Nationals Arm Race

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

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

12 comments

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

16 comments

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.

 

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
  • 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
  • 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

10 comments

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

12 comments

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?

16 comments

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

16 comments

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

2016 MLB Rotation Rankings 1-30

57 comments

The best pitcher on the best rotation in the league. Photo: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The best pitcher on the best rotation in the league. Photo: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

I’m returning to a fun post that I did in 2013 and again in 2014 (but couldn’t find the time to do while switching jobs in 2015): Ranking the MLB rotations 1-30 ahead of the new season.  I normally wait to do this post until all the significant starter free agents have signed; when Yovani Gallardo signed, he was the final QO-attached starter who might make a difference in a team’s ranking, so it was time to publish.

This is not a scientific analysis necessarily; i’m not looking at PECOTA or ZIPS to project war to do my rankings.  Rather, this is an eye test of the guys projected to pitch 1-5 for each team in the coming season.  So feel free to disagree.  For what its worth, I am pretty confident in my top 10 and my bottom 5 rotations … but am not exactly going to argue vehemently that the rotation i’ve got ranked 22nd is appreciably better than the one I have ranked 24th.

At the bottom i’ve put links to other pundit’s rankings, which are similar but different.

As always, I show my work; here’s the rotation ranks worksheet that I use to track rotation players.  As an added bonus to what is shown below, the worksheet color codes new acquisitions, puts in “depth” for each team and tracks who the team lost from last  year.  it also has a list of as-of-yet-unsigned hurlers, though none would move the needle if/when they sign for 2016.

I’ll put these into sections and put in comments as we go.

Team Rank Projected 2016 Rotation 1-5
New York Mets 1 Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Bartolo Colon
St. Louis 2 Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, Jaime Garcia, Mike Leake
San Francisco 3 Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Matt Cain, Jake Peavy
Cleveland 4 Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer, Cody Anderson
Washington 5 Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Joe Ross, Gio Gonzalez, Tanner Roark

Discussion 1-5: My top 5 is pretty similar to other people’s top 5 rotations.  I don’t think anyone would argue against the Mets being at #1; if Zack Wheeler comes back healthy he can replace either the ageless Colon or the oft-injured Matz and perhaps even improve what is clearly the class of the league.  I have St. Louis #2 since everyone seems to forget just how good they were last  year; yes they lose Lynn but they gain back Wainwright.

I could see why people could argue against having both San Francisco and Cleveland higher than Washington, and indeed over the course of the winter I had Washington above both.  But I’m convinced that both of SF’s new acquisitions Cueto and Samardzija will completely thrive playing in the NL West, and you can do worse than Cain/Peavy as your 4/5.   They have some depth in case those two veterans get hurt and I see SF as a sneaky NL West challenger in 2016.

Cleveland you say?  Kluber is a former Cy Young winner who hasn’t forgotten how to pitch, Carrasco and Salazar are two of the best young arms in the league (I’m seeing Carrasco in particular going very high in fantasy ADP rankings for 2016), and their 4/5 are comparable to Washington’s back end.  If you wanted to argue that man for man Washington was just ahead of Cleveland i wouldn’t disagree; i’ve been burned over-ranking DC’s rotation in the past so perhaps I was gun shy this time around.

Team Rank Projected 2016 Rotation 1-5
Chicago Cubs 6 Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jason Hammel, Kyle Hendricks
Arizona 7 Zack Greinke, Shelby Miller, Patrick Corbin (TJ), Robbie Ray, Rubby De La Rosa
Los Angeles Dodgers 8 Clayton Kershaw, Scott Kazmir, Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda, Mike Bolsinger
Seattle 9 Felix Hernandez, Taijuan Walker, Hisashi Iwakuma, Nate Karns, Wade Miley
Chicago White Sox 10 Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Carlos Rodon, John Danks, Erik Johnson

Discussion 6-10: So, is Washington > than the Cubs?  I think so: I don’t view Lester as a real #2 any more, Lackey is approaching retirement and their 4/5 are basically 5th starters easily found on the waiver wire; i’d take the Nats’ 3-4-5 over the Cubs any day.  Still, Arrieta‘s 2nd half was legendary and it is possible that Lackey puts up a 3-win season, so they’re still quite good.  Both Arizona and the Dodgers are propped up by virtue of their Aces; the back side of both rotations looks downright scary.  In fact, you can say the same for Seattle and the White Sox too; all four of these teams have league-wide top end Aces and then 5th starters who seem like they could be replaced by someone in AAA.  That’s really the difference between these teams and the top 5 ranked teams; its the back of the rotations, not so much the front.

I could be slightly wrong about Seattle’s depth; if Iwakuma is really hurt and if Felix‘s decline phase has really started, then Seattle’s a notch down.  If Rodon takes the step forward that he can, then the White Sox can really become a force of a rotation quickly.

Team Rank Projected 2016 Rotation 1-5
Pittsburgh 11 Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, Jeff Locke, Jon Niese, Ryan Vogelsong
Houston 12 Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Lance McCullers, Mike Fiers, Scott Feldman
Boston 13 David Price, Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez, Roenis Elias
Tampa Bay 14 Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Erasmo Ramirez, Drew Smyly, Matt Moore
Detroit 15 Justin Verlander, Jordan Zimmermann, Anibal Sanchez, Daniel Norris, Mike Pelfrey

Discussion 11-15: So again looking at edge cases, I have the likes of Seattle and Chicago > Pittsburgh based on the strength (or lack there of) of the back-end of Pittsburgh’s rotation; NieseVogelsong??  Really?  I just have a hard time believing that Pittsburgh is going to reach 90 wins with this 2016 rotation.  Houston is one Cy Young winner and four guys who look like 4-A replacements.  I like the Price signing … but Price is not exactly Kershaw-esque when it comes to putting up constant shut-down performances; Price gets just lit up some times.  Last year he had outings where he gave up 10 hits/8 runs in 2+ innings and a 13-hit 6 1/3 outing.  75% QS rate, which sounds good but isn’t in the 82-85% range like Kershaw and Arrieta.  My point is this: Price goes to the AL East, to pitching in a hitters park, and he can take some big numbers.  The rest of Boston’s rotation is weak too; would you trust Buchholz at this point?  Porcello is their #3 and he’d be in the Syracuse if he played for us.

In fact, Maybe I have Tampa and Detroit too low; Tampa in particular could be a monster if Moore comes back strong and Archer is as good as he could be.  If Verlander can capture his 2nd half form … then Detroit could take a big step up too.

Team Rank Projected 2016 Rotation 1-5
Texas 16 Yu Darvish (TJ), Cole Hamels, Derek Holland, Martin Perez, Nick Martinez
Miami 17 Jose Fernandez, Wei-Yin Chen, Jared Cosart, Tom Koehler, Adam Conley
Kansas City 18 Yordano Ventura, Edinson Volquez, Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Chris Young, Kris Medlen
Los Angeles Angels 19 Garrett Richards, Jered Weaver, Andrew Heaney, Matt Shoemaker, ?
New York Yankees 20 Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, Ivan Nova

Discussion 16-20: Texas is an interesting one; Darvish won’t be ready for opening day, but if he comes back this ranking could rise.  Likewise, I might have Miami too low considering that Fernandez is one of the top pitchers in the game; i just don’t trust the rest of their rotation, and the Chen signing made zero sense for a team that can’t seem to decide if they’re trying to win or not.  The strength of Kansas City’s pitching staff isn’t their starters; its the bullpen (best in the league along with the  Yankees), and the Kennedy signing seemed to make no sense.  Thanks to two early ST injuries, I literally have no idea who the Angels 5th starter is going to be now … perhaps they should now be lower.  Lastly you have the Yankees: every guy in their rotation seems like a huge question mark; Tanaka has a torn UCL, Sabathia is a shell of who he once was, Pineda had a shoulder injury that cost him all of 2012 and half of the next two seasons, Nova just came off of Tommy John surgery, and Eovaldi (himself on his 2nd elbow ligament) can’t find the plate.  If these guys are ranked 20th … imagine what’s coming below.

Team Rank Projected 2016 Rotation 1-5
San Diego 21 James Shields, Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, Robbie Erlin, Colin Rea
Toronto 22 Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada, R.A. Dickey, J.A. Happ, Drew Hutchison
Oakland 23 Sonny Gray, Jesse Hahn, Chris Bassitt, Kendall Graveman, Rich Hill
Baltimore 24 Ubaldo Jimenez, Chris Tillman, Yovani Gallardo, Miguel Gonzalez, Kevin Gausman
Atlanta 25 Julio Teheran, Matt Wisler, Manny Banuelos, Bud Norris, Williams Perez

Discussion 21-25: As with all the edge cases, perhaps you can squint at San Diego and say they could be ranked higher.  Perhaps; but take any of those 5 guys at this point and put them in a hitter’s park and they’re not half as good.  I like Stroman (former Nats draft pick!) but the rest of the Toronto rotation looks like guys who are just holding on.  I’m not sure even Oakland’s management knows who some of their rotation candidates are.

I might be selling Baltimore a bit short; I’ve just never been convinced that Jimenez can repeat his earlier glory, and Baltimore’s notoriously awful coaching staff has seemingly ruined yet another young vibrant arm in GausmanAtlanta’s rotation may not look that great right now, especially considering that they’re purposely tanking in 2016 … but they have a couple of sleeper potentials and their prospect depth (including two high end hurlers in Michael Foltynewicz and Aaron Blair) put them above the bottom 5.

Team Rank Projected 2016 Rotation 1-5
Philadelphia 26 Aaron Nola, Jeremy Hellickson, Charlie Morton, Vincent Velasquez, Brett Oberholtzer
Cincinnati 27 Anthony DeSclafani, Michael Lorenzen, Raisel Iglesias, Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb
Minnesota 28 Phil Hughes, Ervin Santana, Ricky Nolasco, Kyle Gibson, Tommy Milone
Milwaukee 29 Matt Garza, Wily Peralta, Jimmy Nelson, Taylor Jungmann, Zach Davies
Colorado 30 Jorge De La Rosa, Chad Bettis, Jordan Lyles, Jon Grey, Tyler Chatwood

Discussion 26-30: The bottom 5 rotations feature two teams clearly tanking (Philly and Cincy) who are throwing out mostly kids and 4-A one-year acquisitions.  Its telling that these two rotations are better than the bottom 3 rotations, each of which belongs to a team that just seems to have no idea how to build a modern rotation.  Minnesota has for  years favored soft-tossers and not pursued high-end arms and now they have a relatively highly paid rotation of guys who, well, are not effective.  Milwaukee is in the same boat, having shelled out money for Garza just to watch him implode.

Lastly we come to Colorado, who still is searching for a strategy upon which to build a rotation.  The latest seems to be to pursue high velocity fastball guys who can just throw their ball through the light air and fool hitters.  But they’re not there yet and their Ace for 2016 is a 35yr old with a career 4.55 ERA.  Its not looking pretty in Colorado for 2016 and the fact that they havn’t sold off all their quality outfielders for parts speaks to the incompetence and indecision of their front office.   You’re not going to win in 2016; you’re in a division with the Dodgers, Giants and Diamondbacks, all of which spent big (either last off-season or before) and are putting out quality lineups.

—-

Some other pundit’s rotation ranks for 2016 for comparison purposes.

http://espn.go.com/blog/buster-olney/insider/post?id=12054
http://www.sbnation.com/mlb/2016/1/12/10755692/baseball-rotation-rankings-mlb
All 30 MLB teams' starting rotations, ranked
http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/164500586/top-10-pitching-staffs-major-league-baseball

 

2016 Draft Order Finalized: Nats impact

10 comments

One additional consequence of the final Qualifying Offer-attached free agent coming off the board (Ian Desmond) is the finalization of the top of the 2016 Rule 4 (aka Amateur) draft.

Baseball America has the final order here, along with bonus pools.   I had been keeping a working draft order myself where I kept track of the original positions and how much everyone’s picks “moved up” with all the lost picks.  That XLS can be found here in Google Docs.

Here’s the first round and the compensation pick rounds:

Orig First Round Updated First Round Team Notes
1 1 Philadelphia Phillies 1st 10 picks protected
2 2 Cincinnati Reds 1st 10 picks protected
3 3 Atlanta Braves 1st 10 picks protected
4 4 Colorado Rockies 1st 10 picks protected
5 5 Milwaukee Brewers 1st 10 picks protected
6 6 Oakland Athletics 1st 10 picks protected
7 7 Miami Marlins 1st 10 picks protected
8 8 San Diego Padres 1st 10 picks protected
9 9 Detroit Tigers 1st 10 picks protected
10 10 Chicago White Sox 1st 10 picks protected
11 11 Seattle Mariners
12 12 Boston Red Sox
13 Arizona Diamondbacks Lost for signing Zack Greinke
14 13 Tampa Bay Rays
15 Baltimore Orioles Lost for siging Yovanni Gallardo
16 14 Cleveland Indians
17 15 Minnesota Twins
18 Washington Nationals Lost for signing Daniel Murphy
19 San Francisco Giants Lost for signing Jeff Samardzija
20 16 Los Angeles Angels
21 17 Houston Astros
22 18 New York Yankees
23 Texas Rangers Lost for signing Ian Desmond
24 19 New York Mets
25 20 Los Angeles Dodgers
26 21 Toronto Blue Jays
27 Kansas City Royals Lost for signing Ian Kennedy
28 Chicago Cubs Lost for signing John Lackey
29 22 Pittsburgh Pirates
30 23 St. Louis Cardinals
QO Round QO Compensation Round
31 24 San Diego Padres confirmed for Justin Upton; costs Detroit 3rd round pick
32 25 San Diego Padres confirmed for Ian Kennedy: costs Kansas City 1st round pick
33 26 Chicago White Sox confirmed for Jeff Samardzija: costs San Francisco 1st round pick
34 Seattle Mariners Would have been comp for Hisashi Iwakuma; Cancelled contract with LAD, re-signed w/ Seattle
35 27 Baltimore Orioles confirmed for Wei-Yin Chen: costs Miami 2nd round pick
36 Baltimore Orioles would have been comp for Chris Davis: re-signed, no compensation pick
37 Baltimore Orioles would have been comp for Matt Wieters: took QO, no compensation pick
38 28 Washington Nationals confirmed for Ian Desmond: costs Texas 1st round pick
39 29 Washington Nationals confirmed for Jordan Zimmermann: costs Detroit 2nd round pick
40 Houston Astros would have been comp for Colby Rasmus: took QO, no compensation pick
41 30 Texas Rangers confirmed for Yovani Gallardo: Costs Baltimore 1st round pick
42 31 New York Mets confirmed for Daniel Murphy: costs Washington 1st round pick
43 32 Los Angeles Dodgers confirmed for Zack Greinke: costs Arizona 1st round pick
44 Los Angeles Dodgers Would have been comp for Howie Kendrick: re-signed, no compensation pick
45 Los Angeles Dodgers Would have been comp for Brett Anderson: took QO, no compensation pick
46 Toronto Blue Jays Would have been comp for Marco Estrada: re-signed, no compensation pick
47 Kansas City Royals Would have been comp for Alex Gordon: re-signed, no compensation pick
48 Chicago Cubs Would have been comp for Dexter Fowler: re-signed, no compensation pick
49 33 St. Louis Cardinals confirmed for John Lackey: costs Cubs 1st Round Pick
50 34 St. Louis Cardinals confirmed for Jason Heyward: costs Cubs 2nd Round Pick

There’s additional movement in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, but most of the key moves were in the top 50 picks.

Nationals Impact:

  • We gave up what was originally the 18th overall pick and what would eventually be the 16th overall 1st round pick to sign Daniel Murphy.  Arguable whether that was worth the signing; not the point of this post.
  • The Nats now have the 28th and 29th overall picks in the draft as compensation for the loss of Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond.  Those picks have moved up fully 10 slots thanks to forfeited picks above them.
  • The Nats 2nd round pick is now 58th overall, up from 76th overall when the draft board first was published.
  • The Nats 3rd round pick is now 94th overall, up fully 20 slots from its original spot.
  • The Nats 4th round pick is 124th overall, and subsequent picks will be that slot number plus 30 for each round.  So 124th, 154th, 184th, etc.

So, despite giving up our first rounder the team has three picks in the first 58 spots.  Not too bad.

Who has interesting looking drafts coming up?

  • Cincinnati has the most bonus money, just slightly more than Philadelphia, thanks to getting an additional Competitive Balance pick at the end of the 1st round.  So Cincinnati drafts #2, #35, #43 and #79.
  • San Diego gets the #8, #24, #25, #48 and #71 picks thanks to QO compensation and competitive balance picks.
  • Atlanta gets #3, #40 and #44 overall and has the 4th largest bonus pool.  In a draft like this is shaping up to be (top heavy but no clear cut #1), this could be a pretty good spot to be in; not having to blow extra dollars on a 1-1 pick but still getting a 1-1 quality player.
  • the Los Angeles Dodgers somehow keep a ton of good picks; drafting now #20th, #32 and #36 overall.  And it could have been even better had they gotten two more QO comp picks.
  • Chicago Cubs; on the other end of the spectrum, the Cubs have gone completely all-in, forfeiting their 1st rounder, their comp pick and their 2nd rounder in FA signings. They have just $2.245M in bonus money, or less than the Nats gave Erick Fedde.
  • Close to them is Detroit, who keeps their protected 1st rounder but blow their 2nd and 3rd rounders; so they draft 9th overall … and then not again until #115.

 

 

 

Written by Todd Boss

March 2nd, 2016 at 3:45 pm

Qualifying Offers; Are they Working (updated for 2016)

10 comments

Desmond gets a Q.O. ... and gets screwed. Photo Drew Kinback/Natsnq.com

Desmond got a Q.O. … and gets screwed. Photo Drew Kinback/Natsnq.com

When former Nat Ian Desmond signed, he became the final Qualifying Offer-attached player to come off the Free Agency board for the pre-2016 season.  So its time to publish our recurring “Are Qualifying Offers working” post.  We first visited this topic ahead of the 2014 season and again prior to the 2015 season.

I don’t think i’m “burying the lede” by saying that, No, Qualifying Offers are not working (at least as far as the players are concerned).  But lets look at the results of this past off-season’s free agents with compensatory draft pick attachments and do some analysis (fyi, from here on out “Qualifying Offer” will be abbreviated QO):

Here’s my QO Worksheet in Google Docs, which tracks all the QO-offered candidates going back to 2012 and is the basis of a lot of this analysis.

Here’s some summary stats for this year’s QO candidates:

  • 20 Free Agents were offered QOs heading into this past off-season.  That’s a significantly higher number than in any of the year’s past (9 after the 2012 season, 13 after 2013 and 12 after 2014)
  • 3 Took the QO to remain with their original team (Brett Anderson, Colby Rasmus and Matt Wieters).  This represents the first time that anyone has actually taken a QO and, frankly, was something I never though we’d see.  The players union has convinced players to not act rationally to such an extent that I was sure that there was an unstated agreement to never take a QO.   After all was said and done though, I’m sure there’s probably 4-5 more players who probably wish they HAD taken the QO.  As it stands, Anderson, Rasmus and Wieters all get huge raises and nice healthy “pillow contracts” to re-establish value for the following off-season.
  • 3 more eventually Re-Signed with their QO-offering team (Chris Davis, Marco Estrada and Alex Gordon).  I’d only qualify one of these three as really being a significant re-signing; Estrada’s 2015 salary was $3.9M and he declined a $15.8M QO.  I guess you could argue that Gordon’s market was depressed by the QO … but I also think he was reticent to “leave home” and leave a team at the top of the game.
  • 9 guys who got paid just as they would have anyway; 5 of which got many millions more in AAV than their walk year contract.  But these are also the marquee FAs of this past off-season, so QOs were meaningless in the equation.  We’re talking about Zack Greinke (6/$205M), Chris Davis (7/$161M), Jason Heyward (8yr/$184M), Justin Upton (6/$132M) and Jordan Zimmermann (5yr/$110M).
  • 8 of the 20 players who ended up taking LESS in AAV with their new contract.   Now, two of these players (Estrada and Ian Kennedy) may have taken less in AAV but both ended out well on the “plus side” of the free agent accounting; Estrada signed a 2yr/$26M deal (career earnings prior to this point: just over $10M) while Kennedy signed an astounding 5yr/$70M deal after completing a mediocre season in San Diego that had me personally predicting he may be still unsigned in June.  But the other Six?  Well they’re the QO system victims…
  • 6 Players who were clearly negatively affected by the QO and have a serious beef with the system.  Lets look at them one-by-one
    • Dexter Fowler: Walk year of $9.5M salary, after a media-misstep re-signs with his original club for 1yr/$8M with a $5M buyout (so $13M guaranteed) and a team-affordable option year for next year.  Now, you could argue that Fowler took a “home team discount” to stay with what everyone is calling the best team in the majors and I wouldn’t argue.  But Fowler was just the kind of mid-level veteran who frankly never should have declined the QO in the first place.
    • Yovani Gallardo: Walk year of $13M salary, a guy who just badly over-estimated his market after posting mediocre numbers in Texas.  Ends up with a sh*tty franchise (Baltimore) who hemmed and hawed with his medicals (as they’ve done in the past) and he ends up with just a 2yr/$22M contract.
    • Hisashi Iwakuma had a walk year of $7M and who probably wouldn’t be on this list were it not for his own medical issues causing the Dodgers to balk at a 3yr deal; he goes back to Seattle on a discounted 2yr/$20M deal.  I guess its arguable whether the QO really was affecting this guy; it didn’t seem like he wanted to even explore the market outside of a handful of west coast teams.
    • Howie Kendrick languished on the FA market until the end of January before decamping back for his old team, signing for just 2yrs/$20M.  Another guy who just never was going to be worth giving up a 1st rounder.
    • Daniel Murphy ended up taking $3.3M/year in AAV less than the QO value with Washington; it remains to be seen whether the Nats vastly over-paid for a poor defensive 2B whose value seems to be entirely propped up by a fantastic 2015 post-season.
    • Last, but not least, Ian Desmond who managed to leave more on the table (in terms of delta in his new contract AAV versus what he gave up in QO guaranteed salary) than ANY OTHER player in the history of the system.  His 1yr/$8M deal is 7.8M less than his QO; that’s more “lost money” than even Kendrys Morales, Nelson Cruz, or Stephen Drew left on the table … and a couple of these guys didn’t sign until May or June!  And this doesn’t even mention the 9-figure extension he turned down a couple years ago.

There have been plenty of lamenting pieces on Desmond in the last few days; i hope he’s not reading about how everyone is calling him a dummy for leaving $100M on the table between his spurned 7-year Washington deal and his declined QO.  He just got unlucky; he had an awful walk year, he fell squarely into the “mid-level veteran not worth giving up a draft pick” category, and he hit the off-season at a time when a huge number of teams are, to use a word, tanking.  Half the teams in the NL and a couple more in the AL are in positions where they’re not spending extra dollars in FA and are depending on in-house options for SS; combine that with those teams who already have quality short stops and you suddenly have a completely dried-up market for Desmond.  Take a quick peek at the RotoWorld depth charts for the NL and look at the guys who are slated to start … and then ask yourself if Desmond is a better option.

I still can’t quite figure out specifically why the White Sox didn’t sign him; who is their slated starter at short?  They had a protected 1st rounder and are not quitting on 2016, so instead of getting a quality guy like Desmond they’ve signed Jimmy Rollins as a MLFA/NRI and that’s who might be the starter?   The Mets are another obvious team that may be wishing they’d signed Desmond when it becomes more apparent that the guy they actually signed (Asdrubal Cabrera) can no longer play SS .. or hit for that matter.  Anyway…

I think Desmond has gotten pretty sh*tty representation, honestly.  He should have signed the extension and not held out for an Elvis Andrus contract that was never going to happen.  And he should have read the tea-leaves, seen how the market was looking, seen how teams are hoarding 1st round draft picks, seen how his .233 BA was going to hamper his market and just taken the QO to try for a bounce-back season.

There’s lots of people talking about the QO system and what to do with it; i’m guessing its going to be front and center in the next CBA.  But how do you compensate teams for losing FAs?  I don’t have a good option and I don’t think the “just sever ties between FA and the draft” is the answer either.  I guess we’ll see some creative solutions proposed as we get closer to the CBA negotiations.

Ladson Inbox 2/26/16

3 comments

Future $400M Dodger? Photo GQ magazine Mar 2012

Future $400M Dodger? Photo GQ magazine Mar 2012

I guess Bill Ladson only gets questions during spring training.  After not doing an inbox for practically all of last season, its 3 in 3 weeks!  Since these are such good conversation starters, lets see how I would have answered his questions.

Q: Most believe the Nats have no chance of keeping Bryce Harper once he becomes a free agent. Your thoughts? 

A: Unfortunately, I’m also in that camp.  I believe Bryce Harper and his aggressive agent Scott Boras will take him to free agency with the idea of getting the largest contract in history.  And, when push comes to shove, I just can’t see how Washington is going to have the stomach to compete with the big-money teams (namely, the Dodgers and Yankees) and commit the kind of dollars that he’s going to command.  Certainly not with the MASN hamstringing.  I mean, lets be honest with ourselves; its taken years just to get the two parties to agree on whether the Nats are going to get $34M (what the O’s want to pay), $53M (what the first arbitration panel apparently agreed upon) or $109M (what the Nats requested) on the first reset of the agreement.  Meanwhile the Dodgers are getting somewhere between $240M-$280M a year in their RSN deal … potentially FIVE TIMES what the Nats are getting paid.  I’m sorry; but the team that can afford to just throw money at players is the team that is going to be able to promise $40M/season.  There’s just no way even a “rich” team like Washington is going to compete.  Enjoy him while you can and hope the team does the smart thing and really, really tries to win a World Series while they still have him.  Ladson thinks the team is going to wait and will “try to extend him” before he hits free agency.  Yeah, right.  How many players Boras has represented have taken extensions versus going to free agency? 

Q: What are the chances that Ian Desmond returns to the Nationals this year?

A: Well, I think the chances seem like they’re nil.  The Nats made their offers (a multiyear extension AND a qualifier) and Desmond turned them both down.  I’m shocked that he’s the last man standing in the Qualifying Offer class (I would have bet money it would have been Ian Kennedy), and i’m shocked that he hasn’t found a job yet.

Now, that being said, a better question might be “Should the Nats think about bringing him back??”  You’ve just hired a player’s manager who likes veterans in Dusty Baker.  They’ve constructed their roster with a clear intention of sending future SS-in-waiting Trea Turner back to the minors for seasoning, meaning that Danny Espinosa seems like the starting shortstop (career BA: .230).  At this point, given the steal of an offer you might be able to get Desmond for (Fowler was given a gift of a contract from Chicago, guaranteeing $13M when he probably wasn’t going to get that in terms of AAV on the open market), maybe he’s worth considering.  Yes we’d be giving up the supp-1st rounder we stand to gain.  But you can just give him another QO next season if he rebounds and puts himself in line for another big pay day.  Or maybe you assume the next CBA (which will be signed sometime this year since the current deal expires 12/1/16) gets rid of the Q.O. entirely, since it is killing players and FA market values for certain types of players.  Actually this latter argument perhaps supports the Nats wanting to keep the pick, since it may very well go away (or perhaps the system is modified to just give all teams giving away significant FAs supplemental first rounders, not that I have any idea how you’d figure out who was deserving of a pick).  I think the team has made the decision that he’s on the decline, that they’ve dodged a huge bullet by him turning down 7yrs/$105 or whatever it was, and they’re ready to move on.

Ladson has sources in the Org that say its a “long long long shot.”  Baker says Espinosa looks like he’s in “mid-season form” at the plate (wow; does that mean he’s only striking out every OTHER time up and still hitting .230?)

Q: What do you think Baker will bring to the Nationals this year?

A: I think Dusty Baker brings harmony and respect to the clubhouse in ways it was clearly not present under Matt Williams.  No more arbitrary scheduling, lack of communication, lack of awareness of what’s going on with his players.  I’m a big advocate of hiring contrasting styles in managers when one guy clearly grinds his way to a failure, and Baker is a great example of it.  I was completely pro-Bud Black because of his pitching experience, but the team has more than made up for it with the hiring of Mike Maddox and we’re going to be a much better team for it.

Ladson mentions a very important word: Charisma.  Baker brings a ton of experience, charisma and humor to the clubhouse; again going towards one of the big, embarrassing issues from last year (clubhouse chemistry).

Q: Can you predict the Nationals’ rotation on Opening Day?

A: Barring injury, it has to be (in order) Scherzer, Strasburg, Gonzalez, Ross and Roark.  I’m not going to predict Arroyo beating out Roark at this point unless Arroyo looks completely healthy, he’s actually pitching well and Roark falls apart in Spring Training.  If there’s an injury, I look at Arroyo as the first man up, then Cole in terms of rotation coverage.  If we have to dig any deeper than that … watch out.  I like Voth but i’m not sure he’s ready for prime time.  I don’t trust Taylor Jordan any longer.  Lucas Giolito may start his career a ton earlier than anyone thought if injuries take out too many of our starters.

Ladson says its a no-brainer right now with the assumed 5 above.

Q: Why did the Nationals let Yunel Escobar get away? He was a consistent hitter.

A: Escobar was a consistent hitter last year yes (.314 BA, which was 50 points higher than the two previous seasons and 30 points higher than his career average), but hit an “empty” .314 (just 9 homers and a .415 slugging, also a huge improvement over previous seasons and his career high).  Unsaid is Escobar’s significant defensive issues (awful defensive stats, though to be fair genius skipper Williams had him playing out of position the entire season).  I think the Nats “sold high” on Escobar, traded from depth to a certain extent and got a player (Trevor Gott) in trade that they really needed to help bolster the bullpen.  Ladson doesn’t mention the “selling high” part of his offense; only mentions his defensive issues.

Q: What was it that made the front office sour on Drew Storen? The kid is one of the premier closers in the game, yet the team always seemed to be looking for someone better.

A: An excellent question.  I’m not sure it was the “front office” as much as it was the “impulsive owner” who soured on Storen.  He had two well publicized post-season failures, which led the normally sane and intelligent GM Rizzo to twice acquire and over-pay an aging “proven closer” to replace Storen.  The first time, Rafael Soriano eventually was supplanted by his own failures and Storen’s consistency, the second time the team inexplicably replaced him with Papelbon in the middle of perhaps Storen’s finest season.  Is Storen one of the “premier closers” in the game?  No.  I’d say he’s middle of the road and could likely tick off at least 15 guys who will be more highly valued in fantasy than Storen were he to win the Toronto closing job.

The crummy part of the deal was the fact that Storen was the one who needed to be traded by virtue of Papelbon making himself essentially untradeable.  I tell you what; Papelbon better be a frigging all-star this year to make up for what’s happened.  Ladson mentions the two blown post-season games and says he needed a change of scenery.  Both true.