Monday, December 27, 2010

Caught in the Webb

Not to dampen the understandable joy over the Matty Chico Holiday Miracle, but the Nats lost out on Brandon Webb. It's too early to determine if NatsTown will take the news as hard as this guy.

Actually, come to think of it, I'm uncertain that this news should really dampen much of anything, insofar as I'm not sure precisely why the Nationals wanted Webb in the first place. Sure, Webb is an injured-top-pitcher-on-the-mend, and the Nats have a predilection to that kind of guy, and Webb is a former Diamondback, and Mike Rizzo has a predilection to that kind of guy. I can understand reasons why they might be interested in Webb, but I fail to see why they would really want him, if you take my meaning. They already have Tiger Wang; he's not a former Diamondback, but the Nats paid him to watch him not-pitch last year, and they enjoyed that experience so much that they decided to pay him again.

So we turn our eyes to Pavano Watch 2010, which is threatening to stretch into a multi-year ordeal. But, come to think of it, I'm uncertain why the Nats would want Pavano, too. He's more or less what Jason Marquis was a year ago, right? Sure, Marquis alternated between hurt and abjectly miserable last year, whereas Pavano added a moustache to this repetoire, but Baseball Reference still lists the two among each other's ten most comparables.

Of course, there's no law against having both Marquis and Pavano, and, if both are healthy and reasonably effective, the Nats can pencil in 375 or so innings without much fretting. This would not be a familiar position for Nats fans -- the primary difference between the 2005 Washington Nationals and every subsequent edition of the Washington Nationals is the 660ish above-average innings summoned by the Livan-Patterson-Loaiza troika five years ago. The Nats haven't received anything approaching that kind of reliability from a bloc of starting pitchers since. Marquis, Pavano, and Livan The Return can't match the sturdiness of the '05 guys, but getting some kind of reliability from the starting rotation would be welcome and might just add a few wins.

But just about every decision is a balancing of competing interests, much like Pavano's decision to grow that moustache ("Look ridiculous" vs. "Inspire Facebook Fan Page"), and the opportunity to benefit from Pavano's presence must be balanced with avoiding the opportunity to be burned by Pavano's presence. Do the Nats really want to go three years on this guy? Do they really want to lock up a rotation spot on him when they could hand it to a younger pitcher that they claim is part of the future?

The answer, of course, is no. The Nats won't end up signing Pavano because he is too expensive and signing him doesn't really make sense. Zimmermann, Livan, Lannan, and Marquis are locked into the rotation (barring injury, which can never be waved away with this team). Wang might get around to pitching in actual baseball games this season. And the Nats still need to make heads or tails out of Detwiler and Maya. Even if Livan turns back into a pumpkin, there's still plenty of look-sees and warm bodies on hand, and it's not like Pavano would make that much of a difference in the bottom line. Signing Pavano just for the sake of being handed the veteran-innings-eater baton when Marquis's deal expires at the end of the year doesn't seem worth engaging is some sort of misbegotten bidding war for Pavano.

Barring a trade for someone who could reasonably make an impact going forward, like Matt Garza, I think the major acquisitions on the pitching side are done -- which is to say, there were none. And I guess I'm fine with that. In other words, 2012 can't come fast enough.


  • Bah, humbug.

    By Blogger Nate, at 12/27/2010 8:40 AM  

  • After reading Joe Torre's book there's no way I would want Pavano on any team I followed.

    By Anonymous Sec314, at 12/27/2010 11:46 AM  

  • When we get to 2012, we'll be looking towards 2013. With the Nats, hope springs eternal.

    By Anonymous Phil dunn, at 12/27/2010 12:22 PM  

  • I can't say that losing Webb has me all choked up. Pavano would be nice at the right price, but I don't think we are going to see that. All in all "Wait until next year" is going to be the new marketing slogan for the Nats.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/27/2010 12:34 PM  

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