Nationals Arm Race

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

Nationals/MLB Pitching Staff Year in Review; 2015

60 comments

Scherzer will always have his no-hitters from 2015. Photo via thesportsquotient.com

Scherzer will always have his no-hitters from 2015. Photo via thesportsquotient.com

Here’s the first in a 7-part series where we delve into the pitching staffs from start to end, from the majors all the way to the GCL.  We start with the rotations, review all the starters and then hit up the relievers.  We try to predict as we go, which I’ll summarize at the end with a big “2016 predictions” piece.

Here’s 2013’s post and then 2012’s post.  We never got to 2014 as I was switching jobs and this series takes a ton of time and I couldn’t do it.

All stats are courtesy of either Baseball-Reference page or via Fangraphs page.  Also useful here are the Big Board and the Nats Draft Tracker as always.

Washington starters.  The rotation at the beginning of the season was Scherzer, Zimmermann, Strasburg, Gonzalez, Fister.  By the end of the season it was basically the same, with Roark replacing Ross who had replaced Fister.

  • Max Scherzer: 14-12 with a 2.79 ERA, 0.918 whip with 276/34 K/BB ratio in 228.2 IP (33 starts).  Look at that K/BB ratio again: that’s more than 8 strikeouts for every walk for a power pitcher.  His season also included two no-hitters (both of which easily could have been perfect games) and a one-hitter, and by one measure (Game Score) his season-ending 17-K no-hitter was nearly the best pitching 9-inning performance ever.  If you needed another excuse to ignore W/L records, just look at Scherzer’s record on the year given his peripherals.  But even given his season on a macro level, some were rather disappointed in Scherzer because in August, when the chips were down and this team collapsed, he was 0-3 with a 6.43 ERA in 5 starts.  Nonetheless, Scherzer more than earned his salary in 2015 and I see no reason not to expect similar results in 2016.  Outlook for next season: 2nd straight opening day start.
  • Jordan Zimmermann: 13-10, 3.66 ERA, 1.205 whip with 164/39 K/BB over 201.2 IP (33 starts).  His ERA was a point higher than in 2014, his WHIP was 10% higher and his FIP was inflated to a very un-Zimmermann 3.75 level.  Not exactly the walk year season he was hoping for.  Nonetheless, Zimmermann should make out like a bandit on the FA market, where he occupies the lead spot in the 2nd tier of FA pitchers and should do just fine.  Unfortunately, it seems like his time in DC is up; we don’t know the size or length of the contract extension he turned down, but it seems obvious that the team didn’t give him what he and his advisers thought he deserved.  He’ll be oft-mentioned in the coming weeks as he finds a new home and it’ll be a shame to see him go.  Outlook for next season: pitching for another team: Signed with Detroit for 5yrs/$110M.
  • Stephen Strasburg: 11-7, 3.46 ERA, 1.107 whip with 155/26 K/BB in 127 IP (23 starts).   His end-of-the-year numbers don’t look nearly as bad as the debacle that his season really was.   He had a 6.55 ERA through his first 10 starts, then missed most of June and July with two separate D/L trips.  Upon his return, he was awesome, dropping his season ERA from 5.16 to 3.46 thanks to 9 quality starts (out of 10) and 5 double-digit strikeout games.  But, the damage was done; he was awesome down the stretch in a series of games that ended up being meaningless.  On the bright side, the Nats likely save a few million dollars in their arbitration case.  Lets just hope that whatever he finally figured out in Aug and Sept continues into next season.  Outlook for next season: Nats #2 starter.
  • Gio Gonzalez: 11-8, 3.79 ERA, 1.423 whip with 169/69 K/BB in 175.2 IP (31 starts).  Another year, another inconsistent season from our #4 starter.  The team was 16-15 in his 31 starts, which makes sense since he had exactly 16 quality starts.  I think at this point Gio is what he is: a decently valued 4th starter who earns his salary and puts up enough value to keep his spot.  The Nats will ride his arm until his contract expires.  Outlook for next season: Nats #4 starter.
  • Doug Fister: 5-7, 4.19 ERA, 1.398 whip with 63/24 K/BB in 103 IP (25 appearances, 15 starts).  MLB’s most underrated starter over the past few  years finally had father time catch up to him, going 4-7 with a 4.60 ERA in 15 starts before the team mercifully pulled the plug.  His average fastball velocity has been dropping, but dropped precipitously this year (down to 86.1) and just was too hittable.  To Fister’s credit, he accepted the move to the bullpen instead of taking the “easy” way out and claiming a D/L trip, and was effective in 17 relief innings to make his season ERA look a little more palatable.  Nonetheless, it was not exactly the way the Nats drew things up.  Fister faces an uncertain future; he went from being guaranteed a Qualifying Offer to maybe struggling to get a guaranteed offer.  In the end, I can see perhaps a west coast team taking a flier on him as a 5th starter with a pillow contract for him to try to regain some value.  Outlook for next season: Pitching elsewhere, hopefully as a 5th starter somewhere.
  • Joe Ross: 5-5, 3.64 ERA, 1.109 whip with 69/21 K/BB in 76.2 IP (16 appearances, 13 starts).  Ross initially got called up to cover for Strasburg’s first injury, and was impressive enough to be the first man in line to replace the suddenly ineffective Fister.  He got another 10 mostly effective starts, getting shut down in early September after two ineffective starts where he was uncharacteristically wild (9 of his 21 MLB walks were in his last 2 starts) as he reached a soft innings limit for the year.  No complaints here; Ross quickly guaranteed his rotation spot for 2016 with his work during the summer and is making the trade where he was acquired looking even more lopsided.  Outlook for next season: Nats #3 starter.
  • Tanner Roark: 4-7, 4.38 ERA with 70/26 K/BB in 111 IP (40 appearances, 12 starts).  The Nats thanked Roark for his “found gold” 5-win 2014 season by acquiring Scherzer and pushing Roark to the all-important long-man/slop innings guy.  Not exactly what Roark probably expected.  He did get 5 starts covering for Strasburg in late May-early June but otherwise was yanked all over the place; sometimes being a one-inning middle reliever, then getting 3+ in a blowout loss, even getting higher leverage innings in the 8th and 9th (he even had a save in May).  When Fister proved ineffective, the Nats didn’t give the slot to Roark like they should have, instead calling up Ross and leaving Roark pitching in relief (their reason was that he wasn’t stretched out).  When it became clear Ross was going to run out of innings, they sent him back to Potomac briefly to “stretch out” and Roark finished the year in the rotation with 6 relatively ineffective starts.  Not the year Roark wanted.  There was an incredibly long-winded article in beyondtheboxscore.com that seemed to point at Roark’s position on the rubber as the cause of all his ills, but i put Roark’s struggles more simply: pitchers are creatures of habit and when you take a starter and suddenly tell him he’s a one inning reliever, you shouldn’t be surprised when he doesn’t immediately perform in that role.  The question the Nats have to face is this: was 2014 a fluke?  Do you pencil in Roark for the #5 starter in 2016 or do you try to acquire his replacement?  Do you have an open competition between Roark and the slew of AAA arms for the spot?  Personally, I’m a Roark believer and think he’ll be just fine if you install him in the rotation and let him work.  Outlook for next season: Nats #5 starter.
  • Others who got 1-2 Spot Starts:
    • Taylor Jordan: got one spot-start in early June, getting pounded by Toronto.  He provided long-relief cover a few times here and there throughout the season but wasn’t used even after being called up 9/1 (perhaps an innings limit?).  See AAA write-up for more.
    • A.J. Cole got one spot start in late April, getting destroyed by Atlanta in the epic 13-12 game.  I was highly critical of this particular call-up at the time, questioning why the start didn’t go to Roark at the time.  Cole got two other mop-up games to make his ERA slightly less awful for the year, but raised serious questions as to his future.  See AAA write-up for more.

Rotation summary: Scherzer was good but struggled when the chips were down.  Zimmermann regressed, as did Gonzalez.  Strasburg was either awful or  hurt most of the season.  Fister was abhorrent.  Roark was wasted.  Yet despite all that negativity surrounding our rotation, the Nats starters as a group were still ranked pretty highly : 3rd in fWAR, 7th in ERA, 4th in FIP.   So, it was still a pretty good rotation but not nearly as good as we thought they’d be upon the Scherzer acquisition.

 


Washington relievers.  On opening day the MLB bullpen was Storen, Treinen, Stammen, Thornton, Cedeno, Barrett, Roark.  By the time it was over, the team had used no less than *20* relievers.  Not exactly how they sketched it out in the off-season.  Lets talk about all 20 guys; here they are ordered with closers first, then descending by IP.  Anyone with less than 10 innings is relegated to the end with generally a shorter write-up.

  • Drew Storen was having a near-all Star calibre season closing, holding a 1.69 ERA with 46/9 K/BB over 37.1 IP and 29 saves.  Then suddenly he was demoted thanks to the Papelbon acquisition.  His numbers post 7/29/15: 7.13 ERA in 17 innings, which culminated with his 3-walk performance in the season-ending Mets loss in early September (his 5th blown save of the year).  Two days later he slammed a locker on his thumb, broke it and was done for the season along with his team.  We’ve argued this one to death; there are people who like to argue that players are machines and they are highly paid to do whatever the team asks of them.  I maintain that this team has tried over and over to replace Storen thanks to a couple of poorly-timed games of ineffectiveness that just happened to occur in the two NLDS series this team has managed to reach, and the “layering” of Papelbon over top of him was the icing on the cake of his Nats career.  I’m sure Storen wants out of town, and I’m sure he’ll be a classic “change of scenery” guy.  Mike Rizzo needs to make it happen.  Outlook for next season: Closing for another team.
  • Jonathan Papelbon was acquired in late July straight up for a relatively low-level prospect (Nick Pivetta), an indication of how desperate Philadelphia was to rid themselves of him.  He pitched a grand total of 23.1 innings in two months, through little fault of his own clearly disrupted the karma of the bullpen, and entirely at fault on his own took offense to Bryce Harper‘s non-defense in the press of Papelbon’s over-reaction and subsequent plunking of Manny Machado in a game earlier in that week and decided that calling out one of the game’s premier hustlers for “not hustling” down the line on a routine pop-up was a good idea.  Fast forward to the umpteenth unnecessary embarrassing moment for the franchise and perhaps the final nail in the coffin of the inexplicably unaware and dense manager Matt Williams.  Fun fact: Papelbon bought a $2.9M house in Alexandria exactly one week before choking his teammate on national TV and getting suspended for the rest of the season.  Good timing.  I know that Harper has “reached out” to Papelbon and they’re all saying this is just ‘brothers fighting” and all that BS, but Rizzo has to be shopping him for whatever he can get for him, upto and including eating the entirety of his $11M 2016 salary.  Many think he’s completely untradeable, but i’m guessing someone will take a flier on him.  Outlook for next season: Closing for another team.
  • Blake Treinen was the busiest guy in the pen this year (outside of sometimes starter Roark that is), throwing 67.2 innings in 60 innings as mostly an 7th/8th inning guy.    He had a 3.86 ERA, a 3.49 FIP, and a 1.389 whip, all incrementally worst in 2015 than the year before.  65/32 K/BB in those 67IP.  Treinen features a mid to upper 90s sinking fastball that has so much movement that TV announcers sometimes think its a changeup, yet still has some really odd splits.  Righties had just a .493 OPS against him on the year … while lefties teed off to the tune of a .934 OPS.  Odd because you’d think that a guy who could throw a fastball that tails away from lefties like Treinen would be more successful.  Another oddity; he had a 5.90 ERA at home and just a 2.33 ERA away.  So basically, if he was facing a righty on the road, he’s your guy.  He has limited his repertoire to just two pitches these days (2-seam sinker and a wipeout slider), and seems so far removed from having anything resembling a third pitch that any thoughts of returning to the bullpen seem long gone.  Is Treinen just a ROOGY (right handed one out guy?)  Do teams even have that?  Maybe his goal for the off-season is to figure out some pitch that is effective against lefties.  He also needs to work on his control; his walk rate of 4.3 per nine just won’t cut it for a higher leverage reliever.  Outlook for next season: back in his 7th/8th inning role.
  • Felipe Rivero, 2.79 ERA, 2.64 FIP, 0.952 whip and 43/11 K/BB in 48.1 relief innings.  Rivero was a revelation for the team this year, converting to relief for the first time in his career and really shining.  He has some serious heat; max fastball of 99.8 and an average of 95.5 from the left side, but really was a two pitch pitcher this season; fastball and slider (fangraphs distinguishes his 4-seamer from his 2-seamer but the velocities are exactly the same; does he throw two different, distinct fastballs?)   Unlike Treinen, Rivero got righties and lefties out at equal clips (.200 BAA for righties, .198 for lefties) and really came into his own in the bullpen.  He’s much more than a matchup-lefty and could be a valuable bullpen member for a while.  Can he return to starting?  Hard to say; does he have a third pitch?  Years of starting in the minors seems to indicate that his future remains in the pen.  Outlook for next season: reprising his 7th inning reliever role.
  • Matt Thornton had an excellent age 38 year; 2.18 ERA, 3.52 FIP, 1.065 ERA in 41.1 relief innings across 60 appearances.  His FIP is much higher than his ERA because he doesn’t rely as much on the strikeout; he had just a 23/11 K/BB ratio in those 41.1 innings.  His splits showed some interesting tidbits: 10 of his 11 walks on the year came against right handed hitters, while he had an 11/1 K/BB ratio when facing lefties.  Thornton is best judged by his performance against lefties and he was excellent; .198/.205/.279, and this is why I’m an advocate of resigning him for 2016.  I’m still kind of baffled by his being waived by the Yankees frankly.  The FA market for left handed relievers is a little busy; I count 20 lefties out there.  But not all of them were as effective as Thornton was in 2015.  Can the Nats re-sign him?  Do they want to?  They do have several in-house loogy replacements to be discussed, if they wanted to save a couple million dollars off of payroll.  Outlook for next season: another season as a loogy, for the Nats or elsewhere.
  • Casey Janssen: when the Nats acquired Janssen, a three year closer for the Toronto Blue Jays, I figured the team’s late-inning bullpen issues were solved.  The loss of Rafael Soriano was inevitable (and, frankly, not really that important given how badly he finished 2014), but the loss of Tyler Clippard was going to be hard to fix.  But plugging in a former AL east closer into the 8th inning role?  No worries.  Well, that’s not quite how it went.  Janssen got hurt in spring training, missed the first 7 weeks of the season … and then underwhelmed once he arrived.  His numbers on the season: 4.95 ERA, 4.05 FIP, 1.150 whip, with 27/8 K/BB in 40 IP.   Perhaps the 4.95 ERA is skewed by a few bad outings: scanning through his game log he gave up 4 runs on 5/30, another 4 runs on 8/31, 3 more the following day (in that infamous St. Louis series) and 2 on 9/27.  So of the 22 runs he allowed all year, 13 of them were in four outings.  Perhaps so, but his job as an 8th inning guy is not to allow these massive rallies, ever.  His fastball velocity has been declining and his 4-seamer sat at just 88.3 MPH on average this year; is that fast enough even if you have pinpoint control and can throw 5 pitches?  Apparently not; Janssen’s struggles were a big part of the bullpen’s struggles this year, a big reason they felt the need to acquire Papelbon, and in crunch time towards the end of the season Williams didn’t trust him to give him important assignments.  The Nats bought out his option year and cut ties with him; the end of a disappointing season together.  Outlook for next season: middle reliever for another organization.
  • Aaron Barrett: started out the year looking good as a key 6th/7th inning righty, struggled starting in May, hit the D/L in June, got lit up on Aug 5th to the point of getting demoted to AAA, at which point he (finally) told team doctors that his arm had been bugging him for weeks (months even).  A quick scan showed a blown UCL and he underwent Tommy John surgery on September 5th, 2015.  Final season stats: 4.60 ERA but a 2.21 FIP, 1.193 whip and 35/7 K/BB in 29.1 innings.  Look; you don’t want to wish ill will on a guy for trying to gut it out, but at what point was his arm issues impacting his performance on the field and costing the team games?  Outlook for next season: on the 60-day D/L for most if not all the season. 
  • Sammy Solis was closer to a DFA than a call-up at the end of 2014, a season mostly lost to injury and lost promise of the former 2nd round pick.  But a slew of injuries forced him into action in the Nats bullpen and he held up, throwing 21.1 innings of 3.38 ERA, 3.46 fip, 1.359 whip with a 17/4 K/BB ratio.  That’s not too bad of a debut, even if it was his age 26 season.  He showed a reverse split interestingly, with lefties hitting him at a .355 clip (righties: .255).  I have a feeling that the team is likely going to look elsewhere for a second lefty out of the pen.  Option number one is probably resigning Matt Thornton, which will relegate Solis to AAA/spare part duty in Syracuse.  Outlook for next season: Syracuse bullpen/lefty reliever coverage.
  • Matt Grace; 4.24 ERA, 3.08 fip, 2.00 whip with 14/8 K/BB in 17 IP across 26 outings.  Grace is a nice story, a guy who really came on strong in 2014 and earned his 40-man slot.  But his numbers in his first go-around in the majors were less than ideal.  See Solis’ write up and then add on a little pessimism and you have Grace right now; too many baserunners and not enough ability to get right handers out (.429 BAA) to be trusted as an effective major league reliever right now.  Outlook for next season: As with Solis Syracuse bullpen/lefty reliever coverage.  Except he’s “behind” Solis.
  • Rafael Martin: everyone’s favorite story.  Signed out of the Mexican leagues, shot up the system posting just ridiculous numbers in AA and AAA in 2013 and 2014.  Finally got his shot and had some really odd stat lines: 5.11 ERA, 4.76 FIP, 1.378 whip with 25/5 K/BB in 12.1 major league innings.  That’s right; he had an 18.2 K/9 ratio.  He struck out 8 of the first 12 batters he faced, including a pretty memorable debut where he struck out 5 guys in two innings in Boston in mid April.  He was looking like a made-for-TV-movie story until he took a rough outing in Miami and got sent down … not to be recalled until 9/1.  He threw a bunch of garbage time innings in September and got his ERA back down but kept striking guys out with his upper 80s arsenal.  Why didn’t he get more of a shot when the chips were down and other right handed relievers were struggling in August?  I don’t know.  Honestly, I think he’d make an excellent long-man/middle reliever, the classic “7th guy out of the pen” with his ability to go long and spin the ball in there as a change of pace versus harder throwing guys.  Something tells me though that he’s going to be back in Syracuse as bullpen insurance.  Outlook for next season: Syracuse bullpen/righty reliever coverage.
  • David Carpenter: acquired in trade from the Yankees for Tony Renda, threw 6 innings in the majors for the team, got hurt, went to the 60-day D/L with a shoulder issue, outrighted on 11/15/15, refused the assignment and has already signed with Atlanta for 2016.  Not exactly the best return for a former 2nd round pick and slightly surprising he was outrighted while there was still room on the 40-man roster (and still is room as we speak).  Outlook for next season: in Atlanta organization.
  • Craig Stammen: threw just 4 innings before requiring elbow surgery.  A huge blow for a guy who had been a team leader in IP and an effective middle reliever for  years.  He’s arbitration eligible, and the team could not arrive at an equitable deal ahead of the 12/2/15 non-tender deadline, so Stammen was non-tendered.  I have a feeling that if the team still wants him for 2016 and will work out some sort of heavy incentive-laden deal to keep him in the fold (he’s been with the organization since 2005 after all, tying him for the longest tenured player still with the team now that Ian Desmond has declared FA.   Outlook for next season: hopefully back in his 7th inning middle relief role, perhaps pitching elsewhere.
  • Xavier Cedeno: threw 3 innings, gave up 3 hits, 2 walks and two runs, then was inexplicably DFA’d and traded to the Dodgers for “cash.”  The Dodgers then turned around and traded him to Tampa, where he put up a 2.09 ERA in 43 IP in 2015.  What the heck happened here?   We talked about it in this space when it happened, and the quick hook DFA was as inexplicable then as it seems now.  Was this perhaps the first precursor into the questionable bullpen management that plagued Matt Williams all year?  Outlook for next season: a valuable loogy for Tampa.
  • Other Relievers who pitched too few innings for analysis:
    • Taylor Hill: provided 12 innings of bullpen coverage in Late May-Early June: see AAA write-up.
    • Abel de los Santos: added to the 40-man, called up and started his service clock (oh, and burned an option too while they were at it) so that he could throw to exactly eight (8) batters in mid-july before being returned to Harrisburg.  Ridiculous use of resources frankly.  See AA write-up.
    • Position players Clint Robinson and Tyler Moore became the 1st and 2nd position players to ever hurl for the Washington franchise, each throwing the final inning in a blow-out loss.

Bullpen summary: Ugh, what a mess from start to finish.  Under performance, injuries, and a rotating door of guys trying to perform.  By the end of August there wasn’t anyone even worth trusting in that pen, as evidenced in the critical Mets home series where the season was lost.  Even given that, the bullpen as a whole ranked 12th in fWAR, 10th in ERA, 9th in FIP, so it wasn’t really that bad league-wide.  Which surprised me too when I went to fangraphs to pull the data.  Some more telling stats: 7th in the league in Blown saves with 27.  17th in total saves.  17th in Holds.

Pitching summary overall: we expected more, and in the end the performance of the staff and bullpen probably wasn’t the sole reason this team failed to win the NL East.  But it didn’t help.

60 Responses to 'Nationals/MLB Pitching Staff Year in Review; 2015'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Nationals/MLB Pitching Staff Year in Review; 2015'.

  1. Great stuff, Todd. I’ll digest it more when I have a chance. In the meantime, and directly related to the Nats’ pitching future, I asked Luke Erickson on his site for his thoughts on some of the top prospects, particularly Giolito and Lopez, since he got to see a lot of them at Potomac this year. His reply is part of comment #2 thread and is worth reading:

    http://nationalsprospects.com/2015/12/the-nationalsprospects-com-top-10-pitchers-5/#comment-148139

    KW

    16 Dec 15 at 9:00 am

  2. A fun write up, Todd. I mostly concur with it, except that I’ll note that:

    (1) Whether or not Zimmermann felt disrespected by the Nats’ contract offer, he signed for basically the same deal when he was a true free agent instead of signing the extension that would have bought out his final arbitration year. He probably lost a bit of money (and the right to hit FA a year sooner) due to that decision.

    (2) I think you undervalue Gio (again); his season was largely the result of a combination of bad BABIP luck, some of which may have been fed by the Nats’ lousy defense which maximized the number of grounders that became hits. His numbers were very much in line with his non-2012 seasons – a solid #3 starter, good for 3 WAR a season at less than a 2 WAR price.

    (3) The Storen felt disrespected narrative we have argued to death. Whenever someone touts it they always somehow leave out the fact that (a) he was due for some regression in general; and (b) his flop started several games after the change.

    (4) The Roark alarmists don’t seem to recognize that he wasn’t just good in 2014; he was also excellent in 2013. The Roark apologists don’t ever acknowledge that his excellent 2013 was spent bouncing around from role to role just like 2015, and somehow he did just fine. We can agree that he is penciled in as the #5 starter, but will be keeping an eye on him.

    John C.

    16 Dec 15 at 10:52 am

  3. And a note on Carpenter as I continue reading: the Nats’ 40 man roster is full at the moment, the Oliver Perez signing took care of that. And likely took care of re-signing Matt Thornton, FWIW.

    The deal that Carpenter signed with Atlanta was a minor league deal, so he ended up in the minors anyway.

    I saw a metric on the bullpen as a whole that the Nationals had one of the worst records in MLB in games where they led after six innings. I can’t recall what the exact numbers/rankings were though.

    John C.

    16 Dec 15 at 11:23 am

  4. Great stuff, Todd.
    I also agree with most everything. The bottom line on Scherzer is he was great when there was no pressure and lousy when there was pressure.
    Not exactly what you want for $30 million a year.

    Look at it this way. If you compare Roark 2014 to Scherzer 2015 what do you see. Not a lot of difference.

    Gio is your basic #5 starter who’s paid as a #5 starter. Good value.

    Mark L

    16 Dec 15 at 2:19 pm

  5. Zimmermann: rolled the dice, took a step back in 2015 and it probably cost him cash. Same with Desmond. I think both likely regret it (thought we don’t know what Zimmermann was offered). I dunno. In the end Zimmermann gets $100M+ guaranteed. I’m not sure i feel too too bad for him.

    Gio: Yeah i’m down on Gio. Just tired of the constant 3-4 walk outings. I’m sure its not a scientific analysis. I will say this: his whip jumped pretty drastically in 2015, from 1.197 to 1.423 year over year.

    Storen regression: he’s human. Any human put in his situation would have been excused if he did the same.

    Roark; kind of the same thing as Storen; he’s human. How would you feel if you did a fantastic, awesome job at your work one year and then your boss “layered” you and demoted you for your troubles?

    Todd Boss

    16 Dec 15 at 3:31 pm

  6. If the Nats needed 40-man room, its there for the taking. Erik Davis? Brian Goodwin? Even Taylor Hill at this point? All three probably slip through the waiver wire with no issues. You have to cut a little deeper if you want more space. But if you squint and really look at guys like Taylor Jordan, Rafael Martin and Tyler Moore, even these guys seem like they’re easily replaceable.

    Todd Boss

    16 Dec 15 at 3:38 pm

  7. Yeah, Gio’s WHIP jumped – but that’s pretty much entirely because his BABIP jumped from about .285 (+/-), where it had been his entire career, to .341. His walk rate (9.1%) was up slightly from 2014, but was actually lower than his rate in both 2012 and 2013. Even as his stuff has slowed a bit, he’s adjusted and maintained his K%. His batted ball profile didn’t change dramatically either – his GB% was up from 2014, but that’s because 2014 was down from his career norms. His hard contact was up 1.5% from his career averages, but his soft contact was up 1.1%. That’s not a lot to build a 50 point BABIP jump. Even when you factor in the Nationals’ lousy defense (21st in MLB in defensive efficiency) it still seems like Gio just had bad luck last year.

    John C.

    16 Dec 15 at 4:03 pm

  8. And yeah, of course pitchers are human. It’s still hard to tie causation when their performance curve doesn’t match up with the narrative (Storen had his best week of the season, THEN went into the tank). I think Storen was overdue for regression anyway (he’s good, but he had been fabulous all season. I do think that it’s plausible that he was fine initially, but then when the inevitable struggles/regression happened his “demotion” may have gotten into his head a bit and kept him from riding it out. But we’ll never know.

    The “oh, wah, I got ‘demoted'” excuse bugs me, though – especially when the bullpen guys from teams like the Royals are noting in press conferences that they don’t care when they are called upon, it’s all about the team. Because THAT is the right attitude. And the team was clearly better with Papelbon pitching innings rather than Janssen, Treinan, Barrett (until he got hurt), Grace or Solis. Papelbon’s acquisition had very little to do with Storen. It was a referendum on the team’s inability to get out of the 7th and 8th innings, not the 9th.

    John C.

    16 Dec 15 at 4:12 pm

  9. Well maybe the whole Royals story goes towards another narrative. The narrative that Williams was a god-awful manager, the clubhouse was poisoned and the players had long since given up being “team players” and were just in it for themselves. Wouldn’t surprise me if that was the case after reading the WP post-mortems and seeing first hand the joylessness of the team down the stretch.

    Todd Boss

    16 Dec 15 at 8:07 pm

  10. On Gio; lets say the Nats make the playoffs in 2015. Where do you want Gio starting? 4th? If Roark returns to his 2014 form and puts up a 5 win season, is Gio even starting in the playoffs?

    Babip is one thing, and blaming the defenders is another (thanks Matt for playing a plus-plus third baseman out of position all year); But you can also look at fangraphs batted ball stats and see troubling trends. LD% up. Hard hit% up. Whatever. Like I said; every time I saw him he was walking 3 guys in 5 innings. I somehow missed all the games where he “only” walked one guy. He’s frustrating to watch as a fan; I never watch him pitch and expect him to throw 6 shutout innings. I expect him to miss his target constantly, to always have guys on base, to always look rattled on the mound. I do NOT want him on the mound in a playoff series ever again. I guess that’s the definition of a 4th starter in this league.

    Todd Boss

    16 Dec 15 at 8:15 pm

  11. Given your obvious impact on Gio’s performance, Todd, the answer is equally obvious. You are, from here on out, prohibited from watching Gio pitch. There, done, problem solved! Now, what to do about getting a LH bat …

    My brother for years had a similar in for Tyler Clippard. I could point out every stat in the world that indicated that he wasn’t just good in the bullpen, he was a weapon. All of which my brother replied by saying “every time I watch him, he [stinks].” We solved the problem by making him turn off the TV when Clippard came in. When we were at the game, he would leave our seats and go across the concourse and look out across South Capital. Weirdly, it worked pretty well!

    John C.

    16 Dec 15 at 9:44 pm

  12. Todd, regarding the bullpen’s stats – they weren’t bad on the whole (as you noted, 10th in ERA, etc.). When the proverbial chips were down, however…

    Fangraphs Meltdowns: 82, 7th in MLB.
    Fangraphs Shutdowns: 125, 21st in MLB.

    Only Oakland had more MDs with fewer SDs.

    For those unfamiliar: a Shutdown is any appearance by a reliever, where they accrue at least .06 WPA (win probability added). A Meltdown is the opposite – if they accrue -.06 WPA or worse, they earn a MD.

    In other words, if you increase your team’s chance of winning by at least 6%, you earn a shutdown; if you decrease it by the same, you earn a meltdown. Between SD / MD numbers and the -0.59 cumulative WPA our relievers earned this year, I think it’s fair to say they blew it when it mattered.

    Natsochist

    17 Dec 15 at 9:46 am

  13. Alright begrudgingly I will admit that I have been harsh on Gio’s 2015. which is good, because that means he’ll bounce back in 2016 and help pick up the slack vacated by Zimmermann. In theory anyway. An infield of Rendon, Espinosa, Turner and Zimmerman should be significantly better at turning ground balls and infield hits into outs than the primary infield of Escobar, Desmond, Rendon and Zimmerman we used in 2015.

    I couldn’t help myself so I looked up the changes in BABIP for all our returning starters from 14 to 15, so see if there was an overall trend.
    – Strasburg: .315 to .311
    – Gio: .294 to .341
    – Zimmermann: .302 to .302
    – Roark: .270 to .292
    – Scherzer: .315 to .268 (different infield in 2014 though)

    So, only Gio’s BABIP increased appreciably among the returning starters (dunno what to make of Roark’s change other than assuming that his pitching approach had to change going from 100 pitch starter to 20 pitch reliever). Scherzer’s should not have gone down like it did, unless Detroit’s infield was just that bad last year.

    Todd Boss

    17 Dec 15 at 10:02 am

  14. And yet we’re looking at Daniel Murphy, another defensive black hole. I get how his LH bat would help, but it would be interesting to see how much the defense would improve with Espinosa and Turner up the middle. The range would be off the charts.

    KW

    17 Dec 15 at 10:07 am

  15. I’m wondering about all these “rumors.” If its just Rizzo making a phone call to the agent to check in on the price, that’s one thing. But if its serious, then i have a seriuos problem. Murphy would cost the nats their 1st round pick (now sitting at 17 overall, or right about where they got Giolito). And in my opinion, he is not worth that pick.

    Todd Boss

    17 Dec 15 at 10:46 am

  16. These rumors are definitely wilder than past years. Hard to know if there is any truth to them, although the Phillips one is getting reported enough now to think something is there. ESPN now saying that an agreement has been reached for him in return for ‘multiple’ minor leaguers. Sounds ominous, and no Pap, which I was hoping to see. I really hope they aren’t good minor leaguers, like no one in the top 6-7, but then again, I don’t really want Phillips at all so I am probably not going to like it unless we are dumping Pap.

    Wally

    18 Dec 15 at 6:41 am

  17. Well, they seem to have gotten beyond rumors for Brandon Phillips, who is owed $27M over the next two seasons while he goes from old to older. For as much contract as the Nats will be eating, they had better not be giving up anyone of consequence. I know they want a bridge to Turner, but this seems like an awfully expensive bridge. Escobar was owed A LOT less ($8M with buyout or 2/$14M) and had a much better year at the plate, although he would have been more of a defensive liability at 2B, where Phillips has four GG’s.

    Phillips isn’t a bad baseball player, so the deal doesn’t make the Nats “worse,” but it’s hard to see how it makes them demonstrably better.

    KW

    18 Dec 15 at 6:46 am

  18. [I was apparently posting at the same time Wally was. Had not seen the “multiple minor leaguers.” It had better not be anyone useful.]

    KW

    18 Dec 15 at 6:49 am

  19. MLB radio just said he’s on his way to DC to meet to waive his no trade. Kind of worried about the prospects here – no way Robles could be in play, right? That would be terrible. Ah, that can’t happen. He’s a top 50 guy

    Wally

    18 Dec 15 at 7:38 am

  20. I’m thinking more along the lines of Difo, Austen Williams, that level of guy. There’s no way they should be trading a Giolito/Lopez/Fedde/Turner/Robles class of player for a 35-year-old middle infielder.

    KW

    18 Dec 15 at 7:48 am

  21. I’m not crazy about picking up Phillips, although I do think he’s better than Espinosa. It all depends on the price. But if they can dump Papelbon as part of the deal things start to look a bit better. For the Reds it would be a salary dump (2 years/$27M vs. 1 year/$8M) and the opportunity to flip Papelbon at the deadline for something (a “Capps for Ramos” kind of deal). That would also get them out of having to pay Papelbon the $3M in deferred money.

    John C.

    18 Dec 15 at 8:56 am

  22. Just for fun while we wait for the details to come out: remember how upset many were that the Nats didn’t land Zobrist for 4years/$60M? Now, Zobrist is probably a better ballplayer – although Phillips had the better year last year by fWAR (2.6 Phillips, 2.1 Zobrist) and rWAR (3.5 Phillips, 1.2 Zobrist), Zobrist is more versatile in the field and at the plate. But Zobrist is actually one month older than Phillips, and Phillips is only a two year commitment for a $13.5M AAV vs. four years and a $15M AAV.

    John C.

    18 Dec 15 at 9:03 am

  23. True although the performance disparity flips and is much greater if you look at two and three year periods. And Zobrist adds the OF flexibility, which has value especially to Nats with Werth’s injury history. Not saying it makes up all of the difference but it goes a ways towards it.

    Back to random, panicky speculation on cost: the rumors are that the Reds want position players, and once Turner is off the table,
    Robles is next line. Difo fits next, and then maybe our reigning PoY guy, Marmelojos. Not much else in the cupboard, unless this is where Goodwin and Skole go.

    So I’m hoping Turner and Robles are off limits for all but current, controllable stars, and while I don’t mind giving up Difo for something, I wouldn’t want it to be for Phillips. Any other position players are probably ok.

    Wally

    18 Dec 15 at 9:22 am

  24. I still don’t get the Phillips acquisition. He hits right handed (not what we need), plays an adequate but not spectacular 2B (in other words, a lesser player than Turner, Difo, Espinosa in that regard), hits an empty BA (kind of like Escobar who we just traded for some 5k/9 inning reliever), makes twice as much as Escobar. WTF? I agree with others here; if there’s ANY prospect going over of consequence i’m goign to be really pissed. Maybe if the Reds pay all of Phillip’s salary then we give them a good prospect, because that would mean we still have payroll flexibility to acquire what we actually need.

    Is this being done to placate Dusty f*cking Baker?? Is Philips and his .328 OBP (which is an improvement over 2013 and 2014) Dusty’s idea of a “speedy leadoff” guy we need?

    Todd Boss

    18 Dec 15 at 9:31 am

  25. Hey, it would be better to have Phillips leading off than MAT!

    You know, teams can and have won the WS with only one LH hitter – most recently the 2006 Cardinals. The important thing is to get good baseball players. I’d rather have two years of Phillips than three or four more expensive years of Murphy (while punting a draft pick at the same time) – even though Murphy bats LH.

    For me the jury is still out on this trade. I’m still holding out hope that the Nats dumped Papelbon as part of the deal. They’ll have to move someone off of the 40 man roster if the deal goes through.

    John C.

    18 Dec 15 at 9:42 am

  26. The “speedy leadoff guy” is the one who’ll be starting in Syracuse thanks to a Phillips acquisition.

    Phillips is still an above-average defender, much better than Zobrist, Escobar, or Murphy on that score. Offensively, he looked DOA in 2014 but rebounded decently in ’15. Steamer sees him reverting to ’14 form, though.

    KW

    18 Dec 15 at 9:45 am

  27. Scuttlebutt on Nats Prospects is Brian Goodwin, which would clear the 40-man spot. If it’s Goodwin and not much else, then it’s probably a decent trade, as I didn’t have much hope left for him.

    KW

    18 Dec 15 at 9:57 am

  28. My reading of the tea leaves behind this acquisition is this: the team does NOT trust Trea Turner at all right now. More indictment of his call up and service time burn last season.

    Todd Boss

    18 Dec 15 at 10:01 am

  29. If its Phillips for Goodwin straightup i’d be ecstatic. Lemme hop on twitter to see what “they” are saying.

    Todd Boss

    18 Dec 15 at 10:01 am

  30. I just don’t think that Rizzo EVER trusts a young player to play real minutes and tries his hardest to throw a million contingencies at those situations. IMO, he should trust the good prospects he cultivates and let them play.

    Andrew R

    18 Dec 15 at 10:25 am

  31. Phillips’ splits aren’t bad. He actually was a bit better against RHP than LHP in ’15 and hit for more power. Career-wise, he is a bit better against LHP, but he’s still solid against RHP. It’s not the same as adding a LH bat, but he won’t be a liability against RHP.

    KW

    18 Dec 15 at 10:58 am

  32. Todd – I think it means that they really don’t trust Danny, not Turner. I expect Turner is just a control thing, which I am fine with.

    If it’s Goodwin plus something low, then I am ok with it too. That was the speculation on MLBTR. TalkNats says Nick Lee

    Wally

    18 Dec 15 at 10:59 am

  33. Wally, I was already wondering whether the Nats would have Turner playing more SS or more 2B in the spring and at Syracuse. That will tell a lot.

    I “trust” Turner more than I do MAT. I’m trying convince myself that I trust Danny more at SS, because of the added defense, than I did at 2B, where hit up-and-down bat kept going up and down. We’ll see. A Phillips acquisition covers them for two years, assuming Turner would be available to step in for a struggling Danny at SS.

    I’ve got no problem with a Nick Lee or Goodwin level type of trade. That’s gravy as far as I’m concerned.

    KW

    18 Dec 15 at 11:06 am

  34. What? Todd, my tea leaf reading (if I was into that sort of thing) would be that the team is trying to minimize the impact of Turner’s callup while giving him a chance to play every day so that he will be honed and ready when they do bring him up. And, of course, so they can guarantee the extra year of team control. I doubt that it’s that they don’t trust Turner. To me it’s far more likely that they don’t trust Espinosa to be a long term starter.

    FWIW (not much) I do think that Espinosa is the presumptive OD starter – but it’s a rebuttable presumption. If he faceplants in Viera and Turner wears it out, then Turner and Phillips (assuming the deal goes through) could easily be your OD starters.

    John C.

    18 Dec 15 at 11:07 am

  35. So if we acquire Philips, you have to think its Espinosa/Philips as opening day double-play combo. There’s just no way its Turner/Philips with Espinosa as super-sub again, not after he improves so much in 2015. So JohnC you’re right, if that’s the case then Turner is starting in AAA to get PT. Maybe that’s the plan all along, to get back the service time and only call him up if there’s an injury and he’s guaranteed to play full time. I’m ok with that. Of course, it also means… we’re still short a backup middle infielder. Difo? Is he ready to take that role? I don’t think so. Unless its purely as a “rest Brandon Philips” contingency because there’s no need to take out a plus defender like Espinosa or Rendon in late innings.

    Todd Boss

    18 Dec 15 at 12:18 pm

  36. So which version of hell do you want, the return of Uggla, or the overpay of Rollins or Drew? I’m sort of kidding about Uggla, who has probably played his last MLB game, but the other two remain clear and present dangers.

    The Nats have struggled for a long time to find adequate middle infielders for the bench (beyond Espinosa) and in the upper minors. Difo and Bostick are almost ready, but as noted, with Danny’s established inconsistency, Turner’s youth, and Phillips’ age, there’s probably going to be a desire for a more established safety net.

    KW

    18 Dec 15 at 1:41 pm

  37. A few thoughts….

    1) I’m more positively disposed to Brandon Phillips. And I am surprised about the degree of expectation of decline. He is an excellent athlete, and stole over 20 bases with a high percentage last year. And maintains good power. And plays a better 2B than Daniel Murphy. And ties up the budget for only two years. And hits right-handers just fine. And is a good clubhouse personality. And has been part of a Dusty Baker winner. It’s not like he had the 2015 of, say, Ian Desmond.

    2) We also don’t know whether he is coming alone. I would not put it past Rizzo to take Phillips and Chapman and it would simplify the Reds task list.

    3) I don’t see Rizzo as done.

    4) I’m watching the Dodgers haul prospects and thinking that they have a lot to offer the Nats that should get a Strasburg deal done that we can be happy with.

    5) I would be shocked if the Nats traded Taylor. He may not turn into a superstar, but someone besides me thinks he will. And I think he will. Given the uncertainty of Harper, the lack of sure thing (right now) outfield prospect above Robles, and Werth fading to the sunset, Taylor’s place on this roster is solid. His defense is among the top of his position in the game already. I think he’ll get there.

    6) I’m also not so convinced that the trade means Turner starts the year in AAA. It’s a great insurance in case he fades, but the guy was ahead of the league in AAA. If he wins the SS job in the spring, Danny doesn’t like it, but Turner is a spectacular part of a future lineup, and the guy is a game changing player on a speed team.

    7) I have not given up on the potential of other prospect starters, but I think that Giolito and his second elbow is now going to hit the fast track. I’m betting on him being in the regular rotation by mid-year if he dominates. It will be exciting to see the Nats turn him loose.

    forensicane

    18 Dec 15 at 1:56 pm

  38. I’m also not so sure the Nats would not trade Danny Espinosa. Everything we like about him is every reason other teams would like him. But do we have any reason to believe he has not peaked? To me, the mutterings of his being the starting SS have the familiar tone of being the Nats Minor League Player of the Year, or the guy invited to the AFL. He’s young and controllable in a league where that has greater value than ever. And he is not going to keep Turner on the bench for long, and then what? Like Souza, he is a player who may have value, but he does have a “Sell By” sticker.

    They are not the same player, but I have heard the Kelly Johnson chatter as a replacement for Espinosa.

    forensicane

    18 Dec 15 at 2:03 pm

  39. I haven’t heard much talk about trading Taylor or Espinosa. There’s a difference between not trusting them as starters and wanting to trade them. Frankly, the worrisome thing about Taylor’s approach at the plate is that it reminds me a lot of Danny circa ’11-’12.

    I would think that the Nats still have long-term hopes for Taylor as an OF starter, if not now, then in the post-Beard era. It would likely take a mega-opportunity, like the Souza trade presented, to trade him.

    On other points, there’s no doubt that the Dodgers have to be getting desperate for pitching, all the more so with their Iwakuma deal falling through. Perhaps they will spare us from Leake, who reportedly wants to be on the West Coast. I’ve always feared that Stras would end up with the Dodgers, but I’m not sure whether the Nats should be actively a part of making it happen.

    KW

    18 Dec 15 at 2:29 pm

  40. From that eager young journalist Bill Ladson:”… the source indicated that the Nationals’ top prospects “are not in the picture.” The Washington Post reported Friday that it is “unlikely” that Phillips will waive his no-trade protection without some sort of adjustment to his current contract …”

    Wally

    18 Dec 15 at 2:53 pm

  41. It’s not the talk. I would bet you, sight unseen, that the Nats are getting a lot of calls on Taylor, hoping they sell low.

    As for Danny, I’m sure Rizzo did not want to trade Souza, either. There are definitely teams that could use Danny E, a lot, and who like him. If the opportunity matches up right, it’s not about offloading him, but being open to trading him when value may be max.

    I doubt the Nats could get Turner and Ross for Souza now.

    Anyway, I am just introducing ideas to expand the scope of possibilities, not repeating chatter or intel. Nothing more.

    forensicane

    18 Dec 15 at 2:55 pm

  42. I think Ladson gets good intel.

    As for arming the Dodgers, the Dodgers are like the Red Sox. Blessed by limitless resources, frothing major media market or their own Gammons propagandist. Cursed by the karma of flushing endless monies down the toilet, just like Red Sox Nation. They didn’t win with Greinke. And the Nats didn’t win with Strasburg, either.

    forensicane

    18 Dec 15 at 3:03 pm

  43. Hey Forensicane – what’s your take on Marmelojos? Do you see a big league regular there?

    Kerzel saying the hold up on Phillips is what it costs the Reds to get him to waive no trade, which in turn affects what Nats give up.

    Wally

    18 Dec 15 at 3:10 pm

  44. I’m no scout, and I cannot project his peak. I read what other poster who have seen him say, and they all seem to like him in person. Nats brass says all the right things, but I have not yet figured out whether Sciallaba has the chops of Doug Harris or just peddles gas to the WaPo and Byron (polyanna) Kerr. Harris as a talent evaluator is, as the kids say, “money.”

    Like you, I’ve got my own prospect rankings. He’s #10 on mine, which I think is commensurate with a player who has that doubles power flame that threatens to flare int home run pop, in an organization that embodies a lack of power prospects. No, he does not walk enough, and it’s not like he’s Shawn Pleffner on defense. But it would be a damn shame to let him go at this level of value and see him turn around and hit 25 HR in 2016 somewhere else.

    So I know he is MLPOY, but I cannot see the team appraising him at peak value the way they may have (incorrectly) regarded Billy Burns and (correctly) assessed Souza.

    Orange (h/t Luke)isn’t exactly blocked by anyone, either.

    Bottom line – when a guy moves up a level and is MLPOY, there’s no reason to bet against him at the next stage. But…

    forensicane

    18 Dec 15 at 3:28 pm

  45. Nice work there Todd!

    Ghost of Steve M. (TalkNats.com)

    18 Dec 15 at 4:25 pm

  46. Rosenthal has the Nats “moving on” from Phillips. Wow. Hard to blame this one on Rizzo, though; it’s up to the trading team to get the player to waive the no-trade. I’m sure the Nats weren’t going to fork over more than the $27M overpay that Phillips is already due. Brandon, enjoy two more years in the cellar.

    Now what? I’m going to scream if they give up the draft pick to sign Kendrick, who is no improvement over Escobar. At least Murphy is a LHB, although he would still cost the draft pick. I would think they would be much better off with a bridge guy like Kelly Johnson than paying full freight for someone like Kendrick or Murphy . . . or Phillips. Johnson played for only $1.5M last season and put up quite respectable numbers.

    Or the Boras and D-back connections will lead them back to Stephen Drew.

    KW

    19 Dec 15 at 2:02 pm

  47. I am fine with Drew as a back up SS and 2B. If they see him as a starter, then that’s a problem.

    I don’t want to give up a pick, for almost anyone, but Kendrick is much better than Escobar.

    I am glad we are moving on from Phillips, although yet again, it was a public effor for a guy that has a questionable fit and we are almost lucky it didn’t work. Kind of makes you wonder what’s going on behind the scenes.

    Wally

    19 Dec 15 at 3:23 pm

  48. I don’t get what the Nats are trying to do, or think they are trying to do. If they felt they needed a high-caliber bridge player at 2B, his name was Yunel Escobar. Escobar was due to make half what Phillips would have made, and what Murphy or Kendrick would make. The latter two will also be looking for at least five years, which would make no sense for the Nats. Besides, why block Turner? And is the lack of confidence in Turner, or in Espinosa? I understand the concern, particularly offensively, but frankly, I have greater offensive concern about Taylor and Ramos than I do about Trea and Danny.

    KW

    19 Dec 15 at 10:14 pm

  49. I would reiterate that what I think we are seeing is about having less confidence in Espinosa as an everyday long term option than Trea Turner. Otherwise, why go out and pay 27 million for a player who will be vestigial in 2-3 months when Turner steps into a full time role? The talk of Turner to the minors relating to the 2B initiatives is primarily initiated by pundits, not the Nats themselves.

    There are still plenty of players who would be good trade fits. Let’s just watch this play out.

    Kendrick? Yecch. Besides, he is not looking for a two year contract. I can’t see the Nats opting for a long term contract for Kendrick. As for Murphy, what no one is mentioning is that the Nats have eyed him for a long time. Their interest in him may be pegged to price point more than anything, but no, he does not fit their claimed paradigm of seeing defense. But for how well he hits at Nats park…

    forensicane

    20 Dec 15 at 12:36 am

  50. I don’t see Murphy being a fit, either, unless he takes three years or less. Given his poor defense, he clogs up the system for the life of his contract and pushes Espinosa out of town. By then, the middle infield talent on the farm will produce a starting caliber player. In my estimation, we will be very excited about the potential of at least one of these players by the end of next year, and they will be in or knocking at AA or above: Difo, Mejia, Schrock, Abreu.

    For what they would pay Murphy or Kendrick, the Nats are better off with Desmond on a shorter deal as his price tanks. That said, there is a much better option via a trade, but that kind of commitment will be a younger player and may push Difo out of town because he is so highly valued and high in the system. I think the solution is a bundle with Difo and Strasburg and other less luminous parts that brings back a big package that includes a long term controllable star option that bats left, or a shorter term option (Phillips-like) with many pieces for the minors. Rizzo’s creativity is fantastic, and I hope we see it on display because unlike the Braves, he has a lot to lose. But in these situations, his fearlessness helps the team and time is on the Nats side.

    Recall that Gott received a lot of interest on the trade front, not just from the Nats. As the Braves have discovered with Inciarte, trading for a widely valued commodity may open up doors to flip. The Dodgers seem to operate that way. With all of the righthanded talent in the Nats bullpen, including Treinen (pre-Mike Maddux), I would not be shocked in Gott continued to move in the right deal.

    Also, as far as the Phillips collapse goes, it was a dumb decision by Phillips. Which makes me wonder whether there is more to the story (Chapman negotiation?) in a more complicated deal that has to catch up to the rest of it, and we are hearing Rizzo stealth. Leaks are not the Nats thing, and Phillips would not have leaked this.

    I’ve already made the point of how the media rabble rouses first and then figures out its facts later. The DC media likes to beat on the Lerners are cheap trash, or Rizzo-Lerner trash and it is trash. They got a lot of mileage out of the Bud Black “scandal,” and Black got a free ride. Now he can enjoy life away from managing, with his ego intact, just like Jim Riggleman. I am all the way with the Nats brass on this.

    And let me say, as a longtime Expo fan, that to see the Nats spend what they have with no TV contract is something every national fan should be incredibly grateful for. The Nats could have overspent for many players, be they Dunn, Soriano, Zimmerman, Desmond, and even Fister. That they have not has enabled not only the Scherzer signing, which I believe will be remembered in 2016 as incredibly smart, but the investments to come this offseason.

    I’m glad they lost out on Heyward. I would have liked O’Day, but time will tell whether Kelley or Gott will give them better return. Same for Zobrist. Wanted him, but with the talent in the pipeline and et to come (deep 2016 draft), the Nats may yet be glad that they do not have another Werthian albatross. Every team has them, and if we think we have untradeable players, we should look around the league at how many teams who are highly praised have untradeable baggage. I would almost recommend it as a separate Todd Boss piece :)

    This is going to be a fun offseason and our patience will be rewarded.

    forensicane

    20 Dec 15 at 10:48 am

  51. Just to clarify, the Espinosa out of town comment relates to how Danny-Boras will react to his being cemented out of the starting lineup. We’ve seen Storen; the situation will be exactly the same. Nothing hurts like failed expectations. That added middle infield starter had better be the right one, because it will spell the end of Danny Espinosa, who will then have to be traded before his value tanks when he starts the year with 30% strikeouts.

    And I love Espinosa in a utility role. But HE doesn’t.

    forensicane

    20 Dec 15 at 10:51 am

  52. Bowden mentioned Profar, but I think Odor is a more realistic option. And the teams match up well.

    forensicane

    20 Dec 15 at 10:53 am

  53. I like much of what you said, Forensicane, but Odor is in Rendon’s league, and I doubt that they would trade him straight up for Stras, given the years of control.

    I still like gardner for this team, and wonder if a Storen/Jordan package gets that done. I also wonder what ir would take to get Holt from Bos. Could make a nice platoon guy with Espy and cover some OF.

    I wonder what value Roark has around the league. Controllable back end guy that is cheap and figures to stay that way for a while

    Wally

    20 Dec 15 at 11:31 am

  54. I’m not talk 1:1. Talking about a package with Difo. can’t see the Nats trading platoon. This has never been a platoon style team.

    Roark is a sell low. I don’t see the Nats trading him and with Maddux, we can and should bet on a comeback. If anything, the under the radar trade candidate would be Ross, because of the hauls being brought in for young, controllable pitching (Giles and Miller) and the fact that the Nats are getting lots of calls on him.

    forensicane

    20 Dec 15 at 11:44 am

  55. So now the rumor is Nats and Chen (whom I like, but wouldn’t give up a pick for him). Here is what I think: for the first time in recent memory, someone in the Nats FO is willing to leak things, so every time they have a discussion about someone, it’s hitting the papers. As opposed to being something that they are serious about. Since this is different from their MO of past years, it just seems confusing but my, in fact, be no different than what they’ve done before.

    Wally

    20 Dec 15 at 1:02 pm

  56. Wally – another possibility is Boras trying to gin up interest and money for his client “don’t know if they would go to five years.” That’s not the kind of leak that would come from a ballclub, but an agent.

    The Nats are served well by playing potential options off one another as well. “We’ve offered Leake, if we get a deal that works for us, great, if not we go to Chen (or the next rumor).”

    I trust Rizzo’s strategy about this, whatever the case may be.

    forensicane

    20 Dec 15 at 1:18 pm

  57. Nooooooooo to giving up the draft pick for Chen, plus giving him in the neighborhood of 5/100. Neither of those things make sense for where the Nats are right now. Kazmir wouldn’t cost a draft pick, but why pay a premium for someone like him or Leake when the odd man out likely would be Roark, who is perhaps at least as good as any of those guys, maybe better? The Nats have a lot of areas of greater need where they could invest $100M.

    KW

    21 Dec 15 at 8:26 am

  58. […] Washington/MLB 2015 review […]

  59. […] Washington/MLB 2015 review […]

  60. […] Washington/MLB 2015 review […]

Leave a Reply