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Nationals sign Jason Marquis to two-year deal

Dec 21, 2009, 3:51 PM EDT

Washington recently was said to be making a “strong push” for Jon Garland, but the Nationals apparently balked at his demand for a three-year contract and turned their attention to the equally veteran and similarly mediocre Jason Marquis, signing him to a reported two-year, $15 million contract.
Marquis won 15 games and tossed 216 innings for Colorado last season, posting a solid 4.04 ERA despite calling Coors Field home. However, he had ERAs of 4.60 and 4.53 in two seasons with the Cubs prior to joining the Rockies and was disastrous for the Cardinals in 2006, posting a 6.02 ERA while leading the league in losses, homers allowed, and runs allowed.
He’s a veteran of a decade in the majors with a 4.48 career ERA, and last season’s 115/80 K/BB ratio suggests that he was quite fortunate to post a 4.04 mark in Colorado. Marquis certainly isn’t without value and can be penciled in for 180-200 innings of league-average pitching, but I’m not really sure why a team coming off back-to-back 100-loss campaigns should be paying $7.5 million per season for a 31-year-old fourth starter.
Of course, I also failed to grasp why the Nationals needed to spend $6 million on a backup catcher, albeit one headed to the Hall of Fame. General manager Mike Rizzo has seemingly made paying premium prices for veteran mediocrity a priority this offseason, which is an odd use of resources and playing time for a team that isn’t anywhere close to contending. Ninety-five losses or bust!

  1. Joe - Dec 21, 2009 at 4:03 PM

    Don’t knock it, this is the same strategy that made the Pirates the team they are today!

  2. GBSimons - Dec 21, 2009 at 4:06 PM

    Ninety-five losses?!?! Aaron, you fail to grasp the power of Jason Marquis. His teams have gone to the playoffs every season in his decade-long career. Rizzo is tapping into this phenomenon, all but guaranteeing post-season baseball in D.C. He’s JASON MARQUIS after all, an unstoppable force of nature. How could you fail to comprehend that?

  3. Wells - Dec 21, 2009 at 4:32 PM

    Jason “I’m a New York guy” Marquis?

  4. dcfan - Dec 21, 2009 at 4:40 PM

    As I mentioned in an earlier post, this is a better signing than you guys give credit too. This is a winning pitcher. Tons of postseason experience, veteran, and coming off a good season in a hitters park. Remember Mike Hampton before and after Coors. Now Marquis had a bad season with the Cardinals a few years back, but last season is whats important. Plus, like a Livan Hernandez, this guy eats inning, and to salvage the mental aspects of being beaten around which DC’s young pitching staff suffered last year, this will surely help.

  5. Todd Boss - Dec 21, 2009 at 4:50 PM

    Are “Circling the Bases” writers physically capable of seeing any positive effect in any Nationals move? Why don’t you guys actually do some analysis, think about the position the Nats are in thanks to MLB and Bowden and consider where we have to go.
    Why don’t you check out Marquis’ baseball-reference page. He had a ballpark adjusted ERA+ of 113 in 2009, hardly “league average.” And that immediately makes him better than anything the Nats put out on the field last year. Isn’t that worth a 2yr contract for a team that has no where to go but up?? Yeah he’s a 4th starter for NY and Boston, but he’ll be valuable for us. Not everyone has a $150M payroll.
    No type-A, high end free agent is going to come to Washington right now, so we’re making the moves we have to make. I think its time your writers admitted that to themselves and saw these moves for what they are; baby steps towards a .500 team and respectability.
    considering t

  6. John_Michael - Dec 21, 2009 at 5:15 PM

    I’ll generally agree with Todd here. In a Better/Worse analysis, Marquis is an upgrade from what they have.
    Fangraphs says Marquis had a 3.8 WAR last year, which translates to $17.1MM in FA dollars. So it appears we’re using $4.5MM for each marginal win above replacement. So, assuming $7.5MM per year, if the Nats get 1.667 marginal wins out of him (a 56% regression), they’ll get their money’s worth, so to speak.

  7. Shely - Dec 21, 2009 at 5:28 PM

    Boy, if this guy is an upgrade from anyone, they are in big trouble. Marquis is at very best marginal, and at worst, a bust. Very poor ERA, no clutch need to win attitude. He may have part of a decent year, but is guaranteed to fold over the long 162 game schedule. Lucky to have a 6.0 era over a year. The only hope is that with their firepower, Nats can give him a 12-10 victory on his day on the mound.

  8. John_Michael - Dec 21, 2009 at 5:44 PM

    From Fangraphs, Bill James projects Marquis to pitch 202 innings with a 4.37 ERA. According to Yahoo!, the Nationals Team ERA was 5.00 last year. So is Marquis an upgrade? YES! Is he grossly overpaid? Nah, probably not. As you mention, are the Nats in big trouble this year? I think that was the point of Aaron’s 95 loss jab…

  9. Todd Boss - Dec 21, 2009 at 5:57 PM

    Shely, On what basis do you claim “lucky to have a 6.0 era over a year?” Here’s his season ERAs over the last four years: 6.02->4.60->4.53->4.04.
    I may not have a PhD in mathematics, but that seems to indicate a trend of improvement. 4.04 era and a downward trend as he reaches pretty much his peak as a baseball professional athleticism in terms of age and experience. I’ll take that.

  10. D-Luxxx - Dec 21, 2009 at 5:58 PM

    The fact that you compared him to Livan should be proof enough that this was not a great signing. I wonder if Washington is getting any advice from Terry Ryan. Signing washed-up, has-been players for more than they are worth. Hmmm.

  11. Jeff Scott - Dec 21, 2009 at 7:47 PM

    Thank you Nationals. We at Cardinal Nation needed a good laugh for the holidays. Perhaps since Jason is a bit older now and hopefully a little wiser, he’s learned to listen to his pitching coach. Best of luck!

  12. clayton - Dec 22, 2009 at 1:14 AM

    As a Cardinal fan I’m not big on Marquis, but if you look at his record in the National’s park, you will be impressed. He pitches very well in their big park and the Nationals know it. That combined with his improving numbers since he left St Louis suggests this could be a very good deal for the Nats.

  13. North145 - Dec 22, 2009 at 10:56 AM

    Marquis is one of the best first half pitchers out there. 09 wasn’t the first time he stormed his way into the allstar break. This will be a good signing if the Nationals trade him at the break before he can have his patented second half collapse.

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