Nationals Arm Race

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

Minor League Full Season Staff Review 2017 – Harrisburg

42 comments

Fedde is the most prominent name in AA to start. Photo via minorleagueball.com

Fedde is the most prominent name in AA to start. Photo via minorleagueball.com

We’re looking at the four full-season staffs, guessing the roles, and talk about the changes of the staffs from the end of last year til now.  Next up: Harrisburg.  See here for Syracuse review.

Quick links for rosters for each full season affiliate:

And don’t forget the invaluable work of SpringfieldFan maintaining the Nats Big Board, now in its 12th season!

Note: in the below list, “missing” means that the player was on a 2016 roster, is still listed as active but is not found anywhere on a 2017 full-season roster as expected.  Most are still sitting in Extended Spring Training (abbreviated XST throughout) with the intent of getting assigned as injuries or releases occur, but some may be release candidates.   Other abbreviations I use often: MLFA == Minor League Free Agent, OOO = Out of the Organization.

Quick Note: just prior to publishing word came out (h/t as always to Mr. Erickson) that a shake-up has already occurred in Harrisburg’s rotation.  I’ll strike-out existing text and replace it with updated.


AA/Harrisburg 2017:

  • starters: Fedde, Valdez, AWilliams, GRoss, Arias, Blackmar
  • spot starts/swingman: Long, Simms
  • bullpen: Brinley, Cordero, Johansen, Lara*, Self, Suero
  • dl/restricted: NLee*, Mapes, ARobinson
  • cut/released/FAs from 2016 (all FAs): Brady, Lively, Runion
  • missing from 2016: JDMartin, Blackmar, Benincasa, Rauh

Discussion

There’s some familiarity with this staff from the end of 2016: seven of the guys on this staff were there last September.  The Nats continue their trend of having their high profile players aim for mid-season promotions as opposed to the beginning of the season: Erick Fedde only had 5 AA starts last  year but by all accounts from his spring performance is ready to test himself at least at AAA if not doing a Jordan Zimmermann like jump straight from AA->Majors.

Rotation discussion: There’s more “starters” than there are spots; Phillips Valdez got 16 so-so starts in AA last year and will look to improve.  Austen Williams is probably getting his last shot to start before getting pushed to the bullpen.  Local guy Greg Ross (from Baltimore, went to Frostburg State) was a 2016 MLFA pickup who dominated … i’m kind of curious to see how how does in a full season.  MLFA signing Gabriel Arias has a ton of AAA time and may be over-qualified for this rotation, and got sent to the D/L just before season’s start.  He’s been replaced by 2016 rotation member Mark Blackmar, who re-signed to extend his MLFA deal in the off-season.  I’ve listed both Jaron Long and John Simms as “spot starters” for now, though I think both deserve a shot at starting on a regular basis.  We’ll see if they switch places with some of the more shaky starters here.  30th round draftee Tyler Mapes starts on the D/L after a great season at AA last year; perhaps he gets pushed to AAA when he comes off the D/L.

In the bullpen, some surprises.  Why is 40-man roster member Jimmy Cordero in AA?   How did top 2013 draft pick Jake Johansen make the AA squad despite never succeeding anywhere outside of Low-A?  Derek Self will be spending his fourth successive year at Harrisburg; there’s more than 40 arms sitting in XST right now; does it make sense to have a guy who clearly isn’t rising up taking a full-season roster spot at this point?   Off-season MLFA Braulio Lara in AA after years in AAA?  Am I being too critical here?  It just seems like some curious picks for our AA squad.

Listed as “Missing” include the return of J.D. Martin as a knuckleballer; he’ll remain in XST until a spot opens up in AA or AAA.  2016 MLFA signing Mark Blackmar ended the year in AA but didn’t make the team; i’m guessing they’re trying to figure out how he fits in after dominating High-A but struggling in AA.  Lastly two guys who I have as “release candidates” are not assigned but not yet cut in long time Nats farm-hands Robert Benincasa and Brian Rauh.

Who am I focusing on: Fedde obviously.  Ross and Simms intrigue me, as does Mapes.  Brinley was *so good* in Potomac; really want to see him succeed in AA as a 27th rounder.  Want to see what we have in Cordero.

42 Responses to 'Minor League Full Season Staff Review 2017 – Harrisburg'

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  1. Valdez is going to the bullpen to work as a reliever…Long is the starter

    Mick Reinhardr

    7 Apr 17 at 11:56 am

  2. Good intel! It also makes a lot of sense, as Valdez has continually struggled as a starter. He’s supposed to have a big heater, but he don’t have big K/9 numbers to go with it.

    I liked what Long did last year. Heck, I liked what Mapes, Simms, and Ross did as well. There was a time when such results could have had all four of them competing for spots with the big club in the spring. With a perennial contender now, though, none of them even got invites. If one or more of them make the majors at some point in their careers, though, it won’t surprise me. There’s value in knowing how to get guys out, even if you don’t throw 98.

    So we’re left with Fedde as the only real prospect. Heck, since the Nats don’t seem to think much of Voth, and now that Cole has blown chance after chance, a good argument could be made that Fedde is the only legit MLB starter prospect the Nats have from across the top three levels. (No, I’m not really a big Joan Baez believer.) I said at the time of the Eaton trade that the Nats were betting big on Fedde. If one of the DC starters goes down this year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fedde get a look. On the flip side, the big club will have the entire rotation back in ’18, so there isn’t an evident immediate opening.

    KW

    7 Apr 17 at 12:36 pm

  3. Thanks Mick! I hope I got most of the rest right :-)

    Todd Boss

    7 Apr 17 at 12:47 pm

  4. I had the same thought about Cordero: why did they send him to AA? It will be interesting to see whether they make him the true closer at Harrisburg, which he likely wouldn’t have gotten to do at Syracuse.

    Brinley was blowing through the organization almost at the same rate as Glover before he hit turbulence at Harrisburg last year and got sent back to Potomac. He doesn’t have big K/9 but has posted terrific WHIPs. He hardly walks anyone.

    Someone on Luke’s site fussed at me for suggesting that Johansen had gotten a “social promotion.” What else do you want to call it? Face-saving for a bad 2d round pick? Johansen got demoted from Potomac last year during his fourth pro season. The only positive spin I can offer for both him and Austen Williams is something in an article I once saw (I think by Mr. Positive, Byron Kerr) about how in the pre- and postseason camps, Johansen and Williams were the real leaders among the players. There comes a time, though, where you have to get a few guys out . . .

    KW

    7 Apr 17 at 12:49 pm

  5. Johansen: no offense to him personally … but unless he has like a whole new pitch or approach, or completely is a changed man this spring, his presence in AA makes no sense to me.

    Here’s his attempts at High-A: http://www.milb.com/player/index.jsp?sid=milb&player_id=572952#/career/R/pitching/2017/ALL
    2015: 48 innings, 5.44 ERA
    2016: 6 innings, 4.82 ERA.

    What exactly has he done to show that he can even handle High-A, let alone AA?? So weird.

    I’ll zip over to Luke’s site to add my 2 cents.

    Todd Boss

    7 Apr 17 at 12:53 pm

  6. The comment on Luke’s site was from a few posts ago; I’ve even forgotten who made it. (I didn’t take any offense.) But yeah, “social promotion” is about the NICEST thing you could call it!

    KW

    7 Apr 17 at 1:19 pm

  7. Couldn’t find it. Tired of trying to find things on the internet in vain today :-)

    Todd Boss

    7 Apr 17 at 1:24 pm

  8. Johansen in AA actually makes sense to me. He’s a former 2nd round bonus baby who has finally reached his last chance. He 26 already, so it doesn’t make sense to put him back at Potomac. My guess is he’ll be on pretty short leash and will need to quickly show major improvement to avoid getting cut. And if you drop down and take a look at Potomac’s bullpen, it isn’t like they’re really holding anybody back to accommodate him.

    Karl Kolchak

    7 Apr 17 at 1:47 pm

  9. Johnasen: Well, look how long they held onto 2nd rounder Mooneyham. Drafted in 2012, released in June 2015 right as the short seasons were getting ready to start. Johansen was drafted in 2013 so already has extra year on Mooneyham. Perhaps that’s what we’re seeing here. He’s been told “you have until draft day to keep your spot.”

    Todd Boss

    7 Apr 17 at 1:55 pm

  10. KW–that was me on the social promotion thing. Johansen is not your run of the mill 9th rounder who has hung on too long. He’s someone they used a high pick on and paid out a sizable bonus for, precisely because he has more natural ability than your run of the mill prospect.

    I don’t at all fault the Nats for giving him one last chance. We’re talking about a AA bullpen slot, so it is very small cost in terms of him taking up that roster spot for a month or two versus potentially huge reward if he suddenly learns to harness his natural ability.

    Karl Kolchak

    7 Apr 17 at 1:56 pm

  11. My guess on Mooneyham is that he had a drop in velocity or something that caused him to get jettisoned more quickly. If Johansen is still throwing in the high 90s as he supposedly did when he was drafted, that could also be why they sent him to the AFL last year over other relievers in the system.

    Karl Kolchak

    7 Apr 17 at 1:58 pm

  12. Todd, don’t short Tony Renda! (Sorry, that was baaaad . . .) Anyway, Renda was the 2d rounder; Moneyham was the 3d rounder. Like Johansen, Moneyham really filled out a uniform. Like Johansen, Moneyham never even mastered Potomac, after multiple tries.

    Karl, I get your “sunk cost” logic, but I don’t necessarily agree with it. They demoted Johansen from Potomac last year after just nine innings! They did send him to the AFL at the end of the year, where he did reasonably well and probably got the AA ticket. We’ll see. There’s a lot in these equations we don’t see. And yes, they aren’t exactly brimming over with fast-rising relievers, other than Brinley.

    KW

    7 Apr 17 at 2:27 pm

  13. Man, how could I have forgotten about Renda?? I’ve mentioned this before, but Rizzo seems to have a huge blind spot for 2nd round picks? Going backwards to his first draft in 2009:

    – 2016: Neuse; disappointed 1st pro season
    – 2015: Stevenson; ok he’s been pretty good
    – 2015 (Suarez comp pick): Perkins; barely above the Mendoza line … though we know he’s young and is learning to switch hit
    – 2014: Suarez; didn’t sign.
    – 2013: Johansen: as discussed
    – 2012: Tony Renda: career 11-60 in a brief spell with Cincinnati after being flipped for David Carpenter … who wasn’t exactly a savior for the team either
    – 2011: 2nd rounder lost as comp for Werth signing
    – 2010: Sammy Solis: he’s been good as a reliever .. but washed out as a starter
    – 2009: Kobernus; yet another Cal-Berkeley second baseman. 44 career ABs and out of baseball now.

    I mean … the combined WAR of all of these guys at the major league level is barely above zero… and that’s only because Solis had a bWAR 1.1 season last year to off-set Renda and Kobernus negative career WARs.

    Todd Boss

    7 Apr 17 at 3:01 pm

  14. Just to be clear, if Johansen suddenly does figure out a lot of things and put his upper-90s heater to good use, that’s great, for both him and the Nats. But I don’t expect it. Roark-like career turnaround miracles do happen every now and then, though.

    It also bothers me when guys with upper-90s heat keep getting chance after chance, while guys like Voth, Mapes, Simms, and Long all seem to get overlooked. I have no idea whether any of them could make it in the majors. It’s not my job to pretend to know (thank goodness). I do know that Voth got AAA guys out last year better than Cole did, yet Cole got the MLB call . . . and proceeded to show that his 4.26 ERA in AAA was well earned.

    KW

    7 Apr 17 at 3:08 pm

  15. You can’t teach velocity. If Greg Maddux was a high schooler matriculating right now with his stuff, he wouldn’t be a 2nd round pick like Maddux was. And if he was a minor league prospect, irrespective of his numbers, he’d be struggling to earn promotions. Its the way the game has gone.

    Todd Boss

    7 Apr 17 at 3:10 pm

  16. Speaking of Mike’s baby brother, in case anyone missed it:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axkik-8oFTs

    I wonder if he’d be interested in a comeback, just to get a few outs in the playoffs . . .

    KW

    7 Apr 17 at 3:18 pm

  17. Here’s the list of non-1st-round picks by the Nats who have played as consistent regulars in the contention era: Desi, Danny, JZim. Am I missing anyone? I don’t think so. They’re all gone. I think we’re close to being able to say that Solis can unpack for good as a bullpen member, and there have been a few others in the ‘pen in past years (Stammen, Barrett), and up-and-down bench guys (Taylor, T-Mo). But overall, the Nats haven’t hit on many picks at all other than high 1st rounders. Thank goodness they’ve had a lot better success with trades and free agents.

    KW

    7 Apr 17 at 4:05 pm

  18. I’m not saying I expect Johansen to suddenly figure things out–just the opposite in fact. I’m just saying I understand why the Nats are giving him this one last chance as it is far more likely that with his live arm he could turn into a real asset than it is for someone who only throws 90-92.

    As for drafts, the real crap out was in 2011. Remember how excited everyone was that the Nats took advantage of it being the last year before the bonus penalties began and essentially got themselves 4 first rounders? As it turned out, it was one really good player who has yet to make the AS team and three total busts who are all in AAA to start the season despite being 26-27 now. Thank goodness the Span trade for Meyer saved us a bit on that one.

    Fun fact: 32nd rounder Billy Burns from that year has a 1.9 career WAR, while Meyer, Goodwin & Purke are a collective -0.5 WAR.

    Karl Kolchak

    7 Apr 17 at 4:09 pm

  19. KW–it is surprising that given his reputation as a scout and player development guru, Rizzo’s main success as a GM has been in the area of trades. He managed to get Morse, Roark, Ramos, Span, Turner & Ross for practically nothing and I think we can now safely say that the Gio trade was also a huge win. Think where the Nats would be had they not made those moves.

    Karl Kolchak

    7 Apr 17 at 4:15 pm

  20. . . . and then flipped Morse for Treinen, Cole, and Krol.

    KW

    7 Apr 17 at 4:33 pm

  21. On Rizzo’s trading; this is the one reason I think my “opinion” on the Eaton trade may be wrong. How many times has Rizzo made a bad trade versus a steal? I have a big file that tracks trades and here’s my list of Rizzo’s “worst” trades:
    – 2016: Rzepczynski trade for 11.2 innings and future hall of famer Max Schrock
    – 2015: Papelbon acquisition for Pivetta
    – 2013: Jerry Blevins for Billy Burns
    – 2013: John Wooten for Fernando Abad
    – 2011: Gomes for Rhinehart/Manno
    – 2009: Bruney for ptbnl (eventually rule5 top pick Jamie Hoffman)

    That’s it. And you’re hard pressed to look at any of the players we sent away and say, “man we really got taken on that deal.”

    meanwhile; here’s Rizzo’s “best” trades:

    – 2014: getting Turner/Ross for Morse
    – 2013: getting Fister for Krol, Ray, Lombardozzi
    – 2013: Morse trade return (we got AJ Cole, Blake Treinen, ptbnl turns into Ian Krol)
    – 2011: Gio Gonzalez, Gilliam for Milone, Peacock, Norris, Cole
    – 2010: getting Wilson Ramos (and Joe Testa) for half a season of Matt Capps
    – 2010: Roark/Tatusko for Guzman

    Yeah. hard to knock him.

    So when he flips three high-end arms for Adam Eaton .. maybe I should be more “ok” with the deal. Trust in Rizzo. (except when Scott Boras is involved, then the motto is “Footprints on Rizzo’s forehead.”)

    Todd Boss

    7 Apr 17 at 4:36 pm

  22. Turner/Ross for Souza. Also FWIW, if I’m remembering correctly, Abad was a DFA situation where they were just trying to get anything.

    I don’t hate on the Boras connection as much as some do. I personally like having Harper, Stras, Max, Rendon, etc. Yeah, there have been a few clunkers, like Soriano and the very obvious handshake deal of not putting the QO on Edwin Jackson to get the draft pick. But, like the trades, the Nats are WAY ahead in the Boras department.

    [Pause for Murphy double, following Murphy HR. He may end up being one of the best FA signings of all time.]

    KW

    7 Apr 17 at 4:54 pm

  23. Oh yeah, that Werth guy was also a Boras client.

    KW

    7 Apr 17 at 4:56 pm

  24. [Murphy not a Boras client, just a good, cost-effective FA signing . . . who is now a perpetual MVP candidate.]

    KW

    7 Apr 17 at 4:59 pm

  25. Using Cots as a guide to current boras clients on our 40-man: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1wcvf9J3nBsqAGAsD9BH7az3aGcsfCUn3IYRgvpM8Tes/edit#gid=0

    There’s 3 kinds of Boras clients on the Nats roster:
    1. Kids we drafted who we would have drafted anyway; Strasburg, Harper, Rendon, likely Goodwin, perhaps Purke
    2. FAs we would have signed anyway b/c they were good deals or we had other reasons: Werth, Murphy
    3. FAs we signed seemingly to do Boras a favor: Scherzer, Wieters, Drew the first time. Diving back in history: Soriano for sure. Also worth mentioning the lack of QO for Edwin Jackson here.
    (Gio wasn’t w/ Boras when we got him. I’m not sure Taylor was a Boras client in HS or not)

    Its category 3 that bugs me. Scherzer is worth his weight in gold, but we didn’t need Wieters, and Soriano signing continues to haunt us to this day.

    Todd Boss

    7 Apr 17 at 5:08 pm

  26. People act like Rizzo is being bypassed on some of the Boras deals. But if Rizzo (and Boras) hadn’t talked Ted into playing ball with Boras in the first place, the Nats wouldn’t have any of those guys. I don’t know that they would have even drafted Stras and Harper, despite their supposed “generational” talent. So many teams have passed on Boras clients.

    Also, for all the hard bargains he drives, Boras has been willing to negotiate the deferred contracts that have allowed the Nats to keep a leg up while still being held hostage by Boras.

    I’m not totally in the tank for Boras, but the current Nats would be unrecognizable without him.

    KW

    7 Apr 17 at 5:22 pm

  27. Rich Hill already on the DL. That didn’t take long! (Just a blister.) Zach Wheeler getting rocked in his long-awaited return to the Met rotation. Mets already missing Matz and Lugo. You reap what you sow.

    KW

    7 Apr 17 at 8:15 pm

  28. For me the jury is still out on the Fister trade because of Robbie Ray. Yeah, the Tigers gave up on him too, but he had 218 Ks a year ago for the Snakes and is only 25. Meanwhile, the Nats won the title by 17 games in 2014, and Fister only started 25 games due to his April injury. He was a luxury on that team, not a necessity. If the light goes on for Ray this year, we may end up rueing that trade.

    Meanwhile, I’ll take back what I said about how Glover should have started the year in AAA. He looks like the only reliable arm in the pen right now. Glad the offense is picking up the slack so far.

    At this rate, we may see Johansen in DC by June (kidding).

    Karl Kolchak

    7 Apr 17 at 9:47 pm

  29. KW: you don’t think Rizzo got by passed on some of those Boras deals? How many places have we read that Boras went “straight to the owner” to get some deal done? Do you really think Rizzo, the guy who signed Matt Capps just so he could flip him was in on blowing his 1st round pick for an over the hill

    On the one hand … Boras represents many good players so its not a “bad thing” to have Boras clients. I will agree with you there. But when the industry mocks you for being in Boras’ pocket, that’s problematic. The Dodgers have a whole slew of Boras clients; have you ever read anyone talking about how the Dodgers ownership are Boras’ bitches?

    Todd Boss

    8 Apr 17 at 7:08 am

  30. Rich Hill: saw that. I really, really wanted him in Fantasy but am not surprised by his D/L trip in the least.

    Mets rotation woes: no surprise either. Harvey looked awesome, so it looks like their 1-2-3 is still solid. But Wheeler sucked, Lugo might need TJ, Matz has a flexor strain and they’ll be depending on Gsellman, who looks promising but certainly wasn’t their planned 5th starter when the season started. Plus the Mets have (per b-r.com) 6 guys on the D/L plus their closer suspended. They’re falling apart.

    Todd Boss

    8 Apr 17 at 7:17 am

  31. Fister trade/Ray; a good point. I’m still not sold on Ray either … there was analysis of his wild discrepancies between bWAR and fWAR over the off-season, but the fact remains that even with his massive K figures he gives up base runners. 1.468 whip last year; that was 5th worst of all 73 qualified starters in the game. That’s not good.

    Todd Boss

    8 Apr 17 at 7:20 am

  32. The Boras-Lerner-Rizzo triangulation is complicated, much more so that the simplistic reading that the national talking heads make it. Boz went into the background in some detail in a chat around the time of the Wieters signing. Boz has had a number of conversations with Rizzo about the subject of Boras. He assured readers that Boras wasn’t doing anything behind his back; that Rizzo was aware of everything and pretty much orchestrating it. I think part of it was so that Ted would get some of the glory for the big-name signings. Although Boz didn’t come right out and say it, one of my takeaways was that letting Ted do these deals was part of Rizzo’s strategy to get Ted to expand payroll beyond whatever arbitrary limits Ted had set.

    Another point Boz made, from talking with Boras, is that Boras and Rizzo trust each other and have a lot of respect for each other. Boz basically said that Boras thinks Rizzo is a cut above most others in his position, which is a big part of why Boras likes to deal with him — he trusts him and knows he won’t screw his players.

    As much as Boras gets vilified, he operates above board. And let’s face it, if I was a player, heck yeah I’d want him as my agent. His organization seems to fight as hard for the marginal guys as it does the superstars. A few his marginal guys did get screwed by not taking QOs, but he learned his lesson and had some, like Wieters in Balto, take the QO. You also rarely hear of much drama with Boras over arbitration; in fact, he often has his players sign for a couple of arb years at a time, for reasonable rates, as both Stras and Harper have done.

    The big Boras thing that sticks in Nats’ fans craws is Soriano, but a good bit of that is revisionist history. After the 2012 playoffs, none of us trusted Storen, and a lot of us drank the Kool Aid and were glad to have another closer on board, even if it cost the draft pick.

    Now, I didn’t like the Drew signing last year, but that one turned out surprisingly well. I know some folks are upset by the way the whole Norris and Wieters thing played out, but I was never excited about .186 Norris in the first place. And when they ponied up for Blanton on top of Wieters, to me, that eased the whole “coulda spent the money better elsewhere” argument. So far, the early returns on Wieters look very good, not just at the plate, but working with the pitchers. I also think he’s gotten a bad rap on the framing front. He stole a big strike for Treinen in the 9th yesterday when Treinen was struggling. He also stole one for Max in one of the few innings where Max had allowed guys on base.

    I’m not totally in the tank for Boras. But it’s very, very hard to imagine the Nats having nearly as good a team as they do without that “special relationship.”

    KW

    8 Apr 17 at 8:15 am

  33. I was doing cartwheels over the Fister trade. By advanced stats, Fister had been one of the top 10-15 starters in baseball the previous three seasons. He was also cost-effective, controlled for two seasons, and possibly re-signable (at the time we thought both JZim and Stras would be leaving and Max wasn’t even on the radar). Then, despite the injured start to the 2014 season, Fister posted a 2.41 ERA and 1.079 WHIP for the Nats, got Cy Young votes (finished 8th), and in the playoffs was the starter in SF in the only Mad Bum start in the playoffs the Giants didn’t win.

    At that point, NO Nats fan gave a flip about giving up Robbie Ray. In fact, when the Tigers called him up that year, he had an 8.16 ERA. They unloaded him on AZ after one season.

    No one had any idea that the wheels would fall off so quickly for Fister. He went from a guy getting Cy Young votes to one the Nats couldn’t even risk putting the QO on in one season.

    As you noted, the jury is still out on Ray. His stats seem to scream that he needs to be a closer. He has great K/9s, but his career ERA is around 5 and career WHIP around 1.5. He gives up more than a hit an inning. Would he be in the Nat rotation if he was still with them? I seriously doubt it.

    KW

    8 Apr 17 at 8:31 am

  34. Two other trades to mention as bad ones:
    Melancon for Rivero/Hearn – this one is a bit unfair, because MM did everything asked of him (and I supported the trade at the time as the right kind of move for that team), but because the Nats didn’t advance in the playoffs, and because Rivero is good and getting better and Hearn might become something, this will go down as one of the most lopsided WAR trades Rizzo ever made. And because of the pen problems this year (if they continue), you’ll see criticism of this trade starting this year. I’d guess that this one is going to go down as one of his worst.

    Avila for Norris – it may not turn into a problem if Avila never makes the bigs, but Rizzo gave legit value for a guy that was a DFA within a month or two. You can say it was a Weiters hedge, which it likely was, but Rizzo still badly misjudged Norris. He could have waited it out and got what he wanted. I’ll continue to see this one as one of Rizzo’s poorest decisions.

    1 excellent trade – Meyer for Span. Ranks up there with Ramos for Capps as one of his best ever.

    I’d rank the good ones as:
    Turner/Ross
    Gio
    Ramos
    Span

    Roark should be on there at #2, but I don’t think Rizzo saw it coming so it was just pure luck. Maybe that’s unfair to him but I can’t shake that feeling and find it hard to really give him credit.

    Wally

    8 Apr 17 at 8:33 am

  35. I agree that the Boras-Nats relationship has been very productive for the Nats. Why that is, who knows but I can’t argue it’s been anything other than good overall.

    Funny thing about the Fister trade, which definitely was good for the Nats because they needed help right then, and Ray took years to get good*, is that Rizzo made a big point of saying that the Tigers really wanted Taylor Jordan but he refused, giving Ray instead. And I was very happy about that! Would be nice if we had a mulligan on that, right?

    *that time delay is a big deal, and why I think Rivero will turn out to be viewed as a big mistake. He’s good now (what was the WAR comparison between him and MM last year, for instance?) and only getting better, in exactly the window that the Nats need this help.

    Wally

    8 Apr 17 at 8:41 am

  36. Karl, yeah, Glover really showed some mettle yesterday. I was surprised Dusty didn’t send him back out for the 9th. Could he get the call to close today? (Sat.) Dusty sure can’t put Treinen out there for a fifth game in a row.

    Interesting moves to come. Guthrie’s contract is being selected today. Now he won’t be able to be outrighted without passing through waivers. Unless he really gets bombed, he’s on the team, even when Ross comes back.

    I assume Difo will get sent down today, although neither he nor Taylor has played. Things will get trickier when Ross is activated, possibly in later April. Would they send down Taylor and only keep a four-man bench? I doubt it. I think a pitcher will go, somewhere.

    Speaking of which, Todd, does Solis still have an option? There seems to be some disagreement on that in the Natosphere. Neither Solis nor Romero impressed yesterday, but conditions were terrible.

    KW

    8 Apr 17 at 8:44 am

  37. Wally, I had forgotten about the Ray-instead-of-Jordan part of the Fister deal, but I think you’re right about that. I do remember being glad that it was Lombo instead of Zach Walters. Dombrowski got universally panned for that deal.

    KW

    8 Apr 17 at 8:49 am

  38. Melancon trade as “bad”: … I think its bad because of the circumstances, not based solely on players in/players out.

    Norris trade: You can spin Norris trade two ways:
    – Pro trade: we got a former all-star with excellent defensive skills who was a bounce back candidate flipped for a no-name Low-A starter who was at best ranked 23rd-26th in our system.
    – Con trade: Wally’s take.

    I fall much more towards the Pro Norris trade side. I was not enamored of Avila like you are. I viewed him as a good but not crucial prospect.

    Todd Boss

    8 Apr 17 at 8:55 am

  39. A few quick notes:

    1) Austen Williams had the best start of his AA experience this weekend. Two years ago he was a pitcher of the year. Some people just need to season a bit more, and he was pushed up to AA awfully fast in 2016 and got waxed. Perhaps now he is back on track. Brinley was likewise roasted when he came up last year, but he, too, has had work and tutelage to mature.

    2) Fedde started as we would hope he would.

    3) Valdez has quite an arm. He’s been inconsistent but his talent still developing. He is not that old. I would not be surprised to see him back in the rotation soon enough.

    4) Simms is another one who has shown enough get a chance to start again, and I hope he does.

    5) Mapes is the unfortunate mystery, one of the best starting pitchers in the Nats minors to go down with injury. Yecch.

    forensicane

    10 Apr 17 at 11:00 am

  40. Trades:

    It was premature to judge the Fister trade. It was not as profitable as we envisioned. Fister simply fell too far and too fast and did not turn out to be a long term investment.

    It was premature to judge the Souza trade. But early returns are promising and very positive.

    It is likewise premature to judge the Eaton trade.

    As it is the Norris trade. If Avila never makes the major leagues, and I was excited about him last year, then who cares? The real issue is whether Weiters will prove to have validated the choice to jettison Norris in his favor.

    forensicane

    10 Apr 17 at 11:04 am

  41. Boras:

    I apologize for being repetitive, but the Boras-Rizzo-Lerner controversy is overembellished Bowdenbull%$@t peddled by sportswriters who predictably toss scandal to a) sell their own celebrity b) do the bidding of the person who manipulates them, often some aggrieved party.

    If Boras’ players perform, he is selling value. Werth will have earned what they paid him. Scherzer has been an anchor. Sure, the Nats have bought occasional busts, but relative to other teams their sunk costs are lower and shorter term.

    I do not believe that Boras runs the Nats. Rizzo is too proud to allow that. The Nats have activist ownership that speaks up, and generally supports the GM to invest as he should. Good! It worked for Steinbrenner.

    The team has strong chemistry and leadership and that will overcome certain talent challenges. I wish they signed Melancon, but they have players who can still rise and seize the bullpen responsibilities. And Rizzo will never be complacent if they do not.

    forensicane

    10 Apr 17 at 11:12 am

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