I Shall Pitch No More, For the Nats

It appears as if the Chief, Chad Cordero, is gone for good. He is a free agent, and he probably won’t be re-signed by the Nats. If he is, it may be under a minor league contract. Giving him another contract, if its cheap enough, wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but it’s not necessary. As Joel Hanrahan shows us once again, closers are usually made, not born.

I am fired up about this. The unfortunate story for the Nats is that Cordero had real value, not just as a pitcher, but as a trade piece.  He was racking up saves from 2004-2007 (110 of them) with an incredible ERA in 2005, and a very good ERA in ’04 and ’06. 2007 wasn’t as great, but he still got 37 saves. His peak value was probably as a midseason trade in 2007, but even trading him in the 2008 offseason would have been nice. Who could they have gotten for Cordero 18 months ago? Let me use my time machine to quote rotoworld

July 31, 2007- “ESPN’s Jayson Stark says the Mets have gotten aggressive in their pursuit of the Nationals’ Chad Cordero. The Nationals are certain to want Lastings Milledge, but perhaps they’d settle for Carlos Gomez and a pitching prospect”

Wow, Lastings took more than just Chad, so that wasn’t going to happen. But Carlos Gomez? He may have some OBP issues at the moment, but having a 22 year old speedster CF in exchange for Cordero, that might have been nice. What else?

July 31, 2007 – “The Mets have reportedly offered Philip Humber to the Nationals for Chad Cordero, and the Diamondbacks are also in the hunt, according to SI.com’s Jon Heyman. As lofty as his demands have been in the past, it’s hard to see Jim Bowden taking the Mets’ fifth or sixth best prospect for Cordero. A deal would probably have to include Carlos Gomez or Mike Pelfrey”

Philip Humber was offered. He used to be a top prospect but has lost something since surgery. He still projects to be a major league starter. He was, like Gomez, eventually traded for Johan Santana. The Nats could probably find room for him in their hobbled rotation. Could they have gotten Pelfrey? I don’t know, that may have been a stretch, but if they passed up a guy who went 200 innings with a 3.72 ERA for the Mets this season they should feel they couldn’t have gotten dumber. Unless of course they read this.

July 31, 2007 – “If the Diamondbacks are offering Carlos Quentin, that’s a deal the Nationals should strongly consider.”

Yeah, Rotoworld thought the Nats had a chance to get Carlos Quentin. Carlos Quentin, who hit 36 HRs for the White Sox this season. But wait, you say, nobody knew Quentin could hit. Well, maybe he couldn’t be picked out as a future star. But at the age of 22, one and a half years before this trade may have been offered, he just finished up a minor league season in which he hit .301/.422/.520 with 21 HRs in 452 ABs. In AAA. AT THE AGE OF 22. He is now a whopping 25 years old. A little Baseball Reference searching would have told Bowden that Quentin might be able to hit. Yeah, taking a chance on Dmitri Young and Aaron Boone seems much wiser.

In their defense, the Nats didn’t know Chad would get hurt. HOWEVA, they clearly were going to get something in exchange that would be better. Here is some math for you

  • 37 Saves < 36 HRs
  • 75 IP < 200 IP
  • Closing < Playing full time

Joel Hanrahan, a joke as a starter, has become the Nats closer. And he’s doing a good job of it! Is Hanrahan as good as Cordero? No. Is he going to be a 95% of Chad Cordero solution? So far, it looks like it. Is that enough for what the Nats need right now? Absolutely. A 2007 version of Chad Cordero would be useful for any contendors, but not the Nats.

So when Chad Cordero signs a deal this summer, daydream about having an outfield of Quentin, Milledge and Dukes. Or Mike Pelfrey pitching. I have said this every opportunity I have had, and now seems like another great time. If you have a great closer, and you suck you MUST TRADE HIM. They are usually overvalued, especially at the midpoint when contending teams are desparate for another reliever. You will get more than you deserve for one, so DO IT. If someone offers a 24 year old prospect who was killing AAA 2 years earlier, or any top 10 prospect in exchange for Joel Hanrahan next season, do not complain. Let the Nats do it, and know they probably ripped somone.

A Word on the Series

Finally, congratulations to the Phillies on a deserved World Series victory, a homegrown team that the Nats can try to emulate over the next few seasons. I have made fun of Phillies fans in the past, and the team they love. Making fun of the team is tough now, this is a team to emulate. When you saw Rollins, Utley, and Howard celebrate, you had to feel that this team did it the right way. The fans are still easy enough to make fun of, between their booing of their own GM (its too loud to hear his name, they also boo the WS trophy for like 10 seconds before they start cheering) and their general hatred of everything.  But the TEAM, the team was great this year. Hopefully building from within will work for the Nats, as well.

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