Monday, December 21, 2009

What to Expect from Jason Marquis

Jason Marquis is a durable, veteran pitcher who can be counted on to throw 200 league average innings per year. It's not super-sexy, but it's quite valuable, and the Nationals desperately needed a guy who can do what Marquis has done over the last few years.

Marquis is a groundball pitcher who lives off his hard, sinking, two-seam fastball. He throws the pitch in the low-90s, and when he can consistently place the pitch at the bottom of the strikezone, you see a ton of groundballs pounded into the infield. If he's wild and falls behind, he can get hit hard, like any pitcher can, but guys like this have an even greater tendency to seem either great or terrible, because there aren't many pitches that are easier to hit than elevated 90-mph two-seam fastball. So you're warned, there will be nights when he's the absolute meat, and if Riggleman has any sense, he'll let him pitch through it.

He also throws a change, curve, and slider, but the fastball is his bread-and-butter, and he throws it over 60% of the time.

He struck out 12.5% of batters faced in 2009, walked 8.7%, and got groundballs on 55% of balls in play. That's a very low strikeout rate (about the lowest you can possibly get away with, in fact), but the walk rate is average and the groundball rate is excellent. All that adds up to average (and efficient).

His all-star season in 2009 really was his best year--it wasn't just the fluky abberations of W-LHe threw his regular 200 innings, but his xFIP was and tRA were both a full half a run better than in recent seasons, a result of a groundball rate that jumped from the good high-40s to the great mid-50s. We'll see if that continues--it's not luck, but there's no guarantee he can keep it up either.

Some national outlets are chattering about how the Nationals shouldn't make this move, since they're going to be bad regardless, but I continue to believe that Rizzo's most important job this winter is to build a team with enough stability to ensure that Stephen Strasburg never goes to the mound with a 9-game losing streak and a burned bullpen. That's asking for injury, and it's what cost us Jordan Zimmermann and Craig Stammen in 2009.

Other miscellany:
  • He was born on Long Island and grew up in Staten Island. With John Lannan hailing from LI, and Jason Bergmann growing up not far away in New Jersey, you'll know where to go looking for tickets when The Boss comes to town.
  • He's one of the only Jews in MLB. There are no other Jewish players on the Nationals, discounting when Mark Lerner shags flies.
  • When he was 12, he threw a no-hitter in the Little League World Series.
  • Unlike almost all other Nationals starters, he can hit. His career batting average is .202.


Anonymous said...

This is exactly what the Nationals need. Even if they are bad, having Marquee on the staff will take pressure off the young guys and teach them at the same time. Also it excites the fanbase and makes people want to buy tickets. I've had a smile on my face ever since this new broke. It actually feels good to sign a name free agent or two since... you know... JimBo would never do that...

Positively Half St. said...

You guys will enjoy this. Up until now, I had only read sour grapes from Mets fans, but this Mets blog and the comments which follow sing a different tune:

estuartj said...

What I like about this, no LOVE about this, is that is shows a clear and rational process of player aquisition.

Rizzo loves groundball pitchers, so he went and got the best groundball pitcher available. Rizzo needed a quality back-up catcher who could mentor, fill in full time if needed and guess what, he got that in Pudge.

Of the 6 primary holes in the roste (2SP/1CA/1MI/2RP) it looks like he has filled 3, and filled them well, and it isn't even X-mas.

Now just sign Chapman, trade Willingham to ATL for Javier Vasquez and backfill LF with Jason Bay.

Sounds reasonable to me....

Rob said...

I liked how last year Stanmen pointed out Marqee as the sort of pitcher he wanted to grow into, having him around should really help him and Lannan develop. I would like them to pick up another starter, and a middle infielder, but I am pleased with this.

Anonymous said...

Steven - I agree with your take (both here and what I think were your comments on Fangraphs). I frankly don't understand the philosophy of 'suck really bad, getting #1 picks, until your farm system is ready to compete' crowd. It seems logical to assume that bigger revenues leads to a better chance to compete, all other things, like specific talent appraisal decisions, being equal, and that an interested and loyal fanbase leads to bigger revenues through more ticket sales, merchandising and TV/radio advertising, etc. Can a fan really want the Tampa Bay model - 15 some odd years of abysmal performance followed by a short window of competitiveness, and back to being abysmal? I sure don't. I think that their long awaited run to the WS increased attendance by 400k - a nice % increase, I concede, but the base was so low, it hardly mattered since it probably just meant less revenue sharing money.

So count me as a fan of this move and other smart financial (check that - 'not egregiously bad financial') decisions that improve the quality of play in 2010.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE this move, if for no other reason that he is cheap and eats innings. Plus the fact that he's the only player in baseball to make the playoffs every year in the 2000s (look it up!) means he actually has some clue about what to do to make a team a "winner" - there are some intangible assets for a guy who has never played on a losing team. Maybe he can teach Stammen, Detweiler, and Strasburg how to carry their bags, or something. Get Garland as well.

Steven said...

I understand and have even advocated for bottoming out, getting the top pick as part of the rebuilding process. But we've done that twice now.

Dave said...

Steven: "He's one of the only Jews in MLB."

"One of the only"? Only how many? Two? Twelve? Ninety-seven? It's a meaningless phrase. Tell us how many he's one of. Or else he's THE only Jew in MLB, maybe?

I think this is a very good move. In the press conference he sounded like a hardworking guy who wants to win. The Nats certainly could use more of those.

Guy said...

His career slugging % is higher than Wil Nieves.

David said...

Dave, I think there are 9 of the chosen people in MLB.

Brad Ausmus, Gabe Kapler, Jason Marquis, Scott Schoeneweis, Scott Feldman, Ryan Braun Ian Kinsler, Mike Lieberthal and Kevin Youkilis. Yes the Greek god of walks is a jew.

As for Marquis it is a great pickup for a team that has lost over 100 games two years in a row. One more 200 inning pitcher with an ERA under 4.50 and the Nats could have a competitive team. Sure there are other glaring holes but baring major injuries a 15 to 20 game improvement is not out of the question considering how unbelievably bad the pitching was last year.

Scott Feldman
Ryan Braun
Ian Kinsler
Kevin Youkilis
Mike Lieberthal

estuartj said...

Now with Capps I'm feeling absolutely giddy, not necessarily because we are going to be SO MUCH better (though we are, and that isn't saying much), but because it actually feel like we have a hand on the tiller and wind in the sails, somothing we never had under Trader Jim.

We had 6 major holes to fill (2SP, 2RP,1CA,1MI) and we've filled 4 of those, and it isn't even Christmas yet!

Again it's not that these are such great moves by themselves, but taken together it's a sea change compared to past years bumbling and stumbling.