Friday, January 12, 2007
Two More To Throw Against The Wall
As expected, Our Washington Nationals officially signed two additional potential starting pitchers off the garbage scrapheap. More bodies to throw up against the wall to see what sticks. Last week, it was stated that Washington had offered contracts to Ramon Ortiz, Tony Armas, Jr, Steve Trachsel, Jorge Sosa and Jerome Williams. The only one on that short list that interested me was Jerome Williams.
Williams, a one time top Prospect, with the San Francisco Giants was traded to The Chicago Cubs for LaTroy Hawkins. For Chicago, he stumbled badly, hurt his shoulder and flat out stunk. Released late last season, and picked up by the Oakland Athletics, Williams is looking to restart his career.
Still only 25 years old in 2007, I didn't see why someone, especially Our Nats, desperate for starters, would not be interested in giving a shot to this one time First Round Draft Pick. This past Monday, I addressed this very same question to Stan Kasten. Mr. Kasten gave me the honest answer, yet I was EMBARGOED from mentioning it, until after the official annoucement. "Then you will like what I am going to tell you." Mr. Kasten said. "We have signed Jerome Williams, we like him too. Jim (Bowden) thinks, we can possibly turn his career around. There is another player we are looking at, but its not official and I really will not talk about him."
That player turned out to be Brandon Claussen--27 years old, now journeyman, Left Hander, last pitched for, you guessed it--Cincinnati. Claussen was signed to a minor league deal and is still recovering from a small tear in his rotator cuff. For the Yankees, he was considered a top pitching prospect in 2003. But, like many young pitching prospects, early Minor League Success, does not necessarily transfer to their Major League triumph. I may be wrong, but I believe Claussen came to the Reds in the same trade that Jimbo acquired Wily Mo Pena for Cincinnati. But, I am not sure.
As I have mentioned in the past, I don't really get into all the various stats on players, pitching ratios, etc--I leave that up to others that enjoy that part of the game far more than I. And, that's fine--its just not my thing. My baseball instinct and knowledge of playing in and watching countless game is what I trust when it comes to evaluating talent.
I am all for the Jerome Williams signing, its a one and done deal if he doesn't turn it around. Washington has nothing to lose and only to gain. Claussen doesn't harm any progress of anyone else either, just filler and still relatively young. Typical low cost, potential short and long term gain outputs that we have come to expect from this franchise over the past 6 months.
If Claussen has any type of a decent first half (you never know), how many other teams would be willing to flip for him (a left hander I remind everyone) in return for some prospects to Washington, at the trading deadline. Brandon costs nothing--but could be very valuable in the near future.
Jerome Williams will get every chance to be a Number 2 or 3 Starter for The Nats. Esteban Loiaza worked out tremendously for Washington, during the Inaugural Season of 2005 under the same circumstances. In 2006, Ramon Ortiz was not that fortunate. What will happen in 2007 with Jerome Williams, may well determined whether Our Washington Nationals will be competitive when that pitching slot comes around every 5th day this season.
PS--Take a look at these last two pictures of Jerome Williams. Doesn't he have the "Livo" look going. Williams has gained alot weight over the past few years, but his ongoing transformation and resemblance to Livan Hernandez is quite interesting to me. Let's hope he's not the Home Run supplier that "LIVO" was for 18 months in DC.