WP columnist Tom Boswell has been putting out some interesting content recently, and was sure to be asked about it in his 3/30/15 chat. Lets review his baseball-specific questions.
Q: Can you give some examples of big time pitchers having a second Tommy John after eight years? Is the sample size big enough?
A: I cannot off the top of my head, but would immediately say that, no matter what examples pop up, it isn’t a large enough sample size. If just a handful of guys have had X procedure done and Y% were successful, its kind of hard to project that percentage onto the entire population of baseball-throwing pitchers in the world. You can certainly draw inferences though. This is the age of the internet, so sure enough there’s someone out there who has collected every TJ surgery that’s ever occurred. Searching down this list for “2nd” or “3rd” you can find a list of players who have had multiple TJs. And for the most part you’ve probably never heard of them. But then again, most of them are also middle relievers from 15 years ago. But some of the more recent names have shown themselves to be problematic. What’s needed is an “average time to 1st” TJ, then average time to 2nd, then average time afterwards. Of course, if you have your first at 28 and your second at 34 … who is to say that you weren’t that much closer to retirement anyway, so its kind of hard to draw inferences to pre- and post- surgery performance the older you are. So we may be mixing aging with surgical concerns. Boswell talks about how teams like to model everything these days.
Q: Nats Bench: who’s in and who’s out?
A: We’ve talked at length about this already, but my take (given the reading of the tea leaves *today*) is as follows: (link to spring training stats at b-r.com)
- Werth, Span, McLouth and Rendon on the DL to start.
- That means that (in order) Moore, Taylor, and Frandsen are in the starting lineup instead of these three.
- Zimmerman and Escobar healthy enough to start the season.
- With no injuries your bench was Lobaton, Espinosa, Frandsen. McLouth and Moore (arguable; maybe a lefty hitter instead of Moore).
- But with 4 injuries, that means to me that Gwynn Jr, Taylor, Stewart and maybe Robinson make the team to start the season.
- I don’t think the team keeps Uggla. I think the likes of Carp and Ka’aihue have failed to impress this spring and are due to be released any day.
- I could be entirely wrong about Uggla and Stewart.
Boswell just says that with three regulars out, “the whole world” will make the bench.
Q: Given Bryce Harper’s very average offensive stats (career .272BA), why the continued hoopla?
A: Man, talk about someone who just doesn’t get it. I was reading someone talking about Dodger’s phenom Joc Peterson the other day, talking about his great spring and how he might be the 2015 ROY. Pederson is SIX MONTHS OLDER than Harper, who will be entering basically his fourth full pro season in 2015. No, Harper’s career stats aren’t Mike Trout‘s. Whose are? If Harper had “played by the rules” and graduated HS on time (in May 2010), and then attended college, played 3 years there, and then would have been drafted in June 2013, played a handful of pro games in 2013 and would have played his first full pro season in 2014, likely in A-Ball. Instead of what Harper was doing; hitting 3 bombs in the NLDS to single handedly attempt to keep the Nats in the playoffs.
Harper’s achievements are *historic* for someone at his age. If he had a full, un-injured season, maybe we’d be talking about MVPs instead of whining about what he is or isn’t.
Boswell’s first sentence reaction says it all: You’re kidding, right? Maybe we both took the bait.
Q: When do these NRIs have their opt-out dates? Will any stay in AAA as depth?
A: I’m sure someone closer to the team knows, or has asked each guy. I’d guess most have opt-out dates just prior to when they’d get sent down. Maybe a couple of the vets would stick around as depth, but not likely; if I was their agent i’d be scouring the injury lists looking at teams with holes at the corners (or in Uggla’s case 2nd/DH) and looking for a move. Boswell doesn’t know either, saying the beat writers might.
Q: When will Washington get an All-Star Game?
A: Good question; up to now I had assumed the snubbing was thanks to the questionable areas around the stadium. Between 2008 and now, lots has changed for the better, so the area will show better to fans. There have been plenty of parks to open *after* Nats Park but to have already been awarded games though, and it is kind of insulting to the team. Boswell says that the commissioner coming to DC for opening day may be the day that he announces that we’ll get the 2018 game.
Q: How do you reconcile Pete Rose’s banishment with MLB’s recent partnership with DraftKings?
A: Not a bad question. Is the answer simply the parsing of gambling involvement as a direct participant (Rose as manager of the Reds betting on his own games) versus some nerd in his cube playing a daily fantasy game? Boswell doesn’t really answer … but admits that he’s giving a “get off my lawn” answer. Wow.
Q: How much of Spring Training is legitimate getting ready for regular season and how much is local tourism dollar generation?
A: Pitchers say they need every minute. Hitters probably could cut a couple weeks out and be ok. Its always been this way; i doubt it has much of anything to do with local pressure. Boswell seems it could be a future column.
Q: Even with the possibility of TJ2, if Strasburg has a great season and contributes to a winning one for the Nats, isn’t it worth taking a chance on him rather than relying on unproven prospects.
A: I’m not sure it is so easy. Strasburg is a Boras client. That means he’s going to get to FA. No ifs, ands or buts. Strasburg is from Southern California. There are several wealthy baseball teams that spend a lot of money in southern california. The Nats could pretty easily get priced out of the market for Strasburg and opt to keep a hitter (ahem, Harper?) instead of a pitcher for their spare gazillions of dollars. Especially since (and here I’ll disagree with the questioner) we have more than a few very highly touted prospect pitchers on the way. There’s a difference between “unproven prospect” and “top 100 prospect,” and the Nats have a few of them. If one of them pitches just as well as Strasburg but costs the team just the MLB min salary …well that’s quite a bargain.
Q: Should we ever again believe that Nat’s payroll budget is ‘topped out’?
A: Fool me once … yeah I dunno what to make of this. I thought the proclamation of $135M as “the top” meant that the Nats were in line to move one of their $16-$18M players this past off-season. Didn’t happen. And then they committed $210M to Scherzer. So who knows. Boswell doesn’t know either.
Q: Do you see Gio getting traded during the season?
A: Nope, nor do I ever see him getting traded. He’s a #3 starter getting paid #5 veteran money. Great deal, workable enough arm, you keep him and he’s a part of the rotation until his contract is up. Boswell agrees.
Q: Does Michael Taylor start on opening day?
A: Yeah, I think he does. Boswell agrees, and thinks he’ll lead-off too.
Q: How is the front office consistently wrong with the timetable back for injured players?
A: Misdirection, Stan. Misdirection. (link NSFW – language). What benefit is it to tell the media the truth about anything? Bill Bellichek is the master of lying to the media about his player injury statuses. That being said … the Nats do seem to be a fragile bunch who take much longer than initially projected to heal. Is there a problem with the medical staff? How would you “prove” such an assertion even if you thought it was true? Boswell tells some parable from his early Orioles days.
Last thing: as I was penning this masterpiece, I saw the Jerry Blevins trade float across the wire. My initial reactions here:
- Blevins was pretty good against lefties, but otherwise wasn’t great in 2014.
- The team probably likes what they have in Thornton, Cedeno and Grace.
- Blevins was out of options.
- As is Cedeno.
- The team’s OF crunch means they could use a guy who can play CF, and that’s what Matt den Dekker can do.
- There might be some small bit of ego-driven animosity from their arbitration hearing, as noted in the Ken Rosenthal tweet in the above link.
End result; team saves a bit of cash and gets some flexibility, again dealing from a position of strength and thus enabling them to “keep” a guy in Cedeno who was on his way out the door yesterday.
Of course (in another bit of breaking news monday afternoon) it probably wasn’t the best day to be dealing a reliever. Drew Storen left a ST game with an “apparent injury” and Casey Janssen is having an MRI on his shoulder, never a good thing. Hey guys, Rafael Soriano is still a FA!
What the heck is going on with this team this spring injury wise?