Saturday, April 11, 2009

Shawn Hill > Daniel Caberera > Scott Olsen

Yesterday Shawn Hill confirmed what I already thought--that releasing him was a bone-headed mistake.

If the Nationals were a team like the Rays or the Yankees, sitting on so much starting pitching that talented young guys like Wade Davis and Phil Hughes can't even get a sniff, then I could understand tossing Hill overboard. But for a team like the Nationals, relying on the likes of Daniel Cabrera and Scott Olsen as their "reliable" options, starting John Lannan on Opening Day, and rushing guys like Shairon Martis (I don't care what his spring training numbers are, I'm not at all convinced he's ready, and you sure don't want to be dependent on him)... remind me again why we didn't have room for Hill?

Shawn debuted for the Padres yesterday throwing 5 innings, giving up 2 runs on 7 hits and 1 walk and 3 Ks. His sinker sat at its usual 89-91 mph range, and 47 of his 69 pitches were strikes.

He wasn't dominant, and if a guy named Luke Gregerson hadn't come on after Hill loaded the bases with no outs in the 6th to get a double play and a strikeout to end the threat with no runs allowed, his line could have looked a lot uglier.

Still, Hill now has more wins than the entire Nationals team. He would also be the only Nationals starter with an above-average fielding-independent ERA (FIP) over the past two seasons (4.03 and 4.06). In fact, Lannan is the only Nationals starter who has posted a season-long FIP under 5.00 (!) any time in the last two years (and that was last year's 4.79).

Those of you who were convinced that Hill would never pitch in the majors again: it's time to eat crow. He has one solid start, one more than any of our guys have had, and no matter what happens from here on out he's proven it was a mistake to let him go.


Andrew said...

Let's see if Hill can actually pitch a whole season before we start feeling sorry for ourselves.

Nats fans know better than most on how this tragic story is going to end: on the DL.

James Bjork said...

"no matter what happens from here on out he's proven it was a mistake to let him go."


Umm, Steven, I think this post wins the overstatement-of-the-year award.

I think it's a little soon to be crowing about how right certain armchair GMs are and how ostensibly stupid Rizzo is.

It was ONE start that was made respectable only because none of the runners Hill left on in his last inning of work came around to score.

As far as we know, Hill may have been fighting back significant pain at about pitch #60, and as a result, could no longer keep it together. What's his arm going to do next time around? Be even stronger as he gets stretched out, or will it start barking at pitch 50? If I were a betting man, I'd put money on the latter. Remember- all those exploratory imaging and surgical procedures could never pinpoint an anatomical problem to correct. Whatever this issue is/was could still be there.

Rizzo et al made it abundantly clear Hill's release was not about talent, but about the extreme uncertainty he'd be able to go out there every fifth day. Hill has had fewer starts in each the last few years than most people have digits in their anatomy.

Given that the Lerners are cheap, and put a cap on what Rizzo can do, it was a reasonable assumption that the hundreds of thousands of dollars saved by releasing him could be spent on two (or more) non-guaranteed minor league contracts to find another guy who could put it together and give the team decent starts.

If Hill ends up on the DL, and here in Nats-land somehow Kip Wells gets it together to step in the rotation and do a serviceable performance, I hope you'd give Rizzo some credit.

Even if Hill manages to keep going out there every five days for several more turns as his 5th slot is called for (which I doubt), hindsight is 20-20.

That said, he's a stand-up guy, and I'd like to see his arm hold together.

Steven said...

Why is it necessary for him to pitch all year to have value? He's better than every other pitcher on our roster. So every start he makes represents an upgrade from what we have. Are you trying to save DL spots? I just don't understand the idea that because Hill hasn't held up for 200 innings that you turn up your nose at 60-90.

James Bjork said...


Shawn Hill just went on the DL with right elbow inflammation.

7 earned runs in all of 12 innings and three starts.

Just sayin'

Steven said...

If Shawn Hill was a Nat, I'm saying they'd have at least one more win now. DL spots aren't so precious. And with Mike O'Connor and Meat filling spots on the 40-man, we had room.