Nationals Arm Race

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

Nats Major & Minor League Pitching Staffs vs last fall’s Predictions 2016 Version

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Giolito's in AA to start ... does he ever even see AAA? Photo Eric Dearborn via win-for-teddy blog

Giolito’s in AA to start … does he ever even see AAA? Photo Eric Dearborn via win-for-teddy blog

After reviewing all the 2015 pitching staffs, I projected where I thought everyone would start in 2016.

Now that the four full-season affiliates have been announced, lets see how my predictions turned out.  As always, the Big Board (maintained by SpringfieldFan) is a great resource to track everyone.

Notations here: * = lefty, ^ == new off-season acquisition.  Also, “Missing” usually means “Stuck in Extended Spring Trianing/XST” or in organizational limbo.


 

MLB Predicted

  • Rotation: Scherzer, Strasburg, Ross, Gonzalez*, Roark
  • Bullpen: Papelbon, Treinen, Rivero*, Perez*^, Kelley^, Gott^, Petit^
  • D/L: Barrett (60-day DL)
  • out of organization: Zimmermann, Fister, Storen (traded), Thornton*, Janssen, Carpenter, Stammen (non-tendered)

MLB Actual Opening day

  • Rotation: Scherzer, Strasburg, Gonzalez*, Ross, Roark
  • Bullpen: Papelbon, Treinen, Rivero*, Perez*, Kelley, Belisle, Petit
  • D/L: Barrett (60-day DL)

Discussion: only one surprise from the pre-Spring Training prediction for this team: Matt Belisle makes the team ahead of Trevor Gott.  Otherwise everyone is in the roles they were acquired to hold.  There was some question about whether Blake Treinen would get optioned early in the spring, but not now.  The order of the starters wasn’t right: Ross is being treated like the 4th starter and Roark the 3rd, I guess.

It probably wasn’t too hard to predict 12 out of the 13 spots in the MLB roster, so we won’t pat ourselves on the back too much.  Lets talk minors.


AAA Predicted

  • Rotation: Cole, Jordan, Espino, Voth, Laffey*^, THill, Arroyo^
  • Bullpen: Martin, Solis*, Grace*, Brady^, Bacus, de los Santos, Runion, Velasquez^, Masset^, EDavis, Burnett*^
  • Release Candidates: McGregor, Walters
  • out of organization: Billings, Bleier*, Swynenberg, Fornataro, Meek, Runion, Lively, Gutierrez, Valverde, Delcarmen, RHill, Overton

AAA Actual

  • starters: Cole, Jordan, Espino, THill, Voth
  • spot starts/swingman: Laffey*
  • bullpen: Martin, Solis*, Grace*, Runion, Massett, EDavis, Gott
  • dl/restricted: Arroyo, Brady
  • in AA: Bacus, de los Santos
  • missing: no one
  • cut/released/FAs: McGregor, Velasquez, Walters, Burnett (opted-out)

Discussion: No surprises in the Rotation: we predicted 7 guys in the AAA rotation competition and ended up with the 5 we predicted, a 6th as the swing-man/spot starter and the 7th (Arroyo) on the D/L for the time being.

The bullpen has some surprises: Gott as previously mentioned was projected in the majors; the other 6 bullpen members were in the 10 projected guys competing for the AAA spots.  Two guys got pushed to AA.  Brady starts on the D/L.  Both my release candidates did in fact get released, along with off-season MLFA Velasquez.  The real surprise making the AAA team was Masset.

Burnett opted out when he didn’t make the MLB team, but it wasn’t a stretch to predict that happening.

No real projection surprises though, all in all.  Nobody who we projected to start in AA got moved up; only a couple guys who got moved down (Bacus and de los Santos).  I’m slightly surprised de los Santos is in AA and it makes me question even more his 40-man add and usage last year (3 days of service time and now two options blown).


AA Projected

  • Rotation: Spann*, Giolito, Simms, Alderson, RLopez, Mapes, Gorski^
  • Bullpen: Mendez, Harper*, Shackelford^, NLee*, Benincasa, Suero, Thomas*, Walsh*, Robinson^, Whiting^
  • Release Candidates: Rauh, Bates, Self, Dupra
  • out of organization: Purke*, Pivetta, Simmons, Demny, Ambriz, Gilliam

AA Announced

  • starters: Giolito, Simms, RLopez, AWilliams, Mapes
  • spot starts/swingman:
  • bullpen: Mendez, Harper*, NLee*,  Suero, Fish*, Bacus,  Gutierrez, de los Santos
  • In High-A: Thomas*, Robinson, Whiting, Rauh, Self
  • dl/restricted: none
  • missing: Spann*, Alderson, Shackelford, Benincasa, Bates
  • cut/released/FAs: Gorski, Walsh*, Dupra

Discussion:

The big surprise here is that Austen Williams made the AA team; I had him at High-A.  Perhaps it isn’t THAT big of a surprise given how well he pitched last year, but it does seem to go away from the Nats’ proclivities to start guys at their prior season’s level and have them “earn” early to mid-season promotions.  He joins a pretty high powered duo of Giolito and LopezGorski was an off-season MLFA brought in for competition and he didn’t win.  Only one of my four release candidates was in fact released (Dupra): the other three got dumped to XLS or High-A, which is good for them but not good for the massive log-jam of recently drafted college arms who need spots in A-ball.

In the bullpen, we’ve talked before about the surprising release of Jake Walsh.  There’s 5 guys stuck in XST limbo for now, a couple of which are release candidates.  One name that popped out of the blue is Robert Fish, who signed an under-the radar MLFA deal in mid February and who apparently hasn’t pitched professionally in two full seasons.  He must have had a pretty good spring.


High-A Projected

  • Rotation: AWilliams, Fedde, Valdez, Dickson, Bach*, Van Orden,
  • Bullpen: Johanssen, Amlung (swingman),  Napoli*, Orlan*, Glover, Brinley, Sylvestre*
  • Release Candidates: RPena, Turnbull*
  • out of organization: Schwartz, Howell, CDavis, MRodriguez, Cooper (just released)

High-A Announced

  • starters: Fedde, Valdez, Estevez, LReyes,  Whiting
  • spot starts/swingman: Sanchez,
  • bullpen: Brinley, Glover, Johansen, Orlan*, Robinson, Self, Thomas*
  • dl/restricted: Rauh, Sylvestre*,  Turnbull*
  • missing: Bach*
  • cut/released/FAs: Walsh, Dupra, Dickson, Van Orden, Amlung, Napoli*

Discussion: My High-A predictions show just how out of whack my “reading the stat lines” predictions can be, especially for starters.

In the Rotation, AWilliams earned a jump to AA.  I thought Dickson and Van Orden were solid rotation candidates; instead they got released.  Lastly, I thought both Estevez and Reyes were repeating Hagerstown; Estevez missed the whole season and Reyes posted a 4.82 ERA there last year.  Instead they’re opening day starters for Potomac.  Not even close here.

In the Bullpen, we got Johanssen, Orlan, Glover, Brinley, Sylvestre and Turnbull right (not too bad prediction wise), though the last couple guys are on the D/L and still may be release candidates.  Who did we miss on?  Robinson was an off-season MLFA (who signs MLFAs for high-A?), and Sanchez I had projected to repeat after posting a 4.86 in Hagerstown last year.

 


Low-A Projected

  • Rotation: LReyes, JRodriguez, ALee, Dickey, Hearn*, Crownover*
  • Bullpen: MSanchez (swingman),  Guilbeau*, Borne*, Rivera Jr., Gunter, Peterson, Baez
  • release candidate: Estevez, DWilliams, DRamos, Boghosian, Mooney, Pirro
  • out of organization: Ullmann, KPerez, Mooneyham, Johns (just released)

Low-A Actual

  • starters: JRodriguez, ALee, Hearn*, Crownover*, Guilbeau*, Bach,
  • spot starts/swingman:
  • bullpen: Rivera Jr, Peterson, Baez, VanVossen, LTorres, RPena, DeRosier,
  • dl/restricted: JMorales
  • missing: Dickey, Borne*, Gunter, DRamos, Mooney, Pirro
  • cut/released/FAs: Amlung, Van Orden, Napoli*, DWilliams, Boghosian

Discussion

From a starter standpoint, we did a pretty good job projecting who would be in Hagerstown’s rotation.  Four of the Six projected candidates “seem” like they’re in the rotation (full disclosure, we’re kind of guessing who these teams are using as starters until we see the first turn through the rotation).  The misses?  LReyes, who surprisingly is in High-A, and Guilbeau, who I thought would be on the team but in a relief role.

In the bullpen; we missed on Sanchez (who made High-A), Borne and Gunter (both of whom are in XST for now).  In their place are a slew of guys who I was projecting to be elsewhere.  I thought both VanVossen and DeRosier were release candidates after poor 2015 seasons in Short-A; instead they’re in the opening day bullpen.  I had LTorres in the Short-A bullpen after mostly failing as a short-A starter.

Lastly there’s Bach and RPena; I had both projected in Potomac.  I thought Bach had a perfectly good Low-A season last year and has nothing yet to prove in the Sally League.  Pena returns to Hagerstown for the third time; he pitched in Low-A in 2013 and 2014.  You have to think this is a planned short stint before he returns to at least High-A.

No real surprises in the “Missing/XST” crew: Dickey is the biggest profile name here but it seems to me he was injured last  year so its hard to pass judgement on his stats anywhere.  Borne‘s numbers were basically identical to the likes of Hearn and Guilbeau’s; he missed out in the 2016 competition.  Gunter might make sense as a mid-season promotion to cover for injury.  Ramos was hurt most of the year last  year.

In the “release candidate” section, I was clearly wrong about Estevez.  DWilliams and Boghosian have already indeed been released.  And both Mooney/Pirro missed out on the full-season roster and are in XST limbo.


 

Let the games begin!  Are there surprises for you guys in these rosters?

Fantasy Baseball 2016: My Team

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Arenado was my #1 fantasy pick this year. Photo via legitsports.com

Arenado was my #1 fantasy pick this year. Photo via legitsports.com

Last year’s version of this post.

Standard disclaimer; I do this post every year.  If you don’t play fantasy, you probably won’t care about the 3,000 words contained herein.  You won’t  hurt my feelings by not reading.  I’ll include a  jump so it doesn’t blow out your mobile reader

Read the rest of this entry »

Obligatory 2016 MLB Prediction piece

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With almost no analysis and just absorbing information from national pundits and stuff I’ve read, here’s my 2016 prediction piece.  Argue at will.

Predicted Division Winners and why:

  • NL East: Washington.  They were better than their final record in 2015  … they’re no longer the favorites so the pressure is off, and they have a manager who knows how to handle a veteran team.  I sense a rebound.  I also think the Mets will struggle with rotation injuries after driving their young arms way too hard last year.  Washington’s offense, defense and intangibles are all improved and their rotation will be better than people give it credit for.  Both teams win 90+ games thanks to their division but Washington nicks them at the end.
  • NL Central: Chicago Cubs: who would pick against them after they won 98 games AND had the best off-season of any team?  What a juggernaut.
  • NL West: San Francisco Giants: somehow the Dodgers continue to have the biggest payroll out there yet can’t find enough healthy starters to fill a rotation.  Arizona improved, but not enough.
  • AL East: Toronto: still the best offense in the land; Tampa and Boston may be frisky.
  • AL Central: Kansas City, though it could be close with Cleveland if KC’s bullpen doesn’t perform like they did last year.  Concerned about the back end of KC’s rotation but they could always make another mid-season move if things get too bad.
  • AL West: Houston again, with Texas nipping on their heels once they get Yu Darvish back.

Wild Cards

  • NL: NY Mets and St. Louis Cardinals: the Mets will beat up on the rest of the weak NL East and get enough wins thanks to unbalanced schedules.  St. Louis goes neck and neck with Chicago all year and settles for the WC.  This leaves Pittsburgh, LA and Arizona out in the cold.  Mentioning literally any other NL team in 2016 as a playoff contender would be shocking thanks to the wide-spread tanking going on in the league.
  • AL: Boston and Texas; not as much tanking in the AL but there are a couple of weak teams in the AL West that help Texas.  Boston is improved.  The AL Central is too good to produce a 2nd team; they’ll beat up on each other all year.

Playoff Results.

  • Mets take the Cardinals in one WC
  • Texas beats Boston in the other WC

In the divisional series:

  • Chicago and New York get a re-match of last year’s NLDS and…. the Mets prevail again in a shocker, defeating the 105-game winning Cubs with ease thanks to the Cubs 15 strike-outs per game against the Mets’ hurlers.  The curse continues.
  • Washington gets revenge on San Francisco, winning games by not taking out starters in the 9th needlessly and handling SF’s all-around solid team.
  • Houston (with the best record in the game) has to face hated rival Texas but wins an intra-state showdown.
  • Kansas City outlasts Toronto but not before Jose Bautista causes another Goose Gossage meltdown with his bat flipping antics.

In the LCS

  • Washington and New York go 7 … having played to a 10-9 seasonal split.  Washington’s arms are healthier in the end and they prevail at home in game 7.
  • Houston ends KC’s AL dominance with a hard fought 6 games series.

In the World Series….

  • Two teams who have never won a WS game go at it.  Washington’s aces shut down Houston’s offense and Washington’s veteran hitters squeak out the hits they need and NL Manager of the Year Dusty Baker leads the team to a WS title in his first season.

What, it could happen couldn’t it??

Written by Todd Boss

April 4th, 2016 at 7:05 am

2016 Opening Day Roster surprises

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Belisle makes the team.  Photo by John McDonnell of the WP

Belisle makes the team. Photo by John McDonnell of the WP

Once the team finished up with its FA and trading business this past off-season, the eventual 2016 25-man roster seemed rather predictable (to me anyway).  For months, I figured it was safe to assume we were looking at the following configuration for 2016 (barring injury):

  • SP: Scherzer, Strasburg, Gonzalez*, Ross, Roark
  • RP: Papelbon, Treinen, Gott, Kelley, Perez*, Rivero*, Petit
  • C: Ramos, Lobaton
  • INF: Zimmerman, Murphy, Espinosa, Rendon, Drew, Robinson, Moore
  • OF: Harper, Werth, Revere, Taylor
  • 60 day DL: Barrett

Perhaps you could quibble that Tyler Moore wasn’t a lock , that he was always in competition with the slew of RH-hitting veterans brought in to camp this year (I didn’t necessarily think this once they offered him a contract for 2016).  Perhaps you could have argued that Danny Espinosa wasn’t the presumptive starter ahead of Trea Turner.  Perhaps you could argue that the team was going to do something crazy with Tanner Roark vs Bronson Arroyo. 

But towards the end of Spring Training, I was proven wrong as the team made some interesting choices to start the season.

With the final announced moves prior to opening day, here’s the 25-man roster starting out the season:

  • SP: Scherzer, Strasburg, Gonzalez*, Ross, Roark
  • RP: Papelbon, Treinen, Kelley, Belisle, Perez*, Rivero*, Petit
  • C: Ramos, Lobaton
  • INF: Zimmerman, Murphy, Espinosa, Rendon, Drew, Robinson
  • OF: Harper, Werth, Revere, Taylor, Heisey

Lets talk about the last minute announcements and the surprises:

  1. Tyler Moore waived, outrighted and then traded to Atlanta.  Probably not a huge surprise; one can argue that the only reason Moore wasn’t waived LAST spring training was thanks to the slew of injuries the team suffered.  He hasn’t been successful as a PH, he never could replicate the success he had in his rookie year, and he really could only play 1B.  The team made a conscious effort to bring in veterans to compete with him, and the likes of Scott Sizemore, Chris Heisey, Reed Johnson, Stephen Drew all out-performed Moore in one way or another.  And all those guys can play other positions besides the sedentary 1B.
  2. Chris Heisey making the team: Personally I thought Sizemore had the inside track, but he was assigned to minor league camp early.  In fact, when you look at their stats its a head scratcher: Sizemore hit .324 with a ton of power while Heisey hit just .238 but came on strong towards the end of spring training.  Moreover, Sizemore plays infield while Heisey only plays outfield … so Sizemore is presumably a more valuable player defensively.  Cynics will note that Heisey has played for Baker before.  At least Sizemore stuck with the team and accepted a minor league assignment.  Honestly I also thought the team would have considered Drew before Heisey, again for positional flexibility.
  3. Matt Belisle ‘s contract guaranteed, and he makes the team instead of off-season acquisition Trevor Gott.  By the ST numbers this move makes some  sense; Belisle’s ERA and WHIP was decent while Gott’s was respectable if not eyepopping.   Once again,  the cynic again would say this is entirely due to the options availability on Gott and Belisle’s history of playing for Baker.  I’m slightly surprised they didn’t go with 8 relievers since a 5th starter isn’t needed for a while.
  4. Espinosa over Turner: never in question for me once we hired Dusty Baker, but many pundits seem shocked that Turner is in AAA to start the season.  Scouts seem to have forgotten that Espinosa was a *better* shortstop than Ian Desmond all these years, but played 2nd base and 2nd fiddle thanks to seniority (in the same way that the superior Manny Machado played 3B instead of taking over at short for a veteran … and now is “stuck” there despite being one of the best SS prospects of his generation).
  5. Roark over Arroyo: this one solved itself early, when Arroyo tore his UCL tore his labrum tore his rotator strained his rotator cuff while Roark was throwing zeros for the spring.  I continue to be in the camp that Roark, if just left alone and given a rotation spot, will produce at a high level (just like he did in 2014).  I think his 2015 was completely an aberration, an example of how playing guys out of position ends up with sub-optimal performance (ahem, see Jurgen Klinsmann and the US Mens National Team’s ridiculous 2-0 loss to Guatemala last week in WC qualifying).

What do you guys think?  Do you think Belisle over Gott, Heisey over Sizemore or Drew (or even den Dekker), Espinosa over turner make this a better team starting out?  Or do you feel like Dusty has gotten some of his “buddies” back together and he’s valuing relationships over talent to start the season?

Better question: Will it matter?  I mean, we’re talking about the 7th man in the bullpen (who may get 1 inning the first week) and the last guy off the bench (who might get 2 or 3 low-leverage ABs the first week).  Is this making a mountain out of a mole-hill, or is it more about the principle of the issue?

College draft-prospects with local-ties to keep an eye in for the 2016 draft

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UVA's Connor Jones is a likely first rounder in this year's draft. Photo via UVA sports

UVA’s Connor Jones is a likely first rounder in this year’s draft. Photo via UVA sports

For the fourth year running (here’s 2013’s wrap-up, 2014’s wrap-up, and 2015’s wrap-up), we’re going to keep an eye on “local” draft prospects leading up to the 2016 amateur draft.  By “local” I essentially mean anyone who hails from the DC/MD/VA areas plus anyone who is playing their college ball in the DC/MD/VA irrespective of where they hail from.


Here’s a list of DC/MD/VA college players draft-eligible in 2016 of note from our area.  We’re now to the point where HS seniors we covered previously in this blog are becoming college Junior draft eligibles; here’s our 2013 draft wrap up mentioning a number of these 2016 draft eligible players.

Major Local College Draft Prospects for 2016

These are the big-time names that we’ve been hearing may be 1st or 2nd rounders this year with Local Ties.

  • Connor Jones, UVA RHP via Great Bridge; a 1st round talent in 2013 who desired to go to college and he hasn’t disappointed; took over as the Friday starter by mid 2015, finished with a 7-2 record and a 2.96 ERA in 16 starts.  Pitched well in the CWS, getting an unlucky loss against Vanderbilt in the final.  Playing in the Cape Cod league this summer, on the 2015 Collegiate National team and on the MLB.com 2016 draft short list already.  Collegiate Baseball News pre-season 2nd team All-American.
  • Mike Shawaryn: RHP for Maryland; went 13-2 with a 1.71 ERA as Maryland’s friday starter as a sophomore.  He was named to Baseball America’s 2nd team All America in 2015.  2015 Collegiate National team.  He could be a very high draft prospect as a junior.  Didn’t pitch well for Team USA in summer 2015.  Collegiate Baseball News pre-season 1st team All-American.
  • Matt Thaiss, UVA C who led the team in hitting as a sophomore and is on the 2015 National Collegiate team.  Impressed while playing for Team USA in summer of 2015, with a top-2 round projection.  Collegiate Baseball News pre-season 3rd team All-American.
  • Buddy Reed, OF from Florida via Finksburg, MD (NW of Baltimore).  Not previously on the radar list despite hailing from Maryland b/c he attended a prep school in Rhode Island.  But he’s playing for Florida and is on the 2015 National Collegiate team.  Collegiate Baseball News pre-season 1st team All-American.
  • Errol Robinson, SS from Ole Miss via St. Johns Prep in DC: hit .297 and started every game for Ole Miss as a sophomore.  Getting a lot of attention in his junior year, with Ole Miss’ high national ranking and the general dearth of capable shortstops.

Other Local College draft eligibles w/ Local Ties

Some of these guys will get drafted, others may not.  But they’re all draft eligible, having gone to 4-yr programs 3 years ago.

  • Luke Gillingham a senior at Navy who was named Collegiate Baseball News pre-season 2nd team All-American.  There’s some history of Navy grads making the majors, including Mitch Harris and Oliver Drake in 2015.
  • Charlie Gould, a rising Sr at William & Mary.  Collegiate Baseball News pre-season 3rd team All-American, pre-season all-CAA.
  • Michael Morman, a 5th year senior/grad student at Richmond.  Collegiate Baseball News pre-season 3rd team All-American.
  • Daniel Pinero, UVA middle infielder who started 60 games and hit .300 as a sophomore.
  • Alec Bettinger, UVA RHP via Hylton: 50ip and 4 mid-week starts as a sophomore, could take a bigger role with the graduation/drafting of so many UVA arms in 2015.
  • Jack Roberts, UVA RHP via James River HS: struggled to a 6.08 ERA in 23 innings as a sophomore.
  • Andy McGuire, RHP from Texas via Madison HS: converted to middle relief at Texas, had 12 IP in 13 appearances in 2015, but does not appear to be on the Texas roster in 2016.  No idea where he is now.
  • Thomas Rogers, LHP from VCU via Lake Braddock: Initially went to UNC, transferred to VCU in the fall of 2014 and sat out 2015 per NCAA transfer rules.  Will be a draft eligible sophomore.
  • Tyler Ramirez, OF from UNC via Suffolk VA (Cape Henry Collegiate).  Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015.
  • Aaron McGarity, RHP from Virginia Tech (home town also Blacksburg).  Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015 and made the All-Star team; prospects looking up.
  • Andre Scrubb, RHP from High Point U by way of Woodbridge VA (Hylton HS).  Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015.
  • Luke Scherzer, RHP from Virginia Tech by way of Midlothian VA (Powhatan HS).  Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015.
  • Nick Walker, OF from Old Dominion by way of Chesapeake VA (Kellahm HS).    Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015.
  • Kit Sheetz, LHP Virginia Tech by way of Midlothian VA (James River HS).  Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015.  Not sure he’s actually still at Va Tech; missing from 2016 roster.
  • David Ellingson, RHP from Georgetown U.  Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015.
  • Andrew Yacyk, inf from Liberty U via Hagerstown.  Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015.
  • Andrew Knizner, C from NC State via Glen Allen, VA (Hanover HS).  Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015.
  • Nick Cieri, C/IB from U Maryland, played in Cape Cod league and made the all star team.
  • Logan Farrar OF/2B from VCU
  • Parker Bean, RHP/OF from Liberty
  • Zack Rice: OF from UNC via Suffolk HS in Norfolk: converted to pitching at UNC: had a 2.31 ERA in 20 appearances in 2015.
  • Bryce Harman, jr 1B from ECU via Chesterfield, VA (Lloyd C. Bird HS).  Huge power potential but 1B-only guy, still projects as top 5-10 rounds in 2016.
  • Garrett Brooks, sr OF (CF) from ECU via Chesapeake VA (Western Branch).  Could be a classic round 6-10 senior sign this coming spring as a capable player who struggled early but is coming on late.
  • Luke Bolka, jr LHP from ECU via Mechanicsville, VA (Atlee HS).  Drafted late out of HS, has big K/9 numbers in small sample sizes and could easily feature as a matchup lefty reliever.
  • Mac Caples, jr OF from Virginia Tech by way of Midlothian VA (James River HS).

Sources used to kick off this post (which I started the day after the 2015 draft and update through out the 2015 spring awards season and the 2015 summer baseball showcase season):

Please let me know if you feel there are draft-eligible players with local ties who I should be following.  I don’t want to leave anyone out!

 

Local HS draft-prospects to keep an eye in for the 2016 draft

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Joe Rizzo may be the highest local draft pick we've seen in a while. Photo via insidenova.com

Oakton HS’ Joe Rizzo may be the highest local draft pick we’ve seen in a while. Photo via insidenova.com

For the fourth year running (here’s 2013’s wrap-up, 2014’s wrap-up, and 2015’s wrap-up), we’re going to keep an eye on “local” draft prospects leading up to the 2016 amateur draft.  By “local” I essentially mean anyone who hails from the DC/MD/VA areas plus anyone who is playing their college ball in the DC/MD/VA area.  Because of the amount of text on the prep players I have this year, i’ve split the post up into Prep and college players.  This post is months in the making, starting in May of 2015 when the various all-Area teams are announced and underclassmen are listed.

The players are more or less listed in the rough order of their likely drafting: there’s 3-4 significant draft names to keep an eye one in particular (Rizzo, Lee, Agnos and Hess).  Read on.

(Post-publishing update: i’ve added in details/corrected errors per feedback and comments; thanks for all the updates!)

Here’s a list of DC/MD/VA Local Prep players who will be rising Seniors in 2016 worth mentioning.  I’ve tried to organize these players in the order of their significance as a prospect, which (fairly or not) i’ve driven mostly from their participation in tourneys and showcases.

  • Joe Rizzo, INF for Oakton HS.  Evoshield Canes Main Roster, early commit to South Carolina.  2015 All-Met, 6-A North Region player of the year as a junior.  VHSL All Virginia 6-A player of the year.  Hit an astounding .606 for Oakton as a junior.  At PG National.  Invited to the PG All-American game.  At WWBA 2015 with Evoshield.  Written up by Jonathan Mayo/mlb.com after his East Coast Pro game performance.  At Area Code games.  Rizzo looking like one of the better DC-area draft prospects we’ve had in years.  D1baseball top 100 hs draft prospects.
  • Khalil Lee, LHP/OF for Paul VI Flint Hill (via Centreville).  VISAA Division I all-state in 2015, early commit to Liberty.  2015 summer team: Richmond Braves.  At PG National.  Invited to the PG All-American game.  At East Coast Pro 2015.  Also mentioned in Mayo’s piece post after East Coast Pro.  At Area Code games.  At WWBA 2015 with Evoshield.  D1baseball top 100 hs draft prospects.
  • Jake Agnos, LHP from Battlefield HS.  2nd team All-Met 2015.  All Virginia 6-A in 2015.  Famous for his 21-K playoff performance in  in 2015 district tournament and his astounding 48 strikeouts in 21 playoff innings in 2015 against the region’s two best teams.  Committed to ECU.  Playing for Stars Showcase Red 17U.  At East Coast Pro 2015.  At WWBA 2015 with Stars Marucci Prime.  AllMetSports 2016 player to watch.  Agnos picked right back up where he left off last spring, no-hitting a good Hylton team in the opener, striking out 17.
  • Matt Mervis, RHP from Georgetown Prep.  2nd team All-Met 2015.  Early commit to Duke.  Playing for Chandler World.  At PG National, at USA Baseball’s Tournament of Stars.  At East Coast Pro 2015.  At Prep 60 in Chicago.  #1 ranked player in Maryland per Prep Baseball.
  • Tyler Blohm, LHP from Spalding  in Maryland.  2015 All-Met HM.  Baltimore All-Metro 2015.  Three-time MIAA all-state player as a junior. Early commit to Maryland.  Evoshield Canes Main Roster for 2015.  At PG National.  AllMetSports 2016 player to watch.
  • Jack Cunningham, RHP/OF for Paul VI (via South Riding).  2015 All-Met, runner up WCAC player of the year.  VISAA Division I all-state in 2015.  Playing for Stars Showcase Red 17U.  At WWBA 2015 with Stars Marucci Prime.  Committed to Boston College.  AllMetSports 2016 player to watch.
  • Anthony Felitti, LHP Gaithersburg HS.  10-0 with a 0.85 ERA as a junior, started and won 4-A title game.  2015 All-Met.  Playing for Mid-Atlantic Red Sox.  Early commit to UVA but has apparently signed with GMU.  Prep Baseball’s #2 Maryland prep player.  AllMetSports 2016 player to watch.
  • John Callahan, SS from Stone Bridge.  2015 All-Met, 2015 All 5-A North region. All Virginia 5-A.  GMU commit.  Diamond Elite for 2015.  AllMetSports 2016 player to watch.
  • Carter Sears, C from Spalding.  2015 2nd-team all-Metro Baltimore.  Committed to JMU per perfectgame.org.
  • Adam Schauer, RHP from St. Albans School in Washington DC.  A complete unknown until he popped up on an Area Code games roster.  Committed to Swathmore College per perfectgame.org
  • Matt Favero, LHP from Madison.  2nd team All-Met 2015.  All 6-A North Region.  2nd team all-State 6-A.  Playing for Stars Showcase Red/Blue 17U.  At WWBA 2015 with Stars Marucci Prime.  Committed to BYU.
  • Pete Nielsen, SS from Madison.  2nd team All-Met 2015, 2nd team All 6-A North Region.  At WWBA 2015 with Stars Marucci Prime.  Committed to BYU.  AllMetSports 2016 player to watch.
  • Rafi Vazquez, RHP/OF from O’Connell.  2nd team All-Met 2015.  VISAA Division I all-state in 2015.  Early commit to Coastal Carolina. Evoshield regional team.  WWBA 2015 with 17-U Evoshield.  AllMetSports 2016 player to watch.
  • Brett Norwood, DH from Chantilly.  2nd team All-Met 2015, All 6-A North region in 2015.  Little known about Norwood, who doesn’t have a perfectgame.org profile.
  • Eli Quiceno, C from Stone Bridge.  Starter for Stone Bridge’s two straight 5-A championship teams.  Playing for Diamond Elite.  Committed to a smaller private school in Pennsylvania.
  • Nick Neville, SS from Lake Braddock IMG Academy in Florida (hails from Fairfax).  Little local recognition but got written up at the 17u WWBA event thanks to his speed and power.  Playing for Diamond Elite.  Moved to Florida for his Sr. year to play for IMG and is now committed to Notre Dame (h/t Joe Antonellis).
  • Elliott Zoellner, RHP from St. Marys (Annapolis).  Little local recognition but got written up at the 17u WWBA event thanks to his speed and power.  Playing for Evoshield North team.  WWBA 2015 with 17-U Evoshield.  Prep Baseball’s #3 ranked Maryland prep.  Committed to UMaryland per perfectgame.org.
  • Justin Ager, RHP for Loudoun Valley HS.  Committed to Yale, playing for Chandler World at 17u WWBA event.
  • Carter Bach, LHP/1B, OF for Centreville HS in Clifton, VA.  At WWBA 2015 with Stars Marucci Prime.  Committed to Wake Forest.
  • Kyle Whitten, RHP/1B from Osbourn Park HS Manassas, VA.   At WWBA 2015 with Stars Marucci Prime.  Committed to UVA.
  • Steve Johel, RHP from Marshall HS, Vienna VA.  Committed to Coastal Carolina.
  • Jared DiCesare from Chantilly HS, Playing for Oriole’s Scout team summer of 2015.  Committed to GMU.
  • Logan Driscoll from Lake Braddock, Playing for Stars Baseball-Prime summer of 2015.  Also committed to GMU.
  • Trey Alderman from Forest Park HS (Manassas): Played for Stars summer of 2015, committed to Radford
  • Cam Remalia from St. Johns in DC (by way of Waldorf): Named 2016 Gatorade POTY for DC. Committed to Coastal Carolina.

 

Here’s a list of extended DC/MD/VA Prep players (outside DC Area) on the radar.

  • Zack Hess, 1B/OF from Liberty Christian Academy (Lynchburg).  VISAA Division I player of the year as a junior in 2015, early commit to Virginia Tech but now committed to LSU (thanks commenter joemktg).  Playing for the Dirtbags (NC) summer of 2015.  At PG National.  Showed 93-95 at WWBA 17u tournament.  At East Coast Pro 2015.  At the Area Code games 2015.  Will be at the 2016 National HS Invitational in March.  D1baseball top 100 hs draft prospectsNearly threw a no-hitter at the NHSI.
  • Garrett Stallings, RHP from Grassfield HS (Chesapeake).  Evoshield Canes main roster, early commit to Tennessee.  At PG National.  At East Coast Pro 2015.  Area Code games 2015.  At WWBA 2015 with Evoshield, getting the Win in the championship game.
  • Michael Bienlien, RHP from Great Bridge (Chesapeake).  Evoshield Canes main roster, early commit to South Carolina but now committed to NC State (thanks commenter joemktg).  At PG National.  At East Coast Pro 2015, at WWBA 2015.
  • Noah Murdock, a big (6’7″) RHP from Colonial Heights (Richmond).  All 3-A East Region 2015, early UVA commit.  VA Cardinals for summer 2015.  At East Coast Pro 2015.  In Richmond Times/Dispatch’s 2016 pre-season watch list.
  • Cayman Richardson, SS from Hanover in Mechanicsville (NE Richmond suburb).  VA Cardinals for summer 2015, early UVA commit.  At East Coast Pro 2015.  In Richmond Times/Dispatch’s 2016 pre-season watch list.
  • Vinnie Pasquantino, a 1B from James River HS (Richmond); VA Cardinals for summer 2015, written up during WWBA 17u tourney.  Committed to ODU.  At East Coast Pro 2015.  In Richmond Times/Dispatch’s 2016 pre-season watch list.
  • Robert “Bobby” Nicholson: P/Inf from St. Anne’s Belfield HS (Charlottesville), early commit to UVA.  USA Baseball’s Tournament of Stars.  Playing for Chandler World.  Written up during 17u WWBA event.
  • Justin Sorokowski, 3B/OF from Lee-Davis HS in Mechanicsville (NE Richmond suburb).  VA Cardinals for summer 2015, early Florida State commit.  In Richmond Times/Dispatch’s 2016 pre-season watch list.
  • Derek Bjorlo, utility from Nandua HS (Onancock, on the Delmarva peninsula), Evoshield American for 2015, committed to Coastal Carolina.  At WWBA 2015 with the main Evoshield team.
  • Hayden Moore, RHP from Hanover HS, Evoshield regional roster for 2015, early commit to VCU.
  • Jalen Harrison, OF from St. Anne’s Belfield HS (Charlottesville), early commit to UVA.  Evoshield American for 2015.
  • Forrest Smith, C from Maggie Walker (Richmond), early commit to William & Mary.  Evoshield American for 2015.
  • John Fitzgerald, 3B from Gilman (Baltimore).  All-MIAA and all-Metro Baltimore 2015.  No PG profile.
  • William Strong, 1B from Patrick Henry (Ashland/Richmond).  All 5-A North Region 2015.  Playing for Evoshield Canes.  Committed to Florence-Darlington Technical College per PG.
  • Mike Nickles, 3B from Colonial Forge (Stafford).  All Virginia 6-A in 2015; otherwise very little known about Nickles.  Committed to Randolph-Macon per Joe Antonellis.
  • Paul Movizzo, 1B/OF from Cox HS (Virginia Beach).  2nd-team all Virginia 6-A in 2015.
  • Corey Klak, LHP from Western Branch HS (Chesapeake).  VA Cardinals for summer 2015, written up during WWBA 17u tourney.  Also committed to ODU.
  • Banks Northington, 1B/OF from Charlottesville HS, playing for Chandler World at WWBA 17u.
  • Bryce Runey, C from Riverbend HS in Spotsylvania, VA.  At WWBA 2015 with Evoshield.  Committed to Mary Washington per PG.
  • Harry Brown, C/1B, 3B from Greenbrier Christian Academy in Virginia Beach, VA.  WWBA 2015 with Richmond Braves, committed to Liberty.
  • Andre Lipcius & Luc Lipcius: from Lafayette HS in Williamsburg, VA.  Early commits to Tennessee, WWBA 2015 with Richmond Braves.
  • Kyle Battle, Glen Allen OF, early commit to ODU.  In Richmond Times/Dispatch’s 2016 pre-season watch list.

I suspect more than a few of these guys will get drafted and forgo college, but if not, here’s a quick look at the commits by college (with the caveat that lots of these are “very early” and probably change).  I’ve got the college in rough order of their national significance.

  • Florida State: Sorokowski
  • South Carolina: Rizzo
  • LSU: Hess
  • UVA: Whitten, Murdock, Richardson, Nicholson, Harrison
  • ECU: Agnos
  • Coastal Carolina: Vazquez, Johel, Bjorlo, Remalia
  • UMaryland: Blohm, Zoellner
  • NC State: Bienlien
  • VCU: Moore
  • Duke: Mervis
  • Wake Forest: Bach
  • Tennessee: Stallings, Lipcius, Lipcius
  • Boston College: Cunningham
  • Notre Dame: Neville
  • Liberty: Lee, Brown
  • ODU: Pasquantino, Klak, Battle
  • George Mason: Felitti, Callahan, DiCesare, Driscoll
  • William & Mary: Smith
  • BYU: Favero, Nielsen
  • Radford: Alderman
  • Randolph-Macon: Nickles
  • Mary Washington: Runey
  • JMU: Sears
  • Yale: Ager
  • Swathmore: Schauer
  • Florence-Darlington Technical College: Strong
  • Undecided/Unknown: Norwood, Quiceno, Fitzgerald, Movizzo, Northington

 


Sources used to kick off this post (which I started the day after the 2015 draft and update through out the 2015 spring awards season and the 2015 summer baseball showcase season):

National pre-season lists

  • USAToday Pre-Season Prep all Americans 2016: nobody local but a huge number of names you’re going to hear in the 1st round in June.

2015/16 National tourneys/Showcase events:

Local Baseball links

 

 

2016 DC/MD/VA High School Preview

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Welcome to the 2016 High School Baseball season!  According to my handy 2016 baseball calendar (which has separate tabs for Amateur, off-season and in-season dates) here’s a quick guide to some key high school baseball dates (both local and national):

  • 3/14/2016: First official VHSL baseball game of the season
  • 3/21/2016: First official MPSSAA baseball game of the season
  • 3/21/2016: First official DCIAA baseball game of the season
  • 5/13/2016 – 5/18/2016: MPSSAA Sectionals (qtrs, semis, finals)
  • 5/20/2016: MPSSAA Regional Finals
  • 5/12/2016 – 5/20/2016: VHSL Conference Tournaments
  • 5/19/2016 – 5/25/2016: DCIAA Playoffs
  • 5/24/2016: MPSSAA State Semi-Finals
  • 5/25/2016 – 6/3/2016: VHSL Regional Tournaments
  • 5/27/2016 – 5/28/2016: MPSSAA State Finals Weekend
  • 6/10/2016 – 6/13/2016: VHSL State Tournaments

(VHSL = Virginia High School League, covering Virginia public high schools.  MPSSAA = Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, covering Maryland public high schools.  DCIAA = District of Columbia Interscholastic Athletic Association).

Local Baseball Preview Links

Local and National High School Baseball Ranking Lists:

  • Washington Post All Met Sports: pre-season top 10: Madison, Spalding, Gaithersburg, St. Johns, Battlefield; might be a bit low for Battlefield..
  • Baltimore Sun Pre-season top 15: Archbishop Spalding (last  year’s #1) is #1 again, followed by Calvert Hall, Severna Park, Mount Hebron and St. Marys.
  • The Virginian Pilot Pre-Season top-10 for Hampton Roads area: Hickory, Grassfield, Western Branch, Greenbrier christian and First colonial lead the way of annual powers in the Tidewater area.
  • Richmond times-Dispatch Pre-season top 5: perennial power Hanover, Lee-Davis, Deep Run, Glen Allen, Collegiate.
  • Baseball America’s 1st 2016 National High School Rankings 3/9/16: defending 6-A champ Madison (Vienna) ranked #17.
  • USA Today High School top 25: already in their 2nd week of doing rankings as of 3/16/16: no local teams ranked.
  • MaxPreps “Excellent 25” ranking for 3/14/16: Madison listed all the way up at #11.

Major Newspaper Links/Resources for following prep baseball around the state

Local Newspaper Coverage, including links to many local papers covering smaller jurisdictions.

Non-newspaper Links for Local and National Prep Baseball Coverage

Good Twitter accounts to follow: i’ll freely admit i am not “good” at twitter, but here’s some good twitter links:

  • https://twitter.com/PBRVirginiaDC: Prep Baseball Report VA/DC coverage
  • https://twitter.com/NVBaseballMag: NoVa Baseball Magazine
  • https://twitter.com/NoVAHSBB
  • https://twitter.com/DynamicBaseball

 

 

 

Written by Todd Boss

March 25th, 2016 at 7:46 am

Posted in Local Baseball

Tagged with ,

Ladson Inbox 3/22/16

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Michael Taylor has been lighting it up this spring. Photo via wp

Michael Taylor has been lighting it up this spring. Photo via wp

Bill Ladson‘s inboxes seem to now just be sporadic Spring Training devices.  I should do more post-Boswell chat reaction posts to drum up conversation.  Nonetheless, here’s Ladson’s latest mailbag and how i’d have answered the questions he took.

Q: Former Nationals general manager Jim Bowden believes Michael Taylor should be the starting left fielder over Jayson Werth. What is your take on it?

A: My take is, “thats why Jim Bowden isn’t a GM anymore.”  Or even a manager.  Yes Michael Taylor has had a great spring.  He also struck out, a lot, in 2015, (158 Ks in 511 PAs for a nifty 31% clip) and (per his splits) didn’t really improve much as the season progressed.   Meanwhile Jayson Werth put up very, very good numbers in 2013 and 2014, the two most recent seasons when he wasn’t hurt.  In both of those seasons he put up oWAR of 4.7 (his total bWAR figures being drug down by his idiot manager continuing to play him in RF instead of left).

Of course, Werth isn’t getting any younger.  There’s not guarantee that he hasn’t fallen off a cliff of performance.

So what’s the answer?  You let Werth play his way to the bench.  The odds are that someone’s getting hurt in our OF and Taylor is going to get 400-500 ABs anyway.  So he’s gonna get playing time.  But there’s just no way that Dusty Baker the “veteran’s manager” is going to sit a long-time vet and team leader by virtue of a few weeks of Florida ABs.  It may take half a season of under-performance, but eventually these things sort themselves out.  This is basically what Ladson said too.

Q: What do you think is Baker’s toughest decision before heading north?

A: What socks to wear on opening day?  Honestly, there’s really very little to decide upon with this team.  They’ve had a very injury-free spring.  The rotation was basically settled upon months ago.  The trades that Mike Rizzo made to solidify the roster also had the effect of basically locking up the roster going north.  Maybe there will be a surprise in the bullpen but that seems unlikely too; the team acquired all these guys for a reason and it wasn’t to compete for a bullpen slot.

The obvious answer prior to spring training was “who starts at Shortstop” but I’ve never thought there was any question that Danny Espinosa will be the starter.  That’s not to say I don’t recognize the potential of Trea Turner (he’s not a top 10-15 prospect on most pundits’ sheets for nothing), but returning to a theme, I just had a hard time thinking that a manager like Baker was going to go with a guy with 5 weeks of service time over a guy with nearly 5 years.  As with Taylor/Werth though, this situation likely sorts itself out.  If Espinosa hits .200 for April, then he’ll switch places with Stephen Drew and the team will start thinking hard about bringing back up Turner (especially if he’s hitting .320 in AAA).

I think there’s still some question at the edge of the bench; do you go with who I think they’ll go with (Tyler Moore and Clint Robinson) or do we get a surprise DFA so they can stick with someone like Matt den DekkerLadson also says its the last bench spot, where Moore is the incumbent but a number of guys could stick based on spring performance, specifically Scott Sizemore, who might be a bit more positionally flexible than Moore.

Q: What is your biggest concern about the Nationals?

A: Bullpen.  We’ve talked about how the Nats, despite all their injuries on offense last year, really struggled in terms of run prevention as the core reason they went from 96 to 83 wins.  Now they’re rolling out nearly a 100% changed bullpen from opening day last year.  How will it perform?  Will it be able to hold down the fort?

We also likely are taking a step back in the rotation, unless Strasburg remembers his September form and brings that from day one.  But, we hopefully counter this with a step forward in offense, with healthy seasons from Anthony Rendon and the veterans.  Ladson also says Bullpen.

Q: Who do you see having a breakout year in the Nationals’ farm system?

A: Well, do you count Giolito at this point?  Probably not.  I’m going to go with the prospects who are getting publicity but who are still in the lower minors.  Guys like Victor Robles, Anderson Franco.  I’d like to see what Max Schrock can do.  I’m excited to see what Taylor Hearn can bring to the table with a full season.  The two Lees: Andrew Lee and Nick LeeLadson mentions Severino; meh; i think we know what we have with Severino by now; great catcher, no hit, #8 hitter in the majors.  I think you see this team let both Ramos and Lobaton go this coming off-season and find a new starter with Severino as the backup.  But that’s a year away so lots could change.

Q: Should the Nationals consider trading Stephen Strasburg before the non-waiver Trade Deadline since it seems he has no interest in returning to Washington next year?

A: Nope.  You try to WIN when you have guys like Strasburg, not flip them away like you’re some small market team stashing away prospects for the future.  This isn’t Tampa Bay; this is the #5 market in the nation.  Besides, who said Strasburg has “no interest” in returning to Washington??  I’ve never read that.  His agent is Scott Boras, who always advises going to free agency, and next year’s FA class is weak, meaning Strasburg will probably get into a bidding war for his services.  Its the modern game; he’ll be overpaid, he’ll get too many years, and he’ll likely get priced out of the comfort level of Ted Lerner and company.  But that’s not the same as implying that Strasburg doesn’t want to be playing in Washington.  Would you give Strasburg 8yrs/$200M?  Because that’s the going rate for an Ace-quality guy like him on the market.  Ladson agrees.

Q: What do you think of Blake Treinen? Is he a starter or reliever?

A: I think  he’s a starter at heart but a reliever in reality.  That is unless he can actually develop a 50-55 grade third pitch that he can reliably get lefties out with.  If that’s the case, then he could become a very effective starter.  And it does seem like the Nationals are thinking the same thing.  He’s definitely pitching this spring like he’s a starter; perhaps the team is thinking about Treinen as the longer guy instead of PetitLadson says he’s showing progress and his spring stats are good; is he the 6th starter over A.J. Cole or Austin Voth at this point?  If someone goes down with injury, are you trying out Trienen or are you calling up the kid Giolito?

 

How about something positive? Are you optimistic for the new season?

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How much of an effect will Murphy have on this team? Photo via bleacherreport.com

How much of an effect will Murphy have on this team? Photo via bleacherreport.com

So, I happened to look at the Spring Training standings the other day.  I normally don’t ever bother looking at spring training stats since, well, they’re useless.  But day after day, reading the summaries of our beat reporters, it just seems like the team wins every day.   As of this writing the team is 12-4-2 this spring, and more telling it seems like they’re also routinely winning the “first three innings” when both teams are at their best lineups.

The other day the team bombed the Mets, hanging 8 runs on Bartolo Colon.  Earlier this week they battered Wei-Yin Chen en route to a victory over Miami.  They put 3 runs on the Astros’ Collin McHugh, and then tee’d off on a few of the Braves younger starters.  Today Harper bombed two homers off of Justin Verlander, who I guarantee was trying to get him out on purpose.  The second one *cleared the batter’s eye* in center, 420 feet away and 30 feet up.  Wow; that’s a man’s homer.

Quietly, this team seems to be flourishing under new manager Dusty Baker.  Everyone’s healthy (well, except for Ryan Zimmerman‘s foot, but I guess you can’t get everything you want).   Baker has been showing his hand and putting out very professional looking lineups.  We’re not hearing about a slew of guys who aren’t going to be ready for opening day like we did last  year.  We’re reading gushing reports about Lucas Giolito, including more than one baseball analyst being quoted as saying Giolito has the best stuff they’ve seen this spring … out of anyone in the game.  They’re saying he’s this year’s Noah Snydergaard, a difference making ace who should be in the rotation by June.

Looking at the beginning of the season’s schedule, this team could jump out to a pretty fast start.   Their first 22 games are entirely against teams that are all threatening to lose 95 games this year: Atlanta, Miami, back against Atlanta, at Philly, at Miami, home to Minnesota and then three more against Philly.  That’s 22 straight games that, honestly, they should be looking to win.  At the end of April heading into May they have a heck of a road trip; at St. Louis, then at the defending WS champion Royals, then at potentially 100-game winning Chicago Cubs.  Oof; if they take 3 games out of 9 on that road trip i’ll be happy.

But heck; could this team start something crazy like 16-6?  Could this team really take it to the Mets?  I don’t have any stats or anything other than a gut feeling, but it really seems to me that NOT being the presumptive favorite and having a veteran players manager has really taken off the pressure.

Are you feeling the same thing?

 

Written by Todd Boss

March 21st, 2016 at 7:41 am

Adam LaRoche, Ken Williams and an ugly situation

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LaRoche in happier times. Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images

LaRoche in happier times. Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images

By now I think we’ve all seen the Adam LaRoche story.  Short version: Chicago president Kenny Williams asked LaRoche to not have his kid at the clubhouse every day and LaRoche retired instead of agreeing to Williams’ terms.

Is there more to this story?  Oooh yeah.  Read this deadspin.com piece, which has a ton of tweets from MLB reporters Jeff Passan and Ken Rosenthal (basically two of the most respected and connected guys covering the game today, in case you doubt a story at deadspin).  My take-aways:

  • LaRoche had it IN HIS CONTRACT that he could bring his kid to the ballpark every day.
  • The kid had his own frigging locker and (as he did in Washington) did “clubhouse attendant” stuff to earn his keep.
  • The players supported LaRoche, except for some apparent unnamed anonymous players who allegedly complained to Williams as reported in this link.
  • Except that those un-named players apparently were too afraid to voice their opinion as the team threatened to boycott games the next day.
  • The players, the GM and the Manager all disagreed with the decision.
  • As is noted in the deadspin piece, reports from the meeting the players had with the President were perhaps the most angry I’ve ever read of a team being with its management.  Its not every day where a player like Chris Sale tells his boss’ boss’ boss  to “get the f*ck out of the clubhouse and don’t come back.”

My take?

I think Williams continued a sh*tty tradition of tone-deaf management out of the Chicago White Sox, whose owner Jerry Reinsdorf was the leading voice in pushing for limiting amateur bonuses in the last CBA in order to save a buck.  LaRoche hit .217 last year and was owed $13M this year: if LaRoche hit .290 with 30 homers last year do you still think Williams would have done what he did?

You may say (as others like noted “get off my lawn” dinosaur Bob Nightengale) something like “who else gets to take their kid to work every day?”  And you’d be right … except that nobody reading this works for a major league baseball club.  How often have you heard players say that “its different” being in a clubhouse than being in an office?  Do you agree?  I do; this isn’t a normal work place. MLB teams already HAVE kids around every day; they’re called bat boys.  So what’s the real difference here?   Its ok for a bat boy to be with the team for 6 straight months but not ok for a player’s son?  These aren’t “workers” as much as they’re “entertainers” and the concept of a “workplace” isn’t exactly the same.  The Nats built a day care center so their wives and kids could come to the games, and that’s good business.

Furthermore, there’s this: these guys constantly talk about being “a family” when talking about the team chemistry.  That’s because they basically spend 10-12 hours a day for 7 straight months together.  Working together, living together, showering together, traveling together and eating together.   Is it that big of a stretch to hear about people’s kids being at the games?  How many times have you read about kids being at ball parks in your life?  A hundred?  More?

The timing of this is also ridiculous; leave out for a moment that LaRoche’s contract stated he could bring his kid to the clubhouse (the kid had his OWN LOCKER!) and leaving out the point that LaRoche is a union guy (can you say player grievance coming?).  Why would Williams choose to have this fight 4 weeks into spring training?  If it was really that big of a deal, why not address it in the off-season?  I mean, can you imagine being a White Sox fan right now?  How does this situation make the White Sox better, in any conceivable way, for the season that starts in two weeks?  Now you have a near player mutiny, a popular veteran quitting out of principle, and you probably have more than a few players demanding to be traded.  Great way to prepare for the season!

If I’m the owner of the White Sox I fire Williams today and beg LaRoche to come back; its the only way he has a shot of salvaging the 2016 season.  I mean, the goal of the game is to win, and for me the only way to “fix” the massive clubhouse issue they’ve needlessly introduced is to get rid of the guy who caused it.   Of course, maybe he doesn’t give a sh*t;  his season tickets are sold and he’s raking in Chicago RSN money irrespective of whether his team wins 90 games or loses 90.  Welcome to modern baseball ownership, where tanking is a-OK, nobody has to show their books and billionaire owners keep making more and more money every year.

Good times ahead on the South Side!

Written by Todd Boss

March 18th, 2016 at 9:47 am