Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie : Starting Pitching Comments

Monday, November 04, 2013

Monday Quickie : Starting Pitching Comments

Let's get into it starting with one managing comment. (Side note : I have to admit I liked what I heard from Matt Williams. At least he's singing it. Now will he bring it? Again we're talking a month or so into the season before we can really know what type of manager he is for 2014)

Do you really think managers make little difference?

Yep. Even if I didn't, I think the effects of managing can be hard to pin down.  So better to say - since you can't show that you can rely on it, you can't expect managerial changes to make big differences. (obviously some terrible situation are exceptions). You just hope it seemingly works out.

Why did you say ZNN went back? He pitched better! 

My fault completely I guess I stopped paying attention to ZNN at the end of the year. I can admit my mistakes. He did pitch arguably better, though I'd argue more "he pitched within error to how he pitched the year before". Either way he certainly did not pitch worse.

One thing to note though is that my statement was predicated on the ERA bump. Of course ERA is a little wonky as a predictor, but his ERA last year was more in line with how he pitched than his luckier 2012. In other words, we're not likely to get a "runs given up" result much better than 2013. He pitched better AND the results matched up better. So 2013 is ZNN, 2012 is ZNN with some luck. (forget Wins and losses for this)

What about Haren? He came around.

No, and it's all about appearances really. Rizzo wouldn't actually be making the same mistake twice if it didn't work out again. In 2013 he made the mistake of paying 13 mill for a injured star hoping for one last great year. The 2014 mistake, if it happened, would be paying say 8 mill for a dependable veteran pitcher whose newspaper stats and bad start covered up a decent year. But still it would totally FEEL like he made the same mistake twice because the pitcher in question didn't change, just the situation around him. Gamble on a losing horse  once and your loss can be forgiven. Gamble on it again and people start really questioning your decision making. (If Haren was the only option maybe you do it, but he isnt so why bother?)

What about trading Strasburg? 

Yikes. Well ok, if you aren't going to sign him then I can see your point. Pitchers are fragile and his value could go down so deal him now when teams think they might be getting something really special instead of say a borderline #1. Ok, well do you think you are really going to get fair value for him? You'd have to get back value that would help now (no prospects) or you'd be hurting this team for a while.Yet you aren't going to trade Strasburg to a team that's a few years away because of his upcoming FA status. So you have to find a team in the hunt willing to deal key players away? Tough gig. Just for funsies here's my opinion on if the other guys would do it.

Trout, straight up - NO! AND DON'T COME BACK!!
Price and Myers - No. Only giving up a year of FA. (Price is a FA after 2 years, Stras 3). One year isn't worth Myers' future value for a team that has had offensive issues
Greinke and Kemp - Hmmm. If only to get that Kemp deal off the books (but then the Nats have it.). Do this deal, sign Tanaka. That's a hell of a staff to cover for a potentially anemic offense.
McCutchen and Liriano - Doubtful. The combination is right (the off player being one they probably don't need for the future) but Cutch is the face of the team, a Top 3 all around player, and on a reasonable deal. 
Votto and Chapman - In a heartbeat if they were smart. Votto's deal is loco and Chapman has been marginalized. They don't really need SP so they could then flip a SP to get a decent Votto replacement (or resign Choo move him to first and sign/get a decent CF), but teams are rarely this imaginative.
Goldschmidt and Miley - No. Goldschmidt is under a nice deal for longer than Stras. It'd be a tough call on a deal Goldy for Stras straight up. Ask for a decent young cheap SP as well and it's an easy no.

Side note : research shows Braves didn't balk on trade of Andres Thomas to Pirates for Barry Bonds. If it really took place seems like Pirates balked, as they should. They maybe wanted Blauser but Braves didn't want to deal him. But we're getting to 2nd level conjecture here.

What about Freddy Garcia on a minor league deal? 

Anyone on a minor league deal is a good sign (barring something like Simontacchi attempting a comeback) It's a super low risk move.


Too much money. He was better but only good and there's going to be a "remember when he was even better? Maybe he can do that again." cost to his contract.

If you can get 5 good starters why go with a 4 man? 

Well you wouldn't. Like you said - if the average of the 4 man is much better than that 5th it's worthwhile. Remember it's 7-8 starts you are keeping from Stras, Gio, & ZNN EACH. Even for the Nats, who have a glut of guys that look like decent 5ths, I'd say they get alot more from 21-24 more starts from this Top 3.

What about using more pitchers - let match-ups dictate the 5th guy? 

Like a pitcher platoon? I like it. Pitchers will probably balk at it - everyone loves routine. Plus if a guy does really well in a couple starts, even if it is match-up related, and his pitching platoon partner does not, you've created a distraction as everyone asks for pitcher A to pitch more. It could work. It might not be worth the issues that could come along with it. Love to see more of this thinking though.

What about Tanaka? 

Oh yeah I mentioned Masahiro Tanaka briefly in another answer but quickly - he's a 26 year old from Japan who is awesome in the Japan league (a little more normal in the admittedly brief WBC outings) that will likely sign somewhere. The cost will be astronomical for him as the bid (which is a huge part of the deal) isn't a salary cap issue and the contract signed after that is a relative bargain (Darvish is 10 mill a year, for example). Anyway expect that to make the Yankees and Dodgers etc. throw a ton of money, more than the Nats will.

Would I love to see the Nats do it? Absolutely. But again that's in a "no salary limit" world that the Nats should, but don't, live in.


Donald said...

I don't think I'd go to straight 4 man rotation, but how about pitching the top 3 every 5th day regardless of days off -- so they are on a routine and the 4th and 5th guys sometimes get skipped. I don't know why the manager feels the need to keep the order if a better pitcher is ready. They certainly don't do that in post-season so why do it during the regular season? I think if a pitcher gets skipped for several starts in a row it could throw them off, but getting an extra 4-5 days rest every so often might actually be a good thing for a rookie on an innings limit, or someone like Detwiler who doesn't have the best track record for staying healthy.

Chas R said...

Agreed Harper. Trading Stras, or Clip for that matter, makes no sense for a team that is looking to win now. The Nats are not in a rebuilding mode and need their best players to be good today.

JonQuest said...

We improve if someone breaks out (Harper, Ramos, or a pitching prospect) or we spend an enormous amount to upgrade a good player to get a great one. The bet on Harper and Ramos is a good one if you don't factor in the injury prone thing. Betting on breakout is a bit pollyanna though.

We could make a trade and get lucky. For that to happen we need an unlikely combination - not too valuable to prevent a trade, good enough that he supplants a current starter, has upside, and actually overperforms. Even more pollyanna.

If we think 2013 is who we are then we need to overspend either by taking an ugly contract off someone's hands or by offering a FA something they can't refuse.

Perhaps I'm delusional, but I still don't think we've seen the best of Detweiler. He may be a bit injury prone, but that doesn't mean he can't get through a full season. His stats may occasionally be bloated due to some luck, but even factoring out the luck he's not bad. I fully expect him to lock down one of the 4/5 slots this year. I expect us to trade/buy the other 4/5 and then use the existing prospects (Roark, Jordan, Karns) in case of injury.

Pitching is not our problem. With our presumed #4 completely blowing up and our presumed #5 being out 2/3 of the season we still ended up pretty good. Better luck on either and we're a damn good staff. Better luck on both and we're back 2012 elite. Fix the "we don't need a loogy" problem and the bullpen is fine.

Anonymous said...

I would go with a modified 4 man rotation where you throw a 5th starter out there every over time through the rotation. If the 5th starter is doing well, pitch them every 5 days, otherwise you only have to deal with it ever 9 games.


Anonymous said...

Is Stras the next Verlander, or the next Peavy? Or perhaps someone who won't even reach the level that Peavy briefly attained? He still hasn't shown that he can keep his cool in big games (particularly against the Braves) and pitch through adversity.

As for thoughts of dealing him, the three years before FA are one of the big selling points in addition to the potential. I don't know that we should be looking to trade him, but we also shouldn't rule out listening to offers if they are on the general level of what's being discussed here. As noted, his value likely will decline after this coming season unless he truly steps up to the dominant level.

And everyone here and elsewhere on the Nats' blogosphere, please forget about Tanaka. Throwing $100M+ (including the posting fee) on a roll of the dice is not what this team needs to do right now. What kind of message would that send to ZNN and Desi? The Yanks need Tanaka more than the Dodgers do, but the Dodgers may have more money. Either way, he's probably going one of those places unless the Angels step in with another of their zany deals.

If the Nats sign any starter, I don't see it happening early. The early prices are going to be tilted by the Freak and Sanchez deals. The agent of every A-list starter thinks his guy deserves more, and the B-list agents think their men should get at least as much. And none of the supposed A-list FA pitchers are #1s for a top team anyway. Detwiler is better than most of them IF healthy.

Overall, the Nats probably need another big bopper more than they do another starter.

Ollie said...

While we're playing fun hypotheticals, do the Rays say yes to a Harper for Price + Myers deal?

Tyler R. said...

Harper - What do you think about picking up Chris Young to be the first guy off the bench. He has proven to be able to play all 3 OF spots, decent speed and solid power. He would provide a solid starter in the case of an injury or if Span struggles again this year. He could also cure the platoon problem with ALR by putting Werth at first against lefties and sticking Young in right. He kind of reminds me of a poor man's Desmond at the plate with his aggressiveness, power and speed.

blovy8 said...

Your catching wishes will go unfulfilled Harper, since Soto has re-signed with the Rangers for 3+ million. The TV money is getting doled out in funny ways I guess.

DezoPenguin said...

How about calling up the Tigers and offering them Proven Closer Soriano (or Former Proven Closer Storen, or both), Espinosa, and Moore or a mid-level reliever (not Clip or Stammen) for Fister (and maybe someone else if the Tigers want to balance the money) Then Detweiler, Jorden, and Roark can fight over the 5th spot.

Andre said...

Who would trade Strasburg and Harper for Greinke and Kemp? All injury prone players so far in their careers except maybe Greinke.

blovy8 said...

I suspect the Tigers would be more likely to trade Porcello, Dezo, but I bet they keep everyone for depth just as the Nats would, and merely open the wallet a little more for a guy like Rodney, Nathan, or Balfour short-term.

Winston Wood said...

Javier Lopez's option wasn't picked up by the Giants and is now a free agent. With two World Series rings he has just the kind of experience and poise the Nats need in a left handed reliver. They should grab him NOW.

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