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Acta: O'Connor "not going to be ready to compete"

According to the WJLA-TV website, Manny Acta confirmed during Monday's leg of the Nats Caravan what appeared to be a distinct possibility: lefty Mike O'Connor will miss the start of the season following November elbow surgery.

"Michael is not going to be ready to compete in spring training for one of those jobs," [said Acta]. "He's still in that rehab stage right now."

. . . "We're going to take our time with him. I mean, he pitched well enough for this ballclub last year that he doesn't need to come out there and rush and try to impress me."

Acta noted "the guys who are coming in"---pitchers ranging in experience and stature from Tim Redding, to Joel Hanrahan, to Jerome Williams, to Jason Simontacchi, as well as many others---will be the ones who need to impress. Acta said these pitchers are "pretty much in the same boat."

The WJLA article also quoted O'Connor, who stressed wanting to come back at full strength, rather than risk further injury by rushing back for Opening Day.

O'Connor's loss---however temporary it may be---typifies a problem facing nearly every pitcher considered an option for the starting rotation: a recent injury history.

* * * *

In other Washington Nationals pitching news, though admittedly not in relation to the 2007 staff, in one case not even in relation to the 2006 staff, and in another case barely in relation to the 2005 staff:

  • The Twins signed Ramon Ortiz for one year and $3.1 million. This is how the other half live; Twinkie Town seems concerned Ortiz might not fulfill both the quantity and quality concerns. As for the Nats, hell, I would've just taken the quantity.
  • Illusory '06 Nat Brian Lawrence got $750,000 guaranteed from the Rockies. I can't say I have many words of wisdom to pass on to Purple Row, but perhaps it's a good thing not to upset the apple cart, seeing as they seem tepidly pleased. Maybe it's hope, maybe it's the high elevation, maybe it's the sense of spring renewal I know I sense when I look out the late January window and see foggy dankness.
  • The Hardball Times published an interesting article today about cost-effective and -ineffective starting rotations from 2006. The Nats were, in the writer's words, a "disaster." That figures, seeing as---and we've been over this a few dozen times by now---the staff leader in innings, Ortiz, was essentially a replacement-level pitcher.

    The article contains a passage that, in a surface-level sense, sounds quite "planny":

    In general, home-grown, inexpensive talent is the best route to building a cost-efficient rotation. Throwing good money after bad in hopes something sticks is the worst way to go.

    I can't really argue with that, but the 2007 Nats are taking this to an incredible extreme. All the same---yes, yes---what else is there to do?

  • It's interesting what a few hours can do for a guy. Earlier, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette reported the Pirates were hot for Tomo Ohka, whose "total cost could reach eight figures." In a more recently filed article, however, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports the Buccos won't sign Ohka, who, incidentally, "is damaged goods." According to the latter article, Ohka is looking for only a one-year deal, which might---don't inflate your hopes, people!---presage a return to RFK Stadium. Maybe. The Nats have offered only a handful of free agent pitchers contract offers this offseason, but Ohka was the pitcher devoted the most interest. Then again, Ohka's working off a salary of about $4.5 million last season, so he'll probably go for more than the $4 million figure cited in some article about the Nats' view of the free agent market, which I've inferred to be the limit on spending on an individual.

    So we'll see what happens. No matter what happens, I'm pretty confident it'll fit in with "The Plan."