Nationals Arm Race

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

Ladson’s inbox 10/10/11 edition


Here’s my latest personal answers to Bill Ladson‘s inbox, 10/10/11 edition.

As always, I edit the questions for clarity, and write my own response before reading Ladson’s.

Q: Why is there constant talk of the Nationals pursuing Rays outfielder B.J. Upton? The Nationals have a crowded outfield with Michael Morse, Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper. The Nationals are getting killed in on-base percentage, so why trade for Upton who barely bats .250 with a less than impressive OBP. Wouldn’t a better route be to pursue an infielder with a traditional OBP and trade either Ian Desmond or Danny Espinosa?

A: Good question.  The Nats like B.J. Upton b/c he fills two needs for this team; plus defense CF and lead-off hitter.  In theory anyway; I agree with the questioner that Upton may be more hype than hope.   His 2011 was better than his career line, but was less than impressive .243/.331/.429.  He’s slugging the ball more, hitting for more power, but a .331 OBP isn’t that much better than what we were getting out of our own lead-off hitters.  Lets not forget either that Bryce Harper isn’t going to be in the opening day 2012 lineup, so its not like he’s ready to go.  We still need a CF solution for 2012 and i’m guessing that we go with another year of Rick AnkielLadson more or less agrees, predicting that the team acquires two outfielders this off-season.

Q: With the Nats still looking for pop in the lineup, is it out of the question for them to pursue first baseman Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder and keep Morse in left?

A: I don’t think its out of the question, but I would be really surprised if either marquee first baseman is pursued or signed.  They’re both going to command massive, major financial commitments and for a team that has held steady at $60-$68M in payroll, I have a hard time seeing them sign off.  Remember, we still have Adam LaRoche coming back, and Rizzo didn’t sign him for the hell of it.  Ladson thinks the team may actually pursue Fielder to add lefty pop to the lineup.

Q: Do you see Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner as a possible trade acquisition for the Nationals. What have you heard?

A: Why in the world would the Yankees trade Gardner?  Pre-arbitration, decent lead-off option and gold-glove defender in left.  We have a left-fielder.  It would take a severe prospect haul to get him, and I don’t think we really need him long term.  Ladson thinks he’s a great fit and that it is an intriguing deal.

Q: This may sound crazy but what about putting left-hander John Lannan and outfielder Roger Bernadina in a package for a quality starter? Lannan, in my mind, hasn’t been a quality starter and Bernadina hasn’t improved during his time with the Nats.

A: Bernadina is value-less in a trade; he’s out of options and teams know it, so all they have to do is wait until April 1st, 2012 and they can have him for free.  Lannan IS a quality starter already; he’s not going to ever get us value in return near what he gives us already.  I don’t think either guy is really someone that helps us in terms of trade.  Ladson agrees.

Q: Do the Nats conduct “exit interviews” whereby they suggest offseason training, workouts and how the player should work on his deficiencies?

A: I’m sure they do for returning players; i’d guess FAs are just told thanks and we’ll see you.  These players are investments, and if the player is motivated he’ll want to do in the off-season what guarantees the most success in 2012.  Ladson says that Davey Johnson spoke to every player on the last day of the season, reviewed their performance and talked about 2012.

Q: Behind the scenes, was the Nats’ coaching staff holding the players accountable for the high number of strikeouts that were accumulated in 2011?

A: I don’t know if you can “hold a player accountable” for strikeouts.  I think strikeouts come with the territory for some hitters; i’ll take a guy that hits 20 homers with more than his average number of Ks.  However, a high strikeout guy who is a slap hitter for no power?  Bad news.  That’s the kind of guy that needs adjustment to his game.   Ladson notes that Johnson clearly wants the team to take less strikeouts, especially called 3rd strikes, and mentions three guys in particular.  Werth, Desmond and Espinosa.  Fair enough.

5 Responses to 'Ladson’s inbox 10/10/11 edition'

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  1. Upton isn’t my ideal choice for a leadoff hitter but at least if you have him you have options there. His .331 OBP blows the .290 the Nats had this year (give or take a few points)out of the water. a 40 point increase at the leadoff spot is a big difference. The key for me with Upton though is that it gives them insurance if they want to try the whole Ian Desmond at lead off again. Upton could fit nicely in the 6 hole in the line up if he isn’t hitting lead off. He would then provide a guy who might get on base and can swipe a bag. That would give Espinosa and Ramos chances to hit with a runner in scoring position, almost like having a 2nd lead off hitter to kick start the bottom of the order.


    You’ve got a lineup with potentially 6 20 homer guys and 2 others that should hit double digits (Desmond/Ramos). Not too shabby. Not to mention it is a lineup where 4 guys could easily steal 20 bags as well.


    14 Oct 11 at 10:09 am

  2. PDOWDY – ultimately my problem with Upton is not that I hate him as a player. Would he be an upgrade to our centerfield position? Yes, I think he would be. If he were a reasonably priced free agent, I would be glad for us taking a look at him. However, I don’t expect the Rays to just give him away. Can we get Upton without giving up a Desmond? Or will it cost one of our up and coming pitchers? For 1 year of Upton? No thanks.


    14 Oct 11 at 2:31 pm

  3. I blasted Ladson on his perpetuating this BJ Upton bull about getting him close to home and playing with his “Friend” Ryan Zimmerman.

    I showed Ladson that BJ Upton’s High School in Chesapeake Virginia on MapQuest was just under 4 hours of drive time to Nats Park. That isn’t close to home as I can get almost to New York City in that same drive time.

    Ryan Zimmerman is friendly with BJ Upton. Being friends is great but what does that have to do with anything. BJ Upton is buddies to guys on the Rays. He has played with them for almost 7 years. He hasn’t played with Zimmerman since travel league 10 years ago.

    Lastly, why do you think BJ Upton is a leadoff? The Rays had transitioned him out of leadoff. In 2011, Upton only started 2 games in the leadoff. Most of his games have been in the 5 or 6 hole.

    Michael LeGroux

    14 Oct 11 at 2:42 pm

  4. By the way, on the real issue of getting BJ Upton, I agree with Tom. He is a Free Agent in a year. You have to trade to get him. Trading anybody of value for a 1 year rental isn’t a smart move at this time and he is a guy who struck out 161 times which adds to the problem the Nats have already, they led the Majors in team strikeouts.

    Upton would rank 2nd behind Espinosa’s 166 strikeouts.

    There are far better options available then BJ Upton like picking him up as a Free Agent next year if Rizzo hasn’t solved the problem.

    Michael LeGroux

    14 Oct 11 at 2:49 pm

  5. Well put. Lots of Ks, plays centerfield well enough (which is always tempting to Rizzo), but they Rays are a patient team, will know exactly what they want and they’ll want prospects. I don’t think this team is ready to start parlaying prospects into one-year rentals.

    Todd Boss

    14 Oct 11 at 10:18 pm

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