Nationals Arm Race

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

Why exactly did the Nats call up Turner??

61 comments

Turner in a Nats uniform... why?? photo via wp.com

Turner in a Nats uniform… why?? photo via wp.com

In some of the previous posts’ comments sections, I opined that I thought it would be “GM malpractice” to call up uber SS prospect Trea Turner at any point prior to mid April of next year.  My general reasoning including any and all of the following points:

  • the team finally had Ian Desmond hitting decently enough (consistently between about .250-.280 in 1/2/4 week samples going back a month).
  • Danny Espinosa has been a revelation this year, increasing his slash lines across the board and as we speak posting a 99 OPS+ figure.
  • Yunel Escobar being the 2nd most valuable hitter on the team, in addition to wordlessly changing positions as the Nats need dictates.
  • Anthony Rendon finally back on the big club, even if he’s a shell of what he was last year, is still an excellent top-of-the-order MLB hitter.
  • Given the wealth of middle infielders already on the roster (not even mentioning Wilmer Difo or Emmanuel Burriss both of whom have been used already this year in a backup capacity), why call him up to be a backup?

So, given that all four of these middle infield options are (finally) together, healthy and performing relatively decently, what possible rationale would there be to call up Turner??

Why would this team *possibly* want to prematurely start the service time clock on such a polished prospect, unless there was a REAL and ACTUAL need to call him up?  By “real” and “actual” I mean that suddenly the team found itself without an able bodied short stop and found itself in a position where Turner would play full time.

No, that’s not what has happened.  Turner was called up on 8/21/15.  In the five games since, he has two garbage time PAs in a 10-3 loss on his debut and two pinch hit ABs.  He’s played less than 3 whole innings in the field.  What the hell is this team doing??

Matt Williams isn’t going to sit Desmond in favor of Turner.  No way; we’ve seen *time and again* that Williams cow-tows to veterans, ensures that they hit in their preferred lineup spots and play their preferred positions even when evidence shows they’re in need of change.  And even if Williams wanted to sit Desmond … he’s clearly going to play Espinosa in his place, another established vet with a track record and a good 2015 going.  Where exactly is Turner going to play??

I agree whole heartedly with Jim Bowden‘s take: why did the Nats call him up to sit on the bench??  Something is fishy here.  And we’ve harmed the long term benefit of the club in the process.  Instead of waiting til next April to call him up, we’ve needlessly thrown away a year of his career in his prime by starting his service time clock way too soon, and for no reason.  He’s not going to be impactful coming off the bench, he’s not going to play in place of the established regulars Desmond, Escobar and Rendon.  He’s certainly not going to supplant Espinosa as the #1 middle infield option off the bench in case someone gets hurt.  We don’t need a “designated runner” until we’re, you know, actually in the post-season (a concept that seems to be draining by the day thanks to middling losses to 2nd-division teams over and over).

I think this is a clear sign (as Bowden alludes to) that the Mike RizzoMatt Williams working relationship is shot and that this team is quickly heading down the drain of under performance.  But as a long-term fan who thinks Turner’s value to this team is in the next incarnation of the squad, it really infuriates me to see him being wasted on the MLB bench for no reason, costing the team an extra year of his service when he hits his prime.

Written by Todd Boss

August 26th, 2015 at 11:47 pm

61 Responses to 'Why exactly did the Nats call up Turner??'

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  1. I agree with every point you’ve made here except that to note that September playing time does NOT count towards MLB service time, meaning all the Nats have to do is delay bringing Turner up until say early May next year to get that full year of team control back. And with Escobar having been acquired in part to ease the transition between Desmond and Turner, that is certainly not out of the question (though I would also note that if Rizzo had sent Desmond to AAA for just three weeks back in 2010 while Guzman was still in the fold HE would still be under team control for 2016).

    My biggest beef with the move (assuming Rizzo does get that year of control back next season) is that it has robbed Turner of nearly three weeks of regular playing time at Syracuse that he could be using to hone his craft. Since he has committed 11 errors there in just two months and is not considered a plus defender, every game he plays in the minors is extremely valuable.

    Malpractice is a good way to put it. I haven’t previously been one to advocate for Rizzo’s dismissal. However this move is SO bad that combined with the seriously stupid decision to go into the 2015 season with all of its sky high expectations with a closer he obviously had no confidence in for the playoffs, and not drafting any power bats into an organization in desperate need of them makes me wonder if the Nats shouldn’t at least consider the possibility of moving in a different direction.

    Karl Kolchack

    27 Aug 15 at 12:09 am

  2. Yes, I’ve been fighting this battle on the Federal Baseball thread about the topic. There’s no way to justify racing Turner up to the majors for NBGT (Nuttin But Garbage Time). I can’t imagine NGBT was Rizzo’s idea, but MW ain’t playing the guy. Perhaps the dumbest thing all season, and that’s saying something!

    Andrew R

    27 Aug 15 at 12:10 am

  3. Karl I believe September playing DOES count to service time. Where have you seen differently?

    Andrew R

    27 Aug 15 at 12:12 am

  4. September does count towards service time – Turner will put 45 days on the service time clock this year. As long as he stays under 172 for the season next year (i.e., he gets called up the beginning of June) then it’s no harm, no foul. With a projected infield of Rendon, Espinosa/Escobar and Zimmerman that’s almost certainly what happens.

    Turner is up because he’s better than what they had on the bench before (Tyler Moore, Dan Uggla, Matt den Dekker, Emmanuel Burriss) and so he makes them a better team by being there. He’s not starting because he’s not better than the starters. Yet.

    John C.

    27 Aug 15 at 12:32 am

  5. Andrew–John C. might be right. I might have misconstrued the rookie status rules on MLB.com. If John C is right, however, it means the Nats are going to have to do backflips to justify keeping Turner at Syracuse until June if he has a monster spring training–and won’t that be fun?

    Karl Kolchack

    27 Aug 15 at 2:03 am

  6. I’m pretty “meh” about this. I was shocked that they brought Turner up, as I’ve been insisting all year that we wouldn’t see him until 2016. However, I tend to agree with John that Turner does offer a better option off the bench than Uggla or Moore.

    We’ll see. Rizzo is big on managing service time, so it would seem likely that they will push him back to June next year and “restart” the clock.

    Meanwhile, on the field, last night was pretty depressing. The real low-lights that seem typical of the season were Gio’s inability to limit the damage in the 3d, and then Desi swinging from his heals at sliders in the dirt with two runners in scoring position and only needing to slap a single. Trea Turner can’t get here fast enough. Oh, wait, . . .

    KW

    27 Aug 15 at 5:29 am

  7. I am in the KW and John C camp. Not really the move that I would have made, since their MI guys are playing well and there is no way anyone, not just Matty, would play him over those guys right now.

    But I can’t say that I am overly worked up about it: it didn’t cost them a 40 man guy of value, they have ways to manipulate his service time going forward if they want to unwind this (including, shockingly, signing him long term if he proves to be as good as he looks so far, and maybe he shows a spark in his limited opportunities. At worst, it lets a highly thought of prospect get some exposure to the big leagues in a pennant race. I don’t think those pluses outweigh the minuses, just saying that they are the other side of the argument.

    They have now had a chance to get a look at Taylor, Cole, Difo, Turner, Ross and den Dekker this year, to at least help them assess their role for 2016 and 2017.

    Wally

    27 Aug 15 at 7:26 am

  8. I don’t get it either. The Nats never play their call ups unless absolutely forced to by injury. Even when they deserve a consecutive start with a good game. Even under previous managers.

    The service time issue will be hard to manage. Because I don’t see how Escobar plays a decent shortstop next year. His bat has been good but i’ve been surprised by his lack of mobility and athleticism in the field. He has to be the slowest SS in MLB don’t you think? I think he’s been a disaster at 3rd. Playing in so far that many normal outs get by him for hits, much like they did with Zimmerman having to play so far in last couple years. So even playing him at 3rd to start next year automatically weakens the defense again when Rendon is the perfect answer there.

    I’m not sure I buy the fact he has “wordlessly changed postions” as Todd mentioned. They got him to play 2nd this year, but he obviously couldn’t handle it. So 3rd was the only option with Desmond entrenched. His resurgence with the bat changes the outlook as I think they were counting on a .260 type league average guy to hold down the fort, and replace the disaster 2012 -2014 version of Danny, but not necessarily block any prospects. Danny has been solid this year but I still don’t trust him enough with his K tendencies, especially under pressure to warrant blocking a blue chip prospect and a top of the order prospect.

    More importantly… what do you guys think about Strasburg re-signing prospects? Is it already too late? He is a changed man and back to the best version of post elbow blow out Stras since he changed his mechanics on the first DL stint. Looks like a real ace now. We’re kind of boxed in with him as it didn’t make sense to sign him last year with the inconsistency, but now he’s only got 1 year left so will probably decide to go free agent especially with Boras unless they make him a crazy offer. If he is going to stay at or near this level, then he is a super important piece to the future. As Gio is hit or miss, and big question marks on Roarke and the kids to fill out the rotation with real quality in 2017 and beyond.

    Also regarding MW… Why try the experiment with Ramos catching Gio last night? The Lobaton thing was mostly working, and they change it up in a super important game in the midst of a mini win streak. The only thing I can think to give MW props for this year is maybe getting Harper to settle into a mindset at the plate to be elite. But not even sure if that was him or some other mentor or natural progresion that got Harper on track this year.

    Marty C

    27 Aug 15 at 10:36 am

  9. I agree that Esscobar has been poor at third but it is range related. He makes the routine plays and if he hits like this, he’s worth the trade off. As is this version of Espy at SS. So starting the year with Rendon at 2B, Espy at SS and Esco at 3b and Turner at AAA isn’t that much of a stretch, assuming health.

    As for Stras, are you comfortable with 6/$150m based on this stretch? I doubt he forgoes FA for less than that and maybe not even that, but I think it’s the starting point. Personally I have always been a big supporter even through the struggles this year and I would go there, but I doubt many would

    Wally

    27 Aug 15 at 11:30 am

  10. Actually I think that the infield alignment to start next year is 3b Rendon, SS Espinosa, 2b Escobar. That was the original plan this season, but Escobar missed much of Spring Training and then got pressed into service at 3b by Rendon’s injuries.

    Strasburg has been excellent, really excellent, since returning from TJ surgery. His W/L record has been undermined by some bad luck/poor run support, but if you look at either his basic stats (ERA, K’s, IP) or his sabermetric stats (K/BB, WHIP, WAR, etc) he hasn’t been Kershaw but he’s been one of the better pitchers in the game. His wobble to start the season was much more atypical than the run he’s been on his last 6-7 starts.

    John C.

    27 Aug 15 at 12:05 pm

  11. Yeah i would pay Stras 6/$150m. He’s such a name he’d get at least that on the market given what some teams have paid for the Smardzija’s and Edwin jacksons’. I just think our rotation is looking really iffy without him. And he doesn’t seem like the kind of personality that would handle walk year FA pressure as well as some if he’s unsigned. Think you need two real aces and then fill in with kids to balance the budget. Giolito walks and hits a lot of batters it still.. Will be easier to work him in at bottom of rotation than to count on him to be ace level from the start. I would just plan on big salaries for Max, Stras, Rendon & Harper. Then let kids & cheap vets fill out the balance of the roster for the future as Werth and Zimm fall off the books. I like seeing the prospects & even cheap reclamation guys get their chances rather than overpay flawed expensive guys like Desmond, Ramos types who will eat up a lot of salary and block prospects for years.

    In a couple years I like the look of Robles, Meija and Marmolejos- Diaz to get a look. Lots more roster flexibilty, platoon potential, & rental for immediate needs potential when you don’t have $10 million plus players all over the diamond who you’re scared to bench when they’re struggling.

    What abut Span? Do you sign him for a few more or let him go? I like Taylor to get time but you know the management is too chickenshit to ever sit Werth if he doesn’t have broken bones. So a Span/ Taylor decision I guess. If Turner up makes Span easier to let go at leadoff. Then again, can we afford to let any good consistent players like Span walk?

    Marty C

    27 Aug 15 at 12:31 pm

  12. I would bring back Span, at least throw a QO offer on him and get 1 more year, or use it to negotiate a short term deal. He has been very productive and important when healthy, and so long as they don’t think his back issues will be recurring, he should be a good player the next 2-3 years. I like having the 4 OFs then, with a den Dekker or CRob type as the 5th. Speaking of encouraging signs for next year, I have to say that Zim looks good. I was pretty worried, given the nature of his injury, but he looks like the old Zim at bat to me. Not just the GS, he has been making hard contact for weeks.

    I think Escobar’s range issues will be very noticeable at 2b. That has to be why they never moved him back there. They are willing to take a kid like Turner and play him there with virtually no prep, so I have to believe that there is more to the Eacobar at 3b story than just a lack of a full ST.

    As for Harper, I see almost no way he signs an extension. I mean, what would it take for him and Boras to bypass FA? 12 years? $400m? I don’t see it happening. Stras is unlikely but Harper even more, to me.

    Wally

    27 Aug 15 at 12:59 pm

  13. There will be a lot of pressure to sign Harper if he continues strong play. A superstar everyday player is so more valuable for box office than once every 5th day. I wouldn’t be sad if they didn’t sign him at that price level though. Impossible to live up to those salary expectations unless you’re a juiced up Barry Bonds level. Every strike out at that price would be moaned upon. I’ll just enjoy the cheapish years we got to watch him, and hope somewhere we get a superstar bat in the pipeline before he leaves.

    Yes Zimm looks so much better. You have to wonder if he got one of those magic injections to mask his ailments. Love that guy so I hope he keeps it up. Can’t believe Esco and MW letting him go 3-0 swing last night with Zimm on deck and the pitcher not coming near a strike. Not the every day situation you give 3-0 green light to a slow singles hitter, and totally selfish team play wise.

    Marty C

    27 Aug 15 at 3:11 pm

  14. Marty C–three years is a long time, of course, but the way it looks right now the Nats have placed themselves in a position where Boras will have them over a barrel regarding Harper. This team has NO power hitters coming up through the system. Imagine just how bad their offense would be without Harper. They’d probably get shut out 35 times a year.

    Based on what the Marlins gave Stanton, I’ll bet $350 million will be the STARTING bid for Harper, and he could become the first $400 million guy given that he’s a better hitter even if his home runs aren’t as telegenic.

    Karl Kolchack

    27 Aug 15 at 6:19 pm

  15. Todd, I’m in agreement here.
    This was a panic move by Rizzo, and looks especially bad with Turner rotting on the bench.

    Any doubts as to Williams clueless-ness were erased when he had Ramos catching Gio last night. This despite the fact that his E.R.A. with Lobaton is 2.5 runs better. The milquetoast press of course didn’t call him on it after the game.

    Mark L

    27 Aug 15 at 7:26 pm

  16. Sorry for radio silence; I am on travel and hadn’t really had the time to throw a post together, nor comment. Too many thoughts to post here on this well discussed thread.

    Todd Boss

    27 Aug 15 at 8:02 pm

  17. Does this mean you have the nerve to have a personal life?

    Shame on you :)

    Mark L

    27 Aug 15 at 10:23 pm

  18. I would trade Stras and Escobar this offseason. I saw a report that the Nats are going to trade Storen per his request. My target would be Tyson Ross – one Ross brother is good, but two would be better and I’m sure Stras would love to go back to SD.

    I think the Nats will make every effort to re-sign Harp this offseason and believe a deal can get done. It will be in the $400MM+ range, but nobody is worth it more than he is. Sign a check, let him fill in the amount.

    Andrew R

    28 Aug 15 at 12:02 am

  19. Boras has always said that he’s open to extensions with his guys, including Harper and Stras, if the price is right. By that he means something in the Trout/Stanton/Kershaw contract ballpark, and with an opt-out. Harper had not proven that he was in that league until this season. Now he has, so now we can talk. And I would talk. The Nats can replace pitchers. They won’t be able to replace a hitting superstar just entering his prime at the time he would leave. And if Harper does go on the FA market, he’s gone from DC, almost guaranteed.

    Extending Stras would be a tough call. The new and improved Stras looks very close to the hurler we always hoped he would be. Has he shown enough to warrant being paid like a top-10 ace? Close call. I would do 6/$150M I think, but with his injury history and inconsistency, I wouldn’t be jumping up and down about it. I don’t think that would get it done, though. At Stras’s age, Boras is going to be looking for 8-10 years, with at least $25M per.

    To me, the impediment of trying to talk about a Stras extension is that the Harper extension is already the #1 priority.

    Stras does seem to have resurrected his stuff to the point that he would have trade value, so that is something that would have to be considered. I would be surprised if it happened, but it does have to be considered.

    And yes, I think they’ll be looking to trade Storen.

    KW

    28 Aug 15 at 6:46 am

  20. Why trade Storen? Doesn’t seem like a clubhouse problem, he’s very good and he wouldn’t bring back that much. They should pay him an arb salary as if he closed all year, and that should smooth over most things. He won’t be completely happy but I think he’ll do his job effectively.

    I’d bring back Jannsen too. He’s been a good 7th inning guy, once he got healthy.

    Wally

    28 Aug 15 at 6:55 am

  21. I would think the Storen trade possibility would be more a cost thing, as with Clippard. But the Nats will be clearing a lot of salary with JZim, Desi, Span, Fister, and McLouth (remember him?) coming off the books, so we’ll see.

    The Nats have a $7M option on Janssen and will probably pick it up.

    KW

    28 Aug 15 at 7:45 am

  22. I think Storen has made his case to ask for and get a trade. You don’t lose your job when you have a 1.75 ERA and not ask to be moved to any one of the 10 teams likely looking for a better closer for 2016.

    Todd Boss

    28 Aug 15 at 8:47 am

  23. Storen is free to ask to be moved; there’s ample precedent. The Nationals are also free to not move him if they don’t get an offer that they like. Ask John Lannan about that. Well, if you can find him.

    John C.

    28 Aug 15 at 9:02 am

  24. Lannan is in Albuquerque (Rockies AAA), where he sports a 5.50 ERA. Roger Bernadina is a teammate.

    KW

    28 Aug 15 at 10:01 am

  25. Getting back to the current season, it is interesting to note that the Mets are now half a game ahead of the Dodgers. It would be a HUGE development if the NL East winner didn’t have to open in Chavez Ravine against Greinke and Kershaw. So the Nats now also have six games to make up on the Dodgers . . .

    Of course Span (2d on the team in OPS+) is now back on the DL and possibly done for the season. So the Nats only got 2+ games from their projected lineup out of 162. Wow.

    KW

    28 Aug 15 at 12:06 pm

  26. Span is having surgery and is done. So is McLouth. I’m sure he’s sending his refund in the mail. There’s also a report that Gio is now represented by Boras. Lovely.

    KW

    28 Aug 15 at 2:23 pm

  27. Gio switching to Boras means approximately bupkus to the Nats, because he’s under team control through 2018 with a team option in 2017 and a vesting option in 2018.

    John C.

    28 Aug 15 at 3:44 pm

  28. J.C.- I think the key word here is bubkis.
    No approximation necessary..

    Of course none of this matters if Rizzo can’t admit a mistake and replace MW.

    Look up clueless in the dictionary and you’ll find a picture of Matt Williams!

    Mark L

    28 Aug 15 at 10:43 pm

  29. On Trading Storen. I have complete sympathy for him and would support moving him to another team for the benefit of the player. Not quite the same situation as Lannan’s; Lannan was clearly beat out in the starting pitcher competition the year he got sent to AAA. Storen has a legitimate argument that he was *better* than Papelbon before being acquired. In fact, the Papelbon acquisition reeks of ownership-mandated move, not Rizzo’s (who seems to “get it” with regard to the fungible nature of closers). Anyway, yes I know that ownership doesn’t “have” to trade him. But you have to think that Storen’s presence next year if and when he demands a trade would be to the detriment of team chemistry.

    Rizzo flipped Capps after half a season for a starting catcher. You have to think he can find a buyer for a “proven closer” even in the modern game where GMs are smarter about such things. You still need power arms in the 8th and 9th inning and i’d rather move Storen to acquire something we need than have him making waves in the papers. Look what Clippard got us in return and imagine what Storen could get in return as well.

    Todd Boss

    29 Aug 15 at 10:08 am

  30. Span: i guess we’re not going to offer him a QO now, eh?

    McLouth and Reed Johnson: maybe Rizzo has finally learned his lesson on spending big money for veteran backups. $10M for McLouth; you cannot tell me that the team wouldn’t have been better served by having every single one of McLouth’s innings in CF and at bats for the last two years taken by Taylor or some 4-A guy like Robinson. What a waste. We have a farm system with literally hundreds of guys; why spend money on a spare part?

    Todd Boss

    29 Aug 15 at 10:10 am

  31. I agree with that Todd. Plus it’s more fun for the real fans to see some of the home grown guys we’ve heard about get a little shot every once in a while. Would be good for morale in the minors too if they think that success there might get them a shot earlier than later.

    If I was a minor league player in our system my mantra would be “Don’t Strike Out!” As this team desperately needs some high OBP guys.

    Marty C

    29 Aug 15 at 3:30 pm

  32. The McLouth contract didn’t work out because McLouth was injured both seasons. Filling in the $5-10M role players is easier if you know who’s going to get hurt and who isn’t. Juan Uribe has been one of those the last 3-4 years and has been well worth the cost. The Yankees always seem to have a couple of those guys kicking around (Chris Young types).

    A torn labrum in the hip is not a career-ending injury; I expect that Span will still get a QO and the Nats would be OK in the very unlikely event that he accepts. He’ll easily get more than 2x the guaranteed money by going free agent, even if he doesn’t get anywhere near the $16M AAV.

    John C.

    29 Aug 15 at 9:55 pm

  33. Definitely give the QO to Span and I hope he takes it. He’d be a great starting left fielder next season (still hoping for Harper in LF and Taylor in RF with Werth as the 4th of and backup 1b getting 4-5 starts/week).

    I would never pay any FA $3-9MM/yr… Ever. That is the going rate for a role player, as Todd says. Brian Goodwin, as bad as he’s been, could have filled the Johnson, McL 5th OF role just fine. How hard is it to hit .220 and play good defense? Meanwhile, Treinen and Rivero have been quite the finds and are comparable to Janssen (who I like) and Thornton (who I think is borderline washed up) at a much lower cost.

    We need to focus on signing Harp and Rendon… Now. Going with young guys at the non core positions is essential to having the funds to pay the stars.

    Andrew R

    29 Aug 15 at 10:41 pm

  34. I had been supporting the QO to Span, but now they are saying 4-6 month recovery time from the surgery. That has to put the beginning of the season in jeopardy, so not sure it still makes sense for a QO, although maybe he goes for a $10m pillow deal to show he is healthy.

    Wally

    30 Aug 15 at 1:38 pm

  35. The Nats have arrived at a 10-game stretch that will probably define the season: three at the Cards, four at home against the Braves, and then three with the Mets. Yet all this town wants to talk about is which scrub QB will lead the local 11 on its next 3-13 campaign. Ugh.

    Anyway, here we go. The Nats have to stay in the race over the next seven for the three against the Mets to mean anything. Werth, Zim, and Rendon are back and connecting. No excuses. The starting pitchers have to get it done, though.

    KW

    31 Aug 15 at 8:00 am

  36. It’s late enough that they have to approach each series thinking Hey have to pickup a game over the series. Anything less and they just run out of time, absent some big swing. The hell with the Cardinals, if the Nats want to take the division, they need to take two of these games.

    Wally

    31 Aug 15 at 11:02 am

  37. QO to Span: we’d be fools to offer it. but then again, if Cuddyer passed up a QO so he could sign a two year AAV of about 60% of the guaranteed dollars … maybe there’s “collusion” going against the QO system by the player’s union. Who knows.

    Todd Boss

    31 Aug 15 at 11:10 am

  38. KW: key 10 game stretch; absolutely. I’ll go one step further: if the Nats don’t don’t go like 7-3 or 8-2 in this section (including a 3 game sweep of NYM) then they’re done. Meanwhile the Mets’ next 7 games are a bit easier; against Philly and Miami. Nats’ work cut out for them. big time.

    Todd Boss

    31 Aug 15 at 11:20 am

  39. QO for Span is NOT going to happen. If the team wasn’t willing to risk giving one to Edwin Jackson, who was at the time a perfectly acceptable #4 starter, no way they will give it to a 32-year old speedster who already had a lost season due to injury and for whom there is no guarantee he’ll even be ready on Opening Day 2016.

    At least Desmond has rebuilt his value enough to where it is no longer a risk to offer him the QO. Two compensation picks will make it much easier for the team to sign a front line free agent (cough, cough…Justin Upton…cough, cough), since with Harper entering his prime and Scherzer not getting any younger they cannot afford to go into deep rebuilding mode.

    Karl Kolchack

    1 Sep 15 at 12:07 am

  40. There also isn’t going to be much drama on the September call up front given that almost every player on the 40-man roster has already appeared in at least one game for the big club. My dark horse to get his first call up is Pedro Severino since teams almost always call up a 3rd catcher in September and I believe the Nats will have to place him on the 40-man this winter anyway to protect him from the rule 5 draft.

    It almost certainly will not be Goodwin given that they didn’t think he was good enough to even be promoted to a Syracuse team that at mid-season was flirting with having the worst record in all of minor league baseball. Goodwin didn’t fill the 4th or 5th OF role this year for one big reason: he can’t even hit AA pitching.

    Karl Kolchack

    1 Sep 15 at 12:17 am

  41. Why not just call everyone on the 40man up? The minors teams aren’t making the playoffs. Are there just not enough lockers? Or are the vets concerned that the rooks will eat too much of the pre-game buffet?

    Andrew R

    1 Sep 15 at 12:56 am

  42. Last night (Mon.) hurt. They took the lead late in StL and just totally blew it, while the Mets won again.

    Here’s another vote for Severino up as a third catcher, which would require a 40-man move. They’ll also have to make a 40-man move to active Reed Johnson. One figures to be Span to the 60-day. The other would be a DFA: Erik Davis, Taylor Hill, or Goodwin.

    I assume they’ll activate/bring up Uggla, T-Mo (eligible on Thurs.), Difo, and a bunch of arms, like Cole, Jordan, Grace, Solis, and Martin. They make keep some of those working at AAA as there won’t be that many innings for them with the big club. Roark will keep stretching out in the minors until they’re ready to shut down Ross.

    KW

    1 Sep 15 at 5:23 am

  43. I feel like last night’s game puts the nail in the playoffs this season. I have such little confidence in this year’s team that I decided to turn it off after the Zim homer, feeling like I’d end it on a high note. I am glad I didn’t have to watch them fall apart like they apparently did. Hopefully they don’t tailspin down now, because a loss like that can do that to a team.

    I think the call ups have to be used with a dual purpose to also get some looks at next season, so Difo and Cole, Grace, Martin for sure. Cole has put together a nice 2d half. Severino is ok, although I see Lobo coming back next year, so it isn’t a rush. I am a Jordan fan, but I don’t think he is in the teams plans in any real way, so maybe he can get a start or two as a trade audition. I’d like to see him get a chance somewhere, given his age.

    God, I am tired of watching Werth.

    Wally

    1 Sep 15 at 6:57 am

  44. Last night biggest downer of the season and a hilarious fail by Matt Williams. Any fool could see that Jansen had nothing last night from the first pitch. And with his limited tools to start with, Jansen with nothing might be worst in the league bad.

    To leave him in there to blow all of a lead garnered from a hero, season saving, come from behind home run from Ryan is just baseball malpractice.

    I don’t even care what Jansen’s long term or recent stat’s say… In this day and age you can’t have a righty back end reliever who struggles to throw 87 mph. A backend reliever who did not throw a swing and miss strike in 30 pitches.

    Total fail by Matt Williams. I don’t blame Jansen as he is just washed up and doing the best he can. Rizzo fail even having that guy on the roster. Clippard trade really haunted us this year. Was only a few million salary save since we’re paying Jansen big salary, and we could have gotten Escobar in trade from A’s for other spare parts other than Clippard. Esco was not a core player in A’s plan, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the A’s deal to get him in the first place wasn’t prearranged with Clippard deal in place. Nice to have Esco but we gave up the wrong asset at the wrong time to get him.

    Werth is going to have to start hitting at an All Star level to make up for that horrific defense. Not really news as he was just as bad in right field last year. Sort of a problem spot there.

    Rendon i’m liking less and less the more I see him. ( As far as elite player concerned). Nice tools but he is not clutch at all. Saves his K’s and worst at bats for some crucial moments, and he seems to be striking out more this year. I can’t remember any walk offs or late game – game winning hits on his resume. The guy hates the spotlight, and that’s not a good recipe for clutch or team leader type. Hope that changes as he matures. (Yes I do remember his couple low leverage singles early in the Giants playoff series) Rendon almost always takes the first pitch which seems to be the most hittable pitch he gets. He takes that get ahead meatball strike every time then has to battle from behind vs. the nastier stuff. Wish he’d be more ready to mash some of those down the middle first pitches.

    Marty C

    1 Sep 15 at 8:49 am

  45. Tired of watching Werth? The guy who went 2-4 with a walk and a double yesterday? No, he didn’t get Heyward’s double over his head yesterday – but I’m not sure there are 3 left fielders in MLB that do get that one. It was a much tougher play than, for example, Bryce’s critical drop in the 3 run dink & dunk inning off of Gio.

    John C.

    1 Sep 15 at 8:51 am

  46. If I was in charge of this team, I’d fire Matt Williams TODAY and try to get someone to rally and motivate this team for the stretch run. I just can not believe they blew that game.

    i was all ready to type up a post slamming Methany for his idiotic bullepn management that enabled the Nats to get the lead in a game they never deserved to lead. But Williams gave it all back by leaving all his best arms on the sidelines, YET AGAIN.

    Where’s the sense of urgency in this team? Its September 1st; these are all must win games. You have to start playing them like play off games.

    They’re 6.5 games out. If the Mets play .500 ball the rest of the way they’ll be at 89 wins. To get to 89 frigging wins at this point the Nats will need to finish 23-9. Now, the team went nearly 23-9 in the month of May (they were 21-6 between the Uggla homer game on 4/28 and the Strasburg D/L game on 5/27). So they *can* win games. But the Mets have an even easier schedule than the Nats and clearly have the starting pitcher advantage.

    Give me a manager who will lead with a sense of urgency and stop giving away games in the 7th and 8th inning and maybe this team can rally.

    Todd Boss

    1 Sep 15 at 9:13 am

  47. Remind me again why the F*ck they called up Trea Turner? 9 at bats now, barely any playing time, and now sitting behind Espinosa as the “backup middle infielder.” WTF.

    Todd Boss

    1 Sep 15 at 9:22 am

  48. Total fail by Matt Williams.

    I am pretty much in agreement on this one. I would have hooked Janssen for Rivero much faster. Of course, Rivero got knocked around when he did come in, so I’m not sure the total fail made the difference last night.

    we could have gotten Escobar in trade from A’s for other spare parts other than Clippard.

    Assumes facts not in evidence.

    [Rendon has] [n]ice tools but he is not clutch at all.

    Interestingly, in addition to his being (with Harper) one of the only two bats to show up in the postseason last year, Rendon’s numbers are actually better in 2015 in high leverage situations (.280/.406/.360/.766) than they are overall (.270/.352/.365/.717).

    John C.

    1 Sep 15 at 9:22 am

  49. FWIW, I believe that they called up Trea Turner because he is/was better than the bench options than they had (Tyler Moore, Emmanuel Burriss, Matt den Dekker). He’s not getting much playing time because there is no particular reason to believe that, as a 22yo rookie, he’s going to be better than the starters. But the team is somewhat better from a “best 25 players available” standpoint with Turner on the roster. The “development” cost is that Turner misses a total of about 15 minor league games – when he’s already played 116 minor league games this year and they can send him to the AFL if they want to. I don’t see that as significant at all. Much more importantly, they do hang 45 days on his service clock, which will affect decisions they make next year. On the plus development side, Turner gets a taste of the majors, which is hard to quantify but isn’t nothing either.

    But I doubt this decision was made for next year. Interestingly, it’s the one move that seems to show a sense of urgency by the organization; the idea being that they may need that one run they score because of Turner’s 75-80 speed to win one particular, critical game.

    John C.

    1 Sep 15 at 9:30 am

  50. Another thing (in addition to Zimmerman’s heroics yesterday) that the bullpen follies will obscure is a very good start under tough conditions by Gio Gonzalez. The three runs he gave up were mostly generated by typical Cardinals hits(tm) – only the last hit by Reynolds was truly well struck. A one out walk followed by Heyward’s perfectly placed slow chopper. Molina hits the ball to RF that Harper took a bad route to (fooled by the swing) and couldn’t keep in his glove to score the first run and then a grounder up the middle just out of range of the diving Rendon (again making one wish for Rendon at third, Espinosa at second, but hey).

    But with two on and still only one out, on the road against the best team in the league Gonzalez rallied, stopped the bleeding and retired the last eight batters in a row and gave his team a chance to win the game. That showed real mental toughness. But because of the Williams/Janssen/Rivero show few will remember it.

    Gonzalez has been mind-bogglingly unlucky this year – despite a batted ball profile that is essentially his career normal (better, if anything; his GB% of 53.5% is easily a career best) his BABIP is over 50 points higher than his career norm. With an infield defense that has featured Escobar at third, Desmond’s early season woes and stretches of Clint Robinson at first and Dan Uggla at second, Gio picked a bad year to get ground balls. The Nats are a bottom five team in defensive efficiency, and that’s not really the pitchers’ fault.

    John C.

    1 Sep 15 at 9:46 am

  51. JohnC; you’re always harping on how “lineup construction” is basically meaningless, because across a large enough sample there’s almost no benefit.

    Well, I ask you now; are you really standing by your argument that the 25th guy on a 25 man roster is going to make THAT much of a difference on this team? How many at bats do you envision him really getting this season? By his current pace i’m putting it at about 30. So in those 30 plate appearances, is Turner *really* going to be that much better than giving those at bats to someone like Burriss? If Turner hits .250 and Burriss hits .200 in those 30 PAs, what do you think the marginal improvement in WAR or WPA really is??

    This issue is ENTIRELY about his service time. Not his “development” in AAA or whether or not he can “benefit” by sitting on the MLB bench for 6 weeks.

    More and more i’m in complete agreement with Bowden on this issue; this is someone forcing a player on Williams and Williams digging in his heels and saying “fck off i’m the manager and i’m playing who i want.” Desmond has been hot. Rendon is back, Escobar has been the 2nd best hitter and Espinosa has rebounded. None of those statements is in question, so there’s just no reason and no excuse to call him up. Never was, still isnt. IF one of these four guys got hurt? No problem; call up Turner and he’s the super sub. But THAT WASN’T WHAT HAPPENED. Turner got called up and has basically gotten garbage time pinch hitting opportunties.

    A complete waste and a serious lack of vision from this team’s management. There has to be more to this story.

    Todd Boss

    1 Sep 15 at 9:49 am

  52. I agree that the service time is the important part of the Turner calculation; it does hamper them next season. That tells me that they are not likely to trade any of their middle infielders, and that the plan is likely to go with an infield of Rendon-Escobar-Espinosa-Zimmerman in 2016.

    John C.

    1 Sep 15 at 10:25 am

  53. “Rendon-Escobar-Espinosa-Zimmerman”

    I’d amend that to say that the team likely has an open tryout for the two middle infield positions between Espinosa, Escobar and Turner to determine who plays SS full time, who slides to 2B and who is the backup. I tend to think the competition will have Turner at SS, Escobar at 2B and Espoinsa back as the super sub but you never know. From what I can gather from scouting reports:
    – Espinosa > Turner > Escobar in terms of defensive capabilities at short. Turner is “fast” and has good range but isn’t know for a great arm while Espinosa was always a superior defender in terms of his range and arm. Escobar’s on the wrong side of 30 and was horrible defensively in 2014 in a FT role at short and to me makes more sense at either 2B or 3B.
    – Escobar > Espinosa > Turner in terms of MLB bat at the current moment. Only makes sense given what we’ve seen out of the first two this year at the plate.
    – Espinosa > Escobar > Turner in terms of power of course .. but power only takes you so far…
    – Escobar > Turner > Espinosa in terms of longer term projected hit tool at the major league level. Espinosa is now hitting in 2015 practically identical slash values to his 2011 and 2012 seasons. We know what we have. Turner’s minor league stats have been constant at every level … not that that means anything moving to the majors from AAA but that’s the projection.

    So we’ll see. Since Turner’s service clock is blown, he’s ready to play from opening day 2016. If he wins the job (either 2B or SS) then so be it. Start him from day one and stick with him.

    Todd Boss

    1 Sep 15 at 10:44 am

  54. Yes, tired of watching Werth. I wasn’t blaming him for last nights loss, although see how it came off like that. He is an AL player now. If the Nats used him for 400-450 PAs and hit him up top or down in the order, it might be fine. But the way it is now, I think overall he is just a marginal player and as they make over the team, they should go younger and improve their D. In general, the Nats give away way too many runs and that has to change next year.

    I agree that Gio put together a good effort last night. I haven’t looked at the stats on his year, and his command seems worse to me this year, but maybe that is just my feeling, rather than substantiated by numbers, but he hung tough last night.

    Wally

    1 Sep 15 at 10:56 am

  55. Done with Werth also. I sit in left field and routinely watch him lollygag out to the field and after balls. He looks miserable out there. And, despite being decent the past few weeks, he’s killed the team this year with a Mendoza average. Are we really going to bet on a rebound in his age-37 season?

    Andrew R

    1 Sep 15 at 1:34 pm

  56. I’m not going to say that it would be impossible to move Werth and his remaining 2/$42M to an AL team, but it would take Rizzo’s biggest miracle to do it, along with the Nats paying some of the freight. Failing that, there are a couple of alternatives. One would be to try to get Werth to swap with Zim at 1B, which by all accounts he has been reluctant to do. The other would be to bite the bullet, sign someone like JUp or Heyward, and tell Werth he’s not an everyday player anymore. I think that scenario would be even less likely than a trade, though.

    Sigh. I’m still trying to cling to hope for this season. Last night was another dagger, though, as was Friday. The Nats lost eight games in August where they scored at least four runs, and four where they scored five or more. Five used to be the magic number. MASN used to flash the stat when they hit five, as they were something like 30-1 last year when that happened.

    Todd’s comment about how Matheny had already done his job to blow it plays into my general theory that there are not really any baseball managers who are truly smarter than their peers. Matheny is well thought of, as is Bochy, but they both have done some really questionable things this season just in the small sample size of games against the Nats. Bochy mishandled several things when the Nats swept the Giants on 4th of July weekend. My point is that while it looks like Williams should have to go after this season – which is no certainty since Rizzo would have to admit failure to fire him – I don’t have a lot of hope of the Nats finding someone *that* much better. There’s no Belichik, Popovich, or Phil Jackson out there in baseball, no one just obviously smarter than everyone else. Just a few guys who are a little less dumb.

    KW

    1 Sep 15 at 2:07 pm

  57. Honestly, the real “best way” to get rid of Werth would probably be to work a trade with the Dodgers, who are using their financial weight to new heights. If the Nats offered Werth and a prospect or two to LA, they’d probably take the full contract back and install Werth as a role player while gladly writing the checks and taking the prospect. Werth’s always been kind of a “bad body language” player, even at his best. So i’m not entirely on the anti-Werth bandwagon. I’m happy he’s back at leadoff, where I have written before he’s well suited due to his patience at the plate and his OBP.

    Honestly, last night was probably the last straw for me. I went to bed the moment Zimmerman hit the homer, laughing at Matheny’s idiocy. Was none too happy to see that Williams gave it right back this morning. Honestly I did not think Matheny was that highly thought of as a managerial mind … he had zero experience prior to getting the job and i recall seeing more than a few articles questioning him. Bochy definitely showed bullpen mismanagement in last year’s post-season. but there’s definitely a few managers who get it and who are well respected. Here’s the current list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Major_League_Baseball_managers

    I’d take Joe Maddon, Clint Hurdle, Buck Showalter, Terry Francona, Joe Girardi any day.

    Todd Boss

    1 Sep 15 at 2:39 pm

  58. Agrrrrrrrrrrrh!!!!

    KW

    2 Sep 15 at 7:32 am

  59. PS – That’s not a commentary on Todd’s response, but on Tuesday night, and Monday night, and, well, the whole season.

    KW

    2 Sep 15 at 7:33 am

  60. new posted a rant that was brewing since monday night.

    Todd Boss

    2 Sep 15 at 9:44 am

  61. of all prop 8 supporters, but it’s absurd to translate that blame to Mormons just because they’re a more visible target.“How does it limit the rights of others to allow gay marriage? I don?t get that at all.”It doesn’t limit the rights of others to allow gay marriage. These gays have (and perhaps yourself?) attempted to limit Mormons’ rights to participate in our society without fear of violent retaliation. It is ridiculous and astounding that you would defend such behavior by saying, “if you can’t stand the heat…”

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