The Nats signed Edwin Jackson yesterday to a one year deal worth around $10M, give or take (depending on incentives and the like). This of course throws our rotation projections into turmoil. It indicates that while Strasburg, Zimmermann, Gonzalez and now Jackson are probably the top 4 of the rotation, Lannan, Wang and Detwiler are all fighting for that final spot. Of course, with an innings limit on Strasburg and the inevitable even minor injuries that show up on pitchers throughout a season, everyone will get a chance to throw. But enough about the rotation, let’s talk about this new pitcher.
Who is This Guy
Jackson is 28 years old and has been in the majors for parts of 9 seasons. In his last 4 seasons, he’s averaged 202 IP and 32 starts, so he’s been a horse. His ERA+ is a slightly better than average 106, meaning he’s been alright but nothing special in aggregate. He had a horrible start to 2010 with Arizona, got traded to the White Sox and was lights out. A decent start to 2011 in Chicago led to a trade to St Louis, where he was a league average pitcher who was called upon to start 4 games in the postseason. After beating the Phillies in the NLCS, he had a poor remainder of the postseason, but did end up as a World Champion.
Earlier, we discussed the case for signing Ryan Zimmerman. Most fans probably agree with the sentiment there, but there is a case against re-signing, which mostly him rests on whether or not they think he’s good enough and healthy enough. I think my stance on the “good enough” part of the analysis is pretty clear from the previous post. However, we need to touch on that injury section of our assessment.
And for that, and the maybe the biggest bulwark for the case against, I present to you…
There has been a great deal of discussion recently regarding when the Nationals will offer Ryan Zimmerman an extension. Of course, it isn’t inevitable that they will do that at all. And an extension isn’t the only possibility to keep him – he’s signed through 2013, but they could rip that up and sign him to a 6 year deal right now (rather than a 5 or 6 year extension on the end) as suggested here. But I don’t want to get into the minutia of how, when or how long here. I just want to talk about why they should do it, in a few simple points.
He is a truly great hitter for his position, and while there are some questions about his throwing, it is pretty unanimous that he is one of the best fielding (pre-throw) players in the league right now. It puts him among the best players in the game. Here just a few points highlighting that:
In case you hadn’t heard, the Nats are totally the leading candidate to sign Prince Fielder. And also there is a 99% chance that they won’t sign him. Welcome, Nats fans, to the world of posturing. Now that Washington showed it would throw money at a guy like Jayson Werth, agents will be calling them a potential candidate with any relevant player. And the Nats might well be guilty, too. It’s negotiations via the media, and it happens every offseason. But I’ve never brought myself to believe any of it.
Here’s what I know – it’s January, and Prince Fielder has about 2 months to find a team. I also know that there aren’t too many teams that might actually be interested – DC, Texas, Seattle, maybe a few others. One thing that might come out of this is a shorter contract for Prince, which would make him alot more attractive to teams that are scared off by his fielding ability, his body, and, in the case of the Nats, the lack of a DH on their team. So now that it’s January, what are your thoughts?
Today the Washington Post has an article by Tom Boswell that basically rips the Nats ownership for not spending money this year. It’s a 2 pager on why they are looking like they don’t want to do what it take to win, but the whole article really is summarized by this paragraph
the Nats haven’t signed Mark Buehrle, Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson… they haven’t bid on Yu Darvish or Yoenis Cespedes… they haven’t been within a zillion miles of C.J. Wilson, Jose Reyes or Prince Fielder, and especially why they haven’t made a prospects-for-a-star trade such as the Reds for ace Mat Latos, it’s probably because ownership is tensing up, tightening the leash again.
Ok, I get it, everyone wants their team to be active in the offseason. If you’re not moving, you’re getting passed, right? But who are we really talking about out there? Let’s look at all of these players that the Nats “missed out on””
Mark Buehrle – He was pursued, and would have been signed but for the fact that he wanted a 4th year, something that is highly risky for a pitcher of his age, even with his durability. He’s also no better than a #3, so it seems like he’s not worth the risk without serious reward
Roy Oswalt – Is still out there, and alot of people think the Nats are in the mix. Personally, I’d love to have him if you can promise me he’ll be healthy. If not, I don’t see Washington as the team that should be going injury risk for big reward in their signing. But for one year, it’s probably alright to do, and the Nats may well end up with that.
Edwin Jackson – This temptress continues to be on the Nats radar, despite being moderately to terrible most of the time. Read the rest of this entry »
The Nats acquired Mike Cameron today, because who doesn’t need outfielders that are almost 40? In reality, he’s probably signed to a bench role, and while normally you’d like to give a young guy a shot, there aren’t too many in the farm system that appear to be ready to do that. The guys that are decent need consistent playing time because they aren’t really knocking on the door. So what will Cameron bring?
Last year, Cameron hit an uninspiring .203/.285/.359, which makes you wonder why they’d even go after him. He probably isn’t that bad of a hitter, and unless he’s totally done, it’s not unreasonable to expect him to do something like his .252/.339/.441 from the previous two seasons. And hidden in that 2011 slash line is an ISO of a little over .150, which is pretty good. Of course, Cameron rarely hits over .250, so that’s still not adding up to a great slugging. If you take it for granted that his bat will be a bit better, than his ISO may recover as well. He may be a platoon candidate, as he’s always hit lefties better than righties. And their current CF on the roster, Roger Bernadina, does hit righties better. So it’s possible he starts in CF against lefties.
The Nationals only non-tender last night was Doug Slaten, and it was probably well deserved. Last year, lefties hit an astounding .333/.368/.639 against him. Righties hit .378/.489/.568, which is also pretty bad. But it would be alright if he had gotten lefties out, that’s why there are guys who get paid to come in for one LH batter.
In 2010, he faced 81 LH batters, and they couldn’t touch him. They hit .151/.235/.151 – that’s right, no extra base hits, and throw in 24 Ks. 2009 only had him face 18 lefties, but they hit him well, to the tune of .389/.389/.667 – that’s a tiny sample size, although not a good result. 2008 was another good season. While he wasn’t 2010 great against LH hitters, he faced 63 and they only hit .232/.317/.375.
Meanwhile, righties hit him the whole time. In 2010, their OPS was .844 against him. It 2009, it was .897 and in 2008, it was .866. He’s a lefty specialist, and yet over the years he has been very streaky at getting LH hitters out. The Nationals may yet re-sign him at a discount, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they just let him go, and Adam Kilgore writes that he’ll be looking elsewhere for a team that will give him a “better shot at making the team.”