Saturday, December 26, 2009

You Realize Eddie Guardado Stinks, Right?

Nothing against him personally, but based on some of the coverage, I think there's some confusion about the significance of signing Eddie Guardado to a minor league contract.

Bill Ladson did a whole post on the signing, declaring that he'll be a "big help to the club" and is "expected to serve as a setup man." Chico Harlan dedicated three whole paragraphs to Guardado in an article about how the Nationals are "having one of baseball's best winters."

Let's be clear: Guardado hasn't been a good pitcher since Stephen Strasburg was in high school. That's no knock on him--he's 39 years old. He's always been an extreme flyball pitcher, which was ok when he was striking out 9.31 hitters per nine innings. But that was seven years, six Ks per 9, and five mph ago.

His leverage indices (LI) over the past three seasons are 0.95, 1.31, and 0.67. That means he's a mop-up man. And last year, he wasn't even better against lefties than righties, so there's not much reason to count on him to be the obligatory fat LOOGY.

And this business about "Everyday Eddie" is totally out of control. It's a cute nickname, but why does every article seem to mention it, as if it's relevant. The guy has thrown 108 innings in the last three years.

Even in his prime, he was never really that much of a workhorse. His heaviest workload came in 2002, when he threw 67.2 innings in 68 appearances. Jon Rauch has exceeded that total each of the last four seasons. Saul Rivera threw more innings in both 2007 and 2008. Luis Ayala beat it three straight seasons from 2003 to 2005 and again in 2008 after getting his elbow ligament replaced. Chad Cordero threw more innings four straight seasons from 2004 to 2007. Even Jesus Colome gave the Nationals more innings in 2008.

I don't hold any of this against Rizzo. There isn't anything wrong with inviting an over-the-hill reliever to spring training. Kip Wells, Wil Ledezma, Julian Tavarez... Guardado is the latest of that ilk, and he'll probably fare no better. The problem is using guys like this in key roles. Bringing in Odalis Perez for depth or even as a fifth starter wouldn't have been so bad. Bringing him in to start on opening day is a sign of an organization in total disarray.

But let's hope that the over-reporting of the signing isn't indicative of the expectations within the organization. Best case scenario, Guardado doesn't have any more of an impact on the team than Corey Patterson did in 2009.


Sec314 said...

He's a Lefty. That's all you need to know.

Todd Boss said...

Who gives a sh*t? Its a minor league, non guaranteed contract.

They might as well have named the lead on this story as "Eddie Guardado signs on to provide spring training competition for other non-name lefties in the Washington organization."

If he wins the Loogy job, great! Villone actually did a good job for us last year as basically the same guy. An aging lefty holding on to a job in the bigs. Villone's 2009 ERA+: 99. Guardado's? 104.

However, we didn't pick up Slaten and English for the hell of it. Shake them up, see which one falls out on 3/30, and call it a loogy.

Section 222 said...

Great post! I'm excited about Marquis, happy about Capps, and hopeful that Pudge will have a better year than last and bring something intangible to the team. This signing is little better than dumpster diving. If it pays off, great, but let's not overdo it.

Seattle Steve said...

There is basically no risk here, is there? This is exactly the kind of deal you give to a guy who you think might provide "veteran leadership" for the young guys. Guardado is also, by the way, a huge prankster and if he ends up on the team, will serve to lighten the mood in the clubhouse. But only if "Everyday" makes the team.

I just gotta say, Steven, that you do great blogging for the Nats. Your analysis of this offseason has been dead on, IMO. Hopefully they won't suck so much this year and you'll get some more traffic on the ol' FJB.

JayB said...

Your surprised that Chico knows nothing about baseball?

Nip but he had 10 more appearances than innings last year but you are right on that the media....Chico and Ladson both know next to nothing about baseball.

estuartj said...

The only real problem I have with this is that Eddie doesn't seem to fit into Rizzo's prefered pitcher model, so why do it? Insurance, competition for younger guys?

I don't see the logic in it, which we all CAN see in the other 4 key moves this winter (Bruney, Marquis, Pudge & Capps). I suppose we can give Rizzo a pass on this since it is a minor league deal...could we be hearing that old "Inventory" line to explain this? I'm not sure, but I don't like mysteries when it comes to sports teams...

JayB said...

Steven Says in November...."And he clearly took a "student of the game" approach to the job. He knew plenty about the game when he started, but close readers couldn't help but notice that he was a sharper analyst and observer with each passing month on the beat.

But what I really came to love about Harlan's gamers was his blunt willingness to tell it like it is. With the absurd, eye-rolling optimism that you hear from guys like Bob Carpenter, Byron Kerr, and Johnny Holliday, with all their arbitrary end points analysis and willingness to repeat the StanSpeak unfiltered--you could always count on Harlan for a straight shot of truth.

Steven Says in December....."Chico Harlan dedicated three whole paragraphs to Guardado in an article about how the Nationals are "having one of baseball's best winters."

Love the site Steven and your baseball knowledge is great but this is why I get frustrated with seem to feel you are only accountable for your posts for a day or two....

Steven said...

I think you're going to continue to be frustrated. But it's not my own lack of "accountability"--it's that you want everything in black and white, and in real life there are shades of gray and nuance.

I liked Harlan's work overall, but he had definite strengths and weaknesses. He's the first to say so.

Still, I don't take back any of the nice things I wrote about him in November. Also, I think he wrote a clunker of an article about Guardado, and I think generally he's been pretty weak in his coverage of the off-season.

Those two sentiments can co-exist in the same person. It doesn't make me a flip-flopper. It just means that not everything is 100% one way or another.

If you want knee-jerk opinions and oversimplified, black-and-white declaratives, there's an entire universe of shouting head ESPN shows and sports talk radio that's right up your alley. But that's not my approach.

JayB said...

Well at least we agree Chico has done a bad job for the past few months...that is something....More important is the issue of RF. Dukes has not done what Rizzo said he needed to do...that is go to winter ball and learn to recognize off speed pitchers. I understand his Dad died but the bottom line is he is not going to be ready to be the answer at RF at this rate. I agree with Rizzo that character matters so I would expect Rizzo to trade him for whatever he can get at this point. That means we need a RF option and Nats can not afford to hope that Maxwell will do it....Unless Dukes gets himself down to Winter ball this week look for a move to get a RFer.

Anonymous said...

Guardado had a 2.51 ERA, 1.33 WHIP on the road compared to 5.62 ERA, 1.46 WHIP. He isn't that bad considering he played at a hitters park.

Steven said...

Hope springs eternal for those who ignore sample size. Unfortunately, so does disappointment.

Will said...

Anonymous, I saw those same splits, but realized that in 2008, Eddie was fantastic at Arlington and pretty average everywhere else.
2008 home: .200/.286/.352
2008 away: .293/.330/.434

It's probably just a small sample size in both situations.

Steven said...

The reason you know it's sample size is because the controllable peripheral stats are bad everywhere--that's BB%, K%, GB%, and FB%. ERA and WHIP are all full of statistical noise, especially for relief pitchers who are throwing lots of partial innings.