Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Would you have made this trade for Adam Jones?


Adam Jones is on fire in 2012 and seems set to sign a long-term extension. Photo unknown via

Interesting rumor that surfaced today: MASN’s Roch Kubatko tweeted that the Nats offered four players over the winter for centerfielder Adam Jones.  Those four players reportedly were John Lannan, Steve Lombardozzi, Drew Storen and an unnamed “center fielder.”  You’d have to guess the CF was lower-end, certainly not Eury Perez or Brian Goodwin (I’m not even sure we CAN trade Goodwin yet; there’s a set amount of time that has to pass before you can trade recently drafted guys).  The only other two starting CFs in the minors right now are Michael Taylor (our high-A center fielder) and AAA’s Corey Brown.   If I had to guess it would have been Brown, given his removal from the 40-man and his general struggles.

No time-frame was offered for this proposed trade; was it before or after the team swung the Gio Gonzalez deal?  If this was before, you wonder if we end up making the Gonzalez deal (probably; there’s no overlap in players and we’d have really needed another starter).  If this was after, perhaps it indicates how little the organization thought of Lannan even before the events of spring unfolded.

The articles make it seem that this would have been disastrous for the O’s: Lannan is stinking it up in AAA and Storen is hurt.  Its hard not to agree.  But I’d look at it another way; this would have been three 25-man roster guys plus a 4th OF (assuming it was Brown) who looks like he’s turning it around.  I think Lannan is a serviceable 5th starter in this league and just got caught in a numbers game out of spring, and that he’s better than he’s pitching in AAA.  At the time of this deal we wouldn’t have known that Lombardozzi would have this hot start; we only knew that he was young and seemed over-matched last September.

A concern in this story to me is the mention of Storen in the talks.  This is now the 2nd or 3rd time we’ve seen his name mentioned as being trade bait (one other that comes to mind was the proposed Zack Greinke trade.  At some point Storen is going to stop being the team player he clearly is now and become jaded, knowing that his front office is actively trying to get rid of him.

Nonetheless: Jones for that clutch of players seems like it is a steal for the Nats in hindsight.  If this deal had been swung, we’d certainly have a different look to the offense, but would be struggling with some serious depth holes right now (as if we aren’t already).


8 Responses to 'Would you have made this trade for Adam Jones?'

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  1. I wonder if Lombardozzi would be starting at 2base right now for the O’s if this deal happened. It’s obvious he’d be starting for most MLB teams, and should be starting over Espinosa.


    27 May 12 at 10:20 pm

  2. If Morse was healthy and ably manning left field …. yeah I think Lombardozzi would have taken over the starting 2B position by now. But that decision gets a stay of execution until Morse is healthy. Still remains an interesting decision point coming in the next couple weeks.

    Todd Boss

    28 May 12 at 7:07 pm

  3. I really like Storen, but I understand why his name keeps coming up in trade rumors: He’s at peak value right now (or at least he was until he landed on the DL). A great closer is invaluable, but few have longevity. For every Mariano Rivera, it seems like there are a dozen Chad Corderos—strong closers who burn out or get injured after a few seasons. Until he got hurt, the Nats probably could have gotten more in return for Storen than he’s likely to be worth over the long-term, at least based on average shelf-life of MLB closers. However, I suspect his name will be coming up a lot less now that he’s been on the DL, at least until he proves he’s back to full health and hasn’t lost velocity or control.

    To be clear, I personally don’t want to see Storen traded, but I understand why his name keeps getting mentioned. I also don’t think he’s going to suddenly become embittered that he keeps getting mentioned in rumors. Drew Storen is as consummate a professional as there is.


    29 May 12 at 12:17 pm

  4. Agree. As you say, closers seem to be fungible, there’s studies that have shown that teams close out 9th inning leads at the same percentage now that they did in the 50s (before there were such specialized closers), and these guys seem to burn out at a fast rate. The Matt Capps flip was perhaps Rizzo’s greatest trade, and I’d guess he continues to look to sell high on Storen.

    You have to wonder though, what the effect of seeing your name in trade rumors has on a player’s psyche. We often forget that these guys are human, that they have jobs (like we have jobs) and that some guys just couldn’t handle such news. I am a firm believer that a primary reason behind Brian Bruney’s flame out here was specifically because the team acquired him then turned around and argued against him (and beat him) in arbitration. That has to be sobering. Not exactly the same situation as a trade rumor but still related; you want to compete and win for a team, and you want that team to covet and respect you.

    Todd Boss

    29 May 12 at 5:17 pm

  5. I know the Phillies are our natural rival, but I really hate losing to the Marlins. It’s been a great season so far, but that was a demoralizing series.


    31 May 12 at 12:46 pm

  6. You had to predict at least the first loss; there’s no way you can play an 8pm sunday night game in one city, board the plane at 1am, get to your hotel at 4am and then be back at the ball park just a few hours later to play a hot team (best record in basebal for May). However you would have hoped for at least one of the next two games to be wins. Despite the fact that Miami got our 3-4-5 pitchers while we got their 5-1-2 pitchers … they needed to get Jackson a win for his performance. Alas, Sanchez owns the Nats and continued to own them.

    Todd Boss

    31 May 12 at 3:25 pm

  7. You make a great point about the rotation matchups in the Marlins series: their 5-1-2 versus our 3-4-5. I also agree that the first game was almost guaranteed let-down, and I’m irked that MLB would schedule a night game followed by a day game in a different city. It also didn’t help that Jordan did what Jordan too often does: pitch a great game, but make one or two small mistakes that the other team always seems to crush into the cheap seats (I swear, poor Zimmermann just seems to have bad luck, doesn’t he?). You’re also right about the second game, because the Nats just can’t beat Sanchez to save their lives. It was a particular shame in this case, though, because they wasted a solid start by Jackson. The Nats needed that third game badly. I know Josh Johnson is the Marlins #2 starter, but he’s also not having his best season. But the sudden muddle the Nats have at their #5 spot is unfortunate: Det and Wang are taking turns having bad starts, then looking great in relief of each other. What would you do with that, Todd? I understand that the Nats need to see what Wang has, but he looked lousy Wednesday night, and Detwiler suddenly looked solid again.


    1 Jun 12 at 10:49 am

  8. I think the team did what it had to do with Detwiler/wang. Detwiler had his shot to hold onto the #5 spot and failed. If he had continued pitching as he did in April we’d be talking about Wang as the long reliever. Results oriented game, etc etc.

    I partially blame Bowden for the foolish 2007 call up for Detwiler. That cost an option in 2008 and probably forced the team to bring him up too soon in 2009. Imagine if Detwiler still had options; he’d be starting in AAA and working out whatever he was struggling with instead of sitting out in right field all night waiting for rare opportunities to pitch an inning here and there. Poor GMing.

    Todd Boss

    4 Jun 12 at 11:04 am

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