It’s probably just a coincidence, but on the day that Tom Boswell pummeled the Lerners and Mike Rizzo for refusing to spend money (or take chances), the team pulled off a major trade with the Oakland A’s. Maybe Mikey was feeling the heat. Maybe not. Either way, the deal brings uber-talented lefty Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals to head up what is now one of baseball’s best rotations, but ships out four talented prospects, including Brad Peacock, whose as close to a “can’t miss” as the Nationals have. So: was it worth it?
Amanda Comack over at the Washington Times says that Gonzalez “fits precisely what Washington wants,” and gives the team a top-of-the-rotation innings eater. Comack points out that Gonzalez’s numbers translate well into the National League, though he walks a lot of hitters (91, to lead the AL last year). John Heyman over at Baseball Insider gives the Nats an attaboy, saying the team improved its rotation to the point where it may be a contender. Keith Law, meanwhile, says he’s not that impressed with Gonzalez (you have to wonder why, but it’s Keith Law), while Buster “Blind Dog” Olney (who actually sometimes finds a bone) says that Gonzalez reminds him of Twinkies starter Brad Radke — which is to say that Buster doesn’t know what to think.
We prefer to issue our judgments over a glass of scotch, which is where (last night) we received this opinion from one of the team’s season ticket holders. “The price is high,” this fan said, “maybe too high.” The fan then pointed out that “Rizzo would not have done this had he landed [Mark] Buehrle.” True. Which is not only to point out that scotch is a powerful truth serum (not always a good thing, mind you), but to suggest that if Rizzo & Company had bid higher for the former Pale Hose veteran, the team would not only have a front-of-the-rotation arm that is (arguably) better than Gonzalez, but they would have been able to hang on to both Peacock and Milone — whose arms will now be tested in the cavernous confines of the Oakland Coliseum.
Sometimes the most obvious conclusions are the ones you stick with — that Boswell’s criticism remains on target precisely because when Rizzo couldn’t pony up the bucks for Buehrle he had no choice but to part with four prospects for a front line pitcher. Gonzalez is a great addition and we applaud it, but spending the money on Buehrle and hanging on to Peacock, Milone, Norris and Cole would have been the wiser move. Yeah. True. But we’ll take it and hope that the Lerners are so irritated by what Boswell wrote that they’ll be determined to prove him wrong.