Nationals Baseball

Friday, December 19, 2014

Some A's

What now for 2nd base?

Would the Phillies send us Utley for Difo/$$$?  No.
Could Taylor/Clippard bring back Odor?  No. 
Trade Stras/Difo for Betts/Owens?  Hmmmm... No. You have to discount Difo here. It was a nice A-ball season but come on. He'll be like #15 prospect for an average minor league system. But I still had to think because Strasburg is an alluring piece. Still I think an everyday position player and a potential everyday starter BOTH for 2015 and both with tons of contract time would be too much to the Red Sox.

Honestly I think the Nats do nothing. Rizzo won't deal for a 1 year replacement (or at least won't give up value for it which makes it hard to get done).  The obvious FAs to be soon but not now are either on playoff teams (Neil Walker, Ian Kinsler) or on rivals who would be tough to deal with (Utley, Murphy, Gordon). Which leaves the Nats, if they follow history, trying to pry the Doziers and Altuves of the world away from their teams. Good players but would demand risk for Rizzo. Altuve maybe could be had... for Cole, Taylor,  +. That's not how Rizzo rolls.

Why not Kang? 

I think the Nats are gunshy on international risks after Maya. Kang is a risk. He'll be 28 and his power numbers are suspect given the park he plays in. (Not a 30+ guy). I imagine the Nats will kick the tires on the guy, MI with pop aren't growing on trees, but the market for international talent is high right now so I also imagine they'll get outbid. These are players you get by going all-in. Nats will make an offer they see as fair.

Aren't some of us getting a little too excited about Souza? 

Yes they were. He's fine. You'd like him everyday, but he not likely a star in the making and couldn't force out the starting three right now. Trading him was the right move. He had value, but less value for the Nats than nearly any other team.

Why has Clint Robertson never gotten a chance? 

All the reasons. Some guys don't get a shot because they build up too slowly. Robinson was like that. good as a 22 in rookie ball, only ok in low A, then a little better in high A. Because he wasn't wowing anyone he didn't get fast tracked so when he did start to impress in AA he was already 25. That isn't too old in itself but here comes reason #2, he was now blocked by guys doing better or almost as well in the minors that were ~5 years younger (Hosmer, Moustakas, Myers) and a guy in the majors about the same age doing well (Butler). With nowhere to go we get into reason #3, he was young enough and good enough to be kept around as organizational depth for the Royals. So instead of being dealt after 2010 or 2011 he was simply moved to AAA and stayed there. After deciding he was now old enough to give up on he finally got traded (to Pitt) then found himself with Torono. Here comes his best shot to at least be a bench guy (Encarnacion and Lind were at 1B and DH) but reason #4 comes up, NOW he didn't hit well. The Dodgers picked him up but with Adrian Gonzalez in the way and we get reason #5, as a 29 year old career minor leaguer there really wasn't a good reason to use major league at bats on him. That's the gamut of non-injury reasons you can do ok but not get a shot.

Shouldn't we deal Tyler Moore if we don't need him? 

Yep. I'd deal him if the Nats DID need him. I don't think he'll ever be successful.

Will McLouth be back? 

Now that Souza was dealt most definitely. And that's not terrible in itself. fair OF, lefty bat. You could do worse for your 5th OF. Of course right now he's the 4th...

What's this infatuation with Difo? 

Standard overrating of your own prospects. He's a good prospect at the beginning of the minors. That is all. A nice piece to have organizationally but he could easily fall back to "not prospect" status with a off year next year. He's not someone you plan around. In comparison Turner is a great prospect at the beginning of the minors. With an off year you'd still think of him as a worthy prospect and with a good year you would start to plan around his development.

Shouldn't the Nats let Ian leave after 2015, or take whatever they can get for him in trade right now? Can't those numbers be replaced on the corners, where they are easier to find and significantly cheaper?

Welll... sort of. There is more power to be had in the OF (1B is in a rut right now) but the problem the Nats have is that they don't have room to improve those corners (unless you move Rendon back to 2nd). Zimm, Werth, and Bryce should be stuck in the corners for 3 more seasons.

Also, the fact that Ian has good numbers for the position IS important. His likely replacement woudl likely hurt the offense more than upping a corner OF a bit would help. Let's say team X gets those numbers from a new OF, that may be an extra win for say... an extra $8 mill. Great. But they just lost 3 wins going from Ian to a new SS. So you saved 10 mill a year but you lost 2 wins.

How about Refsnyder from the Yanks? 

I think it would take a fair amount. They see him as a Prado replacement for after 2016 assuming he does ok in AAA this year. I'm sure they'd part ways for a major league ready starting pitching talent but the Nats don't really have a good match. A guy like Cole is too big a price. Guys like Rivero or Treinen too low. Maybe a mass deal (rivero + Treinen + ? for Refsnyder + ? ) but I just don't see it happening

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Whoops - Travel Day

I didn't exactly think out my plan to answer Q's today. So tomorrow! An extra day for Q's to come in and frankly it may be needed because the Nats did something!

Trade :
OUT : Souza / Ott
IN : Turner / Ross

Why did the Nats do it?

We've gone over this before but Souza is at his peak, unlikely to find regular playing time this year, and plays a position also taken up by a few other top Nats prospects.  In other words, they could sell high on a player they didn't need. When you can do that - you do it.

Of course you don't deal just to deal, you deal to get better. The Nats couldn't (or more likely wouldn't) trade for a 2B / LHRP for next season so the other option was seeing if they could get something back they like - players with a lot of control.  They did that grabbing two good minor leaguers one a pitcher and one a 1st round SS, a position of need in the Nats minor leagues. Minor leagues, which was kind of middling, instantly improved.

Does this help the Nats in 2015?

Nope. It makes them likely every so slightly worse. He was going to be the 4th OF and if the past is any indication Rizzo will bring in some waste of space (but cheap) veteran to replace him. The nightmare scenario is seeing Souza succeed while Span, Bryce, or Werth miss significant time. While that won't likely happen, it's certainly likely he'd have some playing time 200+ ABs and I think we'd all rather see him than say... McLouth.

Isn't Souza ready to break out?

The jump from AAA to the majors is the hardest to project in my mind because there isn't a super major league where the best players get moved up to. This is it and thus it's a top heavy league. Certainly you like what Souza has done in the minors the last few years but that's no guarantee.  The most worrying thing is Souza's age. If he doesn't get it this year or next it's going to be difficult for any team to keep him playing as he'll be leaving his peak and entering his decline.

What do I think? I think he'll do fine. A .280 15-20 homer guy. Nice player to have, nothing special. That's my guess

What about the other guy?

Raw super young arm. That's all you can say.

How good are the guys the Nats got back?

Pretty good - Ross is more of a thrower than a pitcher and for a thrower he doesn't strike out people like you'd like. But he's young and has time to develop. Rotation guy, reliever arm, lots of potential here to get some major league use from the guy.

Turner is even more likely to get major league time. He has plus speed and does not strikeout. This means he projects to have a pretty high average. The rest is a question mark. He seems to have ok power - not going to hit 20 plus homers, but will he hit 15 or 5? He seems to be able to take a walk but will that continue to translate? Despite his speed he is not the best fielding SS out there.  The high end scenario is an all around talent fringe all-star, I think. The low end is a slappy Joe who doesn't play well enough D to keep a secure spot but starts for a few years and serves a useful bench role. Very excited about next year to see where he trends.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Keeping asking those questions

What? You expect the Nats to provide us with stuff.  Oh fine ok. I do have real baseball things to write about but that's for post work trip.

Christmas Movie Reviews 

Christmas Town
X(Mas)-Factor:  Reeks from every pore like cheap liquor from a drunk
Kids acting:  Lots of eyes wide and mouth open.
Watchability:  Survivable, Yes. Watchable, No. 
"Hey it's"! : The greatest "other guy" from our youth, Patrick Muldoon!  The girl who replaced Jadzia Dax as Other Name Dax.

Ugh. This movie is the worst. It has a standard premise as Other Dax works too hard and doesn't have enough Christmas spirit, but gets righted by a combination of a believing son, a holiday convert father, and the new spirited town where he lives. But everything layered on top of it is so bad.  The kid runs away like 90 f'n times in the movie. I'm not kidding. It'll be "Mom I think I see something" "Not now, Mason" BOOM GONE. He starts this by jumping out of a car because he thought he saw a reindeer. What? "Mom! Stop the Car! A reindeer! I'm going to chase it!" That is literally what happens.

The hook of the movie is the thought that this town is really harboring a secret REAL Christmas factory. The mysterious NP Enterprises is supposed to be very secretive, which means they cover the sled sent out for repairs... after it comes out into the open, and load presents... in the open, and dress strangely as to...not attract attention? Then after being treated to 100 minutes of the movie hinting very strongly that it's real, we get a terrible rug pull from Muldoon where he explains to Other Dax "Oh they do Christmas displays and stuff" which makes no sense to hold that out till the end because everything makes a lot more sense if it's said at the beginning. Then they show us it was real.  It's real. It's real. It's real. It's real. No, it's fake. No, it's real! GOTCHA! But it also makes no sense because why would they be so busy now, two days before Christmas, wouldn't their busy time be like right after Thanksgiving when all these decorations are going out?

Speaking of terrible rugs there's Muldoon's hair which looks like he spent the entire time in a cheap hotel room running his hands through it while contemplating the road his life took to get here.

Looks in mirror : "Dammit Muldoon. You were the guy Kapowski left Zack for. The guy Carmen left Johnny Rico for. Pull yourself together man!"

The music was terrible featuring only slow wacky or fast wacky, or out of place songs like when there's a couple doing a little fast dance in the background to "Gloria in excelsis Deo" .The VO stuff added in post was even worse. The "climatic" scene involves the kid running around the warehouse (or more accurately a small area of 4 hallways where signs are replaced to indicate new areas) all the while a loudspeaker produces hysterical bits like "Reindeer poop emergency. All hands to the stalls" and "If anyone speaks Swahili please come to list translation services" worse they top that with added VO of the elves reacting to that. A VO line is literally "Come on, we have a lot of poop to clean"

I haven't even got to Muldoon sucking on a peppermint stick, or the mechanic who has an orgasmic relationship with hot chocolate, or the father's crazy over the top decorations which are filmed so you can only see one small corner of a room, or the kid finding Santa's warehouse of toys which is him in green screen in front of shots of a Costco or what the hell Santa is supposed to be doing here

All this and the movie is actually pretty damn boring as it's padded as every scene of them walking places or getting into cars takes about 10 seconds too long. Oh and the foam attack on the Mom! And that aggressive mistletoe guy!

This movie gets no nothings.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Q&A needs Qs, probably As too but that's later

The Nats are in a holding pattern right now. They are dealing with first world baseball team problems like signing their multiple free agents to be, rather than trying to shore up a little bit here or there, which they still need to do. (2nd baseman, maybe lefty in pen) Personally I think Rizzo's "I can never lose" trade philosophy is slowing things down, but it's hard to argue with it. The alternative is gambling that good prospects don't pan out for them or that bad ones do for you. Of course if there was a time to make such deals it's now, when a window is possibly closing and you want wins this year damn the next. We'll see.

So what do we do in the meantime? Talk about Bryce not showing up at fanfest? HA! Try another blog sucker. Talk about the Lerner's unnecessarily trying to wring a few more bucks from Bryce's contract? Warmer but I think everyone understands these guys are BUSINESSMEN, this is what they are going to do.

Instead it's time to go to the well.  Give me questions to answer and I'll try to answer them. We'll say Thursday. Sneak preview of the magic to come:

Is Lombo or Morse coming back?

No. Morse looks like he's signing with Marlins. Lombo passed waivers so if the Nats want him they'd have to deal for him. From the Orioles. Good luck with that.

Is it possible to win a World Series with no big contracts?

Didn't KC just almost do that?  But seriously - sure you can but it's a matter of timing. These players all have to be young and under team control keeping the costs down. But I think you're more asking something like : can you build a team of FAs with no big contracts and really contend.  The biggest spenders can - the rest probably not. The cost is going to be prohibitively high for the return for those average/slightly above average players.  I suppose if you had a year when you hit it out of the park with each signing (think Nelson Cruz esque) then it could work but I'm not betting on it.

Should we have "caved" to Bryce without a longer deal?

I think they "caved" because the Nats thought they'd probably lose. So it wasn't a cave as more an acceptance.

How bout Clint Robinson! Looks good! .300 hitter with moderate power.  Why hasn't he gotten a real chance?

Those are PCL numbers. Don't think that matters?
IL 2014 : .261 / .331 / .393
PCL 2014 : .276 / .344 / .427

Hitting is just a step easier in the PCL.  Often times it'll give teams greater pause on bringing guys up with good numbers. You could argue that he deserved a shot in 2011, but they paused, then he flopped a bit in his IL try out, and here we are. Still mashing PCL but now 30.  I don't think it's a bad grab but I do think if he were to play extended time in the majors that power would go away.

Friday, December 12, 2014

When it was pronounced "who cares"

Detwiler was traded yesterday.  We'll leave any official takes on the trade until the other players are named officially but the truth is it's a good deal for the Nats regardless of who they get back, and a good deal for Ross almost no matter where he was going.

Detwiler was a starter that was currently a rotation injury and a Blake Treinen flame out from getting another shot. Even those conditions were on a clock as as soon as A.J. Cole looked ready for the major leagues he would take his place in line ahead of Ross. Could be May, could be September but it was likely coming this season. Taylor Jordan also lurked as an option. All that was really left for Ross with the Nationals was to commit to a relief role as a lefty swingman and hope Matt Williams/Mike Rizzo got over whatever mental block they had about using him.  As a 29 year old who in 2012 pitched nearly a full season of good baseball and would be up for free agency after 2015 that is a hell of a lot of money potentially left on the table.  What Ross really needed was a chance to start from Day 1. With Texas he should get one.

A lot of people are vaguely excited about the deal because of the Nats past deal with Texas. They dealt Cristian Guzman and got back Tanner Roark. While it's a steal today, it wasn't one at the time. Hell, it wasn't one going into 2013 when Roark just put up a 4.39 ERA and 1.4 WHIP in AAA and was a year or two before officially becoming "organizational depth". Roark was a fringe prospect. The type that didn't make the Rangers Top 20 or the Nats Top 20. Roark was very much like a ton of  other prospects Rizzo has gotten. Ryan Perry, Robert Gilliam, Adam Olbrychowski, Ian Dickson, Matthew Spann, Dakota Bacus... and that's just the pitchers. Truth is, guys like Roark are lottery tickets. This is not a knock on Rizzo, it's just how it works. When you are dealing marginal talent with no control, you get someone back who has one thing you like and two things you don't and you hope that somehow it works out for you. The guys they get for Detwiler will be the same type.

You shouldn't just temper your enthusiasm, if you have any, for the Detwiler deal you should probably douse it all together (we'll see who he brought back first). These are names you'll likely hear for the last time in relation to the major leagues when they are announced. But still you can be glad the deal was made. Glad for Detwiler as he gets the chance he desperately wanted in 2015. Glad for the Nats for getting something back for Detwiler, a guy they didn't want and didn't need, even if what they got back were lottery tickets. Someone does win the lottery now and again. Maybe in say... 2019 it'll be the Nats again.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Rumors and real stuff

Bryce moves to RF, Werth to LF :

The "saving the legs" excuse doesn't make much sense given he's likely to have to run around more in LF but it's still the right move. A faster RF with a stronger arm is your best bet to limit 2B turning into 3B and guys going from 1st to 3rd. There's nothing wrong with Werth's arm, but Bryce's is better and Bryce's range, while not great, isn't being compared to inanimate objects.  It's a minor move now but since Werth is likely to patrol LF for the next 3 years it's best to get him used to it now.

Dodgers getting Rollins, Kendrick, McCarthy, Grandal, lose Kemp : 

A Nats rival for 2015 got better than they were at the moment and cleared up payroll for 2016 and beyond.

Kemp was really good at the plate. But the LA OF is crowded with decent players. LA's best prospect is an OF. Kemp is a liability in the field. Kemp is due a TON of money. That side of the teeter-totter is real heavy.  They could honestly stand to get rid of another one as you could argue with VanSlyke they are still five deep. Grandal, who the dodgers got back, hasn't stayed healthy enough to tap into that potential but he's patient and got pop and fills the Dodgers C hole. 

Kendrick improves on Dee Gordon who got shipped to MIA. Gordon had a "breakout" year which meant he managed to hit not terribly and field not terribly and stole a ton of bases. Kendrick is better and will be off the books in a year. Rollins probably doesn't improve on Ramirez, Hanley's offensive prowess being too much. But he's a good fielder and above average bat and improves the team drastically from where they were yesterday. And he also comes off the books after next year. 

McCarthy is probably the iffiest of the deals. He hasn't been very healthy. He's only a fair pitcher. The reason eyeballs were as on him as they were is because he did well in NY but that was shrewd dealing as much as anything. Four years is too rich for my blood. I think they'd be better off looking for another "Haren" type. Old veteran that should be better that might get a bump pitching in those big NL West parks.

Take away is - they could have gotten weaker this offseason. They haven't. You could argue they are stronger now AND they are set up to be bigger players in next year's offseason with Kemp off the books. 

Marlins get Haren, Gordon lose Heaney

Heaney was a legit prospect so you'd hope to get better return than Gordon and (maybe) a year of Haren (for free!). But you can't deny Gordon makes them better at 2B however marginally and they could afford to lose Heaney with the arms they have. If Haren can pitch a year and mentor the staff that adds more value. It's a deal that has the potential to blow up in the Marlins faces as Heaney could be a rotation stalwart (for the Angels - he went for Kendrick) but I think more likely it's a long-term minus that helps them a little for the next couple of years. So I guess they are slightly tougher next year? Just slightly? Really if they are going to contend it's about other things.

Desmond to Mariners for Brad Miller?

This was floated out there last night from Boz. I don't see why the Mariners would do it. Not because Desmond isn't better than Miller. He is. But Desmond is a one-year rental (possibly) and Brad Miller is a helpful player that's under control for a while. That's one issue. The other one is that Miller is available because Chris Taylor, another slick fielding SS a year younger than Miller, came up and did something Miller didn't. He hit. Why bring in Desmond to play a position you just cleared up? Some Mariners fans probably hate this deal because Miller projected so well in the minors. He hit well (well everyone hits well in the PCL) but more importantly he walked and he didn't strikeout. It hasn't materialized but hey - there's still time right? (A year or two, maybe)

The previously rumored Miller for Souza makes a ton more sense for both parties.

Christmas Movie Reviews 

Help for the Holidays
X(Mas)-Factor:  Santa drunk on peppermint hot chocolate passed out under a snow covered Christmas Tree
Kids acting:  Yep? Did I say Yep? I meant bleech.
Watchability:  Strangely so. 
"Hey it's"! : Summer Glau! (might I add NERRRRDS!) Some lady from CSI: Miami which should prompt Caruso based jokes but I'm probably too tired to do that. Let's see. 

Santa plays matchmaker again but in a round about way sending elf Christine (really? Christine? I mean she's an elf! Be more creative!) to help a family who's parents have lost the spirit of Christmas.  He sends her off with the North Pole Prime Directive (me calling other nerds!) not to get emotionally attached, which feels to me more against the spirit of Christmas than the parents issues (they work too hard at a very successful Christmas store because it's a Christmas movie, don't ask too many questions). Join this family, spend lots of time with the kids, but don't you dare care about them! Really you could say he's never going to enforce this rule in any meaningful way but that's still a lot of pressure to put on those elves.

The mom character is treated pretty badly in this. Yeah, she's a bit neglectful but the kids seem pretty well adjusted to me, just a little sad at Christmas time. Boo hoo. You are empty in late December. Try filling up in the fall next year with your heat and clothes and food and stuff. Meanwhile Glau in the mom's view is a stranger who seems way too into Christmas, is replacing her with the kids, and may be seducing the uncle. I'd be afraid she was planning to off us real parents and run off with the kids.  Really this is one good re-write from a thriller. 

Anyway the parents neglect the kids and send them off a lot with their uncle - who you know is a good person because he doesn't work in a store and care about business. You can fill in the blanks (she gets a nanny job and her and the uncle fall for eachother) and she ends up staying with the family in the end. The actors are strangely likable though maybe I was just in a good mood. 

I give it 4 boxes of tinsel you find in the attic and wonder if you can use or if it's the bad tinsel. Then you bring them down and your significant other says "No, not tinsel! That gets everywhere!" and you say "Oh yeah" and put it back in the attic because you figure you might use it later but you never will. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

ZNN's price set

Lester chose to go with 6/155 to the Cubs. There was some talk out there (I'm going to guess floated by the Boras camp) that the Giants could have gone 7/168. This means that the going rate for Jordan Zimmermann is roughly 25 mill a year for 6 years, or 6/150.  That's where the discussions will (or more accurately should) end up around.

What do I think ZNN's camp should shoot for? Well personally I think ZNN > Scherzer > Lester (younger, fewer IP over past few years, no declining FB speed, more of a GB pitcher) so if I were ZNN I'd set the bar higher. 7/175. That's 25 a year for 7 years. If I'm letting the Nats buy out this arbitration year, that is a 6/150 contract for the FA years, right in line with Lester and ZNN is a year and a half younger. In ZNN's camp I would argue that the market sees this potentially as doing the Nats a favor. Another year like last and 7/200 isn't out of the question after next year.  The 7th year right now from the Nats is key. Lester's deal will end with his age 36 season. Scherzer, if he gets 7 years, will end at the same time. The comparable contract by end age right now for ZNN would be an EIGHT year deal. Seven is arguably more than fair.

What do the Nats think? If the truth is that they did offer him a 4 or 5 year deal (buying out arb years) last year then they have an enormous hurdle to get over. As I've noted before, the Nats don't do long pitcher contracts for ANY pitcher. They don't do old pitcher contracts for any pitcher. If they are going to continue with that line of thinking I think the best bet then is to try to drastically overpay for a short contract. 4/120? 3/100? Try to make it short enough that it's compelling to ZNN to think about it because he might be able to get another big contract after those years. Still that's crazy money you're talking about in the short term. However, what else can the Nats do? If they are trying to get away with say... a 6/120 or 5/125 deal right now, I don't see why ZNN's camp even bothers to respond to that.

There you go.  If the Nats could get ZNN 6/150, including re-negotiating that arbitration deal they should do it now, then build a time machine so they can go back and do it again whenever they want. (really is a 5/125 FA year deal at that point for a guy a year younger than the two mentioned above).  I don't see it happening though. I see ZNN's camp focused on the 7th year (especially if Scherzer gets 7) and I see the Nats probably not trying to go past 5. Money could also be the sticking point but I see contract length as the real decider.