Nationals Arm Race

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

Archive for the ‘kevin goldstein’ tag

Completed Nats prospect rankings and Org Rankings for 2015

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Now that we’re into the 2015 season, we are officially through the “prospect ranking” season.  I have updated two important prospect tracking spreadsheets that I maintain with a host of links and updated information.

First; the Organizational Rankings Spreadsheet.  I’ve got 59 different rankings now collected of the 30 teams’ organizational rankings over the years.  The big “holes” I have in this spreadsheet are the Baseball America handbooks sent out each January … though it seems to be safe to say that the official released Baseball America rankings in March or April of each year effectively mimics the rankings in the publication.  The rankings go back to 2001, with a link to even earlier Baseball America rankings.  Only BA goes back that far; other experts go back to 2007 (Baseball Prospectus), 2009 (Keith Law/ESPN) and 2012 (MinorLeagueBall.com).

Secondly, a republishing of the Nats Prospect Ranks going back in time.  I’ve greatly updated this spreadsheet from the earlier publishing of it this off-season, now having 79 separate rankings of Nats prospects going back all the way to January 2005.   178 different Nationals Prospects appear on the list, spanning from current #1 Lucas Giolito to the first #1 listed (believe it or not, Mike Hinckley in BA’s January 2005 list).

There’s a separate tab in the XLS tracking the major pundits: Baseball America (J.J. Cooper, Aaron Fitt, John Manuel now, formerly Jim Callis), Baseball Prospectus (Chris Mellon, Jason Parks now and Kevin Goldstein for years), MLB (Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo), MinorLeagueBall.com (primarily Jon Sickels), Fangraphs (Marc Hulet, Kiley McDaniel), ESPN (Keith Law) and Prospect Digest (Joseph Werner).

As always, if you can think of pundits who i’m missing, i’m always up for more information.  Or if i’m missing links, let me know.  Both these links are also available directly from the “Links” section on the right hand side of this blog in the “Nats Arm Race Creations” section.

Giolito to have TJ surgery; Not good

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Giolito scheduled for TJ surgery, to the surprise of few apparently. Photo Eric Dearborn via win for teddy blog

Frequent readers of this blog have told me lately that i’m too pessimistic, that I’m “not having fun” with the team and its best record in baseball.  Fair enough; its kind of difficult to write opinion pieces on a team in first place.  But even given that, i’ve tried to write some more positive stuff lately.

However, beware; this is going to be another negative post.  Because we just learned that our 2012 #1 draft pick Lucas Giolito needs to have Tommy John surgery after just TWO professional innings.

I made my point the day we drafted Giolito; you can read this June 5th post or read this executive summary; Giolito by himself wasn’t a bad risk, but combining him with Matthew Purke (on the DL all year) and Anthony Rendon (who has had significant injuries in 3 out of the last 4 seasons) puts all of this team’s proverbial eggs into one dangerous basket.  I thought it was negligent to draft an injury risk, given the major injury risk drafted just the previous year in Purke and the ongoing injury issues of Rendon.

Make no mistake; the Nats essentially sacrificed most of this draft for the express purpose of freeing up enough money to sign Giolito out of his UCLA committment.  Check out the known bonuses paid in the top 10 rounds; most of them were below-slot and a number of college seniors (with no leverage) were picked.  Now, every team in the majors was also doing this (an unanticipated side effect of the new CBA draft rules that are not are good for the game, at all, as with most of the new CBA when it comes to amateur players), but the consensus in the industry was that the Nats essentially “punted” the 2012 draft in the hopes of signing Giolito.

Which would be great, if Giolito was healthy.  But he wasn’t.  Here’s a tidbit that I didn’t know: I listened to a Baseball Prospectus podcast two weeks ago and one of Kevin Goldstein‘s guests was none other than Lucas Giolito’s father.  The conversation/intervew was great; Giolito talked about what it was like having a superstar baseball kid growing up, what it was like having a little leaguer who could throw 78mph as a 12yr old, and what it was like having a 16-yr old rising HS junior at the Area Code games.  He also talked through their whole spring of 2012, from the injury to getting drafted to the decision to sign.  All interesting stuff.

One tidbit I learned though, having not heard it anywhere else previously, was this: Lucas didn’t have a “sprained UCL” as was widely mentioned at the time.  According to his father, he had a PARTIAL TEAR of the UCL, NOT a sprain.  And the Nats drafted him anyway.  Knowing this, is it ANY surprise whatsoever that the kid blows out the elbow 2 innings into his pro career??   Lets get this straight; a kid who throws 100mph has a partial tear of the main tendon that allows him to throw 100mph, and we think this tendon is just going to magically heal itself?  A normal person may heal that tendon to the point where you can live your life and not be bothered.  A professional pitcher, upon tearing that tendon, is always going to have a weakness that eventually will require surgical repair.

Lets face it; the Nats have had some good fortune with their pitchers having TJ surgery lately and coming back.  Zimmermann and Strasburg examples 1A and 1B.  Former top prospect Jack McGeary had it and is still in the low minors, struggling to regain his form, an example of a guy who didn’t exactly come back roses from the surgery.  Taylor Jordan and Sammy Solis both had it earlier this year, one representing a promising underrated arm and the other representing a significant blow to the farm system depth, and they’ll be more test cases.  And now we have Giolito.

I read another nats blog this morning who cheerily said something along the lines of, “Well, he’ll get the surgery and we’ll have a 20-yr old in 2014 who can throw 100mph.”  That statement represents the absolutely 100% best case scenario here.  Tommy John recoveries are pretty high percentage wise, but they’re not 100%.  18yr olds pitchers who get cut aren’t exactly 100% to return to their prior form either.  He may never come back from this surgery, he may never regain his velocity.

Prospect development in baseball is already risky enough; a huge percentage of first rounders never even make the majors.  But that being said … first rounders who DO make the majors are the core of the stars in this league (don’t believe me?  Get a list of the 20 best pitchers and look at their draft position; more than half of the “Aces” in this league were first round picks).  My point is (and was in June) that we should have drafted a safer guy, a known quantity, so that we actually have something to show for the 2012 draft in a few years time.

Nats Off-season News Items Wrap-up 1/31/12 edition

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Will the team extend Zimmerman, now that Fielder is off the table? Photo AP via tbd.com

This is your semi-weekly/periodic wrap-up of Nats and other baseball news that caught my eye.  I try to publish this about weekly or if it gets up to about 1500 words, so that it’s not to voluminous.

Nationals In General

  • Nats continue to talk about a contract extension with Ryan Zimmerman, according to this and other sources.  I’m not arguing against re-signing him; in fact he’ll be at a discount by virtue of missing so much time last season and being relatively injury-ridden as of late.  The question is whether Zimmerman’s camp would accept anything less than what Troy Tulowitzki got (10/$157M) or Ryan Braun (13/$150M between current and extension contracts) signed.  Here’s a case against re-signing him (though to be fair, the same blog posted a “case-for” earlier).  Lastly on the topic; this fangraphs.com article looking for a good comparable for Zimmerman based on his production and value (the answer?  Matt Kemp‘s 8yr/$160M deal).
  • Nats miss out on Prince Fielder, as he signs a 9yr, $214M deal with Detroit.  Quick hit thoughts: Thank god there’s no more rumors about Fielder to the Nats.  I wanted him and his bat, but not at that price and for that length.  The team dodges an albatross of a contract in a few years time.  Lastly; how in the world is Detroit going to manage that payroll?  Its not as if that city is an up-and-coming, wealthy place.  Makes you wonder just how well-off these baseball owners really are.
  • I guess FA rumors are just meant to be with this team; suddenly we’re in the Roy Oswalt mix.  Now, I’ve said in the past that I like this guy and think he’d be a great fit for the team … but that was before we traded the farm for Gio Gonzalez and offered arbitration to John Lannan.  I’ll ask a simple question; if we sign Oswalt, who makes way?  Last time i checked this team has 5 starters, each signed for 2012 and each with a multi-million dollar commitment.  So this rumor doesn’t make any sense any longer.  Oswalt makes a ton more sense for a team like Texas or Boston, as is noted in the many columns on the subject posted recently.
  • LOVE the Brad Lidge acquisition.  The team needed a middle relief replacement for Todd Coffey and just got one, and for almost no money ($1M base with incentives).  He’s struggled with his health, but when he has been healthy he’s been lights out for the last two seasons (not to mention the rest of his career).  He can close in a pinch, he can help offload high-leverage innings off of Tyler Clippard.  And he can mentor the bullpen guys.  Fantastic signing by Mike Rizzo.
  • Nats will play Georgetown U in an exhibition for the 2nd year running.  Knowing how weak Georgetown’s program is, I wonder just how badly the scoreline will look (last year’s score was 15-0).
  • MLB daily dish is attempting to replicate the Big Board and throw in contract details at this site here.  We’ll see how uptodate this site is kept during the turbulent season of player movement in the minors.

Free Agents/Player Transaction News

  • Jamie Moyer signs a minor league deal with Colorado.   He sits at 267 wins for his career, so the chances of him getting to 300 are relatively slim, but his chances of making Colorado’s rotation aren’t too bad.  Roto World lists their depth chart right now at Chacin, Hammel, Pomeranz, White and Moscoso.  Lots of youth there; White and Pomeranz are both 22-23 and were both relatively awful last  year.  De La Rosa is coming off injury but may not be ready for opening day.  He very well could feature for this team in 2012.

 

General Baseball News

  • Yes I know these “top 5 lists” are mostly national columnists fulfilling writing requirements during the slow January baseball news period, but if the Nats are listed, i’ll post it.  David Schoenfield lists his “Top 5 rotations” in the game and he goes Philly, Angels, Texas, New York and Arizona.  I gotta say; i think he’s vastly overrating the Yankees rotation and I think he’s overrating the Arizona crew as well.  Arizona’s pitchers were more or less awful in last year’s NLDS; not sure I’d count on them in a pinch.  I’d easily put Tampa Bay and San Francisco’s rotations above these two teams, not to mention the possibility of Atlanta’s group gelling and helping that team win 95 games.
  • Marlins apparently ready to sign up for Showtime’s the Franchise, which featured San Francisco last year and was Showtime’s answer to HBO’s Hard Knocks football weekly documentary.  The show was great in 2011, showing the human side of many of the Giants players and was a must-watch in my house.  Of course, showing Miami could be an interesting endeavor; most of the baseball industry speaks badly about Miami’s ownership and senior management group and these documentary shows usually go to great lengths to humanize and gain empathy for all the participants.
  • Jose Bautista claims to have been “random drug tested” 16 times in the past two years, despite any single player’s chances of being randomly tested only being about 3 times in two years (according to the number of tests MLB is authorized to run versus the number of pro players).  As is noted in the link, it looks to me like MLB is taking no more chances with its big home-run hitters.

 

Collegiate/Prospect News

  • First College top 25 posted by Baseball America (more discussion on each team here), and there’s no surprise who’s #1: Florida by virtue of its absolutely stacked lineup (two first team and two 2nd team pre-season all americans by this publication).  No surprise Stanford is #2 behind their presumptive 2012 #1 overall pick Mark Appel, but surprised that Texas and Texas A&M are so low.  I think by the time the CWS rolls around we’ll be seeing these teams, plus South Carolina back in the mix behind their returning friday and saturday starters.
  • The great Kevin Goldstein unveils his top 20 Nationals prospects on Baseball Prospectus.  We all know who went the other way in the Gio Gonzalez trade; what’s more interesting is who now resides in places 16-20.  Clearly he has to struggle to find “prospects” worthy of ranking there, based on his inclusion of Jason Martinson, Matt Skole, Sandy Leon, and David Freitas.  Otherwise the top 12 or so reads as expected.
  • MLB’s Jonathan Mayo announces their top 100 for the whole game.  Bryce Harper #2 behind Matt Moore; no argument there.  Surprised Mike Trout didn’t get more credit.  Most scouting pundits consider the big 4 (to include Atlanta’s Julio Teheran) as almost interchangeable.   The rest of the top 10 are well known; I’d never heard of #7 Jurickson Profar, a shortstop in Texas’ organization who is really young but really promising.  Other thoughts: surprised to see Danny Hultzen so high; I know he was dominant in college but is he slated to be that dominant in the pros?  Other Nats/ex-Nats on the list: Anthony Rendon at #27, Brad Peacock at #75, Alex Meyer at #83, Sammy Solis at #86, AJ Cole at #88.  No mention of Matthew Purke, but no surprise; he needs to have a healthy, strong season to regain his former 1-1 status.
  • My alma-mater JMU is #1 pre-season CAA baseball.

General News; other

  • Those of you who know me may know that i’m also a pretty passionate Soccer fan.  So here’s a fantastic look at the history of soccer through an “All-time fantasy soccer player draft.”   The first round was rather surprising; I know Lionel Messi is a great player now, but he’s got a bit of work before he supplants Pele, Maradona, Ronaldo or even Zidane in my book.  Of course, he’s already a 3-time world player of the year at the tender age of 24, so by the time he retires he may very well have 3 more awards.  Still, the selections (especially from the non-US based journalists who have a better sense of soccer’s history) are a great read.
  • Speaking of soccer, here’s a Grantland article on the conventional wisdom among most American fans that Soccer is boring.  I’ve tired of trying to argue this point with people who have never actually SEEN a live soccer game.  I have a good friend, born and bred in Pittsburgh and who is a die hard Steeler’s fan (in other words, the complete anti-thesis of a typical soccer fan) who I drug to a US Men’s national team game at RFK about 15 years ago.  He fell in love and now follows the european game with similar gusto as I.  I think American sports fans are too impatient, and have been even before the rise of cell-phones, the red-zone channel and highlight shows, to appreciate the beauty of Soccer.  They devolve the game, without really having any personal experience watching a big match or seeing one in person, into the common phrase, “how exciting can a 1-0 game be?”  I’d say to that; imagine a professional football game where there was no field goals allowed, the end zone was only 24 feet wide and there was a player positioned at that end zone at all times whose sole job it was to stop break away runs and passes.  Its simply that much tougher to score.  So most soccer fans know that the excitement of the game is the tactics, the breakdown of individual skill of the attacker versus the individual skill of the goalkeeper, and the near miss.