Nationals Baseball: Shutout #11

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Shutout #11

Still thinking playoffs?

In "Harper is always right" news:

Ian "Career Average" Desmond is hitting .224 / .265 / .313. That's Classic 2005 Guzmanian. Guzman finished that year with a line of .219 / .260 /.314. Though to be fair to Ian that was a much better offensive year for the league in general and at no point has Ian reached the depths that Guzman plumbed that season (Did you remember that at one point in Late July that his line was .180 / .222 / .265 . That'sa an OPS of .487! Joey Votto has an OBP of .441 right now! God, I miss that year)

Roger "As good as anyone" Bernadina has slumped (or returned might be a better word) to a line of .262 / .315 / .372. To me this is Roger. But if you have one brain cell in that big bald noggin of yours Rizzo you won't bring back Ankiel. Maybe he's a better fielder (maybe) but do you care? Is there any chance an almost 32 year old guy hitting .200 who doesn't walk and who has lost his pop is going to play any appreciable role on this team when they are ready to make a run?

Still as bad and as "holey" as these two may be, you start these guys, you lose those games. You do this for Roger because you have nothing better right now. You do it for Desmond so you feel like you have given him enough time to dismiss him as a starter and give another guy a long shot at making it. You do it for both because they aren't old and maybe you get lucky. This is the non playoff year to do that.


bdrube said...

It's almost eerie how the better Lombardozzi hits down in the minors the worse Desmond has been hitting with the big club. It's almost as if Lombardozzi is stealing Desi's life force.

Oh well, Espinosa at SS is hardly the worst thing that could happen to the Nats. :)

Donald said...

So here's the question now that we're approaching the trade deadline. We know the Nats have holes. What do we need to plug them that can't be filled internally? What are our trade imperatives? Do we have all the pieces in place to make the playoffs next year with the exception of CF and one more top of the rotation starter?

The Shadow said...

I completely agree with the previous comments. It does not look like Ian Desmond is going to put it together any time soon or maybe ever. He looks absolutely lost at the plate and flails miserably on most of his swings. Roger Bernadina has been spotty but has shown signs of life at times. I'm OK with letting him have some more time to work out the kinks because I think he has enormous upside. Lombardozzi is tearing it up in the minors and looks like he may be ready for a shot in the bigs. Houston is out of contention and has been shopping around Michael Bourn for a little while now. So, let's package up Ian Desmond, Derek Norris and maybe Laynce Nix (whose value is probably at an all time high right now) and see if Houston will bite at that trade. We then have a lead off hitter in Bourn at CF. Bernadina can bat second for now (as he has had a remarkably higher average in every spot OTHER THAN leadoff) and play LF. Ryan Zimmerman bats third and holds down the hot corner. Michael Morse bats cleanup and plays 1B because he has EARNED it. Danny Espinosa bats fifth and plays SS. Jayson Werth bats sixth and plays RF until he can figure out his swing again and then possibly jumps up to fifth in the batting order (or maybe not depending on Espinosa's production). Wilson Ramos plays C and bats seventh followed by Steve Lombardozzi playing 2B and batting eighth until he gets his major league legs under him. If/when Lombardozzi starts producing he moves to the second spot in the order and Bernadina drops to eighth. Then when Stephen Strasburg comes back we have a rotation of Strasburg, Livan Hernandez, Jordan Zimmerman, Jason Marquis and John Lannan. Bullpen escapes intact and Storen holds down the closer role. That line up is a winner. Until Harper comes up and takes Bernadina's spot then it looks more World Series than just plain old vanilla "winner".

Donald said...

@The Shadow --my only disagreement is in the rotation. Other than Strasburg and Zimmermann, it starts to look weak. Maybe Lannan or Gorzelanny in the #5 spot is pretty good. If one of their young prospects, say Peacock, pans out then we're still one short. But I don't think Livo or Marquis are in our future plans.

kick me in the GO NATS said...

It is a fact: Right now in NL only 5x5 fantasy baseball leagues Desmond is the 5th most valuable SS!!!!!!
OPS and the slash lines are terrible measures of guys true worth. I am not saying fantasy baseball stats are better. So I use wOBA which treats Desmond much kinder. More importantly I use WAR which treats him even kinder.
Nonetheless, the fact is finding a starting SS is one of the hardest things for a baseball teams to do nowadays. It is extremely rare for a guy to be able to play SS at an average or better level and be able to generate much in the way of offense. Desmond is slightly below The MLB average at SS with nearly all of his value coming from his stole bases and his defense. He is Turning 26 years old this season. Most players peaks between 26 and 29 years of age then maintain that level for 5 or more seasons. Desmond has in no way reached his potential. It will come 2-3 seasons from now. But right now he is below average (he and Jeter have an identical WAR), but is producing a positive WAR (ie helping the team win). I'd bet my house that if he avoids significant injury that he will be at least an average all round SS in 2 seasons probably an above average SS in 2 seasons, and frankly isn't that good enough and at the perfect time. He is paid the league minimum. Shouldn't we spend our limited resources on a top flight Starting pitcher and a Center fielder. Those will help them team win far more.

Jon said...

I don't know what you're looking at, but Desmond ranks at the bottom of qualifying SS in wOBA and WAR. Also, he's in the bottom of wRC+. He's in Miggy Tejada and Yunesky Betancourt territory. He needs to turn it around quick or he's bound for AAA.

Harper said...

Go NATS - had to pop in

"OPS and the slash lines are terrible measures of guys true worth"

Flawed, sure. Terrible measures? No way. I'd say they are pretty good ones with only defensive and speed outliers needing deeper examination.

"...wOBA which treats Desmond much kinder"

true but all that means is he's tied for like the 23rd worst SS. (out of like 26 - a few teams have qualifying issues

"...WAR which treats him even kinder"

True again. tied for about 20th

"It is extremely rare for a guy to be able to play SS at an average or better level and be able to generate much in the way of offense."

About 10 teams have done it over the past 2 years. It's hard but not THAT hard.

"Most players peaks between 26 and 29 years of age then maintain that level for 5 or more seasons."

Right but I think most players peak in the 26-27 range (it's the special players that drag the age up in some analysis) He's far more likely to peak next year than at 29. (though I'll grant you it's not impossible)

Also SB value peaks earlier than other offensive values. Closer to 24.

"I'd bet my house that if he avoids significant injury that he will be at least an average all round SS in 2 seasons probably an above average SS in 2 seasons"

I'll take that bet.

"Shouldn't we spend our limited resources on a top flight Starting pitcher and a Center fielder. Those will help them team win far more."

Yes! We Agree! The whole thing about Desmond is NOT about going out and trying to get a SS. It's about the fact that they may have someone that can play decent SS AND give good offensive value in the minors (or someone that can do that at 2nd so Espinosa can move over). I would totally make SS a lower priority than those other two positions.

kick me in the GO NATS said...

Jon. His WAR is .5, so 1.2 or so for the season roughly. That is >0 and teams with out qualifying guys are worse off than us because Ss is a real hard position to fill.
My primary point is he will (begin to) peak in two years at roughly 2.0-3.0 WAR if he follows a normal progression and he gets paid little for what he does, so he is helping us. Sure he is an all glove little bat, but many SSs are all glove no bat guys. We will have real hard time finding a guy with a plus bat at SS who can also field. They are very rare.

I just went out and read everything online I could about Lombardozzi. He is expected to be a MLB player, but he is powerless. The guys he projects to become are guys like nick Punto, j Carrol, and his Dad (.238 hitter with little power, but gold glove defense). All these names were given in articles. That places him in the all glove no bat category of players. Desmond is thought to have a better long term bat than those guys have accomplished, but he may not. Personally J Carrol (LAD) is one of the most underrated players in the game and it still ticks me off that Bowden just cut him loose for nothing after 2005. If Lombardozzi turns in to him we will be smiling till some clueless GM cuts him because he has little power. But, he does not project for much more and may never be as good as J Carrol, so do not bet on him yet. Stick with Desmond, he is solid.

Harper said...

NATS - he projects better than Carroll or Punto. Higher average and a tiny bit (as opposed to absolutely NO) power.

Anonymous said...

You can bring up all the sabermetric nonsense you want Billy Beane Jrs. out there, but the fact is that Desmond is the best option they have. He's solid on D (minus a few miscues here and there) and he is the only guy on the team that can steal bases. They NEED him in the lineup.

Donald said...

So it sounds like the consensus is that our biggest hole is in CF, followed by a starting pitcher and then SS. But we have internal options for all three. The biggest risk would be to put Harper in CF, but it's a possibility and he could fit the Mays/Mantle model. At SS, if Desmond doesn't work, you've got Espinosa with Lombarozzi or Rendon at 2B. And if Boswell is to be believed, Peacock could be as good as Zimm.
So if you're Rizzo, what's your #1 priority to get?

Anonymous said...

Desmond is the best option at the moment. You can't look at a AAA prospect and plan on him panning out. If that were the case then Bernadina would be an ideal CF and leadoff hitter, and Desmond would be an excellent SS with a plus bat. Minor league stats are something you look at and project, but not something you can plan on. Yes, Lombardozzi has put up nice numbers in minor league ball against minor league pitchers and with the poor scouting reports that they have on minor league hitters. There is no way to know how good he will be when in the bigs. Desmond has shown that he can be at least an average hitter in the majors. The question is whether he can get back to that. Lombardozzi is a nice piece to keep an eye on, but has shown nothing at the major league level yet. So how about we wait till he gets a call before we plug him into the 2012 Nats line-up, or try and trade away the incumbent starter at SS. I still remember the days of hoping that Felipe Lopez could learn to hit, I'm not wanting to go back to that. Let's give the kid more than 3 months. At least give him this season. He just might suprise you.

Donald said...

One more question. If Hairston goes on the DL, who takes his spot? Do you use it to bring back Ankiel, which kinda sucks? Or do you replace him with your best utility infielder prospect in the minors (rhymes with Rombardozzi). Or do you bring in a hitter like Marrero?

Harper said...

bdrube - maybe it's like how Monica and Chandler always had to combine to be 250 lbs in the last few seasons.

Donald - SS has several possible internal solutions. Pitchers... it depends. CF is the biggest issue. I've heard about no plans that have Bryce in CF (Mays and Mantle were exceptional fielders) It's a weak offseason so that is the imperative. The pieces could be there if Werth and Strasburg bounce back and there are no major injuries. Hairston was the back-up CF. You kind of have to bring back Ankiel unless you want to start shifting guys into positions they've barely played (Nix Werth in CF) and out of ones they seem comfortable (Morse out of 1st back to left)

Shadow - you're counting on resigning Marquis and Livan (which is probable) - more likely only one of them is brought back and the other spot is someone like Peacock or Milone. While people would like to see Marquis - he may not get more than a 2 year deal here because of the young talent they don't want to block.

Also Houston and that deal... I'd say probably not but their GM is pretty terrible. But still I'll say I haven't heard any strong rumors about Houston wanting to deal Bourn.

Anon #1 - that's just it. Desmond may NOT be the best option going forward. The Nats have a good field 22 yr old in AAA hitting .400. Ok small sample - but he hasn't hit under .290 in the minors since he was a teenager in rookie ball. He can also run a bit. He might be a better option and if the Nats want to make a serious run in 2013 then it would be better if that's not his debut year.

Anon #2 - you say a lot here : First Desmond and Bernadina's minor league numbers didn't say what you think they did. They both floated around with barely passing offensive numbers until "getting it" one year and then getting called up. If you look at the body of work neither of them projects well. In comparison Lombardozzi has consistently GOOD minor league numbers. You're right we really don't know how he'll do but he clearly projects better than Bernadia and Desmond.

As for Desmond showing he can be an average hitter, he hasn't yet, not over an extended time. But I've said numerous times - even in this post Desmond should start until at least September call-ups. He has some talent. You don't want to give up on it too early or create a situation where you are jerking around two guys. But at that point the Nats owe it to their future teams to move on and give some other plan a season to gel so hopefully in 2013 they aren't looking at a question mark in the MI.

Donald said...

I don't think it's played out this way so far, but Harper in CF was definitely discussed for a while. Harper even said that he thought it was his best position in the OF. He's got the arm for it, and probably the speed.

Harper said...

Donald - ok I shouldn't have been as dismissive as I have been about Bryce in CF (he has played a non insignificant amount of games there already) but if they are playing him NOW at his youngest and most spry and in low A-ball primarily in RF what does that say about what the organization thinks of him in center? I just don't see it.

Donald said...

I think the question for the organization is would they rather have Werth or Harper in CF or LF? One of them is going to be in RF and the other's got to go someplace. Maybe the right answer is to move Werth to LF but I'm not sure that's better than Harper in CF, if you can get a good lead-off hitter from the infield like a Reyes (Lombardozzi maybe?). There are options at least...

Anonymous said...

Why not trade Desi with a few low B level prospects for a top of the line starter from a team that does not understand that he can't hit and never will while that info is still coming out.

Harper said...

Donald - I think they'll probably let Bryce (and Werth) at least dabble at all three the rest of this year and next. But they'll mainly play RF because I think they need to see how CF and Mike Morse play out before coming up with a set plan

Anon - Desmond + Couple of B's doesn't equal a top of the line starter. You'd probably have to package him with at least one true pitching prospect and maybe something else (depending on who you were aiming to get and what pitching prospect you're including)

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