For logical people, sports can sometimes be infuriating to watch. That's because good decisions and bad decisions do not necessarily produce good and bad results respectively, and sports is all about results.
If with two outs in the 9th the Nats could pinch hit a sitting Ryan Zimmerman or Livan Hernandez the right decision would be to pinch hit Zimmerman. But let's say Riggles has a feeling and he pinch hits Livan, who just the day before injured his knee, and he has to bat left handed today because of a religious holiday, and he's suffering from a Dippin-Dots induced ice cream headache. It's a terrible decision to bat Livan. Now let's say Livan gets a base hit and the Nats win. You'd find a lot of people you would argue that Riggleman made the right decision. In no way did he do that, but the results shaped the decision for these fans. The thought process behind the decision doesn't matter, neither does the odds of success created by it, only the actual outcome. Decisions are not divorced from results, as they probably should be, but inexorably tied to them.
This is certainly true in the course of an individual game, but it can even be the case over several seasons. Which brings me roundaboutly to the point of this - Jason Marquis. The Nationals needed a pitcher to stabalize the rotation. After John Lackey the pickings were rather slim. Two pitchers stood out as relatively young, relatively healthy and available. Jon Garland and Jason Marquis. Over the past 3 years their numbers were scarily similar:
Garland : age 29, 97 GS, 4.37 ERA, 104 ERA+, 1.409 WHIP, 61 HR,
Marquis : age 30, 94 GS, 4.37 ERA, 105 ERA+, 1.403, 52 HR
There was some talk that the Nats actually preferred Garland but he preferred the West Coast, so the Nats turned to Marquis and signed him to a deal. 2 years, fifteen million. It made sense. Recently Randy Wolf, maybe slightly better, certainly older, signed a 3 year 30 million dollar deal. Injury risks Carl Pavano and Brad Penny signed one year 7 million and 7.5 million dollar deals respectively. The supply was diminishing so the Nats jumped on the chance to sign someone reliable at what seemed like a market value deal. The Joel Piniero signing would only confirm that (2 years - 16 million). It was a good deal at the time. But then the market didn't go up for the remaining pitchers. It crashed. Doug Davis and Jon Garland were both forced to go cheaper than people thought they would (perhaps they forced their own hands a litte). Garland 5.3 million (well really 4.7 for 2010 but he has to make at least 5.3 total) with a mutual option for 2011. Davis 4.25 with a mutual option for 2011. The Nats didn't necessarily overpay but if they waited - they might have been able to work out a more favorable deal.
Still the Nats had their man and they had their 200 IP of average baseball that would save thier bullpen. But it didn't come from Marquis. Marquis was damaged goods and immediately pitched horribly. After three starts it was the DL for him. He had surgery, came back, and... has pitched only slightly less horribly. 5 horrible games so far for around 6 million. No the good pitching came from a guy who's line the last three years was this:
95 GS, 5.43 ERA, 81 ERA+, 1.607 WHIP, 78 HR
A guy signed at last second to help fill a hole when Ross Detwiler went down to injury. A 34 year old who was begging for work just a few months earlier, who agreed to a minor league deal. Of course you know it was Livan the Nats signed, who at 35 just might be having his best season EVER.
Some fans will now look at the Marquis signing and say that it was a bad decision. They'll look at the horrible results for Jason Marquis and how cheaply they got good results from Livan and say "SEE! BAD DECISION" But it wasn't a bad decision. At it's worst it was a completely defensible blah decision. A inning eater average pitcher for market value for 2 years. That's fine. Some may say it was a good decision and I wouldn't argue with them.
It's a shame that Marquis deal has been a total bust so far, but don't let that cloud the facts that the decision was based on at the time. Sometimes good decisions produce bad results.