Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Good Signings the Nationals Didn't Make

It's been another kind free agent market for bargain-hunters this winter. As I noted earlier this week--there are still some useful players to be had. But looking back, there have been several excellent value deals the Nationals didn't make. Here's my "damn, why didn't the Nationals do that" list:
  • Erik Bedard (1 year, $1.5m plus incentives up to $7m): Chances are, Bedard is broken and will never be fixed. But given the upside and the low risk, this is a shockingly good deal for Seattle. Again, Jack Z. runs circles around the competition.
  • Greg Zaun (1 year, $2.175m): Better than Pudge for less.
  • Yorvit Torrealba (1 year, $1.25m): Even more better than Pudge for half.
  • Omar Vizquel (1 year, $1.375m): Still a fantastic gloveman. Would have been the guy to upgrade the middle infield defense for cheap, and we know he'd be fine sharing playing time with a prospect 20 years his younger, since that's what he did in Texas last year with Elvis Andrus.
  • Jon Garland (1 year, $5.3m): A tad pricey for what he is, but that's just a comment on how far the market has fallen. He made over $36 million the four years before that, and it's not like he's in decline. Besides, any one-year deal for a solid 200-innings pitcher is a good value.
  • Carl Pavano (1 year, $7m): Like Garland, this isn't really a big bargain, but it's a fair deal for a pitcher who would have filled in nicely for what the Nationals need.
  • Justin Duchscherer (1 year, $2m): Maybe he wasn't willing to leave Oakland, and he's made of glass, but this is a great price for any pitcher with his upside.
  • Khalil Greene (1 year, $750k): Price is right, and he'd make a good utility infielder, and he's only two years removed from a 27-HR season in Petco. In the meantime, he completely lost control of the strike zone, but it's not hard to imagine him winning CBOY and outplaying everyone in the Nationals' middle infield.
  • Kevin Gregg (1 year, $2.75m): Better, cheaper than Matt Capps. Certainly better than Bruney, Walker, or (massive understatement alert) Eddie Guardado.
  • Rich Harden (1 year, $7.5m): Another guy who's made of glass, but he's got overpowering strikeout stuff and is a solid risk-reward bet at this price. If nothing else, he'd be a lot more fun to watch pitch than J.D. Martin.
  • Randy Winn (1 year, $2m): Still a very good defensive outfielder. Wouldn't fit on the Nationals roster at the moment, but if Justin Maxwell gets hurt again, or Willingham is traded, or Rizzo decides to banish Dukes again, Winn would be handy at least as a fourth outfielder.
  • Doug Davis (1 year, $5.25m): Junkballer, not a bargain exactly, but another guy who would have given the Nationals a good veteran presence for a very reasonable price.
  • Ryan Garko (1 year, $550k): Just an absolute steal for the M's at this price. He's a fine fielder, and he's a lefty-killer at the plate. Garko would have been a very nice fit as Dunn's backup at first, or a right-handed platoon partner (for let's say Russell Branyan?) if Willingham or Dunn were traded. BTW, do I love Jack Z.? Yes, I love him. I luff him. I lurve him. I'm so jealous of Seattle that I ask for "drip" when I order coffee.
  • Tim Redding (minor league): I wouldn't want him in my top 5 on the depth chart, but he's certainly worth an invite to camp. I can't really see that he's lost much if anything since 2008.


James K. said...

Great list but it's a big stretch to call Garko a "fine fielder". He can only play 1B and he plays it poorly per every defensive metric and scouting report. He's a one dimensional lefty masher -- not very useful on a NL club. Zaun was a steal.

JayB said...

Omar V was the move they needed to make. Year after year they just drop the ball on defense....this year is no different.

Positively Half St. said...

Does the "fail" on pitching seem so bad now that they apparently have signed Chien-Ming Wang? I'm thinking they should trade Willingham for a good defensive shortstop and start Willie Harris in left (I've seen those UZR numbers).

Steven said...

I think Garko's an average fielder at first base. I know he doesn't look the part, but he's actually decently atheltic.

The metric sample sizes are all pretty small, so I wouldn't take any of those to the bank. But fwiw, UZR/150 has him at +6.2 for last year.

And in this case when I said "fine," I meant like "ok" or "adequate," not like "he's so fine!" Re-reading, that's probably not the best choice of words.

Positively Half St. said...

One other thing: The Nats apparently were on the verge of signing Randy Winn when the Yankees swooped in. Many teams more appealing than the Nats have had that happen to them, so I have to give them a pass there.

JayB said...

Rizzo knows he needs a SS not named Guzman or Gonzalez. I do not see Ian D. ever being consistent enough for Rizzo's tastes. So what does that mean?

Trade Willingham and Dukes is my guess but that seems to open new holes to fill. They have no cost and roster certainty past next year with Jason M. I would love to know what year Rizzo is building towards.

Rob B said...

Gregg is definitely one that got away. Would have been a perfect fit here.

Anonymous said...

I hope that Wang isn't added to this list of ones that got away... I like the gamble that he could return to 2006-2007 form.

Sec314 said...

From what I read, Garland was not interested in DC. He was dead set on staying on the West Coast.

Pseudonym said...

Kevin Gregg? ARE YOU KIDDING? Let me try to be clear on this. KEVIN GREG IS AWFUL.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you said Kevin Gregg is better than Matt Capps. Capps is a lot better. He a better FIP (stat that you like to use) last year in his down year and his career FIP is better than Gregg's. Plus, Capps is younger with upside unlike Gregg. That was a ridiculous comment.

Wally said...

Good post. I am a big Rizzo fan, but at some point we have to grade him on results and not so much 'he-ain't-Jim'. I continue to track the development of Scott Barnes v. Aaron Thompson for that reason.

I would disagree with Bedard, Duchscherer and Harden because without a 2011 option, those are the wrong signings for this team. They either need reliable innings eaters, or upside guys for the future. Bedard et al - the best that can be hoped for them is they recover by the 2d half (both injuries and then rounding into form). So 6-8 quality starts in aug/Sep is their upside for 2010; if the Nats were a playoff team, I would take that gamble, but for where they are, it makes no sense. But if you had some control over 2011, then it is a different story. I would also disagree with gregg for Nicole's reason (and greene too).

I would add, though:
Noel Arguelles
Adam everett
Colby Lewis
Joel Piniero

Mr. Mustache said...

Like others I completely disagree that Kevin Gregg > Capps. You might want to reexamine this claim. He's definitely better than Walker and slightly better than Bruney.

Steven said...

You could debate it, I guess. But I just think you're going to be disappointed by Matt Capps. I don't think he's anywhere near as good as people seem to think. It's not really that I'm that high on Gregg, necessarily. If you look at chone, bill james, pecota, marcels, zips... most of them see them as basically the same guy. But I'd take Gregg, and again he's cheaper.

SeattleSteve said...

Jack Z. is ours and you can't have him.

That said, I don't think the Nats are stuck with a disastrous GM like the Mets, Royals or Astros.

Bedard apparently wanted to stay in Seattle, so odds are he would have cost the Nats more. And at this point a marginal win for the M's is worth more than one win for a team that isn't essentially tied for the division lead in projected wins. That win could mean the playoffs.

I really feel that next offseason will be the one to judge Rizzo on. The Nats should return to some kind of respectability this year. Free agents will see that have a plan and won't shun them like day-old sushi any longer. And as the team shapes up, it will make sense to sign more of these "high risk-high reward" types. Right not it mostly doesn't.

Anonymous said...

Steven, pretty much every projection system likes Capps more. He's the better deal because he is a lot younger, has another year of arbitration left, and has more value in the event of a trade. Just look at their K/BB ratios. Capps blows Gregg away even in the projection systems.

I don't think it is a coincidence that he was no one wanted him. He was hated in Chicago for being an awful reliever.

Mr. Mustache said...

I get that you think Capps isn't that good. That is a fine opinion and if he's not healthy again, its probably right. However, saying that BJ, Chone and Marcel project him to be "basically the same guy" as Kevin Gregg is so factually inaccurate that I think you're smoking something while writing comments or lying to yourself. I would look up Zips and PECOTA too, but they aren't readily available on Fangraphs. If these are "basically the same" then there are A LOT of players that are "basically the same guy". So much so that your statement has nearly no meaning.

You can have your opinion that one is better than the other (even if very few agree with you) and that one costs more than the other. Just don't claim that projection systems back you up when they don't at all. That is misleading to your readers in order to validate an opinion.

JayB said...

Would Steven do that on purpose?

Steven said...

No, unless it was to get Jim Bowden fired. In that case, the ends justified the means. :-)

Mr. Mustache said...

Another good signing for your approval: Yusmeiro Petit. His '09 salary was 1 year/$0.4115M. I assume picking him up off waivers would put him at about that? If we're using the 'Better than Tyler Walker' standard, we could probably find a few guys who we could pick up and fire into the pen.