Nationals Arm Race

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

MLB Rotation Ranks for 2019, 1-30

98 comments

Lester: the best pitcher on the best rotation heading into 2019. photo via Grantland

Lester: the best pitcher on the best rotation heading into 2019. photo via Grantland

I got out of the habit of doing this piece last year: right around this time in 2018 i was slammed at work, But, I found a bit of time earlier this off-season (thanks for Conference Calls) and put it together.

The core XLS is much more impressive than the text: here’s a Google version of it with the below data.

Here’s my 2019 Rotation ranks for every team in MLB, One to Thirty (1-30).

As I went through doing this, the ranks ended up naturally dividing into kind of natural groupings.  So I’ll show these groupings and then do commentary on the group all together.

Terminology used here:

  • to me an “Ace” is one of the best 15-20 starters in the game.  I think i’ve got 18 identified heading into 2019.   And yes, I count both Strasburg and Corbin as Aces for these purposes.  I’ve seen plenty of op-eds claiming Strasburg isn’t an “Ace” for various reasons …. but he’s in the top 10-15 of practically every statistical measure of starters over the past 4-5 years.  Just because someone is the #1 starter for a team does not make them an “Ace.”
  • A “#2 starter” is then one of the next best 15-20 guys, players who either used to be Aces but have grown a bit old (good example: Jake Arrieta or Cole Hamels) or younger guys who are one more solid season from taking the next step up (Luis Severino, Mike Foltynewicz).
  • A #3 starter is a level below the #2, the next 25-30 guys or so.  A good solid mid-rotation starter.  I have 30 identified.
  • A #4 starter is basically slightly better than the #5 starter.
  • A #5 starter is someone who gives replacement level starting pitching capabilities, a guy who is only slightly better than a 4-A guy.  Often either a rookie or an aging FA signing.

In the XLS, i do assign quantitative values to assist in the rankings … so you can see who i call a 4, who’s getting a 5, etc.

OK lets get to it:


 

1. Chicago Cubs: Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks,Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish, Jose Quintana
2. Boston: Chris Sale,David Price, Nathan Eovaldi, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez
3. Cleveland: Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger, Shane Bieber
4. Washington: Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin, Stephen Strasburg, Anibal Sanchez, Jeremy Hellickson

I have Chicago as the #1 rotation in the game.  I have them at the top not so much because the top of their rotation is the best … its because man for man, 1 through 5, they’re the best.  When your 4th starter is Yu Darvisha guy who was the Cy Young runner up a few years back and is only 32 .. that’s a tough rotation.  Quintana is the Cubs’ 5th starter but was the White Sox’ long time #2.  Its just a lot of good, veteran pitching.   Boston comes in slightly below b/c I rate Porcello/Rodriguez slightly lower than Chicago’s 4/5.  Cleveland has a strong case (as does Washington) for having three legitimate Aces; if their #5 was better they’d probably be #1.   If you wanted to argue that Washington is  above or below the teams above them I wouldn’t argue too much; I look at the #4/#5 starters and say “who would you rather have?”  And I find that i’d rather have Chicago’s arms on the back end than ours.  I’d also note that we’ve had Scherzer now for four seasons; no real injuries … and Strasburg gets hurt literally every year.  So Washington’s rotation really has to take into account its depth … or lack there of.

5. Los Angeles Dodgers:  Clayton Kershaw ,Walker Buehler, Hyung-jin Ryu, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda
6. New York Yankees:  Luis Severino, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, CC Sabathia
7. New York Mets:  Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zach Wheeler, Steven Matz, Jason Vargas
8. Houston:  Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Wade Miley, Brad Peacock, Josh James
9. St. Louis:  Miles Mikolas, Carlos Martinez, Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Adam Wainwright

The Dodgers could jump to the next level if/when Walker Buehler turns into an Ace; i’ve still got him as a #2 but hope to gosh I can get him in Fantasy this year.  The Yankees sport four #2 starters … with Severino nearly ready to make the jump to Ace they’re pretty close.  I’d rate the Mets higher but the back end of their rotation just-cannot-stay-healthy.  Houston’s rotation would look a lot better if they re-signed their former ace Dallas Keuchel (more on him at the end), and Houston could really be good fast if their #1 prospect Forrest Whitley pans out.  Lastly in this group is St Louis, which is notable to me b/c their long time ace Adam Wainright is now their #5 starter, just barely hanging on.  Remember how much we heard about how the Nats missed out on Michael Wacha in the 2012 draft?  Well he’s a pretty solid 4th starter and if he could stay healthy he’d improve this rotation quickly.

10. Philadelphia: Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta ,Nick Pivetta, Vincent Velasquez, Zach Eflin
11. Arizona: Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, Zack Godley, Luke Weaver, Merrill Kelly
12. San Francisco: Madison Bumgarner, Dereck Robinson, Jeff Samardzija, Derek Holland, Drew Pomeranz
13. Atlanta: Mike Foltynewicz, Julio Teheran, Kevin Gausman, Sean Newcomb ,Touki Toussant
14. Colorado : Kyle Freeland, German Marquez, Jon Grey, Tyler Anderson, Antonio Senzelata
15. Tampa Bay:  Blake Snell, Charlie Morton, Tyler Glasnow, Ryan Yarbrough, Yonny Chirinos

An interesting grouping here; all six of these rotations are nearly identical in my private scoring … but looking at the names, you can see that some of these teams are prepped to move up quickly (Atlanta) while others are barely hanging on (San Francisco) with aging cores.  I’m not sure what to make of Philly’s rotation; are these guys scaring you in a short series?   Meanwhile … Tampa in 2018 was so shredded by injuries they went head first into the “opener” strategy … while having a Cy Young winner on staff.  They won 90 games this way, and now have back the starters that got hurt AND added a solid 2nd starter in Morton; are they going to challenge the two teams ahead of them?

16. Pittsburgh: Jamison Taillon, Chris Archer, Trevor Williams, Joe Musgrove, Nick Kingham
17. Oakland: Frankie Montas, Mike Fiers, Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Marco Estrada
18. Texas: Mike Minor, Lance Lynn, Drew Smyly, Edinson Volquez, Jason Hammell
19. Seattle: Mike Leake, Yusei Kikuchi, Marco Gonzales, Felix Hernandez, Wade LeBlanc
20. Minnesota: Kyle Gibson, Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda, Adalberto Mejia
21. Detroit: Michael Fulmer, Matt Boyd, Jordan, Zimmermann, Tyson Ross, Matt Moore

So there’s a pretty significant step down here; I dont have a single “Ace” defined in this grouping … and only Jamison Taillon even rates for me as a #2.   How did Oakland possibly win 97 games last year?   Texas has bought three lesser-priced pitchers this off season (Lynn, Smyly and Hammel) and stands to improve on their 67 win season.   Seattle is in an interesting place: they won 89 games, added Kikuchi and could be pretty good, pretty fast … but their #1 starter is Mike Leake who’d be the Nat’s #5 starter.

22. Los Angeles Angels: Jamie Barria, Andrew Heaney, Matt Harvey, Tyler Skaggs, Felix Pena
23. Toronto: Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman, Ryan Borucki, Matt Shoemaker, Clayton Richards
24. Chicago White Sox: Carlos Rodon, Ivan Nova, Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito, Manny Banuelos
25. Kansas City: Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Jake Junis, Brad Keller, Eric Skoglund

The first three of these rotations all seem like they should be ranked higher than they are … but then when you look at them, you realize why.  Los Angeles is depending on injury-heavy arms, Toronto’s arms would be a top 10 rotation if this was 2014, and Chicago’s rotation is proof of the cynical scouting adage, “there is no such thing as a pitching prospect.”    How much better would the Angels be if Shohei Ohtani was there?   Probably 10 spots higher, nearly a top 10 rotation, he’s that good.    Kansas City is lucky to be this high: they  lost 58 games and are rolling out the same crew as last year.

26. Baltimore: Dylan Bundy, Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner, David Hess, Nate Karns
27. Miami: Wei-Yin Chen, Jose Urena, Dan Straily, Caleb Smith, Trevor Richards
28. Milwaukee: Jhoulys Chacin, Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, Brandon Woodruff, Jimmy Nelson
29. Cincinnati: Anthony DeSclafani, Tanner Roark, Luis Castillo, Alex Wood, Sonny Grey
30. San Diego: Joey Lucchesi, Robbie Erlin, Bryan Mitchell, Eric Lauer, Luis Perdomo

 

Baltimore looks to improve on the rotation that lost 115 games last year by … signing former Nat Nathan Karns.   The other 4 starters in their rotation went (in order) 8-16, 5-15, 4-15 and 3-10 last year, none posting an ERA+ better than 85 for the year.  And they’re not the worst rotation in the league!  Amazing.  We all know Miami is trying to do worse than last year’s 98-loss team and, as far as I can tell, has not added ONE arm this off-season.   I really don’t know how Milwaukee did so well last year with this crew; they’re all basically #4 starters, backed up by a phenomenal bullpen and a great offense.  I hope they can compete again this year, b/c the club has done very little to improve.

Cincinnati has made a flurry of moves, adding 3 new starters this off-season …and is still ranked 29th.  I mean, Tanner Roark is their #2.

But none of these rotations is even close to as poor as San Diego’s projects to be.  Maybe you could squint and tell me that a couple of these guys are #4 starters instead of #5 starters.  But that’d just return them to the 30th ranked rotation, just slightly closer to Cincinnatis.  Luckily for San Diego (breaking news!) they just signed Manny Machado and Baseball America has ranked their farm system #1 in the league … which 13 of the last 14 years means they’ll be in the playoffs in two seasons.  So hopefully there’s some big-time San Diego prospect arms to go with those bats, and we’ll see you in the playoffs in 2020.


 

So, what Free Agent pitchers could move the needle of the above?

As of this writing, the biggest FA pitcher who could really move the needle is obviously Keuchel; i rate him as a #2, so if one of the lower-ranked teams replaces a 5th starter with Keuchel they may very well jump up 5-6 spots.  Other impact free agent pitchers available who could change the above rankings include Gio Gonzalez, Clay Buchholz, and Ervin Santana (update: Santana signed minor league deal with the White Sox, which may put them a couple spots higher). Past that, the remaining FAs seem like 4/5 types who wouldn’t really change any of the rankings b/c they’d likely be replacing a 4-A guy at the back of the rotation.  That list includes Bartolo Colon,Yovani Gallardo, Miguel Gonzalez, Edwin Jackson, James Shields, and Chris Tillman.  Yeah, I said Bartolo Colon; i think he can still pitch.   Maybe not that well … but it wouldn’t surprise me if he gave it one last season.


So, that’s my rankings.  Feel free to argue, tell me i’m wrong :-)

 

98 Responses to 'MLB Rotation Ranks for 2019, 1-30'

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  1. Todd – I am different to a fairly large degree. My top 5 is:
    CLE
    WAS
    NYY
    NYM
    LAD (because of depth beyond 5)

    I am not impressed with CHC or BOS, candidly, and think TAM and COL will be much better than your ranking.

    Wally

    22 Feb 19 at 4:00 pm

  2. Todd, I think you’re valuing depth over quality a bit too much (and if you’re to value depth over quality, you need to look beyond the top 5 starters, which (1) makes this a more difficult task and (2) would probably make the Dodgers look better).

    Anyway, look at the projections of just the Cubs and the Nats. The Cubs have five guys projected to have sub-4.00 FIPs, but no one is projected to have a FIP below Quintana’s 3.67. Note: Lester is projected to be the Cubs’ worst starter. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/2019-zips-projections-chicago-cubs/

    The Nats, on the other hand, have one guy with a projected FIP under 3.00 (Max), another with one well under 3.5 (Stras, 3.34) and another at 3.63 (Corbin). The Nats’ top 3 starters are all projected to be better than the very best starter for the Cubs, and two of those starters are better by a lot. The projections are not kind to the Nats’ 4th and 5th starters – Hellickson (4.74), Ross (4.53), Fedde (4.5), Sanchez (4.93). But, to put things in perspective, the difference between Scherzer and Quintana in terms of projection is 70 points of FIP, which is larger than the difference between Lester and Ross and Fedde but smaller than the difference between Lester and Hellickson and Sanchez. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/2019-zips-projections-washington-nationals/

    The Cubs’ depth would be a lot more significant if the top of their rotation wasn’t so weak. The case for Boston/Cleveland/LAD having a better rotation than the Nats is much more compelling than the Cubs’, IMO.

    Derek

    22 Feb 19 at 4:42 pm

  3. Probably fair to say i did not look past 5th starter, and thus am making unrealistic assumptions that these pitchers are not going to get hurt. As you say Derek, trying to squint and assign depth values to 30 rotations worth of minor leaguers is beyond what i was willing to sign up for.

    I struggle with projection systems sometimes. Lester was fantastic last year. he’s a year older yeah … so therefore you assume he’s going to be drastically worse this year? What do they think about Verlander? he’s coming off his best season since his Cy Young.

    Todd Boss

    22 Feb 19 at 5:18 pm

  4. 1. CLE
    2. WAS
    3. BOS
    4. HOU
    5. LAD
    6. NYY
    7. CHC
    8. NYM

    It gets kinda iffy after that. On paper, the Dodgers would have to be considered in the top two or three, but nearly every one of their guys is a health question mark. Kershaw is already being shut down for a few days. The Nat ranking depends a lot on Stras, while the Bosox wild card is Price. Maybe the Astros fall more than I suspect with the loss of Morton and Keuchel.

    I wouldn’t have the PHI rotation as high as Todd does; in fact, I’d probably put ATL’s ahead of the Phils. Nola is great, but Arrieta is in reverse and likely will have an ERA over 4.00 this season, along with the three other guys in the rotation.

    Incidentally, while looking at some stats, I inadvertently got the worst xFIPs among qualified starters: 1. Giolito, 2. Rey Lopez. I remember those guys. Yep, picking Giolito over Wacha still doesn’t look so great.

    KW

    22 Feb 19 at 9:35 pm

  5. Another “intangible” that should help the Nat pitching (and perhaps dock that of CLE and ATL a bit): two excellent new catchers:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2019/02/22/how-one-bullpen-session-shows-kurt-suzukis-underlying-value-nationals/

    Really, considering all the young pitching the Braves have in the pipeline, read this and think of what they lost when they let Suzuki walk.

    KW

    22 Feb 19 at 9:59 pm

  6. Wally, Boz sums up the reasons you were saying that you sorta feel sorry for Harper:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/bryce-harper-and-scott-boras-are-on-the-verge-of-the-least-satisfying-nine-figure-deal-ever/2019/02/22/3373f86c-36d7-11e9-854a-7a14d7fec96a_story.html

    As I’ve noted, I’m not a Harper hater and have enjoyed his roller-coaster ride through DC. But the Nats spent the money they’ve saved REALLY well, and I’m excited about what’s ahead. Maybe it all won’t have quite the same flair, but with Juan and Victor now in yard together, don’t be so sure of that. It’s going to be a fun season, even without the hair flips.

    KW

    22 Feb 19 at 10:16 pm

  7. Another excellent article.

    As I often talk to baseball enthusiasts my age, I yearn for those workorses that used to anchor the starting rotations of the 70’s and 80’s. Durable pitchers with great arms able to pitch 10-15 complete games, 300+ innings, season after season.

    That being said, I have no qualms with Todd’s ranking, as his analysis is quite thorough. Regardless, pitchers nowadays are so fragile that these sort of projections have so many potential variables, that nothing more precise is possible. In our case (the Nationals), the high ranking banks on Strasburg returning to his norm; but, will his velocity be back? If not, can he adjust to a new reality with lesser velocity? Moreover, will we get more of the ‘18 version of Sánchez and Hellickson, or would we need to depend on Ross, Fedde, Alvarez, McGowin, Crowe and/or Voth? Will any of them experience a significant step forward in their development? Will the relief corps be effective in providing support to Sánchez/Hellickson or the young starters in bridging the game from the 5th inning owards?

    Finally, is there any credence to the Kimbrel/Keuchel rumors if we do not end up signing Harper? A rotation with Keuchel as a #4 vould certainly vie for 1st place ranking.

    Still fondly recall the days of Steve Rogers, Charlie Lea, Bill “Spaceman” Lee, Bill Gullickson, Bryn Smith, Jeff Fassero, Ken Hill, a young Pedro Martínez, and Dennis Martínez, among many other great pitchers this franchise had during its Montreal era.

    LH

    22 Feb 19 at 11:32 pm

  8. I see no way Keuchel is a possibility. If they hadn’t signed Sanchez, maybe, but he just doesn’t add that much at this point.

    But Kimbrel? He could be a 2 win add to this team. I still don’t see it because they want to be under the lux tax (more for the draft and IFA penalties than the $), but he would be huge. It would be the clearest sign that Ted L wants to pull out all stops for a title.

    Wally

    23 Feb 19 at 8:28 am

  9. You may be right, but displace Doolittle and Rosenthal? How would they feel about that? Team chemistry is sometimes even more essential . That is why I would not be in favor of Kimbrel, but rather a signing like Sipp or other option that might provide more proven support for the middle innings.

    LH

    23 Feb 19 at 2:21 pm

  10. Other possibilities for anyone to comment… Nick Vincent, Bud Norris or Adam Warren.

    LH

    23 Feb 19 at 2:45 pm

  11. I’ve been lobbying for Sipp all offseason as the best lefty option. They’re out of money now, though. They aren’t going over the tax line for someone to pitch the 7th.

    We discussed the Kimbrel possibility in the comments here a couple of weeks ago. He would definitely be a positive addition. I don’t think he would be seen as troubling the waters as there will be plenty of save opportunities to go around. But again, I think the Nats feel pretty good about what they have now.

    Really, what they need is one of the internal big-arm guys to step up and/or stay healthy (Koda). We’ll see. Let the games begin!

    KW

    23 Feb 19 at 5:35 pm

  12. Just reading on MLBTR about Kimbrel’s asking price, which apparently started a 6/100+. That’s not a terrible AAV, but no one is going to give a reliever who is about to turn 31 a six-year contract. The stuff about him threatening to sit out the season is bizarre. (I see that the agent now has Ken Rosenthal out there shooting that down.)

    Meanwhile, time to play ball!

    KW

    23 Feb 19 at 7:04 pm

  13. Way-too-early notes from Spring Game 1:

    — Bob & FP said Martinez told them that Turner would lead off during the regular season.

    — FP surprised at C. Kieboom’s size and demeanor; says he reminds him of Tulo. Garcia seems to have spent the offseason bulking up as well.

    — Joe Ross should be with the major-league club, one way or another, 5th starter or long man. He looked there to compete. Alvarez, on the other hand, did not.

    — Aaron Barrett is a great story, but I don’t think he’s a major-leaguer right now, at least not among all the guys the Nats have competing for bullpen slots.

    — Other than S. Kieboom, and not counting true prospects C. Kieboom and Garcia, the AAA talent the Nats are trotting out isn’t good at all.

    KW

    23 Feb 19 at 10:25 pm

  14. Entertaining as always, Todd. Can’t really argue with your rankings, except that it remains to be seen how good Darvish will be coming off his injury.

    As for ST game #1–loved S Kieboom’s long BOOM. I thought he should have been given the backup catcher’s role this season. Looks like he is a classic late bloomer, and is now a decent defender and a better hitter than Lobaton ever was. Plus it would have saved enough money that they could have signed another solid bullpen arm at least.

    My biggest interest in the broadcast was in seeing how long it would take for them to bring up Harper–and when they finally did in the 4th inning Bob and F.P. (no doubt speaking from team talking points), made it pretty definitive that he won’t be a Nat this year. Also thought it was interesting in the 1st inning when Bob raised his voice a bit to emphasize that Eaton had thrown the ball in to 2nd base on a single in which the runner went from first to third by saying “which was the CORRECT move.” Oh really, Bob, and exactly who was that previous right fielder who often made wild throws to third in that situation? Anyway, I got a chuckle out of it.

    Karl Kolchak

    23 Feb 19 at 11:38 pm

  15. @KW–Sanchez looked pretty good to me. He doesn’t have Difo’s talent as a backup infielder, but he hustles and makes the most of what he’s got.

    Karl Kolchak

    23 Feb 19 at 11:41 pm

  16. Thanks for your response KW…
    On Sipp and Kimbrel I’m fully aware of previous discussions, most of which have allowed me to be thoroughly informed about such options. Nonetheless, most respectfully, I do have a different take regarding the position that our current bullpen could absorb a Kimbrel signing without chemistry issues.

    The possibility (remote or not) of Kimbrel joining our bullpen brings back memories of the impact of the Soriano signing. Most elite closers seem to have an ego, which may be part of their persona.

    Who will be the primary closer: Kimbrel (#1 in MLBTV’s ranking) or Doolittle (#2)?

    Will either be happy with sharing the load (especially Doolittle, since he’s a potential FA this winter or next)?

    How about Rosenthal? How would he feel about the undoubtedly diminished role?

    Will a Kimbrel signing make sense economically (and I mean in general economic sense, regardless of considerations related to going over the penalty limit)?

    On the other hand, a Keuchel signing could make much more baseball sense. Still, we are probably discussing two signings which are highly unlikely.

    1st ST Game – Questions & Comments

    Ross seemingly looked good, yet top velocity was stated somewhere at 92. Given that in September he was able to reach 95/96, should this be a concern?

    Alvarez was hit very hard. Yet, I read somewhere he was registered as high as 96 (much higher than what he averaged all of last year). Did he look that bad in this outing, or could be attributed to jitters and/or bad luck?

    How did Solis and Cordero look in their respective inning of work?

    Did Eaton seem faster and more loose in his fielding and baserunning (like the old pre-injury Eaton of ST and April 2017)? Those were areas of concern that were still unanswered by the end of last season.

    Did Luis García’s AB’s look solid or did he look overwhelmed? How about Carter Keiboom? How did each look on the field?

    Regards to all.

    LH

    24 Feb 19 at 12:29 am

  17. @LH–on Eaton, definitely. He looked the best he has since right before the injury (and he throws to the CORRECT base–imagine that!). To me it looks like Eaton and Rendon are heading for what will hopefully be career seasons. My bet right now is that Rendon, and not Soto, will be the Nats’ MVP candidate this year.

    Solis and Cordero looked good, but they were pitching to scrubs by that point–hard to tell. Garcia looked overmatched in his first AB, but then took a walk in his second. Good to see a little patience from him, I thought.

    Karl Kolchak

    24 Feb 19 at 1:01 am

  18. Kieboom looked comfortable in the 1 PA that I saw, and roped a 2B. Garcia was late on a FB and froze on a CB for strike 3. I agree he looked overmatched in that PA but it didn’t mean anything to me. Solis looked good, as did Ross. MLB wasn’t flashing velocity but it wasn’t noticeable to me that he was slower, and I wouldn’t worry about readings for a few weeks. Ross looks bigger to me, too (in a good way).

    On the bullpen dynamics, I understand what LH is saying and it’s a real concern. I do think the world has changed a bit, tho, and starting with Andrew Miller, non closers have gotten big paydays. Even this offseason, with Britton, Ottavino, familia got healthy contracts. But really, i’d just Like 1 more quality high leverage guy, however they find him. I think they are a little thin. I’d suggested trading for Will Smith, but Sipp or Norris could be ok.

    Wally

    24 Feb 19 at 8:16 am

  19. I just have to laugh at Boras having Heyman post that Bryce is negotiating with two teams. If the Phils are dumb enough to believe it, it’s going to be hilarious if they toss $20M more into the pot while bidding against themselves. (Or should we be holding out hope that the Giants actually are bidding?)

    LH — Doo is a smart cookie, and one would hope that Rizzo would have some good conversations with him should a Kimbrel opportunity surface. (FWIW, Doo is #1 in MLB in % of save opportunities converted over the last two seasons.) Considering Kimbrel’s exaggerating asking price, and that the Nats really want to stay below the tax line, I think this is a lot more our fantasy speculation than it is any real consideration, though.

    Sanchez (who turns 29 this summer) — MLB career OPB: .288; career wRC+: 67. AAA OPB in ’18: .281; wRC+: 71. Even Matt Reynolds was significantly better than Sanchez at AAA last year . . . yet Reynolds got DFA’d over Sanchez.

    Quality of opponent: I thought it was strange/sad that the Astros fielded a lineup so devoid of regulars even though they share the same complex. If it were me, I’d be like Max and Eaton, itching to get out there. And yes, Eaton looked very good. We forget that he was a 5.8 fWAR player his last season with CWS.

    Rendon: 2d in fWAR in NL in ’18 (0.2 behind Yelich), 1st in fWAR in NL in ’17. I don’t think it’s a stretch to think he could/should be the best player on the team. That said, it’s going to be fun to see how Soto continues to develop.

    Garcia: it will be interesting to see if they send him back to A+, like they did with Robles, or push him on to AA.

    KW

    24 Feb 19 at 8:35 am

  20. It is shocking to me that Kendrick looks as healthy as he does. I’m cool with Dozier, but i’d Guess if the Nats knew Kendrick would be this healthy, Dozier never signs here and maybe the big reliever does.

    Wally

    24 Feb 19 at 9:28 am

  21. The Nationals have been chasing saves for years, and its cost them time and time again. All for the mystical one inning “closer” so that the team can continue to convert 95% of its leads heading into the 9th that it always has.

    Don’t you wish we still had Blake Treinen? Or Felipe (Rivero) Vasquez? How did the Mark Melancon deal turn out? How about Jonathan Paplebon; maybe Nick Pivetta wouldn’t be a half bad 5th starter for this team? Was layering Drew Storen in 2013 with Rafael Soriano (which cost us our 1st round draft pick remember) worth it when, a year and half later, he was so bad that the team had to replace him with … Drew Storen?

    I’ll f*cking spit bullets if they overpay for Kimbrel, blow the luxury tax and give up two more draft picks just so they can have someone marginally better than who they already have for 1/5th the cost.

    And yeah, every comment I just made ignores the present-day value of the acquisitions. I get it. But there’s a whole lotta people who whined incessantly about the Max Schrock for Marc Rzepczynski deal too for the same reasons. This team has drafted about a thousand frigging pitchers in the last 10 drafts. How is it possible they haven’t developed a one-inning closer out of all these frigging college arms??

    Todd Boss

    24 Feb 19 at 9:35 am

  22. Todd, I’m sometimes confused by the projection systems too, but I’m not at all confused by what they expect from Lester this year. His 2018 results were ok, but he did not pitch well (and certainly was not fantastic. His K and BB rates continued a decline that’s been going on for a few years. By FIP, he was worse in 2018 than 2017 (4.39 v. 4.10). Lester is a classic example of a guy who got lucky in 2018 and put up an ERA (3.32) that does not reflect how poorly he pitched. Note: Anibal Sanchez is an example of the same phenomenon, but Sanchez’s performance in 2018 was substantially better than Lester’s.

    Derek

    24 Feb 19 at 10:50 am

  23. And, to answer your question, ZIPS projects Verlander to a 3.25 FIP and upwards of 5 WAR. The differences between Verlander and Lester (and why the projections like Verlander a lot more) are that (1) Verlander, unlike Lester, actually pitched well last year, (2) Verlander poor years happened longer ago compared to Lester’s; (3) Verlander’s poor years aren’t as bad as Lester’s (Verlander hasn’t finished a year with a FIP above 4 this decade, whereas Lester has had three such years, including the last two).

    Derek

    24 Feb 19 at 11:00 am

  24. Wally — I completely agree: if the Nats had known that Kendrick would be this healthy by the start of camp, perhaps they would have spent Dozier’s money on Sipp and Cameron Mayben (to replace MAT on the bench). However, considering the false reports they had last spring on Eaton, Zim, and Murph, I don’t blame them.

    Also, Dozier is a real wild card for this team. If he gets his mojo back, this is a guy who posted 11.2 fWAR across ’16-’17 and an insane 76 homers. I’ve got a hunch about him getting together with Kevin Long. We’ll see. But the Nats are covered either way, because if Dozier struggles, they’ve got Kendrick and Carter K.

    Hmm, just saw that Glover left his first spring appearance with elbow tightness. Poor guy. I sure hope he’s not turning into Christian Garcia. Looks like Fedde was strong, though. Good for him and Ross showing up ready to compete.

    KW

    24 Feb 19 at 8:35 pm

  25. Good morning to all.

    Re: Kendrick’s ripple effect… For once, I do not mind having him as a super-utility and pinch-hitter deluxe. Nonetheless, agree with this and previous discussions about how Sipp could be a very valuable addition to the team.

    Yesterday’s game vs the Cards

    Agree with KW, Glover’s injury is too sad and casts a potentially ominous shadow into his future. Still, there were positive stories, even besides the reports on how Fedde looked.

    It’s way early, but:

    Can anyone comment on Voth & McGowin? Both are potential swingmen who could be needed in the dog days of summer or, as some have advocated, if we ever copy the Dodger approach to providing support to their primary starters throughout the season.

    On the secondary (mid-game) relievers, any feedback on Williams and Nuño? If Williams could translate his ‘18 success to Spring Training, he might make a strong case to make the Opening Day staff. In my viewpoint, Nuño has an even better chance to make the team.

    On the hitters side… Carter Kieboom seems to be looking really impressive. Seemingly, Robles looked good today, as well. I’ve read different feedback on García, but given his age I give him ample leeway.
    With regards to Noll, hope he makes a jump into the prospect status. To former Expos fans like me, he might follow the path of Mike Lansing, Mark Grudzielanek and Jamey Carroll, to name a few IF’s who were not among the top prospects, but through sheer effort and commitment made themselves into capable MLB infielders.

    Hope you all have a great day.

    LH

    25 Feb 19 at 3:13 am

  26. Lester pitched to a 129 ERA+. As in, 29% better than the league average. 3.32 ERA in a band box. You won’t find me saying he pitched “poorly.” I don’t really care about his FIP. He out performed it, on the field, and not with some unsustainable BABIP. The problem with FIP is that it really penalizes guys who don’t strike out a ton of players. I struggle with it sometimes b/c its always a representation of what an “ideal” baseball world performance would look like … which doesn’t exist.

    Maybe he’s not an “Ace” anymore. Maybe i put too much stock in 129 ERA+ … 129 means he’s top 10 in the NL.

    Todd Boss

    25 Feb 19 at 9:37 am

  27. Austen Williams went from release candidate last offseason to the most dominant pitcher in the organization across AA and AAA after they finally gave up on him starting. He was a true multi-inning reliever as well, working 68 IP across 32 games in the minors in ’18. If he could come anywhere close to his minor-league numbers at the MLB level, he could be a serious weapon. He didn’t fair well in his MLB cup of coffee, though, so I’m not ready to jump on the bandwagon just yet. I do think he’ll get more MLB time in ’19, but I’d be a little surprised if he makes the original bullpen seven.

    Five bullpen spots seem set: Doolittle, Rosenthal, Barraclough, Grace, and Miller. It seems like they want Solis to give them a reason to keep him, as he’s out of options and will be completely gone if not. Nuno is just sort of Solis insurance; can’t see them keeping both of them, and neither was particularly good against LHB in ’18.

    For the other slot, will they keep another one-inning guy like Suero/Cordero/Rainey, or a true multi-inning guy like Williams/Alvarez/Ross/Fedde/McGowin?

    Rotation depth: McGowin was significantly better than Voth in ’18. He was also better than Fedde by most measures. Really, a Fresno rotation of Ross/Fedde/McGowin/Voth/Alvarez wouldn’t be bad. In fact, it might be on par with some of the lower-ranked MLB rotations listed above.

    KW

    25 Feb 19 at 9:46 am

  28. Lester hasn’t been an “ace” – whatever that means – since the year after he signed with the Cubs. Todd, I don’t know what to say about ignoring FIP in favor of ERA. If, in 2019 you think the latter is more useful for predicting the future than the former, then you aren’t going to be persuaded by facts clearly and unambiguously demonstrating the reverse.

    Lester is not a terrible pitcher. But he’s been getting worse since the 2015 season and there’s no reason to think he’s suddenly going to get better. In fact, there are reasons to think he’s going to continue a three year trend of getting worse. But, even if he stays the same, a 4.00 ERA would be a good outcome for him. So he’s slightly better than league average for a starter. Honestly, at the same price, I’d have a hard time picking between Gio and Lester for next year.

    Derek

    25 Feb 19 at 10:37 am

  29. OK, you guys got me curious enough to look. I’m not sure I would take Gio over Lester (will ANYONE take Gio? That’s getting kind of sad), but several details of Lester’s stats are definitely not trending in the right direction. If I were Joe Maddon, and had a team in that “bandbox,” here’s the one that would worry me the most: from ’17 to ’18, Lester’s GB rate fell alarmingly from 46.2% to 37.7%. He also lost 1.6 Ks off his K/9, while his walk rate was the highest he’s posted since ’11. His WHIP was a worrisome 1.31. His FIP and xFIP are up an entire point from ’16. In fact, Lester’s ’18 xFIP was only 0.01 better than Gio’s . . . and Gio posted 0.3 more fWAR, an 8% better GB rate, and half a K more per K/9.

    But if you want to talk about guys trending in the wrong direction, let’s talk about Cole Hamels, who posted miraculous numbers with the Cubs after being awful with the Rangers (5.20 FIP, following a 4.62 FIP in ’17). Then you’ve got Darvish (4.86 FIP + injury) and Quintana (4.43 FIP).

    Someone mentioned Sanchez. His ’18 FIP was 3.62. That’s our #4. Hellickson’s 4.22 FIP was better than that of most of the Cub rotation.

    KW

    25 Feb 19 at 11:50 am

  30. lester: is he one of the best 20 starters in the game? One of the best 40? I mean, at some point you have to give him credit for his results on the field.

    Todd Boss

    25 Feb 19 at 11:51 am

  31. in 2016, Lester went 19-5, with a 2.44 ERA, a 171 adjusted ERA figure and came in 2nd in cy Young voting. are you really telling me you don’t believe he was one of the best starters in the league at that point?

    Todd Boss

    25 Feb 19 at 11:53 am

  32. Meanwhile, I’m falling off my chair laughing at how desperate Bryce and Boras are to not end up in Philly. Now there are Dodger rumors.

    KW

    25 Feb 19 at 12:02 pm

  33. Dodgers back in.

    http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/26075139/dodgers-re-enter-bryce-harper-sweepstakes-interested-short-term-deal

    I mean, LA always made a ton of sense. would Bryce/Boras take a shorter term deal to get them past the CBa? If he signed 3yrs/$90M or something close to it … he’d get over the next CBA hump and still be in his 20s.

    Todd Boss

    25 Feb 19 at 12:13 pm

  34. I think the highest AAV right now is Greinke’s 34.4. For Bryce to “set a record,” they’d have to get to 35, so 3/105. Other than Pederson, who has still yet to live up fully to expectations, the rest of the Dodger OF sucks right now. Plus I saw over the weekend that Kasten was whining about the abuse they’re getting for sitting out the offseason.

    KW

    25 Feb 19 at 12:41 pm

  35. Todd, Jon Lester has made 64 starts since the 2016 season, and the results are what they are: not good.

    Lester was legitimately great in 2015. I’m not going to dig in to the numbers to substantiate the following claim, but I’d be comfortable with calling him a top ten starting pitcher in MLB in 2015.

    Lester was good in 2016, but not as good as 2015. Ks ticked down, BBs ticked up. Homers ticked up from an unsustainably low figure in 2015. His ERA in 2016 was great – better than his FIP – because his BABIP was 40 points lower than his career norm pitching in front of an exceptional Cubs defense that regressed to good but not historically good in 2017 and 2018. He also sported an INSANE 85% LOB rate. The story with Lester in 2016 was that a great defense and some luck masked a real decline. He went from legitimately great to good. I’d say more of a top 20 starter than a top 10 starter. Still good.

    The decline continues in 2017-18 and gets steeper. Ks go up in 2017 but BB rate jumps by even more. BABIP normalizes, homers go up, and his ERA balloons to 4.33 (in large part because of an increase in homers). It gets worse in 2018: Ks nosedive (which should be extra concerning given that Ks are way up league-wide), BBs go up again (for the fourth consecutive year). The BABIP drops back down to below normal levels, and the homers regress a bit, making his ERA look a lot better than his FIP.

    The easiest way to see that he’s clearly a pitcher in a severe decline is to look at xFIP. In 2015, he was an outstanding 3.06; in 2016, a very good 3.47; in 2017 a mediocre 3.85; and in 2018 a terrible 4.43 (0.01 better than Gio, who nobody would pretend is anything other than a slightly better or slightly worse than league average starting pitcher).

    Steamer has Lester projected as the 64th best starter in MLB. He’s ahead of a lot of guys who are projected to pitch a lot better than him but who probably won’t pitch as many innings. Lester’s best quality these days is that he consistently takes the ball every fifth day (we can’t say he’s much of an innings eater because he just doesn’t pitch that many innings anymore – ~180 innings the last two years – not that you would want a pitcher of his quality to throw more innings anyway). I think that’s about where he ought to rank. He’s simply not one of the best 50 starting pitchers in baseball if you look closely.

    Derek

    25 Feb 19 at 12:47 pm

  36. Did you know that if you reverse-sort the qualified starters on FG by ERA, FIP, and xFIP that there was a “triple crown” loser across all three categories? You may have heard of him; his name is Giolito.

    I was doing this looking for Lester, who sorts out VERY differently with older stats vs. newer ones. By ERA, he was 19th in the majors, 16th by ERA+ (on B-R). By FIP, though, he was 45th, and he was 47th among qualified starters in xFIP (on FG). By WHIP, he was 48th. My general take on Lester is that the Cubs got two years where he was “worth” his contract, two years where he looks to be slipping, and now they’ve still got two more years to hope that he doesn’t completely fall off the ledge. By contrast, the Nats are already more than halfway home on Max’s contract, and he hasn’t slowed down yet. (And by the way, if Bryce really wants to think he’s the highest-paid player in the game, Max is actually making $42M this season.)

    KW

    25 Feb 19 at 12:52 pm

  37. Getting back to relievers, there is a way for the Nats to add one of the lower-priced ones (not Kimbrel) and still stay under the tax line: renegotiate Zim’s contract. Boz mentioned that in his chat this week, so I assume it’s something the media members have been discussing. They likely could lower Zim’s AAV enough afford someone like Sipp, . . . particularly if a certain LHB well known in these parts can’t find anywhere else to play but Philly. (Might also be good to have to match up with the biggest Nat killer of them all, Freddie Freeman.)

    KW

    25 Feb 19 at 1:09 pm

  38. It is refreshing to be out of the Bryce brand business. Seems like the players are enjoying it too. Having someone that entitled around for 7 years can wear on you.

    For all of Boras’ talk about his marketing value, the stadium was half full With Bryce every weeknight. Many weekends sold out but that’s just social weekenders. For a superstar he also gave the most bland robotic interviews in all of sports.

    What would we think of him if he was just an anonymous player who popped though the system instead of “Bryce Harper” the prodigy?

    The problem with a brand like Bryce is you cannot or did not have the courage to bat him 8th or 9th or bench him if he’s in a 3 or 4 month slump. Which happened to him a lot but never happened to prime Trout, Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, etc…

    When you will not move a guy out of the prime batting positions when he’s in a 3 month slump you kill your lineup, and kill hundreds of potential rallies. Guys who bat sub .200 for 3 months should bat 8th or 9th if they play at all.

    You can’t send him to the minors and he didn’t have the decency to fake an injury for mental break and swing re-tool like Ryan has done a couple times.

    Good but certainly not consistently great player who wants to be paid the most money ever off a typically inconsistent and often brutal season. Very Streaky. Long Slump Prone. Tough lefties can ruin his swing for weeks. Walks alot which props up some stats. Not especially clutch. Really into his hair, gloves, sleeves, shoes. Not so much running out grounders.

    I’m going to miss Murphy. When he was healthy he had the best ab’s over very long stretches I’ve ever seen. Thats what a star hitter looks like to me. I realize his defense issues, but that bat was incredible and incredibly consistent.

    Marty

    25 Feb 19 at 1:25 pm

  39. Sipp is ok. Will Smith is better, and should cost about the same $.

    I wonder if SFG would consider a package of Solis + a couple decent prospects . SFG gets four years of control of an erratic, but talented reliever. Could bite us like treinen and Rivero have, but worth considering.

    Wally

    25 Feb 19 at 3:20 pm

  40. But if the Giants sign Bryce, they’re going for it, right?

    I admit it, I enjoyed the drama of watching Bryce, although I’ll concede that it got to be painful in ’18. It was even more painful to watch Murph be a shell of his recently former self.

    I don’t think there will be a lapse in excitement with Soto and Robles on the scene, though, not to mention a healthy Mighty Mouse and the threat to finally unleash Trea at the top of the order. That’s without mentioning Rendon, one of the top all-around players in the game. Plus we’re watching a pretty certain Hall of Famer start every fifth day. It will be an exciting team, and probably a winning one, but it will be interesting to see whether the more casual fans connect with the team with the biggest neon name they knew now gone.

    And yes, now that the drama and fake news have reached biblical proportions, I’m glad he’s gone. I’m just laughing at how desperate he seems not to end up in Philly. I’m sure the Phillie fans are noticing as well!

    KW

    26 Feb 19 at 10:32 am

  41. yeah, I agree that they should be fun to watch this year.

    Arenado signing an 8/$260MM extension. I think this is another bad sign for a Rendon extension. He’s a year younger, so convert it to 7/$$228m, and probably better, but not that much better. Wouldn’t you think this suggests a 7/$175m deal for Rendon? I have a hard time seeing the Nats going that high.

    Wally

    26 Feb 19 at 1:42 pm

  42. I think you’re very much around where the Nats would like to be with Rendon, around $175M, sliced somehow or other. I think it will get done. He seems to want to stay, and there’s nothing about Bryce’s experience that will have anyone eager to repeat it.

    If the Phils don’t get Bryce, they might turn out to be a more dangerous team if they throw their stupid money at Keuchel instead. At least for a year, as both Keuchel and Arrieta already seem to be regressing.

    KW

    26 Feb 19 at 8:14 pm

  43. If Arenado gets $260, then Boras is going to want 230-240 for Rendon. I’m getting pessimistic.

    Mark L

    27 Feb 19 at 8:38 am

  44. A Rendon extension would start in his age-30 season (turning 30 that June). So seven years for him would end the summer he turns 36. That isn’t terrible, but since a lot of his value comes from his defense, that adds to the risk. To me, the only reason to go seven years would be to get a lower AAV.

    Per fWAR, over the last two seasons, Rendon has posted 13.0 vs. 11.3 for Arenado. Heck yeah Boras will know that, and beat Rizzo over the head with it. However, Arenado has been perceived to be better (which gets the goat of Nat fans), as he has six Gold Gloves, four AS appearances, and three MVP top-five votes. All Rendon has is a 5th-place MVP vote way back in 2014. Yes, it’s a crime that he’s never an All-Star, and Arenado has 23 errors over the last two seasons to Rendon’s astoundingly low 13. But it’s going to be challenging to get traction for a contract over $25-27M AAV for a guy who isn’t perceived as a “great” player. Rendon finished a ridiculous 11th in the 2018 MVP voting despite being 2d to only Yelich in fWAR among NL position players (deGrom and Max were also ahead of him, and he tied with Corbin). (So yes, the Nats now feature three of the top five in NL fWAR from ’18, and none is named “Bryce.”)

    I also love that Rendon has already publicly put Boras on notice that he works for him, as in “don’t think I’m going to go through this circus for four or five months next offseason. I ain’t like that other show pony.”

    KW

    27 Feb 19 at 1:00 pm

  45. I know it’s WAY early, but I’m starting to get a little concerned that Taylor is getting way more playing time than Robles. There’s NO reason at this point to even entertain the idea that Taylor needs to start over Robles unless Robles hits about .100 for the spring. Even in his sorta breakout ’17 season, Taylor posted a wRC+ of only 104. In ’16 and ’18, it was a lowly 71, with OBPs both seasons under .300 and K rates over 30%. That’s who he is, no mater how far he hits a ball every now and then.

    Over 93 MLB PAs thus far, Robles has a 120 wRC+ (131) in ’18), .337 OBP, and 19.4% K rate. Yes, it’s a small sample size, but it’s consistent with what he’s done in the minors. He’s a significantly better hitter than Taylor already. He’s ready. It will be a crime if they try to hold him back.

    KW

    27 Feb 19 at 1:16 pm

  46. barring injury, its Robles. They cannot possibly think MAT is good, all of a sudden. I’d be more inclined to believe the theory that he’s being showcased for trade, to save the $$ for a reliever.

    About Rendon, I said early on that the Corbin contract would have been a good deal, and the Nats should offer it. Now, I just don’t think that’s close to working. My guess is $200m becomes the bogey to meet. Pick the years.

    Wally

    27 Feb 19 at 3:16 pm

  47. Yup, the Arenado deal is bad news for those expecting a Rendon extension. If I’m Anthony, my extension needs to be in that ballpark in terms of AAV or length, which would make the deal much larger than Altuve’s. I don’t see it happening any time soon.

    Derek

    27 Feb 19 at 4:53 pm

  48. Rendon; one year older, and a third less valuable over the course of his career thus far by bWAR (33 vs 21 career bWAR). You would think Rendon’s demands would thus use Arenado as an upper boundary but would be lower. But its Boras so who knows. At some point these players have to take note of the climate and admit that they’re just screwed until a new CBA can remediate the luxury cap.

    Todd Boss

    27 Feb 19 at 5:00 pm

  49. Wow Todd, I didn’t realize that bWAR hates Rendon so much. Rendon actually LEADS Arenado in career fWAR, by a hair, 25.8 to 25.3. Nevertheless, I stand by my statement that Arenado is perceived to be better, with the bigger numbers in the counting stats and the Gold Gloves.

    I’ll go on record that I don’t think the Nats will go higher than ~27M AAV for Rendon, and not more than seven years. So their max will be 7/189 or thereabouts. That’s a fair offer. It’s probably not the highest offer he could get on the (pseudo) open market, but I also don’t think teams are going to line up to pay “star” money for someone who hasn’t been an All-Star and who won’t put many/any new fans in the seats.

    The other key point here is that the Nats have Kieboom and Garcia, presumably the next generation, and they would cost A LOT less. There are no guarantees with either of them, but if Dozier pans out, the Nats would also be able to be first in line to extend him for around three years at half the price of Rendon and let Carter K man 3B. So the Nats have a strong bargaining position, much as they did with Bryce with Robles already waiting in the wings.

    KW

    27 Feb 19 at 8:47 pm

  50. Would love Bryce in SF. He’d be out of the division and likely on a team that we wouldn’t see in the playoffs for the foreseeable future.

    KW

    27 Feb 19 at 8:49 pm

  51. Interesting; i wrote that comment w/o looking at fangraphs version of war. B-R actually took away WAR from Rendon in 2018 claiming he was a negative defensive player; he had a -6 DRS for the year. wow.

    I think the difference clearly comes down to DRS. Arenado always rates amazingly high in DRS, which drives up his b-r.com dWAR, which makes the difference. 10 bWAR over their careers, roughly 2 wins per season.

    Todd Boss

    28 Feb 19 at 9:27 am

  52. For Nats fans who want Bryce far and away, SF is pretty good. Only thing better would be an AL West team so we’d only see him once every few years, not one series a season.

    harper has to be looking though at SF’s prospects; they’ve committed so much money to aging Vets, their stars seem to be on the decline, and they have one of the worst Farm systems in the game.

    Todd Boss

    28 Feb 19 at 9:30 am

  53. I moved past caring where Bryce ends up. Prefer not Philly, but even then, whatever.

    OT – some other offseason observations.

    The narrative around some of these guys that recently, or still haven’t signed, is bothersome in its incompleteness. Specifically that some of the players have red flags which just doesn’t get mentioned. Keuchel has been declining in most metrics the last few year. Also gave up the most hits in baseball last year. How much better do you really think he’ll be than Gio, for instance? 1 WAR, at most. Yet the narrative in the mainstream press suggests a $50m difference in contracts. Kimbrel, too, has some real concerns. I wouldn’t be worried for this year so much, or next year, but would it really surprise anyone if he fell off the map? Plus look at so many high priced relievers that not only weren’t worth their contract, but became almost unpitchable. Greg Holland, those Rockies guys.

    That being said, he’d be perfect for LAD on a 1/$20m deal.

    PHI – they should be signing Kimbrel on something like the LAD deal. That would make them pretty tough. Why they are just waiting for Harper to decide makes no sense. They have oodles of money.

    I’m surprised GIo hasn’t signed anywhere yet. I assume he’d take a low base, 1 yr contract with incentives and that it’s been offered. So I wonder what’s up.

    Based on Kw’s reference of MAT, I’ve been enjoying a MAT for Will smith fantasy for the last 24 hours. :-)

    Wally

    28 Feb 19 at 10:21 am

  54. I’d offer Taylor + Solis + Severino for Will Smith. Smith is a free agent after ’19, so they can’t expect too big of a return. The Giants desperately need OFs, though, even if they sign one to consistently overthrow cutoff men from RF.

    All offseason, I’ve not been sure what the best move is with Taylor. He shouldn’t start, but he’s been gosh-awful as a pinch hitter. However, Robles and Eaton have both struggled to stay healthy, and if Andrew Stevenson were to end up having to start for the Nats, that wouldn’t be good. Maybe they could trade Taylor and sign Span?

    Wally, I think you’re spot-on about folks ignoring red flags about several of the guys still available. Kimbrel struggled throughout the playoffs. I was horrified about all the scuttlebutt linking the Nats to Keuchel, as he appears to be headed in the wrong direction. His GB rate and K/9 dropped significantly.

    I feel bad for Gio, who really was one of the underappreciated core guys for the run of four division titles in six seasons. He’s a far cry from what he used to be, but he’s still better than a number of guys listed above who are holding down #4 and #5 slots. I fear he may be done within a couple of seasons, though.

    KW

    28 Feb 19 at 2:17 pm

  55. that’s close to a deal that SFG would do. We would definitely need a back up 4th OF tho. Couldn’t go with Stevenson. Span could work. What would it take: $2m + incentives?

    Wally

    28 Feb 19 at 3:30 pm

  56. Well, the Giants still need an OF. Unfortunately, the Phils got one. So long, Bryce. Enjoy 10 years with no postseason.

    KW

    28 Feb 19 at 4:57 pm

  57. Our long Nationals nightmare is finally over! Pretty funny that Harper signed for a lower AAV than the Nats’ offer (though I gather the Nats included something they knew he wouldn’t agree to such no opt outs, or the inclusion of substantial deferred money). Hard to believe that after 4 years of constant distraction, iwe can fully focus on the team as a team again. What ever will those dopey ESPN announcers talk about when they cover the Nats now?

    Karl Kolchak

    28 Feb 19 at 6:00 pm

  58. Thank you, thank you Phillies.

    Wait till they start booing him for not running to 1st.

    Mark L

    28 Feb 19 at 6:41 pm

  59. Tbh,I don’t think the Nats were ever serious about re-signing, at least once he got to September. Everything else was for show, to help him have credibility and make us fans think they tried. The fact that they pivoted so hard and quickly means they entered the offseason with no intent to re-sign him.

    I can’t bring myself to read the hot takes etc on this, but my opinion is (1) any concept that he drove the ‘no opt outs’ is pure BS, that was Philly correctly identifying their market power and exerting it, and (2) I think Philly will like him for a while, but then it won’t end well. I liked him, and think he’s a decent kid especially once you take into account all the privilege that came his way at such an early age, but he’s a different guy from the mainstream, and even I was ready for a change. I think his style will not win over those fans, unless he puts up MVP seasons immediately and they win championships.

    I’m not one of those trying to spin it as Bryce isn’t that good. He is good, not top player in BB good, but top 10-ish, and we’d be better with him. But i’m Happy with the team we have and ready to see the new kids take over.

    Not loving DMart’s comments re:Robles and MAT, though.

    Wally

    28 Feb 19 at 7:36 pm

  60. Just read yesterday that Harper was the 20th best player in baseball.

    Rendon was 22nd

    Mark L

    28 Feb 19 at 7:41 pm

  61. Just noted that after today’s game 10 of the 27 pitchers the Nats have used thus far have ERAs north of 10.00, meaning they’ve given up more runs than the number of innings they have pitched. Yes, it is ST and it is early, but note some of the pitchers in question: Fedde, Rainey, McGowin, Borque, Adams, Hoover, Glover. In other words, many of the guys who are fighting for a spot and have every motivation to pitch well, and whom the Nats are counting on for “depth” this year.

    Meanwhile, Tony Sipp is still sitting out there unsigned. Just sayin’.

    Karl Kolchak

    28 Feb 19 at 8:26 pm

  62. @Mark L–20th seems about right for Harper.

    Karl Kolchak

    28 Feb 19 at 8:28 pm

  63. — Fedde got clobbered today. Did the Nats delude themselves about him and hang onto him too long?

    — Like Wally, I’m really concerned about Martinez’s comments about Taylor and Robles. I stated my case above. There’s no logical reason MAT should start ahead of Robles, and there’s no reason to talk about jerking Robles around from CF to RF. Let the kid learn CF and stay there.

    — Seems like it might be wise for the Nats to do something about adding another legit lefty to the bullpen. Just sayin’.

    KW

    28 Feb 19 at 10:44 pm

  64. I enjoyed watching Harper play, except for much of last season. I wish him well . . . except when he’s playing the Nats. As Wally said, he’s basically a good guy, but one who grew up in sort of a bubble. The Nats did him a disservice by not pushing him harder to refine all the aspects of his game.

    There are a lot of aspects of his deal that don’t make sense, first and foremost taking an AAV of just over $25M to make some absurd point about a deal a hair higher than Stanton’s. He’s making $9M less than Greinke by AAV, so it’s a pointless “record.” I imagine there were teams that would have given him a “record” AAV of $35M per, but only for three or four years. He also got no opt-outs, which is astounding. And it seems patently clear that he didn’t want to be in Philly and was desperately trying to get other teams interested. Why didn’t he just take whatever LA offered? Of course the Nats offered an AAV of nearly $5M more per year than he got in the end. But will any writers have the guts to call out Boras for making a hash of this? Probably not.

    So Rendon may actually end up with a higher AAV than Bryce. Who’d a thunk it?

    Also, the Philly rotation still sucks. Four of their five starters will struggle to have ERAs in the low 4s, and they just traded their best pitching prospect.

    However, I’m fine with the spotlight being on Philly to start the season. It will fade.

    KW

    28 Feb 19 at 10:54 pm

  65. Also a reminder of something I posted speculatively a couple of weeks ago — per the FG defensive WAR metric, the Phils now have an OF that posted a collective -33 last season. A chunk of that is Bryce being miscast as a CF, but the other two weren’t good, either.

    Just looking at the breakout of what Bryce is getting paid and shaking my head at what a poor deal it is. The only way you take this deal is if you don’t in your heart believe you’re that good. What if he had been willing to take a short-term deal of 4/$140 (35 AAV)? That would still give him the “record” AAV. Then go for the longer deal when he’s a FA again at 30, say 7/196 (28 AAV). That would give him $336M over just 11 seasons. Bottom line — Boras and Bryce screwed up. But neither will ever admit it, and I doubt the media will write it.

    KW

    1 Mar 19 at 8:12 am

  66. I don’t have a good model for what Bryce Harper wants. On the one hand, I’m inclined to think that he wishes he could go back and negotiate with the Nats. I suspect, with a good faith effort on both sides, he and the Nats could have reached a deal better than the one he signed yesterday. On the other hand, there are reports that he rejected 10+ years and $310+ from the Giants because they needed to go much higher than $330 to make the deal comparable from a tax perspective. It’s hard to imagine a human being living in this world who would prefer to make slightly more money and live in f*cking Philadelphia for 13 years over slightly less money and to live in objectively superior San Francisco.

    It sure seems like his #1 goal was to get the highest overall number for his contract. That, obviously, makes sense as a goal for Boras. But not for Bryce, who is calling the shots. But given what he ended up doing and what he turned down, I think we have to conclude that signing the biggest deal mattered to Bryce. It seems like the price of holding that championship belt for a few years until Trout takes it and never gives it back is a decade and a half in f*cking Philly. That’s way too steep a price to pay for a thing Bryce shouldn’t even care about. The only conclusion I’m left with: Bryce Harper is bad at making decisions.

    Derek

    1 Mar 19 at 10:33 am

  67. Interesting points. KW – I think its a little too far to say its a ‘bad’ deal, ‘The only way you take this deal is if you don’t in your heart believe you’re that good’ or that they ‘screwed up’. Uh …it is, after all, the largest contract in team sports history – US, anyway. Sure, the AAV is low compared to some others, but see point #1.

    And I think Derek is right that getting the largest contract was the main goal. More than where he played, etc. But is that a bad decision for him, even though it certainly would be for me, and sounds like you guys?

    How do we know. The one thing that I think is different for professional athletes that us regular Joes can’t relate to is this: money = respect. Its more transparent in basketball, but i think its true in all the major sports. players believe that how much you’re paid determines who is considered the best. And sure, there can be arguments over whether that’s AAV or total guarantee pay, but i think most go with total payout. I don’t think they care nearly as much about awards or press or living conditions that we might, but we can’t know what it is like to have lived a life that gets you to their position. Maybe, once their career is over, they might look back and see the wisdom of considering different factors, but in the moment, I think that’s very hard.

    Its the rare player, when truly a free agent, that can look around, say ‘this amount of money is good enough’, ‘I’ve got a pretty good life here’, and just stay put. Hoping Rendon is one of them.

    Wally

    1 Mar 19 at 3:05 pm

  68. What we can all relate to, however, is being sellers in a labor market, which is what Bryce is too. I live and work in DC. To do the same job, it would take less money to get me to live in some places (SF, Seattle, Denver, San Diego, Chicago), and more money to get me to live in others (Atlanta, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Philadelphia). But one difference between me and Bryce (there are many) is that I can’t get my same job in a bunch of other places. The job prospects for me in DC are unique; I’m willing to take less money for the job I have here because it’s a better job than what exists in other places. The same is not true for Bryce: there are 30 RF jobs in 30 cities. These jobs are not identical, but they’re not THAT different.

    I can’t say valuing a small increase in money over what I would consider an enormous difference in city quality is wrong for Bryce. We all have different preferences. It’s just that I think Bryce is stupid for having the preferences he seems to have.

    Justin Turner left a lot of money on the table when he signed a FA deal with the Dodgers. That, to me, is far more defensible than squeezing out every last dollar, when the result is 13 years in a third-tier American city like Philadelphia.

    Derek

    1 Mar 19 at 4:38 pm

  69. Interesting discussion. First of all, I don’t want to come across as trolling Bryce. I’ll leave that to others. It will actually be fun to still have him where we get to see him regularly, if also somewhat irritating. I’m just honestly perplexed why he took an AAV of ~$25M to play in a city where he clearly didn’t want to be (for good reason). Maybe Boras had convinced him that Ted Lerner would jump in at the last minute to save him? I don’t know. Some are saying that he clearly wanted to get out of DC, or he clearly wanted to prove something, or . . . I don’t know. All he “proved” was that he could sign for ~$10M less per season than he’s worth, in an awful city, with a franchise that hasn’t been well run, with NO opt outs, for THIRTEEN friggin’ years.

    Word is that the Dodgers offered him an AAV of between 35 to 45M (reports differ) for four or five years. That’s the contract/”record” that would have impressed me, the one for the highest AAV, plus with a WS-caliber team, a few miles from Hollywood, and close to Vegas. He also had offers from the truly wonderful cities of SF (reportedly for 10 years) and SD (where he got married, his buddy Manny will be playing, and the farm system is thriving). And yeah, he had the 10/300 offer from the Nats, albeit with deferrals (which get a bad rap but which save on the tax burden).

    So I seriously don’t get it. Yes, he “beat” Stanton, but only technically, as Stanton’s opt-out more than makes up for the $5M delta. Plus Stanton’s contract was an odd target anyway since its buyout of three arb years lowered its AAV. And yes, Bryce is “set for life,” but, um, at the price of having to live that life in Philly!

    KW

    1 Mar 19 at 10:28 pm

  70. Plus any alleged “record” is going to be out the window anyway whenever Trout signs.

    KW

    1 Mar 19 at 10:49 pm

  71. Boz weighs in on a Rendon contract . . . and comes in with slightly lower numbers than we did:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/anthony-rendon-has-leverage-bryce-harper-never-had-with-the-nationals/2019/03/01/bb7b3cb0-3c4b-11e9-a06c-3ec8ed509d15_story.html

    I’ll stick with my reasoning above that he’ll get an AAV of $25-27M, making him better compensated than you know who.

    KW

    2 Mar 19 at 8:37 am

  72. Just looked to see if I could find anything about why Justin Miller has been AWOL from games. “Back pain,” apparently, which I guess is better than arm pain. If you’re looking for this year’s out-of-nowhere bullpen guy, thus far it is Scott Copeland . . . but it’s still REALLY early.

    KW

    2 Mar 19 at 8:46 am

  73. The Nats’ starters have now given up exactly one ER in 16 IP with only 9 hits and 3 BBs allowed and 16 Ks. If they can just stay healthy (knock on every wood surface in my house), this group has a chance to be the best in MLB.

    Here’s an interesting discussion–rank the three absolute best Nats’ rotations of all time. In my book, it goes in order:

    2014 – (Strasburg, Zimmermann, Gonzalez, Fister, Roark).
    2017 – (Scherzer, Strasburg, Gonzalez, Roark, Ross/Jackson).
    2012 – (Strasburg, Gonzalez, Zimmermann, Jackson, Detwiler).

    That 2014 group gets the nod for me because it was Strasburg’s best year healthwise (he even led the league in Ks), Fister and Roark pitched like #2s, and the whole group made 149 of the 162 starts that year. Of course, there was also Z’nn’s season ending no-no in which the hard luck loser was Henderson Alvarez.

    Arguably, 2012 could be ranked 2nd since Gio nearly won the CYA and that group was pretty strong top to bottom, while in 2017 Roark struggled and the two #5s had ERAs north of 5.00 even as the top 3 all finished in the Top 6 in the CYA voting.

    Karl Kolchak

    3 Mar 19 at 12:19 am

  74. Here’s a quick breakout of the stats:

    Year runs ERA FIP xFIP K/9 BB/9

    2018 682 4.04 4.15 4.13 8.82 3.03
    2017 672 3.88 3.99 4.12 9.06 3.08
    2016 612 3.52 3.58 3.82 9.10 2.89
    2015 635 3.62 3.45 3.48 8.42 2.28
    2014 555 3.03 3.18 3.43 7.88 2.15
    2013 626 3.55 3.59 3.64 7.69 2.52
    2012 594 3.34 3.54 3.80 8.12 3.05
    2011 624 3.58 3.83 4.04 6.51 2.96

    I hope this table stays intact when it uploads. These numbers are for the full pitching staffs, not just the starters. Still, they give a pretty good ballpark to where the team was. One could argue that there may be some skewing against the starters in a year like 2017 where there were serious bullpen issues until the trade deadline, but overall, these numbers more or less make sense. I’d say that 2017 is interesting because of the perception that it was a good season, but it probably wasn’t; the dynamic offensive just helped cover up for a lot of sins.

    It seems pretty obvious that 2014 was the “best” pitching year, no matter how you slice it. (Boz keeps insisting that was the year the Nats really should have won the championship was 2014, and I tend to agree.) And clearly by these stats, the meltdown the Nats had in 2015 wasn’t due to pitching. Same for 2013.

    So . . . 1) 2014, 2) 2012, 3) 2016? By most measures, 2018 was their worst year, although as I said, it was not that much different from 2017.

    KW

    3 Mar 19 at 11:43 am

  75. I should also note that I agree with Karl’s overriding point — if the 2019 rotation stays healthy, and if Martinez doesn’t do stupid things like trying to squeeze extra innings out of guys like Helly, this could be an incredible season pitching-wise. Slice things however you wish, but the Nats are significantly ahead of the Phils in starting pitching (and the Braves already have injuries to multiple starters).

    KW

    3 Mar 19 at 11:47 am

  76. I think your comment about 2017’s numbers being skewed by the first half problems is very true, and maybe not taken into account enough. Once Doo, Madson and Kintzler were onboard, that was a good group and remains the one that I felt was strongest across the board of all their teams. Also had the least competition and felt was their best chance to win it all.

    Wally

    3 Mar 19 at 12:49 pm

  77. A couple of dumb statements today from Martinez. First, he’s saying that he wants all of his starters to go seven innings. Has he not been paying attention to what’s been going on in MLB the last few seasons? Or to the stats on his pitchers? Helly was golden for five innings last year but fell off a cliff thereafter. In Sanchez’s 24 starts, he made it to the 6th 17 times, but only SIX times to the 7th. So Helly is good for five innings and Sanchez is good for six. Space them out accordingly. It’s Management 101 in any business: put your people in positions where they have the best chance to succeed.

    The other dumb thing is that Davey keeps reiterating that he wants Robles to get time in RF? WHY? That’s NOT what you do with a young player. Taylor is the one who needs to be flip-flopped, as he’s the RESERVE.

    KW

    3 Mar 19 at 4:13 pm

  78. I’m less concerned about Robles in RF than the pitching comment. Yeah, not feeling a string vibe about DMart.

    Wally

    3 Mar 19 at 4:41 pm

  79. Wow, there are some hints out there that Kimbrel to Nats might actually become a thing. I’d still be surprised, considering that it would take them over the tax line.

    KW

    4 Mar 19 at 2:48 pm

  80. So, should I post my personal thoughts on Harper now that he’s gone? :-) Or have we officially reached “deal fatigue” with everything related to Bryce and just move on?

    I think you know where i’m leaning.

    Todd Boss

    4 Mar 19 at 4:40 pm

  81. The “ride” with Harper was a lot of fun, albeit somewhat frustrating the last year except for the HR Derby.

    Harper has never — except for one season, when the rest of the team was crumbling around him — been the player he should have become. He’s never truly dedicated himself to refining all of his skills. He has all the physical talent in the world. Frankly, we expected a Hall of Famer, but unless he starts hitting 60 a year in Philly bandbox, he’s just not on that trajectory.

    KW

    4 Mar 19 at 6:48 pm

  82. As for the current team, Fedde is getting clobbered. He looks Fresno-bound for sure. Ross has been getting better results, but his velo is way down. Still some talk about him sticking as a long man.

    KW

    4 Mar 19 at 7:08 pm

  83. Probably time to move on from Harper. I think us regulars are in agreement–he’s a great natural talent hampered by extreme immaturity. Mike Trout is the gold standard for his generation of players, and Harper ain’t him.

    Martinez’s comments on the pitchers sure do make look like he’s learned NOTHING from last year, which very concerning. It also magnifies how dangerous the lack of bullpen depth is. Now Miller’s also hurt, with the kind of maddening injury that can affect a pitcher all season, meaining they may have to START the season Cordero and Williams as the 7th and 8th guys of the pen.

    To KW’s concerns about Hellickson and Sanchez pitching deep into games, I’d add that Scherzer isn’t getting any younger and could probably stand to given a little more of a breather during the season, and it would seem holding down Strasurg’s pitch counts is the only way they can ever hope to get a full season of starts out of him. Bottom line is they need a long man (cough, cough, Ross, cough, cough), and Martinez needs to properly utilize him.

    Karl Kolchak

    5 Mar 19 at 7:28 pm

  84. KK, this season depends on Martinez being smarter than last season. I know he stayed in town over the winter study. Let’s hope it worked.

    Ross as the long man works for me, the Nats haven’t had an effective one since Stammen.

    Mark L

    6 Mar 19 at 10:40 am

  85. We were told that Dusty had to go because he pushed his starters too hard, overused his bullpen, coddled vets, and wasn’t up on analytics. So in came Martinez, who pushed his starters too hard, overused his bullpen, coddled vets to the point of giving Zim an embarrassing free pass all spring, and showed no real signs of being able to understand analytics any better than Dusty. Oh, and he took a 97-win team and drove it into a ditch, winning only 82. Yes, there were a number of injuries, yaddah yaddah, but there were during Dusty’s two seasons as well.

    Yes, Martinez, has A LOT to figure out this year. The comments about the starters all going seven innings are asinine. So is any thought that Taylor should start ahead of Robles. Taylor is the Easter Bunny. Every spring, folks develop a misplaced belief in an illusion that doesn’t really exist.

    KW

    6 Mar 19 at 12:55 pm

  86. To be fair to Davey, our best hitter Murphy was out or a physical shell of himself when he came back. Arguably our second best pure hitter in Kendrick was out. Zim was out and injured, and he was forced to bat the disaster that was Bryce Harper in the heart of the order all year. Plus he was forced to play the disaster named Matt Weiters. Eaton was a gimp and he had to play the pre swing change Michael Taylor and the well below average Difo too.

    Strasburg and Helly were out. Roark was mostly awful, Gio was Gio, and he had to start a guy named AJ Cole. Doolittle missed the last 3rd of the season.

    Davey did thrash the bullpen but Madson and Kinzler didn’t look good even from opening day.

    I’m actually surprised he squeezed 82 wins out of that team.

    Marty

    6 Mar 19 at 2:17 pm

  87. The Nats won eight games less than their run differential said they win, and they went only 18-24 in one-run games. In 2017, they were nine wins above .500 in one-run games. No, managers can’t control injuries, but they sure as heck can swing one-run games. And nobody in particular thought Dusty was a great in-game manager.

    It wasn’t just Martinez who disappointed me last year; it was the entire staff. There were base-running and situational blunders all seasons, the things that kill you in close games, and when your pitching staff is already shaky.

    But enough of this. It’s the second year. Have lessons been learned? The new emphasis on fundamentals is a step in the right direction. Zim has actually played in a game. There have been on camels. And there won’t be the big distraction wearing #34. Just don’t screw things up by pushing your starters to some arbitrary standard, or suppressing the Robles development to make Taylor feel good about himself.

    KW

    6 Mar 19 at 7:30 pm

  88. I don’t think Davey was great or even good. But he was dealt a bad hand.

    It’s harder to win one run games when your best players are hurt, your pitchers stink, and your superstar is in a 4 month slump (again).. But this time no one was defending him with the injury excuse… Gosh I guess he can long slump when healthy?… Interesting… Todd.

    Madson and Kinzler were not very good at any point last year. Davey burned out MIller, and possibly Solis but has Solis ever shown to be consistently good for a long stretch? Most of the pitchers we were running out there were dreck. You need good clutch hitting from your most consistent hitters to win one run games and our only consistent hitter healthy was Rendon. (plus Soto late)

    Turner’s stats ended up not bad but he never really looked good at the plate all year and he was for sure not clutch.

    The base running gaffes were embarrassing but I don’t think actually cost us many games compared to the overall underperformance and lack of healthy talent.

    I never watched us last year and thought “what a great team- how are we losing these games?” I saw a pretty bad team with only a few healthy good players.

    A lot of guys pile up their stats against bad pitchers in less important parts of games. But you really need good hitters and clutch hitters in one run games because you’re going against fire throwing monsters at the back of bullpens. You also need back of bullpen depth which we had on paper but two partners from The Firm never really showed it on the field last year.

    So I’ll give Davey a clean slate but a short leash. But it will be interesting what happens with the Taylor-Robles thing. If the org is smart, it’s not really Davey’s call. If Taylor is much improved it’s a good situation to be in. He needs to prove himself but so does Robles at the level. So we have 2 cracks at getting CF working. And Robles needs to learn how to not get himself hurt. Guy has had a lot of self inflicted arm, hand and wrist injuries already. A couple more and his swing may be damaged long term.

    Marty

    6 Mar 19 at 8:43 pm

  89. I did think Davey’s biggest mistake was leaving starters in too long…

    Marty

    6 Mar 19 at 8:45 pm

  90. The deal with leaving the starters in too long really disappointed me, as that was certainly an area where a new manager could have improved over Dusty. Of course once his bullpen got fried — in part from Davey’s doing, in part from the implosion of Roark and Gio — trying to extend the starters became a matter of bullpen preservation, creating more problems along the way.

    One area with the bullpen where Martinez struggled — and something mentioned by the “unnamed sources” that got several guys sent packing — was warming up guys night after night but not using them. That smacked both of perpetual indecision of a rookie manager, and also the lack of a general bullpen usage progression going into each game. This was an area where Martinez’s staff also failed him, as there could have been subtle reminders from the bench coach, pitching coach, and bullpen coach. Davey tended to fall back on the same canard that Dusty did — “Well, I asked the guy if he could go tonight, and he said ‘yes.'” Nearly every player is going to say “yes,” even if he’s pitched two days in a row. That’s how they’re wired.

    There are two foundational things that I hope will improve things in 2019 over 2018. One is that the starting rotation is better, presumably much better. The starters don’t all have to go seven innings if they’re all at least generally making it through five and not totally torching the ‘pen (a la Gio, Roark, Cole, Fedde, and whenever J-Rod started). The other is that I hope the team will carry at least one true multi-inning guy, either Ross or Austen Williams. They sort of had one last year in J-Rod, but then they’d use him as a spot starter, making him unavailable for a few days.

    We’ll see. The ‘pen is my biggest worry at the moment, particularly with Miller and Glover hurt, and no true LOOGY type. LHB have always hit Solis better than RHB. I’m afraid they will keep Solis, though (out of options), and send both Ross and Williams to the minors.

    KW

    7 Mar 19 at 11:38 am

  91. Heh–I was actually going easy on Martinez because, ya know, “hope springs eternal” and all that. The couple of times I’ve seen Martinez interviewed this spring, he looks like the same ol’ clueless doofus he appeared to be last year. KW nailed it with the run differential thing–the last time they were 7 runs under their Pythagorean number for wins, Manny Acta got canned. Even that inflexible lunkhead Matt Williams scraped by at -6 in 2015.

    Makes me wonder why they didn’t give Matt LeCroy more consideration when they were looking for Dusty’s replacement. Dude’s been coaching in the Nats’ system since 2009, and spent 2014 & 2015 as the bullpen coach. If anyone understands the Nats’ pitchers and their strengths and weaknesses, he’d be the guy.

    Karl Kolchak

    7 Mar 19 at 10:22 pm

  92. We just have to hope that the staff is learning collectively. Maybe Hale and Bogar now have a better sense of where some of Martinez’s blind spots are, so perhaps they can make some subtle suggestions a little earlier this year. We’ll see.

    MLBTR has a piece on what a disaster the Giant OF is. Paging Michael Taylor . . .

    KW

    8 Mar 19 at 8:50 am

  93. Joe Ross only used for one inning on Friday. Sure is looking like they’re trending toward making him a long man, at least for this season. Another good outing from Austen Williams as well.

    KW

    9 Mar 19 at 9:53 am

  94. Solis released. Interesting . . . (and an available 40-man slot).

    KW

    9 Mar 19 at 4:26 pm

  95. It seems that today was the last day they could cut Solis and only pay 1/6 of his salary. Really, they should have been able to get at least a bag of balls for him. I wasn’t quite sure why they tendered him.

    Sure seems to open up a bullpen slot for Ross.

    KW

    9 Mar 19 at 6:06 pm

  96. Good luck Solis. Wish you could have achieved your potential in DC.

    Maybe in a new scenario, you might be able to achieve more than you were able to do here… and be a true late bloomer, as Jeff Fassero (for former Expos fans), Rich Hill, or at least continue in MLB with a LOOGY role like other bullpen late bloomers, such as Zach Duke, Xavier Cedeño and Fernando Abad.

    Given the injuries and uncertainty about the end of our bullpen, as it currently projects, do hope we may be in store for some late addition(s).

    Could anybody provide any feedback on how Austen Williams has looked so far in Spring Training?

    Hope you all have a good week ahead of you.

    LH

    11 Mar 19 at 1:41 am

  97. Austen Williams has been lights out thus far during the spring. He has faced 13 batters, retiring 12, surrendering one hit and no walks.

    KW

    11 Mar 19 at 8:13 am

  98. Cubs have the best rotation in baseball. Deal with it.

    Dave B

    24 Mar 19 at 1:22 pm

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