Maybe a front office person in Washington is finally getting the drift of my posts as the Nationals signed a new Assistant (to the?) GM on Wednesday. Clark was a good pick up as he was partly responsible for the drafting of Brian McCann, Yunel Escobar, and Jason Heyward... so the guy knows talent. He probably doesn't see much right now on the Nationals.
Especially in the starting pitching staff, which is this post's topic.
Last year, the Nationals had the worst ERA (5.02) in the National League, a whole 0.18 behind the Brewers. That is quite a big gap between last and second to last. In the entire Major Leagues, they were only better than the lowly Orioles and Indians. And with the Dodgers coming in at a MLB-best 3.41 this season, there is clearly a lot of ground to be made up here.
Now, I know that the starters were not fully responsible for this number. But, they were a bulk of the contribution. And it comes as no surprise that they sucked considering that the Nationals had 13 different starters throughout the season.
And most of them put up a very high level of suckage.
There were old farts starting like Livan Hernandez. Middle relievers giving it a go like Garret Mock. And simply shitty pitchers like Daniel Cabrera marched out to the rubber.
Unfortunately, all of this resulted in no good for the Nationals. There were no uncovered gems. There were no promising young arms tested out. And finally, the one with the best future, Jordan Zimmermann, was lost for the 2010 season with fuckin' Tommy John. So going into 2010, the team really has to start from square one all over again in constructing a staff.
So let's start building.
Going into the 2010 season, the staff looks like this:
1. Stephen Strasburg
2. John Lannan
Spot Starter - I will give this to Garrett Mock only because he's chubby.
God, I would love to put Zimmermann in that number two spot. That option may prove to be the best young one-two punch in the majors. But, sadly, I cannot.
But you can see all of the question marks there. And filling them will be a bitch.
For the fifth spot, I think I allow Livan Hernandez to come back. He has expressed interest in coming back with the Nationals for six fucking years. Six years may be a little much. But does two years/$3M get the job done? If so, he can bring himself and his beer gut back to eat innings at the end of my rotation. Yes, I know I wind up with a 5.50ish ERA and 1.60ish WHIP, but I also save my bullpen.
The number four spot is even tougher. The internal options (Collin Balester, Craig Stammen, Shairon Martis, Ross Detwiller, and J.D. Martin) all excite me less than a Viagra-free 95 year old. What a gross collection of young talent. The best option is really to let them all go balls-to-the-wall in the spring and see who can win the spot. I see the production from any of them being about the same crap, so I will have to simply ride the hot hand out of the spring.
Now, for the three spot, I am doing something a little different. I'm going big and signing a free agent to be at the top of my rotation. I have my sights set on John Lackey. Yes, I know I have to overpay for him, but I'm willing. There is no anchor in my rotation right now. I have saved a little money going internal (except for Hernandez) at all of my other spots. Plus, I need fans. And fans will show up for John Lackey more than Collin Balester. At least I hope, right?
So what do I give Lackey, contract-wise? I know I have to overpay. Is a 6 year/$120M contract too much? Not enough? Either way, that's my starting point with him. I would also try to frontload it. That way, if he really doesn't pan out, I can deal him to another team, who will get him for cheaper than I did at the beginning of the contract. Anyways, I hope that contract would work for him because I have my sights set dead red on bringing him to my rotation. With him, I think the team has a decent shot at the Wild Card in 2010 while putting fans in the seats to help cover his contract.
So in the end, this is what I get:
1. John Lackey
2. Stephen Strasburg
3. John Lannan
4. J.D Martin (I slotted him here because he sucked the least last year)
5. Livan Hernandez
Spot - Fat Ass Garrett Mock
Then, I count on Jordan Zimmermann coming back in 2011. That will be a nice top three when he joins Strasburg and Lackey.
I like it. What about you?