Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Week in the Ones that Got Away

In Jim Bowden's first two years here, he established a virtually unbroken record of giving up young players for old, improving for declining, cheap guys under team control for expensive soon-to-be FAs, and more players for fewer in return, which I believe is a prime reason why the 2008 version of the Nationals is the worst yet. As a service to our readers, we provide a regular update on how some of the young 'uns that Bowden gave up are faring lately.
  • Juan Rivera (traded with Maicer Izturis for Jose Guillen): Rivera picked up where he left off before the break, hitting .304-.360-.609 over his last seven games. Here he is blowing open yesterday's Orioles game with a laser shot homer.
  • Maicer Izturis: Strangely still hitting third for that wacky, wild Mike Scioscia, Izturis has slumped since the break hitting .192.
  • Armando Galarraga (traded with Brad Wilkerson and Terrmel Sledge for Alfonso Soriano): I covered this already. This guy's for real. Boy, Smoker and Zimmermann better pan out or that deal will look awful at the end of the day.
  • Daryl Thompson (traded with Billy Bray, Gary Majewski, Brendan Harris, and Royce Clayton for Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez): Thompson last pitched July 13 and picked up the win for AAA Louisville, going 6.0 and giving up 2 ER, 5 H, and 3 BB with 4 Ks.
  • Bill Bray: At this point, if I had to pick the player involved in the Kearns-Lopez deal who will have the most total value long-term, I think it would be Bray. You could argue for Kearns, but Bray is really showing why he was a #1 draft pick for the Expos back in the day. Bray has pitched in 7 of 9 games since the break, giving up just 1 ER in 6 IP.
  • Brendan Harris: Harris has hit an empty .250 with 2 BBs since the break. He's not a top SS, but if we still had him there wouldn't be so much pressure to overpay for for E-Bone and Guzzy.
  • Gary Majewski: The Mulletted One dropped his ERA to 4.12 with 3 scoreless since the break. His velocity is still off a bit, but his K rate is finally back up over where it was even at his best in 2005 and his command is better than it's ever been. I hope we get to see him next weekend, and I hope he gets a nice round of applause.
  • Darrell Rasner (claimed off waivers by the New York Yankees): Rasner went 5.2 and gave up 2 ER on 4 H, 4 BB, and 2 Ks while picking up the win over the Twins.
  • Scott Downs (released): Downs, the best left-handed reliever in baseball the last two years, went five more scoreless this week, lowering his ERA to 1.51.
  • Val Pascucci (released, November 2004): Valentino had a six-game hit streak snapped yesterday. He was 6 for 27 with two homers and seven walks. He has 77 BBs in 106 minor league games this year.
  • Alejandro Machado (selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Twins in November 2006): Emilio Bonifacio's top comp in the 2008 Baseball Prospectus Annual hit .348 with 5 doubles and a homer with 4 RBI and 4 runs over his last 6 games in AAA.


Sal said...

You really think Downs has been the best lefty out of the pen the last two years?
Brian Fuentes?
Mike Gonzalez?
B.J. Ryan?
Billy Wagner?
Damaso Marte?
Will Ohman?
Rafael Perez?
John Halama? (that's a joke)

Steven said...

You make a fair point, Sal, and I don't want to overstate the case.

If I was starting a team, he's not the first lefty reliever I'd pick. There are certainly guys on your list I'd take over him. Not Marte or Ohman, but certainly Rafael Perez.

But Downs's ERA this year is 1.51 and last year it was 2.17 for a combined 1.87. No one's been better than that. Not Wagner, no one.

Among relievers with at least 40 IP last year and this, JC Romero is the only one close, with a 2.09 ERA combined.

And Downs isn't used as a LOOGY either. In fact, this year his BAA is better against righties than lefties.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying Bowden should be fired just because he failed to project what Downs would do these past 2 years. As far as I can tell the guy just had some kind of breakthrough after getting moved from SP to RP. I'm saying it's part of an overall pattern.

And there was just no reason why we needed to outright release Scott Downs in 2005. Not payroll, nothing. Bowden just threw away a useful arm for no reason, and now with 20/20 hindsight it's gone from a bad move from awful.

So that's why I think it's fair to hang that one on Bowden.

sal said...

You make a good point, Steven, you make a good point...