Nationals Baseball: What to do about : Edwin Jackson

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What to do about : Edwin Jackson

The Adam LaRoche / Mike Morse situation is the most pressing thing facing the Nats this offseason. The second most pressing? Edwin Jackson's future. That's a good thing, when your second most pressing issue is clearing up your 4th/5th place starter position. The Nats are a pretty settled ball-club that just won 98 games. But you only get to 98 if you have that rotation settled on so let's get to it.

First let's traipse through E Jax's  fancy stats and compare them to the rough 2-year average I calculated earlier in the year. First the "lucky" ones

BABIP :  .278 (.320) 
HR/FB :  11.7% (9.4%)
LOB% :  71.2% (72%) 

It really does look like Edwin had things more go for him than against him that year.  That is a big drop in BABIP from his previous two years.  Given that everything else here and below are pretty stable, it's probably not because he suddenly became a better pitcher.  Now it could have something to do with the Nats team. The BABIP for the team was at .282. There may be a little luck there but it's mostly great defense.  That doesn't mean that the .320 he had in the past was just a team issue and he'd put up another .278 if he came back with the Nats. Edwin averaged around .025 pts higher than the team BABIP over 2010-2011. More than likely he'd be looking at a .305 or so, maybe a little less given you have to take into account how he did this year.  Let's say about 12 or so more non HR hits in the year.  That's more baserunners, more runs given up, etc. etc.   The other numbers are stable. You might expect a couple fewer homers or so. Overall I'd expect next year to feature very slightly worse pitching from Edwin* given all else being equal.

*I'd expect a very slight increase in xFIP which would mean an ERA expectation of about 3.80 / 3.85 or so, but that would be a better ERA.  That's the way it breaks sometimes. 

GB :  47.3% (46%)
K/9 :  7.97 (7.4)
BB/9 :  2.75 (3)

Everything here trended right.  He gave up more GBs, struck out more guys, and walked fewer. At the same time nothing was that different than it was before.  A little bit of growth maybe but given his age and the small changes I doubt we're going to see continued improvement in these, at best you can hope for is stability.

So what does that all mean. Pretty much Edwin Jackson IS the pitcher he was in 2010 and 2011 which is a guy with an ERA likely to be just under 4.00.  There really isn't anything down deep in here, unless you want to bite on the idea that the end of the season and his playoff performance were indicative of something (I don't other than Nats fans would not like to see him out there next year).  Now, having a guy like that as your 4th or 5th starters... that's pretty good.  Looking at his ERA and his xFIP and the above... I'd put him in the 30-40 range of NL starters. On a bad team he'd be your #2, on your average team, he'd be a 3rd starter, on a good team he's 4th. For the Nats he could be 5th.

Is that worth 11 million a year? Yeah it roughly is given the innings Edwin throws out there. That's what the market says. (The Nats are getting HUGE bargains on Strasburg, Gio and ZNN in case you don't know) Is it worth 11 million to the Nats in 2013?  Probably so.  Is it worth it to the Nats as part of a multi-year deal though, that's the real question.  For one more year I could see it but as I've said before I don't think Rizzo's MO includes signing older pitchers to long term deals. I think on the open market Edwin will be offered a deal in the 4 years 50 million range? If he can't get that 4th year it'll still be close to 3 years 40 mill. I don't see the Nats offering that and I wouldn't either. Expect a 1yr 13 mill, or 2 year 20 mill deal floated out there for Edwin to reject.

The Nats like Detwiler meaning that unlike last year when they had only 3 spots sewn up before signing EJax, this year they believe they have 4 AND they don't need the innings as much with Strasburg out of his shutdown year.  I think they'll try to trade for a decent 5th starter type young arm but I could also see them doing something similar to last year, wait and see what value lies at the end of the FA year for a short-term deal, or possibly sign a older guy they like right away to a one year deal. Worst case is that fails and you roll with Lannan and use that spot to test out some young arms you like later in the year.

(I'll check the EJax Q's from last week tonight and make sure I addressed all the points - you'll see anything missed tomorrow) 


Pescado said...

Any chance the Nats pull off another Gio-type trade for a young arm? What about his old teammate Brett Anderson? He's about to get pricey for the A's.

Chas R said...

Interesting Harper... EJax seems more valuable than I would give credit for... two questions- anyone in the famr system ready to come up (aside from Lannan)- what about that Duke fellow?

Last, what do you think about the Nats going afer a big time FA pitcher like Greinke or Lohse?

Harper said...

Gio-type will be hard, the Nats farm isn't that deep and it would essentialy bottom it out to do something like that again at least on the pitching side (then again if you have 5 controlled starters - do you care?) Or more likely it would take giving up a starting position player type.

Harper said...

Duke is a long-time major leaguer. 29. He could fill-in but he's too hittable to stay long. Then there's Yuneisky Maya near 30, probably not all that good. Lannan, Duke, and Maya are all there for depth. Lannan, because of his minor edge in talent and major edge in age and contract is most likely to see time because they want him dealt.

Any true minor leaguers? Pay attention to Daniel Rosenbaum and Alex Meyer. Neither should come up at the start of the season but Rosenbaum could be an early season call-up if he's in AAA and doing well. (though he had a rough finish to the season) Meyer is more a September type. Really there isn't much.

I don't see them going after a FA pitcher. That's not to say they won't, but I wouldn't put money on it.

Froggy said...

Lohse or Grienke would be nice. But, I guess a LaRoche or Morse really doesn't figure into the Cards or Halos needs at present, right?

David said...

If the Angels go hard on Greinke they may let a Haren or Santana go. I could see the Nats getting involved for one of the two of them.

Zimmerman11 said...

I'm really happy the Nats did not overpay for Prince Fielder and I hope to be really happy when they don't overpay for Michael Bourn. A LOT Of teams are going to be in on this guy and we already have one albatross of a contract w/ Jayson Werth.

Harper did you try the Porkslap Farmhouse Ale while you were in NY?

Anonymous said...

I worry a bit about Jackson's playoff numbers (5.46 ERA). Maybe they don't matter so much with a 4 man rotation and him on looking on the outside, but for all the injuries the Nats had, the starting pitching held up very nicely. In the end though I think they will make a fairly strong effort. Teams have a tendency to stick with the devil they know (Rick Ankiel anyone), and in Jackson's case, he does pretty much what you expect out of him and for a 5 starter you can't complain too much.

DezoPenguin said...

I guess what bugged me about EJax at the start of the season, and I still have the same questions now is, was he worth that much more than John Lannan that he's worth paying him twice the money? He's got more of that nebulous "upside," and he definitely pitches deeper into games, and having him as a #4 or #5 starter isn't by any means bad.

I just hope that we don't give him a multi-year deal worth over $10M/season. If nothing else, Gio's extension was very club-friendly, and Jackson's not as good a pitcher as Gio (even before this season) and he's older, so it'd be foolish and possibly detrimental to clubhouse morale to pay him *more* money.

On the other hand, I'm not sure I trust Greinke to be the true ace that he's billed as. Yeah, he can be excellent, but... (On the other hand, Greinke as as #4 starter...) Still, I'd rather overpay for him than overpay for EJax.

And on the third hand...if the Nats *don't* stick with Jackson and decide to go Det #4, Lannan #5 for next year, I *do* hope they put the money to good use in the lineup, be it on Bourn or otherwise.

Evan said...

The biggest thing I liked about EJax, and would want to see from anyone they picked up as a possible replacement, is the old-school pitcher mentality that the game was his. By that I mean that on any occasion I could expect him to take the game into the 8th, even if he got hit around a bit. That innings eating arm is the biggest thing I might miss from losing him; there were a couple times where I felt like an EJax loss where he went into the 8th helped stop a skid by giving the pen a rest. I could be wrong on that, but that's what I remember.

blovy8 said...

I agree with most of what you said Harper, but Jackson is only 29. As inconsistent as the guy is, he really is young enough that he should get a multi-year deal unless something is really screwy. We can no longer blame Boras. The qualifying offer for the Nats is 13.3m and I guess they will make that. It's probably close to what his per year value is, and he wants 3 or 4 years, so it seems fairly safe that he won't accept it, but I was worried a few weeks ago thinking it might be a possibility since he'd cost a team like the Angels a pick and he'd be dealing with less clubs in a market with several good pitchers. But it seems like clubs who miss out on Greinke will need to give it up to get the quality pitchers they need in any case. I think you're right that this offseason the Nats will still hope for a bargain again like maybe Scott Baker who would fit as an injury-related decreased value talent similar to what happened with Wang. When he does pitch, he has stuff as good as Jackson, but you can get him for less, and as a fifth starter that would be a decent gamble. But they'd need to alter that strategy if they don't go to arbitration with Lannan, because as you say, there's really no other ready fifth starter in the system. They'll be bidding more aggressively or trying to set up a trade for certain targets during and after the meetings.

I think Anibel Sanchez might be a good target for depth, he'll retain trade value if one of the Meyer or one of the TJ rehab guys eventually pushes him out of the picture. Or as usually happens, injuries cut down the depth you think you have.

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