju Lee (a middle infielder), Brandon Guyer (an outfielder) and Robinson Chirinos (a catcher). Archer, Lee and Guyer all rank among the Cubs' top prospects.

"If the Cubs are willing to give that up, it would be hard for the Nationals to match," Callis said. "They'd probably be better off not matching."

While the Nationals were interested in a trade with Garza, it is not known how much engagement they had with the Rays. But for the Nationals to offer a package of similar value, Callis said, they would need to include infielder Danny Espinosa, catcher Derek Norris and Jordan Zimmermann - their projected starting second baseman, a catcher who is regarded as their third-best position player prospect and a pitcher who could emerge as their best starter this season.

One issue for the Nationals, when they attempt to trade prospects for an elite major leaguer, is that their farm system "is not real deep," Callis said, particularly in regard to starting pitching. The Nationals have some potential major league starters, such as Tom Milone, Brad Peacock and Danny Rosenbaum, but leading experts, Callis among them, don't project them as stars.

The Nationals' most recent draft could change that - left-hander Sammy Solis and right-hander A.J. Cole are both highly regarded, Callis said. (Cole ranked fourth on this year's top 10 list of Nationals prospects, with Solis sixth.) But because they were selected in the 2010 draft, neither is eligible to be traded (not that the Nationals would be quick to dangle them if they were).

At the moment, the Nationals' trading several of their best young players would likely open as large of a hole as the spot the fill.Rizzo has done well to improve the farm system on his watch; it's deeper now than it has been in the past and includes some massive potential at the top with Bryce Harper. But they have not yet reached the point where they can trade away key pieces of their farm system and still be content with its condition.

By Adam Kilgore  | January 7, 2011; 12:03 PM ET
 
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Next: The Nationals' pursuit of pitching

Comments

True no doubt. So maybe it's not really time for a Phase 2. Maybe Phase 1.1.

Posted by: utec | January 7, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Archer is a reliever. The Nats have plenty of those now. Outfielders? Sure? Burgess and Hood. Its likely neither will have a place to go.

The sticking point would be at catcher where the Nats have an "older" prospect in Flores, (still coming back from injury), a guy who just hit for some power in the winter league in Ramos, and then Norris who is a budding superstar offensively but still weak defensively because he has yet to play enough games behind the plate in the minors. If Flores performs in the majors or minors I suspect he could end up being excellent trade bait at some point.

Burgess will likely be replaced by Harper as soon as next year. Hood looks like an extra and didn't make it to top prospect status.

What I would hazard is that the Rays were less impressed with the Nats prospects and more impressed with the Cubs package. The Rays do have excellent top-notch scouting.

If anything it says the Nats still have a looooong way to go with "Phase I" and that it still is the highest priority.

Posted by: periculum | January 7, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

peric, Archer started 27 games last year....

Adam, nice report.
It is obvious why any trade discussions we have include Zimmermann. Everyone wants SP's, and he's the only top, trade eligible SP we have.

Posted by: Sunderland | January 7, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Wait a minute, this would suggest that the rays wanted more for garza than the royals did for greinke; the Nats had the latter trade in place for prospects!

Did the rays think less of the nats prospects than the royals did?

Something is not adding up here. Maybe rizzo didn't pursue garza after all.

Posted by: swanni | January 7, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

And don't forget that rizzo was ready to give up the prospects for greinke; what changed?

This story has holes in it.

Posted by: swanni | January 7, 2011 12:25 PM | Report abuse

The Cubs sent:
Chris Archer, 2010 Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year (SP, 142 IP split between A an AA, 15 - 3 in 27 starts with 149 K's and 2.34 ERA)
Brandon Guyer, 2010 Cubs Minor League Player of the Year (OF in AA, .344 AVG, .398 OBP, .588 SLG - stud)
Hak-Ju Lee (SS in AAA, .282 AVG, .354 OBP, no power, 32 SB's, reported to have an excellent glove)

Agree with the analysis that our talent that matches this is on our MLB roster.

Posted by: Sunderland | January 7, 2011 12:29 PM | Report abuse

@Swanni,

KC is ranked as the best farm system in the majors this year. Way over the top with the Grienke trade. KC's needs are going to be different from those of the Rays.

Given the excellence of their farm system one would think they would be competitive by now? Yet they aren't?

The Rays also have an excellent farm system in the top 10. The Rays now have six picks in the first round and the supplemental while the Nats have three. The Rays could pick up more before its over. In answer to the folks who think Rizzo should have traded Dunn by the deadlin; the Rays are pursuing the exact same strategy and it looks effective now doesn't it?

The Rays have been consistently competitive leveraging the max from their farm and prospects even after slashing salary while the Royals have been just the opposite.

Who's take on the Nats prospects would you take? KC's or the Rays?

Posted by: periculum | January 7, 2011 12:31 PM | Report abuse

swanni, good point, something does seem to not fit....

Posted by: Sunderland | January 7, 2011 12:32 PM | Report abuse

The entire story comes from the angle that the nats could not afford to make the garza trade; but they were ready to make a similar trade just 2 weeks ago! (which is not even mentioned in the story!)

Did something change in nats management? Did Adam just forget about the greinke trade?

Posted by: swanni | January 7, 2011 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I think Desmond, Norris, Zimmermann, and Storen match up pretty well. That's the haul for Grienke.

Archer is currently projected to be a major league reliever Sunderland. Kind of equivalent to Storen.

No mystery? Rizzo and brain-trust were unwilling to give up that much for a Garza. Only for a Grienke.

Posted by: periculum | January 7, 2011 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Peri, it was reported here once that the nats would likely be more interested in garza than greinke because his contract runs longer; like I say, something doesn't add up.

Posted by: swanni | January 7, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

@Swanni, note that all of Desmond, Storen, and Zimmermann are on the 25 man major league roster. [Greinke] Only Norris was not. While the cubs traded all prospects.

There is a decided difference there. Again, remember, the Rays have six picks in the first round and supplemental. They will be adding six potential impact players to the six they just acquired. Especially in the difficult, constantly shifting landscape of MLB baseball it helps to have a solid plan. Doubtless the Rays definitely do.

Posted by: periculum | January 7, 2011 12:44 PM | Report abuse

peric, you can say he's "projected" to be a reliever if you want.
But the fact is he's been a starter since high school, he pitched 142 innings last year, struck out 149, and kept his ERA under 2.50. If you'd convert that to a reliever at age 22, be my guest. Tampa will not.

A note like this doesn't mean he's getting ready to be hittin' th bullpen.
"Jim Callis of Baseball America notes that Archer is a year away from the majors and could be a closer in the future"

Posted by: Sunderland | January 7, 2011 12:51 PM | Report abuse

What doesn't add up? It's not that difficult...Rizzo was obviously willing to give up more for Greinke than he was for Garza. I certainly hope he wouldn't offer the same package for Garza.

Posted by: sollazo | January 7, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse

"Did something change in nats management?"

Maybe Nats management, after evaluating the two players, decided that Grienke was the better player and therefore worth more than Garza. Ergo, they would have been willing to pay more to get Grienke than they would to get Garza. Makes perfect sense.

Posted by: FeelWood | January 7, 2011 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Agree with sollazo that this does make sense.
Good post Adam and thanks for the effort. I think they obviously went all in on Grienke and even if they were willing to offer the same package for Garza the Rays went with what the Cubs were offering. I don't read anywhere that we actually made that offer, what Adam is saying is that we probably could not and should not have tried to match it.
There is no conspiracy here but there is also not much of a phase 2 either.
Still like the position players this spring better than last year, with the caveat that Morgan returns to what he was in 09.

Go Nats

Posted by: sjm3091 | January 7, 2011 1:01 PM | Report abuse

AK had it right. The Nats can't afford to deplete the farm systsem at this point for a Garza type talent. Now for a CY Young winner like Greinke, maybe. I'm glad they didn't manage to pull off either trade really as this isn't the year the big step is going to take place anyway. In the next offseason with the return of Stras and another seasoning year for Zimmy, I would think the time would be right to acquire a front line pitcher via trade or free agency. With Harpers bat likely due to arrive sometime in 2012, free agents would likely see Washington as a more desirable landing spot than they currently see it now.

Posted by: cokedispatch | January 7, 2011 1:06 PM | Report abuse

"In answer to the folks who think Rizzo should have traded Dunn by the deadlin; the Rays are pursuing the exact same strategy and it looks effective now doesn't it?"

It still does not look effective from the Nats point of view. TB & WAS may have the same strategy in the sense both teams kept their players at the deadline. But the rationale behind that strategy is completely different. TB was fighting to win the AL East. The Nats were fighting not to be the worst team in the NL.

TB has the luxury of waiting on thier 2011 draft pick bounty to develop as their farm system is already flush with prospects acquired through the draft and, dare I say, in trade. The Nationals do not, since the high A, AA & AAA levels are barren of impact starting pitching, which consequently is what the Nats are trying to trade for.

If the Nats were able to properly scout, draft & develop more than one of their 1st rounders or bonus babies before Strasburg and after Zimmerman then guys like King, Nieto, Smoker, Englund, Willems, McGeary and Jones would actually be highly regarded prospects instead of washouts or fringe major leaguers. TB had the high picks and turned those picks into an envious farm system. WAS....not so much.

Posted by: LosDoceOcho | January 7, 2011 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Just because Pants said he offered certain players to KC doesn't mean he actually did. There's no proof. But there's a lot of proof that he can't acquire any starting pitching. Garza would have been a much cheaper option financially for the Nats, that's the guy they should have gone after. They would have had him under team control for three seasons. No brainer imo. Greinke was already making a ton. Waiting for the Pants Release for his excuses. Again. The rotation is gonna be butt ugly. He's gonna have to recycle his bullpen every other year because you can't run relievers out there 60-70 times a year for very long.

Posted by: Brue | January 7, 2011 1:19 PM | Report abuse

No doubt the Bowden effect is still hurting us. We really did not have a lot of "pieces" from our early drafts. While it is getting better, and there is nothing to be gained from complaining about the past, it is a shame that Major League Baseball and subsequently, Mr. Bowden put the Nationals in such a huge hole.

Posted by: sjm3091 | January 7, 2011 1:22 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Garza is worth what it cost the Cubs to get him, and certainly wouldn't be worth what the Nats would have had to give up.

More importantly the Cubs now have extra SPers, any chance Rizzo tried to take Carlos Zambrano off their hands "cheap" since the Cubs owe him almost $60M over the next 3 years....

Given the salary dump what is fair value for Zambrano, Marrero? Milone? Justin Maxwell (kidding).

Posted by: estuartj | January 7, 2011 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if we're in Phase 1, 2, or 3, but anybody who doesn't think this team is making progress, just think back to Opening Day 2009.

1. Milledge, CF
2. Guzman, SS
3. Zimm, 3B
4. Dunn, LF
5. Johnson, 1B
6. Kearns, RF
7. Belliard, 2B
8. Flores, C
9. Lannan, P

Posted by: sollazo | January 7, 2011 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Ak's logic is flawed. If the club's minors lack quality starting pitching (the most important thing to have in this game) and the Nats can trade position prospects to get an elite SP under control for several years, they should go the extra mile to make that happen, as they are not likely to produe a front line SP from their system in years to come as it currently stands.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 7, 2011 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo is good. By that I mean I agree with him most of the time. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt when I don't. Garza would have been nice but nothing to lose sleep over.

Make a play at Darvish next year. It will be expensive as he obviously is timing it to not compete with any other stud FA (Cliff Lee, etc.).

We were willing to go after Chapman. Eventually we'll start landing a few of these guys.

All in all a good offseason for me. We are better now and look better going forward.

Posted by: longterm | January 7, 2011 1:38 PM | Report abuse

@dfh21

Except that JZimm was part of the package, so the Nats would be giving up a quasi-prospect SP, not just position prospects. JZimm is cheaper and under contract longer than both Garza and Greinke, and he certainly has the potential to be better than Garza, who is not an "elite" SP. So where's the wisdom in that?

Posted by: HHover | January 7, 2011 1:42 PM | Report abuse

"Ak's logic is flawed. If the club's minors lack quality starting pitching (the most important thing to have in this game) and the Nats can trade position prospects to get an elite SP under control for several years, they should go the extra mile to make that happen, as they are not likely to produe a front line SP from their system in years to come as it currently stands."

The problem with YOUR flawed logic is that to "go the extra mile" as you say would have required that they also surrender a potential top-range starter (Zimmermann) along with position prospects in order to get a front line SP like Garza. That's called cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Posted by: FeelWood | January 7, 2011 1:42 PM | Report abuse

The Nats also reportedly had a long-term deal in place for Greinke. Garza is only team controlled for three more seasons. It may be worth giving up for for someone who is locked down.

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 7, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I applaud Mike Rizzo for not making a Expos type trade for Matt Garza.

Posted by: 4U2Know | January 7, 2011 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Desmond, Norris, Zimmermann, and Storen was too much to give up for Greinke. And it would be WAY too much to give up for Garza. The Cubs just gave up the farm so they can finish 3rd in the NL Central. Glad the Nats didn't take the bait.

Posted by: js_edit | January 7, 2011 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't deal that many prospects for Garza - in fact - I'm not sure I'd deal Zimmermann straight up for Garza.

Posted by: AsstGM | January 7, 2011 2:01 PM | Report abuse

This is a ridiculously stupid trade for the Cubs. Thank goodness Rizzo didn't do something like this. Garza is a head case and not a guy one can rely on. If JZ had been part of it, I would have been equally critical of Rizzo as I am of the Cubs - probably more so since Archer hasn't thrown above AA.

Posted by: db423 | January 7, 2011 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Have to be realistic in one's expectations.

Rizzo inherited crap and it's hard to trade crap for stuff that ain't crap.

Progress is being made, in the draft, in signing international players and in signing free agents.

It sucks that it moves slowly, but it takes time. It just does.

It's not Rizzo's fault that for so long most top FA's didn't want to come here. It's also not his fault he inherited a farm system with so little to trade or to help the team right away.

But, if the team wins 10-12 games more this year, has another good draft then gets Strasbug back in 2012, it should make the team more desirable to the better free agents next winter and give the team more to trade.

A lot of ifs there, I realize, but this team is on the right track.

Posted by: mercedeskk | January 7, 2011 2:08 PM | Report abuse

At NatsInsider, Zuckerman tossed these pitchers as scrap heap but possible names "still on the market include: Jeff Francis, Brian Bannister, Doug Davis, Kevin Millwood, Brad Penny and Freddy Garcia."
Any input on taking couple of these as "try and make the club" pitchers. All have been pretty good in the past and may just fit for the right price?

Posted by: dorseylaw | January 7, 2011 2:23 PM | Report abuse

If you look at this another way, and according another respected minor league blog, the Cubs gave up their #3,4,8 & 15th prospects. The same site lists the Nats same #s as Espinosa, Solis, Burgess and Brad Meyers.

If you're the Rays, do you take these guys?

Posted by: 3B11 | January 7, 2011 2:31 PM | Report abuse

so beyond the Garza issue, which btw I don't put Garza in the same league as Grienke. Garza played on a much better offensive and defensive team, so why offer the same package for Garza.

My question is the best SP on the trade block Joe Blanton? If so what would it take for the Phillies to trade Blanton to the Nats? I know they don't trade within the division but its the Nats. I think Blanton could be had for a AAA and A prospect.

Posted by: wrw0601 | January 7, 2011 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Brian Bannister is out; signed with Japanese team. Someone tell the Facebook guy. (Just kidding, Mark.)

Posted by: swanni | January 7, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm quite satisfied that the Nats did not give up said prospects for Garza or Greinke, especially Garza. If Zimm is healthy, and we have every indication that he is, he should be a better pitcher than Garza even up, maybe as soon as this year. I like Storen better than Garza as well. Desmond might just become an elite shortstop, although the jury is very much out on that one. And Norris, in my opinion, is a can't miss prospect.
Next year should be a defining one. It's not out of the question that by 2012, the rotation could have at least four impact starters from within their system--Strasberg, Zimmermann, Peacock, Solis, and maybe Deitweiler as well. Of course, there's still free agency and the trade route. The odds are the Nats will have more chips by then.

Posted by: jcampbell1 | January 7, 2011 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Two points re: Blanton:

1. What matters is not just what the Phillies get in return but how much of his salary the Phillies eat--they're looking more to dump his salary than get value in return.

2. Given how many games you play against a division rival, you have an interest not just in fending off contenders but in keeping the weak teams weak so you can run up your record against them. That's a strong argument for not trading Blanton within the division, even to such a non-threat as the Nats.

Posted by: HHover | January 7, 2011 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Greinke > Garza. The supposed package for Zach is WAAAAAAAAAAAY to steep to have paid for Garza.

Posted by: Handsome_John_Pruitt | January 7, 2011 3:47 PM | Report abuse

" applaud Mike Rizzo for not making a Expos type trade for Matt Garza.

Posted by: 4U2Know | January 7, 2011 1:56 PM | Report abuse"

An Expos trade like
Expos trade: P Randy Johnson, P Gene Harris, P Brian Holman
Mariners trade: SP Mark Langston, P Mike Campbell

That trade still haunts an Expo fan like myself. I'm fine with them not giving up prospects for Garza.

Posted by: derwink | January 7, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

"peric, you can say he's "projected" to be a reliever if you want.
But the fact is he's been a starter since high school, he pitched 142 innings last year, struck out 149, and kept his ERA under 2.50. If you'd convert that to a reliever at age 22, be my guest. Tampa will not."

You don't have to believe me. That is what the source are telling the folks as reported on MLBTR: Jim Callis. Argue with himn i if you dare sunderland.

"Jim Callis of Baseball America notes that Archer is a year away from the majors and could be a closer in the future"

Posted by: periculum | January 7, 2011 5:05 PM | Report abuse

"peric, you can say he's "projected" to be a reliever if you want.
But the fact is he's been a starter since high school, he pitched 142 innings last year, struck out 149, and kept his ERA under 2.50. If you'd convert that to a reliever at age 22, be my guest. Tampa will not."

You don't have to believe me. That is what the source is telling the folks as reported on MLBTR: BA's Jim Callis. Argue with him i if you dare sunderland.

"Jim Callis of Baseball America notes that Archer is a year away from the majors and could be a closer in the future"


Posted by: periculum | January 7, 2011 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don't make. I'm ok with this.

Posted by: Meridian1 | January 7, 2011 5:07 PM | Report abuse

"But, if the team wins 10-12 games more this year, has another good draft then gets Strasburg back in 2012, it should make the team more desirable to the better free agents next winter and give the team more to trade."

Yes, but as some here have pointed out this team is still recovering from Expos past and Bowden's circus act. And the Rays, that team that watched its draft picks fill its major league roster has six picks at the top of the draft in June. And if Soriano signs with a contender that could end up being at least eight. They have have a couple of B prospects like Hawpe looking for jobs as well. Could up being 8-11 total picks.

THAT NJ readers is what the Nats need desperately right now. With Rizzo, Clark et al making the picks. NOT Adam Dunn at first. Not LaRoche, But because the players Bowden drafted were mostly abject failures and we are stuck with his legacy ... with only Zimmerman and perhaps Desmond on his list of successes ...

And really Brue you ought to be complaining about "leather pants" Bowden not Rizzo.

Posted by: periculum | January 7, 2011 5:15 PM | Report abuse

So, the Cubs again mortgage their future for a guy who might push them up from fourth place to third place in the NL Central in 2011. Are we supposed to be jealous of that or something? Any wonder why they haven't won a WS in 100 years? It's a good day to be a Nats fan.

Posted by: thelonghaul | January 7, 2011 5:22 PM | Report abuse

"Next year should be a defining one. It's not out of the question that by 2012, the rotation could have at least four impact starters from within their system--Strasberg, Zimmermann, Peacock, Solis, and maybe Deitweiler as well. Of course, there's still free agency and the trade route. The odds are the Nats will have more chips by then."

Peacock is projected for the bullpen, along with other fireballers like Carr and Kimball. Kind of like Archer sunderland? Right?

Jimmy Barthmaier (just recovered/rehabbed from TJ) is an interesting possibility. Another power pitcher projected as a starter. Sammy Solis is also another perhaps toward the end of this year? Detwiler has become a bit like Garrett Mock. Ryan Tatusko, another lefty looks like an interesting possibility. He helped make Aaron Thompson and Matt Chico expendable. Chien-Ming Wang ... if he ever pitches? He is again telling the Chinese press he should be ready in May. Said the same last year?

In the end its going to be about Yuniesky Maya translating what he again showed in the winter league (where some highly ranked MLB pitchers also pitched) that made him the top pitcher. Even if Mark Zuckerman and Ben Goessling don't think much of him. Plus Jordan Zimmermann. Why did Rizzo offer him as a part of a package for Grienke? He has yet to prove he is a consistent starter ... one that can be relied on to go six innings plus consistently quality starts. He wasn't there even before the TJ whereas Stras definitely WAS.

Those two plus one other pitcher (Marquis, Detwiler, etc.) should be enough to get them to .500 even though they are in the same division as the Marlins and Phillies. This year.

Probably should consider Brad Penny as a possibility. The fact they haven't kind of says there are still trades in the offing we haven't heard about. In other words.

Posted by: periculum | January 7, 2011 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Trading for pitching at this time is a mistake. They need to buy pitching. I am glad they did not trade the teams limited supply of prospects for either Garza or Greinke. I just don't understand why they didn't offer Pavano 3 years. With a 3 year contract Pavano would be wearing a curly W

Posted by: cr8oncsu | January 7, 2011 6:24 PM | Report abuse

peric, how many innings do you think they will let Stras pitch next year?

In 2010, he had a limit of about 155 innings, and of course did not reach that.

I'm ballparking 2012 at 145 innings.

Posted by: Sunderland | January 7, 2011 6:24 PM | Report abuse

"Trading for pitching at this time is a mistake. They need to buy pitching."

Completely agree. We have limited prospects and an abundance of "payroll flexibility".

"I just don't understand why they didn't offer Pavano 3 years. With a 3 year contract Pavano would be wearing a curly W"

He's too much of a risk. Even for "only money".

Posted by: Sunderland | January 7, 2011 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Garza is a 200 inning front end SP. The Cubs made a smart move. They shored-up their rotation on the cheap for 3 years to come, they made a Zambrano, Dempster or Silva trade doable, they are out form under Aramis Ramirez and Fukudome next year and that leaves them only the Soriano contract as a stinker. They can buy their way back into contention very, very soon. They made a very solid move today.

The players the Cubs gave up are perceived as adding depth to Tampa's farm not impact guys (per Buster Olney). The best guy in the pile is projected to have closer possibilities. The second best, Lee is blocked at SS anyway in Chicago. The Rays did not fleece the Cubs in this deal.

I do not understand the mad love in here for prospects over actual high quality MLB players. If the Nats system is not ripe with upside guys (and by most accounts, it is not), why hold them so near and dear to our hearts?

Posted by: dfh21 | January 7, 2011 7:06 PM | Report abuse

peric, it's interesting that you choose to take one quote, without context, convert its meaning, and determine that the powers that be in MLB have decided Archer will be a reliever.

Use your brain, we both know you're smart. Look at the kid's age and track record, and see if you can convince yourself that the braintrust in Tampa took him thinking "this kid will make a nice closer".

You have in the past pushed for Storen to switch to an SP, he has the tools and his value to the team skyrockets.
You think the Rays are going to do the opposite, take a 22 year old who had a 1.80 ERA in 13 AA starts and just convert him to a reliever?

Posted by: Sunderland | January 7, 2011 7:10 PM | Report abuse

It all makes sense to me. The Rays wanted a lot. The Cubs were willing to pay. Their overpayment in players is not unlike the overpayment the Nats made in money for Werth. The Nats had money, they did not have the players. Or to be more exact, the price in players was too high.

The Cubs have gotten better for 2011 at the expense of their future. The Nationals were not willing to make the same trade, and/or the Rays liked the Cubs package better.

KC did not get the same package because Grienke is only under contact for 2 more years, has "danger" written all over him, and because they had less leverage.

Posted by: natbiscuits | January 7, 2011 9:56 PM | Report abuse

I agree with those who say better to not make this trade if the players mentioned were involved. Farm system is just starting to support the big club, can't gut it for a guy who isn'tone of MLBs elite pitchers; he's better then what we have for sure but the cost is too much.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | January 7, 2011 9:57 PM | Report abuse

I did not realize that someone from some minor league ratings site had simply decided that Arhcer projects as a reliever when he's been an effective starter. If that is the case.

In any event, Storen is not likely to have the stuff to be a SP, if he did he would have been one in the college game. I am not sure that he has ever started a game after high school.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 7, 2011 10:01 PM | Report abuse


"You think the Rays are going to do the opposite, take a 22 year old who had a 1.80 ERA in 13 AA starts and just convert him to a reliever?"

A brief synopsis on Archer:

"Archer's control and command have improved, but they're still not where he needs to be. He gives up too many walks and misses within the strike zone too often. His changeup has good sink and enough separation in velocity from his fastball, but it lacks consistency."

This is why he projects for the bullpen. Not a starter.
He, like Peacock, developed a circle change and it got him the results in Advanced A and AA last year. Both have similar repertoires fastball and curve wise.

Sue Dinem's report on Peacock:
"Brad Peacock — Hard-throwing RHP that needs to have his changeup working to succeed. When it is, he’s very effective. When it’s not, he can and will get hit hard."

Its about consistency over 6+ innings. I believe that Storen and his five pitch, WITH COMMAND, repertoire might be better for the Nats as a starter given the plethora of flame throwers Rizzo has converted or acquired. On another, better situated team, (almost any team in the baseball and particularly the NL East) you might leave Storen in the bullpen. On the Nats, who feature an ace who is 35 going on 50 named Livan Hernandez. Their ONLY PITCHER who can consistently manage to put together a reasonable amount of quality starts ??? After Livo there is a big gigantic question mark??? And Livo, given his age, and his 78mph fast ball is a question mark?

If you can experiment with Peacock and Kimball in relief why the heck not experiment, in the majors, with Storen starting. He may not be the best starter in the NL initially; but my guess is he probably could manage more quality starts than any other pitcher they have right now. I hope I'm wrong but you tell me? We've seen him pitch three without much trouble?

"I'm ballparking 2012 at 145 innings."

It all depends on how his recovery goes. Unfortunately, Nats fans might have might have to stomach watching him pitch around 100 innings or less in 2012. The guy is way to valuable to risk. And Rizzo knows it.

Posted by: periculum | January 7, 2011 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Of course if we are going to use Sue Dinem's take on Peacock as a point of comparison we must also mention that he believes they should continue to give Peacock a chance as a starter and not give up.

Here is the argument that says the Rays should continue to give Archer every chance as a starter even with Callis' opinon:

"Far from the glare of Major League Baseball's postseason, Chris Archer (Cubs) pulled off a signature performance Monday night. The righthander struck out 10 Cubans in six two-hit, scoreless innings and didn't walk a batter, helping USA Baseball's Pan Am Qualifier team to a 4-1 victory. USA Baseball's professional teams have won four of their last five matchups against Cuba."

Posted by: periculum | January 7, 2011 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Few comments:

a) Archer has a plus fastball and a plus slider when his control is off. When his control is on, some folks have said that he has a plus-plus fastball and a plus-plus slider. There's a chance he ends up in the pen, but with the control improvement he showed this past year, along with the development of the change (it's a solid pitch, just not on par with his fastball/slider), he'll likely be given every chance to stay as a starter. His stuff is so good that he really doesn't need top control - just decent control.

b) I saw someone remark in the discussion that the Cubs basically gave away the farm. That's far from true. The Cubs were going to be ranked by BA as the 8th best farm system. They kept their pitching depth, kept a similar level SP talent (in Kenneth McNutt, who has shown a plus fastball and plus curve/slurve), and their top positional talent (Brett Jackson). The Cubs gave away a healthy amount, but they still have a solid farm.

c) The best, for the Rays, short term piece in this deal might've been Robinson Chirinos. He's older, which will get people asking about what his true talent level is. That said, the former MI has shown a strong work ethic, is viewed as a good mentor, is very strong behind the plate, has a good offensive approach, and most believe that he has improved his power to some degree. Don't be surprised if he's the starting catcher in Tampa Bay next year at some point.

d) The stars of the deal are Lee and Archer, the latter a potential TOR starter, the former a potential plus glove speedy, but minimal power, shortstop. The Rays, by most accounts, prioritized getting a top defensive shortstop and a quality, ready catcher. Guyer is probably 4th in terms of importance. The former UVA product reminds me of Eric Byrnes, so he might not be a starter on a top tier club, but maybe on a 2nd tier club. 15-20 HR power, hard nosed attitude in the field that allows him to play all three OF spots, and the Cubs worked on his arm enough that he'll be fine in RF.

e) It didn't make sense for the Nats to pursue this type of deal. The Rays wanted a catcher and a shortstop, so Espinosa and either Ramos/Norris had to be the starting blocks to a deal. They wanted an elite arm ... here's where the Nats run into problems. They don't have anyone at Archer's level (borderline top 50 prospect) to fork over (hence why Callis brought up Jordan Zimmerman). I'm not saying this is a good deal for the Cubs either ... but for a Nats clubs that's more in the rebuilding stage, giving up all that for Garza? Doesn't seem worth it ... considering Jordan Zimmerman might be better than Garza as soon as 2011.

Posted by: toonsterwu | January 8, 2011 12:36 AM | Report abuse

The Cubs gave away the store. Sure glad Rizzo did not make that trade. Here's what Bleacher.com had to say:


The Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs made a surprising trade Thursday when
the Rays agreed to send pitcher Matt Garza, outfielder Fernando Perez and a
minor league pitcher to the Cubs for a package of prospects including
pitcher Chris Archer(minor league pitcher of the year), outfielders Brandon Guyer(minor league player of the year) and Sam Fuld, catcher Robinson Chirinos and shortstop Hak-Ju Lee. According to most baseball
critics, the Rays received a great package for Garza, probably one that was
an overpay for the Cubs. I tend to agree, and I'll make a bold statement:
The Tampa Bay Rays ended up with the best pitcher in the deal—Chris Archer.
Garza, 27, was originally drafted by the Minnesota Twins and traded to the
Rays after the 2007 season. Though he's young and hasn't been in the the
league for all that long, Garza has already assembled quite a list of
accolades, including winning the 2008 ALCS MVP award and no-hitting the
Detroit Tigers in 2010. However, his career numbers aren't as impressive as
they appear.The Cubs acquired Garza with the hope of contending in 2011, but they may be in for a rather unpleasant surprise. According to most baseball experts,Garza won't transition well into the NL Central, specifically, into Wrigley
Field. Throughout most of his career, he has been known as a fly ball
pitcher and has posted weak ground ball rates in each of the last three
seasons—not a good sign for a pitcher who is about to take his talents to
one of the league's most notorious, hitter-friendly parks.Advanced Sabermetrics aren't particularly fond of Garza either. In 2010, he posted a 4.42 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), which is much worse than
what his 3.91 ERA suggests. Taking his 2010 season a step further, Garza's
Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP), which adjusts a pitcher's ERA
to suit the ballpark, was 4.51.While the Cubs may have a potential pitching question mark on their hands,
the Rays struck gold.In acquiring Archer, the Rays not only effectively replaced Garza for the long term, but acquired the best pitcher in the deal. Archer, 22, was
originally drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 2006 Amateur Draft. The
Cubs acquired the struggling right hander in exchange for super utility
player, Mark DeRosa, and the Cubs have watched him rise up their rankings
since.Who won the deal?
Chicago Cubs Tampa Bay Rays Submit Vote vote to see results
Chicago Cubs 18.4%
Tampa Bay Rays 81.6%
Total votes: 76

The bottom line is, if the Rays acquired Archer for Garza straight up, they
still would have won this deal.

Posted by: bosco3 | January 10, 2011 2:10 PM | Report abuse

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