Nationals Baseball: Merry Christmas

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

I like the deal.  I don't love it, because the Nats didn't steal Gio, nor does his acquisition guarantee the Nats any sort of playoff spot.  But I do like the deal.

In general I think you can view a trade in 3 ways, how much does the deal help the Nats right now, how much does the deal hurt the Nats later on, and what alternates to the trade could have been made.

On the first point - it helps the Nats, not a great deal, but enough to make a difference.  You've probably read a lot about Gio the past few days but to sum it up, he strikes out a ton (plus), doesn't give up a lot of home runs (plus), but walks a bunch (minus).  If he ever got control he could be special, if he ever loses control he could be terrible, but really he's got enough innings under his belt that he's likely shown everyone who he is, which is a good 2/3 type of arm.  That's a damn good bet to be better than Milone, Peacock, and Cole next year. (And as always I love the AL -> NL move.)

One the second point - that's always conjecture at this point but it's likely not to be a big deal in the immediate future.  Milone is not an impact player and Norris and Cole are still a few years off. Only if Peacock turns into a better pitcher than Gio right now will it matter and I'd bet on Gio everyday.  A few years down the road things might be different.  Norris and Cole could be impact players, Peacock being a few years younger could be bringing a decent level of production while Gio starts to tail off.  But it's foolish to worry too much about seasons 3,4, 5 years down the road.  So much can happen between then and now, so much can change, unless it's a slam dunk star you're losing (re: Bryce) you have to make these type of deals, especially when you can absorb it organizationally.

Now the third point - that's a sticker.   Forget about Edwin Jackson, he might be a better value than Gio but he's NOT a better pitcher and the Nats need wins, not praise for good deals. But Roy Oswalt, he might have had a similar or even stronger impact on the rotation over the course of the next 2 years for only the cost of money, rather than prospects. Also, if the Nats were willing to part with these prospects could one or two more gotten back a real prize?  The latter is hardly worrying over.  You're looking for problems if you are looking there. But the Oswalt thing... that's something to chew over.  Certainly you'd rather have Gio than Roy from 2012-2015, but 2012-2013?   And are we looking much past that? If they do make moves like signing Fielder, extending Zimmerman, getting another player under control until 2015/6 then signing Gio makes more sense.  If this is it, than you could easily argue that getting Oswalt would have been a smarter move.  It would take a whole another offseason of nothing to prove you right but you could argue the point.

In the end - again, I like it.  I am all for trading prospects for quality major leaguers because the prospect success rate is much lower than we like to believe.  You put enough guys in there the more questionable it becomes, but even with these four I still like it.


Anonymous said...

The only CRITICAL thing left to do is extend Ryan. Before much training camp goes by, not the end of camp, not July, not "we'll settle that when the season's over" but NOW. Fielder's a great bat if you're in the '12-'13 race; I'm hoping they pass on him, draft more pitching and are in the '13-'25 race instead. I believe we are going to be very happy with Gio and Wang has been totally overlooked in all the discussion.

Anonymous said...

Rizzo wanted a lefty. Oswalt would unbalance the rotation, giving them 4 righties.

Steven said...
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Steven said...

If low home run rates are function of low FB rates, that's predictive. If they're a function of low HR/FB rates, that's not. He's the latter, and he's moving from a pitcher's park in the AL West to a neutral park. So that middle one is a good explanation for his past success, but not a good reason to expect it to continue.

Harper said...

Anon #1 - The problem with looking past Fielder is the lack of an impact bat in FA coming up. I don't love hte guy either but another solution to get that last bat will have to be a hell of a lot more creative.

Anon #2 - If that's what Rizzo worries about he's a fool. (well at least I think so). Get the best batters/pitchers you can.

Steven - I don't know. I mean, I agree with what you're saying but Gio skirts the edges of a lot of what you're talking about. He's not the best GB% pitcher but he's pretty good. He's got a low HR/FB rate but it's not crazy or anything. He's giving up less HR than expected but not that much less. His HR rate goes up when away from A's park, but not that much.

All in all I'd expect a few more homers but I still think he'll be below average. (and really if the Nats want to worry about someone's crazy HR/FB rates it's ZNN. He could easily give up 10-15 more next year)

Lee said...

What about opening the checkbook for Cespedes *and* Soler instead of Fielder? I'd love to have Prince for at least 3-4 years too, but the biggest gaping hole right now is CF. Let Cespedes man it now and keep the spot warm for Soler.

DezoPenguin said...

Reading the comments over the last few days, I get the feeling that posters are terrified that we just traded Milone, Strasburgx2 + Joe Mauer for the second coming of Barry Zito. @_@ Prospects with notable flaws and no track record are being treated as guaranteed perfection, while a young major leaguer with two years of excellent performance, good peripherals, and flaws that aren't particularly overwhelming is having those flaws treated as if they were going to explode into disaster. Sure, not every trade is going to work out in the long run, but I don't see this as a bad deal.

If there is a down side to this trade, it's not to what we got, but the opportunity cost (i.e. that the Nats now don't have those same prospects to use in a package for a CF, leadoff hitter, middle infielder, and/or impact bat)--but some of those needs can be addressed via free agency, and there's no guarantee that such a trade actually does exist (I don't see, for example, the Red Sox giving us Jacoby Ellsbury any time soon, which would be my personal pipe dream for the Nationals).

Incidentally, if Davey is serious about moving Werth to CF, how about Seth Smith of the Rockies as a possible candidate for RF? He's probably available in trade talks since he's now superflous in Colorado, and his road/home splits don't raise any red flags about the park effect. He'd likely need a platoon partner since his lefty/righty splits are serious, but on the other hand, he'd come relatively cheap and provide much better production than what the Nationals were running out in CF last year (hell, even if he *didn't* platoon he'd provide better production than that mess, but I digress).

Wally said...

After digesting it, I have come around to thinking this is a better move than signing Oswalt (although to my way of thinking, spinning off your newly-married idol JL and signing Oswalt is even better). I think teams should think in terms of multi-year windows, and while 2012 may be a little premature, it isn't crazy to think they can contend. So the 4 years of control is more attractive to me than 2 years of Oswalt and hoping a prospect or two gets there after that. Plus, you have to react to what is available, not just assume the best guys will be there when you want.

On the RZim extension, sure do it if it's there this offseason, but to me, the real financial opportunity lies in extensions for others. Zim has made a lot of money already, and is likely to require a Tulo-Braun kind of deal. I am not against it, but I don't particularly see why it has to be now, and I don't think they save much money on what it will be next year. But there are others who are good, and haven't made a lot yet, that the team should be able to offer financial security through the end of arbitration (likely at a discount), and get a few team option years at market. Tampa is the master at these deals. I think those are very valuable contracts for the team. JZimm, Morse, Gio, Espy and Ramos fall into this category. I would go after them in that order. 4/$20m for JZ with a $10m and $15m option? 2/$12m for Morse, with a $12m and $15m option for his first two FA years? I see the real financial value there this offseason.

Anonymous said...


"Reading the comments over the last few days, I get the feeling that posters are terrified that we just traded Milone, Strasburgx2 + Joe Mauer for the second coming of Barry Zito. @_@ Prospects with notable flaws and no track record are being treated as guaranteed perfection, while a young major leaguer with two years of excellent performance, good peripherals, and flaws that aren't particularly overwhelming is having those flaws treated as if they were going to explode into disaster."

Couldn't have said it better.

Don't know whether it's the wait-till-next-year hope and pray every sports fan needs to have to enjoy sports. Or what. But the unrestrained optimism fans place in unproven prospects is to laugh.

Remember when Tom Brady was the runaway Heisman winner, and the Patriots actually SOLD THEIR OWNER to get the draft rights after threatening war with Israel wasn't enough?

Me neither. Brady was a nobody. Once. (I think I was actually talking about Heath Shuler and the Redskins. We certainly launched his Congressional career, anyway.)

Hurts to lose Peacock and Milone. I winced, and seem to remember actually vocalizing in a somewhat wistful manner. But the Nats need to be a contender to really improve their long-term prospects; they need to be a place people want to come to play because they win. Gio gets them there quicker. Period.

If he pans out, which is never a guarantee with anyone. But his big-league cred is best of the above bunch.

Dr Trea (formerly #werthquake) said...

A lot of the haters of this deal, especially from the outside/national media are forgetting that Gio still has upside..his control can't get much worse( sorry for the jinx)so in that sense, he can only get better. His upside is improving control and [with his pure stuff] being a legit #1 elite pitcher. So its almost like acquiring a "prospect" but with already knowing what he can do and knowing he can get even better. Just something to keep in mind.

Ollie said...

I really am hope that Gonzalez turns into our second or third #1, as the above commenter implies. But in reality I think we got a potentially above average #3 starter for a package that included one guy (Peacock) who could fill that role this year; I think the better move would have been to hold onto those guys, or trade that package for a legit CF. This feels like they paid a lot for a more seasoned, slightly more erratic, lefthanded groundball version of Peacock.

I hold out hope that you're right, and his control does improve, but improved control usually comes in age progression as a minor leaguer and a young major leaguer, not someone who's entering their fifth season at 26 years old. Who knows though, maybe a different coaching staff helps him iron that out. I still think that A. they shouldn't have done this trade and B. they could've gotten better terms if they'd waited until midseason since Beane would have been under more pressure, and thus you would've had to give up less, because of the uncertainty around their stadium and Gonzalez' escalated contract.

To me this reeks of an ownership that doesn't want to open it's checkbook for 1-2 years of Roy Oswalt, was under pressure to do something after that Boswell column, and gave the order to go ahead on a trade where you're paying $1.25 : $1 to avoid paying much more money and give the illusion that they'll do "whatever it takes" to build a winning team. So unless they do something else to make sense of this trade, like signing Prince Fielder, then I don't see how they're not at the same place the Bullets were in the mid-90s where they did *just* enough to make fans think they could one day be good, only to leave things half done. But I look forward to eating my words.

Harper said...

Lee - Cespedes scares me. There's a lot of unknown to commit money to. If you are looking to win - you need sure things in my opinion.

Dezo / Anon - that's the thing about prospects. Since they can be anything we can't help but imagine they will be the best. while a major leaguer is what he is. The possible loss is huge and it weighs on us, even if the probable loss is tiny.

As for Smith? Not a great fielder. I'd be reluctant to see a Morse/Werth/Smith OF. Plus other guys want him, most likely more than the Nats.

Wally - I like the Gio move better too because it signals a longer possible time of contention, but it also means they kind of have to move in this direction. Now they need to follow through.

Clip & Store - he could get better, but 400+IP in the majors is a lot. It's likely he is who he is (which is still good)

Ollie - I've also thought the $$$ played a part in this. We'll see. Not signing Prince doesn't necessarily mean anything, but if next year 1B is filled with another stop gap (say 2 years of James Loney) then you have to buy into that line of thinking.