Nationals Arm Race

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

Archive for April, 2012

Did the Nats call up the wrong OF?

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Harper knows he's ready; is the Media? Photo GQ magazine Mar 2012

As the rest of the free world now knows, Bryce Harper has gotten called up to give the incredibly weakened Nats lineup some potential offense.  Sometimes moves can be planned and orchestrated (such as keeping Stephen Strasburg in the minors in 2010 past the super-2 deadline), and sometimes your hand is called.  With Michael Morse out indefinitely, and with the most fragile $100m player this side of Carl Crawford (aka, F.O.T.F. Ryan Zimmerman) heading to the DL yet again, this team suddenly is without 55-60 homers and 200 RBIs in the middle of its order.

So, we’ll roll the dice with the 19-yr old Harper.

But, should the team really have called up a much more mature, much more MLB-ready member of the Syracuse Chiefs?  A guy who is currently putting up this line in AAA: .278/.354/.556 with 6 homers in 20 games?  A guy who has hit 30+ homers in two successive seasons, at two successive levels of the minors and is currently on a pace for more than 40 in AAA?  Yes I’m talking about Tyler Moore, a 16th round draft pick who has come out of nowhere to become (arguably) this team’s 3rd best hitting prospect in the minors today.

Yes, I know he’s a 1B primarily, and he’s just started taking reps in LF.  But after watching Xavier Nady lumber towards balls in LF and watching Mark DeRosa turn routine RF fly balls into adventures, how much worse could it be to stick him out there instead and juggle Harper with Werth and Ankiel in CF and RF (matchup dependent)?  Scouts and pundits have routinely discounted Moore’s abilities, and Mike Rizzo‘s scouting trip last week apparently made his mind up for him, so perhaps there’s a method to his madness.  Maybe Moore really isn’t an OF option despite his LF experiments.  We’re not watching him game in and game out, just typing out blog posts from our dining room table.

Either way, the Nats should get at least a more competent batter in the line-up.  If Harper comes up and starts blasting the ball all the better.

Johnny Damon: Hall of Famer? Not for me

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Johnny Damon during his Boston reign. Photo unknown via metsmerized.com

With recent news that Johnny Damon has convinced another team (for 2012 its the Cleveland Indians) to give him more at-bats so that he can continue his march towards the magic 3,000 hit plateau, and with today’s Rob Neyer column that already assumes Damon is a hall of famer and asks, “Which cap will be on his Cooperstown plaque,” I have this to say:

How is it possible that Johnny Damon is a hall of fame player?

Here’s a few metrics for you:

  • All Star Apperances: TWO!  Two times he’s been considered amongst the best 60 or so active players.
  • Top 5 MVP votes: Zero
  • Top 10 MVP votes: ZERO
  • Top 20 MVP votes (as in, one of the 32 writers involved threw him a 10th place vote here and there): 4 times.
  • Career OPS+: 105.  As in, compared to his fellow players he’s only about 5% better at the plate.
  • Career OPS: .789, below the .800 line of respectability for modern day hitters.
  • Defensive awards: Golden Gloves and Silver Sluggers: Zero.

I’m sorry, but in what world is this a hall of fame career?  Damon is the epitome of an accumulator, averaging nearly 700 plate appearances and 188 hits per year over his career and staying relatively healthy (never playing less than 140 games per year since his debut in 1996).  105 OPS+!  If he was a gold-glove calibre middle infielder maybe that’d be acceptable, but he’s a sub-par defensive outfielder who has never sniffed a defensive award.

I also go back to my tried-and-true argument related to All Star appearances and MVP voting; how can a player possibly be considered one of the greatest players of all time if he rarely, if ever, was considered one of the best players of his own time, on a year to year basis?  Great players earn all star appearances even in down years, while middling players never earn them.

For everyone who has vehemently argued against Jack Morris, essentially on the strength (weakness) of his career ERA (and by implication, ERA+) … I wonder who hypocritically is arguing FOR Damon.  Oh wait; Rob Neyer is.

Am I crazy?  Who out there thinks that Damon is worthy of a copper plaque in Cooperstown?

(caveat: after reading the comments in the Neyer article, it occurred to me it was possibly a spoof.  As in, an entire tongue-in-cheek article.  If so, my reading comprehension skills are at fault and I rescind this criticism.)

Written by Todd Boss

April 17th, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Questionable defense bailed out in the 10th

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Opening day is always so much fun.  Except when you are running late, try driving to the stadium, and literally drive around for an hour trying to find a place to park.  I’ve never seen the areas around the stadium THAT jammed, with no parking available in any lot for any price.  We ended up illegally parked off of Delaware ave and somehow didn’t get a parking ticket.  My guess is that the meter maids got carpel tunnel syndrome from writing so many tickets for out of towners that they had to go home before reaching the neighborhood where my car was parked.  We saw the jets from 395, we heard the fireworks while driving past the McDonalds on South Capitol, and arrived in time to see the Nats bat in the bottom of the 2nd.  Lesson learned; never never try to drive to opening day again.

Anyway.

Gio Gonzalez looked fabulous; 7ip, 2 hits, 7 punchouts and zero walks.  He works fast, his four seamer hopped and his curve (at least from the side) looks amazing.  He made Joey Votto, Cincinnati’s best hitter, look just foolish, punching him out twice.  Gonzalez continues a trend of Washington’s 3 best starters pitching 7 complete with room to spare (Gonzalez sat at 97 pitches through 7 complete but had 7-8-9 coming up, meaning that Clippard had a relatively easy hold, but more importantly meaning that, were it later in the season, Gonzalez easily could have extended himself to get through the 8th).

Too bad Gonzalez’s Win was spoiled by the 2nd and 3rd defensive gaffes from Ryan Zimmerman on the afternoon.  He had a fielding error earlier in the game (compounded by throwing the ball away) that didn’t end up factoring into the game, but his defense in the 9th was very questionable.

Baseball 101: if you’re nursing a close lead in the 9th inning, what do you tell your fielders?  NO DOUBLES.  That means your 1st and 3rd basemen guard the line and your outfielders play deep.  You can absorb a single but you don’t allow someone into scoring position.  So what happens in the top of the 9th?  Scott Rolen doubles down the line past Zimmerman to get into scoring position.  Zimmerman was so far off the line he didn’t even dive after the ball.   What he heck was he doing?

Then, after a walk to load the bases Zimmerman plays Ryan Ludwick at least even with the bag, perhaps even further in, apparently guarding against the bunt.  Ok: I guess I can understand that play to a certain extent … except that Ludwick is a power hitter and the Reds were 2 runs down at that point.  Dusty Baker isn’t playing for a suicide squeeze, he’s playing for a gapper to score two runs.  To make matters worse, Ludwick gets down 1-2, and Zimmerman STILL doesn’t return to double play depth.  Ludwick, who was a far shot to bunt in the first place, certainly isn’t bunting with 2 strikes down 2 runs in the 9th!  So what happens?  Ludwick hits a routine grounder to Zimmerman, who gets eaten up because he’s playing right on the grass and the ball takes a weird hop.  If Zimmerman plays at normal depth, that’s a game ending double play ball at best, a force out at 3rd for the 2nd out at worst.

Do you blame his positioning on Zimmerman or the dugout?  Probably the latter, but Zimmerman has been playing long enough and is a good enough fielder that he should have known what to do.  I hope he buys Gonzalez dinner for costing him a Win (not to mention Lidge for the blown-save).  In the end the Nats get the W … but as I was driving away from the stadium it wouldn’t have surprised me in the least to see the team demoralizingly drop that game after controlling it the entire day.

Written by Todd Boss

April 13th, 2012 at 9:54 am

Nats Rotation Cycle 2012 #1: good/bad/soso

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Surprise 5th starter Detwiler turned in your best outing of the first Rotation Cycle. Photo Cathy T via nationalsdailynews.com

It has been so long since I did one of these, that I nearly forgot that I used to do them :-)

For the uninitiated, I try to do a quick recap of our starters each turn through the rotation, culminating in 33 “rotation cycle” posts that can be seen if you click on the “Nats Rotation Review” category tag to the right.  If I’ve seen the game, I’ll give more detailed analysis based on my observations.  Otherwise I’m recapping the box score and interpreting the stats to come to a conclusion.  The focus is on the starters, but there is a section for relievers and the offense.

The classifications are not very scientific; usually good, bad or mediocre/soso.  If someone is great or awful, we’ll note that as well.

Good

  • Stephen Strasburg looked healthy and in command on opening day 4/5 (box/gamer), getting a no decision after 7 complete innings.  His line: 7ip, 5 hits, 1 ER, 5K and 1BB.  More importantly he was only on 82 pitches through 7 innings, a very efficient work day.  A couple of these hits were relatively weak (one an infield pop fly that fell between 4 infielders, another a scoring issue that probably was a hit).  Its not difficult to look unhittable when its 41 degrees and the wind is blowing in, but Strasburg seems to be adopting the same strategy as his compatriot Jordan Zimmermann: pitch efficiently, pitch to contact, and keep your pitch counts down so you go deeper into games.  It may not be as flashy as a 14-K effort, but if it leads to wins everyone is happy.
  • Jordan Zimmermann‘s first start on 4/8 (box/gamer) was just as effective as Strasburg’s; unfortunately for Zimmermann he went up against a buzz-saw in Jeff Samardzija and his offense couldn’t help.  Zimmermann took the loss on a day when he went 7 complete innings on just 80 pitches, giving up 6 hits, 0 walks and one earned run.   This is the classic adage of why W/L records are misleading; if Zimmermann pitches this way all year as our #3 starter we’re going to go far.
  • Ross Detwiler‘s rotation spot won’t be going away any time soon if he continues outings like 4/10 (box/gamer).  5 innings, 2 hits and a walk with 6 Ks to earn the win.   Detwiler picks up where he left off last summer and gives immediate validation to the Lannan- demotion decision.

Bad

  • Yes, its bad when your marquee off-season acquisition Gio Gonzalez fails to get out of the 4th inning in  his debut start.  Gonzalez struggled with control and with effectiveness on 4/7 (box/gamer) and gave up 4 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks.  He did have 6 strikeouts in his 3 2/3 innings, so there’s that.  His fastball was hopping; 95mph in the first two innings, averaging about 93 on the day.  He threw mostly fastballs but wasn’t getting the swing-and-miss effect like he needed.  Of course, an outing like this isn’t helped in the analysts’ minds when Tommy Milone (the 4th best prospect sent the other way in the trade) pitched 8 shutout innings in his debut.  Lets hope this is first-start jitters.

Mediocre/Inconclusive

  • Edwin Jackson‘s 4/9 start (box/gamer) wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as effective as we would have liked.  He was a victim of the long-ball, giving up 3 runs on 4 hits and a walk in 5 innings.  He did have 6 punchouts on a night where he threw a ton of off-speed stuff (only 42 of his 78 pitches were fast-balls; he threw a ton of sliders on the night).   The homer he gave up ended any chance of his getting a W on the night on a game that was more or less thrown away by replacement starter Henry Rodriguez.

Starter Trends

MLB Trends (through Detwiler 4/10 Cycle 1)

Strasburg    good
Gonzalez    bad
Zimmermann    good
Jackson    soso
Detwiler    good

Relievers of Note and other News

  • So far its looking like Brad Lidge may be the steal of the FA market.  He’s throwing well, his slider is back and he’s closing out save opportunities for just $1m.
  • So far, its looking like the “bad” Henry Rodriguez from 2011; a 0.00 ERA but a 2.25 whip and a loss by virtue of his own throwing error.
  • Ryan Mattheus isn’t doing himself any favors right now and may not be long for this bullpen.  Of course then again its looking like Drew Storen is closer to Tommy John surgery than returning to the field, having visited Dr. James Andrews this week.  Meanwhile, surprise 25-man roster includee Craig Stammen is performing decently in a swing-man role and looks to stick.

Thoughts on the offense

  • Adam LaRoche comes out on fire, a shock considering he’s usually a slow starter and the fact that he looked beyond awful in the first game, waving weakly at curveballs in the dirt.  Ian Desmond looks like the Desmond of September, which is great news.
  • Meanwhile, in a completely unsurprising development Roger Bernadina has started out the season 3-for-20.  Why aren’t we looking for a CF again?
  • Too bad Chad Tracy doesn’t have any OF flexibility; he’s looked great off the bench so far.

Overall Summary

Can’t argue with an away series win, despite the weakened nature of the opponent in Chicago.  We could get a second away-series win tonight if one stud young Ace (Strasburg) can beat one come-back Ace (Johan Santana).  That’s the way to go in baseball; play .500 on the road and play .600 ball at home and you’re a 90 win team in an era where 90 wins almost certainly guarantees post-season play.

Lannan for Byrd? Yes Yes 100times Yes!

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Could Marlon Byrd be coming back to the Nats? Photo Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images via bleachereport.com

If this MLB rumor is true, then make that trade tomorrow.   If Chicago is inquiring “again,” then make the deal before they stop calling.

Marlon Byrd for John Lannan straight up.  Or even if Washington throws in some salary or perhaps a low-level prospect.  We know why this trade makes sense for Washington; we’ve done Lannan badly, we’re paying him $5M to sit in Syracuse, and he’s a tradeable asset that has asked for a trade and probably has mentally checked out of the organization.  Why does the trade make sense for Chicago?  Because their pitching is a mess right now.

Past their good 1-2 punch of Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza, the Cubs have 3 big question marks for starters penciled in right now.   Here’s the rest of their planned rotation:

3. Jeff Samardzija was a great reliever (and an even better wide receiver), but has never started in the majors.  Despite great scouting reports and good spring numbers (and April 8th’s start where he took a 3 hitter into the 9th) its a risk.  And with Kerry Wood walking 3 straight guys to spoil a fantastic start from Dempster on opening day, the Cubs probably could use some back-of-the-bullpen stability that Samardzija formerly provided.

4. Paul Maholm was decent last year, but as put up some big ERAs in the recent past and now will be pitching in a hitter’s park (though not yesterday, 41 degrees with the wind in… hey everyone looks like Cy Young when you pitch in those conditions).   On most teams he’s barely a #5 starter.

5. Chris Volstad has been awful for Florida (ahem, Miami) for the past few years, and now is a good bet to be even more awful for Chicago.

Lannan easily slots into the #4 spot and gives the team better innings than what they would have gotten from Volstad.  Or, Lannan puts Samardzija back in the bullpen until Volstad puts up a 6.00 ERA in April and the team’s hand is forced.

Chicago could put Reed Johnson in center, or call someone up.  In either case they’re patently in a rebuilding phase and don’t need a veteran playing in Center.  They’re not hurting for money, but a little pay

Make this move!  It’ll be better for everyone.  Washington gets a real CF with some offensive capabilities, moves Lannan (who’s clearly disgruntled and finished with the organization), and everyone wins.

MLB 2012 Predictions

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Opening day is upon us.  Why not put in some quickie predictions on who makes the playoffs this year?

  • AL East: New York Yankees
  • AL Central: Detroit
  • AL West: Los Angeles Angels
  • AL Wild Cards: Tampa, Texas

Narrative: I think the Yankees have enough to win the East; they have the same offense and seem to have improved their starting pitching.   Detroit should more or less cruise to the Central title; perhaps Minnesota could scare them for a wh ile but they have almost no quality starting pitching and Mauer and Morneau are not exactly health guarantees.  I think the Angels have bought their way into an AL West title, but wouldn’t be surprised if it came down to the wire.

Wild Cards: I think Texas (or LA) easily qualifies for a wild card, given the number of games both teams will have against their incredibly weaker divisional rivals Seattle and Oakland.  Meanwhile, Tampa seems to be in far better position than anyone else in the AL; they’re going to be tough to beat night to night because of pitching.  Meanwhile Boston seems adrift; they went from a 2011 wild-card shoe-in to an off-season punchline within one series in Baltimore.  They have done almost nothing to improve and have made a few puzzling moves in the off-season.

How about the NL?

  • NL East: Philadelphia
  • NL Central: Milwaukee
  • NL West: San Francisco
  • NL Wild Cards: Atlanta, Cincinnati

Narrative: Despite Philadelphia’s injuries on offense, they still have the class starting pitching and don’t seem to be taking that big a step back by depending on Worley to replace Oswalt‘s innings.  They don’t win 100 games, but they’ll eke out a divisional title.  The NL Central may be the most interesting race of any division; who knows how the losses that Milwaukee and St. Louis have absorbed versus the gains of Cincinnati may play out.  For now I’m guessing that all three teams end up in the 86-88 win range, but Milwaukee’s superior pitching and still-good offense win out.  In the west, its hard to imagine San Francisco faltering again, but we’ll see.  I know Arizona won comfortably last year, but they’re putting an awful lot of faith in two relatively weak starters (Saunders and Collmenter).

Wild Cards: I just can’t pick against Atlanta; they mostly have stood pat but they should have been the WC last year.  Based on Washington’s lack of addressing their own offensive needs in the off-season plus all the injuries we’ve had so far this spring, its real tough to suddenly give this team 10 more wins.  I think Cincinnati may sneak into the 2nd wild card ahead of a team like Arizona or Washington by virtue of a few more games against weakened NL central competition (Chicago and Houston).

AL Playoff predictions:

  • WC play-in: Tampa beats Texas in the play-in (Matt Moore is untouchable)
  • Divisionals: Angels outlast Tampa, Yankees get revenge on Detroit
  • ALCS: Los Angeles batters tired New York pitching for an AL Crown

NL Playoff predictions

  • WC play-in: Atlanta beats Cincinnati in the play-in
  • Divisionals: Philadelphia beats San Francisco in a bunch of 2-1 games, while Milwaukee barely beats Atlanta
  • NLCS: Philadelphia outlasts Milwaukee

World Series: the Angels have too much on both sides of the ball, match Philly’s pitching ace-for-ace while providing superior hitting and we have a ton of Rally Monkey/bang sticks in October.

Written by Todd Boss

April 6th, 2012 at 10:24 am

Lannan option shocker

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Hope to see you back soon Mr Lannan. Photo Luis Alvarez/AP via www.timesunion.com

I was sort of curious why there was so much volume on my Nationals RSS feeds this morning; little did I know there was a relatively shocking piece of news to report and comment on; John Lannan has been optioned to AAA to start the 2012 season.

I’ll admit it: I had Lannan penciled in as the 5th starter as soon as Chien-Ming Wang went down with injury.  I didn’t give it a second thought.  When the Nats bought Edwin Jackson, they had 6 starters for 5 spots and my presumption was that Lannan was the default choice for the 5th starter once Wang proved not to be ready for the start of the season.  In the back of my mind I knew Lannan had an option … but never thought that he and his $5M salary would be dropped to Syracuse.

This action definitely sends some statements.  In no particular order:

1. Unlike past iterations of the team (notably the 2009 team and the bullpen construction decisions made at the end of spring training), this sends the message that roster spots are not entirely guaranteed by virtue of salary or options status.  We all knew Ross Detwiler had no options and was set to make the 25-man roster, but nobody thought he’d be beating out Lannan for the 5th starter spot.  Its hard to argue he didn’t earn it; his Spring Training ERA was half that of Lannan’s.

2. The team isn’t concerned about “wasting” salary: Lannan joins fellow multi-millionare Yuniesky Maya in Syracuse, meaning that the Syracuse rotation is set to earn a sizeable percentage per annum of the major league rotation (roughly $20M for the Nats starting 5 versus $7M and change in AAA).  In fact if it weren’t for Jackson’s $11M salary the two rotations would be roughly equal.  Amazing.

3. Was there a stated rotation competition still ongoing this late into Spring Training?  If so it certainly didn’t come out in the dozens of stories filed by the beat reporters from Viera.  Perhaps the real shock here is that nobody knew that Lannan’s job was in jeopardy.  Did Lannan?

4. Sending Lannan down isn’t the same thing as sending Bryce Harper down: I’ve seen some bloggers kvetching about the statement “we’re starting with our best 25″ when explaining the demotion while the team breaks camp with 3 non-roster invitees (Tracy, Carroll, Nady), at least one of which is set to get major reps in the outfield, and none of which are as good as Harper right now.  The simple matter is this; there’s “money” considerations and then there’s “MONEY” considerations.  Just keeping Harper in the minors a couple of weeks guarantees us one more year of his service prior to FA eligibility, and that’s hugely important.  No-one will argue the WAR-value add of 2 weeks of a 19yr old rookie versus 162 games of a 25-yr old emerging slugger.

I can buy some of the argument, by the way, that the Super-2 status concerns may be moot with Harper, considering that the team is in its best interests to buy out Harper’s arbitration years before he hits them.  Other forward-thinking teams (Tampa, Colorado, Los Angeles, Milwaukee) have certainly been doing this with their younger stars (Evan Longoria, Matt Moore, Troy Tulowitzki, Matt Kemp, and Ryan Braun respectively for the above teams).  But, as far as I can tell none of the above players are advised by Scott Boras, who knows maximum value is obtained by waiting til the last minute, by playing all the angles, and by not giving “home town  discounts.”  So for me, there is still significant future value in keeping Harper in the minors until mid-to-late June.  The difference can be googled by the reader, as WP writers have done this analysis several times in the past and discovered that a superstar avoiding super-2 can mean $14-$18M in future salary.

5. Davey Johnson needs to get on the same page as his boss (aka, Mike Rizzo).  Johnson telling the press “John’s my guy,” as he reportedly did just last week, or Johnson prematurely announcing that Lannan had won the 5th starter spot and then revoking it is a serious breach of boss-employee trust.   No wonder Lannan “took the news hard;” how would you feel if you were blindsided by your employer a week after them telling you that you were doing a great job and that everything seemed fine?  In this respect, the team seemed to have done Lannan wrong.  I’ll caveat this by saying that none of us armchair pundits are in the clubhouse on a day to day basis, so none of us had any idea what conversations Johnson and Lannan may have had leading up to his demotion.

6. I will have to agree with others who think this sends a bad message to the rest of the team.  Lannan by all respects is the kind of player teams want.  He doesn’t make waves, he doesn’t get bad press.  He was our opening day starter twice in recent years, he was a great example of a middle-round player overcoming his draft position and potential to make the majors, and he frankly isn’t that bad a pitcher.  Does the team’s “treatment” of Lannan send the wrong message to its veterans?  If so, that’s a bad cloud to have hanging over a team with some serious money tied up with its veterans (namely Werth, Zimmerman and Gonzalez).  If these guys didn’t like the way the team handled this situation, the clubhouse could be lost fairly easily.

7. You would think this action kills what remaining trade value Lannan had; Rizzo had already spoken of how the trade market for him was “thin” to begin with.  Lannan is a tough asset to get equal value for; he doesn’t over power you, he has unimposing stats (career 101 ERA+, or exactly MLB average), and he doesn’t get a ton of Ks.  He is a durable lefty who can fit at the back of your rotation.  Is that worth $5M a year (and more next year when he hits arbitration again)?  Or, more importantly to the Nats, is that worth a starting position player?  Certainly the Angels aren’t giving up their promising CF Peter Bourjos (as an example) for Lannan straight up.  We’d have to sweeten the pot.  Except that at some point, the value of keeping a disgruntled Lannan in AAA as starter insurance will eventually be more important than whatever role player we could get in return.

The one precedent that gives me hope on the trade front is when the team somehow turned demoted and malcontented Lastings Milledge into Nyjer Morgan (yes I know there was two others involved, but in terms of like for like, Milledge essentially turned into Morgan).  Perhaps Detwiler will continue his late 2011 performance into April of 2012 and will remain our starter-in-waiting to cover for eventual injuries and what not.  This would give the team more confidence to shop the now-insurance policy Lannan and wait for the right deal.

All in all, just your ordinary Wednesday in Nats town.

Nats Rule-5 lossee Spring Training Update pt 2

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So long Komatsu; you've made the Cards 25-man roster. Photo Chris Lee/Stl Post Dispatch via stltoday.com

As has been published by both Luke Erickson/NationalsProspects and Mac/Capitolbaseball in recent days, its looking more and more likely that both our Rule 5 draftees Erik Komatsu and Brad Meyers may not be coming home any time soon.

  • Meyers has still yet to appear in a Minor League game for the Yankees, meaning the team is well within their rights to stash Meyers on the DL and keep him in their extended Spring Training while he rehabs.  This gives the team ample time to evaluate Meyers while waiting for an opportunity to call him up.  Kinda like what the Nats did with Elvin Ramirez for the entirety of the 2011 season.

As I opined here prior to the Nats failing to protect Komatsu, I thought he was worth protecting prior to last December’s rule 5 draft.  And as I’ve stated in the comments section here and there, I thought the team made a mistake not protecting him.  The Nationals STILL have not broached a full 40-man roster (they sit at 39/40 by  my count after adding Rick Ankiel this week), meaning they could have retained Komatsu and kept the trade bounty they received for Jerry Hairston last July.

Now, in a relatively not surprising, Murphy’s Law kind of way, the Nats really could use Komatsu.  Ankiel’s hurting, Bernadina has been banged up, Morse is starting the season on the DL.  The team is probably going to break camp with TWO non-roster invitees on the 25-man roster to fill outfield spots (Xavier Nady and Brett Carrol).  Its not that Komatsu was an answer for us this spring, but considering the lack of outfield depth and the failure to address the CF situation in the off-season, it seems like the team should have done a better job retaining its own outfielders this past off-season.