Friday, February 29, 2008

The Rite of Spring

First, the groundhog didn't see his shadow.

Then the swallows returned to Capistrano.

Next, Mike Bacsik gets lit up.

Then the buzzards return to Hinckley (Ohio, not Mike)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Church In Hell

I'm really getting tired of Ryan Church. The guy took a lot of crap. Far too much crap. But, jesus, the guy has to be the dumbest guy on the planet. He doesn't know when to shut the hell up. What's that about opening your mouth to remove all doubt?
"How would you feel?" Church said with a laugh one recent morning, sitting at his locker in the Mets' star-studded clubhouse. "It was like an early Christmas present, like a weight was lifted off my shoulders."

Church unfairly took a lot of crap here. He was constantly getting ripped by team officials and fans for not being better than he was. Not too many people looked at what he did, just what he didn't do. Oh, he had his problems, many of them, I suspect because he sometimes come across as a laid-back (idiot) California dude.

This is fairly stunning to hear from a player:
"They'd play me, sit me, play me, make a trade, sit me," Church said of the Nationals. The trade he is referring to is the one that brought Wily Mo Peña to Washington in mid-August, after which Church started just 13 games.

"It's a business, and I totally understand that, and not everybody is going to like it," Church said. "But I think I lost about 100-something at-bats, and there was a reason for that. People who were there know [what that reason was]. You could see it. There's a business side."

Church paused briefly. "There's arbitration," he continued. "There's this . . . "

Church holds up his hand and rubs his fingers and thumb together, the universal sign for "money."

Sounds a lot like something Gary Sheffield would say, huh?

That's a pretty serious charge to level. Not only does it imply that Bowden was pulling the levers behind the scenes, but it's undermining Manny -- that Manny decided to play Nook Logan over Church not as a baseball decision, but as something handed down from the front office. I'm not sure I could see Manny doing that.

Bowden, of course, denies the charge:
"That is absolutely not true," Bowden said. Church "was benched because we traded for Wily Mo Peña and then started scoring one more run a game. I promise you that is not true."

But in doing so, he pees all over Church, as he loves to do. He's implying (with the same level of empirical argument you're sure to get from Rush Limbaugh) that getting Church out of the lineup was the reason for the surge.

For the month before the Pena trade, Church clearly wasn't a problem. He hit a pretty impressive .283 .336 .495 over that stretch. They scored more runs because Kearns found his stroke, because Flores started taking ABs away from Schneider and because, well, anything can happen over a month or so of games. That's just Bowden asserting his GM prowess and taking another unnecessary shot at a player he was never especially fond of.

Anyway... I do feel bad for the way he got jerked around the last few years, while the team fiddled with crapbags -- and worse, OBVIOUS crapbags -- like Endy and Logan. If he's your worst outfielder, you've got a pretty good team. Just nobody every really took the time to notice the small things he did... just the big ugly things he did wrong.

But at the same time, good riddance. The team is better with Milledge than it is with him. And Church's biggest asset to the team always was how cheap his contract was relative to the league-average performance he gave. Now that he's making north of $2 million, that value starts to erode.

I hope he enjoys NY. I hope he enjoys putting his foot in his mouth at some point this year. And I hope he enjoys the choruses of boos he's going to get when he flails weakly at a breaking ball in the dirt. (since he's the only batter in the history of baseball who has a hard time with breaking pitches...)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Oh, To Be Able To Write

Scrolling through the news before bed, I saw that W.C. Heinz died. He's a sportswriter from back in the day, back when the days were apparently golden.

I can't say that I know anything about the guy, but I've heard of the name mainly because I'm familiar with one of his stories. "Death of a Racehorse" is a tremendous piece of sportswriting -- a tremendous piece of writing, period -- made all the more remarkable in that it was written on deadline, and likely on a typewriter as big and heavy as a Buick with keys that you had to punch, permanently bending your fingers in odd directions.

If you've never read it, read it. If you've never clicked on one of the cockamamie links I've thrown up on here, click on that one.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Nats Journal:
"Hill reported nothing other than what he now considers normal soreness. The only ball that appeared to be a "hit" against him was on his last pitch, which Milledge grounded up the middle."

Times Chatter:
"No, the guys facing Hill today were Lastings Milledge, Wily Mo Pena and Elijah Dukes. None of them made solid contact, unless you consider a broken bat blooper to center by Milledge solid contact. "All right, we went 1-for-11!" Milledge exclaimed at the end of the round."

"Swing after swing, stroke after stroke--not much serious contact by Washington's Top Sluggers. Escobar on finally lofting a meager pop just to the outfield grass--raises his arms in Triumph!! "I Own You!!, he yells at Hill. Knowing full well--Shawn was the one in control this afternoon."
"Hill had a blazing fastball and broke several bats during the session. Outfielder Alex Escobar was the only hitter who was able to manage a base hit."

At least they all agree that Hill was pitching.

No, I have no point. (what else is new though)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hallelujah II!

Chuck Slowes:
I have to work harder now because the people out there—their main critique is giving the score. I will score them to death right now. They are going to hear the score every four seconds.... It will be like: ‘No score in the game—pitch outside ball one. No score, 1-0 count

Phew! I don't have to sit in the care for 45 minutes and 3 innings, or until Mike Bacsik gives up another homer to find out. (Though the advertisers loved that, no doubt.)

More good stuff:
[I]ts something (telling the score) that we all must be conscious of. We (broadcasters) get to talking about other things. And you know the score, but you get out of the habit of saying (this batter) is a right handed hitter. Everyone knows that Ryan Zimmerman is a right handed hitter. But, some person that tunes in that does not know our team or is a new fan—doesn’t know right-left or whatever. So, there are really times you must remember its radio and there is no graphic on the screen with the score. In fact, the only people who don’t complain are the folks with XM (Satellite Radio) because if they are near their receiver—it constantly has the score as soon as they click into the game on the dial....

Its a lot of words, and we do tend to get away from it. I try to do it (describe the detail) the very first time a player comes up or appears in the game, in the lineup. The more information the better, off the bat. Some people don’t like that. They would rather hear how blue the sky is. How blue the seats are. How green the grass is. They do not wish to hear numbers. They want to hear if the guy is tall and thin, or big and bulky. Bottom line, you are never going to please everyone. So, you have to find a happy medium to get through all of that.



/puts on thirty more pounds

//doubles as Dmitri's thigh

The Owners Are CHEEEP!

(In this case, it's Peter Angelos)

Enjoy all 40 HD broadcasts, Nats fans. (You get 40 more if you want to watch the Devil Rays pound the bejeesus out of the O's)

But, hey, they brought back the live pregame show with Ray Knight!!!!!! Yay!

Oh, wait, that's bad!

Cheap bastards.

'Round and 'Round She Goes

I chipped in on another one of those ever exciting Nationals Roundtables. You can check out Part 1 over here.

I dunno... I always kinda liked that format, something more conversational, and with different voices and informed opinions.

(That's in lieu of me writing anything worthwhile today -- besides the occasional soft-taunting of Mets fans)

  • PS: Ryan Church can go to hell

  • Sunday, February 24, 2008

    Shopping At A Different Market

    The story of the day is Bowden's comments about the Zimmerman extension "negotiations."
    "We've made it clear to [Zimmerman and Van Wagenen] that if Ryan is willing to sign a contract that is similar to what all the other good young players are signing for -- if he's willing to do a market signing -- we are prepared to do that with him," Bowden said. "We're not to going set all new markets with him. We're not going to change the pay scale of Major League Baseball for one player."

    Fair enough. You don't want to double what the market would pay just for the hell of it.

    Here's Zimmerman's agent's take:
    "At this time, it's not in [Zimmerman's] best interests to consider a contract in the range that they're talking about. I'm not calling either side right or wrong. There are just a different viewpoints."

    Fair enough. We can't expect the guy to take an unfair offer.

    So what WOULD be a fair offer?

    Bowden offers some clues:
    For comparable players, Bowden cited Cleveland's Grady Sizemore (who signed a six-year $23.45 million contract in 2006), Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki (six years, $31 million, signed in January), Atlanta's Brian McCann (six years, $26.8 million, signed in 2007) and the New York Yankees' Robinson Cano (four years, $30 million, signed earlier this month).

    So something like 6/$30 million would be a fair offer, something in the range of the market?

    Well, that's what Bowden would have you believe. But he's being (warning: shocker alert) disingenuous with that argument. You can't just compare one young player with another young player as if the circumstances were the same. I'm sure that Bowden would LOVE to point to the Tulo deal as the model. One catch... Tulo has a year less of service time than Zimmerman does. In fact, the average salary of those contracts he uses as comparison is over $1 million a year for the equivalent service year that Zimmerman's about to enter -- a service year in which the Nats will likely pay Zimmerman less than half that amount.

    You need to compare service year to service year. And when you do that, 6/$30 is a laughable offer.

    I took the yearly breakdown of those contracts, plus another big deal -- David Wright's extension (which was signed at a similar service time point as Zimmerman is at now) -- and lined them up service year by service year to get an idea of what the market rate for a young star is. I figured out the average for each year, then used a 10% fudge factor to account for the continued rising salaries since most of these contracts were signed. I totaled up year by year and came up with a rough estimate of what the 'kids' are being paid to come up with a rough market estimate.

    Zimmerman has 4 seasons left 'til free agency (and keep in mind, this isn't a quantitative evaluation of the players; we're saying, essentially, that all of these players are of similar run/win value).

    4 years: $22 million
    5 years: $35 million
    6 years: $49 million
    7 years: $67 million

    You can see that the salaries really start escalating once he hits free agency. $17+ million might seem like a lot to pay for him, but that's a long way in the future and with continued salary inflation, $17 million won't be quite what it seems today. (To Teddy's chagrin.)

    At the same time, if Zimmerman plays it year to year, he'll be a 27-year old free agent, a premium YOUNG player on the free agent market -- the kind of player other teams would surely break the bank for. $17 million will likely seem a bargain! If he were a free agent today, you can see him getting that much per year. Imagine what he'd get in 4 years as salaries keep going up! (Another reason why a long-term deal is of increasing importance; even Uncle Teddy's biggest defenders likely have a hard time seeing him handing out a 7/$130 million contract.)

    So, no, there's no need for them to lock him up. No urgency. He's theirs for a few years anyway. But they need to find a middle ground there. Bowden citing somewhat misleading numbers for contract comparables isn't the greatest place to start... publicly, at least. 6/$30 isn't the market offer. It's 6/$49 or 5/$35.

    And that's probably the floor. Nice work if you can get it...

  • The full salary numbers are here. Contract years are in yellow. The rest should be pretty self explanatory.

  • Friday, February 22, 2008

    Answering His Own Question

    Sheinin gives the short version of Manny's first team meeting of the season:
    1) Cut down on the errors
    2) Improve the team's OBP.
    I asked Acta if he could foresee a scenario where both Nick Johnson and Dmitri Young make the team, with Johnson the starter and Young in the lineup against tough lefties, but otherwise limited to pinch-hit duty, with the goal of getting him 200-300 at-bats. Acta said such a scenario is not impossible, but he implied it would be much more likely that the team would have to trade one of them.

    "It's tough, because they're both eveyrday guys," Acta said. "[But] we're not just going to give a guy away [in a trade]."

    Ignoring the trade part... if Acta's goal is 1 and 2 from above, we know who's starting the year.

    But there's the DY/Dukes mentor factor which has to count for something.

    I really don't understand the need to trade... and I don't understand why they're talking about it so openly, since that would seem to lessen their bargaining position.

    That being said, I'm not sure there's really a market for Dmitri Young. I can't imagine that any other team views him as an acceptable 1B. So we're limited to AL teams who need a DH.

    Baltimore? Nope.
    Boston? Hell no.
    Yankees? They have enough DHs.
    Toronto? Frank Thomas says Hell no.
    Tampa Bay? Can't see them giving up on Gomes.

    White Sox? Nope.
    Indians? Sure as heck no.
    Detroit? Nice try
    Royals? I imagine they could, but Butler or Gload are probably better options given the relative ages.
    Twins? I imagine that Kubel's slotted here... they do have Delmon though... and they were intereted in him last season...

    Angels? Nah.
    A's? Likely not.
    Mariners? They've had enough Nats DH's with bad legs.
    Rangers? You never know what Old Man Hicks would do...

    So Twins and Rangers really seem like the only viable spots. Could it happen? I guess. I just don't think that that's what's going to happen.

    Now, it's possible a market for NJ could emerge, especially if he shows that he's healthy during the spring. But given option 1) and 2) from above, is that really what Acta wants?

    Thursday, February 21, 2008

    StanSpeak: Speak For Yourself Edition

    Stanley steams through an interview with Bugs and Cranks on a wide range of issues. It's got lots of interesting stuff, including why he hates blogs almost as much as agents. Read the whole thing. I'm just going to note a few things that I thought as I read.

    1) He complains about HGH and the opposition to blood testing. He makes some great points, especially about how blood testing is probably a better alternative than whipping your dick out in front of someone else to pee. But I guess I'd follow up with him on the need to test for HGH given how the Mitchell Report and the panel of scientists who testified before the House found it to basically be useless for baseball skills. Seems to me that if they want to prevent its usage, they need to educate teh players. Point out that it doesn't work, and that the long-term health costs (which that medical panel also discussed) makes it a stupid thing to take.

    2) He discusses the payroll and the "40% increase" this season. This is the exact point I was worried with when I started the whole "Lerner is CHEEEEP!" crap. My concern is that it would allow the team to trumpet things like that. While true, it's ignoring 1) the halving of the payroll from the season before; 2) what the revenues generated by the team in their new stadium would support. They'll be able to raise the payroll to $80 million and bleat about the near-tripling of the payroll over two years. Valid points, but that's probably still below what the market could support.

    3) He talks about bloggers and giving them access. It's an interesting discussion, and I was interested in how he's trying to be proactive with the players, warning them that they're the ones who have to help control what gets reported. In some ways, I guess, this makes the real reporters' jobs harder. If the players are always on guard, it's going to lead to more banality... something baseball has in excess.

    4) This is music to my ears: He doesn’t believe in chemistry or character when building a team, unless those things affect how the players swing the bat and throw the ball. It’s only a problem when it hurts what happens on the field. “Too much is made of chemistry. We’ve seen horrible locker rooms succeed and a team of choir boys fail. It takes talent and a great manager to win.”

    The focus has to be putting the best 25 men on the field... That's why I've tried to defend Milledge from some of those really stupid charges against him. The jury's still out on Dukes, but that's a different category for me. Like I've said before, I can root for the a-holes, but not the sociopaths.

    Not All Academics Stink

    God Bless Sam Riley
    When it comes to the "O," [shouted during the National Anthem] the problem is strictly geographical. Like creeping fescue, or a rash, it even has spread beyond D.C. environs to places like Blacksburg, Va., the home of Virginia Tech.

    "It just seems to me to be a no-class, meatheaded thing to do," said Sam Riley, a professor of communication studies at the school. "It's embarrassing."

    Let's get that guy some kind of grant!

    Wednesday, February 20, 2008

    Ten Burning Questions: Spring Training

    For each of the last three seasons, I've previewed spring training with what I was looking at. What are the key questions? What needs to be resolved? You see some recurring themes: Is Patterson an ace? How much does Guzman suck?

    This year's not really different. And although I think that a lot of the questions surrounding the team are just puffery -- that when you take a hard look at the roster, the questions are essentially already answered -- it's nice to know that a certain other group of them don't revolve around crapbags like Logan or Endy. The team has a better supporting cast, and there's a hope for something a bit bigger, if not this year, then next. On to the questions...

    1) How is Patterson's Curve?

    Everyone focuses on Patterson's velocity. As I bleated over and over last year, that doesn't really interest me. Sure, it's an indicator, but, to me, the key for his health and success has always been that curve ball. As we saw with Bergmann, you can have a great fastball, but if it's not accompanied with a quality breaking pitch, you're going to get hit.

    If you remember back to '05, it was that hard, sharp breaking curve that was a deadly compliment to that high, riding fastball. Look high when he throws the curve, and you're dead. Look low for the curve, and you miss the fastball. Those two pitches compliment each other in that not only do they change the timing of your swing, but they change the plane.

    If his arm and elbow are healthy enough to snap off those yakkers, he can be what he was in '05, a 1A pitcher. But if he can't throw them -- or if his mind holds him back and they're not as sharp -- it won't be as pretty. His fastball's good enough on its own for a 4.00 ERA. If that curve works, he's in the 3s.

    2) How are Hill's breaking pitches?
    While certain scribes salivate over the sinker, it's not the darting action that makes that pitch -- it's his complimentary breaking pitches. Hill reported forearm pain in his throwing arm last season, and said it was something he battled through. It got worse, of course, once his mechanics got screwed up a bit because of the injury to his leading shoulder.

    Think about the action of the sinker. It doesn't just dart down. It also has a bit of a jamming action in on the hands of right-handed batters. It's slight, but it helps batters to "miss-hit" the ball. But if that's all he throws, the batters can adjust.

    When you pair that with a good breaking pitch -- be that a curve that dives down further, or a slider with action more on a horizontal plane -- it keeps the batters honest. Righties can't cheat 'inside' and low to get the diving sinker when there are alternate low pitches to contend with. If the strike zone is a clock face, the sinker comes in at 5, the curve at 7, and the slider about 8:30. That's a lot of adjusting a batter has to do, even if he knows they're all going to be low in the zone.

    And against lefties, those breaking pitches are essential, serving as effective jamming pitches -- the soft-tossers equivalent of the high hard one -- to prevent those guys from diving out and poking the sinker to the opposite field.

    Is his elbow healthy enough to keep him throwing those pitches? I'm not sure his sinker's good enough with out 'em.

    3) Will FLop be able to dislodge the boot from his butt?
    When this team has a message to send, do they! I half expected to see a billboard off 395 one day from the Nats advertising "Felipe Lopez is a dissapointment! -- oh and buy tickets; they're going fast!" We get it. He stinks. He had a bad season. He has potential. He didn't smile. Blah blah blah.

    The coup-de-grace was taking him to arbitration over a $300K difference. That's less than the decals on Bowden's Segway cost. If that's not a giant FU, I'm not sure what one is.

    The point is it's basically tough love. The team KNOWS that it needs Lopez if they're going to take a step forward. Although he's an all-world lousy shortstop, he's the best shortstop on the roster. I know they're still talking about him as the second baseman, but I have less confidence in Guzman's ability to hold down the job than I have in Langerhans' chances of winning the batting title.

    If you throw out last year, Lopez is a solid, not spectacular, middle infielder. He gets on base a little. Hits for a little bit of average. Runs a bit. Has pretty good speed. Lots of little things add up, even if he's probably not going to hit those 25 or so homers like he did that one year.

    If you look at his isolated numbers -- that is, his OBP and SLG minus the batting average part -- you see that he really wasn't all that different last season. The difference for him was that he had a few fewer singles drop in. Could be bad luck. Could be malaise. I dunno. But the point is that if he gets, say, 20 more hits to drop in next season, you're going to be talking about what a good leadoff guy he is.

    The door is open for him in spring training if he works hard and plays well. Will he?

    4) Can Guzman repeat?
    Bowden's folly has six months to prove that he wasn't a mistake. $12 million has bought six homers and a .294 on-base percentage. "But but but," I can hear you saying, "he hit .400 last year! He's good!"


    Let's again look at those isolated numbers. His isolated-obp and isolated-slg aren't really all that different from his career numbers. That's a gobbledygook way of saying the opposite of what I said with Lopez: he just had a lot of singles falling in. And if you think really hard, you'll recall lots of infield grounders making their way past the infielders when he was at the plate. Sure, he gets credit for those. They happened. They helped the team. But are you going to bet on him doing that again this season?

    His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) -- what he does when he puts bat to ball -- was a career high by 20 points, beating out his '01 season when he actually finished 16th in the MVP balloting. It beat his career average by sixty points. He's going to regress. And even if he falls back to his "MVP" season, it's going to be a big drop.

    Throw in that he -- to my eyes at least (and most of the defensive stats) -- is a pretty lousy shortstop and... well... I'm going to bet that he won't be the starting SS by the time the season ends.

    5) What's the rotation going to look like (at first)?
    In general, I think there's too much focus on who makes the rotation as if 1) that's the rotation you're going to go with all year; 2) you're not going to need additional pitchers 3) something else which I've forgotten. I've used the depth chart model for the rotation this offseason, and I'll stand behind that. It's useful for sorting through what the options really are.

    At any rate, if Hill and Patterson are healthy, they come north. Unless he falls on his face like he did last year, Tim Redding -- the forgotten man this spring -- is likely to head north because of his option situation. (He's gotta be out, right? or have enough service time to make things difficult.) Now, if he craps the bed like he did last spring, he could be sent to the minors, especially with that $1 million contract. Perez, if he pitches ok in spring, has an inside track. Typically his type of contract includes a release clause if he doesn't make the team out of spring. (That's how Colome made it over Saul Rivera at the last minute last spring.) If that's the case, he probably takes the 4th spot.

    That leaves one spot for Bergmann/Chico/Lannan/someone else. I'm not sold on Bergmann's long-term ability to stay healthy and effective. (short version: he needs breaking pitches to be good, but he can't throw breaking pitches because of his elbow.) It'd be hard for the team to just give up on Chico after "leading" the team in innings (thanks to all those 4- and 5-inning outings) last season. But he probably could use some more seasoning. Lannan? The team doesn't owe him anything this spring, so unless he turns into '93 Maddux, we'll see him mid-season, I'd bet.

    So when you break it down, there really aren't that many options, and really not that many chances for the kids... at first. We can talk about Mock and Clippard and the rest, but unless one of those guys gets hurt, the team has to use their option status to keep them in the minors to be the first wave of replacements. You can send down Lannan without losing him, but if you tried that with Perez, who knows?

    6) Can Dukes be a model citizen?

    Damned if I know. I hope so. But who the hell knows. At least the media in this town isn't going to be poking him with sharp sticks like they would in some other places.

    I still wish one of them would ask Bowden if he'd let Dukes babysit his children, which is what he asserted after the similarly maligned Jose Guillen (boy, does that seem like ages ago) had his own press conference.

    7) Who's on first?
    This is another one of those questions, which is being asked, but I think already has its answers. Given everything you've heard Acta say about the importance of on-base percentage over the last two seasons, and given DY's horrid defense, is there really a scenario where DY gets the majority of the starts? Manny's not stupid. He knows that Johnson is the better player.

    So NJ gets most starts. DY starts against tough lefties. He fills in for the 10% of the season that NJ misses with nagging injuries. And DY gets 100 or so ABs as the top PHer. That's what? 400 ABs over the course of a season? There's plenty of PT for the both of 'em while leveraging their strengths.

    8) Detwiler to the pen?
    Just more bleating from Bowden... there's just no room for the guy, and most of those roster spots are already locked up. Cordero, Rauch, Ayala, King, Rivera, Colome, Schroder. Colome sticks because of his contract. The only option there is King, but Acta seems to want a LOOGY. If Detwiler (or someone else like him) is going to make it, it's going to be at Schroder's expense, which assumes they're taking 7 relievers in the first place. I like the idea of starting a pitcher out as a swingman, but I'd rather Detwiler get at least one season of experience in the minors!

    9) Who rides the pine?
    Here's another case where there might technically be unanswered questions, a closer look shows that there's not.
    8 position starters and an (for sake of argument) 11-man pitching staff means 6 bench spots.
    OF: Dukes, Mackowiak
    C: Estrada
    IF: Harris, Belliard/Lopez
    Corner: Dmitri

    Edit: I forgot about Aaron Boone! I REALLY don't know how they're going to squeeze all those players in now!

    That's it. Any questions?

    The only catch would be if they wanted to carry 12 men on the pitching staff... then you've got a logjam. (I'd bet they'd be less likely to take 12 because of this, which makes the whole Detwiler thing above even less likely...)

    Rule 5ers? no chance. Pete Orr? no chance. These contracts really make all the decisions for them.

    10) Do the stats matter?
    I'll just copy what I wrote back in '06. Update the players in your mind as you read!
    Not very. Spring Training stats are dangerously misused. Batters don't come to the plate too much in the thirty or so games they play, and they're not always facing the best pitchers or fielders. Spring training is more about scouting than stats. The team's personnel need to look and see how a hitter is doing. Is he making hard contact, hitting line drives that are being caught? Has he lucked out with a few bloop singles? Unforunately, those are things that aren't really clear from the box scores. We have, at best, an incomplete picture. At worst, a misleading one.

    Same goes for pitchers. Sometimes they're facing minor league lineups. Sometimes they're just working on one pitch, throwing nothing but a changeup, trying to learn a new grip. The team knows what's going on, but we can't, unless one of the writers fills us in.

    Most importantly, don't worry about wins and losses. They never reflect how a team will actually do. It usually seems like the team with the most veteran Triple-A lineup does the best -- in which case, I expect Ruben Mateo and George Lombard to lead the Grapefruit League in hitting, and the Nationals to be in first place by the end!

    One thing that I do find valuable, though, is K/BB ratio for pitchers. It's not a perfect measure, but it gives you an idea of a pitcher's control, as well as how good his 'stuff' might be. Even if he's giving up runs, if he's still striking out batters, it means he's doing something right. Patterson's numbers last spring were quite good. That might be one way to sort out the starter's logjam.

    Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    By G.O.B!

    I think he's most definitely got "it!" -- there's definitely that certain something that makes your mouth fall agape and wonder how the hell it is that this guy's in charge of a $100 million a year operation!

    ass on wheels

    Is it any wonder that nobody takes us seriously?

    Read the full story at the Times
    , where the picture was gleefully borrowed/leached/whatever. (Helps if I put the right link... dammit)

    PS -- What's amazing about the mode of transportation is that it makes you completely glance over the flowing mane... looks like someone's been to Siegfried's haidresser! (file photo: with Thom Loverro)

    Perez Signs

    Sheinin says it's done... non-guaranteed, $850K contract. Somewhere, Uncle Teddy's ulcer is flaring up.

    (Side note: Did you know that Uncle Teddy is the 135th richest person in America according to Forbes? He has the same net worth as Oprah!)

    Picture Quiz

    Who is the man on the left?

    1) General Manager and Vice President of the Washington Nationals, Jim Bowden?
    2) The first participant in the Washington Nationals Foundation's "Help The Homeless" program?
    3) Talent Scout for the Florida Marlins Male Dance Team?
    4) A confused old man with a bad toupee wondering why the line at Denny's is so long?
    5) The love child of Vito Spatafore and Captain Kangaroo?

    Perez Perhaps

    The Nats have offered left-handed SP Odalis Perez a contract, and they expect to hear back today.

    Not a great pitcher, obviously, but there's reason for a tiny bit of optimism... 1) he's youngish... just 30. Of course we said the same thing about Jerome Williams last year.

    2) League/Park adjustments should 'improve' him. Using BBRef's neutralization feature, if we dump him in RFK to compare him to what we've seen, he looks a bit better... ERAs of 4.75, 5.58 (blech!) and 4.76 the last three years. Not great, of course, but basically he's Matt Chico.

    3) Advanced stats say he's a bit unlucky. FIP, which looks at BB/K/HR rates to figure out a 'normal' ERA (assuming average defense and all that) has him at 4.77, 4.58 and 4.17 the last few years, all better than his actual ERAs. Bad defense? Bad luck? Just a fluke?

    His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) the last few years has been terrible, and 30-50 points higher than his career totals. That could be because he was playing in front of a lousy defense or it could be a sign of his loss of stuff. Given that he's lost 2K per 9 over the last two seasons, it might be more the latter than the former. Still, if he rebounds to the high 5s in K rate, he's got a good chance to be useful.

    4) The projection systems from the link above are mixed. Two have him in the 5.3ish range. One loves him, figuring his K-rate to rebound, giving him a 4.3ish ERA. PECOTA has him around 5.10 with a decent chance to break out or improve upon that. His top comps are Darren Oliver and the Pride of Glens Falls, Dave LaPoint.

  • It's a good no-risk signing... I've said all along, I think they need another veteran innings eater. I've been working on my projections, and there's about a 80-inning gap that we'd need to fill -- stiffs like Bowie and Speigner filled in last year, but we don't really have the mothballed guys this season.

    If he turns into Loaiza '05, terrific! If he turns into Willaims '07, who cares?

    Lannan could use some more seasoning in the minors... and if the team didn't feel beholden to Chico for what he did last year, the truth is he could probably use some more work -- hunch is that he's not going to take well to the new park... They'd be available when the first wave of injuries/ineffectiveness take hold, along with Battlestar and the rest of the prospects.

  • Monday, February 18, 2008

    Memo To Jim

    To: Jim Bowden, General Manager
    From: Chris Needham, Loyal Blogger
    RE: Scouting Reports
    Date: Today

    Glad to see the Bret Boone acquisition went through. It's been months of planning and it's clear that it's going to be worth it. Mass production of uniforms is going to save Mr. Lerner hundreds of dollars a year. You are to be commended for your foresight!

    As per your request, I'm providing the list of other potential acquisitions.

    * James Boone -- CF in the Pirates organization.
    * Doug Boone -- potential back-up catcher of the future.
    * Daniel Boone -- Director of Gov't Affairs or potential Director of Security. Lots of upside despite his untimely death 190 years ago.
    * Matt Boone -- Former Red!!! Played 3B, may be alternative if Zimmerman contract negotiations break down.
    * Richard Bentley Boone -- Amazing entertainer. Comes with own trombone, so supply costs would be lower.
    * Tony Boone -- Former RHP. ERA may be high, but he has the heart of a Boone, so he must be good.
    * Dan Boone -- Well-rested pitching prospect. Recommend we get a shovel and see if there's anything left in that arm.
    * Ed Boon -- would be great running our video operations, or perhaps strength and conditioning?
    * Danny Boone -- Once pitched for the Orioles. Pitch him on how all Os games are available on MASN thanks to the benevolence of Peter Angelos.
    * Pat Boone -- Bringing in in-house anthem singer could save on ticket costs; wouldn't have to give two seats to ungrateful crooners. Bonus: Has own white shoes; wouldn't need to coordinate with home unis.
    * George Boone -- inexperienced RHP. Worlds of potential though. Look at that homer rate! Concerns over his endurance.
    * Josh Boone -- Great size. Concerns over his free-throw ability.
    * Ike Boone -- brother to Dan Boone. No, the other Dan Boone. Quite the slugger, but I'm not sure he's got the legs to play outfield anymore.
    * Lute Boone -- I'd caution bringing him in. If a 2B dead since '82 outhits Bret, it could crush his confidence.
    * Daneen Boone -- Impressive resume. See if Aaron's wife could vouch for her.
    * Boone Logan -- Half Logan, Half Boone... best of both worlds. Think of the toolsy intangibles!
    * Boon Haas -- Currently residing in Sarasota; we should bring him down for a tryout ASAP.
    * Herman Boone -- STRONG local connection. Great with all races. Possible replacement for Tollman?
    * Boon Schoenstein -- Great candidate for Director of educational outreach.

    Sunday, February 17, 2008

    We're Not Worst!

    The bookies have spoken, and Vegas Watch has the results. The over/under for the Nats is 71.5 wins.

    I'm taking the over.

    They have the Marlins at 68.5 with the Mets as the favorites in the division. Baltimore is worst at 65. Three teams are belows us (Pittsburgh being the other) though Tampa Bay (over!) and San Fran (under!) are just .5 games ahead.

    See anyone you'd take? Colorado's a tough call at 83! 94 for Boston? Under, I'd guess? But I wouldn't bet a lot on that!

    Great Moments In Editorial Decision Making

    I was tooling around last night, running errands, and had the radio on. One of those top-of-the-hour national newscasts came on -- the kind that's pumped to every 'burg, village and hamlet 'round the country. One of the 'top' stories was a 20-second mention of Paul LoDuca, his statement, and his non-answers to questions. Clearly, given the noise of the hearings from last week, general angst and such, it's a "big" story. And for our crapbag team, where LoDuca was the team's "big" free agent signing, it's a relatively huge deal. (Relatively, of course!)

    The Post covers the facts of the story quite well. But where's the column? Isn't this one of the biggest stories associated with this crappy team? We've got one guy ranting about Henry Waxman (still), the weekly fishing column, and a story about long-dead Pete Maravich.

    I suppose I shouldn't complain. I could always read a Long Island paper for a column on my team. Or [gasp!], the Times!

    It's stuff like this that they should think of when they have to answer the emails from moonbat Nats fans about whey they're covering Baltimore or why the paper wants the team to fail. Those idiots obviously take it too far, but when you see something like this -- a national radio broadcast giving more play to a story than the 'hometown' paper -- it certainly allows delusions to creep into a paranoid mind.

    Hey, I'm not an expert. I haven't edited anything since my high school yearbook, and my last collaborative writing project consisted of me writing 15 pages and telling the working group that this is what we're going with... so I can't certainly speak from experience! But it seems like they're missing the story... again.

    Saturday, February 16, 2008

    Push It Real Good

    PLoD speaks!

    Well, no... he writes a press release!

    Well, no... his agent writes a press release for him, but he read it!

    Well, no... the team wrote a press release for him, but had his agent read it!

    Take a shot of B-12 every time you you see the word 'community' in it:
    "In regards to Senator Mitchell's Report, I [would like to pretend to] apologize to my family, all [two of] my fans and to the entire baseball community [DING!] for mistakes in judgment [such as knocking up teenagers, kvetching about teammates, and being a degenerate gambler] I made in the past and for the distractions that resulted. I am fully committed to being the best player and person I can be [even if that's not particular good considering my declining performance, my age, my knee, and the fact that I'm not cycling anymore] , on and off the field [especially with the Lay-Dees!], for the Washington Nationals and the entire baseball community[DING!]. I recognize the [relative un-]importance of my role in the community[DING!] as a professional athlete, and I intend to focus my energies on making a positive impact in that regard [especially with the Lay-Dees!]. So that I can focus on making positive contributions and avoid creating further distractions, I respectfully decline to comment any further on the content of the Mitchell Report [and I will retreat into my underground burrow for six more weeks of winter]."

    Interesting that the piece doesn't mention one of the other serious allegations against him, that he was central to a ring of Dodgers minor league players who used 'real' steroids like Winstrol. (page 230 of the report if you're interested.) The HGH stuff is important in that he pushed others on the team to use it, made purchases on behalf of others, and generally did anything he could do to promote its use within the Dodgers clubhouse. But it's also essentially ineffective for baseball, so...

  • The tastefully designed NTP's version is better, so go read that instead.

  • Better yet -- go read OMG's take. Less Laughs, More Bile!

  • You Say PECOTA, I Say WTF!

    Baseball Prospectus has released their preliminary projected standings for the coming year. And while they're not historically bad, they're probably lower than you'd expect: 72-90. What galls me, though, is that that's a few games worse than the husk of the Marlins. Last year, for what it's worth, mostly based upon their inability to figure out what was going on with our rotation, they projected the Nats for 67-94.

    They create the standings by using their PECOTA projections (which I discussed briefly earlier) and assigning playing time based on who's likely to bat where and for how often. It does this for offense and defense, then figures out projected runs scored/allowed totals... and then a projected won/lost record.

    They have us pegged for 759 runs, 10th in the league. (They're assuming that the Nats stadium is a slight pitcher's park -- if I'm remembering correctly -- but even that's a big jump up from RFK.) 759 runs would be about an 80-run improvement. The limited numbers crunching I've done would indicate that 40-50 runs of that is just the move from RFK. So it follows that only 30-40 runs are from actual offensive improvement. My gut (always a good analytical tool) thinks that's low, but we'll look a little more closely in a sec.

    The pitching looks dreadful, and they peg the Nats for 855 runs allowed, 15 out of 16 teams in the NL and 220 runs worse than the league-leading Mets.

    The depth chart is only available to subscribers, because it gives all the projections, but when I look at it more closely, I can see it was put together by dim-witted baboons. OK, I stretch, but... It's a reasonable attempt, but I'm an optimistic fanboy (believe it or not!), and I see plenty of opportunity for improvement in both the offense and the pitching.

    So here's my 24-point plan to screw PECOTA

    1) Play Lopez more! He sucked last year, but deal with it. You can't look at one year's worth of stats and make grand pronouncements about players. PECOTA and just about every other projection system, expects a rebound. The depth chart here gives him 45% of the PT at SS and 25% at 2B, meaning he's on the bench 30% of the time. PECOTA gives him a 30-point OBP and 50-point SLG advantage over Guzman (which isn't unreasonable given his career numbers) and roughly the same value as Belliard.

    Just a ballpark estimate, but if you give Guzman 500 ABs and Lopez 500 ABs, Lopez should add about 15 runs to the bottom line -- he's about a win-and-a-half better.

    2) Keep Langerhans and Harris on the bench! Given our glut of outfielders, they somehow decided to give 20% of the CF plate appearances to the gruesome duo, both of whom are significantly worse than Milledge and Dukes. Take away about half of those ABS and give them to Dukes, and you're talking another half-a-win.

    3) Ryan Zimmerman takes a step forward! They've got him at .355/.490, which is only a slight improvement over what he did in '06 at RFK. If his hand's healthy, I'd probably bet the over on that, if only because I think he's going to have a slightly better OBP this year. Sake of argument, let's say he hits .370/.510. That's another win or two right there.

    4) Meld Dmitri's buttocks to the bench! They project Dmitri as having 55% of the playing time at 1B despite dropping 40 points of OBP and 10 points of slugging to Nick. Make it 75/25 in favor of NJ, and we're almost to another win. (definitely over if you factor in defense!)

    5) Keep Mackowiak out of LF! They give him 15% of Pena's and Duke's rightful PT despite a .150-point OPS disadvantage to both.

    6) Fire PECOTA's pitching coach! It really doesn't like our pitchers. Even then, it does some wacky things. John Lannan, for example is projected with a 6.15 ERA. Given his low peripherals, that's not an unreasonable projection, even if most of us would bet the under. But despite that ghastly ERA, it projects him to lead the team in IP!? If he's still over 6 in June, he's going to be enjoying Columbus in July. No way he does that. Replace that with a generic 5.00 ERA projection, and you're looking at another 20 runs saved.

    There are a couple other individual projections you could quibble with. It's got Hill at 130 IP and an ERA over 4. I'd probably bet the over and under respectively, even if those are reasonable. Patterson's at 90 IP and over a 4.6 ERA. Both have the potential to be much better than that.

  • So 72-90 sorta looks like the worst-case scenario. If all of the pitching stinks, if none of the hitters break out, and nobody takes steps forward, we're going to be no worse than last year.

    I think they're going to be better than that, and even just allocating the PT properly (which I'm confident that Manny can do much better than the BPro bunch) should add 3-5 wins. Add in the growth potential, and it's not inconceivable that this team could be .500ish.

    I DO know, though, that we're going to be better than the feckin' Marlins!

  • Friday, February 15, 2008

    Pitchers, Catchers And Pushers Report

    Yawn. It's all a big yawn.

    so and so's healthy.

    so and so's in the best shape of his life.

    so and so's arm has never felt better.

    so and so found a new diet.


    people who like this day are the same people who enjoy meetings at work. The only level to enjoy today is on the cliche level... first robin of spring and all that crap. (Although around here, the robins never seem to leave, do they?)

    The only "entertainment" is the emergence of Paul LoDuca from his wintry hole.


    the stories are all written, practically a template. They'll just plug in a few quotes from the steroid cheat/teenager scrumper/degenerate gambler, and... yawn.

  • Side discussion:

    The Mitchell Report concluded that HGH likely does not impact a baseball player's ability. The House just took testimony this week from a variety of health/medicine experts that concluded the same thing.

    If that's so, did LoDuca really "cheat" when he used HGH?

    (This, of course, ignores the other substantial portion of the Mitchell Report, which discusses how he was basically the ringleader of a group of minor leaguers heavily into actual steroids -- the kinda things that'd knock a horse off its hooves -- and helped spray serum into the butts of his teammates with long, hard needles...)

  • Wednesday, February 13, 2008

    Nats PR Fail History

    Yes, I'm a negative prick. Deal with it.

    I'm perusing the ol' promo schedule at, and this is driving me crazy. Check the promo scheduled for May 3.

    While I suppose it's possible that they're celebrating one of the Negro Leagues, I'd bet that that's not what they're going for, and that the PR staff who put that out is ignorant. (Since what I do is assume the worst in people, ya know?)

    The Negro Leagues is the term given to any number of (at first) loosely coordinated Negro baseball teams. In the early days, it really wasn't organized exactly the way we'd envision as a league today, but as the team owners saw potential for growth (notably through Rube Foster's efforts), the organized. 1920 saw the creation of the Negro National League. Later, the Eastern Colored League would form up, and it's their meetings which became the Negro Leagues World Series. A number of other 'major' Negro Leagues would form, disband and reform over time, so the exact composition was essentially always in flux.

    So it's not ok to honor the "Negro League." That'd be like trying to honor the "Major League". Which one?

    I'd recommend that the Nats PR staff skip the Disney training and head to Kansas City. Or maybe Mr. Kasten needs to start a book club?

    Great Moments In Punditry

    Hey, how's that starting rotation looking, Mr. Bergmannnnn (as filtered by our favorite beat writer)?

    Bergmann believes the rotation could be one of the best in baseball provided that every one stays healthy..."If [Patterson and Hill] can anchor the top of the rotation, I think we have a solid rotation."

    I bet he thinks that lotto's a good investment too.

    (or perhaps he meant solid in terms of their matter state; other than Ray King, none of the pitchers are really gaseous.)

    Monday, February 11, 2008

    The Pennant Is Ours!

    That's some quality slumming, Omar!

    When You're Behind The Marlins...

    Even the Marlins held a fanfest!

    From the looks of it, Stan Kasten and the PR department have a lot more sheet rock to hang. Get to it guys, just 50 days or so to go!

    Friday, February 08, 2008

    (Don't) Steal This Book

    Our good friends at The Hardball Times have released the conveniently named "2008 Hardball Times Season Preview." It is, as you can probably surmise, since you're the smartest blog readers this side of the Potomac, a collection of all sorts of good information about players and teams with an eye to the upcoming season.

    Each team, including our beloved and bedeviling Nats, has an essay with a quick overview of the comings and goings, trends, and reasons to be optimistic (and pessimistic!) about the coming season. It has projections for bazillions of players and little nuggets of goodness about your favorite players... and Mike Bacsik.

    The good people at THT (despite their better judgment) asked me to contribute this year, and I rambled on for 15,000 words or so about our favorite team and its star and non-star players... and Mike Bacsik. I even came up with some original things to say that you haven't heard me say over and over and over (such as, "Mike Bacsik stinks").

    There's more information about the book here, including how to order it, and information about a few of the other essays the book has. THT also has an article on some of the more interesting things gleaned from the book. And finally, there's a link to some excerpts from the chapter on the hated Red Sox. Booooo!

    Check it out, and support the work of a site I use regularly, one that gives us all kinds of statsy goodness so that I can fact check mailbag questions or prove Boz wrong!

    Tuesday, February 05, 2008

    The Dukes of Asia

    So the Nats signed themselves a left-handed import, who threw up a 5+ ERA in Japan and who hasn't had 100 IP in a season since 2002.


    It gets better:
    The Orix Buffaloes said Sunday they have suspended left-hander
    Katsuhiko Maekawa indefinitely after he was arrested for his
    involvement in a hit-and-run accident in Osaka the previous day.

    While driving a car without a license, the 28-year-old Maekawa
    hit a woman on a bicycle at a crossing, causing minor injuries,
    according to police...

    Maekawa had his driver's license revoked in 2002 for road
    traffic law violations, including speeding.

    He had an argument with the woman after the accident, but fled
    the scene when a police officer asked him to produce his driver's
    license, police said.

    When the judge handed him his two-year suspended sentence, he lobbed out this zinger, saying that the pitcher has a "remarkably low respect for social morality." Bang! Zoom!

    Eh... it's a low-cost move with no real downside other than [insert cheap Bowden driving joke.] The team's certainly doing everything they can to prove that chemistry doesn't matter one farkin' bit, huh?

    I hear that the Nats are also interested in Jerry Priddy, Denny McClain, Ugueth Urbina, Steve Howe, and Ruben Rivera.

  • Someone doesn't appreciate all the anonymous sources the writers use around here. (There's also an interesting side discussion there about the use of "Asian Market" when we don't lump various Latin American or Caribbean markets into one big non-homogeneous basket.

  • Nats also lost Enrique Gonzalez on waivers (after having claimed him off waivers last season). Notable only in that he was one of the warm bodies on the SP depth chart, making the need for a veteran SP all the more important.

  • Monday, February 04, 2008


    What do you think of when you see this?

    1) A Tasty Treat?
    2) Mr. Binkles, your fox terrier?
    3) Before/after slides from a Viagra clinical trial?
    4) A discarded photo from an old college textbook on hygiene?
    5) Baltimore?
    6) The tapeworm you caught after you ate Kasten's brisket?
    7) A Foam-Finger-Waving Fanboy's dooty?

    What do you do when you see this?

    1) Salivate?
    2) Wince?
    3) Take your wallet out of your back pocket?
    4) Check the bottom of your shoes?
    5) Laugh nervously, then step away from the computer slowly?

    --background here

    Saturday, February 02, 2008

    You Say PECOTA, I Say PECATA

    Baseball Prospectus released their PECOTA projections the other day. Although, yes, they fall under the category of "BS Projections", they are an interesting look, and give you a perspective on our players and their potential.

    Essentially, PECOTA compares a player to every other player in baseball history and projects stats and performance based upon the subset of similar players. It factors in height/weight, performance, experience, age, ballpark, era of play and run environment and about a bazillion other things to find those comparable players. More background here, if you're bored.

    Just a few notes from some of our favorites...

    * Ryan Zimmerman checks in as the player with the most projected value, nearly 7 wins better than a AAA schlub. This is the (hope you're sitting down for this) 8th highest total in baseball; in other words, they're projecting him to be an MVP candidate, although 1-2 of those "wins" is because of his glove. His "upside" which is basically the measure of the chance of him going all bonkers and hitting a bazillion homers is the 6th highest in all of baseball.

    * By the numbers, the Nick Johnson/Dmitri Young battle isn't much of a choice. They give NJ a 40-pt advantage on OBP and a 10-pt advantage in slugging. Throw in a 10-run advantage with the glove, and NJ's projected to be about 3 runs better over the course of a season. NJ's "upside" rating is the second highest on the team. DY's, likely because of his age and shape and near-career year last season, has one of the lowest among likely regulars.

    * Church for Milledge is a wash. They're within points of each other on projected OBP and Slugging, and (as logically follows) their win values for the coming year. They give him a 48% chance of having a "breakout" season, basically his chance of wildly exceeding these expectations. His top two comparable players are Rondell White and Dwight Evans, both of which should make Nats fans happy.

    * They project Paul Lo Duca to be Brian Schneider with 20 points of slugging. They project Jesus Flores to be Paul Lo Duca with 75 points of slugging. They project Johnny Estrada to be Paul Lo Duca minus 30 points of on-base. PLoD and Estrada have a 42-44% (respective) chances of "collapsing", which is just what it sounds like. PLoD's top comp is Joe Girardi, which fits. Apparently PECOTA takes into account each player's ability to take away seasons from a would-be Hall-of-Fame player.

    * It has a healthy dose of realism with Justin Maxwell. How does a .238 average of a .305 OBP sound?

    * The system expects a big rebound from Felipe Lopez. Even with the lousy defense, it believes he'll be one of the team's better players, roughly 2-3 wins better than an average player.

    * 16 homers in 282 ABs from Wily Mo means 32 in 564, right? Doubling his stats across the board, makes him the team's second most valuable player. His top comps include Pete Incaviglia (not as bad as that sounds at first blush) and Andres Galarraga.

    * It believes (as most reasonable people do) that Guzman's season last year was a fluke, giving him very little chance to improve much over his career numbers.

    * If you plopped Chris Marrero in the majors, he'd slug .368.

    * It LOVES LOVES LOVES Elijah Dukes (well, about as much as Milledge, I guess). His two top comps are Austin Kearns and Dwight Evans.

  • Pitching? OY!

    * Shawn Hill's the "Ace" with a 4.03 ERA. The next three most "valuable" pitchers are relievers, before you get to Bergmannnn and his 4.71. Then a few more relievers and John Patterson. Reliever, Redding, Chico, Buncha relievers, Hanrahan. On and on.

    * It projects Livan Hernandez to have about the same ERA as Matt Chico, but to give more innings. By projected (neutral park) ERA, Jeff Weaver (sub-5) would be our #2 pitcher. Kyle Lohse would sandwich between Bergmann and Patterson in the 3-spot. Kris Benson, #2. It hasn't seen the recent scouting reports on Bartolo Colon and loves him (4.6ish ERA). BH Kim, a #2. Stevie Trashcan's declining stuff translates to something around 6. Stay Away.

    These guys might be scrubs, but they're better than some of the scrubs we've got!

    * It thinks that Garret Mock is far too hittable, which was a common scout complaint about his performance in the minors. It really doesn't like many of our other pitchers, even John Lanna, likely because of their less-than impressive peripherals (K, BB, etc).

    * Have no fear. Texas is projected to have a worse "best" pitcher by VORP (value over replacement pitcher).

  • Friday, February 01, 2008


    Hold yer caballos! Tracy Ringolsby, the hat-wearing often-wrong hall-of-famer, says he's heard that the Nats have an offer out there to Livan Hernandez, to bring the big boy back home.

    He ain't what he was, but he's better than Bacsik.

  • To follow up on the point I didn't make artfully in that last post...

    The reason I think the team needs a veteran to plug in, even a crappy one, is that there isn't a ton of pitching depth, especially with all the injury-prone players. (Do you really think that Hill, Patterson and Bergmannnnn are going to combine for 60+ starts?). Since the team is going to need 12-15 starting pitchers -- and it's not clear that the team has the depth to avoid scraping the absolute bottom of the barrel and rushing someone who's not ready or signing some worse scrapheap pitcher in June.

    It's not that these guys are good, but that they'll be better than the Simontacchi-like alternative.