Photo courtesy of the Washington Times
I’ll be the first to admit it- I’m always up for some good hyperbole.
But after watching Gio Gonzalez hurl another gem last night (6.0 IP, 3 hits, 9 strikeouts)- I sat there and thought to myself, “how long until Gio Gonzalez is considered the best off-season acquisition by a DC sports team in the last 10 years?”
Granted, it’s far too early to tell at this point. And, let’s be honest, how tough has the competition been lately for best acquisition in DC?
But Gonzalez, now 6-1 as a National, has started off as something that has unfortunately become too rare in this town- exactly what the team was hoping they were getting.
In his 9 starts this year, he’s given up 4 hits or less in 7 of them. I repeat- 4 HITS or less. Since his first shaky start at Wrigley this year, he’s pitched 51 innings and given up 25 hits. Add in 19 walks (his Achilles heel heading into 2012), that gives him a WHIP of .86 since that windy day in Wrigley.
Throw on top of that his major league leading 69 strikeouts and, to this point, the Nationals have a bonafide superstar on their hands- exactly what they were expecting to get when they gave up a slew of top prospects for him.
So circling back to my original question- how long will it be until Gio Gonzalez becomes the best DC off-season acquisition in the last 10 years?
For arguments sake, I took draft picks out of the equation- I believe they’re a separate entity.
And though Gio has only started 9 games for the Nationals, and no one knows what’ll mean for their playoff and ultimately World Series chances, it’s not like any of the other DC teams have been flooded with postseason success either.
So who exactly is his competition? Like I’ve been known to do from time to time, I put my thinking cap on (with an assist from some friends) and tried to figure that out.
Acquired in a package from the Senators when the Caps dealt Peter Bondra in ’03, Laich has established himself as a solid two-way forward and has become one of the faces of the franchise (although it took a few years for him to establish himself as such). For his career, Laich has 116 goals and 162 assists.
Acquired at the trade deadline during the 2007-08 season, Federov helped the Caps rally down the stretch that year to make the playoffs. In 08-09 he continued to provide stability on the Caps second line, helping them win their second consecutive division title. Also, Sergei scored the winning goal in Game 7 to cap a comeback from a 3-1 series deficit to the Rangers. He left for the KHL after that and the Caps haven’t had a productive second line center since.
Honorable Mention: Mike Knuble
Oh, Agent Zero. Possibly the most decorated (good and bad) DC athlete in the last decade, Arenas definitely made an impact. He averaged over 25ppg three different seasons (from 04-07) and was apart of three different Wizards playoff teams. He holds the franchise record for most points in a game and is a 3-time all-star (all with the Wizards).
Of course he’ll most likely be remembered for his bad knees and guns (not his arms unfortunately), but as far as off-season acquisitions go, it’s hard to argue with Gil’s solid few years- and knack for unforgettable buzzer beaters.
The ying to Arenas’ yang, Jamison came to DC by way of trade- for Jerry Stackhouse, Christian Laettner and a 1st rd pick (which ended up as Devin Harris). Jamison ended up becoming a consistently solid, and at times even spectacular I’d argue, player that many considered the most valuable of the big 3 (along with Arenas and Caron Butler).
In his five and a half years with the Wizards, Jamison’s points per game looked like this- 19.6, 20.5, 19.8, 21.4, 22.2 and 20.5- a London Fletcher level of consistency if you ask me. The few playoff runs featuring the big 3 were some great times for the Wizards, and Jamison was a very integral part of it.
Honorable Mention: Caron Butler
Speaking of London Fletcher, signed in 2007 to a 5-year deal, London could the best example to getting what you paid for. Serving as a leader of the team, both on and off the field, Fletcher (164 consecutive starts) has been a model of consistency- often overlooked in the sports world.
He seemingly leads the league in tackles, or is up near the top at the very least, every single year and conducts himself as you wish every other player would. Recently re-signed to another 5-year deal, London Fletcher is certainly one that the Redskins “got right”.
Say what you want about his antics, Clinton Portis was a key member of the only Redskins team to sniff post-season success in the last 10 years. Traded to DC before the 2004 season for perennial pro bowl corner Champ Bailey, a lot was expected of Portis- and, to an extent, he certainly delivered.
Though never the ultra-dynamic touchdown machine he was in Denver, Portis did have four 1,000 yard seasons in DC and in many aspects was the emotional leader during the Redskins playoff runs.
Honorable Mention: Santana Moss
In a town now known for big and splashy off-season moves (see Snyder, Dan and Werth, Jayson for 95% of that), let’s hope Gio Gonzalez keeps this up so as fans we can sit back and say “good move, Mike Rizzo, I knew it all along”.
Something as DC sports fans we don’t get to say very often.
*Special thanks to Brian Woodburn, @MustRockTheRed, for his help*