Nationals Arm Race

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

What to do with Brian Broderick?


Brian Broderick on Media Day. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images North America/

Commenter Mark L asked whether or not I was “ignoring” rule-5 draftee Brian Broderick‘s performance thus far when considering the bullpen competition in response to a post previewing the Nats 3/15/11 game against the Mets.

I don’t know if i’m “ignoring” Broderick’s performances thus far … I just have a reaaaaaaly hard time believing he’ll be on the 25-man roster based on the inflexibility of keeping a rule5 guy, given the roster inflexibilities we already have with several other players.  Here’s my reasoning:

  • We have 3 guys who already essentially HAVE to stay on the 25-man roster because of a lack of options: Clippard, Burnett, and Henry Rodriguez.  Two of these guys are bullpen mainstays and would have been there anyway, but the acquisition of Rodriguez has complicated matters for the team.  As mentioned before, he showed up late for spring training and has not necessarily looked fantastic so far.  If we could possibly find a way to DL him if he’s not ready to go on April 2nd (“tired arm?”) , a lot of problems would be avoided.
  • We have a 4th guy in Coffey who signed a major league deal and has enough service time that he could (and probably would) refuse a AAA assignment, so he either stays on the 25-man roster or we light his $1.35M on fire.
  • We have to have a loogy; Slaten seems almost certain to be that guy.  I guess you could argue that we really don’t need a loogy, that Burnett could be that guy or even Gorzelanny if he gets bumped out of the rotation.  But Burnett’s value is not as a one-out guy and Gorzelanny is a starter.
  • Storen is supposed to be “the closer.” He may be struggling this spring but there’s nothing about his 2010 performance that says he does NOT deserve to be in that position for this team. Admittedly he does have options and can be sent down but i’d be awfully mad if we sent a first round draft pick down so we could keep some untested minor leaguer on the active roster.

So, if we keep Broderick, he’s the 7th guy in the pen and has to stay there all season.

That’s your 7 spots essentially wrapped up. So now here’s the rest of the picture and why this could become rather complicated for the team:

  • If Gorzelanny struggles in the starter’s role, he has no options and would have to go to the bullpen. Who makes way?  We can’t really cut Gorzelanny out right without admitting that the move backfired greatly for the team, having given up 3 decent prospects just a few months ago.
  • If we want to use Gaudin, who has looked great so far in spring training, he’d have to be first added to 40-man (and then we’d have to drop someone else or move them to 60-day dl). And then he’s more or less stuck on the roster too; he’s got 5+ years of service time, no options and can reject an assignment back to AAA. Based on the fact that he signed a minor league deal with us, one could assume that he is ok with starting the season in AAA, but other teams have scouts too and might be taking notice of his achievements so far.  However again, if Gaudin is the 7th guy who makes way for him?
  • Balester: he certainly performed well last year; 28ks in 21 ip in the same role we’re talking about here.  Before the rule5 draft I had him locked into that long-man role. Has he done anything this spring to cost him this spot?  No but he has one more minor league option and may lose out nonetheless.
  • Stammen; he clearly can give you innings since he’s always been a starter, and his advanced stats last year were not THAT bad. But he too has options and seems to be pitching his way to AAA this spring.

Honestly, I think what the Nats need to do is make a deal with StL, trade them someone for Broderick and then stash him at AAA til you need him. Return him to the starters role where he was 11-2 last year in AA and maybe we’ve found a real cheap 5th starter for the future.

10 Responses to 'What to do with Brian Broderick?'

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  1. If he has starter potential, that’s a game changer, both for the Nats & the Cards.

    Mark L

    16 Mar 11 at 3:10 pm

  2. Agreed. His minor league numbers last year were pretty good.

    11-2, 2.77 era, 1.093 whip in AA. Not a ton of Ks though; 55 in 100 innings. But good control (only 14 bbs in 100 innings). I’ll bet that St. Louis thought people would skip him in the Rule5 b/c he didn’t strike out a bunch of guys.

    From what i can tell, here’s how our last few rule5 guys (drafted from us or drafted by us) turned out:
    – Brian Broderick 2010: remains to be seen
    – Elvin Ramirez 2010: probably injured and going on DL
    – Zech Zinicola 2009: eventually returned to us.
    – Jamie Hoffman 2009; traded for Brian Bruney in a pre-arranged deal. NY returned him to the Dodgers later that spring.
    – Terrell Young 2008: got hurt, never played for us, eventually returned.
    – Garrett Guzman 2008: eventually traded a PTBNL for him to Minnesota, then we cut him outright and nobody picked him up. Odd. He played one year of Independent ball and seems out of baseball.
    – Matt Whitney 2007: returned back to Cleveland, who eventually made him a ML free agent and we signed him after the 08 season.
    – Levale Speigner 2007; we traded a random outfielder named McDonald to keep him, but he only lasted til the end of 2008 when he passed through waivers. No idea where he is now.
    – Jesus Flores 2007: held his own the whole season.
    – Alejandro Machada 2006: taken from us by unknown team and presumabaly kept or cut.
    – Tony Blanco 2005; he batted .177 as a 1st baseman backup while eating a roster spot all season, then we cut him from AAA after 2007. Currently in either Japan or retired.

    Not a great track record here.

    Todd Boss

    16 Mar 11 at 3:33 pm

  3. Mark L –
    If I understand you correctly, then I was thinking the same thing: Broderick’s value to the Cardinals has increased with the season -ending injury to Wainwright and Carpenter’s health issues. The Cards might need this guy more than the Nats do.
    Mark in Arlington

    Mark in Arlington

    16 Mar 11 at 4:26 pm

  4. OK, so how does Clippard’s terrible spring figure into all of this?

    Sec 314

    16 Mar 11 at 5:37 pm

  5. If Clippard has really lost the plot, we’re in trouble. No options, he’d have to be DFA’d and would almost certainly get picked up by someone who saw what he did in 2010 and was willing to take a shot. He said he “lost his concentration” today but man that’s a serious lapse losing a 5 run lead, even in a spring training game….

    Todd Boss

    16 Mar 11 at 8:45 pm

  6. The Garrett Guzman deal would be odd, except he was caught having sex with a 16 year old near the end of the season and he was not a big enough prospect for anyone to put up with the bad P.R.

    Mark L

    16 Mar 11 at 9:53 pm

  7. Thats right i forgot that whole story. My “running nats roster file” failed me :-). There was a similar issue recently with a very well regarded player involved in a trade. I want to say with Seattle.

    Todd Boss

    17 Mar 11 at 9:31 am

  8. Todd, I think you brought up a good point about needing a Loogy even with Burnett, as any team in the N.L. East needs them to counter with the Very lefthanded Phillies.
    Mark in Arl. and I are in sync with Broderick & the Cardinals; they need him bad right now and won’t want to work out a deal unless we give up something big.
    The clock is ticking…………….

    Mark L

    18 Mar 11 at 9:27 am

  9. […] the main reasons I advocated AGAINST a team like the Nats keeping a rule5 guy (as discussed in this March 16th post).  I would like to see the Nats negotiate a trade with the Cardinals so we can stash him in AAA […]

  10. […] have complained in this space several times (mostly summed up here in this March 2011 post) about the implications of the Nats having 3 of their 12 pitchers (Tom Gorzelanny in addition to […]

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