Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Archive for July, 2010

Great Trade! Capps for Ramos and Testa

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You have to like this move that Rizzo pulled off.

He turned a guy who was flat out released by Pittsburgh last year into the #2 prospect in Minnesota’s system (Wilson Ramos, a major-league ready catcher
from a defensive standpoint and probably Pudge’s understudy in a few weeks) plus a lefty reliever with staggering K/9 ratios the last two seasons (but not
so much this season, where he’s struggled a bit in high-A).
I love this move.  Capps did great for us undoubtedly and some will say that he is the reason our bullpen has stabilized this year versus last, but reality is:

  • - a closer is an absolute luxury on a last place team
  • - a closer can be great one year (Capps in 2010) but awful the next (Capps in 2009) and you have to sell high.
  • - Saves are overrated and even mediocre bullpen guys can serve as the “closer” for a team that’s not in a pennant race.
  • - The nats have a couple of very lively arms in the bullpen now that can immediately step up and open the door for the next reliever to come up (Severino?) to work towards the future.  As a last place team, that HAS to be the priority.

Now, here’s an interesting question.  Why did we get yet another upper-end catching prospect?  Right now the catching situation for the Nats looks like this:

  • - Pudge; coming back to reality after a great start, signed through 2011
  • - Nieves; classic good D no hit guy who is hitting .187/.223/.252 in 134 plate appearances this year and is just killing the team when he spells Pudge.  Great guy; but he’s probably getting his release inside the next couple weeks.
  • - Norris: Nats #1 prospect in the minors right now; struggling after having hamate bone surgery (same surgery Zimmerman had a few years back) in high-A.  He tore up low-A and short-A though so he’ll get it back.  Question remains about him though; does he stay at Catcher?
  • - Flores; another setback reporeted recently. at this point in his “recovery” he’s throwing from 90 feet and hitting off a tee.  Which is exactly what he was doing in March.  Despite everything that we expected from this kid, you almost have to write him off as a complete injury loss at this point.
  • - Harper.  Catching prospect but he’ll be far faster the majors as a right fielder (which we have a need for anyway).  Boras wants him out of the catching position because it will mean more money and longer career (and thus more commissions).

thoughts?

Trades; haren and a rumor…

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1. The Haren trade was highway robbery by the Angels.  I know Haren’s numbers aren’t great but to get a guy who nearly finished last season with a 1.000 whip and got Cy Young votes for a #5 starter and some random prospects is crazy.

2. Stark is reporting a possible 3-team deal;

  • White Sox get Adam Dunn
  • Nationals get Edwin Jackson
  • Arizona gets prospects (from both teams potentially)

If the nats do this I will scream.  There is no way in hell Dunn is worth *just* Edwin Jackson.  Especially not the way he’s pitching right now, in a big ole pitchers park in Arizona.

boss

Written by Todd Boss

July 26th, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Read this today about Detwiler…

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Bowden picked Detwiler with the 6th overall pick in the 2007 draft.

Here’s a short list of 1st round players drafted after Detwiler that we didn’t pick in order to pick him out of a noname division III college:

- Matt LaPorta
- Madison Bumgarner
- Rick Porcello
aaaaaand.
- Jason Heywood

(I realize this is grossly unfair, that all these guys were high school long shots and that Porcello was asking for upper 1st round money and fell because of it.  But still).

Written by Todd Boss

July 26th, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Detwiler’s re-inclusion to the rotation and ERA complaints

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To my surprise, Detwiler was called up to make sunday’s start in the place of the banished, er i mean DL’d Atilano.  Surprised because;
- Detwiler had just pitched wednesday in AA, meaning he’d be going on 3 days rest
- Chico, who has already given us a decent spot start in the majors, would have been on normal rest and has been pretty dominant in AAA in his past few starts.

Nonetheless, Detwiler came up and had a pretty bad performance.  3 hits, 4 walks (one intentional), a wild pitch and 5 runs in 3 2/3 inning.

Buuuut.  Zero earned runs.  Now, follow these innings through and tell me how some of these runs aren’t listed as “earned.”

2nd Inning:
- gets an out
- harris fielding error puts a guy on first.
- walk
- walk.  now the bases are loaded.
- Single: the reach-by-error batter scores.  Sure, I can see how this is an unearned run.
- then a wild pitch scores a second batter.  This is DIRECTLY on the pitcher and it makes no sense to me that it is unearned somehow.

4th inning:
- leadoff single
- gets an out, gets another out.
- Desmond throws a ball away, batter to 2nd base, and a run scores.  totally unearned run.
- Detwiler then hangs a slider and Weeks kills it for a homer.  Reach-by-error batter scores as does the homer-hitter.  5-0.  But how exactly is the guy who hit the homer an unearned run?  I know the answer is “By virtue of the fact that Desmond threw away what would have been the third out” but It just doesn’t make any sense that a runs scored by virtue of a homer could possibly be considered “unearned” by the pitcher.

eh.  Anyway.  I like a rotation with Detwiler and Chico (or whoever they call up next) versus one with Martin and Atilano.

Written by Todd Boss

July 26th, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Have we found our RF solution… on our Bench? And Pitching comments (of course)

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Mike Morse.  2-3 with two homers last night in the pitcher friendly confines of Milwakuee.  Raises his season slash line figures to .338/.386/.636.  That’s a 1.022 ops and a 170 ops+ figure (by way of comparison, Votto is currently leading the NL in ops with 1.003).

He has 6 homers in 38 games, projecting to about 25 in a 150 game season.  He makes a ton of contact (15 ks in those same 38 games, projecting to only 60 or so in a full season).

I don’t get it.  We have a struggling center fielder/leadoff hitter in Morgan, and right next to him a surprising Bernadina character who has speed and a bit of power and could lead off/play centerfield.  Why aren’t we going Willingham-Bernadina-Morse in the outfield?  Lineup would be:

  1. Bernadina
  2. Guzman
  3. Zimmerman
  4. Dunn
  5. Willingham
  6. Morse
  7. Desmond
  8. Pudge
  9. pitcher

That would give us ops+ guys over 100 in 3-4-5-6 spots, would give Willingham some protection, and would put a better producing guy at the top of the lineup.

Read through Stark’s espn chat yesterday and he took some Dunn trade questions.

Basically he says that the word on the street is that Dunn wants to stay but also wants a 4 year guaranteed contract.  He’s also hearing that the Nats have a “higher than
average” opinion of themselves and want to keep their 3-4-5 hitters in tact because we have so many arms coming back.  This agrees with Kasten’s recent comments that we’re “closer than you would think.”  And its hard to argue.  We’re puttering along with 3 guys in the rotation who would other wise be in AAA (Stammen, Atilano, Martin).
We never intended Livan to be our season savior; he was always meant to be a placeholder until Strasburg and Wang got healthy.

Now we’re looking at a situation by late august where we have way too many guys for the roatation.  Here’s a quick rundown on our former MLB arms:

  • - Chico has two 7ip 0er performances in a row and (probably) makes a spot start sunday.
  • - Detwiler is ready to come up (7 starts in the minors) and has been pitching well.
  • - Olsen is on his 4th rehab start and might need a few more.
  • - Marquis has 3 rehab starts but hasn’t looked great.  He says he feels good though. But post injury you have to think he is an option.
  • - Zimmermann has pitched 13 scoreless innings with zero walks and 13 ks in high-A so far; you figure he has about 3 more starts before they have to make a decision on him too.
  • - Wang looks like wasted money so far, but may be a bargain next year if he’s healthy at a cost controleld arbitration figure next year.
  • - Lannan now has 6 starts in AA trying to “find” his sinker and so far he looks unsuccessful.  I hate to say it but Lannan may be completely forced out of the Nats starting picture.
  • - and don’t forget new cuban signing Yuneski Maya, who most scouting reports say is MLB ready at 28.  Though, he apparently hasn’t pitched since last fall so hey may not get to the majors this year and will pitch in various minor leagues until sept.

The problem is that most of these guys are on rehab assignments.  Those can only last for 30 days (or about 6 starts).  Detwiler technically was activated and optioned (burning another option year for him, so now unless they get a medical waiver for a 4th option he has to pass through waivers to go back to the minors from here out; thanks Bowden for that 2007 callup!).

I guess the point is; a ton of pitching talent lays awaiting.  Maybe the Nats lick their wounds on this season, stand pat, resign Dunn to 3yrs $42M with a club option for the 4th that possibly vests with certain productivity in year three and focus on filling the hitting holes we’ll have in free agency.  And next year’s rotational competition looks tough.

boss

Phillies teaser; Moyer out, Kendrick demoted… now what?

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So, you’re the defending NL champs but you’re in third place in an increasingly tough-looking division and you’ve only gotten a combined total of about 100 games through the first 60% of the season out of your double play combo.

Plus, ont he same day you demote your #5 starter (kendrick) and you lose your #4 starter (Moyer) possibly for the season with an elbow strain (he’s 47 remember? I don’t think he’s bouncing back soon).

What do you do?  Droopy?
- will the phillies trade for Oswalt or Dan Haren?  Do they have enough in the minors to actaully get those calibre guys?

- Do you just make do with what you have, convert Contreras back to a starter, give Figueroa more starts?  Is Happ back yet?

- What do you guys have in AA/AAA in terms of starting talent?

At least Hamels has come back to reasonable effectiveness this year…

Written by Todd Boss

July 21st, 2010 at 6:06 pm

One more irritation over the Strasburg signing bonus complaints…

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This is the annual “Fortunate 50,” a listing of the highest compensated american athletes based on salary plus endorsements (there’s a separate international list).

Look who ranks at #11.  Matthew Stafford.  He of one year of production in the NFL, leading his team to a 2-14 record.  $26 MILLION DOLLARS in bonuses this year, mostly due to his #1 overall selection.

And people were losing their minds because Strasburg signed for 4yrs $15M guaranteed??

Other things to note on this list:

  • #20 overall; i;m obviously not a football fan, certainly not a redskins fan, but i read enough coverage to know that Haynesworth certainly isn’t worth the $24.6M in bonus money he’s collecting this  year.  I’d say “boo hoo” for little Danny boy except that Karma is a bitch and he gets everything his little napoleonic meddling egotistical body deserves.
  • #28: Darrius Heyward-Bey.  Who??  $21M for some 2nd year no name nfl player?
  • The general lack of endoresement money for some people.  I love it when guys make millions of dollars in salary but have zero endorsements.  You might as well put a sign on their head that says, “I’m an arrogant pr*ck and everyone knows it, so I have zero endorsement deals beyond appearance fees for mandatory press shows.”  Terrell Suggs best example; $24M in salary, $75K in endorsements.  Probably from an Eastern Motors ad.

Take a look at the international version too.  Lots of soccer players.

Written by Todd Boss

July 21st, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Atilano, Leake and Morse… Nats musings

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1. Atilano.  In 16 starts he’s now 6-7, 5.15 era, 1.49 whip.  The team is 6-10 in his starts. More telling: in 5 of his 16 starts now he’s given up as many earned runs as innings pitched.  That’s just not acceptable.  I realize there’s nobody really better (Chico?  Martis?) until one of Detwiler/Wang/Zimmermann/Marquis/Olsen recovers from injury but man.  Its brutal.

2. Leake.  Like this kid.  He looks a lot like Bronson Arroyo, even down to the stupid haircut. A ton of movement with a mlb-average fastball and decent control.  I know everyone is talking about the St. Louis rookie pitcher Garcia  but i like this guy.  Taken 2 picks before Storen; imagine if he had fallen to us at the #10 spot lastyear?

3. At what point in the season do we do what is obviously right for the team and stick Bernadina in center and Morse in right?  Morse is hitting .324/.375/.554 with 4 homers in 80 plate appearances.  That’s almost a 30 homer clip extrapolated out to a full season.  Have we found our right field solution by accident?  Bernadina is doing great; he has some power, hits for average, has some decent speed (7 sbs).  Maybe we stick him in center.  Morgan has easily the worst OPS+ on the team right now and has a .315 on base percentage at leadoff.  Unacceptable.  Even Guzman, he of the 4 walks in 600 plate appearances last season, has a better OBP this year.  And nearly as many walks as Morgan!

Nats currently on track for 69-93 season and the 7th overall pick.  And if we succumb to pressure and trade Dunn or Willingham or both, we may not score the rest of the season…

Nats Draft 2010 update

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This is the Nats Farm authority draft tracker.  with the signing of their #3 and #8 round picks, the Nats have really locked in basically every non-marquee draft pick of their 2010 draft.  Who is left?

#1: Bryce Harper.  Thanks to Mr. Boras, don’t expect any movement until August 15th at 10:30pm.

#2: Sammy Solis, a Jr Lefty from USanDiego.  6’5″ 240 big lefty, #48 Baseball America prospect so perhaps a slight overdraft on our part at the top of the 2nd round.  Slight injury concern (ruptured disc in back cost him his sophmore season).  9-2, 3.00 era with 87/26 k/bb in 87ip.  Sits 89-92, touches 93.  Sounds kinda like a Detwiler with more bulk and thus less injury prone.

#4: AJ Cole; the most interesting of our draft picks.  Cole was a 1st round talent projected, signed with Miami.  He’s drawing comparisons to Justin Verlander in terms of his size/frame and his fastball (93-94, reportedly touching 98).  This is a great test of the ownership group; will they offer overslot money on a high-end talent?  Keith Law thinks its 50-60% that they sign him.

This would make for a pretty good drafting class if they get all three of these guys remaining.

They’ve already signed #3,5,6,7,10 positional players (all college juniors) and they’re all in Vermont playing short-A ball right now.

I was looking at the spreadsheet of draft picks and wonder though.  Why does any team bother drafting a High School kid in the 40th-50th round who has a division 1 college scholarship commit?  Is it just to impress the kid and make him feel good about himself?  I guess some of these guys pan out; 2006 we drafted Brad Peacock in the 41st round out of High School, probably gave him $1000 to sign, and he’s still plugging away.  He’s in Potomac now and isn’t doing too badly.

Written by Todd Boss

July 20th, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Updated Nats Rotational Performance…

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So, after skipping 5 weeks (and with a burning desire NOT to do any real work today), I’ve updated my little spreadsheet of starting pitcher performance.

Interesting results to be had, no doubt:

Nats performance going against Staff Positionals:

#1s (ie, the other team’s aces): 10-8.  that’s right; we’ve got a winning record against the staff aces on the season.  Amazingly Livan has pitched in 7 of these 18 contests
and will get his 8th ace tomorrow night going against Josh Johnson in Florida.  Strasburg has yet to face an “Ace.”

#2s: 6-12.  JD Martin seems to be taking the brunt of these losses, as  he’s taken over the Jason Marquis rotation spot apparently.  Martin isn’t pitching badly (3rd best ERA+ on the staff) but the Nats are 1-6 in his starts right now.

#3s: 5-11.  Strasburg seems to be in the #3 rotational spot right now though he goes tonight against Florda’s #2 starter in Nolasco in what should be a pretty good matchup.

#4s: 5-6.  Mostly Olsen starts.

#5s: 7-8.  Ironically Lannan usually faced up against #5 starters.  it is a testament to his bad season that he couldn’t get more wins against the #5 starters.

#5+’s: 6-5.  5+ means they were not in the original starting 5 rotation at the beginning of the season.  Sometimes this is a good thing (going against the 7th best starter in baltimore for example) and other times it means the right guy is finally pitching (like Dickey over Oliver Perez in NY).

Taking the “rotation order” out of the equation and just looking at the actual performance of the staff member at the time of the series shows a slightly different take:

#1s: 8-12
#2s: 10-9
#3s: 7-7
#4s: 5-10
#5s: 5-8
#5+: 3-4

We’re actually playing WORSE against the lesser pitchers!  how is that possible.  Ugh.

Of course, if we trade Dunn and Willing ham we’ll probably head into a tailspin and be closer to 60 wins than 70.  Currently the team is on pace for exactly 71-91.

boss