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A Potentially Perpetual Game of H-O-R-S-E

The Nationals need to get to five starters; will five starters get to them?

Okay, that sentence as constructed makes no sense. But I, a mere blogger, cannot make much sense of anything. That's why is around, to handicap the rotation picture.

The subjects of the article are divided into several categories, but it seems fairly safe to summarize accordingly:

  • Making a Good Impression: Shawn Hill, Jason Simontacchi, Jason Bergmann, Matt Chico, Levale Speigner
  • Will Be Given More Opportunities to Make a Good Impression: Tim Redding, Jerome Williams
  • Probably On the Outs: Mike Bacsik, Joel Hanrahan, Colby Lewis
  • Reassigned: Chris Michalak
  • Reclassified (or probably so): Billy Traber, Beltran Perez
I fudged a bit on Bacsik, who is grouped with Redding and Williams. Although this is probably in poor form, since I'm relying on the article for inside insight, subjectively I just can't put Bacsik in that group. And then there are Mike O'Connor and Brandon Claussen, who have positioned themselves as white knights of June. Or just more warm bodies to throw on the fire, as the case may be.

I'm now shifting to my own uninformed opinion on the whole spectacle, so don't say you weren't forewarned. There are four spots up for grabs here (obviously, Patterson is safe for as long as his arm is), and it would appear Hill and Simmontacchi have locked up two slots---or are way ahead in the chase for them, which is sort of the same thing in this race to the bottom. (Thom Loverro contends Hill has locked up the number two starter role.) That leaves two spots remaining. Let's clear out Bacsik, Hanrahan, and Lewis for now. Rule 5 pick or not, does Levale Speigner, Fifth Starter pass the smell test? Not to me. Traber is now a reliever, and Perez seems to be a reliever in Acta's eyes.

Down to three: Chico, Redding, and Williams.

I played up the options angle with Chico over the weekend, but I have to admit this is a obsessive-nerd, transactions-junkie, allocation-of-resource angle. If Acta likes what he sees, then I would think he has freedom to give it a whirl with Chico. The reporters have pointed to nothing to the contrary in this regard.

On the other hand, I think the team would be loathe to foreclose Williams's opportunity too quickly, because his transactional angle (out of options) is much more immediate and, given the risk of losing him to waiers, also much more tangible. I suspect in his heart of hearts Jim Bowden still kicks himself a bit for losing Claudio Vargas to waivers---not because Vargas is any great shakes, but because losing the guy was stupid and wasteful. Same with Darrell Rasner, actually. Vargas is a better pitcher than Williams right now (and so might be Rasner), but Williams still has the potential to be much better down the road. Perhaps no one would bite were the Nats to expose Williams to waivers, but a sensible organization does not risk losing a young pitcher with remaining potential so quickly and easily. I think Williams stays and has a spot penciled in. His own suckitude would have to overcome the presumption he has a spot, in other words.

Ultimately, I think the fifth spot will come to Chico or Redding. In this case, yes, Redding had better start to show something very quickly. Don't forget Chico is an immediate fruit of "The Plan," and I have to think there exists an inclination to show off the ripest fruit, assuming of course Chico is deemed ripe. Redding has to produce in his own right.

Of course, the first five don't really mean anything. This team will go through more than five starters; almost all teams do, and I'd expect the Nats to exceed five by . . . well, quite a few individuals. But, like I noted the other day, Williams has to be part of the first five, or the team risks losing out on him being part of any five. With Redding, I'm not quite so sure. I don't know if I'd risk exposing him to waivers; on the other hand, he's not really a particularly valued pitcher at this stage, and the risk of exposing him might not be all that great (if anything).

Just my two cents---half the cost of this rotation, perhaps.

[Not even worth two cents, I guess. Harper points out I missed Bergmann, even after mentioning Bergmann. I mentioned Bergmann before I didn't mention Bergmann . . . eh, never mind. Yeah, he seems to be well in the mix too. I think I like him more as a reliever/surrogate Rueckel, but it's not like we've got a clown car of Cy Youngs standing around.]

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Update [2007-3-13 20:16:36 by Basil]: I'm not sure I want to stoop to discussing other people's trash, but who am I kidding? Not to be callous about it, we're discussing other people's trash already, and why not throw another name on our figurative Springfield Tire Fire? The Mets somewhat surprisingly released Alay Soler, a girthy Cuban defector/starting pitching. If that description evokes a longing for a ¡Livan! clone, snap out of it. Soler is listed at 27, which makes him only 40, tops, and he's about an eighth as good as Livan, even now. Plus, he's reportedly not as girthy now.

Anyway, here's a Soler profile/retrospective from Howard Megdal of Gotham Baseball. I can't see any particular harm in giving Soler a whirl, and there's a chance he and Jesus Flores could form a World Series battery of Mets fans worst nightmares.

Well, maybe a one percent chance.

Okay, one-half.

Alright, one-half of one percent.