The chats come fast and furious; here’s Tom Boswell‘s 2/24/14 online chat. Not much in this one; i’m thinking we’ll struggle to get to the 50 comments we got on last weeks’ version.
As always, I answer here before reading Boswell’s answer, and freely edit the “questions” for clarity here. I left out a couple of his non Nats questions this time around.
Q: Predictions on Harper’s line this year?
A: I’ll go .275/.375/.500 with 32 homers. That’s probably optimistic, but hey, there’s no reason not to project 30 homers for a guy with 80 power. Boswell went .285/.380/.510 and 30 homers. Pretty close. We both just stepped up Harper’s 162-game averages from b-r.com frankly.
Q: Predictions on Fister’s line this year?
A: Now here, i’ll probably be even more optimistic. I think he goes 17-9 in 200 innings or so, posting a 3.10 ERA and a 1.25 whip. His K/9 will rise slightly and his ERA will drop thanks to dozens of at-bats against opposing pitchers instead of DHs. If he can get a couple more wins he’s into Cy Young territory. Boswell goes 15-11 with a 3.20 era.
Q: Why is MLB having a hard time coming up with home-plate collision rules?
A: Because there’s no easy answer. The questioner makes it sound like ASA (as in, the Amateur Softball Association) is so much smarter than MLB because they have a give yourself up rule. Well duh. They’re amateurs, as in “these people don’t get paid to do this so lets not build in rules that promote massive injuries.” My amateur baseball leagues were the same way; “Slide or give yourself up; we all have to go to work tomorrow.” In the Pros, it isn’t that simple. One game can decide a pennant, which decides millions of dollars for a team and can change the outcome of a franchise and a fan base. Honestly, I don’t know quite how i’d write the rules, other than to demand that the catcher not block the plate while demanding that the runner not purposely barge into the guy. What happens the first time the catcher DOES purposely block the plate and a runner avoids him, only to lose the out and the manager goes ballistic when the old-school umpire fails to properly call the play? Or the reverse; what happens the firs ttime a runner blasts a catcher who’s giving up part of the plate and somehow doesn’t get automatically called out? I don’t know; I await the rules like everyone else in baseball. Boswell is reserving judgement til he talks to more guys about the new rules.
Q: What version of Denard Span will we see this year?
A: I sure hope its the September 2013 edition. If it isn’t, then at least I hope Matt Williams has the intelligence to quickly move him out of the leadoff spot instead of stubbornly allowing him to hit .220 for months on end from the lineup spot that gets the most at-bats. Boswell opines about Span and it isn’t positive, but he doesn’t have a guess either.
Q: Does an extension for Trout make sense right now?
A: For whom? For the Angels or for Mike Trout? Rumors of a 6yr $150M deal out there for Trout; that’s a $25M AAV buying out one pre-arb year and three arbitration years of Trout. How does that make ANY sense for the Angels to do? Even assuming that Trout sents some sort of record for his arbitration years (I believe the record is Ryan Howard‘s 1st year $10M award), he’s not going to come close to that amount over the next four years. He gets at or close to the MLB minimum this year (call it $550k). Lets assume that Trout is a $30M player; that’d put his three arbitration numbers at roughly $12M, $18M and $24M. Under this scenario, the Angels get the next four full seasons of Trout for $54.5 million dollars. Why would the Angels agree to pay him $100m MORE at this point to guarantee two more years? Honestly, this is a fantastic deal for Trout and if the Angels offer it up, grab it. Boswell didn’t even answer the Trout/Angels question.
Q: Projected Nats Bench right now?
A: Well, you need a catcher (Jose Lobatan). You need an outfielder and we have two under contract for more than a MLB min (Scott Hairston and Nate McLouth). You need a guy who can play both shortstop and second base .. and for me that guy is Danny Espinosa. After that you kind of look at what you need in terms of flexibilty off the bench for the last stop. These four guys include two switch hitters (Lobaton and Espinosa), a righty with some pop (Hairston), and a lefty with some pop (McLouth). Is Tyler Moore that 25th guy thanks to his prodigous power from the right side? Is the better way to go with another utility guy like Jamie Carroll or Mike Fontenot? I don’t know. I think its Moore for now. Boswell says Moore for sure and then a coinflip between Espinosa and Carroll; i think its the other way around frankly.
Q: Do Tall pitchers release the ball closer to the plate?
A: Yes of course. One of the reasons a guy like Chris Young could succeed despite having only an 86mph fastball; the ball was a foot closer to the plate by the time he released it. I pointed this out when looking at Lucas Giolito‘s mechanics; he’s a huge guy and he takes a massive stride, and I’ll bet he releases the ball a couple feet closer to the plate than some of his peers. Boswell discounts the advantage tall pitchers have.
Q: Is there “really” a competition for 2nd right now?
A: Not in my eyes. I think Rendon is entrenched at 2nd for the next 6 years and Espinosa will be trade bait before we know it. Boswell says doubtful.
Q: When does Giolito arrive and how does he fit in?
A: Not for a couple more years. He starts in Low-A with an eye towards mid-season promotion to High-A. Repeat that in 2015 and he ends the season in AA. So then you’re looking at an early to mid-season call up in 2016 to keep his service clock off. That’s a normal progression for a high schooler. That still puts him in the majors before his 22nd birthday.
How does he fit in? Well, he projects by all accounts as a #1 starter with a huge arm and big upside. But the year 2016 could be a pretty significant season for this franchise: Zimmermann, Fister and Detwiler all are FAs that season. So this team will be looking for starters. The big 1-2 punch will still be here (Strasburg and Gonzalez) and perhaps one of these FAs to be, but we’ll need reinforcements by that point. Thankfully we have more than a few already knocking on the door and Giolito could be another new guy joining in. Boswell hasn’t seen him but reminds us all that he’s only 19.