So there's news tonight from Denver that the Rockies have re-upped Jorge de la Rosa, left handed starting pitcher, to a three-year, $30-plus million contract. The 30-year old hurler is just the latest free agent pitcher to remove himself from the market before getting into any meaningful negotiations with the Washington Nationals.
Not that I espoused signing de la Rosa. Far from it. But many in NatsTown are up in arms by the latest pitcher to spurn the Nationals.
GM Mike Rizzo famously went on record toward the end of last season saying a front of the rotation pitcher was his highest priority of the off-season. He later recanted on a national radio show, saying that Cliff Lee was the only No. 1-type starter on the free agent market and he wouldn't delude himself that a pitcher who has pitched in the last two World Series -- for two different teams -- would pull on a new Curly W uniform.
But now, all the second tier starters seem to be removing themselves from the market before we even get to the Winter Meetings next week. de la Rosa is only the most recent.
In addition, also gone are: Javier Vazquez, Jake Westbrook, Hiroki Kuroda, Jon Garland. None are All-Stars, but all are more reliable starting pitcher than anyone currently under contract with the Nationals.
Notice I did not say "better", only more reliable.
Sure, Brandon Webb is still out there. And the former Cy Young winner hasn't thrown in a game in two years. Chien-Mien Wang, anyone?
There's always the trade market, but with Kansas City wanting "two Zack Greinkes" to place Zack Greinke, we can well assume he won't end up leading the Nats staff this year -- primarily because the Nats don't have two Zack Greinkes to trade.
As has been pointed out now repeatedly, last year's bumper crop of free agents that the Nats were able to land were decidedly disappointing. Jason Marquis, Brian Bruney and Matt Capps were supposed to stabilize the staff; only Capps pitched well. Ivan Rodriguez was terrible at the plate and vastly overrated behind it. Adam Kennedy was misled, unused, became discontented and ultimately discarded.
So far under the Mike Rizzo regime, the Nats have not been able to either land -- or more likely, legitimately pursue -- quality free agents, preferring to shop in the bargain and rehabilitation bin. Though there was a slight uptick in the final record last season, that was more a function of the normalization of the bullpen than anything else.
And we all know that bullpen arms are highly volitle and extremely unpredictable, right? Right?
I'm on the record saying the Nats shouldn't throw money around just because they have it, and that at some point they will have to sign players to contribute to a winning team, but that now isn't really that time. But by missing out on what little quality is available this season, the Nats could lose whatever traction they made last season record-wise.
They still have to play the 2011 season.
Anyway, the genesis of this post was all the negativity and grumbling on message boards and Twitter with the news that de la Rosa was no longer available. It's come to this: NatsTown mired in anger and despair over losing out on a 30-year old, career 4.22 ERA lefty.
What's the Nats new marketing slogan? Expect it? Is that right? Ugh.