Nationals Arm Race

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

Kieboom up; for how long?


Kieboom up. Photo via PerfectGame

Kieboom up. Photo via PerfectGame

The demands and prayers of many of the readers here were answered (albeit a bit late for some) when it was announced that Carter Kieboom is getting the call-up.

Clearly, the team has decided:

  1. they’ve seen enough incompetence from Wilmer Difo both in the field and at the plate.
  2. they’ve run out of excuses as Kieboom continues to destroy AAA pitching as a 21 yr old
  3. they’ve passed the critical 180 service time day that typically happens mid April to ensure a full extra year
  4. and, apparently, they’ve decided that (unlike nearly every other scouting report I’ve read on Kieboom) Carter can indeed play SS at the major league level.

So, we’re going to see him get a run.  As others note, the team generally doesn’t promote top prospects like Kieboom in order to have him ride the pine.  So he’s going to play.

For how long remains to be seen.  Turner is likely out until at least late May, so Kieboom could have about a month-long run at Short.  But the team has expensive veterans now at 3b, SS and 2B, so when all three guys (Rendon, Turner, Dozier) are healthy its hard to see a spot for Kieboom to play.  So perhaps this is a month-long tryout.

That being said, Dozier has really, really under-performed so far.  He looks to be a far ways away from his 42-homer form from just a couple years ago.  He has heated up a bit in the last week (helped by Colorado’s thin air of course), so maybe it was just a slow spring, but it goes without saying that Kieboom as a SS can more than ably play 2B … so perhaps this is also a month-long trial for Dozier to prove he is worth the roster spot.  Like Trevor Rosenthal, Dozier is basically on a one year expensive deal ($9M with some deferrals to 2020), so cutting him in May would be a big decision … but this team is built to win now and needs to start winning now.

Here’s to seeing how our next big prospect plays.

Oh; his call-up needs some corresponding moves (a 25-man and 40-man).  We’ve already heard that Jake Noll is back in Fresno, so there’s the 25-man move.  I predict they stick Koda Glover on the 60-day DL for the other.  I don’t think anyone is getting the chop right now (as much as you may want to “chop” Rosenthal right now).


Written by Todd Boss

April 26th, 2019 at 11:04 am

25 Responses to 'Kieboom up; for how long?'

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  1. Yeah, Glover to 60-day seems most likely, as they don’t like to DFA folks unless they have to. No one would claim Adrian Sanchez or Jimmy Cordero now if they were DFA’d, though. (Austin Adams went back to Fresno and picked right up being great there. He just can’t seem to find the plate whenever under MLB lights.)

    I’ve been totally perplexed by the handling of Kieboom. They waited until the late-April service-time date even though it’s very likely they can/will send him down when Turner is healthy (unless Dozier continues to suck). Trea’s last game was April 2. The Nats have played 21 games since then.

    Difo has appeared in 339 major-league games. His career wRC+ is 74. So far this season, it’s 77. He is who he is, which isn’t much. Right now, he’s a cheap bench guy, and he’s fine for that, but he should never be a starter. Kieboom’s at AAA currently is 186. Even when he “struggled” at AA last year, it was 102.

    As for defense, Kieboom has played SS for all but 15 games of his pro career, and presumably all of his high school career. It’s curious that the Nats have kept him at SS if they really don’t think he will stick there. Anyway, he’s played SS recently and regularly, so he won’t be unfamiliar with the position, even if he may not be Andrelton Simmons.

    As for Dozier, I think he’ll be given every chance and then some. I’ve been saying all along that he’s a wild card for this team. Right now, though, he’s looking a lot like Danny the K, where he may hit an empty 20+ HRs and play good defense while barely hitting .200.


    26 Apr 19 at 2:22 pm

  2. Kie-BOOM! Nice first MLB hit.


    26 Apr 19 at 9:52 pm

  3. But no storybook ending. The Nats waste yet another Scherzer start, and lose yet another one-run game.


    26 Apr 19 at 10:23 pm

  4. Good evening to all.

    This is sad… the organization is clearly headed in the wrong direction. I will remain a Nats fan for life, just as I was an Expos fan until the conclusion of the 2004 season. But I’m losing my exuberance for this season if DM/Lilliquist and Rizzo continue at the helm. With regards to players, there might be more obvious ones like Rosenthal, Miller and Difo. But given how baseball works, I would start by a managerial/front office shake-up first rather than players (sort of like what Steinbrenner, Sr. used to fo in his day to spark his overly expensive teams when they were under-performing). After all, baseball is a business too. These people at the helm are extremely well paid, and need to be held in account in moments like these. If not, let’s give another season away.


    27 Apr 19 at 7:54 pm

  5. Why does Difo get mentioned special as underperforming when he has outperformed Dozier?


    29 Apr 19 at 10:31 am

  6. The Nats are in no position this season to play “dead weight.” That includes Zim, Dozier, Hellickson, and any other sacred cows one cares to name. The finally reported flare of Zim’s plantar fasciitis is particularly concerning, as in the past, his bounce back has been VERY slow, and he’s not getting any younger. The assumption should be that Adams is now the starting 1B for the foreseeable future, which should be a fairly good thing, as Adams was very good last year when he was starting.

    Kieboom, in a very SSS, looks big-league-ready, which puts Dozier on notice. If he’s not hitting by the time Turner is back, he’s no longer going to be starting. Actually, his time line may only run until Rendon is back and Kendrick is available to play 2B. Kendrick is so valuable as a reserve/super-sub, though. In fact, he may get some platoon action as well.

    With Fedde and Ross both up and pitching well (perhaps Fedde’s best MLB outing ever), there’s no reason to keep Hellickson or Sanchez in the rotation if they don’t get going. Hellickson had two strong starts earlier in the month, so I’m not pulling the plug yet, but no sacred cows. (On the bullpen front, good for them for forcing Rosenthal onto the IL. Time to think about sending Suero down as well.)

    Oh, and that rule applies to the dugout, too. There seems to be a perception that Davey has until Memorial Day, although I’d measure things more in games back in the standings. If they hit five back, they’re entering the danger zone. At eight back, they’ve really got to think about a change. Yeah, I know the schedule ahead looks daunting, but they should have thought about that before they wasted so many winnable games over the last couple of weeks.

    This team has only won ONE series all season, and has won no more than two games in a row at any time. That’s unacceptable, even with the injuries, even with the bullpen struggles. Figure it out, or make some changes.

    On a positive note, this SHOULD become a fun team to watch. The kids have arrived, as they announced on Sunday. Add Turner and Rendon to that mix, and it’s a formidable lineup. Or at least it should be!


    29 Apr 19 at 12:53 pm

  7. Meant to say that Kendrick may get some platoon action at 1B.


    29 Apr 19 at 12:54 pm

  8. I hate to say this, because he’s been a delightful member of the franchise since ’05, but Zim going out for an extended period of time is a blessing. A straight platoon at 1B with Adams playing against RHPs and Kendrick or Dozier playing against LHPs is better than what they’ve been doing, which is to have Zim play roughly 70% of the time. It’s not necessarily better than what they COULD do – which is have Zim play the weak half of a platoon – but they don’t seem willing to do that when Zim is on the roster.

    I like the team’s willingness to have Fedde and Ross pitch out of the MLB bullpen. In the past, the team has focused on having their 6th and 7th best starting pitchers be stretched out enough to make a sub start if necessary, which meant keeping those guys in the minors. I think it’s probably a better practice to have your most talented pitchers throwing innings in MLB. If Fedde or Ross needs to make a spot start, we can cross that bridge when it becomes necessary. Until then, let them get major league hitters out.

    Other than signing Kimbrel, I think the way the team can improve the most in-season is for Kieboom to hit his way to the everyday 2B job once Turner comes back.


    29 Apr 19 at 1:17 pm

  9. The good news: the bullpen has 12 straight scoreless innings. The bad news: that’s only from TWO games, and they’ll be playing the next 13 straight days. And they’ve got Five-Inning Sanchez going today.

    The Nats really are in a critical stretch right now. Their bullpen is overtaxed, they aren’t hitting, three of their regulars are injured, and they’re playing a bunch of potential playoff teams. Yes, there’s still a LONG way to go in the season, but with several other good teams in the division, they can’t afford to get into too deep a hole.


    30 Apr 19 at 5:42 am

  10. Not a bad start from Five-Inning Sanchez, just no offensive support. And another four scoreless from the bullpen, making 16 in a row, but that’s over just three days, a devastating workload. I hate to see Max pushed into the 120 zone, but the team really needs him to go deep into the game tonight.


    1 May 19 at 7:02 am

  11. They really don’t need Max go deep. That’s Martinez panic think.

    Better to burn up our bottom of bullpen arms or lose another game than ruin Max and $30 million this early in the season.


    1 May 19 at 9:07 am

  12. I was at the game last night. Kieboom really did not look good in the field at SS. He failed to make three plays I would expect a competent (not even average) major league SS to make. One game and three plays is surely not enough to conclude he can’t or shouldn’t play SS. And it could also be true that he shouldn’t play SS long-term but is still a better option there than Difo while Turner is out given that Difo simply cannot hit well enough to play everyday in the major leagues. BUT, he was pretty bad yesterday.


    2 May 19 at 10:38 am

  13. This team is so boring. Especially with Turner out and Soto scuffling.

    They can’t string hits together. We must lead the league in pop ups and swinging strikes.

    Eaton is a boring leadoff hitter.
    Gomes and Suzuki are okay but boring.
    Rendon is bored playing himself so even when he’s good he’s boring.
    Zimm is boring.
    Difo is boring.
    Taylor is barely breathing.
    Dozier is boring.
    The coaches are all boring. Except our 3b coach who is clueless.

    Davey can’t muster anything even remotely interesting or even put a proper sentence together in post game interviews. The Kolko-Porter post game show is a snooze-fest. Ray Knight was 1000% better.

    The new sideline reporter girl is boring.

    The only ab’s worth watching now are Robles for his energy and Kendrick because he can actually put the bat on the ball most ab’s.

    Our only hope is for Soto to get scorching hot. We need Trea but how hopeful can we be coming off a hand injury?


    2 May 19 at 10:55 am

  14. Derek: your observations entirely consistent with practically every scouting report i’ve readon Kieboom’s defense at SS. So no surprise. Long term he’s either going to be Rendon’s replacement at 3B if they can’t resign him, or Dozier’s replacement at 2B (this season if they decided to cut bait, next season for sure). Either way i’m fine, since we have a decent defense SS in Turner for the next 3 seasons. I think i’d rather have him at 3B assuming he’s got the arm strength for it and mobility to take away the bunt … but i’d also like to sign Rendon and make use of his middle-infield prowess at 2B.

    Todd Boss

    2 May 19 at 12:09 pm

  15. Its hard to maintain offense when your opening day #2 hitter (turner), #3 hitter (Rendon), #4 hitter (Soto) and #5 hitter (Zimmerman) are on the IL or scratched. Take away any other team’s 2-5 hitters for a game and they’ll suck too. So patience is needed.

    Of course … its also worth noting that the team really has little in the way of backups/prospects coming up to cover for these guys right now. Yes they’ve called up Kieboom after significant kvetching here; he’s done basically nothing after a storybook debut (3-22) and has given nobody any reason to keep him up. Taylor, Difo not doing much either, not that we expected them to. At least Adams seems to remember how to hit and continues to give the nats pause for the long term decisions on Zimmerman in general.

    Todd Boss

    2 May 19 at 12:18 pm

  16. Todd, FYI, the Nats have a couple of guys at Fresno who are crushing the ball right now.
    Neither of them are on the 40 man, Jacob Wilson and the Cuban Yadiel Hernandez.
    With the Nats looking so feeble at the plate right now somebody has to start thinking out of the box.

    Mark L

    2 May 19 at 1:27 pm

  17. To add those guys, you’d need to make room on 40man. not a ton of spare parts on the 40-man to DFA.

    my current list of “first man off the 40-man” reads like this: Cordero, McGowin, Sanchez, Stevenson, Bourque, Voth, Read, Noll

    Cordero seems like odd-man out of bullpen discussion. McGowin has not been great for AAA. Sanchez and Stevenson you probably can’t really cut b/c they’re next in line based on injuries. Bourque has yet to even get a shot, and Voth is essentially your 7th starter. Past that you’re digging deep.

    10day dl: Turner (finger), AWilliams (Shoulder), Rosenthal (virus), Zimmerman (Foot), Rendon (elbow)

    Maybe you xfer Willimas to 60 day; shoulders are tough. But the others are set to come back soon.

    so…. not a ton of room to work.

    Todd Boss

    2 May 19 at 4:52 pm

  18. Just took a quick peek at AAA numbers.

    – Jacob Wilson hit 3 homers in 89 AAA games last year w/ Syracuse. He’s already hit 10 (ten!) in 24 games playing for Fresno.
    – Hernandez is a 31-yr old whos ops is 340 points higher this year than last.
    – Brandon Snyder, who went to Westfield HS in Chantilly, is also posting an OPS north of 1000 there and has 8 homers in 22 games. He has 84 at bats. so thats one homer per every 10 atbats. that’s Ruthian figures.

    this is the problem with playing in the PCL. are these numbers real? Snyder is a known property,a 1st rounder with a ton of MLB time. If Adams gets hurt he’s probably the #1 guy called up. But where do you play him right this moment? Same for Wilson or Hernandez really; they’re corner sluggers on a team that already has those positions occupied.

    Todd Boss

    2 May 19 at 5:07 pm

  19. Todd, let’s say we take .100 off their OPS’s because of the PCL. That’s fair.
    That still leaves both of them with an .OPS of over 1.000! There is some very feeble hitters that on the big club right now.
    At least Michael Taylor is one of the, if not the best centerfielder in baseball.

    Mark L

    2 May 19 at 8:26 pm

  20. I’d take more than 100 points off 🙂 Wilson has tripled last year’s homer total inside of 4 weeks.

    Todd Boss

    2 May 19 at 8:38 pm

  21. There are 2 explanations here. Either the light bulb has gone on or he’s juicing.
    I’d be lying if I said I knew which one.

    Mark L

    2 May 19 at 9:23 pm

  22. Count me as happy to see Lilliquist gone. As early as this time last year I felt that he wasn’t adding value and never helped the pitchers. Hopefully addition by subtraction. However, I don’t believe that this move is going to save the season. The next time the Nats overcome a slow start to the season to make the playoffs will be the first time. They have just never seemed to be able to come from behind.

    With that said, I’m in favor of dumping the vets to clean up the luxury tax situation, get the kids extended and restock the minors with quality prospects. Rendon, Adams, Kendrick, MAT, Eaton, Doolittle should all be considered trade candidates in the coming months.


    4 May 19 at 7:47 am

  23. They are already under the luxury tax by 8 million. Rosenthal is sure not going to make any of those incentives and unless they sign Kimbrel they’re in great shape tax-wise.

    Mark L

    4 May 19 at 10:33 am

  24. Wow, I’m gone for a few days and crazy things start happening. At least the Nats pulled out a victory in the messy game in Philly on Sat. night, although their resources are even more depleted now with Adams and Taylor dinged. The word is that they’re recalling Noll, but he’s been awful, at both the MLB and AAA level, confirming my doubts about his false spring. He and Adrian Sanchez shouldn’t be in MLB consideration at all by this point. I don’t understand their unwillingness to make some 40-man moves and bring up guys like Hernandez and Wilson. Wilson is suddenly extraordinarily better, but Hernandez has hit well at sea level the last two seasons. Hernandez would be significantly better than Stevenson.

    Stevenson is who he is. He has maximized his limited offensive skills and made the majors, but he’s still very limited. He is who he was when they picked him too high in 2015. They then wasted their next pick on Blake Perkins, who was terrible for the Nats and is now terrible for the Royals. When you fail with so many high-level picks like that, you end up with a lack of depth when guys start going down.

    No tears about Lilliquist, who never seemed to fit here. Menhart has long been well thought of in the farm system; we’ll see what he can do with guys at the upper level.


    5 May 19 at 7:37 am

  25. KW, you’re singing my song. The Nats are desperate for offense, yesterday notwithstanding, so they bring up Stevensen, who is terrific defensively but can’t hit at all.
    Why is Yadiel even in the system at this point. He can’t hit any better than now.

    Mark L

    5 May 19 at 9:24 am

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