GM Jim Bowden and manager Manny Acta both characterized the release of veteran John Patterson as a strictly baseball-related move, which came down to a simple equation: Whom would you rather have taking the mound every five days, Patterson or (choose one) Matt Chico/John Lannan? (Chico, incidentally, will be taking Patterson's usual turn in the rotation Friday against the Mets at Port St. Lucie, Fla. Make of that what you will.)
As for the finances, the impact is minimal, relatively speaking. Patterson was set to make $850,000 this year. By releasing him when they did, the Nationals are on the hook for a quarter of that, or (by my math) $212,500. It stands to reason the Nationals would have asked around to see if they might be able to pull off a trade, but quite clearly didn't find any takers.
Still, with Patterson now available for next to nothing, I figure it won't take long for him to land somewhere. As usual, there are plenty of good teams struggling with pitching injuries this time of year who could use him. The Los Angeles Angels come to mind, since both John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar look like they're out until mid-May at least.
Here are a few quotes from Bowden and Acta:
*Bowden: "Obviously, we kept hoping we could get him back to the form he was three years ago, and it just never happened. We evaluated him and believed he had better stuff last year, when we went forward with him [out of spring training] and he finished 1-7. . . . We felt at this point we should give the ball to the young starting pitchers we have and continue to develop them."
*Bowden noted the risk in releasing Patterson, citing Chris Carpenter as an example of an oft-injured pitcher who burned the team that released him (Toronto) by winning a Cy Young Award elsewhere (St. Louis), but said, "We made the judgment we don't think he's coming back [to his old form] this year. We don't think we're going to get him back to where he was. And to take the starts away from a young pitcher doesn't help the organization in the long run."
*Bowden on the decision this winter to bring Patterson back in the first place: " I just felt because of how good he was in '05, that it was worth bringing him [to] spring training and see if we could get him back anywhere close to where he was. We had those discussions [about the risk]. But we felt it was worth it to bring him in this spring, just in case. He worked hard all winter, and he worked hard here. [The stuff] just didn't come back."
*Bowden on Patterson's velocity: "It was 82-84 [against] Baltimore, 84-86 [against] Atlanta. We never saw him get to 90 all spring. [But] it's not just velocity, but command of pitches. He's been hit. . . . Like I said, we thought he had better stuff last year when we broke camp."
*Acta said the decision came down to "the fact the progress wasn't there, and it was to a point where he was going to [try to] rehab at the major league level, and we'd rather let the younger kids go out there and develop.
This had nothing to do with one particular start or outing. It was the whole spring training."
*Acta again: "There was no guarantee [John's stuff] was going to come back [during the season], and imeanwhile one of our younger guys was not going to get those starts. And we don't feel right now that, every five days, John was going to give us the best chance to win a ballgame."
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