(AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
Earlier today, Jon Garland declined his mutual option with the San Diego Padres thus making him one of the top free agents in the 2011 class. Coming off a career year, the 30 year old is looking to cash in on one more long term contract; the Washington Nationals cannot be the team to give it to him.
In 2010, Garland was an impressive 14-12 with a 3.57 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 136 strike outs in 200 IP.
Dig a bit deeper though, and you will see that Garland is not all that he is cracked up to be.
When you think of Jon Garland, try to think of him as two different pitchers; Garland Home that starts his home games at Petco Park, and Garland Away, that starts everywhere else.
Garland Home - 7-5, 3.00 ERA, 0.75 HR/9, 6.25 K/9
Garland Away - 7-7, 4.01 ERA, 1.08 HR/9, 5.97 K/9
As with any hurler that pitches the majority of his games in Petco, Garland benefits from pitching in the ultimate pitching paradise. Thanks to its spacious dimensions Petco turns bad pitchers into average ones, average ones into good ones and good ones into great ones.
This is not to say that Jon Garland is a bad pitcher; he isn't. In-fact, Garland would be an upgrade over nearly all of the current rotation hopefuls the Nationals will bring to Vierra. The concern with Garland is the fact that his flashy numbers may earn him a long term contract at a dollar amount he does not deserve nor will he ever be able to meet in on-field performance.
Mike Rizzo made a mistake in bringing in Jason Marquis in the 2009-2010 offseason. Rizzo, incorrectly, paid Marquis as if he believed he was a top of the rotation starter. He was not, and the Nats paid dearly for that mistake.
Flash forward to the 2010-2011 offseason and Rizzo is back at the drawing board looking for a way to help bolster the rotation. Rizzo has mentioned numerous times that he wants to land a top of the rotation arm, and that he's willing to pay handsomely or trade away prospects to make that happen. To the untrained eye, Jon Garland seems to fit that description. Unless the Nationals also buy Petco Park and ship it to DC, it would be to the Nationals detriment to follow through on granting Garland that last big contract.