Thursday, December 24, 2009

Jason Marquis Now? The Pros and Cons

Upon seeing the Nats bring in Jason Marquis, I wondered if the team was suffering an identity crisis. Sure, Marquis is Rizzo's wet dream starter. He keeps the ball low and in the park, works efficiently, and by all accounts is a team first guy. The numbers and timing leave much to be desired, though. Here is a simple run down of the deal.

Con: Marquis is coming off a career year during which he was selected to the NL All-Star team. His candidacy, while solid, were clearly boosted by an inflated win total. This bargaining chip gave his team a leg up in any negotiations. The Nats, being really bad, did not need any further handicaps.

Pro: He can work deep into games, taking the burden off John Lannan to play stopper every five days.

Con: He posted career highs in innings pitched and batters faced, all the while tailing off dramatically in September.

Pro: The last three years, he survived hitters' paradises Wrigley Field and Coors Field, posting an ERA+ of 100 or better. He approaches the game consistently and has adjusted to his environment.

Con: His FIP in 2009 was three-quarters of a run better than his career average. Trends are nice to see; spike raise question marks. He is likely to regress closer to his career numbers.

Pro: He has pitched for a playoff team every year in his career.

Con: He is not a strikeout pitcher, now pitching for a team that desperately needs one.

Pro: An understated talent of his, Jason Marquis is not useless with a bat in his hand. He isn't a power hitter, nor can he take a walk, but his aggressive approach puts pressure on the other pitcher and can move runners from first to third and second to home on occasion. The Nats had 39 successful sacrifices in 2009; Marquis has 32... in his career (with 9 last year).

Con: Last time he pitched as many innings in a season, he stunk the following year.

Pro: He is 6 days older than me... age is not a factor.

Con: His groundball success in Denver was greatly assisted by having Troy Tulowitzki and Clint Barmes swallowing everything behind him. There are currently no such luxuries on the Nats roster.

Pro: He throws his sinking fastball early and often, staying ahead of hitters.

Con: Two-seamers tear the hell out of fingers and forearms. He may not be injury-prone, but these register a cumulative toll.

In all, it is easy to slam the deal because the Nats were forced to overpay to acquire the services of a league average pitcher. However, league average is a lofty goal for the Nats, so this could be a savvy move buy a few wins to show improvement going forward. B- for not getting him last season.

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