Nationals Arm Race

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

July 2013: Minor League Monthly Rotation Review

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A.J. Cole is having a good 2013. Photo: AP Stock

A.J. Cole is having a rebound 2013 for sure. Photo: AP Stock

Here’s this month’s Minor League Rotation Review post.  Here’s April 2013May 2013, and June 2013‘s posts for history.

For each level, I’ll put out the rotation members, their “letter grades” per start for this month only, and then throw in a quick link to show their seasonal stats for context.  For each team there are 3 distinct groups of starters: the top group of 5-6 Starters per level is the “current rotation” as best as I can figure it, then the next section of pitchers are swing-men or spot-starters or guys who had “2nd start” or longer outings worthy of grading, followed by a 3rd group of guys who are generally no longer with the team (either by D/L, promotion, demotion or release).  I’ve only listed the third category if something transactionally has happened to the player this particular month.

All stats mentioned (ERAs, Whips, K/9 rates, etc) are as of 8/1/13 and may have slightly changed by the time of this posting.


AAA Rotation: click here for Syracuse Milb.com stats

  • Maya: B+,D,D-,A-,B+,A
  • Tatusko: D,A,B,C+,B,B
  • Rosenbaum: B,C-,A,D,D
  • Roark: B+,C+,C-,A-,A
  • Clay: A,A,D+/inc (rain),B,C
  • Mandel: D->back to bullpen
  • Robertson: F

Discussion: Syracuse has had the most stable rotation of the whole system.   Which is ironic because (if I’m interpreting their service time correctly) 4/5ths of this rotation are minor league free agents this coming off season.   Only Danny Rosenbaum is tied to the organization past this year, having already “survived” one rule-5 draft, but I think we can read the tea-leaves in terms of his future with the organization.  The bright side of this turnover will be the rightful promotion and challenging of several AA pitchers right now, to start grooming the true MLB injury replacements that we just did not have in-house this year (with apologies to Chris Young who really did not work out and Ross Ohlendorf, who has but in a non-starting role thus far).

Yunesky Maya has shown signs of life lately, putting up a few good performances in the latter part of the month.  Tanner Roark seems like he could be a useful swing-man on the MLB roster if called into action; he’s performed ably since returning to the rotation.  Caleb Clay continues to impress; how did he not success in Boston’s organization?

In the bullpen, Xavier Cedeno has excelled since his waiver claim from Houston but suffered from bad timing and bad luck; the two loogies called up (Abad and Krol) have both excelled.   Cedeno is likely another 6-year MLFA heading elsewhere this coming off-season.  (Note: Cedeno has just been called up to cover for Ohlendorf’s “dead arm” D/L trip).

 


AA: click here for Harrisburg Milb.com stats

  • Karns: A,A (inc),A,A,B-,B-
  • Gilliam: A-,A+,D+,B,B,C-
  • Cole: A+,A
  • Ray: B+,A++,D,D,B-
  • Hill: A,B,A-,B,B,D+
  • Herron: D
  • Swynenberg: A-
  • Grace: B
  • Demny: -> D/L, to bullpen, demoted
  • Treinen: D->d/l,C+,B+ -> D/L

Discussion: Harrisburg’s rotation is now down to just one of the 5 guys who opened the year there; Nathan Karns has recovered from his MLB stint and long layoff and is back to dominating; if it weren’t for the full-deck in AAA Karns may have been promoted by now.   Blake Treinen (another original rotation guy) is on his second D/L stint of the month but has kept his numbers respectable.  Robert Gilliam continues his up-and-down season, moving between stellar and sub-par starts (which is reflected in his 4.09 ERA in AA).

The next generation though seems upon us: A.J. ColeRobbie Ray and Taylor Hill are all on the same path this year: succeeded in High-A, pushed to AA and are now succeeding there.  Cole’s first two starts in Harrisburg could not have gone better, and Ray’s numbers are still good despite a couple of rough starts.  Remember; both Ray and Cole were “really young” at the season’s onset for High-A; now they’re among the youngest guys in all of AA and still producing.  This is great news going forward for this farm system, especially considering that another of the opening day Potomac starters (Taylor Jordan) is now effectively pitching in the majors.  I know this is the Harrisburg section, but think about the success of Potomac’s original 5 this year.

 


High-A:  click here for Potomac Milb.com stats

  • Purke: A-,F-,C-,D-,D,B+
  • Demny: D,D/inc (2 innings)
  • Solis: A-,D,A-
  • Schwartz: A,D,C-,B+,C+,B+
  • Rauh C,A,D,B+,A,D/inc (2/3 inning)
  • Fischer: A,B
  • Holt: A
  • Ray: -> promoted
  • Pineyro: A -> traded
  • Cole: D,B+/inc,A- -> promoted
  • Frias: B,F -> bullpen -> released 7/24/13

Discussion: The churn in the Potomac rotation continues.   They’ve not gotten starts from 15 different non-rehab assignment players.   And they keep on chugging, holding an 8 game lead in the division on August 1st after winning the first half.  Potomac’s two significant/important names of course are Matthew Purke and Sammy Solis.   Purke has looked hittable in High-A, his ERA skewed by one really bad outing but still not as dominant as you’d like someone with his pedigree to be.  Meanwhile Solis’ latest “return” seems to be going pretty well; he maintains a 2.65 ERA in Potomac while trying to build up arm strength.   Blake Schwartz is now the longest tenured rotation member and has pitched excellently so far in 2013.  He could be quite a find if he continues to develop (he was a 17th round pick who mostly pitched in Division II in college).

Meanwhile, Paul Demny‘s career faced a significant setback upon his demotion from Harrisburg.  He now sits back in High-A, a level at which he pitched a full season in 2011.  It may be time for Demny to try a conversion to relief, as it seems that he may be stalled as a starter.  He had great K/9 rates as a starter; it seems he may make a very effective reliever.


Low-A: click here for Hagerstown Milb.com stats

  • Turnbull: F,D,A,C-,A,D
  • Encarnation: A+,C,A,D,A-,B+
  • Mooneyham: B+,B-,D,B,A+
  • Dickson: A,F,C+,B+
  • Lee: A,B+,C-,B+,A-,B+
  • RPena: B,B+
  • Harper: | | | B,B+
  • Meza: B
  • Purke: -> promoted
  • Anderson: -> d/l

Discussion: with Dixon Anderson‘s D/L trip, Pedro Encarnacion now becomes the senior statesman of Hagerstown.   Both guys have pretty similar numbers; good ERAs (3.20-3.30) and good whips (1.17-1.19).   Encarnaction continues his slow march up the farm system, having gotten further along than most every DSL graduate in recent  years.   Brett Mooneyham continues to dominate a league that he’s over-qualified for.    Kylin Turnbull continues to get pounded in a league that he should be handling.  Ian Dickson (who we got in trade for Henry Rodriguez) has done decently well since being added to the rotation; outside of one blow-up he’s given up just 4 runs in 20 innings over 5 starts.  Not a bad return so far for a guy we were going to cut anyway (and who the Cubs took about 5 weeks to DFA themselves).


Short-A: click here for Auburn Milb.com stats

  • Johansen: A,A,B+,B+,A
  • Barrientos: D,C+,C- -> D/L,F
  • Orlan: F-,B-,A,A,F
  • DWilliams: B-,F,D,C-
  • Voth: A,C+,B/inc (1ip),A-
  • Ullmann: | | | F,B+
  • Hollins: B,B+
  • Bafidis: D+
  • Medina: A-
  • Selsor: B,D,D -> demoted to bullpen
  • Hudgins: D+,A- -> retired !?
  • Turnbull: C -> promoted

We’re seeing some big ERAs in Auburn so far.  Robert Orlan; 5.19 ERA.  Joel Barrientos: 4.66.  Deion Williams: 9.42.  Ugh.  More interesting to me are the 2013 draftee performances thus far.  2nd rounder Jake Johansen has been good; sub 1.00 ERA, sub 1.00 whip and about a K an inning so far.  He’s been a bit wild (28/14 K/BB ratio but has been consistently stingy when it comes to runs.  5th rounder Austin Voth has been sharp; 17/1 K/BB ratio in 14 innings so far in Short-A.  Lastly Ryan Ullman, a 30th round pick has had up and down starts so far in his 13 short-A innings.

I remain baffled with Will Hudgins abrupt retirement; he had 12 innings of relatively decent relief in 2013 and then tweeted out his retirement.   He hasn’t tweeted since, and when I mentioned it in the daily NationalsProspect.com post I didn’t get anyone who knew anything else.  Hopefully the retirement was not injury or illness related.


GCL: click here for GCL-Nationals Stats on MiLB.com

  • JRodriguez: F,A,A,B,B+
  • Silvestre: C-,A,F,A
  • Giolito: D/inc (only 1/3 inning),B,A-,D/inc (2/3 inings),D
  • Suero: B,B+,A
  • Valdez: A
  • Ott: B,B,C
  • DeRosier: B,B-
  • KRodriguez: B,B+,B+,C+
  • Pivetta: B-,B+,A
  • Spezial: A
  • Webb: A
  • Voth: A -> promoted
  • Ullmann: A,D+ -> promoted

It almost isn’t worth trying to grade out these GCL pitchers; most of the time they’re going 2-3 innings per “start” or per long relief stint.  If you pitch 3 scoreless innings, is that an “A?”   Lucas Giolito now has 6 “starts” but only a total of 12 combined innings thrown.   DSL grads Wander Suero and Jefry Rodriguez have looked promising.  Kelvin Rodriguez has good numbers in his combined mid-relief stints but relatively few strike outs (only 9 in 21 1/3 innings).

 

 

25 Responses to 'July 2013: Minor League Monthly Rotation Review'

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  1. It is encouraging to see Cole rebound this year. With Rendon and Jordan losing rookie status, our farm system is going to get a pretty low grade this offseason. But look at this line from Pineyro’s first few starts for the Cubs High A club:
    1.96 ERA in 23 innings, with a 21:1 K/BB ratio. Yikes.

    Wally

    6 Aug 13 at 12:11 pm

  2. You think its going to be lower? I dunno. Yes we graduated Rendon, but Jordan and Krol came out of absolute nowhere; wasn’t even on most people’s top 20 lists for us. Our 2013 pre-season rankings by the three leading pundits (BA/Callis, Jon Sickels, Keith Law) at 16, 25 and 21 respectively. But then if you look at how the top 10 guys have done, you see some good news. Here’s Law’s top 10 guys for us pre-season: Rendon graduated, Goodwin steady, Giolito back, healthy and velocity back. Cole big step up. Karns big step up, Skole hurt, Garcia still hurt, Rivero outrighted, Purke healthy if struggling in high-A, Taylor kind of meh. But that list didn’t include Ray (big big step up), Hill (earned promotion to AA), Kobernus (who at least debuted in majors), Solis (back, healthy), or Johansen (looking good so far).

    I see a lot of new guys there, performing well in 2013. I feel like the system is deeper.

    Todd Boss

    6 Aug 13 at 12:56 pm

  3. For whatever it is worth, we’ll have at least three and possibly four playoff teams among our six stateside minor league affiliates. What the GCL-Nats are doing is astounding. They are 33-6, 16 games in front (of the Cardinals, YES!) and a magic number of 6 with a third of their schedule to play.

    bdrube

    6 Aug 13 at 1:42 pm

  4. Pineyro; yeah … we had to give up something to get something right? I never thought he was a high end prospect so I wasn’t too broken up to see him go…

    Todd Boss

    6 Aug 13 at 2:12 pm

  5. Yeah, GCL is pretty amazing. Someone else on this thread mentioned the same.

    Todd Boss

    6 Aug 13 at 2:13 pm

  6. Re: farm system, position players look pretty light, and losing Rendon takes out a very high upside guy. But I don’t know how these things work, and I don’t get too worked up about it. For the most part, the Nats have ranked fairly low the last several years, yet have added Desi, Espy, Rendon, Ramos, Harper, Stras, Storen, JZimm, and several RPs, so I think that has been pretty good value.

    I’ll guess they will be mid 20s this year, but like I said, it doesn’t upset me.

    On the GCL, are they playing age appropriate guys, or are they older? I think that is pretty important at the lower levels. Johannson seems like he should at least be in Hagerstown, for instance.

    Wally

    6 Aug 13 at 3:14 pm

  7. Btw, I was at the game last night, and I’ll repeat something that I said a while ago. The Nats have some real issues heading into this offseason, because unless they just want to conclude that about 5 or 6 guys are just having blip years, we could be facing the same thing next year because everyone is coming back. I am thinking that they need to trade your favorite player (Span), slide Harper back to Cf and pick up a really good hitter for LF. I don’t care if the guy is a statue, but he needs to hit like crazy.

    That, and if Ramos stays healthy, he could be a top 5 catcher really soon.

    Wally

    6 Aug 13 at 3:19 pm

  8. Farm system ranking next year; i expect to move up a little bit, but probably still be mid-to-lower half. I can guarantee that the 2013 draft will hurt our stock; we had no #1 overall pick, questions about whether JOhansen can stick as a starter, questions about whether Ward was overrated (apparenly not given his hitting in GCL so far), etc.

    GCL ages: i didn’t do the age analysis. But from the big board they look really young. The oldest starting fielder was born Oct 92 so he’s not even 20 yet. The “starters” are a mixed bag, the bullpen looks a bit old maybe. But a really really heavy influence of DR guys on our rookie team, which is great to see.

    Todd Boss

    6 Aug 13 at 4:17 pm

  9. Preaching to the choir Wally!

    Here’s a thought: bench/4th OF Span, move Harper to CF, Werth to LF and sign …. Nelson Cruz. He’s coming off suspension so he’ll be amenable to a shorter, get my value back up deal.

    Generally you’re right. This team isn’t going to change a whole lot between now and Sept 2014. Not sure what the heck they’re going to do. I suspect (as I posted) maybe its a manager/motivational thing.

    Todd Boss

    6 Aug 13 at 4:21 pm

  10. There are several reasons why the farm output (moreso than the farm system) will continue to improve, perhaps substantially:

    1) The AAA team will be far less dependent upon replacement players next year, especially pitching

    2) The lower level pitching, now at AA, will graduate to AAA at some point in 2014.

    3) The GCL team has so much going for it, some of those players are going to eventually graduate well. Pedro Severino and Gilberto Mendez are very young and holding their own at Hagerstown, and next year at higher levels, people will start to be conscious of the Latin influx.

    4) There are legitimate stars in the system waiting to bust out. I still believe in Corey Brown (who will get his chances in September), Steven Souza, look at wat is happening with Adrian Nieto at the dish (if not behind it). Walters can work on his defense over the winter, Christian Garcia should not be counted out, Aaron Barrett only gets better, and then there are all the ascending pitchers who have passed through Harrisburg. We were not considering this at this point last year — just look at who went to the AFL and how they have fared – disappointments all, even Goodwin to a degree. They have all been supplanted by the maturing of a new crop.

    At this time next year we will be seeing the same thing from others like the 2012 and 2013 draftees who are coming into their own.

    5) I would say that the farm system would benefit from high-yield (like the Morse trade) trading Span, LaRoche, and Soriano if their values rise. ALL can be replaced by the spring from within:

    Span – we have enough in house OF talent, and Harper can go back to CF

    LaRoche – In Moore I still trust.

    Soriano – Clippard or Barrett, who will be replaced at the lower levels by Mirowski or Benincasa.

    If the system trades performing veterans when their value is higher, say in mid-August and to pennant pushing teams, we are looking at more Morse-style windfalls.

    The prospect ranking obsession is waaay overrated. Consider that the Nats have had three prospects stick this year. Only one of them was top ranked. Jordan was not on many people’s radar for even a top 15 before the year, overshadowed even at Potomac and all eyes were on Blake Schwartz down there until mid-May.
    When Jordam was promoted, most folks never felt he would outdo the performance of Karns. Krol, the PTBNL, was not on anyone’s radar even when he was tearing up AA.

    Prospect rankings should depend principally on the degree to which players, accounting for their maturity and/or uncertainty of their rehabilitation, would help the ML team when/if their opportunity comes.

    When you consider that, the experts rankings would fall in line with the players who actually succeed.

    Forensicane

    6 Aug 13 at 5:29 pm

  11. One other thing.

    Logic would suggest that with Roark’s promotion, Karns will go to AAA (perhaps Kimball or someone else to take leave on the “DL”), Solis will head to AA to replace Karns, Mooneyham will head to Potomac to replace Solis, and Voth or Johanssen to Hagerstown, along with the promotion of one of the GCL Dominican starter studs to Auburn (perhaps the one whose English is most fluent)

    The Nationals are going to be needing their English teachers this off season.

    Forensicane

    6 Aug 13 at 5:58 pm

  12. Forensicane – great call on Roark. Crazy how the timing on that and the Rizzo extension mirrored perfectly the blog and comments.

    Anyway, I agree generally with you. The main reason that I never get too hung up on these rankings is that it is so much harder to predict the development path in baseball compared to football or basketball, and in the case of hitters, you don’t really get to assess their hand eye coordination against the best until they get up to the majors. Pitchers, I think, are a little easier to project their stuff at the big leagues. But Texas and Tampa generally get rated at the top, seems like every year, and we have been near the bottom, and really, have they produced more than us from their farm over the last several years? How about when KC’s system was all the rage? That has certainly been a mixed bag for them. I also don’t know how much some teams try to work the publications, so I don’t know if it is truly unbiased reporting. I’d heard rumors that Texas works hard on convincing BA about how good their prospects are, for instance.

    But I don’t think I am as bullish as you that the Nats can fill all their holes internally. To me, most prospects fail, because major league baseball is really, really hard, and much harder than AAA. For example, I am not completely sold on Rendon yet. So when someone unexpectedly produces in the majors, like Taylor Jordan, it is a real find. I would love for Moore to make it: I have tried to project him to have a trajectory inline with the Goldschmidts and Trumbos, but I think it is a long shot at this point. I see him as a platoon guy (even though he hasn’t shown the splits), but I would love to be wrong. That being said, if the Morse trade is an indication of what Rizzo can do, then by all means keep going. Btw, seems like he took Beane twice in trades (Gio and Morse).

    Todd – I don’t think Span as a 4th OF would work. Seems like a guy going into his FA year getting benched after starting for all those years would be bad mojo. We won’t get a guy like Meyers back, but I would try to trade him. Sometimes things just don’t work, and you move on.

    Wally

    6 Aug 13 at 8:28 pm

  13. I think Cruz needs some thought. Not just PEDs, but an older player likely in decline. At the right price, he could make sense but I would rather pay a little more for a higher probability hitter. Not sure who that is, though.

    And it is great to see the GCL team doing well and especially with the right kinds of guys, but it is a loong way from there to DC. I am not really a prospect guy anyway, but they need to be at least in Potomac for me to start dreaming on them.

    Wally

    6 Aug 13 at 8:56 pm

  14. Roark’s promotion should create a cascading effect, yes. I wonder if Solis is “ready” to go to AA. I mean, i know he should be there based on his experience and capabilities prior to the injury, but is he ready? Frankly Blake Schwartz probably more merits the promotion from high-A->AA.

    Todd Boss

    7 Aug 13 at 7:21 am

  15. Rankings issues: so this past year the Nats protected Karns and Davis in rule5. They left Rosenbaum and Kobernus unprotected but both got returned. Not one of these four guys appeared on any “top 10 prospects” lists at the time. Nor did Ian Krol, or Taylor Jordan, and both are now contributing at the MLB level. So yes, it can be hard to take these prospect lists without a grain of salt.

    Beane is such a wheeler and dealer, he’s so in love with getting prospects, that i’m sure we can continue to deal with him.

    Span: generally yes I agree. But if the guy isn’t producing, what are you going to do? You can’t keep putting him out there in leadoff if he’s hurting the team just to preserve his FA value. You say tough sh*t, you want to play, start hitting this is the major leagues and this team is supposed to be doing better.

    Todd Boss

    7 Aug 13 at 7:28 am

  16. Todd and Wally,

    I may have cheated on the Solis-Schwartz issue; Rizzo was interviewed the other day about future Nats talent and spoke of Solis as if he was at AA – now. So he may just have been getting him a proscribed number of starts before getting him promoted. In any case, we shall see.

    As for the above, I think the critical date is the end of August, and I am one to gamble to build up Span’s and laRoche’s value and hope that an injury to a contender or a panic buy for someone who needs a player puts them over the top for a better deal. Their value to the Nats will never be higher; both are in a walk year next year and Span may show some improvement next year, but why should the Nats gamble with him for 2014 when he will be gone anyway? Same with Soriano, whom they could trade now. Next year he will be only one year older and in his walk year.

    As for LaRoche, his numbers are better than 2011, but it’s hard to envision that this offseason will be any different for the Nats vis a vis him than it was post-2011, when they went hard for Prince Fielder. So his value, at this point, can only go up for them, but they need to offload him before September 1 as well or he will be a low value player entering a walk year and older and beaten up.

    All of this, of course, is contingent upon whether they can get excellent return, as they did for Morse.

    With respect to replacements, Corey Brown has never been given the ML chance that Rendon is getting, that Harper got at a tender age. He has a glove that is respectably replacement for Span’s, a better arm, steals more bases, and certainly has POWER. And is a good clubhouse guy. What’s the problem?

    And count me among those who find Eury Perez to be a *spark* player. He obviously can steal bases better than Span, and suddenly has more pop. What’s the harm in seeing what he can do, meaningfully, while Goodwin goes to AAA? If nothing more, his trade value is established, as is Brown’s, or he drfts into 4th outfielder/ Marrero oblivion.

    And then there is Moore. Big Boppers who are affordable, controllable, and do not have bad attitude do not grow on trees. Plenty of sluggers take time to adjust to the bigs. Giving Moore a full audition in September guarantees that going into the off-season, the team will know what it needs to acquire to fill the moribund offensive holes.

    The 2013 team has transformed from Natitude to a replica of bad Expos unfulfilled torment. The pitching is great and deep through the system – and actually getting better. But with bats like an aging LaRoche and low production in CF, the areas for instant upgrade are clearly defined. Why back up the truck for a trade or free agent before resolving this September whether the answers lie within?

    My comment on the other thread about “whomever proves to be fluent in English” has proved to be correct, as Pivetta was today promoted to Auburn despite others apparent greater success, especially Suero. Let’s see how the GCL beasts accommodate the struggles of Deon Williams.

    Forensicane

    7 Aug 13 at 11:37 am

  17. Solis vs Schwartz: i think it may be a “potential” versus “performance” decision on who to promote. I wouldn’t mind seeing either. Solis b/c his pedigree/draft round/expectations dictate that we need to see what he can do in AA. Schwartz because he’s earned it and he may very well be our next diamond in the rough ala Taylor Jordan.

    LaRoche/Span and waiver trades this year; don’t see it. Rizzo went to great lengths and paid a price to get Span; he’s not giving up on him yet. Same for LaRoche to a certain extent; yes he was a FA re-signing but they really went all out to convince him to come back, on a 2year deal. Yes the critic would say “well it isn’t like LaRoche had other teams beating down the door for him.” So i’m not as committed to this opinion.

    Now, if the nats are playing .500 ball this time NEXT year? Wholesale trades of everybody they can move and probably some soul searching on the make up of the team in general.

    Brown versus Rendon/Harper: I think we learned exactly what we needed to know about Brown’s status in the game when he successfully passed through waivers a couple years ago and was outrighted. All 30 teams had a shot to take him for a very small price (a 40-man roster spot) and passed. To a certain extent i think we’ve also seen what Perez is: a 4th OF, perhaps a Bernadina replacement if Bernadina’s arb salary gets too high (1.2M this year, 2nd year arb next may jump him up to $2m?).

    Moore: just don’t knwo what to make of him. I loved what he showed in 2012. 2013 he’s been a complete dud (at the mlb level anyway). Scouts have never rated him b/c of holes in his swing; is that what happened in 2013? Did the scouting reports finally catch up to him? He’s absolutely killing it in Syracuse (7 h omers in 34 games? .542 slugging?). What does that mean?

    Todd Boss

    7 Aug 13 at 12:03 pm

  18. Brown passed through waivers after a horrible and injury addled 2011. I doubt the same would have happened after last year.

    One cannot argue with anything you are saying — so I will.

    They invested in LaRoche on a two year contract, then openly courted Fielder with another 9m due LaRoche in 2012. They cut bait on Lidge and showed a willingness to trade a fan favorite (Morse). Rizzo does not strike me as sentimental. Rather, he is impatient to win.

    Span hasn’t been the guy they thought he would be, in this league. LaRoche has reverted, and one is reminded why Rizzo would not give a three year deal when he was willing to go all in on an aging Fielder.

    As for Soriano, no one misses Matt Capps.

    forensicane

    7 Aug 13 at 12:11 pm

  19. The point being….

    Rizzo knows the price he wants for the guys that other teams are asking about. He got his price for Morse. He made it clear he was ready to go into 2013 if he did not.

    Late August, before rosters are locked in, I cannot help but think someone might step up. Going into 2014 with LaRoche, when Morse can be brought back cheaper, for example, replicates the 2013 dilemma in reverse.

    So we’ll see…

    forensicane

    7 Aug 13 at 12:16 pm

  20. Fair enough on Brown post 2011.

    Lidge needed to be cut; another example. When he got released and nobody else picked him up, for free? You knew he was done.

    I thougth Capps was one of Rizzo’s most brilliant moves. Grab a closer on the downside, let him regain his stuff then flip him for real value to a team that is willing to overpay for those sorts of things.

    Here’s a thougth on LaRoche; is he just waiting for a contract year to have a good season? Is it just coincidental that he was awesome in 2010, signs a 2 year deal, then is awesome again in 2012?

    Todd Boss

    7 Aug 13 at 1:06 pm

  21. Morse returning; well, crazier things have happened. But i doubt Morse returns for two main reasons:
    1. he’s always hurt
    2. he’s a defensive liability.

    He’s the 2nd coming of Josh Willingham. Great guy, great production when healthy, never healthy, awful in the outfield.

    Todd Boss

    7 Aug 13 at 1:07 pm

  22. Morse was a passable 1B and the team just plays better when he is in the starting lineup. He has an intangible impact. But dumping money into an oft-injured player makes sense only in February 2014 when he is still on the market (he won;t be).

    But I was only using him as an example and the team is already exploring Zim to 1B. I get it.

    It would so help the off-season to have more clarity on the value (or even enhancing the trade value) of its AAA properties. With the team being where it is now, I hope that time is sooner rather than later.

    There really are a number of variable chips here, be they Brown, Marrero, Perez, Walters, Solano (as Suzuki may well leave). Yes, I left Espinosa out. He should have surgery even if it’s just “surgery.”

    Forensicane

    7 Aug 13 at 1:46 pm

  23. Can’t disagree with any of this. I’ve often maintained that the loss of Morse’s clubhouse influence seems to have drained the life out of this team. Zimmerman moving to 1st seems like a 2015 task, not a 2014 todo item. AT least not as long as LaRoche is around. But between his awful throwing mechanics and his limited range (his UZR has plummeted as he’s playing further in than he needs to because he doesn’t trust his throwing arm), he’s becoming a liability. Thankfully we have a plus-defender in Rendon who can slot over.

    Trading AAA assets; for who? That’s the first question. Which of these starters, all of whom are signed through next year, are you replacing this coming off-season? Ramos, Zimmerman, Desmond, Rendon, LaRoche, Harper, Span, Werth.
    - 4 of those guys are irreplacable young assets: Ramos, Rendon, Desmond, Harper
    - 2 of those guys are on long term expensive contracts: Zimmerman, Werth
    - the remaining two, iroinically are also our least performing players relative to expectations (Span, LaRoche). But who’s taking them?

    Todd Boss

    7 Aug 13 at 2:00 pm

  24. I think Span and ALR have value above their contracts, but how much and will Rizzo trade them for it is the real wild card. I suspect that he’ll balk at how little they bring back, although I think Span has more than we think. Plus D at CF, basically a 2WAR floor with two years of control.

    An even bigger question is who they get. Not a lot out there. Morales, maybe Napoli? Howie Kendrick?

    Wally

    7 Aug 13 at 4:04 pm

  25. There was a recent article out there (fangraphs?) with the title “what has happened to Denard Span” that essentially said that a guy whose value is entirely built around his speed faces a precipitous dropoff in value once his speed subsides. And that’s their theory on him this year. They had great stats behidn the theory. Wish I could find the link.

    I just don’t see Rizzo trading down from LaRoche’s defense for a liability like Morales. Napoli? Well we probably could use some catcher depth for sure, assuming we’re buying out Suzuki. Kendrick? you’d have to make room for him probably involving a move of Zimmerman to 1st, and I just don’t see that happening in the immediate short term. I think you give him a chance to re-work his arm and get back to being the gold-glove calibre 3rd baseman he used to be before giving up and dumping him at 1B.

    Todd Boss

    8 Aug 13 at 7:40 am

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