Chien-Ming Wang is a gamble that the Washington Nationals were willing to take.
The celler-dwellers picked Wang up as a free agent with a $2 million one-year contract with incentives for up to $3 million more. The Nationals also have the right to add Wang for 2011 if things work out.
Wang is definitely a huge risk and the Nationals already have two ground ball starting pitchers in the fold in Jason Marquis and John Lannon. To pick up a 30-year-old ground ball pitcher on a team with no chance of qualifying seems curious.
The “Glory of Tawain” is the penultimate ground ball hurler. In ’06, Wang became the tenth pitcher in the history of baseball to have a ground ball to fly ball ratio of greater than 3. He averages less than 4 strikeouts per 9 IP so he’s a pitcher that must get ground balls to be effective.
Washington manager Jim Riggleman said: “Not only does his ball sink, he throws very hard. Hitters were saying it was like hitting a bowling ball.”
As good as Wang was in ’06 and ’07, however, he was as bad as it gets in 2009. Try 1-6 and 9.64 in 42 IP. He was just the tenth player in history to have an ERA above 9.60 in more than 40 IP.
A torn tendon in his right foot sidelined him, then a hip abductor injury, and then a shoulder injury that ultimately required surgery in the off-season.
Wang is a wild card for 2010. He still hasn’t thrown off the mound and is only throwing at 120 feet yet. He won’t see action until May at best. If Wang is healthy, a move to the National League should help his stats. He was a consistent 3.63 and 3.70 in those glory years when he won 19 games
each year. His WHIP was 1.31 and 1.29. So, that’s what the Nats are hoping for.
As of this point, however, Wang is a big risk for 2010, but he’s a hard worker and if anybody can come back, Wang can. But, he’s gone from being a member of the best team in baseball to being a member of the worst. And, even if he has his stuff, he won’t have Derek Jeter behind him in Washington, although the Nationals infield is much improved with the addition of Adam Kennedy at second, gold glover Ryan Zimmerman at third, and Carlos Guzman at short.
Chien-Ming Wang should only be considered for the 2010 fantasy baseball draft in the deepest of National League-only leagues. And, since he won’t show up until May at best, you can always wait and see how he recovers before picking him up as a free agent.
So, do what your Mom always told you as a child.
Don’t Play with Wang.