Jason Marquis is interested in helping the Nats

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Even if Jason Marquis isn’t a great pitcher, he’s definitely a great pitchman.  When the Mets had some interest in him he went all-in on his “I’m a New York guy” spiel. Now that the Mets’ interest has cooled, he has launched straight into “I can help the Nats” mode:

Marquis said he can be one person who can help Washington’s young
pitching staff, which includes John Lannan and Garrett Mock. Marquis
indicated that he can teach the young kids what he learned from
veterans like Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Chris Carpenter and Matt
Morris . . . “Learning from those veterans, learning how to win and
recognizing situations, I felt I brought that to the table in Colorado
and I really helped … De La Rosa and Jimenez, who were trying to get
over that hump,” said Marquis. “I feel I could bring that [kind of
leadership] to a team.”

I’m dubious that his hanging around guys like Maddux, Glavine, Carpenter and Morris will help Washington’s young pitchers too much, because it’s really not all that apparent that it has helped Marquis. For all of his available mentors, he’s more or less the same pitcher he’s always been — inconsistent — and there aren’t a lot of examples of that kind of osmosis working with many guys. If it did, Horacio Ramirez would be better.

But Marquis would be a useful addition in Washington. Partially because what he brings — a lot of average/occasionally above-average innings — is something Washington could definitely use.  And while the mentorship thing may not work the way Marquis suggests it does, having a guy who actually wants to pitch in Washington and wants to help the young pitchers would be a definite plus for the Nationals.

Shohei Ohtani is having a brutal spring training

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Spring training is tough for players under the best of circumstances. Even in an age when players work out all year, getting back into the swing of baseball-at-full-speed is tough. Many players spend the bulk of February and March knocking off the rust and getting their timing back. Because of this — and because the games have no real stakes — it is not wise to take spring training statistics super seriously. Especially if the player in question is assured of a spot on the roster and is trying to avoid injury before the regular season arrives.

Spring training for Shohei Ohtani is doubly difficult. Not only does he have to knock the rust off from the offseason, but he (a) has to get used to a new country and language; (b) has to get to know all new teammates, coaches and, really, an entirely new baseball culture; and (c) do all of that while dealing with a media crush that hasn’t been seen in baseball since Ichiro first arrived 17 years ago. In short, Ohtani is under massive pressure and has to make massive adjustments in a short time.

With that said, neither the Angels nor Ohtani can be all that pleased with how his spring training has gone. In two actual major league exhibition games he’s allowed eight runs in two and two-thirds innings. Seven of those came on Friday when he was shelled by the Rockies in an inning and a third. If you include B-games against minor leaguers, he has allowed 17 runs on 18 hits, four of which were homers, in four games. As a hitter he’s 2-for-20.

As Jeff Fletcher of the OC Register notes, Ohtani’s peripherals are not bad, as he has struck out a lot of guys and walked very few and the average on balls in play against him has been brutal, which is not super sustainable. Bad luck and some fat pitches at a time of the year when luck doesn’t really matter and the pitches, because of the rust, are likely to be fatter than normal.

As Fletcher also notes, Nolan Arenado, who faced Ohtani on Friday, said that his stuff looked good and that he’s going to be a good big league pitcher. Ohtani and Angels officials are all striking the right notes about bad luck and adjustments, saying that they’re not worried.

I imagine they’d be worrying even less if things had gone well this spring. Unless of course this is just a professional wrestling-style work aimed at getting more of us to watch his regular season debut, in which he’ll reveal that he was sandbaggin’ all along.