The Washington Nationals continue there highly productive 2011-2012 offseason, adding two veteran pitchers to supplement both the bullpen and rotation over the last 7 days. All star relief pitcher RHP Brad Lidge was signed to a 1 year deal January 26th and will provide veteran leadership(Won a World Series with Philadelphia in 2008 when he did not blow a save the ENTIRE season). The 35 year old will help ease the load on both setup man RHP Tyler Clippard and closer RHP Drew Storen but has battled arm injuries the past 2 seasons. Lidge was limited to 25 games in 2011, going 0-2 with a 1.40 ERA and 23 Ks over 19.1 innings. For his career, he boasts the highest strikeout rate over 9 innings(12) of any major league pitcher who has thrown at least 500 innings.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo added another solid starting pitcher February 2nd to an already talented group when Washington finalized a 1 year deal with RHSP Edwin Jackson, who went 12-9 with a 3.79 ERA after splitting time with the Chicago White Sox and the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. The innings eater reached double digit wins for the 4th straight season(22 other pitchers can make this claim) and also threw over 200 innings for the fourth straight season. Over the past 4 seasons, Jackson is one of 20 starters to average 12 wins and 200 wins. This signing was important for a couple of reasons Rizzo pointed out when the signing was announced. While the Nationals have 7 starting pitchers after the Jackson signing, several of them have battled health issues and will be on pitch counts and/or inning limits. RHP Jordan Zimmerman(Shutdown just over 160 innings in 2011 after missing most of 2009 and 2010 after undergoing Tommy John surgery) ,Chien Mien-Wang(Has not pitched a full ML season since 2007) , and Stephen Strasburg(Will be on a 160 inning limit in 2012 after coming back in September of 2011 after late 2010 Tommy John surgery) as well as LHP Ross Detwiller(Hip surgery in 2010) have all missed time with injury issues over the past 2-3 years with various arm ailments so the team is wise to stockpile arms. The Jackson signing gives them insurance, stability and reliability. Rizzo felt the team had “an innings shortage” citing stats showing 6 of the 8 2011 ML playoff teams featured 2 starting pitchers each who topped 200 innings.
An interesting sidebar to the Jackson signing is a potential trade of LHSP John Lannan, who has 30+ starts in 3 of his 4 full major league seasons. With the signing of Jackson, the team now features 7 potential starting pitchers- LHs Detwiller, Gio G0nzalez and Lannan as well as RHs Strasburg, Zimmerman and Wang. Lannan recently was lost his arbitration case and will be paid $5 million in 2012. The team has needs in the outfield with a center fielder who can also bat leadoff topping the wish list. The Boston Red Sox are in DIRE need of a starting pitcher and will not resign star CF Jacoby Ellsbury long term(Bad relationship with team’s front office,medical staff and his agent, Scott Boras). Why not piece together a deal built around Lannan and some prospects? Minnesota Twins CF (and PEST) Denard Span’s name has been linked to the Nationals for the past 18 months or so as well.
GONZO SIGNS LONG TERM: Washington and newly acquired LHSP Gio Gonzalez agreed to a 5 year/$42 million deal last week. The contract features club options for 2017 and 2018 that could put the total value of the pact at $65 million. Gonzalez was an All Star last season with an awful Oakland A’s team when he went 16-12 with a 3.12 ERA in 32 starts.
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