Nationals Arm Race

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

Ladson’s Inbox 4/8/16

5 comments

Werth looking shaggy; i'd like to see this beard in the leadoff hole. Photo via fansided.com

Werth looking shaggy; i’d like to see this beard in the leadoff hole. Photo via fansided.com

Wow, a ton of Ladson inboxes so far this year!  This is great!  Here’s the 4/8/16 version.

Q: I noticed on Twitter that you want to see Jayson Werth as the leadoff hitter now that Ben Revere is on the disabled list. Isn’t Werth best suited for the middle of the order?

A: Wow, Ladson and I agree!  I absolutely want Jayson Werth in the lead-off spot right now.  Why?  Because more and more it seems like Werth’s power has left him in his advancing age.  I’ve said it before in this space several times, but yes I believe Werth would be a great lead-off hitter.   Short version: sees a ton of pitches (4.16 P/PA last year, which would make him top 10 if he qualified … and that’s WAY down from normal).  Great OBP (.365 for his career, and while 2015 was an aberration the three years before he was in the .380 to .390+ range), and when he was coming back from his wrist injury and batting lead-off for the team in 2012 his splits batting lead-off were fantastic (.309/.388/.450).  When you put Werth in the middle of the order, he’s going to try to hit like a middle-of-the-order bat.  What if he can’t do that anymore?  Then you end up with a guy who we may be seeing right now; flailing at the ball, trying to drive it at the age of 36-37).  If you put him at the top, and ask him to be a leadoff hitter, I think his advanced bat skills make him a great option there.  Ladson says the same things I do; working the count, seeing lots of pitches.

Q: When are you going to give Danny Espinosa some credit? He is off to a good start. You always write about Trea Turner.

A: Yeah, great start.  He’s 3 for 9.  But he was awful all spring.  Can you spell “Short Sample Sizes?”  Nobody in the league or the organization has any question that Trea Turner is the future and Danny Espinosa is just holding the spot for now.  If he continues to earn playing time, so be it.  I’ll take an extra year of control if Turner hangs out in Syracuse for 2-3 months.  The fact is though that at some point somebody’s getting hurt (Ryan ZimmermanAnthony Rendon?  Both are good bets) that will require some infield coverage/shifting around, and at that point Turner makes perfect sense to bring up and see what he can do with full time playing time.  Ladson gives Espinosa some love.

Q: With Bryce Harper saying that he doesn’t view himself as a leader on the team, who do you think is the “official” leader of the Nationals’ clubhouse?

A: I’m pretty sure this is Harper‘s way of being deferential to the veterans on the team without proclaiming himself as the leader.  But lets not kid ourselves; this franchise has had one MVP and he’s it.  Who is the leader?  I think there’s several leaders; there’s four significant veterans on this team: Werth, Zimmerman, Max Scherzer and Jonathan Papelbon.  Not all of them have been here forever like the FotF has, but they’re the ones that have been around the league, who are on the 8-figure deals, and they’re the ones who seem to dictate the pace of the clubhouse.  Ladson also mentions Murphy and Ramosarguable.  I only name Papelbon because in the span of a few weeks he went from being the last guy hired to being the unquestioned leader in terms of tenure both here and in the league.  

Q: Were you surprised Sean Burnett wasn’t put on the 25-man roster?

A: Yes and No.  On the one hand, the team had two solid lefties in Felipe Rivero and Oliver Perez already under contract, and keeping Burnett would have meant sending down Treinen basically thanks to options issues.  And that would have been a non-starter.  If Burnett had 8th inning stuff, perhaps.  No, i see the Burnett signing and tenure as a “favor to a long standing former player” trying to help him get back on his feet in this league.  Ladson mentions we already had two good lefties.

Q: What do you think of outfielder Victor Robles?

A: I think he’s young, apparently talented, on pace to perhaps be a solid 5 tool player.  I also think he’s years away from helping this team.  So its great that he’s potentially great … but that doesn’t do much to help this current team win while it still has Strasburg and Harper under contract.  Ladson has glowing words for the 18-yr old.

PS: I was heading to the game today before they cancelled it due to … the threat of snow?  I dunno; its chilly right now but clear.  We’ll have to wait to get to our first game :-)

5 Responses to 'Ladson’s Inbox 4/8/16'

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  1. Wow–this makes two times in a row that Ladson didn’t say anything truly daffy!

    Batting Werth leadoff makes sense for now, but when Revere comes back and Turner gets recalled suddenly you’ve got three guys who should be at the top of the order. Batting the other two 7th and 8th (or even 6th and 7th ahead of Ramos) will largely negate their speed since they can’t drive themselves in.

    As for Espinosa, as long as he keeps his BA near his lifetime average (.231), and also hits doubles and dingers and steals bases near his lifetime averages he is a plus player at short with his defense. Of course, that assumes he can hit at those paces all season and that is far from assured.

    Karl Kolchack

    9 Apr 16 at 4:57 pm

  2. Todd, right now Robles is on the same track by age as Bryce Harper, so anything you say of him must be aware of this. This is a potential superstar!

    As for the Nats, with Revere out this makes Werth the 4th best outfielder they have. He looks lost in left field and at the plate.

    den Decker hit, given an opportunity to play regularly for the last 5 weeks of the season hit at a .926 OPS rate.
    Then he won the game for them as soon as he was brought up.

    I hate to say this but Werth is looking more and more like pinch hitter the next 2 years. A very expensive pinch hitter.

    Mark L

    9 Apr 16 at 10:55 pm

  3. Fair enough on Robles … I guess i’m a bit jaded by the “potential” of these far off unknown guys who we struggle to even see video on. He’s in full season ball for the first time; lets see what happens. I guess my comment was more of a jaded ‘well that’s nice we have a 18yr old in low-A; how does that help us this season” kind of sentiment.

    I’m thinking Werth is just “over trying” right now. Not saying for sure that he’ll either rebound or that he’s done. But I have faith. Maybe misguided.

    Todd Boss

    10 Apr 16 at 8:35 am

  4. We would all do cartwheels if Robles turns into the “next Harper.” But let’s be realistic. Robles (4 HRs in 2015) has to show some significant power increase before he should even be mentioned in the same breath as Bryce. In his age-18 season, Harper hit 17 HRs in 72 games at Hagerstown, skipped Potomac for Harrisburg, where he hit 3 more, then added an additional 6 dingers in the AFL. In his age-19 season, he was ROY. Robles is a very promising prospect; Harper was/is a generational talent.

    Speaking of Bryce comparisons, I choked on Bonds’ “he doesn’t compare to me yet” comment. Um, Barry, at age-23 stats, Bryce is way ahead of you in everything but SBs. He’s getting close at 23 to the level of opponent fear that you generated in your insanely juiced body in your mid-30s. Bryce’s approach at the plate is really starting to resemble Bonds’ from that era, though. He’s not even flinching unless it’s something he likes, and if you miss, it’s going a long, long way.

    As for Werth, until he gets something more than a bloop single, I’d be moving him down in the order, not up. Have Murphy and Rendon ahead of Harper, in whatever order.

    The latest reports seem to indicate that Revere may be out longer than hoped.

    KW

    11 Apr 16 at 8:42 am

  5. Bonds on Harper: sounded to me like a classic Veteran take on a young guy; like “until you have 400 homers and 10 years of time, you’re not in the same league.” Union mentality.

    Revere out longer than we thought; shocker. Injuries to this squad were inevitable, thankfully it happened at a position where we have some depth. I tell you what though, Revere may be riding the pine if Taylor can keep hitting. This is the absolute BEST thing that could have happened to Taylor.

    Todd Boss

    11 Apr 16 at 11:48 am

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