Editor’s note: feel free to stop reading now if you don’t want to read 4,400+ words on my fantasy baseball team. I won’t blame you for it. For those of you who do play fantasy, as I made picks I wrote down who I was considering and who was available per each pick to try to give some context for the pick. I’ll insert a “jump” line here so that RSS readers don’t have to see this whole massive post
Archive for the ‘edinson volquez’ tag
By now we’ve all seen the reports; the Nats have been to Puerto Rico to scout Javier Vazquez, the veteran starter who inexplicably “retired” after an effective 2011 at the age of 34. According to Adam Kilgore’s initial reports and as stated in other places on line Vazquez is apparently hitting the mid 90s in winter ball and is looking to possibly re-start his pro career. Kilgore reports that the Nats are looking to offer Vazquez a minor league contract with an “out clause” if he’s not assigned to the Majors by a certain date.
This out clause arrangement seems to make perfect sense for the Nats. We have a full rotation, we need starter depth in AAA, and Vazquez is a risk having been out of the league for a year, despite how good he looks in a winter ball league that rates at best at being a “weak AAA” level of talent.
What I don’t understand in some of these reports is the claim that the team would love to sign Vazquez and then drop Ross Detwiler to the bullpen. Mike Axisa from MLBtraderumors stated as much in his report and I got into it with a NY-based blogger who keeps stating that Detwiler “belongs” in the bullpen without really giving much in the way of proof.
Here’s what Detwiler did in 2012: 10-8, 3.40 ERA and a 1.22 whip in 164 1/3 innings and 27 starts. He posted a 117 ERA+, good for 12th in the league among qualified starters. He’s a lefty who averages 92-93 and can reach 96 in a division with a number of teams with lefty power (especially Philadelphia). And he saved the Nats bacon by giving the team its best post-season start in the NLCS. He is still cheap (he’s first year arbitration eligible this year), meaning he provides great value for the dollar as a starter.
Why exactly would the Nats be looking to replace Detwiler in the rotation?? And why would the team be looking at a reclamation project like Vazquez to be his replacement? Vazquez’s 2011 numbers were good (13-11, 3.69 era, 1.183 whip) but not earth shattering (106 ERA+ in 2011 after getting hammered in New York the year prior). Detwiler was a significantly better pitcher by this measure in 2012 than Vazquez was in 2011. If you had the 12th best pitcher (by ERA+) in the league installed as your 5th starter, why exactly would you be looking to replace him?
Then there’s the “personnel issues” involved with Vazquez at this point. Why did he walk away from the game? Wouldn’t you be concerned about his committment levels and his drive at this point? Why would a team want to give him anything other than a non-guaranteed deal?
Yes, I realize the team’s bullpen, as it is currently constructed, is light on left-handed relievers. We’ll ignore for the time being the fact that our existing RHPs out there mostly have good lefty splits. If you go on the assumption that the team “needs” another left handed reliever, there are certainly better ways to fill that spot than by wasting an excellent starter by putting him in the pen. Any statistical measure of player value will show you that even a medicore starter is usually “worth” more than even an excellent closer; sometimes FAR more. A quick proof: Craig Kimbrel’s 2012 season as the Braves closer was epic and historical, and was worth a 3.6 fWAR. That would only have qualified him for 25th in the league, tied with Kyle Lohse and just ahead of our own Jordan Zimmermann. And that was for one of the best reliever seasons ever seen. Rafael Soriano was an excellent closer last year and only had an fWar of 1.2, a more typical closer number, which would have been about 77th in the league in fWAR, around what Bruce Chen and Edinson Volquez provided in 2012.
In the end, it may not matter; if Vazquez is coming back there’s plenty of teams that make much more sense for him to join that would give him a guaranteed MLB deal and a guaranteed rotation spot. Any of the bottom 4-5 teams in my Rotation Rankings would make sense. Returning to Miami would make too much sense, based on where he pitched last and proximity to his home in Puerto Rico. But it bugs me just the same that people don’t use some common sense when looking at what Detwiler gave the team last year and assuming that he is better served in the bullpen to make way for a lesser pitcher. I’ll fully admit; I have not always been a Detwiler fan. But after what he showed the team in 2012, I think you stick with him in 2013 no matter what.
This is your semi-weekly/periodic wrap-up of Nats and other baseball news that caught my eye.
Nationals In General
- John Sickels does in-depth system reviews, but allows his readers to pipe in about the prospects down on the farm. Here’s the discussion on the Nats, which (as is apt to happen) devolved into arguments about Bryce Harper. Still, lots of the usual suspects piped up and offered opinions. Here’s a link to his preliminary list of Nats prospects.
- In case you havn’t seen enough scouting reports on our precocious star, here’s another from the blog prospectjunkies.com. I will say it was refreshing to see this author go out of his way to dispell the whole “Harper is a brat” storyline that most lazy sportswriters pen, without having ever interviewed or even *seen* the guy.
- I hope this isn’t our starting CF for 2012; Nats sign Mike Cameron to a minor league contract. I actually don’t mind this deal; yes he’s old and yes his production slipped badly in 2011, but he’s still a high-end defensive player. Maybe he’s just a cheaper version of Rick Ankiel. Odds are, as posted elsewhere, that Cameron is a half-season option just holding court until Harper is promoted sometime in June. Works for me.
- Hmm. Reports from Ken Rosenthal that the team is “pushing hard” for Gio Gonzalez, offering Billy Beane a “4 for 1″ deal. Not sure I like hearing that; while he’s got decent stats two years running, there’s some chinks in that armor. He lead the league in walks last year and gives them up at nearly a walk every other inning. His ERA jumps nearly a point when he pitches away from the friendly confines of Oakland’s pitcher-friendly stadium. He’s not an “Ace.” What four players are we talking about giving up? If this is anything like the Mat Latos deal, it probably would be something like Detwiler, Norris, a major league arm and a lower minor league arm.
Free Agents/Player Transaction News
- First Reports on the winning Yu Darvish bid? $48M. No, wait, then it was even higher than Dice-K’s bid. I privately thought he’d eclipse Daisuke Matsuzaka’s record of $51M (and change) from 2005. Another nugget from this article; Darvish wants a 5yr/$75M contract. That’s $120M+ for this guy. Does anyone still want to argue that he’s worth $120M, when the absolute best FA pitcher purchase in recent years (Cliff Lee) himself got 5yrs/$120M guaranteed from Philadelphia?
- Who won the Darvish sweepstakes? First thought to be Toronto, then Texas. On 12/20 we were confirmed: Texas won with a $51.7M bid. The AL West is turning into a shootout.
- Breaking news over the weekend: Cincinnati gets Mat Latos for a package of prospects that includes their uber rising star Yonder Alonso, another 1st rounder in Yasmani Grandal and former ace-pretender Edinson Volquez. That’s an awful lot for a guy who, while certainly is “good,” isn’t among the elite pitchers of this league. That seems like more than what Zack Greinke fetched, and he as a Cy Young award to his credit. It also begs the question; why does San Diego need Alonso? They already traded for a top-end 1B prospect, Anthony Rizzo. Alonso was blocked in Cincinnati by Joey Votto and was clearly on the trading block, but San Diego is a curious spot. Oh I see now: he’s officially listed as a left fielder now. Except that scouts openly scoff at his abilities to play anywhere but 1b or DH. The Padres can always put together a competent pitching rotation by virtue of their park; if some of these hitters pan out they could be a very good team, quickly. Meanwhile Cincinnati gets a good pitcher who hopefully wasn’t under-exposed by pitching in the cavern in San Diego but who most say is a legit front-of-the-rotation ace. Update: now we’re hearing that Rizzo is in play possibly for Matt Garza. That’s probably Theo Epstein trying to get his boy back.
General Baseball News
- An excellent take at Grantland from Jonah Keri, another favored writer, on Steroid use in baseball, inspired in the post Ryan Braun mania. As it has turned out, Braun’s case isn’t about Steroids, but he does dispute the notion frequently posted on the internet that “no positive test has ever been appealed successfully.” In reality, according to both players and well-connected writers, no “leaked” positive test has ever been appealed, and that initial positives have been overturned on more than a few occasions. Here’s a player who says he successfully appealed a positive test himself. He also links to very interesting articles on testosterone and false positives, one of which (If i’m reading it correctly) notes that about 1 in 4 positive tests is actually a false positive. I can’t believe any official test is that inaccurate, so perhaps its either old technology or i’m mis-interpreting the story. Subsequent reports show that Braun’s test was from medication taken for a “personal issue.” Sounds like Viagra, doesn’t it?
- Another takeaway from Keri’s article is another pet peeve of mine; the notion that Matt Kemp was a “more worthy” MVP candidate than Braun but that Braun won the award because “his teammates were better.” That’s one take on the award, IF you interpret the “MVP” to be given to the “best player” in a particular year. But that’s not the definition of “Most Valuable Player” that most writers adhere to. Simply put, how can you be the “Most Valuable player” to your team if your team stinks? If your team already has a losing record, and the star player wasn’t there, wouldn’t that team just have a WORSE losing record? To me, that’s the essence of the MVP argument; you simply cannot be the most valuable player on a bad team, unless your season is so historically amazing that it stands out on its own merit. If we want to “invent” a new award, say the “Cy Young” of hitters (almost an uber “Silver Slugger”) so that we can properly award a guy like Kemp, I’d be for it absolutely. In fact, it would pretty much end these ridiculous arguments that will only continue to get louder as more and more stat-heads who never actually watch games but just interpret advanced statistical tables on websites as if baseball players were robots playing in a nil-gravity vacuum gain admittance to the BBWAA and start voting on these awards themselves.
- Yet another excellent Grantland.com article, this time analyzing whether or not the Economics of Moneyball still exist. After this article published, I saw some criticisms of the statistics used on more stat-heavy blogs like Fangraphs. Not sure why; the article makes sense to me.
- I sometimes take issue with Craig Calcaterra’s stuff on Hardballtalk, but his opinion on ESPN Legal Analyst Lester Munson’s love affair with the abject failure of the Barry Bonds case is spot on for me. Bonds was convicted of one really shaky obstruction of justice count after years and MILLIONS of dollars of expenses, and was sentenced to 30 days of home confinement. The prosecutors who led this monstrosity need to be fired, frankly.
- Ugh. Bill Conlan of the Philadelphia Daily News, a hall of fame baseball writer, resigns ahead of child molestation charges being filed. Interestingly, it is the rival Philly newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, filing the charges.
General News; other
- I like Grantland, and I like stuff that Chuck Klosterman writes. Here, he writes about the “Triangle Offense” that we’ve heard so much about from Phil Jackson during his time with the Bulls and Lakers. My takeaway; the Triangle is dying out because (according to Jackson) the league is dominated by me-first scorers (whether they be slash and burn or 3-point specialists) and because the Triangle is considered really complex.
- Kobe Bryant’s wife is leaving him, reportedly because she caught him cheating. Really?? What, that whole incident in Colorado wasn’t evidence enough?
- In case you somehow missed the front page of cnnsi.com this week, yet another example of the absolute hypocritical nature of the NCAA is on display once again: a former St. Joseph’s basketball player is being held hostage by an (apparently) petulant basketball coach who refuses to grant his waiver to play for another school. Coaches can change schools like they’re changing suits, but if a player changes they have to get approvals from their releasing school (a conflict of interest if there ever was one) and approval from the NCAA, AND then have to give up a year of eligibility. How is this possibly fair? Coaches can coach for 50 years and don’t lose any eligibility; players can only play for four (five if they red-shirt) but have to give up 25% of that time if a situation isn’t right for them. Every time I read something about college athletics like this (or the UKentucky/Oliver case, or the Colorado WR/snowboarder case, or the entire player images case) I’m more and more infuriated and hope that the organization has to face congressional review. More links on the topic: lawsuit threatened. Possibly “the other side” to the story here. There’s other interesting links to twitter comments and blog op-ed pieces throughout. Another opinion here.
Here’s Tom Boswell‘ weekly Monday chat on 12/19/11. Of the baseball questions he took, here’s how I’d have answered them. With a Redskins unexpected win, I’d think this will be heavy on football, but I thought the same about last week as well. There were a TON of baseball questions. Maybe the town is tiring of Redskins coverage, now that they’re eliminated from the playoffs.
As always, questions are edited for clarity and I write my own answer prior to reading his.
Q: Have you heard anything about the possibility of Da Meathook (Dmitri Young) returning to the Nats to be a role player and mentor?
A: No chance. Dmitri Young was a Jim Bowden reclamation project and no matter how that story may play in the “feel good” category, Rizzo has gone to great pains to rid most of this roster of Bowden players. It is good to see Young losing weight and looking better though. Boswell says little chance, that Young really is a DH/PH now and we’re in the wrong league.
Q: Should the Nats consider Carlos Beltran?
A: Again, hard to see. Beltran was decent in 2011, his first healthy season since 2008. Ironic that it happened in his walk year. But he’s already been moved out of CF, and was not really that good defensively in RF. He’ll want a longer term deal … but we have a certain upper-end RF prospect named Harper coming up who would be blocked. Beltran makes no sense for us. Boswell says no chance, then opines on the lack of movement out of the Nats front office.
Q: What do you make of the Nats (non) moves? Are the Lerners still “cheap?”
A: It was always going to be a weak FA market, and with the Marlins suddenly throwing ridiculous money around and outbidding the team for its targets, it does look as if the team isn’t doing much. The price of #1/#2 starters has just gotten out of control this off-season (see the unbelievable haul that a low-end #1 guy in Mat Latos just got), so I sense the team is re-evaluating. Boswell says you can’t be “cheap” after signing a guy to $126M contract.
Q: Does Rizzo deserve an F for the off-season so far? Missed out on Buerle and no CF either.
A: Man, people are impatient. Maybe the team underbid on Buehrle, but they were NEVER going to go 4yrs and $56M dollars on the guy. I’m sorry; he’s a #3 pitcher, a soft-tossing lefty who never gets hurt. That’s NOT an ace, that’s not worth $13M a year. As for CF, there’s no good FAs out there, so it was always going to be a trade. Last time i checked its only December and the off-season is only half-way done. I’d rather stand pat than make a panic buy. Boswell says Rizzo needs to be judged 5 years down the road on his 2011 draft signings.
Q: Have we seen the last off-season addition?
A: I don’t think so, but the likelihood of seeing a “major” acquisition now seems thin. It is what it is; 2012’s FA crop was weak and everyone got bid up. Notice how the Yankees and Red Sox didn’t get anyone either, and BOTH those teams desperately need starting pitching. Boswell takes his third question on the same topic and just says that if the team hits better they’ll be better next year. duh
Q: Do you think Endy Chavez could be a decent short-term filler for the Nats in centerfield, or maybe resigning Rick Ankiel, who played pretty well turing the final two months of last season?
A: Well, its too late for Chavez, who signed a deal over the weekend with Baltimore. I wouldn’t be opposed to re-signing Ankiel but ONLY as a 4th outfielder. Boswell agrees.
Q: Who’s going to spend the most time in center for the Nats this year? 1. Werth, 2.Cespedes, 3. Ankiel (if he returns), 4. Bernadina (ugh) or 5. someone else?
A: I’ll go with Werth first, but say “someone else” if Rizzo makes his desired trade. Holding out hope for Upton or Bourjos or someone like that. Boswell exactly writes what I wrote.
Q: If the Nats are able to sign or trade for a CFer and they bring up Bryce Harper during the season, does Adam LaRoche become the odd man out this season?
A: If Nats get a CFer, then yes eventually it will come down to either Morse or LaRoche making way. As of now, its hard to see Morse leaving, but you never know in this game. Morse could break a leg and LaRoche could come back 110% in his walk year, and in June we’ll be singing a different tune. Boswell thinks LaRoche is mr. comeback in 2012 and will “make the team glad they have a club option.” Wow, that’s a statement.
Q: Should the Nats really wait til NEXT off-season to hit the FA market?
A: Yes. Yes. Yes. The 2013 FA pool is so much better than this years, that it almost doesn’t make sense to compete and over-pay. As a longer term fan of this team, I would support and argue for such a move. Play the kids in 2012 and figure out what you have, then go on a spending spree to make a pennant-contender in 2013. Boswell says this is exactly what Davey Johnson is advocating.
Q: What are the odds that the Nats do right by the fans and sign Zimm to a Tulo type deal before Spring Training? After watching the Pujols intro in LA, if we have to endure a similar scene w/ Ryan I plan on marching to Nats Park and burn my jersey at the main gate.
A: Lots of repeat questions today. This question was the Question #1 from last week’s boswell Chat. Short answer; Nats don’t pursue long term deal with Zimmerman til after next season. Boswell changes his stance from last week and says the team MUST get it done before the 2012 all-star break. Why? Still disagree here.
Q: Is the reluctance to sign Fielder just about money? He is clearly an upgrade over LaRoche at the plate and would instantly upgrade the offense.
A: I’d be reluctant for several reasons. Money (its a lot), wasted money (on LaRoche), his conditioning (abhorrent for an athlete) and his defensive inadequacies. He does mash though. Boswell likes Laroche, says Morse is a good 1B as well, and doesn’t advocate spending $200M on one position.
Q: Remember the knock on Mike Rizzo was that he would have trouble with some of the non-baseball aspects of a GM job (i.e. media)? We’re a few years in and while the Nats are greatly improved, I’m skeptical of Rizzo. He seems like he’s playing out of position — strong on scouting, not so much on other stuff. Does it even matter given the ownership?
A: I still think Rizzo was partly responsible for the Riggleman situation, and should have done a better “people management” job than he did. But otherwise I don’t have an issue with Rizzo’s performance. The team has completely turned around in just 2 years under his command; what else do you want out of a GM? 3 great drafts, a 20game improvement on the field? Are we getting spoiled here? Boswell agrees, and says that the Werth contract still weighs on him.
Q: Thoughts on the Mat Latos trade? Seems the cost of quality SP is especially high this year—whether you’re Roy Oswalt or the ChiSox looking to trade Danks, the Nats are going to have to spend or give up real value to add that piece to their rotation. Any new developments?
A: The Latos deal is shocking; he’s not exactly a Cy Young candidate in my mind; just a very good, young pitcher. The Reds gave up two developed #1 draft picks (including a very quick to the majors guy in Yonder Alonso), plus an established (albeit injured) Volquez and another guy for Latos. That’s a really expensive trade. Latos better work. How does that affect the Nats? It probably scares the crap out of them. Boswell quotes Jim Bowden’s analysis (?!) and says the Padres may have swindled the Reds here.
Q: Would you be interested in Adam Jones if you were the Nats and who would you be willing to give up?
A: Jones is an interesting candidate. Good bat but not the best in the field. I didn’t even consider him a trade candidate in my CF analysis piece but maybe he is. O’s need pitching, so maybe there’s a fit there. But, the O’s may not have a ready-made replacement for Jones, who is 25 and still under club control for 2 more years. So he won’t be cheap. I’d give up a Detwiler or a Milone but not much more. Boswell agrees with the trade needs, but says Angelos would never trade with Washington on the off-chance that the Nats looked like they “took” him in a deal.
Q: It’s Opening Day 2012 in DC. Sellout crowd, beautiful weather. Perfect day for baseball. Who’s playing CF for the Nats, & who’s hitting leadoff. For that matter, since I’ve asked you to consult your crystal ball, what’s the pitching rotation?
A: Another repeat question. Your CF is Werth, with a yet-to-be named 1-yr FA playing in RF. Rotation is Stras-Zimmerman-Lannan-Wang-Detwiler. Leadoff is (still) Desmond, because the team hasn’t done anything to replace him. But i’m still holding out hope that the team a) signs Oswalt and b) trades for Upton. So we’ll see. Boswell thinks Harper’s making the opening day roster, and Milone is #5 starter. I wouldn’t be surprised.