Nationals Arm Race

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

Strasburg to DL again; is this the official white flag?


"My Neck hurts." "Oh yeah, something always frigging hurts with you, you snowflake." -- photo via WP

“My Neck hurts.” “Oh yeah, something always frigging hurts with you, you snowflake.” — photo via WP

At some point, you have to stop performing CPR and just call it.

I wonder if we’re at that point.  Today we learned that #2 starter Stephen “the Orchid” Strasburg is heading back to the D/L for what will be his 50th* career D/L trip (* estimated).  I just don’t see how this team goes on the run it needs without one of its best starters.

Even given Tanner Roark‘s wonderful start yesterday, the team (as of this writing) sits at 50-51.  They’re 7 games out of the Division lead, 5.5 games out of the WC, and face a massive uphill climb to make the playoffs.

To get to 90 wins (often regarded in the 2-wild card system as the minimum you’ll need) the team needs to go 40-21 in its remaining games.  That’s a .622 W/L percentage.  I suppose they could go on a 20-7 rampage like they did in May and make it up… but it seems less likely the longer this season goes along.

Of their remaining 61 games…

  • 7 against Atlanta
  • 9 against Philly
  • 7 against the Cubs
  • 7 against the Cardinals
  • 3 more against Milwaukee
  • 3 in Colorado to end the season

So that’s 36 of the remaining 61 games against teams that I think are patently better than us.  And we’ll have to play .622 ball against them AND hold serve against the scrubs we’re playing too.

Oh, and now we’re doing it with, by my count, our #9 starter in Tommy Milone called up.  Scherzer, Strasburg, Gio, Roark, Hellickson, Fedde, JRodriguez, Voth ahead of him in the pecking order.  I’m sure things will go great; lest you forget, Milone’s ERA in 2017 was 8.56 in 27 innings.  Actually, with an ERA like that, he’ll fit right into this team.

So yes, the Braves have scuffled recently and the Phillies are treading water.  And yes our Pythag record shows we’re better than 50-51.  All fair points.  But we’re nearly to August and are still playing .500 ball, with no signs of getting better.

And, as become apparent this week, thanks to the Nats doing such a bang-up job with payroll management this year, they snuck over the luxury tax threshold so the comp pick they’ll get for a once-in-a-generation player leaving next year via FA in Bryce Harper will be … voila!  A supplemental 4th rounder??  Are you frigging kidding me?  That’s all we’ll get by offering him a Qualifying Offer??  Wow, that Matt Wieters contract just keeps looking better and better doesn’t it?  I sure hope Scott Boras enjoys the boat he bought off of that commission that he screwed the Nats out of.  Can someone change the Lerner’s cell phone number so Boras can’t go over Mike Rizzo‘s head to make bad deals any more?

Nats should trade Harper and hope to get a MLB top 100 pick for the rental.  They should also shop around basically every other guy set to leave in FA.  That means Murphy, Gio, Madsen, Wieters, Kelley, heck lets through in Benoit and Reynolds and Adams and all the one-year MLFAs we’ve got too.   Its bargain basement shopping time in DC.  First come, first served.

Will this leadership team admit defeat and make these trades?  Probably not.  They’ll probably do something dumb in the next few days like trade a top prospect for 2 months of a dead-arm starter or a catcher we can just go buy next off-season with the $80M of saved payroll.   They’ll leverage the farm system yet again so they can be an 86 win team instead of an 81 win team.

But I could be wrong.  We’ll see what happens.

ps: I managed to write this whole post without mentioning the manager.  My stance is as clear now as it was the day they let Dusty Baker go, and nothing that Dave Martinez has done has made me think that he was in any way a better choice to manage this team and this set of players in the year 2018.  Any argument about the manager is tough to quantify … i prefer arguments I can back up with stats frankly, so my opinion on his handling of veterans, of Ryan Zimmerman, of the bullpen, of baserunning strategy, of lineup-construction, and of his seeming inability to stand up to the veterans on this team will stay with me.

66 Responses to 'Strasburg to DL again; is this the official white flag?'

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  1. Thanks, this was cathartic to read. I agree that it’s time to unload some players. I’m finished with this year. I’d probably feel a lot worse about this if not for the Caps.

    As to the manager, you and I are on the same page: Even as appalled as I was with Dusty starting Gio over Tanner in Game 5 last postseason, I couldn’t believe the Lerners fired him (and it was the Lerners, not Rizzo, IMO). A few years earlier, I had actually liked Dave Martinez over Matt Williams, but I was immediately put off by the antics in spring training with the camel and all that other bush league garbage. So do you think Martinez is gone after one season or is he back, even if they don’t make the playoffs? Personally, I’d absolutely give him another season, because I think every manager should get at least two, and because dumping him after one season would make the Nats FO draw comparisons to Redskins-level mismanagement.


    26 Jul 18 at 3:50 pm

  2. Has anyone else noticed how Harper has turned into Adam Dunn?
    A walk, a strikeout or a home run are the seemingly only outcomes.

    Mark L

    26 Jul 18 at 4:38 pm

  3. RE Dusty, Boz said in a recent chat that someone in the Nats’ organization recently made the comment that Dusty was the best manager in baseball for 21 hours a day. That really made the point of what’s the issue here — Dusty was fantastic at keeping the team together and pointed in the right direction. A total of 192 wins over two season don’t lie. People tend to forget the importance of actually making the playoffs over the chap-shoot nature of what happens when you get there.

    As for in-game management, Martinez seems to be doing a lot of the same things for which Dusty was roasted unmercilessly, so I can’t see where we’ve improved for that three-hour block, either.


    27 Jul 18 at 9:27 am

  4. But . . . I’m still not selling. If the offense from the last two games keeps showing up, life is good. The Braves are on a 5-11 stretch and coming back to the Nats. The same will happen to the Phils.

    Also, I’m aiming to win the division. I think the East can be won with fewer wins (~85) than it may take to get into the wild card. I don’t think the East will have a wild card team.

    Are the Nats buying? The pitching market stinks. Cole Hamels? A 5.20 FIP and an awful contract? What was Theo thinking? (Better him than us.) Happ ain’t much better. So I’m not impressed with the level of what’s available. I don’t discount Rizzo coming up with someone, though.

    If they think about selling, I don’t think it would be a fire-sale-type move. I think it would just be a strategic adjustment to try to get under the luxury tax line. They could probably do that with moving two of three from Kelley, Madson, and Kintzler. Those would just be dumps, though, with nothing of substance expected in return.


    27 Jul 18 at 9:38 am

  5. Worst case for me: they sweep Miami and go 3 games over .500 and get to within like 5 games of the division, miss the trade deadline as a result, then go into a tailspin and end August 4 games below .500.

    Todd Boss

    27 Jul 18 at 10:04 am

  6. I don’t think there’s a mega-deal to be made in selling. Bryce is the only huge asset, and he’s devalued right now. Frankly, I don’t see the front office and the Lerners being able to wrap themselves around the idea of trading Bryce, unless an unbelievable deal just lands in their laps.

    As for what happens in August, I think they would still be able to move enough guys through waiver-wire trades to get under the luxury tax line. If I were Rizzo, I’d be trying to float all of guys with expiring contracts through waivers on August 1, just to be ready.


    27 Jul 18 at 10:20 am

  7. I actually counted Milone as our #11 starter if you consider the full season. All the guys you mentioned, plus A.J. Cole started in the rotation, and I think Edwin Jackson would have gotten the call over Milone if he had not opted out.

    Really not sure why the team didn’t just go with EJax rather than messing around with the clearly unfinished Rodriguez and questionable Fedde. If you need someone to just eat ~150 innings and keep the team in contention, that’s the perfect guy to do it. Feels like this might be a bit different season if they just went that route.

    Agree with the idea that Bryce is the only really tradeable asset. The comp pick being in the 4th round really should prioritize trading him. If they could get any top 100 pick, that’s more valuable.

    No contender is going to take Gio — doesn’t really make a difference in the regular season, and you can’t possibly pitch him in the playoffs, so what’s the point? Maybe guys like Madson or Kelley could yield a lottery-ticket prospect, but is that really better than the, say, 10% chance we rally and make the playoffs?

    So it seems to me, if you’re not going to trade Bryce, don’t trade anybody and just see what happens.


    27 Jul 18 at 6:42 pm

  8. NG: good pull. I too would have put him behind Cole and Jackson. Technically all the AAA guys were also behind Ross, but he’s not exactly an option.

    I don’t quite blame the team on EJax; the timing just really sucked for them. We talked about it before; They released him on 6/1/18 (clearly he had an opt-out), then Hellickson got hurt 5 days later. Just bad timing; otherwise Jackson probably is still pitching in our rotation.

    Todd Boss

    27 Jul 18 at 7:29 pm

  9. Yes, EJax had an opt-out. But of course they could have avoided him exercising it if they had brought him up as the long man out of the bullpen instead of shuttling Suero and Gott. I know they wanted him “stretched out,” but they knew they were going to lose him, and for a rubber-armed guy like him, he doesn’t need much stretching.


    27 Jul 18 at 8:34 pm

  10. I think EJax and Milone were all about 40 man roster decisions. They went with the guys who didn’t require anyone to be DFA’d.

    I seriously disagree with some of the above, though. Gio would definitely have value, as would Hellickson, Murphy, Madson, Herrera and Adams (I don’t want to trade Adams, though). None of those guys would get a top 100 prospect, if that’s what you mean. But other guys have value too.

    Stand pat? Ok. Not my preference but I can understand. Sell, especially if you can get below the tax and upgrade your pick for Bryce? Yeah that’s my preference. Reload for next year.

    But buy? Really against that.


    27 Jul 18 at 9:15 pm

  11. Oh, I agree that they went through a long period this season where they were silly about not making 40-man cuts when they’ve got four or five guys who were/are pretty easy DFA’s.

    Concerning Harper specifically, I think all the Internet buzz about trading him has been largely a futile exercise because I don’t see the front office and the Lerners doing it. Yes, it might have become possible if the Nats were 10 out, but they’re not.

    I don’t see them selling, at least by the July 31 date. I don’t see them moving a top prospect to be major buyers, either. If they “buy,” it likely would be with second- or third-tier prospects (the Gutierrez and Perkins types), so no great loss.

    But I’ve been wrong before.


    28 Jul 18 at 9:31 am

  12. By the way, the Nats are now just four out of the wild card, six out of the division. The Braves are sinking like a rock, on a 5-12 spiral.

    Incidentally, by Pythagorean, the Nats “should” be 56-47, the Phils 55-48. (The Braves would lead at 56-44.)


    28 Jul 18 at 9:38 am

  13. 40-man cuts this year for Nats: on the one hand … they clearly made a mistake on letting Jackson go … but then again, they didn’t have a ton of flexibility in that bullpen either; they had to option Solis of all people, the guy who led the team in appearances.

    They’ve cut: Romero (who is currently himself again in DFA limbo), Montero (never resigned; may be done), Cole (who is suddenly lights out for NYY’s bullpen WTF??), Sierra, Torres, Bautista, and Collins (all of whom we outrighted to Syracuse, so we didn’t lose them). Now Marmelejos, who honestly might also get outrighted too.

    So honestly that’s not too bad a luck in terms of transactions this year.

    Todd Boss

    28 Jul 18 at 2:05 pm

  14. Are the Nats necessarily over the tax? Does anyone know if this is prorated? I think they were 4 million or so over to start the year, and adding Herrera puts them a little further over, but if they move a bunch of salary (Bryce or e.g. Herrera, Kelley and Madson), does that get them under so at least a Gio QO would net a second round pick? The tax rules are pretty punitive from a team-building perspective. It would be a shame to not sell, be in the tax and still miss the playoffs.

    Bland Moniker

    29 Jul 18 at 11:40 am

  15. I’ve read it more than once that they’re over the tax. Here was the first article at the beginning of the season:

    quote: ” Washington’s payroll was $201 million, which would result in a tax of $1.2 million.” This was at the beginning of the 2018 season. Cots has them at $180M right now ( but that’s without 12-14 40-man guys (who receive some portion of the MLB minimum) and without staff salaries.

    These payroll figures are annualized versions of the entire 40-man roster plus (if I understand correctly) salaries for staff. And Washington managed to be slightly over the tax in 2017 as well, meaning they were a two-time violater so htey had to pay a bigger penalty in 2018. But the real problem is the QO penalty; to go from a supp 1st to a supp 4th is absolutely awful.

    Just a really, really bad job of payroll management here. I put it almost entirely on the stupid Matt Wieters contract, which they didn’t need to do, which has delivered NEGATIVE WAR value, and still has them looking for catcher help to this day.

    Todd Boss

    29 Jul 18 at 7:41 pm

  16. I know I’ve been Mr. Keep Hope Alive, but I’m totally pissed after this weekend. One run in two games? Only one HIT against a stiff with a 2-10 record and an ERA near 5? The Phils lost both days, so the deficit could have been a very manageable four games. Instead, it’s stalled at six.

    I’m still not for selling, and it’s still doable, but if the team is going to play like that the rest of the way, it’s not worthy of my time, much less my money.

    Meanwhile, there’s lots of buzz that the Nats have offered Robles for Realmuto . . . and been told to add Kieboom to the deal. No friggin’ way. I’d be uneasy about Robles for Realmuto straight up. I’m still not convinced that Robles is a superstar, and the Nats have some OF depth, but is two years of Realmuto enough of a return for a top 5 prospect? Yes, we suck at catcher, but I’m not sure that’s the most pressing area to upgrade.


    30 Jul 18 at 8:36 am

  17. If you’re still not for selling, then you’re telling yourself this fact: you believe this team, which now sits at 52-53, can go 38-19 the rest of the way to get to 90 wins … which even then may not guarantee a playoff spot thanks to the stars/scrubs nature of baseball right now. They’re further out of the WC than they are of the division.

    And in the “this is the last thing we wanted to deal with” category Trea frigging Turner of all people has old tweets unearthed that indicate poor choices in language.

    Todd Boss

    30 Jul 18 at 8:54 am

  18. I’m dead set against trading Robles for Realmuto. Don’t see that as either equal value, or even matching the Nats new timeline beginning in 2019.

    I’d sell the pitching walk year guys plus Murphy. Not only do I think it’s time, they may be able to get under the tax, which bumps the comp pick for Harper back up.

    No commentary on turner’s tweets?


    30 Jul 18 at 8:55 am

  19. Realmuto is a pretty rare player: a good hitting catcher with two more years of control …. but his FRAA is on a par with Wieters for 2018 (meaning, his framing and other catcher defense is considered pretty poor). Is that worth giving up a transcendent prospect who could give you 6 years of production at a value position in CF? To me, no way. Would you trade Vladimir Guerrero Jr. straight up for Realmuto? Yeah i didn’t think so, and Robles is nearly on a par in terms of prospect value as him.

    Can this team get under the tax? ONly if they insist that the acquiring team also take the payroll … which eliminates the damn purpose of the trade to acquire prospects. PLus, its now August; 2/3rds of the payroll is already paid, so at best you’re looking at teams taking back 1/3 of the annual pay. How far over are the Nats? If you traded (for example) Murphy and made someone take all his remaining salayr, that’s 1/3rd of 17.5M or 5.8M … but 5.8M is more than the price of a top-end prospect. So we’d be selling just to clear payroll, an odd look for a team owned by a multi-billionare.

    Todd Boss

    30 Jul 18 at 9:14 am

  20. I don’t really agree, it is not just to clear payroll. If giving away Murphy gets them under the tax, AND being under the tax moves their comp pick from the 4th rd to the 1st rd, then it is more than just money.

    What I don’t know is if getting under the tax this year makes that happen for the pick. Nor do I know how much over the tax they are. But it is worth looking into.


    30 Jul 18 at 10:00 am

  21. No team in the NL East is getting to 90 wins. I still think the division can be won in the 85-86 range. I think the division will be won with a record worse than the second wild card slot.

    The only reason for the Nats to sell would be to get under the luxury tax line. Wally raises a good point, though — does getting under the line now raise the value of the comp pick for Bryce? I don’t know.

    If they start dumping, Todd hit on the biggest problem — finding teams that will take on the salary and still give up decent prospects. There are delusional folks on other sites in the Natosphere who seem to think the Nats could get a big prospect haul by backing up the truck. Unless the player in question is a significant talent in his prime (Machado), prospects of note generally don’t change hands unless there are extra years of control involved. I can’t see them getting anyone of much MLB expectation for anyone other than Bryce, and Bryce himself is so devalued right now that he’s not bringing nearly what Machado did.

    That’s part of the reason I keep resisting selling: I don’t see them gaining much in the equation even if they do. So why not just hold what you’ve got and go for it.

    I don’t think they’re selling by Tuesday. If things go south over the next couple of weeks, I could see them making some waiver deals, but again, mostly for salary dump and not much return.


    30 Jul 18 at 10:19 am

  22. I tried to read the CBA section about this … but don’t have the time to comprehend the 100s of pages of legal jargon.

    Cots says we’re mor ethan $7M over. gonna be real hard to get under that unless you dump Harper.

    YOu’re right though Wally; it is worth it if they can turn Harper’s QO compensation pick into a supp 1st rounder. But can they? They were over in 2017; can’t go back in time to fix that. Tehy were only over by like 1.5M … kind of ridiculous that they couldn’t figure out how to fix that and not screw up. Another black mark on the management team for this one. So if they can only improve the comp pick to like a supp 3rd rounder instead of a supp 4th rounder by dumping salary … is that worth it? speculation, but i suspect the penalty is already in place.

    And, let me just say … yet another dagger in the job performance of the MLBPA head in the last CBA negotiations. Thanks to years of fighting, the owners have now basically gotten rid of mass spending at the draft, which means teams more than ever depend on those upper picks … and now even getting an upper pick is basically destroyed by going over the luxury tax line. Its now even a harder “cap” than I thought it was before … yet the players association was (frankly) obsessed with a stupid qualifying offer so that 1-2 mid-level veterans a year (basically, Ian Desmond) don’t get f*cked in FA. Meanwhile theres hundreds of other MLB players and thousands of minor league players who are now completely screwed by this system. Look at how many mid 30s hitters basically were forcibly retired last off season. And there’s no salary floor to go with the ceiling, so most of the league is significantly under the trehshold. Three teams are more than $100M under it. If they had just a normal looking salary floor, forcing teams to spend money (especially revenue sharing teams) …

    The median 2018 payroll is around $144M; that’s probably too high for a floor, so lets take the 25% quartile. It’d be basically what Miami is spending this year: $118M. If you made that a floor, it’d represent more than $120M in payroll that could/should be allocated to veteran players who are now forced to play local amateur leagues (see Werth, Jayson or Butler, Billy as recently public examples).

    I sense the MLBPA knows this (since they’re now talking to the agents, who are a heck of a lot smarter than the players), and the next bargaining session will get pretty ugly.

    Todd Boss

    30 Jul 18 at 10:22 am

  23. Being over the line by small change in 2017 was a real SNAFU. Even worse, Rizzo kept insisting that they were under, even well after the season. A couple of folks in the front office really screwed up there.

    If the number to cut this year is $7M (it’s impossible to know for sure), they could get there, but it would require a fire sale: Kelley, Kintzler, Madson, Herrera, probably Murphy with the Nats still paying ~$2M to get someone to take him. I think they’re paying Reynolds the minimum, so he wouldn’t move the needle. Like several have said, I want to hold onto Adams in the hope he can be extended.

    Also, if it’s only $7M this year, the $1M to Beniot was really stupid, and the $5M to Kintzler was unnecessary (which I said at the time). (Of course I also think I said they overpaid for Adams.)


    30 Jul 18 at 11:40 am

  24. Don’t forget the $1.3M they guaranteed to Miguel Montero just so that they could DFA him ELEVEN f*cking days into the season.

    I never posted about Montero necessarily, but that move really, really stuck in my craw. You have weeks of spring training so you can figure out your best 25 … and then it takes them less than two weeks to decide that MOntero wasn’t worth having?? He played 4 games, had 13 ABs. And they dump him, guaranteeing his salary. How stupid was that move? Could they not really tell that he wasn’t going to be worth keeping?

    Its the same stupid mistake they made with Jeremy Guthrie in 2017. one game, one embarassment, one year of guaranteed salary.

    Todd Boss

    30 Jul 18 at 11:54 am

  25. Yes, but Montero knew the secret D-Back handshake. I also assume that Martinez vouched for him despite his Cub meltdown. Of course Montero hit very well for the Cubs (.805 OPS before release . . . then .489 OPS in Toronto).

    As I recall, Montero was awful in the spring, but they insisted on keeping him anyway.


    30 Jul 18 at 12:38 pm

  26. Here’s one trade that might work: how about trading Gio back to OAK, maybe for Sean Murphy (C prospect)? might also get them under the tax line, or close.

    Madson, Herrera and maybe Kelley should also have some interest, although I think KW is right that no one is going to give up a lot for them.


    30 Jul 18 at 1:34 pm

  27. Why not just let some of those guys so in a straight waiver claim in august. Even Bryce if the goal is to get under the tax?


    30 Jul 18 at 1:49 pm

  28. Why don’t we just reverse our last two trades with Oakland and get back Luzardo and Treinen, both of whom hve frigging exploded while on the left coast.

    Todd Boss

    30 Jul 18 at 2:11 pm

  29. Speaking of guys who have blown up since leaving … WTF is going on with A.J. Cole?? Why couldn’t he do this for the Nationals? Here’s his current line with the Yankees: 0.83 ERA, 0.831 whip, 13 games 21.2 innings, 28/6 K/BB. WTF??

    Todd Boss

    30 Jul 18 at 2:12 pm

  30. While Cole is still in the area of SSS, I do think you are on to something. The list of pitchers who have improved markedly after leaving the Nats is growing long enough for Rizzo to ask some tough questions about his player development staff. treinen, rivero, Ray, Pivetta, Cole, Peacock. The list is getting big


    30 Jul 18 at 3:11 pm

  31. might as well throw in Estrada there too.

    Passan reports that the clubhouse is a mess. no surprise.

    Todd Boss

    30 Jul 18 at 3:23 pm

  32. I agree, no surprise to hear reports of clubhouse disfunction. Really, haven’t we been hearing or at least somewhat feeling that for several years now? I’d say all the way back to 2012, when they’re winning all is good until the playoffs when everybody puckers up and can’t play loose. But when they’re losing, they really self-destruct and can’t play from behind. So who’s to blame? If there is a single source then who’s been here the whole time?

    Not the manager. Nobody in the bullpen. Not Max. Could Rizzo be the problem? Probably only in so much as he allows a bad seed in the clubhouse to remain. So that leaves 3 likely culprits:

    Harper? Maybe. We’ve seen his best years not be enough to overcome the malaise and his worst years not be enough to carry the team. If he may be gone next year, why not try the 2004 Nomar-esqe trade that Mark Zuckerman mentioned today?

    Zimmerman? Probably. The “quiet” leader that never appears to take any public control or accountability as the senior statesman. This year has been well chronicled for the many Zim disasters from ST to his DL time. No chance of trading him or cutting him outright. Honestly, I’d be ok with another long DL stint that just keeps him away.

    Strasburg? Plenty of reasons, but I just don’t see him having such a team-wide effect.

    Am I missing anyone else? I haven’t like Gio’s contributions in games or the clubhouse much the last couple of years, but he’d fall in the same category as Stras to me. Treat, MAT, Rendon don’t seem to have much fire or confrontational attitude, but don’t strike me as disruptive either.


    30 Jul 18 at 4:48 pm

  33. That’s not a bad thought process, MG. But I kind of think this whole article was leaked, directly or indirectly, by the players and it strikes me as BS. These failures are rarely on the manager. The players have caused this; they’ve always caused it. And now they are trying to deflect the blame. Gimme a break. I’m not buying it. Just own your failures.

    They could definitely have benefited from a kind of crazy, ballsy type or two though. Doesn’t have to be an elite player, a guy like Napoli in his prime. You’ll think I’m crazy, but the one guy they had like this was a disaster (Pap). But his biggest problem was he wasn’t a good player any more. But still doesn’t excuse these guys.

    This is one of the reasons I’m in favor of selling. It’s just not a good mix of personalities. I’m ready to start over with some of the Latin kids.

    But I don’t think they’ll sell. I doubt Rizzo gets any offers worth doing, unless it’s Gio or Murphy.


    30 Jul 18 at 5:40 pm

  34. The yanks have been super active. Not sure I love any of their moves though.


    30 Jul 18 at 8:25 pm

  35. My only hope for today is to not trade Robles. If they want to build a package for Realmuto around Kieboom, I could live with that but I’d like Robles to stay.

    I don’t expect them to sell anyone.


    31 Jul 18 at 7:35 am

  36. I think i’d rather part with Robles than Kieboom honestly and here’s why: Kieboom plays on the dirt. We’re going to need a 2B starting in 2019 and perhaps a 3B in 2020 and I think Kieboom could fit in either place as a current SS who may be too big for the position. I like the idea of keeping Rendon and feel like his underratedness will keep his price down to the point where he makes sense as a long term investment, so you’d be looking at a Rendon-Turner-Kieboom-veteran slugger infield for a few years running. I could live with that.

    Of course … i’d prefer trading neither. Yes Realmuto is good … but do you want 2 years of a good hitting catcher versus 5 years of a potential all-star calibre outfielder? Remember … for as good as Soto has become, everyone thought Robles was better.

    I want my 2019 OF to be EAton-Robles-Soto, with Taylor as the 4th. I want my 2019 infield to be Rendon-Turner-Difo/Kieboom-cheap FA signing (like Reynolds/Adams). Or just sit Zimmerman for an entire winter and maybe he’s productive again.

    Then figure out a way to buy a couple of starters, buy a catcher (Wilson RAmos on a 2 year deal?), buy some relievers. that’s a good team that’s w/o some of the distractions/veteran issues that they’re clearly dealing with this year.

    Todd Boss

    31 Jul 18 at 10:16 am

  37. Clubhouse leadership: none of us are there, so its all conjecture. But how can you be “the leader” of the team when you’re a starter (pitching every 5th day), a reliever (who are all failed starters who pitch to a few batters every 3rd day), a part-timer (no sub is a clubhouse leader), a short-timer (Matt Reynolds has been here for like 3 months… he can’t be a leader), or someone who is struggling on the field (could Jayson Werth really reign over the clubhouse when he produced soo poorly for so long? Could Zimmerman this year?)

    So that leaves very few candidates on this team. Rendon. Harper. Could have said Turner until his stupidity unearthed. I don’t think Rendon or Harper has ever profiled as a real leader; Rendon always quiet and understated, never flashy. Harper’s always been a lightning rod, but i have always viewed him as working too hard on himself to focus on the larger team. Zimmerman? same as Rendon, but add in all the weirdness of his 2018 season. Murphy is I believe the union rep … but that’s more about his stature/longevitiy in the league and less with this team. He’s basically a hired gun, 3 years and out; he’s not committed for the long haul.

    So maybe that’s a huge problem; no leadership. Scherzer and Strasburg are going to be here for years … but they’re starters. And Strasburg can’t stay healthy. So maybe its scherzer by default. By all accounts it was he trying to rile the troops .. but he’s only playing once every 5 days.

    Todd Boss

    31 Jul 18 at 10:27 am

  38. What you say re: Kieboom/Robles makes sense. My only counter, and probably the thing that still sways me, is that I feel that Robles has a higher likelihood of being a good major leaguer than Kieboom. I like both (although I’m not quite sure Kieboom will be ready to contribute next year), but Robles has played better at higher levels and flashed a bit in the majors, so he feels more certain.


    31 Jul 18 at 10:37 am

  39. I’m out of pocket and on my phone on the biggest trade day of the year. Oh well. Todd essentially said what I’ve been saying re Robles and Kieboom — while Robles may have a higher ceiling, they need an INF more for the future. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Marlins just take Robles for Realmuto if they realize that’s the best offer. I personally think they need a starting pitcher more than a catcher, though.

    Re leadership, Boz and some others have said recently that Werth wasn’t a real leader, just more of a strong clubhouse presence.


    31 Jul 18 at 12:20 pm

  40. MAJOR TRADE!!! The Nats dump Brandon “4th or 5th best guy in the bullpen” Knitzler to the Cubs for a high-A reliever. In doing so, the WP beat reporters get a parting shot, calling him a squeaky wheel and the Nats manage NOT to do much to alleviate their salary cap issue for this year. Great move!

    Todd Boss

    31 Jul 18 at 3:55 pm

  41. They kept Robles and kieboom, so I’m content. And no, I’m not sure what they are doing.


    31 Jul 18 at 5:27 pm

  42. Wally, Me neither. AT times I wonder if the FO doesn’t overvalue its own judgment a little too much.


    31 Jul 18 at 6:13 pm

  43. Kintzler was a salary dump, they didn’t want to pay him $5 million next year.

    Mark L

    31 Jul 18 at 7:23 pm

  44. I may be in the minority in the Natosphere, but I’m glad the Nats didn’t punt, for two main reasons. First and foremost, I continue to main that they still have a decent shot at winning the division. Second, I don’t think they would have gotten much in return, even for Harper. We’ve already debated the return for Machado, which wasn’t that impressive, and the package for Bryce would have been less. On the flip side, I’m also glad that they didn’t make a desperation move or two and mortgage the future by trading guys like Robles or Kieboom.

    Was the Kintzler trade a salary dump or a squeaky wheel? We’ll probably never know. As noted above, I never liked his contract, and it’s nice to have it off the books for 2019. A 40-man slot has been cleared for Glover, whenever they deem him ready. His rehab assignment began on 7/7, so they’re coming up on the 30-day limit. Is Glover the real deal? We still don’t know. Dusty sure thought he was.

    Is the “new” Roark (supposedly fixed by Kintzler, ironically) the real deal? Really, the Roark/Gio/Stras question is the biggest one concerning whether the Nats can get back into contention. At their best, they’re formidable, as is the Nat lineup. (Can we really start to believe that Murph is back, or just that he’s playing the Mets?)

    I’m very curious to see what happens today. Will they keep hitting against Thor, or revert to the meekness of the weekend? Can Milone hold things together one more time? (After all, the Mets are fielding a AAA lineup. Jeez, can’t believe they didn’t sell at the deadline.)


    1 Aug 18 at 9:55 am

  45. Wow, just saw that they DFA’d Kelley. Guess they couldn’t even get a bag of balls for him. They’re still on the hook for his salary. Perhaps fittingly, our last memory of him will be of a needless homer surrendered.

    I’m surprised that Cordero is the fingered replacement, though. His recent outings are very good, however: over his last 10 appearances, 11 IP, 0 ER, 12 K, 4 BB.


    1 Aug 18 at 10:06 am

  46. Kelley DFA’d wtf?? He’d given up one run in a month and was pitching quite well. Last night excepted of course … but lets be honest, how hard does anyone try when you’re up 24-1.

    Something tells me this is another “addition by subtraction” move … the team getting rid of bad apples/whiners. Lots of comments to that effect generally in the bullpen, and I’m guessing some old scores are getting settled.

    Todd Boss

    1 Aug 18 at 10:29 am

  47. Kelley supposedly had a “tirade” last night about pitching in a mop-up role. Lots of chatter about it at Nats Talk.

    Very good recent take on Cordero:


    1 Aug 18 at 10:34 am

  48. Yup. no surprise there. I wonder how many more moves there are to make to rid the team of clubhouse issues.

    Todd Boss

    1 Aug 18 at 10:45 am

  49. It would be interesting to look back at Chelsea Janes’s article around the break about bullpen overuse. I think Kintzler, Kelley, and Madson were her primary on-the-record sources, if I’m remembering correctly.


    1 Aug 18 at 11:02 am

  50. WAs this a “cutting off your nose to spite your face” move? I mean, is this team improved by replacing Knitzler and Kelley with Suero and Jimmy Cordero? Are these the moves that will result in the 38-19 run that it will take to get to 90 wins?

    I see these as thin skinned reactionary moves to account for veteran players reacting to a rookie manager.

    Gee, if only they had a professional, veteran, respected manager to prevent such things from happening …. hmmmm.

    Todd Boss

    1 Aug 18 at 12:04 pm

  51. Todd Boss

    1 Aug 18 at 12:36 pm

  52. Todd Boss

    1 Aug 18 at 3:14 pm

  53. You know, all of this kind of stuff gives me heartburn. I don’t like any of it. It seems petty and makes the Nats and Rizzo look like they have no class. reminds me of when they cut that guy back in the bad old days because they ‘didn’t like his aura’. There is never a need to say something like that; just make your decisions and say nothing or compliment the guy on his way out the door.


    1 Aug 18 at 4:38 pm

  54. Yeah, this seems really classless and petty to me too. It’s certainly incongruous to go from Brandon Kintzler is the guy who spent hours poring over video with Tanner Roark and got him pitching well again (something the actual pitching coach has failed at) to Brandon Kintzler is a clubhouse cancer and has to be shipped out at all costs. Those two just don’t make sense.

    And the Kelley situation seems ambiguous — maybe he was pissed at being asked to mop up in a situation he thought beneath him, or maybe he was pissed his manager didn’t stick up for him when he was beefing with the umpires. If it’s the latter, you’ve got Rizzo sticking up for a manager who refused to stick up for a player — that’s a bad look.


    1 Aug 18 at 5:22 pm

  55. Kintzler was a salary dump, plain and simple, the Nats saved $6.8 million in the trade.
    Any doubts; all that talk of Wilson Ramos coming here, the agreed to pay his salary and gave up nothing.

    By all accounts, Kintzler saved Tanners season.

    Mark L

    1 Aug 18 at 8:08 pm

  56. The Phhillies agreed.

    Mark L

    1 Aug 18 at 8:09 pm

  57. Todd Boss

    3 Aug 18 at 10:39 am

  58. To be fair to Rizzo, the Lerners won’t let him hire anyone other than a rookie.
    Bud Blacks reaction to their offer was appropriate.

    Mark L

    3 Aug 18 at 11:21 am

  59. Meanwhile, on the field, . . . oh, the Nats have won six of eight (and should have won all eight). Bryce and Murph are starting to look like they’re supposed to look. Milone and Roark have had back-to-back solid starts, and Gio has been good in two of his last three.

    In other words, the pieces that HAVE to fall into place are starting to fall into place. We’re in this. There’s just not much margin for error, like the two wasted games last weekend (which, if won, would have us only three games back right now). Don’t make the same mistake this weekend. The only semi-credible starter they’re facing is a guy who has already been DFA’d this season . . . by one of the worst teams in baseball.


    3 Aug 18 at 2:24 pm

  60. So, I had a cynical talk with a STH buddy/eternal Nats apologist. HE was like, “oh they just have to win 8 in a row and they’ll be fine). So yes; they’ve won 6 of 8, all 6 against teams that gave up trying before the season began. Wonderful; question is, what are they going to do when they have to face a team with some talent?

    AS of right now; they’re 55-53. They STILL have to go 35-19 to get to 90 wins. And, despite going 6-2 in last 8 they’ve made up basically no ground on the teams ahead of them, who are on similar win streaks.

    Still don’t see them going 35-19. Call me if they take 3 of 4 from Atlanta next week.

    Todd Boss

    3 Aug 18 at 4:15 pm

  61. I don’t particularly have much to say about the clubhouse stuff because, well, I’m not in the clubhouse. Did I think this team needed a rookie manager? Heck no. I think Dusty would have them five up instead of five back. Heck, they were TWENTY games over .500 at this date last year (which would put them +4 in the division right now).

    The hole the Nats are in is one they’ve dug themselves. But their division foes are two inexperienced teams, both of which have tougher remaining schedules than the Nats. I still think this division can be won with 85-87 wins, which leaves the Nats a little more latitude than 35-19, but not much. Their path is narrow, and they can’t afford to give away games like they did last weekend. They still have nine head-to-head with the Phils and seven with the Braves. They’ll have plenty of chances to prove on the field whether they’re the best team.


    3 Aug 18 at 4:49 pm

  62. I’m hoping the same thing, and it is certainly possible for the reasons you say. As I think I said up above, I just didn’t want them to sell any more future for this season, which they didn’t and I’m glad.

    As for DMart, worse than him is Lilliquist. Almost every pitcher other than Max and Doo has performed worse, and he sent playing favorites. Vets like Gio and Roark, kids like Fedde, JRod, etc. I’d definitely let him go after the season. And what about those gray haired coaching vets, like Hale? Weren’t they supposed to help guide the rook?

    But this clubhouse stuff irritates me. The players got themselves in this mess. If everything was hunky dory in the clubhouse, then THAT would be a problem.

    If the pitching performs, I’m very hopeful of them catching Philly.


    3 Aug 18 at 7:04 pm

  63. The Nat team ERA in 2018 is 3.84. In 2017, it was 3.88. Things may feel like they change with a new pitching coach, but with a veteran rotation, they usually don’t change that much. Gio had one bad season under Maddux and one good one. Roark was the reverse, with a good one, then a bad one. Stras got his simplified delivery last season, but it was never clear whether that came from Maddux or someone else. And Max has only gotten better.

    All of this to say that I’m not too worried about Lilliquist. Old dogs in their 30s generally aren’t learning many new tricks, and if they are, it’s usually from folks like Max. Lilli may not have the steadiest hand with kids like Fedde and J-Rod, but Maddux didn’t exactly have the magic touch with Giolito and Lopez, either.

    We’ll see. I just shake my head at Davey doing many of the same things for which Dusty was so heavily criticized.


    3 Aug 18 at 11:11 pm

  64. So the Nats has to win 3 of 4 this weekend and did so. Tough to not gain any ground on the Phils and barely any of the Braves. All 3 teams were playing bottom feeders but it would have been nice to see the big lead chipped away by at least a game instead of losing a game on the Phils. Difference between sweeping and winning 3 of 4. Oh well, time to sweep the Braves series and root for the DBacks. Sure looks like we’ll have to make up ground head to head as the Phils only have a handful of games against other good teams this month.


    6 Aug 18 at 1:20 am

  65. I wanted a starting pitcher (or two) at the trade deadline. The Nats didn’t get one (or two). A week later, for their biggest series in the season thus far, their first-game starter is . . . Jefry Rodriguez. Sorry, but J-Rod CANNOT be starting for you in a must-win situation. Even McGowin would be a better option. Make a flippin’ 40-man move. Get Austen Williams on the 40-man as well. He doesn’t need to go back to starting, but he’s looking ideal as a power middle reliever . . . for Gio’s next start . . .

    On a big positive note, Roark looks fixed, which I find amazing. He hardly had any good starts all season until the last three, when he’s been lights out. Gio is still going good-bad-good-bad. Not sure what can/will fix that, other than perhaps a threat that Milone might get his rotation spot who Stras comes back if things don’t improve.

    The hitting is getting there (except Sat. afternoon, which was awful). The starting pitching HAS to be more consistent.


    6 Aug 18 at 1:09 pm

  66. I agree with these comments.

    Gio – they are just going to have to deal with him for the rest of this year. I think his year means they won’t try to re-sign him, which I am fine with.

    this next series is huge. If they don’t win each series with ATL and PHI, I see no way they take the division.


    6 Aug 18 at 2:14 pm

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