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Archive for May, 2017

CWS 2017: Field of 64 announced with Regional predictions

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CWS-2017_calendar-narrow

Its that time of year again; Its College Baseball playoff season!

On 5/28/17, a day before the entire field was announced, the 16 Regional hosts were announced.  These are also the top 16 seeds (though they only acknowledge the top 8 “national seeds”).  The following day, the entire field was announced.  Here’s a look at the 16 regional tournaments with some quickie thoughts.

Each of these 4-team sets is listed in the “seed” in the regional, starting with the host.  I’ve organized them as they’ll meet in the super regionals.

#1 Oregon State, with Nebraska, Yale and Holy Cross.  No challenges here for the #1 overall seed, which finished the season an amazing 49-4.
#16 Clemson, with Vanderbilt, St. Johns, UNC-Greensboro: Clemson draws the always-tough Vanderbilt, who may upset the Tigers.

#8 Stanford, with Cal State-Fullerton, BYU, Sacramento State: tough draw for Stanford, who has a national seed for the first time in a while.  Fullerton is always a tough out.
#9 Long Beach State, with Texas, UCLA, San Diego State: wouldn’t be surprised to see the scrappy SDSU team make some waves here, nor would I be surprised watching Texas win this.  Texas may be one of the weaker #2 seeds, but the rest of this regional is weaker too.

#5 Texas Tech, with Arizona, Sam Houston State, Delaware.  Texas Tech has quietly put together a monster season, and I see little to prevent them from sweeping through this regional.
#12 Florida State, with UCF, Auburn, Texas Tech.  We’ll get to the snubs below, but the fact that Florida State is hosting over UVA (not to mention Clemson) is kind of ridiculous.

#4 LSU, with Southeastern LA, Rice and Texas Southern.  Odd to see Rice with a #3 seed, odder still to see SELA with a #2 seed.  LSU should breeze here.
#13 Southern Miss, with Mississippi State, South Alabama and Illinois-Chicago.  Tough draw for Southern Miss; Illinois-Chicago has one one of the best staffs in the country.

#2 UNC with Florida Gulf-Coast, Michigan, Davidson.  Davidson’s first ever visit to the CWS tourney will be against the #2 team in the land …though they’ll probably save J.B. Bukauskas for the second game (likely against under-seeded Michigan).  Still, not much here to trouble UNC.
#15 Houston with Baylor, TAMU, Iowa.  Last team in TAMU, which did not suck in the SEC this year, probably makes this regional more interesting than Houston likely wants.  I could see either Houston or TAMU winning … but based on Houston having kicked off their #1 starter .. i’ll go TAMU.

#7 Louisville with Oklahoma, Xavier and Radford.  Good to see Radford representing the Commonwealth here; they’ll be two and out.  Louisville has the arms and shouldn’t be troubled by any of these teams.
#10 Kentucky with Indiana, NC State and Ohio.  NC State may give Kentucky a run for their money in this regional, but I don’t think they can beat them.

#6 TCU with UVA, Dallas-Baptist and Central Connecticut.  The last time UVA got snubbed so badly, they went to a stacked UC-Irvine regional, battered Stephen Strasburg in his final collegiate start, and made the CWS as a regional #3 seed.  Watch out TCU.
#11 Arkansas with Missouri State, Oklahoma State, Oral Roberts; I know little about any of these teams; Okla State is having a down year, Arkansas was 18-11 in the SEC West.  They’re a tough out.

#3 Florida with South Florida, Bethune-Cookman, Marist.  Man, what an easy draw for Florida.
#14 Wake Forest with West Virginia, Maryland, UMBC.  Well, the West Virginia-Maryland game should be interesting; does either team have enough to beat a good Wake Forest team?


 

Easiest Regionals: Oregon State & Florida

Hardest RegionalsTCU, Stanford

Regional Predictions (in the order listed above): Oregon State, Vanderbilt, CS-Fullerton, Long Beach State, Texas Tech, Florida State, LSU, Mississippi State, UNC, TAMU, Louisville, Kentucky, UVA, Arkansas, Florida, Wake Forest.

My Omaha predictions right now: #1 Oregon State, CS-Fullerton, #5 Texas Tech, #4 LSU on one side.   #2 UNC, #7 Louisville, UVA, #3 Florida.

DC/MD/VA rooting interests: UVA, Maryland, UMBC, Radford, plus Virginia-born players on UNC, NC State and Wake Forest rosters.


Snubs

The d1baseball.com guys think the last 3 teams out (roughly, ODU, Gonzaga and UConn) were more deserving than the last three teams in (roughly Maryland, St. Johns and TAMU).  But they also admit that its nit picking to some extent.  There were 6 or so “stolen bids” when the non-favored team won a 1-bid conference tourney … leaving a lot of deserving teams on the sidelines.

There’s some oddities in the draw; too many Big10 teams, which was only the 7th ranked conference, yet the Conference USA (higher ranked) only got two teams in (this goes to the ODU snub).

But the biggest, least defensible decision was to give Clemson the #16 seed/last host over UVA.  UVA beat Clemson 10-2 in the ACC tourney, finished with a better conference and overall record than Clemson, and (to say nothing about Clemson’s hosting) had similar arguments for hosting versus Florida State.  Then to add insult to injury … UVA gets sent to TCU’s regional.  Did UVA piss off the committee for some reason?

Marquee Draft-related players to watch

I won’t go through all 64 teams, but here’s some of the more interesting names to keep an eye on:

  • #1 Oregon State’s lefty starter Luke Heimlich is their main draft-eligible player this year.  He leads the nation with a 0.81 ERA on the year.
  • #2 UNC’s #1 starter is of course Ashburn’s J.B. Bukauskas; he likely goes #6 overall in the draft.  They also have likely 2nd rounders Logan Warmoth and Brian Miller as high-end draft prospects.
  • #3 Florida’s #1 starter is Alex Faedo, who is probably an upper-first round talent.
  • #4 LSU is led by Alex Lange, who is tied to the Nats as a lower 1st round pick.
  • #7 Louisville’s star is top-5 pick Brendan McCay.
  • #8 Stanford’s top-ranked draft prospect is pitcher Tristan Beck, a draft-eligible sophomore who missed the whole season with a back injury.
  • #10 Kentucky has a good hitting prospect in 1B Evan White.
  • #11 Arkansas is led by RHP Blaine Knight.
  • #15 Houston’s former friday starter was LHP Seth Romero, kicked off the team for disciplinary purposes.
  • Vanderbilt has two 1st round talents in Kyle Wright and Jeren Kendall.
  • UVA also has two upper 1st round players in Pavin Smith and Adam Haseley.
  • Missouri State has big hitting 3B prospect Jake Burger (4th in the nation in Homers this year).
  • UCLA is led by RHP Griffin Canning, likely 2nd/3rd rounder.

Several back of the 1st round arms listed here, many of whom are rumored to be on the Nats radar at #25.  Keep an eye on Lange, Romero, Beck (even if he isn’t playing) and maybe even Faedo if he drops that far (doubtful).

Other News

Defending National Champ Coastal Carolina struggled on the year and failed to make the tourney.  Miami had a relatively mediocre season and broke an amazing streak of 44 straight appearances in the CWS tournament.  A light year for Virginia schools with decent teams like ODU getting snubbed, VCU getting upset in the conference tourney, Virginia Tech struggling, the three local “George” teams struggling George Mason, Georgetown, George Washington), etc.


College CWS tournament references: (i’ll put more here when they get posted).

So this is what a 96mph cutter looks like

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The right guy is finally closing. Photo via mlb.com

The right guy is finally closing. Photo via mlb.com

New anointed Nationals closer Koda Glover came into Friday night’s game in what was absolutely a “save situation.”  Max Scherzer ran out of gas, clearly, had loaded the bases and the tying run was at the plate.

What’d he do?  He threw four “sliders,” all of them between 95.4 and 96.4 MPH, all of them unhittable, and struck out Hunter Renfroe with ease to close the game out.

Here’s the video of the final pitch: http://m.mlb.com/video/v1430295083/sdwsh-glover-strikes-out-renfroe-to-notch-the-save/?game_pk=490824

Now, some might call his pitch a cutter; Glover refers to it as a cutter while Pitch F/X classifies it as a slider.  It seems to me to be somewhere in between in terms of movement: i think it moves more than Mariano Rivera‘s cutter/cut-fastball, but doesn’t move as sharply as other sliders that we’ve seen.  Either way, a 96 mph pitch with that kind of movement is a heck of a pitch.

Lots of people freaked out when Noah Snydergaard debuted his 95mph slider, which looks like an actual slider (see video evidence here) more than Glover’s.  And Snydergaard’s pitch is pretty amazing.  But so is a 96-mph cut-fastball, especially from a guy who really doesn’t have that much time in the majors and who might be improving/learning as we speak.

Glover should have been the closer from day one and now he is; i’m guessing he doesn’t get supplanted from the role for a while.

Written by Todd Boss

May 27th, 2017 at 8:47 pm

Prep Baseball Update #1 2017: DC/MD/VA District High School Tournament Report: 2017 post-season underway

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Welcome to my Prep Baseball Tourney coverage for 2017.  We’re a bit late to get started thanks to my out-of-town trip, and I’ve done little in the way of coverage this year since the local landscape of high-end players hasn’t been as interesting.  But here we go; its tournament time so might as well get started.

Here’s the rough schedule of posting and what we’ll cover:

  • #1: DC/MD/VA District High School Tournament Report: post-season kickoff (this post).  Covers: MD regionals, VA district brackets, Private school tourney updates.  Usually publishes the week before Memorial day tournament finals.
  • #2: Maryland State Champs, Northern VA Regional Champs crowned.  Covers: MD state finals, VA regionals tourneys, DC regular season results.  Usually publishes after the Memorial Day weekend tournaments finish up.
    #3: Virginia Regional Results, DC Tourneys.  Covers: VA regional results, State brackets, DC tourney results.  Usually publishes the first week of June.
    #4: Final Prep Baseball Update: Virginia State Champions crowned.  Covers: VA state tourneys, recaps MD, DC, Private School results.  Publishes mid-June once the Va state tourney wraps up.
  • #5: Players of the Year/All-State lists and final rankings; publishes early July once all the all-state lists are published.

Northern Virginia

Virginal district tournaments get started last weekend and most are scheduled to finish this week.  The VHSL site has some district brackets already published.  NovaBaseballMagazine has done a great job keeping up conference results and has links to the conference tournaments under its “Standings” links.  Here’s a preview of the district tournaments for local conferences with the leading contenders.

The top four teams from each district tourney form the 16-team regional brackets, to be published later on once all the divisions are finalized.

  • 6-A Conference 5/ConcordeOakton beat Westfield for a district title repeat, not giving up a run in the process.  Robinson and the dangerous Centreville also advance.
  • 6-A Conference 6/Liberty: Madison squeaked by Langley for their 5th straight conference title; they finished the year with just two losses.  South Lakes and McLean also advance to regionals.
  • 6-A Conference 7/Potomac: West Springfield blanked South County in the final, Lake Braddock (the #1 seed) and West Potomac also advance to regionals.
  • 6-A Conference 8/ Cedar Run: Patriot cruised to the district title over Osborne Park.  Osborn and Battlefield also advance.

Regional Preview: The four expected #1 seeds advanced easily; Oakton, Madison, West Springfield and Patriot.  Unfortunately the two best teams (Oakton and Madison) are on the same side of the bracket.  I’m predicting a Madison-Patriot regional final and a Madison victory in a down year for the region.

In the 5-A division:

  • 5-A Conference 13/Capitol: Marshall repeated as district winner, with Wakefield and Edison advancing to regionals.
  • 5-A Conference 14: Briar Woods upset #1 Stone Bridge for the district title, with Broad Run advancing to regionals.
  • 5-A Conference 15: Potomac took the title over upset-minded North Stafford.   #1 seed Stafford also advanced to regionals.
  • 5-A Conference 16: #1 seed Halifax cruised to the district title.  Orange and Atlee also advanced to regionals.

Regional Preview: (5-a Regional bracket): I’m predicting a Potomac-Marshall regional final with Potomac taking the title.  We’ll see how good Halifax is soon enough; they face off against perennial power Stone Bridge in the regional quarters.  Prep Report thinks Halifax is the best 5-A team in the state… but Stone Bridge just handled Stafford easily enough, who they thought were #2.

There are some DC-local teams in the 4th and smaller divisions (mostly in Loudoun County).  We’ll go through them once their brackets are made available on VHSL.  The best 4-A team out there is probably Kettle Run, #1 in Nova Baseball Magazine’s rankings.


Maryland

At this point, the Maryland State tournament is nearly complete; the state finals are this weekend.  Brackets here at the MPSAA website and direct links to the four State-wide brackets are linked directly below.

  • Maryland 4-A: 2012 champ Northwest defeated several perennial powerhouses to take the 4A-West region title.  Eleanor Roosevelt won an upset-laden 4A-South regional.  #1 seed and powerhouse Severna Park won the 4A-East title with ease, while Baltimore-based Howard upset several perennial contenders to take the 4A-North title.  In the state semis, Howard and Northwest advanced to meet in the state final.
  • Maryland 3-A: Poolesville over Thomas Johnson in the 3A-East, Huntington upsettting Rockville to win 3A-South, 2014 4-A state champ Chesapeake-AA beat River Hill to take the 3A-East, and 2010 state champ C. Milton Wright over Landsdown in a Baltimore-laden 3A-North Regional.  Poolesville will take on Chesapeake in the 3A-final.
  • Maryland 2-A: Middletown won the 2A-East, two-time defending 2-A champ Southern was beaten by former 3-A powerhouse La Plata in the 2A-South final, Fallston won 2A-East and last year’s finalist Eastern Tech won 2A-South.  Middletown and Fallston will battle for the state title.
  • Maryland 1-A:  (mostly smaller schools outside the DC area): Three repeat regional titleists in St. Michaels,  Patterson Mill,  and Pikesville, joined by Boonsboro.  Boonsboro will battle St. Michaels for the state title.

 


DC

  • DCIAA: (2017 playoff bracket): Wilson defeated School Without Walls 7-4 to take the DCIAA title and continue its ridiculous winning streak within DC public school competition.
  • DCSAA: (2017 Playoff Bracket): Gonzaga beat Wilson 9-1 to win the DCSAA baseball title (Wilson upset St. Albans to make the final).

 


Private Leagues: WCAC/MAC/IAC and VISAA/Maryland Private

State-level Private School tourneys:

  • MIAA: Calvert Hall, Spalding and Gilman were the class of the MIAA Class A all  year.  Boys Latin takes the Class B regular season title while St. Johns Catholic is again the Class C regular season title winner.   Loyola came out of nowhere to beat Calvert Hall in the MIAA-A playoffs.  Boy’s Latin beat Severn to take the MIAA-B final.  St. Johns Catholic ended up beating Gerstell 5-0 to win its 4th straight MIAA-C title.
  • VISAA: The VISAA playoff brackets show the top 8 private schools in each Virginia division.  In Division I; DC local schools Paul VI and Potomac School were upset early, with #3 seed Benedictine taking the VISAA Division I title.  The Miller School took the Division II title with defending champ Greenbrier Christian getting upset in the first round.  Southampton Academy repeated as VISSA Division III titleists.
  • We are waiting for the Maryland Private School Tournament to be announced; it should have some of the better private schools from Maryland, including the non-affiliated but perennial powerhouse Riverdale Baptist.  Details coming later.  It should be interesting to see if the big time MD MIAA schools can touch the nationally ranked Riverdale school.

DC-area Private School Leagues


Local and National High School Baseball Ranking Lists:

These National rankings are dominated by teams in Texas, Florida and California, as you might expect.  These teams can play nearly 40 games and usually have at least 15-20 under their belts before DC/MD/VA teams even get going.  So its somewhat of an accomplishment just to have a local team get some recognition.  In fact, any cold-weather state team appearing in these lists is pretty special.


 

Major Newspaper Links/Resources for following prep baseball around the state

  • Washington Post’s AllMetSports section with standings and schedule results.
  • The Baltimore Sun’s high school page has information on some of the programs outside the DC area mentioned in the Maryland section
  • InsideNova.com‘s coverage of high school sports, but has put limits on the number of stories you can read.
  • Richmond Times-Dispatch has a HS scoreboard.
  • Hampton Roads Pilot (Hampton Roads) has scores for teams in the Chesapeake/Norfolk/Va Beach area.
  • NovaBaseballMagazine: great coverage of Prep baseball in NorthernVirginia (thanks to Joe Antonellis for the heads up on this great new resource).

Local Newspaper Coverage, including links to many local papers covering smaller jurisdictions.

Non-newspaper Links for Local and National Prep Baseball Coverage

Good Twitter accounts to follow:

  • https://twitter.com/toddeboss/lists/prepbaseball: I maintain an open list at my twitter account via this link, which contains direct links to dozens of local resources (including all the below).  Way too many retweets from the travel team accounts especially, but its a good way to keep up with local ball.
  • https://twitter.com/PBRVirginiaDC: Prep Baseball Report VA/DC coverage
  • https://twitter.com/NVBaseballMag: NoVa Baseball Magazine
  • https://twitter.com/NoVAHSBB
  • https://twitter.com/DynamicBaseball

Written by Todd Boss

May 25th, 2017 at 3:06 pm

Posted in Local Baseball

Tagged with

Ask Collier 5/22/17 (i’m back!)

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Our newest little Nats fan!

Our newest little Nats fan!

So, after nearly a 3 week hiatus, i’m back.  And what better way to get back into the swing of things than to do a mailbag!  Nats mlb.com beat reporter Jamal Collier was kind enough to post a mailbag last night.

(In case you were wondering where I was, we traveled to China to adopt a little girl.  The above is a picture of her the day after we met her for the first time as we were walking the streets of Jinan, the capital city of the province where she was living in an orphanage :-).  She’s a natural in the curly-W hat).


 

Q: Any sense of urgency from the front office to get pen support? could we see a trade soon or will Rizzo play it cool and wait a bit more?

A: I don’t know how there isn’t a sense of urgency at this point.  We’re nearly a third of the way through the season and the bullpen is in shambles.  As we speak, the Nats bullpen ranks 29th in ERA, 27th in FIP, and 27th in fWAR.  Their best reliever so far in 2017 was a scrap-heap NRI pickup in Matt Albers, who now seems to be closing.  Five different guys have saves.  The two guys who we thought would be in the “closer” discussion ahead of the season (Shawn Kelley and Blake Treinen) have ERAs of 6.08 and 7.78 respectively.  The bullpen has 8 blown saves already, some of which were really, really egregious (like May 9th’s scuttling of Max Scherzer‘s 8 inning shut-down effort in Baltimore).

But its not exactly trade season yet.  You very rarely see trades during this time of year; front offices are preparing for the draft.  Then they’ll spend most of June negotiating with draft picks and making roster decisions on short season squads.  Then there’s the International Signing period leading up to the beginning of July.  Then there’s the all-star break.  Only THEN do you really get into “trade season,” the period in-between the all-star break and the trade deadline on 7/31.  So I’d be kind of surprised to see the Nats pull off a trade right now.  More likely you’ll see more of what they’re doing with Erick Fedde: looking at their AAA and AA teams and wondering who might be able to help.  Fedde could be a nice little 7th/8th inning helper, kinda like Koda Glover was last year.  Perhaps there’s another starter down there who might make sense to do the same in a pinch.  The team still has several options in AAA and on the 40-man roster that they’ve yet to explore: Austin Adams has 31 Ks in 19 innings with a 1.42 ERA for Syracuse so far in 2017 …. to go along with 17 walks (but hey, Enny Romero was able to fix his walk issue, right?).  Trevor Gott‘s numbers aren’t awful.  So perhaps there’s some options.

Oh Side note; the rumor that the Nats had a deal with the White Sox to move David Robertson (AND salary relief!?) for Jesus Luzardo and Drew Ward?   That came from Bob Nightengale from the USA Today, who is one of those reporters who seems to get a lot of “anonymous quotes” from unnamed front office types looking to air dirty laundry, especially from the slimy Chicago White Sox organization (go google his reporting on the Adam LaRoche situation for a decidedly pro-ownership take on that whole situation, trashing the player without anyone taking any credit for the quotes).  So i’m not sure how much credit to give it.  But if its true … then you have to scratch your head as to why the Nats didn’t pull the trigger on that one.  Ward is a limited prospect, completely blocked at the MLB level  and who is Rule-5 Eligible this coming off-season and Luzardo is a lottery ticket coming off TJ surgery who has yet to throw a pitch.  I’d have made that deal in a heart beat; you’re telling me the Nats balked because they didn’t get *enough* money coming back?

Collier says the team is well aware of the issue, is poking around, but as noted above its two months from the trade deadline so there’s not a lot of urgency from other teams.


Q: Does Eric Fedde have a chance that to join the Nats bullpen soon?

A: Duh, yes.  Why else would the team have taken its absolute best starting pitcher prospect  in Erick Fedde and put him in the bullpen mid-May?  I don’t think it was to see how he liked it.  I think it was clearly to fill a need at the MLB level.  And soon.  I’d say they’ll give him a call as soon as he a) shows he can handle pitching back to back days, and b) he clears the super-2 deadline.  When will Super-2 deadline be?  Well, its generally been falling in the 2yr, 135day range.   So we’re right in the range as we speak of being at the super-2 cutoff; to be really safe, teams could wait until the first week of June to do call-ups and likely be clear of the cut-off.  So that works  out well; Fedde gets 3 weeks or so in the bullpen, then gets the call.  That’d be my prediction.

Collier agrees; says absolutely Fedde is coming up in a relief role for 2017 to fill a need, similarly to the way the team moved Trea Turner last year.


Q: When can we expect solis to rejoin the team?

A: Beats me.  Sammy Solis just can’t stay healthy, and his current injury is listed on b-r.com as having “no time table for return.”

Collier reports that Solis is not even throwing yet; i’d say we’re at least a month from seeing him back.  Not good.


Q: Are Trevor Gott, Joe Nathan, and Bryan Harper being considered for call ups in bullpen? 

A: I discussed Gott above: his numbers aren’t stellar but they’re not awful either.  Joe Nathan has been looking his age in AAA: 1.60 WHIP, 5.65 ERA but getting a K/inning.  Does this sound like the bullpen savior?  Bryan Harper had TJ Surgery in November; he’s out the entire year for sure.  So he’s not an option either.

Collier notes that both Gott and Nathan’s numbers are from earlier struggles and both have pitched better lately.  Fair enough; the team has gotten lucky with NRIs so far this year, perhaps Nathan is another possibility.  


Q: When is Dusty going to name Glover as the closer? I think it needs to happen. Let him have a real shot since there are no better options.

A: Who cares who the “Official Closer” is?  You know who has the best bullpen in the Majors?  Cleveland.  You know who Cleveland’s best reliever is?  It isn’t the “closer.”  Its time people started realizing that bullpen usage is evolving.  I don’t care who the guy is getting the useless “save” statistic; I want my best arm pitching in the highest leverage situations, irrespective of what inning it is.  Does Dusty Baker get this?  Probably not … which holds the team back.  But at least  he’s not Matt Williams in terms of bullpen usage idiocy.

Right now Glover seems to be pitching well, but Albers is pitching better.  So those are my late-inning/high leverage go-to guys.

Collier says Baker danced around the issue when most recently asked.  Which isn’t a surprise for a team with 5 different guys who have gotten saves so far this year.


Q: The RHH bench consists of Chris Heisey (0-14 as PH) and Wilmer Difo (1 PH hit?). Upgrades?

A: SSS.  You’re grasping at straws if you’re worried about this team’s offense right now.   Nats team offense is #1 in the majors in BA, #3 in OBP, #1 in Slugging, #1 in wOBA and #3 in wRC+.  For a National league team, that’s astonishing considering that they’re basically punting the Pitcher slot in the order while AL teams have beefy designated hitters in their stead.  So if you asked me if i’m worried about the right handed pinch hitting options, i’d say no.  Heisey was just fine last year, earned his spot this year, and he’ll be ok eventually.   You can’t expect your bench guys to be awesome, all the time; if they were, they wouldn’t be bench guys.

Collier agrees; its early.


 

Q: With Adam Eaton out even as Zimmerman makes a resurgence doesn’t it make this team the exact same team that lost in NLDS?

A: Not really; last year’s team was good offensively but not this good.  Last year  Bryce Harper struggled most of the year; this year he’s back in 2015 form.  You replaced last year’s empty ABs given to Ben Revere and Danny Espinosa with theoretically “better” at-bats from Trea Turner and Adam Eaton to start.  Even with Eaton gone, Michael Taylor hasn’t been completely awful.   But this team won’t go far in the playoffs without some reliability in the bullpen, no matter now many pitchers their starters throw.  That’s your concern right now.

Collier thinks its pretty much the same team, also noting the bullpen as a weakness.

 

 

 

 

2 week hiatus

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Hello all.

I’m traveling out of the country (am already gone) and just wanted to put up a quick post saying that we’ll likely go on a brief hiatus for a couple of weeks.  I return the 19th of May and can’t guarantee the ability to post…

Feel free to use this as a placeholder for the inevitable things to argue about :-)  I can probably pipe in here and there in comments.

Todd

Written by Todd Boss

May 4th, 2017 at 7:01 pm

Posted in Non-Baseball

We miss you: Former Nats from the 2015 team and where they are now

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Did we dodge a bullet by allowing Zimmermann to leave? Photo via The Boston Globe.

Did we dodge a bullet by allowing Zimmermann to leave? Photo via The Boston Globe.

Next in a series moving backwards.  Here was the “We Miss You” for the 2016 team.

Lets go back a year and look at those players gone from the 2015 team.  I’m building these partly from the Nats to Oblivion Posts and partly from my own notes using a combination of players gone via FA, trades, DFAs, to include major league players and significant minor league players.   If a player is still in the org but was just DFA’d off the 40-man, I’ll mostly skip them.  I may miss someone; pipe up in the comments if I have a glaring miss.

I’ll organize this by roughly by the level of the player; major league players who left via FA or trade, then DFA’d/declined players, then minor leaguers of note who departed.

  • Jordan Zimmermann; signed 5/$110M with Detroit and left us with a comp pick, used to take Dane Dunning.  I think its safe to say that Zimmermann’s tenure in Detroit thus far has been disappointing: he had a 4.87 ERA in 2016 and missed half the season, and he’s been even worse this year.  Detroit has to behaving some buyer’s remorse right now.  And he’s signed for 3 more years past this one, at big money.
  • Dan Uggla: The Nats were probably his last stand chance in the majors; hit just .183 and was given just 17 ABs the last two months of the 2015 season.  Never signed for 2016 and seems to be retired.
  • Doug Fister: signed 1/$7M with Houston, to whom he gave 32 starts and 180 innings of mediocrity (4.64 ERA) in 2016.  Apparently still believes he’s worthy of a 25-man spot and refused all offers this past off-season that were not MLB deals.  Remains unsigned as of this writing; he may have to swallow his pride if he wants to keep playing and take a MLFA deal.
  • Ian Desmond signed 1/$11M with Texas after declining Washington’s qualifying offer.  Desmond became kind of the poster child for all the things wrong with the Qualifying Offer season; after turning down a 5yr/$89.5M deal the previous season, he turned down a guaranteed $15.8M offer to eventually sign for $11M.  To add insult to injury, Desmond had to move off of SS for Texas, which was what propped up his value in the first place.  He had an up-and-down season with Texas, starting the year incredibly hot and making the All Star team, but slumping towards the end.  He got saddled with a second QO, which he again signed, but his 2016 season was enough for Colorado to give him perhaps the most inexplicable contract of last off-season, a 5yr/$70M deal … to play first base.  A position he’d never played before.  And Colorado gave up literally the highest unprotected draft pick to do so (the 11th pick in the upcoming 2017 draft).  Desmond suffered a hand injury this spring, and as a result Colorado has installed slugger Mark Reynolds at 1B; he’s done so well that the team is wondering just what they’ll do with Desmond when he returns in early May.  On the bright side for Desmond; at least he finally got paid.  And i’m sure that 100% of Nats fans would take what the team has done at SS since over having a $90M contract on their hands.
  • Denard Span signed 3/$31M with San Francisco, capping a frustrating year for Span and the team.  He only played 61 games for the 2015 team, forcing the Nats to start Michael Taylor and his 30% K rate in CF for a good chunk of the season.  Span’s first season in SF was similar to his first in DC; he struggled offensively.  He’s been even worse in 2017, and is currently on the D/L (in an interesting twist of fate; his replacement on the SF active roster?  None other than Michael Morse).
  • Nate McLouth; The team couldn’t wait to decline his 2016 option and pay his 750k buyout for 2016 after his disastrous stint with Washington.  His contract was ill-advised from the start; did we really need to pay good money to have a “veteran 4th outfielder?”  McLouth missed the entirety of 2015, has yet to sign since, and may have played his way out of baseball.
  • Matt Thornton signed a MLFA deal with San Diego for 2016, got called up after a couple of months in AAA, but struggled.  He posted a 5.82 ERA over the next couple of months and was released in August.  He has not appeared since and now at age 40 is likely done.
  • Casey Janssen was so poor for the Nats that they bought his 2016 out for a cool $1.5M buyout for 2016); he also signed a MLFA deal with San Diego for 2016.  Ah San Diego; the place where pitchers go to resurrect their careers.  He was released in late Spring Training 2016, got picked up with Boston in June of 2016, pitched a bit for their Short-A and AAA teams then was released in early August 2016.  Did not pick up with a team for 2017 and at age 35 with little velocity on his fastball, he may be retired.
  • Reed Johnson got picked back up on a MLFA deal by Washington for 2016 season, but did not make the team out of spring and was released on 4/2/16.  He did not pick up with anyone for 2016 and at age 39 may be retired.
  • Taylor Jordan: After brief stints with the team in 2015, started 2016 in AAA but got hurt in June of 2016, he had a second TJ surgery … and then was released by the club on 6/28/16 to correspond to the Giolito contract addition.  Man, that seems kind of cold to release a guy just after surgery, but his odds of making it back to the majors just took a significant hit.  As of 2017 has not re-signed anywhere and seems a long-shot to do so, with little major league track record and two arm injuries.  Likely out of baseball at this point.
  • David Carpenter: shoulder injury, DFA’d, elected free agency and quickly signed a ML deal with Atlanta for 2016.  However he was cut after just a handful of spring training games; maybe his injury is worse than we thought.  He then bounced from Tampa to the Angels system for 2016, and then signed back with Tampa as a MLFA/NRI for 2017, but was cut on 4/4/17.
  • Emmanuel Burriss: signed MLFA with Philly and lead-off against the Nats in their first visit to Philadelphia in the new season.  He was DFA’d and purchased a couple times by Philly last year, but upon his outright after the season he elected FA and signed a MLFA to return to the Nats for 2017.  He looked like nice utility infielder insurance until he got suspended for a “drug of abuse” in the spring (his second such offense).  He currently sits on Syracuse’s restricted list.  I have to say; his status as the sole DC-bred baseball player in the pros (as far as I can tell) and his playing for the Washington franchise seems to put him in a great post-career outreach position … but now with two drug suspensions on his resume, I wonder if he’s scuttled any such possibility of representing the team in the community.
  • Craig Stammen: fan favorite had an ill-timed injury late in the 2015 season and was non-tendered instead of guaranteeing him a contract for 2016.  He signed a MLFA with Cleveland for 2016 but never made it out of AAA.  I had him as a leading “oblivion candidate” until he signed another MLFA deal for 2017 and made the San Diego opening day roster.  His april has not been good though, sporting an ERA in the mid 8s as of May 1st.  He may be in danger of a DFA, which might spell the end of his MLB career given how the last couple of seasons have gone.  He gave the Nats 3 solid years as a bullpen workhorse that may have led to his eventual wearing out.
  • Tyler Moore never could match the magic of his debut season in 2012, but a series of injuries kept him hanging around in 2014 and 2015 when he may otherwise have been released.  His luck ran out though for the 2016 team, when he got beat out for the RH bench bat by Chris Heisey and he got DFA’d at the end of spring training.  We negotiated a trade of similar discarded assets with Atlanta, trading Moore for Nate Freiman.  Freiman didn’t last three weeks with the AAA team before being released (a measure of just how little we got in return for trade), while Moore got injured early and missed most of the year for AAA Gwinnett.  He signed a MLFA for 2017 with the Marlins and team out of spring training.  He even got a crucial hit against the Nats early in 2017 season, but was soon DFA’d again.  He passed through waivers and was outrighted to New Orleans (where, as noted in the previous post, he joins a litany of former Nats).
  • Xavier Cedeno was the first 25-man DFA of the 2015 season.  He was used 4 times in 5 nights in early April, gave up a couple of runs and then got designated with just 3 IP.  It was an odd move at the time; why was he getting appearance after appearance if the team was going to DFA him?  Why did the team have so little patience with him?  After his DFA, he got purchased by the Dodgers, who then sold him to the Rays 5 days later … and he had 61 appearances with a 2.09 ERA for Tampa Bay the rest of 2015.  He was a solid bullpen arm for them all of 2016 and remains on their team now.  Do you think maybe the team gave up on him too soon?
  • Taylor Hill: Hill was DFA’d to make room for January 2016 signings and was outrighted to AAA, where he pitched the entire 2016 season.  Hill finished out the year for AAA Syracuse with a 4.60 ERA in 27 starts.  He is still with the AAA team for 2017 but has been passed on the depth chart by several guys (Cole, Voth, Fedde) and faces long odds of a return to the majors with this organization.  Additionally, Hill has started the 2017 AAA season by getting shelled; an 8.14 ERA for April.  He may be in serious jeopardy of getting released.
  • Aaron Barrett: Tommy John in 2015, then in June of 2016, he had a major set-back in his TJ recovery, fracturing his elbow.  He has re-signed with the Nats for 2017 and starts the  year on the AAA D/L.  I was happy to see the Nats give Barrett this gesture of signing him so that he can rehab with the team, and I hope it pays off with an eventual return to the fold.
  • Matt Purke got his last shot at salvaging a career with the Nats, who signed him for big-time money ($2.75M as a 3rd rounder in 2011, the last free for all non-capped bonus draft).  He failed to impress again, and the team let him go to free agency.  He signed a MLFA deal with the Chicago White Sox, who assigned him to AAA … and then he earned a call-up by mid May 2016.  The nats were looking rather foolish for cutting bait on a guy who made the Chicago MLB team after just a few weeks.  But his time in South-Side was short lived; he was optioned back to the minors by the end of June, never made it back, was outrighted over the off-season and started 2017 off the 40-man pitching for AAA Charlotte.  He is still wild (8 walks in 11 2017 innings) but he’s only 26 so there may still be time.  But from a Nats transaction perspective, i’m not sure what else they could have done.
  • Yunel Escobar: after a productive season with the Nats, where Escobar played multiple positions and covered for infield injuries galore, he was traded to Los Angeles Angels for Trevor Gott and Michael Brady in the off-season.  At the time of the trade (mid December 2015) Escobar was considered surplus to requirements, in that the team had its infield already spoken for in Anthony RendonDanny Espinosa, and Trea Turner.  Two weeks later the team signed Danny Murphy to play 2B, thus relegating Turner back to AAA to save his service clock.  Escobar was traded to the team with perhaps the worst farm system in the majors; Gott has yet to throw a pitch for the MLB team and Brady is already gone via MLFA, so the return for Escobar is rather paltry.  That being said, I think the league knew we were shopping him, he had just had a career year with a BA 30 points above his career average, and may have been ceiling limited with the expectation of regression.  Since the trade, Escobar has played a solid 3B for the Angels and kept his BA above .300, and has been joined in their infield by fellow Nats reject Espinosa.
  • Drew Storen traded with cash to Toronto for Ben Revere, ptbnl.  I think we’ve litigated the Storen case to death; he was flipped more or less since the acquisition of Jonathan Papelbon and Storen’s undeserved demotion seemed to break him; it was as clear of a case of someone needing “a change of scenery” as I’ve seen with one of our players.  We got a player in Revere that filled a point of need (CF) and one that looked on paper like a good deal at the time.  I think its fair to say now that this trade didn’t work out for either team: Storen put up an ERA north of 6.00 for Toronto, got flipped again to Seattle, and at current sits as the 8th inning guy for one of the worst teams in baseball (Cincinnati).  Meanwhile Revere barely hit the Mendoza line for the Nats, forcing the team to put its SS of the future into CF as a make-shift replacement, and got non-tendered at season’s end.  A crummy end to Storen’s career here, where he remains in 2nd place all time (behind Chad Cordero) in career franchise saves.
  • Kila Ka’aihue,  Ian Stewart, Mike Carp: part of the great 2016 RH bat spring training cattle call; didn’t make the team and were eventually released.
  • Tony Renda traded to Yankees for David Carpenter mid-season in an attempt to buttress the bullpen.  Didn’t work.  Renda may have been my farcical “future hall of famer” before Max Schrock, in that they’re both basically undersized middle infielders that posted good minor league numbers but seem ceiling limited.  Renda got traded to Cincinnati ahead of the 2016 season, had a cup of coffee up there, but got outrighted after the 2016 season and remains on the AAA Louisville roster.
  • Mitch Lively and Evan Meek: both AAA hurlers released from their contracts so they could sign in Japan and Korea respectively.  Lively struggled in Japan and has been pitching in the Mexican league ever since, while Meek also struggled in the KBO and has been playing indy ball ever since.
  • Jose Valverde opted out of his MLFA contract and was released in July; never picked back up for 2015, or 2016.  Kept pitching in winter ball and is now in the Mexican league.
  • Eric Fornataro the off-season waiver claim never made it out of AAA, posting a mid 5 ERA and got released in July.   He picked back up with a MLFA for 2016 with Baltimore, but struggled in AA and was released in May of 2016.  He has not signed since and may be done.
  • Nick Pivetta: traded to Philadelphia for Papelbon.  We know the Papelbon story, and now we know the Pivetta story; he debuted in Philly’s rotation last weekend in LA after a solid year starting in AA and AAA in 2016 and a hot start in Lehigh Valley for 2017.  He may be in a position to haunt the Nats for 6 seasons …. all for a year and a half of tumult out of Papelbon.
  • Dan Butler was a Catcher we received from Boston for Danny Rosenbaum in Jan of 2015; he was a 40-man spot holder for most of the season but served mostly as catcher depth before being DFA’d in July to make room for Papelbon.  He was outrighted to AAA, elected FA after the season and went right back to Boston for 2016.  He remains as their AAA backup catcher.

Did I miss anyone?


Player I most miss from this list: From a Nats “legacy” perspective it was tough to wave good bye to Ian Desmond, who gave this franchise 11 years of his life.  Same with Zimmermann; he was part of the core that turned this team from a laughing stock to divisional winner.

Player Loss I most regret using unfair “hindsight is 20/20” vision: Pivetta.  Even if he’s “only” a 4th starter, he represents all that was wrong with the Papelbon decision.

Player Loss that is the most “We dodged a bullet” situation: Zimmermann’s contract; we thought he’d get overpaid, but a year and a half in his contract looks awful for an aging team that’s moving the wrong direction and has little chance of unseating Cleveland in their own division.