Let’s look at the Gio Gonzalez trade and its ramifications for all parties.
B-B-B-Billy and the Nats.
As I said in my prior posting, based on the flurry of trades he made and prospects acquired, the floating barometer of genius for Billy Beane is back in the green zone.
Of course it’s nonsense. The players may make it; they may not. You can get analysis of the youngsters here on MLB.com. The way the trade is being framed, it looks like the Nationals overpaid for a talented but wild lefty in Gonzalez.
The A’s are building for a future that may never come in a venue they don’t have assurances will be built—ever.
The Nationals are again hopping between two worlds. On one planet, they’re building for the future with young players Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, Ryan Zimmerman, Wilson Ramos, Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, Danny Espinosa and Bryce Harper—along with the top-tier prospects they’ve accumulated in recent drafts; on the other, they’re signing to massive contracts background talents of advancing age like Jayson Werth.
Which is it?
If he’s healthy and throws strikes, Gonzalez will add to the Nats improving starting rotation.
Those are big “ifs”.
Right now, if things go right for the Nationals, you can make the case that they’re better than the Marlins, are going to be competitive with the Braves and maybe even the Phillies if they begin to show their age.
That would be an extreme case of things going “right”, but we’ve seen it happen in recent years as the 2008 Rays came from nowhere to go to the World Series.
The Gonzalez Chronicles.
The Red Sox were said to be pursuing Gonzalez as well; with their limited cupboard of prospects, they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) match what the Nats traded away.
What their decision to bid on him at all does it open up a series of questions as to how much influence new manager Bobby Valentine is having on the composition of his roster.
When he was the manager of the Mets, Valentine was against GM Steve Phillips’s acquisition of Mike Hampton at Christmastime 1999; Valentine felt Hampton was too wild.
If that’s the case, then what does he think of Gonzalez, who’s walked over 90 batters in each of the past two seasons?
It could be that Valentine has evolved from his earlier beliefs.
Maybe he thinks Gonzalez would’ve been worth it.
Perhaps he’s being conciliatory and flexible in his first few weeks on the job.
Or he’s being ignored.
The Yankees stayed away from Jonathan Sanchez because GM Brian Cashman didn’t want a pitcher that wild. He wasn’t going to mortgage the system for Gonzalez when they’re still after Felix Hernandez.
Other teams were chasing Gonzalez, but the Nats blew them away.
Those teams were smart to steer clear; Beane was savvy to deal Gonzalez now and use the A’s teardown as a cover; and the Nats are taking an enormous leap of faith with a pitcher who’s going to aggravate them with his inability to find the strike zone.
There are better pitchers on the market via free agency (Edwin Jackson; Roy Oswalt); and trade (Gavin Floyd, Jair Jurrjens)—all are superior options to Gonzalez.
Gonzalez is a deep and risky bomb for the Nats that I wouldn’t have attempted.