Nationals Baseball: JZ and the long deal

Friday, December 05, 2014

JZ and the long deal

What would I do for ZNN? Lester's 76/138 sounds fine to me. That's the going rate for a guy who will be 31 in January and was inexplicably terrible two years ago. If I could get Zimm for that, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

Svrluga went over 100 million dollar deals a month ago or so.  He's right a lot of them haven't worked out.  Let's review them in chrono order to see how they compare to ZNN

Kevin Brown 1999 - 7/105.   The guy was 34 in that first year.  ZNN could in theory sign a long term deal where he was 34 to start the final year. Brown had been awesome right before that but this was doomed from the start

Mike Hampton 2001 - 8/121. The one that ruined it for 5 years of pitchers. I don't evaluate Rockies pitchers. That places can mess you up.

Barry Zito 2007 - 7/126.  Zito just was good but had a fair amount of troubling signs and again, was good, not great. ZNNs been great.

Johan Santana 2008 - 6/137.5.  Finally someone not old, very good, and pitching someplace normal to compare. This one you can look at and what happened is Santana got hurt. Here's your cautionary tale if you want it. He was never bad though, even battling through injuries early in the contract.

CC Sabathia 2009 - 7/161.  People were worried about this deal from the get go because of Sabathia's body type.  Turns out he did pretty well staying in (well enough) shape. But injuries caught up with him nonetheless and they caused a big drop in velocity making the last couple years a struggle. First 4 were great though and a World Series title probably wouldn't have happened without him.

I'll note here that both these cautionary tales were worked much harder than ZNN.  In the past 3 years ZNN has thrown just over 600 innings. Both CC and Johan were over 680 (CC would have likely topped 700 if not for an injury costing him a few starts).  Both were also ridden hard in their new location. Personally I think ZNN is a type of pitcher that could take on a few more innings but the fact he's been as cared for up to this point is something I consider a big positive.

Cliff Lee 2011 - 5/120. Already 32 at the start of the contract it was a gamble. Made it three years before injuries got him.

Matt Cain 2012 - 6/127.5.  This might be the most interesting comparison. Consistently good for years Cain got his deal. Year 1 was fine but year two started with the perfect storm of luck/performance that ruined the overall stats for the year. The elbow went in 2014. All we needed was a great season mixed in there and you'd run the gamut of potential outcomes.

Could ZNN be great? Yes. Could he just be ok? Yes. Could he luck into an off season? Yes. Could he get hurt? Yes.

Every year who wins and who loses is determined, in no small part, by who is healthy and who is not. The older you get the more likely it is you get hurt. That's just the way it goes. You can avoid signing players, especially pitchers, long term in their 30s to try to minimize injury risk, but you are limiting your talent pool for players a great deal if you do so. Better to try to make smart gambles on these types of players than to make no gambles at all. ZNN, healthy, on the younger side for these deals, not overworked, showing no signs of slipping, would be about as smart a gamble as you can make.

Christmas Movie Reviews 

The Mistle-Tones
X(Mas)-Factor: X(mas)-Songs and X(mas)-Decor but where's the X(mas)-Spirit?
Kids acting: Mercifully brief.
Watchability: Nearly "un" to start slowly improving to barely  
"Hey it's"! : Reginald VelJohnson! Tori Spelling! One of Sister, Sister! They were right! I never knew how much I missed her!

Some actors, when given a ham role, are fantastic scene chewers. Tori Spelling shoves the cud of the script into her gaping maw and works it with her mouth wide open into a disgusting, slobbering mess. When trying to show anger she furrows and fumes in the same way an 8 year old would if you told them to show their "mad face"  Mercifully, if you can survive the first 30 minutes or so, her role becomes more limited and the rest of the movie is... well still pretty bad but not actively against you. 

Tia plays a girl named Holly, because of course. One plot is about work over whatever because working hard is a terrible character trait to have in Christmas movies. You want your family to have money? YOU MONSTER.They sing "updated" Christmas songs (re: slightly faster and bouncier) which starts with an update of 12 Days of Chirstmas which is a terrible song without updating. There's jokes that amount to "Look at that chubby Asian!  He's chubby! And Asian!".  There's bad logic like it's so important that she make the audition yet she's late and it's not like she overslept, she's simply in the shower and apparently loses track of time, I guess. The Christmas Belles don't need that kind of wild card!. They even use their best asset, RVJ, sparingly. Ugh, looking through that it's a Christmas miracle I made it through this movie.

I'll give it 3 lords a leaping for RVJ and high production values. 

Matchmaker Santa
X(Mas)-Factor: Its not called "Matchmaker Easter Bunny"
Kids acting: Nope! On a good run here! 
Watchability:  I watched it!  
"Hey it's"! : Carol Brady! Cliff from Cheers! Lacey Sherbet! 

Santa is a manipulative jerk. That's basically the take away from this movie as Santa, while taking a break from his usual gig performing for this small town (You thought he made toys at the North Pole? What are you, six?), uses his magic to force the Party of Five girl to break up with her work-first boyfriend and shack up with his assistant. Literally, he forces them to share a hotel room.  What kind of kinky freak are you, Santa?  He causes rashes, scares with wild animals, gets people lost. He has no moral compass of his own, how is he deciding who is naughty and who is nice? I suppose he is technically fulfilling a wish she made as a child to find a true love as strong as her parents did but why not just show boyfriend #1 a way to be more attentive?. I mean at one point in the movie he is willing to face a bear with a baseball bat to go get her. How is that not showing you something Santa? What more do you need? 

The movie gets minor credit for not making her old boyfriend a total jerk like it usually goes in these movies. They are shown rather to be better suited for others. However there is a definite sense Lacey and her new boyfriend are better people because she bakes and he works with wood. Again, I can not stress this enough, people who work hard at office jobs are the worst people in the world. And the worst part, the movie at one point states that Lacey's secret cookie ingredient is "vanilla bean extract". Seriously? Not sugar or flour? "I use butter in my cookies" Mouth open. You just blew my mind, Chabert. 

I give it  5 little round bellies that shake like bowls full of jelly


Jay said...

I like the way you've framed it here. Jordan Zimmermann is as low-risk a pitcher you're ever going to sign to a long-term deal. But the risk is still significant. If you aren't willing to take those risks, you're acting like Tampa Bay or Oakland. The Nats shouldn't be acting like those clubs.

At the same time, you don't want to fill your payroll with risky signs. Werth is likely to be a high-cost, low-return player in '16 and '17, maybe even next year. I would get more worried about Zimmermann in '18 and forward. So maybe it works out well with Werth. That would make me push for a 6-year deal with a higher AAV, if possible.

Harper said...

exactly - it's not that not signing ZNN is indefensible, it just begins to frame the Nats in a different light than what you'd expect from a team that will be a consistent year in and year out contender. It makes them more of a team cycling in cheap talent to get peaks and valleys. If that is the case, this initial time frame may have been misleading because it was a really high peak immediately (helped by two non-busts generationally ranked #1 draft picks)

Wally said...

I don't think anyone is talking 7/$138m for Lester. 6/$138m maybe, although writers are handicapping it to 6/$150m, or a 7th year.

Does that change it for you?

Anonymous said...

Harper is everything you do baseball or movie related?

Also do you trust the Lerners to commit to that deal with ZNN?

Anonymous said...

Just saw that the Yankees traded for up Gregorious. I'm looking forward to the hit to Jeter's legacy when the Yankees fans discover what actually good SS defense looks like.

(Yeah, he might be retired, but the "Jeter drinks wine coolers" bumper sticker is never coming off my car).

Chas R said...

What about all the Trade ZNN, Sign Mad Max rumors? Seems odd, why not just sign ZNN? What would be the advantage to signing Scherzer over ZNN?

Harper said...

Wally - sorry I meant 6/138 and I'm ok with that. (actually I like shorter deals in general) 6/150? Yes. I feel like the Nats have to resign ZNN or Stras. That's given. Right at this moment I see ZNN as the better gamble.

Anon #1 - I enjoy TV in general (I love baseball but I LOVE TV), cooking, raising my kid, long hikes in the woods, and candlelight dinners. Wait this is turning weird.

No, I think the Nats are at the max of where they want to spend. I also think it's not a deal Rizzo likes. See what he offered ZNN vs Desmond. Much fairer to Ian.

Anon #2 - Bruce Willis plugged Wine Coolers once. Bruce Willis was in Die Hard. I cannot disparage wine coolers.

Yankee fans won't care. They need offense badly so Didi's failings there will overshine whatever his D does.

ChazR - you can get something for ZNN and replace him, where as just signing him you just get him. But I don't see the benefit as I see ZNN as a much better bet than Max with decreasing FB speed and almost 2 years older.

blovy8 said...

25 million a year seems to be the rate for an ace, but as you say Zimm hasn't been let loose for the 220-230 inning year like say, Cueto, who is in a similar situation, so that's the wiggle room, there will be other guys like him out there next year. Lose a pick, gain a pick back, who knows? Then it's just similar money spent with a guy you don't know as well. Maybe he sees Price, Cueto, Samardzija, Latos, etc. muddy up what he can get, and how long he will have to wait to find out where he's going, and Rizzo gets him for the same deal, I don't know.

Scherzer's results have been better than Zimmermann, so there's that, so the argument would be if you have the money, get the better pitcher, trade Zimm for something while you can, and screw the downside years of the deal since it's kind of a risk regardless. Maybe Scherzer's more varied repertoire sets him up for his thirties a little better? I can't argue with the logic of preferring Zimmermann since he's our guy, younger, and "should" cost less, but what worries me long term about him is that while he's a mentally strong guy with awesome fastball command and velocity, his offspeed stuff is kind of weak. He has a good hard slider that never seems to move enough to get the bad swings that happen, but he seems to have lost his curveball or at least confidence in it, and never really had a change up. I get that the more breaking balls you have to throw, the more stress you put on you arm, but those days he doesn't have the good fastball are already battles. Maybe he doesn't need anything else yet, but when he's only throwing 91 in four years there are going to be some ugly outings unless he works up something else. I guess that's picking nits, because you can say that about most pitchers, but the Mussina comp doesn't work for me because when he lost velocity he had the great knuckle curve and improvised off of that.

Turn off the Hallmark channel, Harper, it's like tinsel porn.

Harper said...

blovy8 - you started down a path which leads me to a slightly different path. I don't think it's "trade Zimm, sign Max" it's probably more "trade Zimm, sign whatever decent pitcher isn't getting the deal he wants for 1 year like we did for Jackson/Haren" the quality on the market the next couple years is high enough that you might be able to do that and get even better returns. Maybe Shields doesn't like what he's seeing - 1 yr 15 mill...

Shows what you know. Mistle-Tones is totally ABC Family.

JE34 said...

So people DO watch those movies! Well at least one person. Probably just the one.

We seem collectively terrified that ZNN is going to leave. We have heard that he wants to be in the Midwest. Is this wishful thinking by Cubs/Brewers fans or is this a legit factor? He will likely go to the biggest pile of money anyway but if someone wants to be here, that helps.

Dr Trea (formerly #werthquake) said...

I think the best course of action is , if you get a good return, trade JZimm and see if you can get a one year deal on a guy that doesn't like how the market is treating him as you mentioned (i.e. EJax, Haren in the past but hopefully better than them)

NotBobby said...

I see J Weeks was cut. He would be interesting gamble for 2nd B. Would probably prefer him to Everth Cabrera.

Dr Trea (formerly #werthquake) said...

Notbobby- There is a reason they cut him. For a team with championship aspirations, I don't think that's a risk that can be taken

NotBobby said...

Not saying he should be plan A. But a minor league contract would be interesting

Froggy said...

If you are going to take a rehabilitation project, I would think the potential return could be greater with Uggla. It would be worth it just to have him in a Nats uniform for Braves home games.

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