Nationals Arm Race

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

Have we found our RF solution… on our Bench? And Pitching comments (of course)

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Mike Morse.  2-3 with two homers last night in the pitcher friendly confines of Milwakuee.  Raises his season slash line figures to .338/.386/.636.  That’s a 1.022 ops and a 170 ops+ figure (by way of comparison, Votto is currently leading the NL in ops with 1.003).

He has 6 homers in 38 games, projecting to about 25 in a 150 game season.  He makes a ton of contact (15 ks in those same 38 games, projecting to only 60 or so in a full season).

I don’t get it.  We have a struggling center fielder/leadoff hitter in Morgan, and right next to him a surprising Bernadina character who has speed and a bit of power and could lead off/play centerfield.  Why aren’t we going Willingham-Bernadina-Morse in the outfield?  Lineup would be:

  1. Bernadina
  2. Guzman
  3. Zimmerman
  4. Dunn
  5. Willingham
  6. Morse
  7. Desmond
  8. Pudge
  9. pitcher

That would give us ops+ guys over 100 in 3-4-5-6 spots, would give Willingham some protection, and would put a better producing guy at the top of the lineup.

Read through Stark’s espn chat yesterday and he took some Dunn trade questions.

Basically he says that the word on the street is that Dunn wants to stay but also wants a 4 year guaranteed contract.  He’s also hearing that the Nats have a “higher than
average” opinion of themselves and want to keep their 3-4-5 hitters in tact because we have so many arms coming back.  This agrees with Kasten’s recent comments that we’re “closer than you would think.”  And its hard to argue.  We’re puttering along with 3 guys in the rotation who would other wise be in AAA (Stammen, Atilano, Martin).
We never intended Livan to be our season savior; he was always meant to be a placeholder until Strasburg and Wang got healthy.

Now we’re looking at a situation by late august where we have way too many guys for the roatation.  Here’s a quick rundown on our former MLB arms:

  • – Chico has two 7ip 0er performances in a row and (probably) makes a spot start sunday.
  • – Detwiler is ready to come up (7 starts in the minors) and has been pitching well.
  • – Olsen is on his 4th rehab start and might need a few more.
  • – Marquis has 3 rehab starts but hasn’t looked great.  He says he feels good though. But post injury you have to think he is an option.
  • – Zimmermann has pitched 13 scoreless innings with zero walks and 13 ks in high-A so far; you figure he has about 3 more starts before they have to make a decision on him too.
  • – Wang looks like wasted money so far, but may be a bargain next year if he’s healthy at a cost controleld arbitration figure next year.
  • – Lannan now has 6 starts in AA trying to “find” his sinker and so far he looks unsuccessful.  I hate to say it but Lannan may be completely forced out of the Nats starting picture.
  • – and don’t forget new cuban signing Yuneski Maya, who most scouting reports say is MLB ready at 28.  Though, he apparently hasn’t pitched since last fall so hey may not get to the majors this year and will pitch in various minor leagues until sept.

The problem is that most of these guys are on rehab assignments.  Those can only last for 30 days (or about 6 starts).  Detwiler technically was activated and optioned (burning another option year for him, so now unless they get a medical waiver for a 4th option he has to pass through waivers to go back to the minors from here out; thanks Bowden for that 2007 callup!).

I guess the point is; a ton of pitching talent lays awaiting.  Maybe the Nats lick their wounds on this season, stand pat, resign Dunn to 3yrs $42M with a club option for the 4th that possibly vests with certain productivity in year three and focus on filling the hitting holes we’ll have in free agency.  And next year’s rotational competition looks tough.


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