Should the O’s have traded for Gonzalez?


In an off season where the O’s are potentially looking for pitching, the big elephant in the room down I-95 just traded for a starting pitcher that probably could have helped the Orioles. The Nats gave up four prospects to the A’s in exchange for Gio Gonzalez, who is in fact a bona fide top line starter that potentially would have helped the O’s. So in the tug-of-war throughout the mid-Atlantic region does this put the Nats ahead? I’m sure their fans would argue that they were already ahead whereas Oriole fans would argue to the contrary. Ultimately the Nationals are just another team, and in fact they bear very little relevance to the Orioles given that they only play a token six games each season and are in the National League.

My personal opinion is that the Nationals gave up too much in return for Gonzalez. It may turn out to be a great trade, and for their sake I hope it does. However last season the Nationals signed Jayson Werth as a free agent, who’s numbers disappointed last season. Someone broke down his numbers while in Philly, and they found that at home his power numbers were very high. Away from Citizen’s Bank Park, they averaged out at just about what he produced throughout the entire season in Washington last year. So while he’s still a good hitter, Philadelphia’s hitter-friendly confines probably helped him.

Gio Gonzalez has played the past few seasons’ worth of home games at the Oakland Coliseum for the A’s. In looking at his numbers in 2011, his home win percentage was .667 whereas it was .462 on the road. He had an ERA of 2.70 in Oakland, and 3.62 away from home. 110 innings pitched at home, and 92 on the road. Admittedly these numbers do differ but the difference isn’t glaring. However that nearly one run difference on the ERA can often be the difference between winning and losing. And the one stat that does have a fairly wide gap is the win percentage. That, combined with the fact that he was going deeper into games at home does make a slight difference.

I’ve heard some rumblings to the tune that the O’s perhaps should have tried to trade for someone like Gio Gonzalez. Maybe they should have; however would he have been the same Gio Gonzalez in a hitter’s park like Camden Yards? Nationals Park isn’t a hitter’s or a pitcher’s park per se, however it certainly doesn’t have space for a used car lot in the outfield like the Atheltics’ ballpark. Furthermore, there’s no tangible measurement for the number of foul pops which ended up being outs due to the amount of foul territory in Oakland; some of those pop ups will now turn into souvenirs.

My point is not that the Washington Nationals made a mistake in aquiring Gonzalez. I presume that their scouts reviewed all of the information that I provided and then some. However the idea isn’t to simply trade/aquire what’s deemed to be talent. John Lackey was a superstar pitcher in Anaheim, and he’s been below-average in Boston. As we know, Fenway’s a hitter’s park. The idea isn’t to aquire people just for the sake of aquiring people; the idea is to aquire people smartly.

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