Monday, December 21, 2009

Don't take it from me

I fully endorse the opinion here:

General manager Mike Rizzo has seemingly made paying premium prices for veteran mediocrity a priority this offseason, which is an odd use of resources and playing time for a team that isn't anywhere close to contending. Ninety-five losses or bust!

Two years $15m. At least Marquis is a Type B and won't cost a draft pick.

So, Marquis is unmovable in '10. At least without picking up that 2nd year. And will he fetch a prospect at the deadline in '11? Only if he pitches with the same horseshoe up his ass for the next 18 months as he did last year (which is highly unlikely).

So, for $15m, we get two years of league average pitching. (Career ERA+ of 99!) with virtually no chance of creating any long term value. Don't cite his 4.04 Era in '09. FIP is closer to 4.70 squarely in the soggy center and far more likely to be his '10 result based on his tiny K/9 totals.

Will the '10 & '11 team be better? Yes. Marginally. Is that worth something? Sure it is.

But this deal will be an absolute loser IF it precludes other moves like signing international FAs like Chapman or going over slot up and down the '10 draft (not just for the #1 overall like in '09). The same can (and should) be said for the Pudge deal.

Don't think this $21m means jack squat. It's not my fault you wanted to waste this cash on mediocre veterans. It doesn't get you off the hook from spending money to make the team better long term.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Again, not where they should be

15 teams watched a workout by Aroldis Chapman in Houston today.

I know where the Nats President was and it wasn't Houston.

A good half the teams in MLB were there. Were the Nats? We don't know. And that probably means no.

Why oh why would they even sniff around a 21 year old lefty with high 90s stuff? A guy who's pitched well in international competition, much like another young fireballer we know.

Can't you even pretend like you did with Texeria?

I repeat, there is a potential top of the rotation starter available. He won't cost you a draft pick, he won't cost you any prospects. All it takes is for Ted Lerner to get out his checkbook and jot down some zeroes. I guarantee it won't matter what number you put on the check, it will clear.

Yes it is a risk. He may be 63 for all we know. He may have a multi-million dollar arm and a 50 cent head. Two words: So what.

####update: Rizzo was there! Two more words: F*&^$$^ & Yeah

You suck. You suck at a historical level. And it isn't like its going to be easy to get better fast.

You are in a division with one well run and well financed franchise (Philadelphia) one well financed but comically directed franchise (Mets), one well run and moderately financed (Atlanta) and one really well run but dirt poor (Florida). Notice that each of these competitors does at least one thing well. Right now, you are poorly run and cheap. That is a recipe for 5th place indefinitely.

Your payroll for 2010 won't be more than 60m. Can't be. It could be $90m easily. It could be $100m. The Washington DC metro area is the 7th largest media market in the county. Don't tell me the DC market can't generate enough revenue to match that megalopolis that is Milwaukee?

So where's the $30 to 40m going to be spent? What's your farm system ranking? Was it 26th? I'm pretty sure that means you need help. Could use an infusion of young talent. Just look what you can get with even moderately talents prospects (Cliff Lee for example)

I hate to put it this way because that will just lead you to giving Joel Pinero waaaayyyyyy too much money for too many years. Yes, you are listed as interested in him. Someone who has virtually no chance of earning his contract.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Passing scene

Not an inspired title I know.

It's as inspired as the National's winter so far.

Brian Bruney? An older and more injury prone Joel Hanrahan. Fantastic.

Pudge Rodriguez? Had to give him two years. Really, once Gregg Zaun was off the market, he was the best left. In terms of value to the Nationals, we now know the cost to get your team name engraved on a plaque in Cooperstown. Way down at the bottom but there none the less.

Here's two questions.

1) When the Rangers bid $7.5m/1 for Rich Hardin, why didn't the Nats pipe up immediately and say $8m? They are supposedly looking for starting pitching. Rich Hardin is potentially the best starter on the market. There is a chance he earns way more than $8m next season. No other starter left in free agency has a snowball's chance in hell of earning $8m next season.

And don't start with me about Jon Garland or Jason Marquis. Neither one could be a #1 starter and neither one would fetch a fat price in prospects at the trade deadline. Once again, the Nats fail to take a calculated risk looking for a big reward.

2) A top tier relief arm goes on the market. He's dealt for a guy who's been dealt twice in recent memory. Basically roster filler. So the prospect price is practically nil. This guy would immediately become your closer and be one of the better ones in the National League. So, why does Rafael Soriano go to the Rays and not the Nats? Maybe Atlanta didn't want to deal in the division. OK I can accept that. But did they even ask?

They are still playing rinky-dink small market baseball. That mentality is not going to work. Kansas City and Pittsburgh have tried and failed. This is a major media market and can support a much higher payroll team. They can also afford to take chances and make mistakes. If you are going to make a mistake, at least do it with something that has a chance of paying off big.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Winter Meetings

Just a few odds and ends:

"The Mets would like to unload Luis Castillo in an effort to lure Orlando Hudson to New York, and they're very interested in Nationals outfielder Josh Willingham to fill their need for a slugging left fielder. Shpigel says that the Nats currently have a steep asking price though, as Willingham is in high demand"

Rizzo's first test. Remember the old poker advice: If you can't figure out who at the table is the fish, then its you. Omar IS the fish. Strip him naked and leave him bleeding by the side of the road.

Nationals interested in Jon Garland according to Peter Gammons. Insider subscription required.

I would prefer not to beat this dead horse again. So, please for the love of God, don't even talk to Jon Garland. Don't think about him. Pretend we live in a world where Jon Garland doesn't exist. It's a good world where sub mediocre pitchers DON'T receive millions to help their teams lose.

Gammons also says the Nats are interested in John Lackey. I like Lackey, I'd love to have him on the team. But this smells like an agent trying to get another bidder. If you could get him for A.J. Burnett money (5/82 I think), that's a go. Over $100m? Pass

The Royals sign Noel Arguelles according to Yahoo! sports.

$7m over 5 years. $2m in incentives.

I repeat the F*&%(&*% tiny market, low budget tin pot Royals signed a major international free agent. For $7M!!!!!! Over FIVE YEARS. That's $1.4m a year. For a hard throwing young pitcher who would cost you nothing but $$$$$. Are you freaking kidding me!!!! Being outbid by the Red Sox or the Yankees I can understand. But the Royals?? Really. You are telling me that the Royals, in their minuscule media market, having a longer record of pathetic futility, can find the $$$$$$ to add a great young prospect but the big market, cheap bastards in Washington can't find the money. F U

Shinen's list:

"Among the possible targets are pitchers whose contracts their teams are looking to shed, such as Atlanta's Javier Vázquez (one year remaining at $11.5 million), or arbitration-eligible pitchers whose teams need payroll savings, such as Florida's Ricky Nolasco or Detroit's Edwin Jackson."

Yes, yes and hmmmm. Not sold on Jackson. Nolasco? Oh yeah. Highly unlikely though. The arb-eligible guys are still affordable for teams with payroll flexibility. That will drive up the prospect cost. Vazquez is basically like an arb-eligible since he only has one year left.

This list would cost nothing useful (and by nothing useful I mean it would cost only the pennies the Lerners are currently torturing at their palacial estates)

Bronson Arroyo
Aaron Harang
Gil Meche
Jeremy Bonderman
Derek Lowe
Carlos Zambrano

There is no doubt that the first five on this list could be had tomorrow for nothing more than salary relief. Look, I just solved your top of the rotation problem. Not that these guys are true #1s mind you but they would serve the Livan! role with only minor suckitude. Worst case scenario (barring injury) you have your 200IP veteran.

Harang and Arroyo have club options for 2011 with a $2m buyout. (Let me save some time and fill out that buyout check now) Bonderman has one year left and no buyout. Meche has two years left, Lowe has three as does Zambrano.

Obviously Lowe and Zambrano would be tough to swallow, neither projects to be worth even close to their salaries. But that's why you get them for nothing. Beggars (and back to back 100 loss teams) can't be choosers. I'd posit that either could be moved to the bullpen, Lowe was an effective closer earlier in his career where they could make for interesting trade chips in 2012.

The others represent no real long term commitment. You could even flip them at the trade deadline if they pitch well enough. (they would have to be traded, there is ZERO chance you offer them arbitration. They would accept in a heartbeat so Soriano-style brinksmanship won't work here.)

Do they make the National's better long term? No. Unless they fetch something useful later. But they make next season better without sacrificing any long term asset. You need to sell tickets.

You could make a similar list (probably a much longer one) of bullpen guys with horrible contracts that could be had for a ham sandwich. But even I wouldn't spend the Lerner's cash on that.