The amazing haul of the the Nationals
This came across the MLB.com transaction wire today:
Signed RHP Tim Redding, RHP Joel Hanrahan, INF Josh Wilson and OF Michael Restovich to one-year contracts. Signed RHPs Jermaine Van Buren, T.J. Nall, Colby Lewis, Felix Diaz, Eduardo Valdez, Josh Hall, Winston Abreu, Jim Magrane; LHPs Mike Bacsik, Billy White and Chris Michalak; C Juan Brito and C Danny Ardoin; INF Joe Thurston and INF Alejandro Machado; and OF Darnell McDonald and OF Wayne Lydon to Minor League contracts.
As Dave put it
Yea, Jim Bowden signed almost every interesting minor league free agent on the market. Itâ€™s amazing that they all signed with one organization. Iâ€™m guessing their standard NRI contract is better than every other clubâ€™s standard offer.
While my opinion of Bowden as a GM is pretty low, this is a great batch of signings.
I’ll try and briefly hit the highlights.
RHP Tim Redding. It’s been a long time since Redding was a top prospect, but he’s only 28. Last year he pitched for Charlotte, the White Sox’s AAA affiliate, and put up decent numbers. He started 28 games (most since 2003 when he was a regular starter in Houston) and in 187 innings struck out 148, walked 56, and gave up 21 home runs. Now, the crack would be that he’s a classic AAAA guy, who can’t cut it in the majors, but that’s the downside, your AAA team gets a good starter and you have an insurance policy? I think if you plug him in the back of a rotation, that’d be a fine way to eat 180-200 innings on the cheap.
RHP Joel Hanrahan. He’s a former Dodger pitching prospect who was last really good in 2003 in AA. Since then, it looks like he’s fighting a labrum tear: his velocity’s off, and the Dodgers just could not manage to get his mechanics right. But he’s 25. If they think he’s fixable, either mechanically or through rest-and-rehab, it could pay off.
RHP T.J. Nall. TJ is for Thomas John. If I have a kid, I’m not naming them after a surgery. Nall didn’t get past A ball until he was 23, and he’s been bouncing between Jacksonville and Las Vegas since then. Last year he was outstanding in Jacksonville (140 innings, 155 K, 30 BB) but AA at 25 that’s not… relatively outstanding?
He’s not much of a prospect, though. As Baseball America put it when they gave him a nod mid-year:
Not enough of a prospect for the Hot Sheet, too young for Blast From The Past and too old for Helium Watch, it is a conundrum that we often face when putting together this list.
This week, the player that fits that bill is Dodgers righthander T.J. Nall. The 25-year-old moved into the Double-A Jacksonville rotation on May 28 and since then he has won all eight of his starts. In those eight starts, he has 77 strikeouts in 61 innings with a 1.33 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .167 against him.
An eighth-round pick in 1999 out of Schaumberg (Ill.) High, is having by far the most successful season of his career. The only other stop in his minor league career that would approach it would be his 43 innings of relief for low Class A South Georgia in 2002 when he posted a 0.63 ERA. He didn’t make Hot Sheet because he is not enough of a prospect (short righthander with fringe-average stuff) at this point, but his performance warrants mentioning.
RHP Colby Lewis
Remember Colby Lewis? He was a big prospect once. He disappeared after rotator cuff surgery, missed almost all of 2004 and then didn’t pitch in 2005. And yet early returns were shockingly good last year. In Toledo, he was a little homer-prone but struck out 111 and walked 38. Next year he’ll be 27, so he’s like… a better Gil Meche? The really interesting twist here is that the Nationals got someone else to pick up the tab on his rehab, saw that he might be one of the few to return to any kind of effectiveness after shoulder surgery, and then they picked him up.
RHP Jermaine Van Buren.
Minor league closer. Good ratios, decent bullpen filler.
RHP Felix Diaz
Looks like the Hiroshima Carp decided not to pick up his 2007 option. Looks like he didn’t pitch much over there, either. Who knows how he’s doing.
RHP Josh Hall
He’s had a couple shoulder surgeries while he was in the Reds system. Meh.
RHP Winston Abreu, RHP Jim Magrane, LHP Mike Bacsik, LHP Billy White
LHP Chris Michalak
He’ll be 36, and has spent a long, long time in AAA. Roster filler.
The other guys
IF-R Josh Wilson. Interesting utility guy, some bat utility, and has started to steal some bases (17 in 2005, 15 in 2006).
OF-R Michael Restovich. For all the talk about his potential, no one’s ever been willing to give him the at bats. Last year he tore it up in Iowa (.293/.374/.580 (!)) for his year-27 season. Maybe the Nationals are going to let him loose. Or, like all the other teams he’s been through in the last couple of years, they’ll find a reason not to.