Nationals Baseball: Don't trade Lannan!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Don't trade Lannan!

Don't do it! Don't! 

I'm not going to explain to you why Edwin Jackson, who the Nats are close to signing, is worse than John Lannan, because that would be hard to do objectively.  Lannan's success is based mostly on an ability to stop right-handed bats from slugging against him, even though they hit him just fine. It is an ability that no one has quite been able to pin down on WHY he can do it, so therefore most just ignore it and assume that it won't be repeated. Even though it has. For every healthy season he's been in the majors. I think that's fine for one season but for season after season after season I prefer to give in and find fault in my own analysis for being unable to match the world, not in the world for being unable to match my analysis.

Edwin Jackson is a fine pitcher, and in pretty much every other way, better than John Lannan. He gets hit harder against lefties now that Lannan has figured out how to pitch to them, but that's to be expected, since he is right handed.  He gets hit more often but not that much more often. He should be better than John and a more than fine #3 type pitcher. Why did the market seemingly dry up for him then? I'm not sure, but given the complete reluctance in giving him a multi-year deal, I would guess that the teams believe, despite 3 years to the contrary, that Jackson could suddenly lose control again and when he does, because he gives up so many hits, it will get ugly fast.  Do I know more than 30 teams closely scrutinizing each player?  I don't believe so, but then again I just said with Lannan we have to believe, first in foremost, in the results on the page, if they are repeated over and over again.  Jackson's been fine for 3 years and is not really in a decline phase of his career so there's no reason to believe he won't be at least a equal substitute for John.

But I don't believe that. And I'm not sure why.

Inevitable scenario - Lannan and a couple prospects are traded to the Mets for Angel Pagan Andres Torres. On Sept 14th, with the Nats 2 games out of the WC and needing a win Lannan pitches a 6 hit, 5 walk, no K, 2 run game to beat the Nats and put them out of reach of some other surging team.


David said...

Angel Pagan plays for the Giants. Andres Torres is now on the Mets. That said if trading Lannan equals not seeing Werth in CF I can deal with that.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Detwiler the better trade piece? Lannan still has one more option left. Which means we can start Lannan in AAA and move him up when Wang goes down. Detwiler should be a more attractive SP for other teams. Younger/Cheaper and promise. I'd honestly move him over Lannan..Also this signing doesn't really make much sense in having only one Lefty in the rotation.

Who needs a starting pitcher? Can Boesch play centerfield?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, isn't Pagan in SF now?
Besides we need to make the trade as the rotation is getting crowded and Lannan has value as a lefty.
I'm pretty sure he and a few other pieces would bring in a much needed CF or leadoff hitter.


Anonymous said...

Oh, get over your man-crush!

Anonymous said...

At least Jackson has been able to play at a major league level for most of his career. Don't forget that we are still less than 2 years removed from the disaster of a 2010 season that Lannan had.

Lannan may also be disgruntled from the arbitration process, which can cause issues in the locker room if he goes into spring training with a chip on his shoulder.

Harper said...

David - thanks. Baseball reference needs to list current team somewhere for the lazy/forgetful.

Anon #1 - Yes he is, but that's the same reason you want to keep him. As much as they like Purke, Solis, Meyer - Detwiler's the only one with upper level minor league success so far. Everyone can use a starting pitcher, it's more who can give up a decent CF.

Anon #2 - Yes! I'm stupid! I admit it! and fine make a trade - think of the CF you can get back for Strasburg!

Anon #3 - There's only room in my heart for Rick Short. You should know that.

Anon - outside of 2010 (which clearly looks like it was injury related) Lannan has remarkably held his own. Or did you forget my fun with numbers post where he sneaks into a group of best young pitchers in the majors?

You can argue Edwin is better (pretty easily, too) but you can't argue that Lannan is bad.

(and I doubt he's disgruntled, but that's for the actual paid reporters to find out)

blovy8 said...

A lot of people DO argue that Lannan is bad because of xFIP and other metrics. By results, I agree that you can't argue he's worse than Jackson, they both have a hard time keeping guys off the bases, and while Lannan keeps the ball in the park, Jackson gets a few more K's. Everyone likes starters who throw 95, and relievers who throw 100 and will give them at least three more chances than they probably deserve. At least the Nats didn't sign Zumaya.

blovy8 said...

I think the Indians could use a pitcher with his birth certificate in order, and if they've got enough outfielders to caddy for Sizemore, we could get someone useful back.

cass said...

The Nats aren't gonna trade Lannan. They're gonna go with the first ever 7-man rotation. Each pitcher will get a different day of the week much the same way that relivers get specific innings. As an added bonus, Strasburg should be able to pitch into the postseason this way.

Sunday: Jackson
Monday: Wang
Tuesday: Detwiler
Wednesday: Lannan
Thursday: Strasburg
Friday: Gonzalez
Saturday: Zimmermann

Anonymous said...

cass - I like it! and it could potentially lead to another first: a reliever's arm literally falling off on the field. Think of the money they could demand from MASN after that piece of TV history.

I'm putting my money on Lidge BTW for the second coming of Jim Abbott

Anonymous said...

Some more fuel to the fire.

DezoPenguin said...

Well, this is doing something for the sake of doing something, unless Lannan somehow brings back something exceptionally valuable in return.

...Here's a question, though: is this a signal that management believes Harper won't be major-league ready this year? Next year will have Morse move to 1B with Harper and Werth in the corners and a need for a new CF, but if Harper plays this year and LaRoche is healthy there's suddenly a logjam of adequate players, and I don't see a Lannan trade bringing back anybody that's superior to "adequate." Y'know, unless somebody knows how to mind-control Colorado into giving us Tulowitzki for Lannan and Desi or something. ^_-

Sec314 said...

OK, keep Lannan then!

But can we trade Desmond?

Anonymous said...

cass, given the injury history of Stras, Zim, and Wang that's actually kind of intriguing. Just nitpicking, bu it makes sense to put Detwiler and Wang on Monday and Thursday so if any starts are skipped it's theirs, and to put Strasburg and Gonzalez (or Zimmermann) on the weekend to attract fans (I know, not very relevant to baseball, but there's no reason not to do it, and important divisional series are often the weekend series' anyway).

Wonder if they've thought about a 6 man rotation? It's not like that's unheard of, they have at least 6 guys more than capable of starting in the majors, and it would really help Stras and Wang keep innings down/not get hurt again.

Anonymous said...

I think the signing was a good one, but I would be careful trading Lannan because next year you wouldn't have either Lannan or Jackson.

sjm308 said...

I am new to this site and did not read down the comments but I don't trade any of the 7 starters. I keep them all. Lannan can start the year in AAA, I am not concerned with his salary. We had Maya starting games for us last year so there is no way the original 5 will start every game. SS will be shut down for the last month and by then we can figure out whether its Ross or John. Wang has not pitched a full season for years. It just makes sense to keep them all. I realize we need a CF but not at the expense right now of one of our starters.

Blind Squirrel said...

I like Lannan too. He has been one of the few guys in the last 3 years I felt had a chance to get a win when he took the mound but his numbers don't project well. His whip and K:BB ratio don't hold up over time. Plus the Phils and Fish own him. He is 4-17 in his career against them with an era over 5. In a league that is based on an unbalanced schedule Lannan doesn't help the Nats get where they want to go. They don't need to trade him now but he is not an answer in the long run.

Anonymous said...

I came to the opposite conclusion. I just can't see how the Nats can keep Lannan on the roster. They'd have to give up a position player to do it--and that leaves them with a very short bench. Detwiler's out of options; Lannan has one left. I'm betting the fans in Syracuse get treated to some John Lannan starts before both Lannan and Detwiler (along with Bernadina, Lombardozzi, and a player to be named later) are traded for a center fielder.

DezoPenguin said...

One thing I dislike about the Jackson signing is that it's only one year. So if he pitches badly, it's $4-8M more than Lannan's $5.0M salary for the same perfomance, and if he pitches well, he leaves and gets more money from some other team. That's not good considering that the Nats are a borderline WC team at best as presently constituted (Morse, Ramos, Espi repeat, Zimm, Werth, and LaRoche produce at career averages and we're in good shape to challenge, but failing that probably not so much). Thankfully, the three guys at the top end of the rotation are firmly under team control, suiting longer-term plans.

Harper said...

blovy8 - ok tue, but I just ignore those people. At some point you can no longer ignore what was in favor of what should have been. I think how the fans recieve Edwin will all be about his first few starts. (and I dont' see who the Indians will give the Nats)

cass - Love it. Well you have 20+ pitchers on the active roster - why not start one a month?

Anon #1 - If I don't have to pick a reliever I'd go with Wang. I'm scared by anyone that needs to rehab through the Twilight saga movies coming out.

Dezo - I don't think it really says anything about what they think about Bryce the player. I do think they've always wanted to start him in the minors though and a decent CF would help that happen.

Sec 314 - The Nats can do that. How many bags of balls do you want in return?

Anon #2 - how far do you go down this road though? I mean you could have an 8 man rotation and that would really cut down on innings pitched. At some point you need to maximize the use of the good. I'm still waiting for the team with 4 good late 20s pitchers that has the balls to go back to a 4-man.

Anon #3 - I think they are ok with that. Lots of FA pitchers should be available and they love Purke, Myere and Solis who should all start in AA this year. One might break out.

sjm308 - Rizzo has stated they won't use his option. That would be kind of a dick move. They already had Ross and Gorzelanny in place to help eat up the lost Strasbug innings. No, someone is going.

BS - his numbers never projected well and yet here he is. Given age you gotta think Lannan's got 3-4 decent years left in that arm, at least, but with all those prospects he's really taking up space and maybe more importantly - he's not a Rizzo guy.

ouij - Lannan has consistently beaten his FIP outside of his injury year by half a run. While it's a fine projection method it doesn't seem to work well for Lannan. I agree I don't see how they keep him, but I don't think you'll be seeing Lannan in Syracuse, be it for salary, showcasing, or just to show other young vets the Nats won't jerk them around just because they can.

DezoPenguin - Make it a multi-year deal and you really clog up the rotation though. What if Purke or Meyer look GREAT in AA/AAA this year. What if the Nats do decide they want to go into the FA SP market because they can't find a good bat (and Rizzo likes his pitching and D)? They'd have no flexibility to do both. Let alone if two young guys look good. Plus I assume if he does well and the Nats don't feel anyone is close, they'd feel they'd have the inside track on signing him to a 2-3 year deal.

blovy8 said...

Cleveland has Esquiel Carrera who's going to be their fourth or fifth OF behind Brantley, Sizemore, Choo, Cunningham, and now LaPorta probably gets time out there with Kotchman signed. Don't know much about him, but he probably would be able to handle center, has good speed and decent onbase skills in the minors. I would imagine the Indians will wait to see what their needs are, but if aka Carmona is screwed, they'll want a better fifth starter after Masterson/Jimenez/Lowe/Tomlin. Hell, Lannan or Detwiler are better than Lowe or Tomlin right now and the only lefty starter as a possibility for them is David Huff.

Steven said...

You're choosing to ignore 2010 because....

Harper said...

blovy8- I don't know. Sizemore is a big Q and injury risk, and Cunningham isn't anything to rely on. Not sure either they have a true CF either. I guess you'd take it if you were the Nats though

Steven - Now you're just goading me, aren't you? Injury, of course. I don't give the entire season up to that, but his two worst, and 3 of his worst 5, starts were right before he went out. Take those three out and you get a 4.08 ERA season with K and BB numbers in Lannan range.

You've got 125 starts and 700+ innings telling you the same story: the general predictive statistics do not work well for John Lannan. I don't know why this is such an issue. It's not as if one outlier invalidates the predictive worth of these statistics. Nothing will work for everyone.

Donald said...

Would you be willing to trade Lannan for Bourjos?

Harper said...

Yes - Controlled until 2017, decent bat and great fieldeing. You'd have to make that deal. Hell, you'd think long about a ZNN for Borjous deal.

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