Today was a busy day for Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo, as well as Nationals MLB.com beat writer Bill Ladson's twitter account. Only several hours after introducing starting pitcher Jason Marquis as a new member of our rotation, Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi reported that the Nationals were close to a one-year deal with long time bullpen hand Eddie Guardado:
"The Nationals are nearing a one-year deal with left-handed reliever Eddie Guardado, multiple major league sources told FOXSports.com.
Guardado went 1-2 with a 4.46 ERA in 48 relief outings for the Rangers this year. His role in the Washington bullpen isn’t yet clear, but he is expected to pitch in the seventh inning or later.
His signing won’t preclude the Nationals for signing closer Matt Capps, one source said. The Nationals are among the finalists to sign Capps after he was non-tendered by Pittsburgh earlier this month."
Analysis: Let's make one thing clear, at the age of 39, Guardado's arm is just about useless. His 4.46 ERA last year is deceiving when you look at his overwhelming 6.10 FIP (Fielder Independent Pitching), and his rather low .260 BABIP. So really his 4.46 ERA was a product of luck, and good defense behind him. However, this likely isn't why the Nationals signed Eddie. As Morosi points out in his report, Guardado has long been considered one of the better bullpen mentors in baseball. He's been around, and he knows a lot about being a professional, and apparently about teaching pitchers how to become a closer. This will come in handy once Drew Storen reaches the big leagues. Also, the Nationals young pitchers can surely learn from him in their off days in the pen.
"The Nationals still have interest in 2B Orlando Hudson. If they sign Hudson, Cristian Guzman most likely will go back to shortstop."
"The Nationals continue to have interest in right-hander John Smoltz, but they are not willing to break the bank to get him."
Analysis: With the signing of Jason Marquis, a groundball pitcher, it would be wise for the Nationals to make some moves to sure up their league worst defense, as noted in his wikipedia entry:
"Hudson is renowned for his fielding prowess, known for making spectacular lunging catches and diving stabs at grounders. His defensive talents were recognized in 2005, when he won his first American League Gold Glove Award while with the Toronto Blue Jays."
Spectacular lunging catches aside, Orlando Hudson isn't nearly the same defender he oncewas. At the age of 32, his numbers are showing that he's beginning to lose his range, despite his continuing web gems. In 2009 Hudson posted a Range Rating of -3.4 runs below average, and a UZR/150 of -3.7, a far cry from his career high UZR/150 of 16.1 in 2004. But while Hudson isn't the second baseman he once was, he is the best option available defensively up the middle.
Smoltz on the other hand is an odd choice for the Nationals to go after, and Washington is an odd destination for the 42-year-old. One would think Smoltz want's to go somewhere where he can win, and that the Nationals would want a starter with more durability and reliability. Smoltz had a rough season in 2009, splitting between Boston and St. Louis he posted a 3-8 record with a career high 6.35 ERA. Smoltz likely has more in the tank however, as his high ERA seems to be a result of some bad luck. His BABIP was an unrealistic .364 and his FIP was 3.87.
Still...I just don't see the point in bringing an older starter in, especially one like Smoltz who has never been known to be any sort of mentor.