October 16, 2019

Washington Snowmen Add Wang

February 16, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The almost three feet of snow in front of the house is melting, but during the white out conditions last week the Nationals fought through it all to sign Chien-Ming Wang.  Were the Nationals snow-blinded to the big risks of signing Wang?  There is little chance they are getting the pitcher who won nineteen games in 2006 and 2007 for the Yankees, but he is under team control until 2011 and there is time for this deal to mature.  Heck, if the shoulder comes around, he may yet get to throw snowballs in Dupont Circle. 

Wang is reputed to have signed for $2 million with performance incentives for an additional $3 million.  Did the money scare off the competition, Wang’s shoulder or both? Wang was one of the best pitchers in the American League in 2006 and elite again in ’07.  The chances that he recreates those numbers seem unlikely from the perspective of February 2010, but the real story will be written in the summer when he has had half a dozen starts and his health can be assessed more in game conditions.

There are few believers when you have been the worst team in baseball two seasons running, but there is the hint of a Washington rotation with the same kind of potential it had in 2005.  Then the rotation was anchored by a younger Livan Hernandez and big chances were taken on Esteban Loaiza and John Patterson.  That team was competitive behind a solid three man rotation and a capable if less than overpowering closer in Chad Cordero.

By Memorial Day, Washington could have a much deeper staff that is anchored by Jason Marquis, John Lannan, Wang and Stephen Strasburg.  Each spring the odds of a given team reaching its potential is calculated by those with greater actuarial skills than mine.  But at least there is real potential in this group.  Craig Stammen, JD Martin, Scott Olsen, and Ross Detwiler will be competing for three roster slots coming out of spring training, but if Washington is lucky Wang and Strasburg fill in by June 1.

One prominent trait of Washington teams under Jim Bowden was the thin pitching.  Mike Rizzo may actually be pitching rich come June.  It’s a lot shot bet, but a month from now when Snowpocalypse has melted and is just a nightmare that most of us will hardly believe, we will begin to see some of the answers in spring training.

One of the more fascinating pieces will be Ross Detwiler.  He was chosen sixth overall in 2007 in what looked to be a great draft for the Nationals.  Yet none of the high up-side talent taken in that draft have succeeded to expected levels.  Jordan Zimmerman, who had elbow surgery in 2009 and is unlikely to pitch again until 2011, was the most successful of the group.  But Detwiler has the 92-mph fastball that gives any left-hander a chance to succeed in the majors.

Detwiler is from Missouri and shortly after he was drafted I talked to his parents at RFK Stadium, they in their St. Louis Cardinals garb.  Detwiler is a mid-westerner who would relish a change of scenery.  He has shown flashes of the form many thought he would bring to the game.  If that potential flashes again and some of the other chips fall where they may, Detwiler could be an interesting trade piece for the Nationals in the summer.

Then again, it may all be snow madness.  Wake me once the clock signals  the ides of March.  I need time to pack for the bus to Viera, FL.  I can almost taste that Redneck Omellete now.

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