Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The one that got away

Was thinking of posting on yesterday's slew of roster filler signings when word crossed the tweet deck that the big market, money burning franchise the freaking Oakland A's had once again ponied up and taken an asset off the market the Nats should have had.

In the person of Ben Sheets. 1 year $10m plus incentives.

Hey, in hindsight wouldn't it have been a bargain to go $8.5 to Rich Hardin?

Oakland spent $4m+ last year for Michael Inoa a 16 year old international FA with a big time fastball.

So, why can a team, sharing a media market smaller than the Washington metro media market with a decrepit stadium and coming off a 75 win season afford to spend$14m+ and the Nationals can't?

Simple reason: the Oakland ownership believes it must take chances to build a franchise that wins enough to get some poverty stricken locality near by to build them a new stadium. OK so Silicon Valley is hardly poverty stricken but the principle is the same . . . A's management is willing to take chances to get better quickly while the Nationals prefer to throw s*(& against the wall and hope some sticks.

(Disclaimer: this does not mean I favor wild free agent spending sprees.)

Au contraire. Most free agent spending is wasteful. But there are numerous way besides overpaying declining ballplayers to use the financial advantage granted by the 7th largest media market in the country. This franchise has still shown no interest in taking gambles. 205 losses in two years should prompt some more intense action than Jason Marquis and Matt Capps.

So anyway, about yesterday's new guys. Why not? Walker looks serviceable, may be able to get some outs in the 6th 7th innings which were hard to come by last year. Was more excited about Chuck James. Remembered his run of excellent pitching three years ago at age 24. Less excited when it turns out that run was fueled by a .250 BABIP. The next season (pre-injury) he was average crafty lefty with poor K/9 totals. Not a recipe for long term success, more like a guy who bounces around and ends up in a rotation when injuries strike (a left handed Brian Moehler if you will.)

Chris Duncan? From a platoon perspective it would be better if he was right handed. That way we could have a terrible fielding 1B with power against tough lefties just like we do against everyone else. From a sit on his ass for 8 innings and come up and try to hit one out perspective its a pretty good move. He can certainly do that if he's healthy. The question then becomes: can a National League team survive with three players who's best position by far is DH?

Now the Nationals are in the same situation as the roto player who has carefully refrained from overpaying for stars and is ready to cherry pick bargains and then he suddenly realizes: who the hell is he gonna spend all this money on? There will be a temptation to throw it at Orlando Hudson (not terrible) or Jon Garland (dear god please NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!). Resist Riz. Keep it in your pocket and wait for a better way to leverage it. It will come along.

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