Boz does have some valid points. This year the Nats have stopped scrounging in two of their previous favorite garbage heaps. There are no more other team's "never-wases" (hello Jerome Williams) and no more internal "has-beens" (nice to see ya, Mike Bacsik). While that's a step in the right direction, Kasten, Rizzo, et. al. are still digging their little raccoon paws into the trash piles of other team's "has-beens" (Livan, it's been too long) and the Nats own "never-wases" (As I live and breathe, Matt Chico!). It's not that the back of the rotations choices are that much better, it's just that the smorgasbord of suck has been reduced to a hotel breakfast buffet of future disappointment.
So should you feel bad now? NO! The Nats pitching staff is much better this year. However, don't get caught up in the Miguel Batista-esque name-droppings that are being left in your lawn. All you need to think of are two names; Strasburg and Marquis.
With apologies to Zimmermann, Strasburg is the first real no-doubter the Nats have "grown" from within. Is he going to be an ace? I don't know about that. Is he going to be a viable major-league starter (barring injury) for years to come? I don't see how that doesn't happen. He may not be in the staff until later this year for whatever reason (re: CHEEEP if you want. I still would start him in AA myself. No reason to make the kid go 0 to 60 if you don't have to) but he will be on the staff this year or next and will be a fixture in it.
Marquis isn't a great pitcher. He isn't a very good pitcher. But for 5 of the past 6 years he's given his teams 190+ innings of above average pitching. If Lannan continues spitting in the face of sabermetrics, that'll give the Nats two such pitchers. That may not seem like a big deal but it would be the first time since the inaugural season the Nats had such a thing. Finding reliable decent pitching is HARD. That's why they get paid the big money. And it's why Dunn (and maybe the team) is completely wrong.
In the same article Dunn says
The team feels that we already have better [pitchers] in-house. And I think we have better, too....Just to sign Davis -- so we could say that we did -- doesn't make sense to me. I'm not knocking Doug. He takes the ball, always puts up those solid numbers. But we've got better right here. They just have to mature and take the next step up.That's nice. It's also idiotic. The Nats may indeed have a (non Lannan/Marquis/Strasburg) pitcher in their midst that could have better years than Doug Davis in 2010 and 2011. But who is it? Is it Livan? I wouldn't bet on that. JD Martin? I'm not buying that for a dollar. Detwiler? Not getting my money. Go through the entire rest of the staff and the answer is the same. You'd bet on Davis having the better year everytime. By searching out through this mess for which pitcher will finally "get it" this year the Nats are wasting time and wins. Wasting these things for something they might never find mind you. These guys may be needed in 2012 and beyond when Marquis is gone and Lannan may bolt, but you could have searched for that guy using the 5th spot for the full season and the 4th spot for half this year, while racking up those decent outings from the 1-3 slot. That should have been plenty.
Of course that's my thinking. The Nats are probably still convinced Scott Olsen will be that last guy, and if he isn't than Livan can eat up those innings with average pitching. If that's the case Doug Davis would have been a waste, and the Nats see a bunch of stuff I don't.
Oh well, better is better right? Being all that you can be is overrated. Even the Army changed their slogan. The Nats are probably ready to follow suit : "An Army of One: Strasburg" or maybe "An Army of Strasburg"? "A Strasburg of Strasburg"?