Nationals Arm Race

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

Ask Boswell 2/18/14 Edition

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Lots of questions about Mr. Williams.  Photo Nats official 2014 via sportingnews.com

Lots of questions about Mr. Williams. Photo Nats official 2014 via sportingnews.com

Washington Post columnist Tom Boswell must be in heaven: he’s at Spring Training, in 80 degree weather, talking baseball.  Here’s his 2/18/14 WP chat edition and how i’d have answered his baseball questions.  He did an extra long session, doing an hour and then coming back for even more questions, so this is a huge post.

Q: Which Nat is most and least likely to benefit from Matt Williams’ detail-oriented approach?

A: I’ll take the easy way out on this one: I’ll say that the rookies are most likely to benefit and the veterans are least-likely.  But that’s probably not very fair because it assumes that our vets will automatically have a hard time adjusting to a new voice.  In reality, Matt Williamspedigree as a player is going to shut just about any veteran up; name one player on this team who has accomplished anything close to what Williams did as a player?   I mean, we’re talking about a guy with multiple All Star appearances, multiple Gold Gloves, multiple Silver Sluggers, a couple near MVP seasons, more than 200 post-season at-bats spread across 5 post-season trips, three trips to the World Series and one ring.  He also played in two specific games that are both counted among the best games of the last 50 years (Game 7 of the 1997 World Series and 2001′s Game 7 of the World Series).

That’s a heck of a lot of accomplishments.  Who in their right mind is looking him in the fact and doubting his wisdom about anything?

Boswell points out a number of guys who are “introverts” who like the structure, mentions Rafael Soriano as a possible problem child … but then also notes Soriano lost a ton of weight and is playing for a contract, so he doesn’t expect any issues.  Fair enough.

Q: Where can I get good details on the Nats spring training schedules in Viera?

A: CSN’s Mark Zuckerman posts a great intro-to-spring training on his Natsinsider.com blog each year.  Here’s parts 1 and 2, focusing on the Nats baseball Complex and the Town of Viera.  Boswell speaks highly of watching bullpen sessions.  Can’t blame him; man I want to do Spring Training sometime!

Q: What does the Yankees signing of Masahiro Tanaka do for the Yankees season?

A: Not much in my opinion.   Despite Tanaka’s pedigree and $175M paycheck, he’s being touted by his own team as a “#3 starter.”  That’s a heck of a lot of money for a #3 starter.  Now in reality scouts liken him to a young Dan Haren (in terms of his repertoire), but he’s still not nearly in the same Ace class as the most recent Japanese import Yu Darvish.  Plus he’s got to deal with the inevitable adjustment to this country, a new language, 10,000 obnoxious NY beat reporters, the food, the city, and that pesky 4-days of rest schedule we have here for our starters.

As for the Yankees chances in 2014 in general, check out their current depth chart: Their rotation is set to be Sabathia (coming off an awful year), 40-yr old Kuroda, TanakaIvan Nova and David Phelps.  Does that sound like a 95-win rotation?   Here’s their infield: Mark Teixeira (15 games last year), Brian Roberts (77 games last year), Derek Jeter (17 games last year), and Eduardo Nunez (90 games last year).   Does that infield inspire confidence?  What makes anyone think that infield is lasting even a quarter of the season without a major injury?  Plus, Buster Olney or Jayson Stark recently mentioned this factoid:  ”No team has ever in the history of the game had a winning season starting a shortstop as old as Jeter.”    Yes the Yankees made some significant signings (Beltran, Ellsbury, McCann).  But I don’t think its enough to make up for what’s going to happen to their infield.  I think years of overpaying for FAs and being unlucky in their player development has caught up with the Yankees in a big way and they’ll be lucky to be a .500 team this year.  Boswell points out that PECOTA has them as 82-80.   And then he drops a scary subtle hint saying that Ian Desmond has already declined an $85M deal and may have his sights on becoming the next Yankees long-term shortstop.  Ouch.  Thankfully the timing doesn’t quite work out; Jeter retires after this year and the Nats have Desmond locked up for two seasons.

Q: Can you go into the stadium and see the view from your seats before committing to a Season Ticket?

A: No idea, but I’d bet the answer is yes.  We could do that before, you know back when I was a season ticket holder, pre Nats stadium, pre kids, pre getting-royally-screwed-in-the-new-stadium-relocation game.  Boswell assumes yes, and posts an answer confirming it from another fan later on who did exactly this.

Q: Why is the name Redskins such a hotbutton while the Braves gets almost no press?

A: (I couldn’t resist this question even if not entirely about Baseball): Probably because one name is a slur and the other is just a noun.  In a politically correct world no person-indicating moniker would ever be used as a team nickname … but then again you can get rather ridiculous (is “Padre” and the drawing of a priest with a goofy smile swinging a bat offensive to the clergy?  I’m of Irish descent; what if I said that the Notre Dame “Fighting Irish” is offensive to me because of my culture?).   Plus, frankly, I don’t get why little Danny Snyder won’t just frigging change the name; I mean, how many gazillions of dollars of new merchandise sales would he get if he re-branded the team?  Why is he so obstinate about this issue?  Every time he posts some dumb letter defending the name it makes him look more and more like a little rich whiny fan-boy who grew up loving the team despite being too sickly to actually play, and now he’s clinging to an iconic symbol of his youth.  As if it was a ratty security blanket.   Boswell talks about cultural change and social progress and hints that he’s going to post his official opinion on the matter soon.

Q: Has Jeter’s retirement caused TOO much media attention?

A: Honestly, I don’t feel like it has; at least not as much as the questioner, who whined about all the coverage and news items related to Jeter.  Perhaps its because he’s gone up against the Olympics and NBC’s force-fed human interest coverage machine that I havn’t noticed.

Olympics Rant/Tangent: Seriously; I thought I had seen it all with NBC’s ridiculous coverage over the years of figure skaters as “athletes” … now the coverage of these silly snowboarders has surpassed it.  I’m sorry; if your “sport” requires judges who take into consideration your “style” or your “costume,” then it isn’t a sport.  ”Team skating?”  ”Ice Dancing?”  Why not just have a frigging spinning contest or see who can coast the longest on one skate or some other useless reason to award a few more gold medals?  In my opinion, if there isn’t a score or a race to a finish line or one man versus another in a contest … you’re not a sport.  Nothing against figure skaters specifically; what they do is amazing, requires elegance and strength and years of training.  But so does Ballet; why is one an olympic sport and the other a performance art?  All those cirque-de-soleil performers?  Why isn’t that an olympic sport too?

Tangent/Rant off.

I think we’ll all be pretty frigging sick of Derek Jeter once August and September rolls-around.  Yeah he’s a great player, first ballot hall of famer.  But so are about 20-25 other guys playing right now.  I agree with the questioner’s rant about the over-coverage of all things Yankees.   Boswell points out that Jeter’s career WAR is one spot above Bobby Grich, so as to temper some expectations.  That’s harsh; even I recognize his importance to the game as a surpassing point than just whittling down all his accomplishments to one (dubious) number. 

Q: What is Livan Hernandez’s role on this team?

A: Whatever it is, I think its friggin awesome that he’s in Spring Training representing the Nats.  Kudos to whoever reached out and got him to come help out.  Livan Hernandez may have played all over the majors (9 teams in 17 seasons; that’s tough to do when you’re not a left-handed reliever) but he played the most of it with our franchise.  Boswell’s quoting of Drew Storen‘s description of Livan’s role is awesome: ”His job is life-coach, bleep-talker and being Livo.”   He also notes that Livan can provide some fielding and instruction on holding runners, a sore spot for several Nats starters.

Q: How is Christian Garcia looking so far? Any chance that he goes north with the club?

A: All reports list Christian Garcia as (finally) healthy.  But its telling that the team is already specifically pointing out that “he’s made it further than he did last year.”  It seems like his fragility is almost a running joke on the team now.  Chances of breaking into the 7-man bullpen?  Remote unless there’s injuries.  But if he goes to AAA and pitches lights out, he’ll be first guy back.   If he stays healthy (four words that should be attached to every single sentence ever written about Garcia).  Boswell says that if he’s healthy, he’s on the team.  I have a very hard time believing that; who makes way?  Not Soriano, Storen, Clippard or Stammen.  Not Blevins.  Ohlendorf?  Roark?  Roark’s numbers last fall were *better* than anything Garcia did in 2012 and in 4 times the innings.  Ohlendorf isn’t being paid north of $1M to screw around in upstate New York.  And, none of this takes into account the statements from Williams about liking to have two lefties in the bullpen… If it were me, I’d want to see Garcia pitch at least a month straight without hurting something on his person.  

Q: How would you grade Rizzo’s off-season?

A:  Pretty frigging good.  Fister: fantastic acquisition.  McLouth; not too bad, should help.  Lobaton: looking better and better, considering the pedigree i’m hearing about the two guys thrown into the deal (Vettleson and Rivero).  I don’t think his lack of acquiring a better lefty will hurt; Sammy Solis is impressing and could contribute immediately, newly acquired Rivero apparently has some stuff, and there’s still the likes of Cedeno and a couple other AAA guys who we could use.  Boswell says A- … and then tells a tid-bit about the Grant Balfour deal that fell through.

Q: Why are the Nats pitchers so bad at holding runners on?  Is this something they’re working on this Spring

A: Why?  beats me.  Maybe a better defensive catcher will help in that category.  They definitely seem to be working on it this spring as noted in the above Livo question.  Boswell doesn’t really answer the question but then uses this question as a segue into talking about Williams’ anger issues.  Random.

Q: If Ryan Zimmerman is going to play some first base … what the heck is Tyler Moore going to do?

A: A decent question, but which assumes that Tyler Moore is anything other than a bench bat.  And it assumes that Adam LaRoche is going to platoon.  I know plenty in the blogosphere want that to happen … but this is a contract year, and the last time couple times LaRoche faced a contract year he played pretty durn good.  Meanwhile, Moore seems like the kind of player who could use a change of scenery and a trade to a team with more playing time.  Boswell likes his swing.

Q: Is team improvement correlation or causation to a hitting coach change, like what happened last year with Eckstein’s firing?

A: You ask me, i’d say its correlation/coincidence.  It isn’t the hitting coach facing 95 mph fastballs.  But I’m no professional.  Boswell can’t figure it out either.

Q: Did they really need another catcher when they had both two young options and Synder as a proven vet? Why waste a pitching prospect with a high upside for a backup catcher who can’t throw out runners, already a major problem. Did Rizzo get taken by the Rays?

A: Sounds to me like this question-er is overvaluing the potential contributions of our catching prospects Sandy Leon and Jhonatan Solano, is incredibly overvaluing what Chris Snyder still brings to the table, and is overvaluing Nathan Karns and what is ceiling seems to realistically be.  Oh, and he’s undervaluing the prospects we got in return (both of which are in our top 14 according to mlbdraftinsider.com’s recent post).  I like the move, it fixes a hole for the team and gives a couple of prospects to shore up a thinned system, all for a guy who I think we all liked in Karns but who likely faces a ceiling of a reliever.  Boswell notes the need for a “real” backup catcher and notes that the team traded from depth.

Q: Have the Braves taken a step back this offseason and are really counting on BJ Upton to do anything on offense this year?

A: Yes and yes.  McCann is a  huge loss.  Tim Hudson may not “seem” like a loss given the Braves pitching depth, but he was their opening day starter in 2013 and was their bulldog staff leader (if not an “ace” in the literal sense of the word).   They also let go Paul Maholm, who gave them a ton of decent innings last year.  They’re depending on Brandon Beachy to come back healthy and on the rest of their young rotation to contribute.  Otherwise they did little this off-season other than extending a couple of guys.   As far as BJ Upton, what choice do they have but to run him out day after day at this point?  Same as Dan Uggla: those two guys are getting paid a ton of money and will be given every chance to prove themselves.  Boswell agrees.

Q: How often have you seen baseball players take a hometown discount?

A: Not very often: Roy Halladay took a bit less so he could play for Philly … because their spring training complex is in the same town as his full-time home.  Hard to think of obvious other players off-hand.  The asker questioned whether Jordan Zimmermann would consider less money to play for his “hometown” Brewers … without really considering the fact that Milwaukee is a cheap-skate franchise and will *never* come close to paying the 9-figure deal that Zimmermann probably earns in two years’ time.  Boswell doesn’t really answer the original question, just notes that so far our FA players are going for the money.

Q: In your opinion, who will end up being the fifth starter? Detwiler, Roark, or Jordan?

A: Ross Emery Detwiler, for the same reasons I pointed out in my 2014 Staff Projections post in late december.   Quoting myself from that post:

Why am I predicting Detwiler will win the rotation spot?  Partly because of options (Detwiler has none while Roark, Ohlendorf and Jordan all do), but partly because I’ve sort of come back around on him after looking more closely at his 2013 season.  He had a decent to good 2012; he posted a 118 ERA+ and even if his advanced FIP/SIERA didn’t indicate he was quite that good, he was still more than a servicable 5th starter.  Then in his first seven 2013 starts he was also very good (he had a 2.53 ERA in his first 7 starts and 42 2/3 innings … he got hurt in his 8th start).  The rest of his season was a mess, with him fighting injury and ballooning his seasonal ERA from 2.53 to more than 4.00 in five more starts.   If he comes back healthy to start 2014, why wouldn’t we expect more of the same performance that he had at the start of 2013?  For these reasons, I think Detwiler breaks camp as the 5th starter.

I like Tanner Roark and feel the team is going to find a way for him to be in the MLB bullpen.  I also now believe Taylor Jordan‘s off-season ankle injury will give the team an excuse to keep him in the minors a bit to season him up and maybe even keep some innings off his arm.   So it’ll be Detwiler until he either falters or gets hurt again.  At least we have a ton of options this year to cover for a starter injury.

Boswell says Detwiler as well but writes a ton on othe other guys, including a glowing talk about Roark.  And he throws in this tidbit: Detroit asked for Jordan and Robbie Ray before settling for Ray and spare parts.  Interesting.  

Q: What’s your read on how the last two bullpen spots play out?

A: Also borrowing from my Dec 2013 post, I’ll go with Ohlendorf and Roark.  Ohlendorf as the long-man, spot starter rubber arm guy.  Roark with the hope he continues his magical run of exceptional command and fearless relief.  I know that only leaves on lefty out there, and leaves guys like Ryan Mattheus and Christian Garcia in AAA.  Hey, I could be wrong.   Boswell doesn’t seem to guess.

Q: Do you think the coaches will let Espi continue to be a switch hitter or keep him as a lefty hitter only? 

A: I hope you mean righty hitter only; he is a career .220 lefty hitter but .262 righty. If I was the Nats brass, i’d try him as a righty-only guy.  But by all accounts Danny Espinosa is a bit stubborn and may not be open to limiting a unique skill that he may continue to think distinguishes himself from other competitors.  I continue to wonder just how hurt he was last year … as others have said, it isn’t like Espinosa suddenly forgot how to hit.  Yes he was always somewhat limited as a player, but 20-homer capable middle infielders don’t grow on trees.  Boswell says the team isn’t messing with Espinosa, and that they want to see what he can do in 2014.  Fair enough.

Q: Are you worried about the power (or lack thereof) in the Nats lineup?

A: Not really.  The capability is there across the lineup.  Zimmerman has hit 30.  So has LaRoche.  Desmond has hit 20.  So has Espinosa.  Ramos has 20+ homer capability if he’s healthy.  Werth is good for 25 and has hit 30+ before.  And none of this talks about our best power hitter Harper and what he can do.   Basically the team is a whole bunch of guys with 20 homer capability.   The Nats were T-3th in the NL in homers last year as a team (trailing two teams in offensive parks) and should improve in this category with a healthy Harper.  Boswell just talks about Ramos’ stats extrapolated to a full season.

Q: Is praise of Williams’ approach tacit criticism of Davey Johnson’s?

A: Yeah probably.  That’s why you change managers; to change the message.  I’m not going to disparage Davey Johnson too much here other than to say what i’ve said before; the team needed a new voice.  Boswell points out that Johnson’s 2012 job was fantastic and that there’s “different jockeys for different horses.” I like that analogy.


One last point: there was a question about MASN that Boswell went off on and gave some tidbits, including a shot at Bud Selig.  Its worth the read; click on the chat link and head to the bottom.

23 Responses to 'Ask Boswell 2/18/14 Edition'

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  1. Dude, I’m not even done reading the post and just had to say thank YOU for calling out the figure skating = ballet dancing comparison. I’ve been saying that for years, but have been called out by my wife as just being a mean ol’ curmudgeon.

    One of my favorite ever sportwriter quotes came from Chicago Tribune scribe Bob Verdi. When asked by a radio host to name his favorite Winter Olympics event he replied, “The closing ceremonies.”

    bdrube

    19 Feb 14 at 8:35 am

  2. Now for my reaction to the whole post. Better analysis overall from Boswell this time.

    On Tyler Moore, much as I love the guy (a holdover soft spot from having seen him play at Potomac), I think the time is coming to consider trading him to an AL team where he can be used as a DH and get more ABs. With the talk of playing time for Zim and Skole coming up the system from behind him, it just doesn’t look like the Nats trust that he will ever be their starting first baseman.

    bdrube

    19 Feb 14 at 8:49 am

  3. I’m 100% in agreement on Livo. If he could just teach the pitchers how to hold runners and how to bunt that would be great. the pitching staff is too young for him to teach them his bugs bunny pitch.

    Mark L

    19 Feb 14 at 10:10 am

  4. On Garcia, I agree with Boz that if he is healthy and pitching like normal, he goes north with the club. He may have the filthiest stuff in the pen, and with all his injuries, there may only be a few bullets left, and might as well shoot them at the Braves while he still has ammo. I don’t know how the rest plays out, but I think that he is in there.

    As for TMo, I am with bdrube. Time to move on, and all this Espy and RZim-to-1st talk is really that they don’t believe he can do it, either. He seems like a nice kid, and while I doubt that they get much for him in a trade, I would send him to the Astros or Marlins, some place where they will give him 300 ABs to see if he can turn the corner. Right now, he isn’t even a bench bat to me.

    The Desi contract comment was interesting, and may be another reason for all this Espy talk.

    Wally

    19 Feb 14 at 1:14 pm

  5. Figure skating: that’s a rant i’ve been going on every olympics. In the summer replace “figure skating” with “rhythmic gymnastics” or “synchronized swimming.”

    Todd Boss

    19 Feb 14 at 3:08 pm

  6. Moore: yeah … he must have been completely dismayed when he saw the McLouth signing. Are we sure he’s even making the team? I mean, Hairston is basically a corner outfielder, McLouth is an outfielder. Why would we need another outfielder on the 25-man roster?

    We keep talking with the Houston organziation about stuff … why not flip him there? Maybe for some future considerations or perhaps a draft pick or something.

    Todd Boss

    19 Feb 14 at 3:17 pm

  7. Garcia; I was going to use the “use the bullets” thought process as a caveat. 12 major league innings. Keep saying that to yourself; that’s all he’s got. He’s like big foot; this mysterious golden child with the magic arm who nobody ever gets to see because he’s always got something wrong.

    A couple of interesting nuggets in the Boswell chat. The balfour trade falling through b/c we wanted to defer some money. The Nats internally denied the whole “MLB bribe payments” issue with Masn. The Desmond rejection of 5/$85M (that’s $17M/year … that’s more AAV than what Elvis Andrus is getting, the contract that I think defines Desmond’s market. Maybe if it was 7/119 (17M/year for 7 years) he’d go for it.

    Todd Boss

    19 Feb 14 at 3:26 pm

  8. Desmond: .. or maybe he’s holding out hope that that Yankees do a one-year stop gap for SS next off season and he becomes the next Jeter.

    Next season’s FA shortstop market looks thin … Jed Lowrie and JJ Hardy leading it. Except for one intriguing name: Hanley Ramirez. If Hanley blows it out this year, kind of like how he was destroying the ball in the 2nd half last year, he could be earning himself an awful lot of money, and the Yankees might be in a position to send it his way.

    Where would you draft Hanley Ramirez in fantasy? Yahoo has him ranked frigging 7th.

    Todd Boss

    19 Feb 14 at 3:33 pm

  9. I continue to learn so much, not just from your articles but the comments as well.

    I can also help with your rant. I coached swimming at the University level for 40 years. It was pretty simple, the guy who touched the wall first won EXCEPT FOR DIVING!! Which was scored by any number of people who were usually paid by the home team. My divers were great athletes but had a totally different mind-set from my swimmers. Your rant said what I have said many many times about what is sport and what is an exhibition. I too get criticism from family when I go on this same rant during Gymnastics, diving, and any other sport that is judged rather then won by having the best time or scoring the most goals/pts/runs etc. Thanks again to Todd & the various commentors who help make me sound like I know what I am talking about when the topic is baseball.

    SJM 308

    19 Feb 14 at 3:37 pm

  10. Todd – I didn’t read it as 5/$85m. I thought that the years were vague, and I wouldn’t put it past Rizzo to offer 7/$85m or something like that. Desi is going to get paid a lot of money.

    SJM – where do you come out on the snowboarding stuff, slopestyle, etc? That is a heck of a lot more interesting to watch than the ballerinas, but I think it has the same structural scoring problem as the others. Probably goes without saying, but there is NO WAY that I would ever even try going over one of those jumps backwards.

    Wally

    19 Feb 14 at 5:36 pm

  11. I’m in agreement on Tyler Moore. He needs major league AB’s. If Justin Maxwell was able to stick all that time with Houston, TMo should be a major contributor for a mid-level or lower team.
    He deserves better.

    Mark L

    19 Feb 14 at 6:54 pm

  12. Olympics: I actually enjoy watching a wide variety of things, but one event I’ve really come to enjoy over the last few Winter Olympics has been snowboardcross because it’s an actual race, and not against a clock. They’re competing head to head, wipeouts and all.

    T-Mo: Since Boz missed it and it has been reiterated, I’ll make a point that I’ve made several times before: Moore is a reverse-platoon guy – he hits RHP significantly better than LHP. Using him in a platoon or as a PH vs. LHP is ignorance of the splits. LaRoche is better than Moore vs. LHP, both career and 2013.

    All in all, I’m in the Free T-Mo camp, meaning trade him somewhere he can play. I don’t see him as a potential replacement for ALR next year, and he’s not getting any younger on the bench.

    Davey: Nice comment by Boz about the two Nats who told him that they owe their careers to Davey. Any guesses who those guys might be? I would guess that one might be Desmond, who became a significantly better player under Davey.

    Christian Garcia: IF HEALTHY, I say he goes north with the big club. Everyone has raved about him for years. Might as well see what he’s got. But I certainly wouldn’t trade someone with the thought that Garcia is going to be a reliable replacement.

    Livo: LOVE having him associated with the team. Any bets on who learns the epheus pitch? Gio?

    In general, I’m very pleased with nearly everything I’m reading from Viera, with one exception: the “open competition” at 2B. Sorry, but between what Rendon did for the team and Espi’s not-so-great attitude, this isn’t fair to Rendon. Danny could be told that he has a chance to compete for the job, but it should be “Rendon’s to lose.” In reality, it probably is, but that’s not what is being said. I completely understand them wanting to rehabilitate Danny, but it shouldn’t be done at Rendon’s expense. It does seem that Danny is being prepped to be the utility guy, with time at SS and 3B.

    More reading of the tea leaves: Matt Williams has already been talking up Skole. Could he legitimately get into the bench competition? He sure didn’t hit in the AFL, but there aren’t many LH bats on the bench. I would love to see Skole and Souza get real chances to displace Moore and Hairston on the pine.

    KW

    19 Feb 14 at 8:46 pm

  13. Olympics: figure skaters are amazing athletes. Figure skating is not a sport.

    Garcia is not just the 12 MLB innings – he’s also his minor league stats and his insane stuff. You don’t count on him, but if he’s 100% there’s no way he’s not one of the seven best relief pitchers. Use those bullets at the MLB level.

    John C.

    19 Feb 14 at 10:31 pm

  14. Why not extend Desmond now. Seems to be less of a risk with him than with the pitchers, and he is the least replaceable.

    And, inflation is taking off.

    I don;t see why extending someone prevents the possibility of trades. It seems to me that the money being thrown around for starting pitching only means that the prices will escalate dramatically.

    I wonder if the delay reflects the Nats awareness that whatever they give Zimmerman will affect Fister and Strasburg and what if they outpitch Zimmerman over the first six months…

    As for the encouraging news about how Solis looks, etc, hey, great. Just remember that part of this is “New Kid in Town” excitement. No writer wants to cover how impressive Drew Storen or Ryan Mattheus looks – they are supposed to be impressive).

    forensicane

    20 Feb 14 at 12:04 am

  15. Garcia versus Roark. Right now. If both are healthy who do you take? No offense to Garcia, but I can’t see how the team takes him over Roark, given what Roark did last fall.

    Here’s Garcia’s TOTAL innings for the last 5 seasons starting in 2009: 25.2, 5.2, 20.1, 65 and 13.1. Yeah i get it; his numbers in 2012 were insane. He looked great in several appearances. But his numbers in 12 innings weren’t even close to what Roark did in 53 innings, which included 5 starts and included a 7inning 2 hit shutdown of the 96-win Braves in mid september.

    Maybe the real question would be Garcia vs Ohlendorf (with the team thinking/knowing that Roark could be their emergency starter in a pinch). I’d be ok with that. but I’d have a real problem if Roark got sent down after what he showed in September.

    Todd Boss

    20 Feb 14 at 8:07 am

  16. Good point on Desmond extension; Boswell implied they tried and Desmond said no way. Desmond did the smart thing, bought out the rest of his arbitration years and guaranteed himself cash plus no more headaches/arguments. And he’s betting that if he puts up another couple 4-win seasons he’s worth 9 figures on the open market.

    Strasburg *should* be outpitching these guys … its the Nats good fortune so far that he hasn’t. A couple of dominant Cy Young seasons will change the equation, but if we get that out of him the Nats should be sitting pretty come october, so it’ll be worth it.

    Todd Boss

    20 Feb 14 at 8:09 am

  17. I don’t see it as Garcia vs. Roark; I’d prefer Garcia AND Roark. Williams has said that he only wants one long man. That would be Roark vs. Ohlendorf. I don’t think they would keep Jordan in the bullpen, preferring to have him starting regularly at AAA. It’s possible they would want the same for Roark as well. Anyway, that would leave the other slot up for grabs among Garcia, Mattheus, and Cedeno. Will they go for the second lefty, the explosive talent, or the explosive temper? Or does Solis trump all of them as a power lefty?

    These scenarios could be out the window if they decide to move Det to the ‘pen. If they do that, I would think they would keep someone else as the long man and make Det a Burnett-like power lefty for the later innings. That would be a big boost to the bullpen. Whether it would be at the expense of the best potential fifth starter, I don’t know.

    The best part is that at least there will be competition this spring, and a lot of it, both for fifth starter and for multiple bullpen spots. Last spring, it was basically Mattheus vs. H-Rod, and you knew they weren’t going to DFA Henry. As a result, the staff, and particularly the ‘pen, what not sharp when the season started.

    KW

    21 Feb 14 at 9:10 am

  18. Agree; i’d prefer healthy Garcia and Roark. I like Ohlendorf and think he deserves a spot but we’re running out of room. I think JOrdan’s injury gives the team the excuse they need to stick him in AAA.

    Todd Boss

    21 Feb 14 at 1:17 pm

  19. Ohlendorf to Syracuse. We sent Lannan down with a $5mm contract in ’12 so $1mm for ohly as insurance makes sense to me. If Garcia is healthy, don’t waste him – use him til he is injured again.

    I think we will see Clip start the year on the DL with the whispers of a bad back starting already and the talk of “mileage” on his arm. Why not give him a month off and let him come up in May and replace an injury being fresh.

    Andrew R

    22 Feb 14 at 11:58 pm

  20. The first key to resolving the pitchers who go north will be health. The team MUST stay healthy all the way through the spring.

    The second key will be which other teams will experience injuries to key contributors that leave the major league team vulnerable.

    The third key will be the signings of all remaining free agent talent that will likely help immediately, from Ervin Santana to Oliver Perez and others.

    The fourth key we have just witnessed in the Tampa trade. Will a team have a hole they would like to plug with a surplus piece from the Nats’ staff because there are no cheaper options yet available? And would they offer a tidy haul of minor league talent for that player, whether it is Ryan Mattheus or Ross Ohlendorf or someone else on the bubble?

    Rizzo was quoted, when he told Karns of the deal, that Tampa essentially made an offer he could not refuse. That was the outgrowth of the Hellickson trade.

    If three keys arise, this will be about stocking Syracuse and helping to restock the lower minors as well.

    I agree with the above on Roark’s value. If he has a good spring, he’s on the staff as the 6th starter. That sends:

    Ohlendorf
    Treinen
    Rosenbaum
    Jordan
    Young

    to the AAA rotation. Or, if Solis, Cole, or Hill beat out Young, one of them. But still, a stocked rotation.

    And even in the AAA bullpen, they will be full. A veteran like Mattheus with big league experience, who looks very strong on the spring, or even a higher regarded (and higher arm, higher reputation) arm like Clippard or Storen could fetch a lot in a seller’s market, especially if the team feels that Ayala is a serviceable option who can be a part of a champion, or if Garcia is ready or if Stammen is ready for more.

    Keys 1-3 will dictate the door opening for Garcia. What’s not to like? But all things being equal, he is easier to stache in AAA unless he clearly outperforms others.

    Or unless there is a trade, which I think will happen.

    forensicane

    23 Feb 14 at 1:13 am

  21. sorry, Hellickson injury.

    forensicane

    23 Feb 14 at 1:14 am

  22. Always remember that Rizzo will sell high. Whomever they might deal is someone who may be peaking in value – why Ray was available and Jordan was not.

    But now, with team depth, the Nats no longer have to deal for everyday needs like they did with Gio and even Fister (unless there is an injury). So, trades to restock position player gaps in the lower minors and pitchers who can develop for future chips are the preferrred currency.

    forensicane

    23 Feb 14 at 1:18 am

  23. Andrew; Yeah i think that’s what i’m envisioning too (Ohlendorf to AAA, Roark and Garcia on opening day roster) … It won’t make Ohlendorf happy, but then again if you gave me $1.25m i’d do whatever the hell you wanted me to do :-)

    Clippard on DL: interesting. That’d free up a spot for sure. I havn’t heard enough about his issues to start to think he’s going to do a dl trip … just the one note about stopping a workout short. Definitely something to keep an eye on.

    Todd Boss

    23 Feb 14 at 8:22 am

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