Nationals Baseball: An embarrassment of $20 bills

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

An embarrassment of $20 bills

Last night Strasburg started. Peacock and Lombardozzi were also called up. Milone has been here for a few days, as has Marrero. Never have the Nationals had so much talent and promise show up at the end of the year. The thing is... it really isn't that much talent and promise.

Ok ok Strasburg is Strasburg, but the other guys are nothing special in terms of "prospecti-ness". Yes, everyone loves Brad Peacock now but Peacock was a fringe Top 10 prospect for the Nationals to start the year, meaning he was on noone's radar. His stock has risen a lot this year but that'll happen with minor leaguers all the time. There isn't much information on them and they switch level of competition constantly. One very good year can turn a team's #10 into a team's #3.

Milone, Lombardozzi, and Marrero were at the same general level of Peacock. The guys that judge talent for a living question Milone's stuff, Lombardozzi's bat, and Marrero pop and glove. None of these guys are slam dunk stars or even slam-dunk starters. Rendon is a better prospect. Purke and Meyer and Cole and Solis are better prospects. And of course there's Bryce.

It's not that Nats fans shouldn't be excited. They should be. Minor league promise can be fool's gold but the team really looks to be on the cusp of being truly competetive, with a wave of decent young guys up now and likely a better wave to follow over the next two years. It's just that... hmm... I don't know how to exactly phrase this. You see, Nats fans are the starving man gushing over the taste of a Wendy's hamburger. You want to say "Slow down there hoss. It's just a fair fast food burger you got there. We're going to hit up that fancy burger truck this weekend." but at the same time the man is starving. Let him enjoy his burger, right?

Hmmm. Ok. Enjoy your burger, Nats fans.

Other Thoughts:

  • Can we all thank the Nats for not pulling Strasburg last night because the mound was wet? That would have been terribly silly. Either he's ready to pitch or he's not, and if he's ready to pitch he should, you know, pitch. You don't want him to get injured in a meaningless game? Are you going to keep pulling him until you're sure the games are meaningful? Will he not pitch in bad conditions until June of 2013?
  • Mock was Dfa'd. I don't see any reason why he won't get back down to the minors untouched. For whatever that's worth.
  • I get why Corey Brown was called up, even though he's not ready. I get why Stammen is here, even though he's no good. But don't expect me to be happy Matt Antonelli didn't get the call too. Surely Alex Cora's feeling aren't that important.


Todd Boss said...

Antonelli would have required a 40-man spot. Who else would you cut at this point to make room for him?

Maybe you make an argument to cut ties with someone like Bixler or Cora, but they're both valuable utility infielders. Maybe you cut Slaten (I was advocating it certainly) but he was IN the game last night so clearly the team still wants to see what it has. Severino wasn't used for 2 years but he got an appearance last night.

Who else is there? Coffey maybe?

That's the real reason Antonelli isn't up; there's no easy 40-man decisions left.

JDBrew said...

They may not be great prospects, but they are the best we got. They may turn into something. I'm really high on milone. Can't explain why. He seems really similar to John lannan. Minor league numbers and pitching style. Hopefully lightning will strike twice and we'll end up with two of that guy. That would be almost too much to hope for. Not sure about peacock yet. Haven't really seen him pitch. (I go to a lot of minor league games, I've watched these guys for a while) Lombardozzi kinda reminds me of the second coming of Christian Guzman. Lots of singles and not much else. But he looks like a pretty polished second baseman. Marrero, unfortunately, is all potential and marginal output. I would be okay with a 1b that hits .270-.290 with only 15-20 home runs, if he can play good defense at his position. That would be great. However, none of those things are on the probable side of possible. I like these young guys, just not expecting too much from them.

Just a note from last nights game, I woulda thought it woulda been better to have peacock start the inning not slaten. The guys been a starter, at least give him a small feeling of normalcy. Let him start with empty basepath. Not with a runner in scoring position facing Matt Kemp. Here's the fire kid, we're just gonna throw you right in it. Succeed. I understand seeing if he cam get out of a jam. But it was his major league debut, I'm sure he was a little amped up or nervous. Let him get out of his own jam (he'll have plenty), not try to clean up Doug Slaten's mess against one of the best hitters in baseball. You wouldn't have done that to Stephen Strasburg. Let's be fair.

Harper said...

Todd Boss - You cut Cora. Is there anything he can do that Bixler or Antonelli can't? Will he be on the team next year?

JDB - agree on the Peacock thing. In Davey's defense, I think he was aiming for Peacock to start the 7th after Slaten worked through the 6th (with those two lefties up 2nd and 3rd in the inning) but had his hand forced by Slaten's poor pitching.

Hoo said...

Bixler or the Shark could be the utility/5th OF next year. Bixler's versatility vs. Bernadina's better and LH bat.

I tend to see this month as playing with house $20 bills. If either of Milone/Peacock become real MLB guys, the Nats got lucky and found a gem. It makes our ceiling a bit higher. Marrero is really the big loss as another First rounder fails. He'll be back in Syracuse but at least Nats have a viable backup (Where have you gone Larry Broadway?) I don't think anyone has Marrero in the Nats plans as an everyday player on a contender.

Last night's game was the epitome of Nats improvement. Not just SS starting but 5/6 of the IF looks promising with exception at first/maybe short. And Nats have real prospects to try out in September. A far cry from a few years ago when it was a slew of never beens and never wills and/or retreads.

I'd thank Cora and DFA him (and see if anyone wants Slaten/Coffey on Waivers). He shouldn't see any more PT this season when the Nats are sorting through the various MI pieces/combo.

Hoo said...

BTw, I don't see Marrero has that big of loss. But he's the only where you think, too bad that first rounder didn't pan out. Peacock is straight found money.

And um, I can't talk about Corey Brown without ranting about the Hammer/Morgan deals.

Anonymous said...

Harper I love your blog and tend to agree with you on Marrero (no pop, is not a major league prospect) but I do think Lombardozzi and Milone have some decent upside.

Either way today was not the day for a downbeat post! Strasburg looked awesome last night, let's accentuate the positive for one day. Looking outside is depressing enough.

Do like the Wendy's analogy though.

bdrube said...

All right, I can understand being wary of Marrero with his weak power numbers and so-so glove, and Milone with his less than stellar stuff, and even Peacock, who is riding the coattails of his first great season.

But Lombardozzi put up excellent numbers at AAA as a 22-year-old leadoff hitter and didn't commit an error. Plus he's a legacy major leaguer and presumably his dad taught him a few things along the way.

The only reason he wasn't higher on the prosect list is because he was drafted in the 19th round. Had he been a first rounder instead, he'd be getting loads of hype right now. In terms of performance to date and his age, he is ahead of where Espinosa was when he got called up last year.

Sec314 said...

Definitely cut Cora (Bixler is younger but flip a coin, he could go instead)... or Stammen. He's NOT going to be a MLB pitcher. He's AAAA at best. They have too much invested in Maya, I suppose.

Definitely would have liked to see Antonelli get the call.

And Wilkie! His numbers are better than Severino's.

Severino did fine last night. He is, however, a lefty. So, like Slaten, he stays and perhaps he can be dealt for a prospect either alone or as part of a package.

Harper said...

Hoo - "I tend to see this month as playing with house $20 bills." That's perfect.

Anon - I don't mean to say these guys can't be productive members of a good team. They ALL could be. I just wanted to downplay a feeling I was getting that these new guys are here to push the Nats to .500 and beyond next season. These are guys with less of a chance to make an immediate impact. If they are going to be good it'll be a slow burn situation. (well nto peacock - he's a sink or soar type)

bdrube - I don't watch a lot of minor league ball so I put my faith in the rankers. If they all say Steve was about 15 on the Nats coming into this year I'm pretty sure they felt he didn't have the frame to develop power and didn't have a very patient approach (because his batting average numbers were good) If that's the case I see nothing that happened this year changed that. They might be more confident he can hit for a decent ave in the majors but the power and patience still aren't there. (Still like him better than Ian though)

As for Espinosa comparison - Danny had power and better patience, which means he can work around having a low BA. Like this year - he's hitting .230 and is still a decent bat to have in the lineup. Like Ian, Steve NEEDS to hit .280+ to even have a chance of having the same impact.

I like Steve to be right around that fringe usefulness level as a major league bat. (which is why I want him starting and not Ian - I don't see Ian having more than a lucky year or two at even that moderate level)

Sec314 - I said last week I throw my hands up at relievers. I think that's based on stuff as much as performance.

mwyche said...

Disagree w/ you on Peacock not being much of a Prospect. He made BA's midseason top 50 and was a sleeper prospect heading into the year.

Agree with you on the others though. Milone may be a solid back of the rotation arm. Marrero doesn't have the bat to make up for the lack of pop he's going to provide from 1B. Lombardozzi will be a great utility guy but shouldn't start. People are so quick to want to get rid of Desi for him but Lombo has never had an OPS even approaching .850 in the minors(his highest season OPS is .802). Lombo also doesn't have the range that Desi does.