Saturday, December 13, 2008

Non-Tender Options

Every year the veterans who are non-tendered produce a wave of new, relatively options to pursue in free agency. Last night's list is no exception. Here are a few non-tenders who might be worth a look.

Takashi Saito: The 39-year-old could be just what we need to begin to shore up the back of the bullpen, along with Joel Hanrahan and Saul Rivera. He's coming off elbow surgery, but when healthy he's been great the last three years in LA. Last season he K-ed 11.5 per nine while walking 3.06 to produce a fielding independent ERA of 2.00. Sounds like a closer to me.

Ty Wigginton: He's 31, can play 1B, 3B, and LF, and maybe some 2B. He hit a very solid .285/.350/.526 in 429 plate appearances, though I wouldn't expect him to repeat that. In the event that Teixeira isn't a National and we're back to Nick Johnson as plan A there, Wigginton would fit in nicely as a 4-corners utility man who could play every day in a pinch and keep us from replaying the debacle of '08. He'll look to start somewhere and may get that chance, but if not backing up Nick isn't a bad way to angle for an every day job. And how can you pass up the chance to pair Wigginton and Willingham?

Daniel Cabrera: Sorry O's haters, but if we can take a cheap flyer on a guy, a not-yet-old power arm like Cabrera's not a bad option. He's got excellent groundball rates (48% last year), and has shown power stuff with a 94-95 mph fastball and K-rates as high as 9.55 per 9 two years ago. Something was wrong with him last year as his fastball velocity dropped 2 mph and is K-rate plummeted to 4.75. Like I said, he's not really young anymore at 28, but if he can be had for a million bucks, I'd throw him in the pool and see if he floats. I'd also be interested how he'd do in the bullpen.

Joe Nelson: There are lots of non-descript middle relief guys, but the former Marlins middle reliever stands out from the crowd. He posted a 2.00 ERA that was greatly inflated by an unsustainable 84.8% strand rate but even still he was pretty darn good. He K-ed 10.0 per 9 and walked just 3.67. He'll be 34 next year and would help stabilize our severely unstable pen.

Gary Majewski: Aw hell, can't I be a fan? His K-rate bounced back up to 6.08 per 9 last year, though his velocity still isn't quite into the 93-mph range he had when he was a key piece of the lights-out Nationals bullpen of '05-'06. His ERA was an ugly 6.53 last year, but he wasn't that bad. His BABIP against was .391. He, like Cordero and Ayala, is probably permanently broken after two years of the kind of overuse by the Nationals, but he deserves a chance to show he can at least mop up, and why not here?

John Bale: Former Red alert! Since it appears that we're going to be filling at least one or two rotation spots with the ol' JimBo special--invite a bunch of castoffs to camp and tell a whole lot of stories about how you found Pete Schourek on the scrapheap and he almost won the Cy Young award. Bale is a 35-year-old journeyman lefty who pitched in Japan from 2004-2006. He made the Royals rotation last year out of spring training but broke his hand punching a door and missed the rest of the year. (He and Scott "Don't Tase Me, Bro" Olsen would fit in well together.) He's not good, but again since we seem dead set on repeating the Simontacchi-Basick-Jerome Williams-and-pray approach, Bale could be a guy who pitches badly for 140 innings.


Hendo said...

Saito sounds like an ex-closer to me. Not that he wasn't decent before hitting the DL, but he'd have to come for awful cheap as a 39-year-old surgery veteran.

Anyhow, if there's one thing the Nats seem to be attending to, it's the back of the bullpen. With Hanrahan as the one-inning closer, and Shell as the two-inning closer (at least if I had my druthers), they're already in a pretty fair position.

Add Rivera (if he's still around) and Hinckley as setup men, Bergmann and Clippard as swingmen, and Mock and Estrada for good measure, and you just might have the start of a pretty fair relief corps.

Steven said...

Yeah, I'm assuming he'll come cheap, but I think we need to take some risks. Your bullpen scenario seems like a recipe for disaster to me. You've been pretty smart re: Steve Shell so far, but his peripherals tell us that he was more lucky than good in 2008. Clippard I think isn't a major-league pitcher, and either Bergmann or Mock is going to be needed in the rotation, maybe both. Estrada I don't believe in at all. Even Hanrahan still makes me nervous. Other than Rivera, I don't really feel all that good about any of them.

Hendo said...

The Nats need to do two things with regard to relief pitching.

One is to grow starters who can go more than five innings. That will take time.

The other they can do right now, if they choose, and I'll be writing about it at the Hutch this winter.

Steven said...

Boy you said it. The best thing we could do to help our bullpen would be to take the innings load off.

I've been toying around with the idea that IF we go into the season with Lannan, Olsen, Mock, Balester, Martis, Bergmann... or some mix thereof, that we should go with 13 pitchers on Opening Day.

Steve Shoup said...

I think Wigginton, Nelson, and D-Cab should all be top targets for this team. A couple other arms that I like out there that were non tendered were Chuck James and Denny Bautista. James isn't gonna be too expensive and he's a young lefty who has had some success in the majors. He def. has more success than a number of pitchers who may make up the nats rotation. Bautista hasn't put it all together yet but he's always had a nice arm. Again another cheap investment even if you'd have to cut him what are you out a max of $600K?