January 6, 2007

Pitching? Pitching!? Pitching!?!?!

For weeks now the Natmosphere has been ablaze. The Federalist tried to rationalize it. OMG harped on it. Banks overflowed with speculation, rumor and innuendo. Cap'n Punishment just plain wouldn't shut up about it.

Well now we have it. And frankly, it's less like waking up Christmas morn to find a lump of coal in your stocking, and more like waking up to find an anthracite strip-mining operation in your living room. Nationals.com
reports, with a straight face I suppose, that the team has offered "contracts" to five "pitchers." (Note the liberal and entirely justified use of "scare quotes.") The contract offers are said to range in value from a bus ticket to Viera up to roughly $3M dollars. Or as I like to call it, "Sub-Joel Piniero Money."

Two of the five names are familiar to Nats fans in the same way that the grim spectre of approaching death is familiar to the elderly, so we'll dispense with them quickly. Ramon Ortiz, the club's 2006 "leader" in innings pitched, wins and strikeouts strikes me as the most likely to have been offered a multi-million dollar big league contract. The Nats avoided offering Ortiz arbitration last month out of the (increasingly reasonable) fear that a neutral arbitrator, not whacked out on any sort of hallucinogens, might award Ramon-O a contract in the $6-8M range. Or as I like to call it, "Sub-Gil Meche Money." If we can get Little Papi's 190 innings for three millions of dollars, I'm all for it.

Tony Armas, Jr. is the other potential familiar face. I've always been a TA2 fan, even though his 5.1 IP per start average is absolute murder on a bullpen. But he's still young-ish and talented, and if he would agree to be paid on a per inning basis ($10K per seems fair to me,) I'd be happy to have him back. I'm betting that's unlikely though, because if the previously mentioned Talented Mr. Piniero can get a $4M deal, someone will offer that to Tony. Hopefully it won't be us.

The other potential future disposable Nats starters are Steve Trachsel, Jorge Sosa and Jerome Williams. The 36-year old Trachsel tossed 164.2 innings of sub-5 ERA ball, but that about exhausts his upside. To sum up Stevie Trashcan, Needham put it best when he said, "Like Ortiz. But worse." Better than Ryan Franklin? We report, you decide.

Jorge Sosa is at least on the right side of 30, but he's never thrown more than 134 innings in a season, and his K/BB ratio is the very definition of uninspiring. Seriously, if we've reached the point of bringing in veterans to throw 120 innings of 5.50 ERA ball just to protect the arm of Joel Hanrahan, or Colby Lewis or Billy Traber I say the team needs to go all in and call Denny Neagle. He's tanned, rested and ready.

Jerome Williams is the most intriguing of the bunch, as the perennial hot prospect only last month turned 25. But he's also the most likely to draw stiff competition from other (better) teams. If we had to burn a guaranteed contract and a 40-man roster spot on any of these shlubs, Williams would be my first choice, with Ortiz running a distant second.

There it is folks. The Nationals are "in the market" for veteran "pitching." Are you happy now? Are you?

Personally, 5 innings of Tony Armas or Steve Trachsel are going to require as much beer and nachos as 5 innings of Shawn Hill or Jason Bergmann, so I'm largely indifferent. Crappy pitching is crappy pitching, be it delivered by six veteran starters or nine journeyman minor leaguers. Cold beer, warm nachos, abundant soft serve and please God no rain delays when Patterson is pitching. That's what it will take to get me through this season, one way or another.

1 comment:

El Gran Color Naranja said...

Am I happy? Satisfied is a better word.