Monday, February 27, 2006

We Got Pedro!!!!

OH MY GOD! The Nats just signed Pedro! Wow! I can't believe it!
Pedro's, like, totally the best pitcher evah! Wowza!

If only it were THAT Pedro, huh? Instead, Jim Bowden ran down to the used car lot, kicked the tires of a few models, and came home with the DeLuxe Astacio model.

The League-Run Internet-Only News Service reports that he gets a $700K contract with a boat load of incentives. It's unclear from the reporter's account whether the $700K is guaranteed or non-guaranteed. If non-guaranteed, Astacio could be cut for $175K at the end of spring training. [UPDATE: It appears that it's guaranteed]

If guaranteed, the Nationals would be on the hook for the entire portion. That's also when the bonuses would kick in, starting with a $500K roster bonus. There are also $2 million in other incentives, which are hopefully high enough as to keep Astacio from reaching them, save for the most unlikely of seasons.

It's hard to know what to make of Astacio. (Stats) He's had some good seasons, some terrible seasons. Some healthy, others injured. We don't know what we're going to get. He's basically Tony Armas. Just older.

You're going to hear a lot about his excellent close to the season. (See that article for an example) A 1.89 ERA is nothing to sneeze at, certainly. But it came in just 19 innings. Why is that any more valid than the 19 innings he pitched in May, when he put up a 7.32 ERA?

Statistics can be used to explain lots of things. It's important to understand them well enough to understand when they're being used incorrectly, trying to tell you that what you see isn't what you're really looking at.

Last season batters hit .271/ .323/ .447 against Astacio. He walked 2.6 per game, and struck out 5.5. Neither of those are bad. Neither of those are excellent. He allowed 1.2 homers per game, too, making him slightly homer-prone, something RFK is sure to help. He hasn't had a truly good season since 2000, when Coors Field muddled the numbers.

What can we expect? I don't really know.

It's hard to be upset at Bowden for signing a pitcher. And given what was floating out there, Astacio really was the team's only option. But I still have to wonder what's going to give. Drese, Armas, Rauch, Astacio, Ortiz -- Two aren't going to make it. Of those five, only two (Rauch and Drese) can be traded.

I'm intrigued to see what's going to happen this spring. We've got a lot of cooks, and Jim Bowden is there, stirring, stirring, stirring. How's the soup going to taste? (Yeah, that attempted analogy sucks. Sue me!)


    The bloggers have started weighing in. And nothing's official to the bloggers weigh in, right?

    --Federal Baseball notes his lack of durability (Pedro's, not Basil's), and that Petco was his savior (again, Pedro's, not Basil's)

    --Caleb at National Interest worries about Astacio's durability, too. But more importantly, Caleb thinks that the Nats pitching rotation would be perfect for the next Real World cast. Also, he notes that Astacio brings to 42, the number of Nats who've had labrum tears.

    --Friend to the Japanese, Ryan at Distinguished Senators displays the kind of wonderful analysis, which makes him a hit in the far east: he quotes me. Ryan's really just upset that this could hurt Jon Rauch's chance of getting a break.

    --Farid of the Beltway Boys gives it a big thumbs-up. Though I'm not sure I'd agree with his assessment that Astacio is "200+ inning pitcher", a number he's reached four times in his career.

    --Somewhat related, Rusty Staub at Oleanders wonders whether the recent hyping of the pitchers on the team (including the news that Ramon Ortiz has improved because of his work with Jose Rijo) is just part of a sales job by the front office. The results will certainly let us know.

  • Here's the Post's take, including a digression on why the Nats are going for an MRI this time.