Nationals Arm Race

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

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My DC-IBWA Ballot…

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Nationals News Network blogger Dave Nichols runs a few polls beginning and end of season, hitting up all the Nats bloggers out there for opinions.  Here’s the 2011 post-season results.

Here’s how I answered his questions, with some thoughts added in.

  • Nats MVP: Morse, Clippard and Zimmerman.  For me clearly Morse was this team’s most valuable player this year, going from 4th outfielder to 30 homer clean up hitter in short order.  Clippard was your all-star but Morse was the more deserving candidate.
  • Starter of the Year: Zimmermann, Lannan, Marquis.  I think Zimmermann’s come-back was fantastic, and he was clearly your best arm in the rotation (at least until September).  Lannan continued his boring-if-effective career, and everyone seems to forget that Marquis was pretty good the first couple of months.
  • Reliever of the Year: Clippard, Storen, Coffey (though it pained me to say it).  Finding the first 2 was easy; finding a third reliever candidate who wasn’t mostly awful this season was really tough.  Burnett struggled mightily but turned it around.  Henry Rodriguez has been lights out in September, but September only.  Slaten was awful all year.  Broderick and Gaudin couldn’t exit quickly enough.  Perhaps Mattheus was more deserving of the year-long award.
  • All around Hitter of the year: Zimmerman, Morse, Hairston.  Probably could have switched the first two here as well, based on Morse’s excellent BA with power.  Hairston’s contributions over the course of the season were pretty understated, but he was a solid member of this team.
  • Slugger of the year: Morse, Espinosa, Nix.  Morse is obvious.  Espinosa showed some pretty rare power for a 2nd baseman.  And Nix’s homer/ab ratio puts him on nearly a 30-homer pace for a full season.  Can’t beat that.
  • Defensive player of the year: Zimmerman, Espinosa, (amazingly) Desmond: pretty obvious candidates.  However UZR/150 was not kind to this team generally this year.   Espinosa is a plus defender at 2nd and Desmond made huge strides.  Probably in retrospect should have included Ankiel, who has the best UZR of any near-regular in the lineup.
  • Comeback player of the year: Zimmermann, Wang, Flores: 3 pretty obvious candidates.  We’ll save Strasburg for the 2012 version.
  • Humanitarian of the year: Zimmerman, Desmond, Storen.  I’m only even aware of Zimmerman as someone who has a charity or a foundation.  Desmond was the team’s Clemente nominee, so he must be doing something right.


  • Minor League player of the year: Peacock, Lombardozzi, Moore.

The phrasing of this question threw me off.  The minor league “player of the year” is DIFFERENT from “player most destined for big league success,” which was the explanatory text Nichols put into the survey.  Clearly Peacock and Lombardozzi were our minor league players of the year and were so awarded by the team, but I’m not sure either is really a top-ceiling MLB prospect.   Our three best prospects most destined for success in the majors (<2011 draft version) are probably Harper, Cole, and either Solis or Ray.  Throw in the 2011 draft and that list probably becomes Rendon, Harper, Purke.

Additional Questions: here’s a few add-on survey questions.

1. Players we’re parting ways with after 2011: Livan, Coffey, Balester, Slaten, Pudge, Cora, Gomes, Elvin Ramirez.  This implies we’re going to keep Gorzelanny, Wang, Bixler, Nix, Ankiel and Bernadina.  I’m guessing Bernadina passes through waivers and stays.  Gorzelanny becomes a long reliever.  Wang resigns, Nix stays on as the 4th outfielder and Ankiel sticks in CF.
2. Does Zimmerman sign an extension this coming off season?  No; he’ll sign it AFTER the 2012 season.
3. Biggest Surprise: Morse clearly.
4. Biggest Disappointment: LaRoche.  Maya 2nd.  Lots of people will say Werth, but in the end we all kinda knew the contract was a mistake and he’s struggle to live up to it.  LaRoche was supposed to at least contribute, and he did nearly none of that.
5. Favorite pro beat writer: Zuckerman
6. Favorite Nats blogger: Love Sue Dinem’s work; my blog would be twice as hard without it.

My Answers to Boswell’s Chat Questions 8/29/11

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Is this your 2nd baseman/leadoff hitter of the future? Photo via

Man, back to back chats and inbox responses this week.  Boswell did his weekly chat on 8/29/11 and managed to fit in some Nats questions.  Here’s how i’d have answered them (you know, if I was a nationally known writer and had thousands of people eagerly asking my opinion on things…).

Q: If Steve Lombardozzi (pictured above) hits during his 9/1 call-up, is it time to move on from Desmond?

A: I’d say not quite.  Desmond may have over 1000 major league at bats by now, and clearly has been regressing at the plate over the past few years, but the team loves him and probably gives him one more year before pulling the plug.  I think we all know Espinosa can take over at SS and that Lombardozzi is a great fit at 2b/leadoff.  The problem is; how do you evaluate Lombardozzi if you want to play Espinosa every day?   Boswell says Desmond will be a tough call, but says he’s coveted by other teams.  A trade may be in the future.

Q: Why didn’t the Nats factor into trades for CFs Rasmus or Bourn?

A: Good question frankly.   The team was making noise about wanting a CF all spring and all summer.  The questioner called the trade packages “middling” for both players, but I’d hardly call it that.  Both acquiring teams gave up good players to get these guys.  I think the Cardinals in particular will regret trading Rasmus and may think about what it is about their manager that makes it so difficult to get along with him.  Here’s an interesting point: The Nats just don’t trade with either team; there’s only minor league swaps between Washington and Houston/St. Louis over the past decade.  Perhaps Rizzo just doesn’t have a relationship with the GMs there.  Or more to the point, the Nats probably didn’t want to give up what it was going to take to get a guy like Rasmus (likely one of our good starters as it cost Toronto).  Boswell thinks the Nats didn’t want to overspend on a CF since Werth can play there and we have a couple of CF prospects (specifically mentioning Goodwin) that could fit in there later.

Q: Should the team take advantage of Harper’s 40-man status to just call him up for the experience?

A: Nope.  There’s no reason to give him service time in September, which would delay his 2012 call-up deeper into June.  Plus he’s got a pulled hamstring that seemed like a relatively serious issue.  The plan is and should stay the same; let him heal, send him to the Arizona Fall League for a bit more playing time, then shut him down til spring training.  Boswell says you have to earn call-ups and he doesn’t think Harper did.

Q: Is Davey Johnson the answer at manager?  Should we target a younger more inventive mind?

A: It is hard to say.  Unlike in other sports, Baseball’s landscape moves slowly.  Johnson already embraces most of the “newer” technologies or theories in the sport (advanced sabremetrics, video monitoring, lineup theories, reliever-leverage use).  So he should be ok.  He clearly deserves respect from his players, both based on his own playing career and his managerial accomplishments.  It is a big concerning that the team almost immediately started to underperform once he took the helm … but the team also couldn’t sustain its winning streak that Riggleman tried to make use of when he threatened to, and ultimately, resigned.  Boswell points to Davey Johnson’s career W/L percentage and says don’t be too quick to judge.  Fair enough.

Q: Since Gorzelanny and Wang cleared waivers, should we try to trade them?

A: Wang no, Gorzelanny yes.  Clearly Gorzelanny has fallen out of favor with this manager and the team.  Exactly why, i’m not sure; his numbers weren’t really that bad and are almost identical to Livan’s on the season.  He’s a lefty and his k/9 rates were the best of any starter on the team.  Once banished to the bullpen he didn’t appear for 13 days and had to beg to be used.  Sounds like a guy who is surplus to requirements and should be traded.  Meanwhile Wang is someone who I doubt anyone else would experiment with at this point in the season.  He is still a wild card.  Boswell advocates keeping Gorzelanny since he’s under team control through 2013.

Q: Follow up: will the Nats try to hold on to FAs to be Wang and Nix this off season?

A: Wang; it depends on how he does the rest of the way out, clearly.  But the team has invested $3M in these 11-12 2011 starts, so hopefully that good will turns into an offer to stay, if it comes to that.  Nix?  We seem to have too many outfielders.  Morse is going to start in left with LaRoche coming back in 2011, so that leaves Nix and Gomes without starting positions.  Nix has shown value but he hit better in 2010 and was non-tendered.  And his splits against lefties are beyond awful (3-27 on the season).  I’m guessing he’s released when the time comes and Gomes is in line to be the 4th outfielder in 2012.  Boswell says we should keep Wang if possible, and agrees with Nix being in a numbers game for LF/1B positions.

Q: Why did the Nats call up Marrero before 9/1?  Who else do you want to see come up?

A: Marrero filled a 25-man slot vacated by Mattheus, as the Nats had been playing with an extra bullpen guy since the trades.  No other special reason.  The questioner suggests that Bernadina is coming back up; I hate to say it but I think Bernadina is closer to a release than a callup.  We’ll definitely see Strasburg mid-next week.  We’ll probably see Lombardozzi, Peacock and Milone.  Meyers seems to be in shutdown mode so I doubt we’ll see him.  That’s about all I can think of.  Boswell points out an interesting tidbit: apparently Rizzo is worried about “exposing” someone off the 40-man if he calls up too many guys.  As I pointed out in this space, there’s clearly maneuvering room on the 40-man.  Not sure what the problem is.  If Rizzo is still obsessed with Garrett Mock, then this team has a bigger problem.

Q: Does the team just have a blind spot when it comes to Center Fielders?  Both Nyjer Morgan and Endy Chavez are hitting well for first place teams.  Is Rick Ankiel the answer for 2012?

A: Morgan clearly had to go (worn out his welcome).  Chavez was a trade in 2005, and we got Marlon Byrd for him.  He was nothing in 05 and now suddenly is halfway decent.  Hard to fault this team for that.  Meanwhile what to do about Ankiel?  I think he sticks around for 2012 as at least a 4th outfielder, probably a starter in CF until a prospect is ready.  Unless Rizzo pulls of a blockbuster trade (which I doubt).  Boswell doesn’t really answer the question, just gripes about Willingham’s production in Oakland.

Q: We have 3 catchers right now.  What happens next year?

A: Pudge is a FA and signs elsewhere.  And we have Ramos and Flores, with decent depth in Solano (AAA).  I don’t think Pudge is coming back; he can find work elsewhere with a contender and get another shot at the postseason.  Boswell wants Pudge back instead of Flores … which I’d agree is better but probably not happening.

Q: If lower minor leaguers are continually successful against MLB pitchers on rehab assignments, why don’t MLB hitters adopt the same approach?

A: A great question.  I’ve wondered this myself to a certain extent.  After watching Strasburg get lit up in Hagerstown but then shut down AAA hitters, you have to wonder what is going on?  I’d guess that the answer is something like, “if you swing out of your ass the first time up, you’re not going to see that pitch again and have to adjust.  And low-A hitters don’t adjust.”   Small sample sizes.  Boswell says the kids in low-A got lucky.  Sorry that’s a punt.  You can see Strasburg’s performances in low-A, AA and compare it to AAA and its night and day.  There has to be a better answer.

Q: Should Harper try to make it back for Harrisburg’s AA playoffs?

A: If he’s healthy, why not?  Good enough to start, good enough to play.  However, if he’s not ready then he’ll continue to stay on the DL.  Boswell agrees I guess.

Q: Does Scott Boras ever turn down a player?

A: I’m sure he does, as any agent probably has players he’s turned down.   Boswell says he’s selective, but finds it interesting that he represents some common-man players such as Alberto Gonzalez.

Q: How much lead time will we get for Strasburg’s first MLB start back?

A: Probably depends on his last start.  If he’s a go, and looks good, they’ll make the announcement the next day.  I’m sure they’re not really that worried about ticket sales.  Those tickets will go, fast. Boswell reiterates that one rainout blows all well-laid plans.

Q: Ross Detwiler; future trade bait or future rotational starter based on his 2011 numbers?

A: You can do a lot worse than a #5 starter with a sub 3.00 era (which he has for 2011 right now).  But we clearly have a surplus of young arms.  Assuming that 1-2-3 next year is Strasburg-Zimmermann-Lannan, we have some decisions.  Livan?  Probably gone.  Wang?  We’ll see but he could very well be #4 starter next year.  Then there’s Milone, Meyers and Peacock chomping at the bit in AAA.  And this doesn’t mention Gorzelanny.  I’m guessing some of these guys get traded, not sure which.  Boswell mentions two good points: Detwiler’s fip is far higher than his ERA, and that Detwiler is out of options so he may stick in 2012 just based on that fact.

Q: Baseball strategy question for you: Bottom of the 10th, runners on first and second, nobody out. Tie game. Batter at the plate is oh-fer, with three Ks, two looking. What do you do?

A: I think its pretty clear you bunt.   Trick question b/c this was the situation facing our $126M man Jayson Werth last week. I forgot to take into account a 3-4-5 guy.  In the playoffs or in a complete do-or-die situation even Werth bunts in this situation.

Q: What should we expect from Strasburg upon his return?

A: I’d expect decent to good numbers, but nothing other-worldly.  He’s still recovering and still working his way back.  2012 we can expect greatness again.  Boswell agrees.

My Answers to Boswell’s Chat Questions 8/22/11 edition

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Everyone's excited for the return of Strasburg. Photo via

Boswell’s weekly chat had more Redskins questions than normal, but there was a slew of baseball questions in there as well.  As always, questions are edited for levity/clarity and I write my answer before reading his.

Q: When is Strasburg coming back?

A: Per Mark Zuckerman’s csnwashington article, based on his regular 5-day rest and build up of innings, we should expect Stephen Strasburg back in the majors around September 6th or 7th, right in the middle of the mid-week LA Dodgers series.  Wow imagine if he went up against Clayton KershawBoswell guesses 9/6/11 but repeats over and again these are guesses, since rainouts have a funny way of ruining best laid plans for advance ticket buyers.

Q: Will the Nats go after Prince Fielder, as is being mentioned in the national press?

A: I don’t think so; he doesn’t really fit the mold of the track-star/plus-defender mentality that Mike Rizzo wants in his players.  Plus, signing Fielder basically light’s Adam LaRoche‘s $8M 2012 salary on fire.  And I don’t think the owners would take lightly to 1/8th of their payroll being so blatantly wasted.  I don’t think 2012 is the year that this team makes its big FA splash; I still see 2012 as an incremental building year, with 2013 the year to make a run.  Boswell Agrees.

Q: Do you agree with Kasten’s plan to fill the stadium with Phillies fans?

A: Absolutely not.  I don’t care how much money a sold out weekend series full of drunken low-lifes from Philadelphia generates for your team; its not worth the clear damage done to the psyche of the paying Nats fans who DO show up only to be treated like interlopers in their own stadium.  Philly fans show up for one game and spend a few hundred dollars.  Nats season ticket holders spend THOUSANDS of dollars and finance the team’s payroll.  Which customer do you think is more important to keep happy?  Boswell prints a letter describing what most of us went through opening day 2010, the first time the Philadelphia hordes descended en masse on Nats stadium.

Q: Does Jayson Werth check his swing too much?

A: Not that i’ve noticed, but i’m not exactly glued to the television every time he gets to the plate.  I will say that at sunday’s game he was clearly the victim of a horrible 3rd strike call, and then guessed wrong on another versus Halladay.  No shame in that.  He got enough clutch at-bats and hits this weekend to get an awful lot of good grace from fans.  Boswell says its his natural swing.

Q: Who will be here next year of this list?  Desmond. Gomes. Livo. Wang. Gorzelanny. Pudge.

A: Definitely here: Desmond.  Hopefully here: Wang.  Probably here: Gomes.  Likely gone: Gorzelanny.  Most certainly gone: Livo and Pudge.

The team isn’t ready to give up on Desmond; they like him as a leader and he’s turned into a pretty good fielder.  Wang remains to be seen; has he pitched well enough so far to earn a 2012 contract?  Probably not quite yet … but he also isn’t under a club option for 2012 either (a topic for a future post).  Gomes’ acquisition was a mystery; he’s a lower-performing right-handed version of Laynce Nix but without the left handedness.  He’s making $1.75M this year and certainly wouldn’t get that on the open market, so he’d likely accept arbitration from the team if it was offered (which should have been the primary reason we traded for him, to get his compensation pick).  Gorzelanny seems destined for a non-tender; he didn’t get used for 13 straight days and clearly isn’t getting back into the bullpen.  He probably looks for a rotation spot elsewhere in the league.  Livan looks to be closer to retirement than another contract offer, as he’s regressed badly this season.  Finally Pudge; If I were Ivan Rodriguez i’d go looking for one last shot with a winner.  He’s likely to get a 2-year deal as a backup but his days of starting are probably over.  Boswell agrees with me on most of these opinions.

Q: Are any of the prospects they drafted in 2011 considered top 10 in their farm system?

A: Absolutely!  In fact the 2011 draft may go down as the day this franchise turned.  Rendon shoots up to probably be the #2 in our system behind Harper.  Meyer and Goodwin are top 10 right out of the gate.  And Purke, if he turns out to be healthy, is a 1-1 talent (i.e., #1 draft pick in the 1st Round) who may be right up there with Harper and Rendon.  Someone asked what the Nats top 10 looks like in Jim Callis’ latest Baseball America chat and he said, “Off the top of my head, I’d start their Top 10 like this: Harper, Rendon, Peacock, Cole, Meyer, Goodwin, Purke (move him up if he proves to be healthy). Looks like a possible top-five system, definite top-10.”  Boswell says the top 4 guys are all top-12 prospects right now.

Q: Should Clippard replace Storen as the closer?

A: No.  For two reasons: Clippard is a better arm and therefore gets used in more high leverage situations.  The fact that the Nats can do this with their best reliever is fantastic.  Second; the 8-9 guys are used to their roles, are pretty successful in those roles, so why mess with it?  Boswell says they’re both excellent.

Q: Do you see the Nats as NL East contenders in three years?

A: Absolutely.  I see it even before then; we’re slightly below a .500 team this year w/o our Ace starter and with huge chunks of the season missed by our supposed #3 and #4 hitters.  A full season with Strasburg at the helm plus replacing Livan’s poor starts and Zimmermann’s continued improvement should see this team easily move above .500.  Then you spend money in the FA-rich 2012 off season and prepare for a playoff run in 2013.  Boswell’s succinct answer: Yes.

Q: What “letter grade” do you give Harper on the year?

A: A+.  He was the 2nd youngest player in low-A and owned it as if he was playing against the JV team.  He then was (easily) the youngest player in AA and held his own.  Its a common mistake to remember that if he was playing by the rules, he’d have been a high school senior in April instead of playing ball in Hagerstown, and that he wouldn’t have even signed til 8/15 instead of having hundreds of at bats.  How can you not say he’s met all expectations and exceeded them?  Boswell takes a rather nit-picky view and says he’s a year further away than what he thought.

Q: Should the Nats management take a page from Leonsis’ playbook and actively discourage Phillies fans from coming to games?

A: Tough call; clearly they enjoy the revenue bump as discussed above, but the Nationals fan experience is beyond awful.  Maybe wait until you’re a good enough team to draw on your own and then start discriminating against the 215 area code.

Q: Is Adam Dunn finished?

A: No, but he really needs to re-think his approach to the game.  Why he has fallen off a cliff is probably a combination of factors; new league and new pitchers, pressure of the contract, pressure of being the “savior” of a big-market team, new ballpark, new city and moving your family, but most of all a new position (DH) that may leave him “bored” and “unfocused” during games.  But he’s always relied on his talent and physical abilities in the off season to bring him around and at his age perhaps its time for him to work harder in the off-season.  Boswell didn’t really answer this question, just noted that Dunn’s plight is unprecedented.

Q: What would you say if you were the Nats owners/management to Bud Selig’s “singling out” the team for going over-slot to sign its draftees?

A: I would have told Bud Selig to f*ck off.  Boswell was more diplomatic.

Q: How hard is Jordan Zimmermann’s innings limit?

A: I’d say its pretty solid.  Why possibly jeopardize him in 2011, even if you don’t believe in innings limits or think that its bunk science.  Besides, we really need to give starts to Strasburg and possibly to one from Meyers, Milone or Peacock.  Shut him down, tell him to take an early vacation and see you in February.  Boswell points out a great point: at 162 innings Zimmermann qualifies for year-end award lists and top 10s, which he’s currently on.  He’ll get it and then be pulled.

Nats Trade Moves & Thoughts


Previously I posted that I thought the Nats should trade pretty much everyone they could, given their current spot in the standings.  How’d they do?

Here’s the moves.

  • Acquiring Jonny Gomes: reviewed here.   We picked up Gomes for two minor leaguers that were either blocked (Rhinehart) or long shots (Manno).
  • Trading Jerry Hairston for a decent AA outfielder in Erik Komatsu.  Honestly I was a bit surprised Hairston was moved, given his valuable multi-position coverage for this team this year.  Komatsu wasn’t a BA top10 prospect for Milwaukee, but they did rate him as being the Brewer’s best hitting-for-average prospect in the pre-season.  He has a good pedigree (Cal State Fullerton product) and is doing well in AA this year.  He seems to be another attempt to build the outfielder pipeline that has been pretty poor, and has left the team continually struggling for a quality center fielder.
  • Trading Jason Marquis for a low-minors shortstop in Zach Walters.  Walters was spoken well of by his former U  San Diego teammate Sammy Solis, and has been hitting well this season (albeit he’s playing in low-A as a college draftee).  Some advocated against trading Marquis; not I though, figuring that Marquis was going to draw a decent prospect from somewhere.

In my “what I’d like to see the Nats do” post a few days ago, I basically advocated trading everybody we could.  Clearly having Laynce Nix and Ivan Rodriguez on the DL (either current or recently) prevented them from being trade candidates, and moving Livan Hernandez probably would have left a massive veteran leadership hole in the pitching corps.  We DFA’d Matt Stairs (not that he was ever going to be a trade candidate), and I’d guess that both Rick Ankiel and Alex Cora could still be waiver-wire trades made closer to the post season.  The one move that remains a surprise is not trading Todd Coffey, a decent right hander out of the pen that surely could have shorn up someone’s bullpen for a low-level prospect.

In the “non-move” category, I’m glad we didn’t move Drew Storen for Denard Span as was frequently mentioned in trade rumors leading up to the 7/31 deadline.  Honestly i’d rather pursue BJ Upton in the off season for a higher-ceiling guy.  Clippard is valuable but is a reliever, and despite the tendency of fans to overvalue their own relievers, the return didn’t seem to be worth the disruption to the bullpen.

I’m guessing a few of these expiring contract guys may be post waiver-wire trade possibilities, but all in all I’m happy with the moves and non-moves.  I certainly don’t agree with the pundits who are labeling the team “losers” in the trade market.

Is the Gomes trade solely about a comp pick?


The Nat acquired Gomes ... why? Photo unknown via

Yesterday, The Nationals acquired Jonny Gomes from the Cincinnati Reds for minor leaguers Bill Rhinehart, Christopher Manno and cash (i.e., the Reds are paying part of Gomes’ salary the rest of this year).


The teams needs, as far as I can tell:

  • reliable leadoff hitter
  • better centerfielder
  • a more offensively productive shortstop
  • An ace starting pitcher
  • 2-3 better starting pitchers.
  • incrementally better relievers, or relievers who don’t hit the backstop with fastballs.

No where in that list is there a need for “yet another backup outfielder” to go with the slew of them we already have.  Don’t get me wrong’ there is definitely some value in having Gomes on the bench as a right-handed pinch hitting option (since both Ankiel and Stairs are lefties).  And there’s some value in having Gomes platoon with his left-handed hitting doppleganger Laynce Nix.  But last place teams don’t generally spend time on such a small matter.  To make matters worse, quotes from Gomes clearly show he’s disappointed to be traded from the Reds to the Nats, and it may be interesting to see how his attitude plays out the rest of the year.

To me, this trade was solely about getting the supplemental first rounder that Gomes would net if he maintains his type-B FA status.  Rizzo said as much himself when asked about the trade.  And I’m ok with that.  The two prospects we gave up were marginal prospects in this team’s grand scheme; Rhinehart was a good-hitting first baseman, but is a 26yr old in AA and is blocked by the younger, more promising Chris Marrero.  Manno, while certainly a blogosphere favorite, was a 22-yr toiling and putting up dominant numbers in low-A, and his ceiling seemed to be as a matchup-left hander (loogy) at some point in the future.  I guess Rizzo thought a 2012 mid 30-s draft pick was worth those two prospects in the long run.

Last question; who makes way on the 25-man?  You have to think this is the end of the road for one Matt Stairs.

Written by Todd Boss

July 27th, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Boswell, er I mean Sheinin’s 7/25/11 chat questions, answered

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Is Davey Johnson up for the task at hand? Photo unknown origin.

I whiffed on the last couple of Boswell’s chats, finding time enough to read them but not to write a 2000 word missive in response.  Boswell’s on vacation this week, so here’s Dave Sheinin covering for him and doing a chat.

As always, I paraphrase the “questions” for levity and clarity, and I answer each question myself before reading Dave’s answer.

Q: Has the game passed by Davey Johnson?

A: Camera shots certainly seem to catch Johnson in an “old man” stupor from time to time.  I don’t think Baseball is like Football in that older generations of coaches can’t compete b/c the game has passed them by.  But I don’t sense that Johnson is really that in tune with the game right now.  The team has swooned since he took over, he has lost more than his share of 1-run games (fairly or unfairly set at the foot of the manager).  In reality this is a longer-term answer, meaning we’ll only be able to tell after he runs the team for a while.  Sheinin says that whoever replaced Riggleman was destined for a fall, and that he’s ok with everything Johnson has done thus far.

Q: Is Strasburg going to hit Potomac during his rehab trip, or are they gonna get screwed over again?

A: Good question; I’d say this time he appears for Potomac at some point, as the Nats had Wang travel up and down the system to get starts on his regular rotation.  There doesn’t seem to be a need to keep Strasburg out of Potomac’s awful outfield.  Sheinin agrees.

Q: How would you handicap the odds of the following trades happening by the deadline: 1. Nats trade Marquis 2. Nats trade Livan 3. Nats trade Clippard 4. Nats trade Desmond 5. Nats trade other(s) 6. Nats acquire Colby Rasmus 7. Nats acquire BJ Upton 8. Nats acquire Michael Bourn 9. Nats acquire other CF.

A: I’d put them in this order of most likely: 1, 5 (Coffey), large gap, 3, 2, 7, 9 (Span), 8, 4, 6.

I think Marquis and Coffey are definitely moving.  I don’t think anyone would want Livan.  I have a hard time thinking that the team is going to move Clippard or Desmond.  Rasmus probably goes elsewhere.  Bourn is a lesser version of Upton, so we’d probably want Upton over anyone else.

Sheinin thinks that the most likely players to get traded is Coffey, and doesn’t think Marquis is going anywhere.

Q: Do you think Riggleman intentionally left the team at its “high-water” mark?

A: Absolutely.  Riggleman was frustrated by the lack of communication from his boss (Rizzo), frustrated by his lame-duck status and probably was reading the tea-leaves that he’d be let to just play out his contract and let someone else enjoy the spoils of his work in 2012.  So he gave the team an ultimatum at the time that best suited his negotiaitons.  Rizzo called his bluff and Riggleman walked.  I know most believe Riggleman acted selfishly, but I put a ton of blame on Rizzo’s poor handling of the situation.  One conversation probably could have avoided all the negative press that followed Riggleman’s departure.  Sheinin thinks Riggleman knew exactly what he was doing.

Q: Would you trade both Clippard and Norris to get Denard Span?

A: No, I would not.  I think the Nats value the combined value of both those players, both under team control for at least 4 years (Clippard) to at least 6 in Norris’ case.  Span is decent, but for that price i’d shoot for Upton (who has more power and steals more bases).  Sheinin dodged the question, stating that Span wasn’t really in play.  Which he wasn’t at 11am monday, but since then rumors have floated about the Twins and Nats talking about him.

Q: What kind of pitch count will Wang be on?  What would be an expected first outing?

Probably nothing too conservative; he’s been rehabbing for literally a year and a half.  But if he reaches 100 pitches in an outing i’d be surprised.  I think a 5ip 2run outing would be a major success.  Sheinin doesn’t expect much.

Q: What will the team do with Gorzelanny, who seemingly is making way for Wang in the rotation?  DL?

A: The team can’t demote him (options), so they probably demote Detwiler and have Gorzelanny be the new long-man out of the pen.  At least until we trade a starter or someone goes down with an injury.  He may have an “invented injury” all of a sudden and go onto the 15-day DL.  Certainly the team has been shady in the past in the way it handles DL trips, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this happen here.  Sheinin says that teams hide injuries all the time for competitive purposes.

Q: Why is Drew Storen’s name in trade rumors?

A: Good question.  I have a very hard time believing the Nats would consider trading Storen unless it was to obtain someone marquee.  It may be that other teams are asking about him and that news is leaking out. Sheinin does say that relievers are fungible, as I’ve said many times, and you never say never to a trade possibility.

Q: What makes more sense in 2012: Morse in LF or at 1B?

A: Makes more sense: keeping Morse at first and Nix in left and not messing with what has turned into a very healthy middle-of-the-order for this team.  Reality: LaRoche isn’t going to get traded and we don’t want to light $8M on fire, so he’s going back to 1B.  Which means Morse is back in left and Nix is left out.  Sheinin says a lot can happen between now and next spring, like us signing Prince Fielder and making this whole conversation moot.

Q: If you had to bet right now, is Desmond or Lombardozzi starting in the infield next year?

A: I’d bet Desmond starts there and is given one more year to figure it out.  Lombardozzi starts in AAA and if he earns his way up, he earns his way up.  Sheinin agrees, but says that Desmond needs to start producing or risk losing his job.

Q: Why did Riggleman call out Boswell during his departure?

A: Probably because Boswell wrote a ton of not-so-nice pieces essentially proving just how bad a manager Riggleman has been over his career.  You’d probably be pissed as well.  Sheinin thinks that Riggleman’s rant was misguided.

Q: Who starts in CF for this team in 2012?

A: Who knows.  It really seems like this team is in the market for a CF, so right now i’d say its a FA to be named.  I don’t think it will be Ankiel or Bernadina.  Ankiel parts ways with the team and Bernadina battles with Nix to be the 4th outfielder.  Sheinin agrees.

Q: Which team will regret their big contract more?  Werth/Nats, Howard/Phillies, Jeter/Yankees or A-Rod/Yankees?

A: Probably the Nats.  Howard is a big bat in the middle of a talented lineup and it more or less goes unnoticed that he’s not producing at his normal levels in 2011.  The Yankees have so many $40M mistakes that its comical, but the A-Rod contract in particular looks like it will be a massive albatross in a few years (A-Rod is guaranteed $20M in 2017, when he’ll turn 42 mid-season).  Sheinin agrees.

What I’d like to see the Nats do at the trade deadline…


Will Sunday's start be Jason Marquis' last in a Nats uniform? Photo Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

I’m a realist.

The Nats are not going to catch the Braves for the NL Wild Card.  Given that situation, I believe the team needs to cash in on its expiring veterans and trade them.  Some of our vets should go before the 7/31 non-waiver deadline, others probably would pass through waivers (as Cristian Guzman did in 2010) and could be moved for low-level prospects closer to the end of the season.

That being said, as a follower of the minor league rotations and as a fan looking forward to the future of this team, I’d rather see our prospects and “what-ifs” now instead of following guys as they play out the string in August and September.  Here’s a list of moves I’d like to see and who should replace them.

  1. Jason Marquis.  We trade him for whatever he can get and we shoudn’t get too hung up on his return value.  According to mlbtraderumor’s estimates of the current Elias rankings, Marquis isn’t even close to being a type-B free agent, thus he nets us no comp picks at the end of the season if/when he signs elsewhere.  We should trade Marquis and immediately make room in the rotation for one Chien-Ming Wang, who makes (presumably) his last rehab start today 7/24 and needs to immediately come up and join the 25-man roster.
  2. Livan Hernandez.  Some say we keep the old veteran, and I can certainly see that argument.  However, his up-and-down season has frustrated many, and we’ve got a starter in Ross Detwiler who could/should immediately take his rotation spot.  Hernandez, according to the above Elias rankings, believe it or not is right on the cusp of type-B status, which could net a supplemental first rounder for whoever has him at the end of the season.  But that’s a risky proposition; odds are he’d accept arbitration and the guaranteed payday from the offering team, negating the possible comp pick.
  3. Laynce Nix: the slugging left fielder has been a great find for this team, going from minor league signee to starting left fielder.  But, there isn’t going to be room for him in 2012, with LaRoche coming back and Morse likely moving back to left field.  We could keep the outfielder as a 4th, but a player like Rick Ankiel or Roger Bernadina makes more sense as a 4th outfielder since they can play all three OF positions and have decent speed on the basepaths.  We should trade him now while his value is high.  This is complicated lately by his achilles tendon injury, so the odds are that he’s staying put.  Another point against; if Nix goes, who replaces him on the roster?  We don’t really have a ready-made, deserving AAA outfielder that we could call up.  We could bring up Chris Marrero, put him at first and put Morse back in left, a move that doesn’t have any 40-man roster impact.
  4. Todd Coffey: the middle relief righty has struggled lately but still has value for teams looking for bullpen support.  Flip him and bring up the deserving, long toiling and local product Josh Wilkie.
  5. Ivan Rodriguez: the Giants continue to need catching depth, they love veterans and Pudge would have a likely playoff run with a trade.  We could continue with Jesus Flores in a backup role, now that it seems that the word has gotten out that his arm is shot and he’s no longer earning trade value playing full time in AAA.  Of course, as we speak Pudge is on the DL so any trade before the deadline is likely off.
  6. Any one of the rest of our one-year FA backups: Cora, Hairston, Stairs, and Ankiel.  All four of these guys likely pass through waivers and would serve as excellent role players for teams on a playoff push.  Cora and Hairston could be replaced by Brian Bixler or Steve Lombardozzi easily enough, while Stairs or Ankiel, if moved along with Nix, would probably necessitate the return of a MLB-ready outfielder.

Who do I think we should NOT move, unless we get excellent value coming back?

  1. Ian Desmond: his name keeps appearing in trade rumors, with conflicting reports.  Some say we’re “actively shopping” him, others say that he’s a “core piece” and won’t be moved.  We’d be selling low on Desmond, given his precipitous drop in offensive production this year.  However, if the team long term wants to move Espinosa to short and make room for the likes of Lombardozzi or (eventually perhaps) Anthony Rendon, then striking while the iron is hot and people are asking for Desmond makes sense.
  2. Tyler Clippard: I posted on the topic of Clippard’s name appearing in trade rumors earlier this week.  My arguments are there in greater detail; we should only move him if we’re “wowed” by the return.
  3. Drew Storen: can’t see how we’re even considering moving him; he’s under club control through 2015, is a poster child for excellent drafting and quick rise to the majors, and is quickly becoming an excellent closer.  He’s 25/28 in save opportunities as a 23-yr old this year; you don’t trade these guys, you build around them.

Anyone else not already mentioned is either untradeable (Werth, LaRoche), untouchable (Zimmermann, Zimmerman, Espinosa, Ramos), or somewhere in the realm of club-control guys (Bernadina, Lannan, Gorzelanny as examples) who aren’t worth as much to other teams as they are to us.

Lastly, here’s some player targets we’ve heard that the Nationals are interested in.

  1. BJ Upton: Upton is enigmatic to say the least; his numbers put him at a barely greater than average mlb player, but he gets steals and hits for some power and plays a declining CF (don’t believe me?  Look at his uzr/150 ratings drop for 4 straight seasons here, culminating with a negative score for 2011 so far).  Is he the solution for our leadoff/center field spot?  Perhaps.  But I don’t want to give up the farm for a guy we’ll only control for one more year (he’s entering his 3rd arbitration year in 2012).
  2. Michael Bourn: he’s a far lesser version of Upton; far less power but more speed, and 2011 is the first time he’s been above 100 OPS+ in his career.  We’d be buying high for sure.  Somehow he makes more than Upton in the same 2nd year arbitration situation.
  3. Colby Rasmus: i’d love to get him, he’d be a monster in center field.  He’s young, he produced excellently in 2010, and seems to be perpetually in his manager’s doghouse.  The latest  rumors though have him going elsewhere, not to the Nats.  Plus, I’m not quite sure why the Cards would trade him in the first place; the guy’s making the MLB minimum and batting in the middle of their order.

Bill Ladson’s 7/21/11 inbox; my answers to his questions


Is this your 2011 NL Rookie of the Year? Photo: AP via

MLB Nationals beat reporter Bill Ladson doesn’t do mailboxes that frequently, but when he does I’m sometimes intrigued by his answers.  Lets see how i’d have answered the questions he took in his latest mailbag.  As always, I read the question and answer it myself prior to reading his answer.

Q: Don’t get me wrong, I love Danny Espinosa. But how can you say he’s the “most complete player I’ve covered since Vladimir Guerrero”
A: I like Danny Espinosa and was a fan of his even before he started his 2011 rookie-of-the-year campaign.  A question though: does Espinosa even feature as a typical 5-tool player? Power (yes), Average? (not yet … despite his BABIP being a bit low he’s only hitting in the .240s), but perhaps in the future.  Speed?  12 Stolen bases on pace for about 20.  Defense?  by all accounts yes.  Arm?  Definitely.  So, he’s pretty durn complete.  But, he’s got exactly 3/4 of one pro season under his belt.  A lot has to happen before we start comparing him to one of the better players in the last 20 years (Vladimir Guerrero).  Ladson says he IS a 5-tool player, and that he’s the best defensive 2nd baseman in baseball right now.  Heady statements.  Here’s a list of Uzr/150 ratings for 2nd basemen right now; Espinosa is 5th behind some pretty good defensive players.  Will he stay at 2nd base long enough to gain consideration or take over at short?  See below.

Q: With Mike Cameron traded to the Marlins, do you see the Nationals making a move to get someone like Cameron before the non-waiver Trade Deadline?
A: Mike Rizzo keeps talking about how he wants a center fielder.  BJ Upton and Michael Bourn are names that keep popping up.  But at what point does the team realize it may have a great future center fielder in Bryce Harper and just wait it out?  I wouldn’t want Cameron, an aging player living on his defensive reputation of yesteryear.   Ladson specifically mentions both Upton and Bourn, stating that the Nats are not interested in aging vets.

Q: What is Ian Desmond’s future with the team? Steve Lombardozzi seems like he could be a fit as a leadoff hitter sooner rather than later. Problem is, he plays second base. Could Desi move to left field, or is it more likely he goes to another ballclub? His numbers offensively have not been good.
A: Great question. Ian Desmond has clearly taken a step backwards offensively just at the same time that he’s finally taken a step forward defensively. What should the team do? Live with a plus defender (Desmond believe it or not has a positive Uzr/150 this year, putting him in the upper half of defensive short stops) and his crummy bat?  Or try to improve?  I think the answer may eventually be to transition Desmond to a different role if he can’t be more consistent at the plate.  I’m not sure Steve Lombardozzi is the answer (he very well may be; i’ve advocated in the past for this exact same move) until he proves he can hit at AAA and proves he can hit in the majors.  But we also have Anthony Rendon in the wings and may have to find a position for him as well.  Its a good problem to have; too many good players and not enough spots.  Ladson thinks Desmond is trade bait and is coveted by several teams; we may get our answer in the off-season.

Q: With Michael Morse doing so well at first base, is there any chance they might try and use LaRoche as trade bait?
A: Another great question.  The Nats do have some interesting story lines facing them as they go into 2011. Morse has been a revelation and will be a key part of the team in 2012. LaRoche is signed and is a 25 homer/100rbi guy with plus defense at first, so its hard to believe we’ll sell low on him and dump him this off season.  What would he bring in trade return?  Almost nothing.  My guess is that Morse moves back to left, we flip Nix into a reliever or something, and re-install LaRoche at first. Ladson Agrees.

Q: I saw recently that Chad Cordero retired. I know he left Washington with some resentment toward the front office, but is there any chance the two sides can bury the hatchet and honor Chad with some sort of ceremony thanking him for his contributions? He was a fan favorite who gave everything he had while wearing the curly W. He certainly deserves it.
A: Any resentment Cordero had towards this franchise should have died the day Bowden was fired. But, who knows, he could have blamed the owners for the actions of its employees. Without dishonoring the guy too much, how much of an impact did he really have here? You can argue that Cordero was a flash in the pan, an over-rated player in a position (closer) that is fungible and more or less replaceable with most any bullpen arm. He had a fantastic season the year the team moved here in 2005, and never came close to replicating it before getting hurt.  We spent most of the 2007 season talking about trading the guy.  It’d be like honoring Vinny Castillo in some ways.  Ladson agrees, and says we should think about honoring Frank Robinson first.  Fair enough, but why exactly does this team “need” to honor anybody from the past few years?  What did Frank Robinson do for this team except guide it to consecutive last place finishes?

Q: Do you see the Nationals moving Jayson Werth to the cleanup spot? We know how good Morse and Laynce Nix are, but chances are opposing teams will walk Ryan Zimmerman if those two are behind him.
A: I’m not sure what games this questioner is watching this year, but perhaps this guy has not seen that a) Werth is struggling mightily, b) Morse is hitting the ball lights out, and c) Nix is hitting a heck of a lot better than the average guy. You set your lineup so that you’re not batting 5 right-handed guys in a row but also with a mind towards the roles and capabilities of the players. Werth, Morse and Zimmerman are all right handed guys and should only be put together if you’re facing a lefty. Nix is a great way to break that up but his lefty-lefty splits aren’t that great.  What would be really great is if LaRoche was healthy and producing and in the mix for 3-4-5-6 as well, or if Espinosa becomes the power hitting force that he could be and continues to be a basher in the 2-hole.  Ladson says Werth may move back to #5 but he’s no cleanup hitter.

Q: When will Bryce Harper get promoted to the big leagues?
A: Target Mid June 2012. I think maybe the team gets a wild hair and calls him up this september for some cheap box office gate days. And you can’t blame them; he’s already on the 40-man roster after all. But any days he plays here in september delay the days he needs to sit in the minors so as to avoid super-2 status. Besides, Rizzo has repeatedly said he’s not coming up in 2011. Btw, I don’t believe Harper’s current struggles once promoted to AA mean much. He should have gone to high-a but understand why he skipped Potomac’s ridiculously bad field. He’ll pick it back up and he’ll hit .300 his final month of AA.  Ladson didn’t really answer, just saying that Harper won’t make it up this year.

Why is Tyler Clippard appearing in Trade Rumors?


Clippard is inarguably the glue of the Nationals much-improved bullpen. Photo Meaghan Gay/

(editor’s note: its been quiet on nationalsarmrace.  Its been a Bad bad week for work, with yours truly finishing up a project and starting a new job next monday.  I’ve got some stuff written but its not complete, I’m hoping to get some time this w/e to post.  Apologies for radio silence).

In the baseball calendar, the all-star break represents the mid-way point of the season (despite it annually occurring a few games AFTER the 81st game for teams).  But for transaction mavens, it also marks the beginning of the pre-waiver wire trade season.  The Nationals have enjoyed unexpected success in 2011, playing far above predictions and its unclear to some whether we’re Buyers, Sellers or somewhere in-between.  Frankly, we should be thinking of selling no matter what our record.  We’re 9 games back of the Wild Card (Atlanta) and they’re a far superior team to us.  We need to acknowledge this fact and start cashing in every veteran free agent on a one-year contract that we can.

That means we move every one of this list of players if we can: Jason Marquis (to the pitching starved Yankees or Red Sox perhaps?), Ivan Rodriguez (to the Giants, who need catching depth and love veterans), Jerry Hairston, Rick Ankiel, Todd Coffey (to Texas maybe, who craves bullpen help and has been scouting him), Alex Cora, Livan Hernandez, Laynce Nix and even Matt Stairs.   Of course, most of these guys are playing at or below replacement level and are not going anywhere.  But some definitely have value.  Marquis and Coffey are the two most obvious trade candidates, followed by Pudge.

(Side note: Do I advocate trading Laynce Nix?  Yes I do.  He’s playing at a high level in-arguably, but there’s no spot for him next year.  LaRoche can only play 1st, which pushes Morse back to Left.  Nix can’t play anywhere else.  He’s too good to be a 4th outfielder and his value is high right now.  We should flip him for a prospect now).

Now, in addition to the typical trade candidates mentioned above, we keep reading rumors that list both Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen as being tradeable assets.  And I can’t quite understand why.

On the one hand, relievers are and should be treated as nearly fungible assets to be used and then discarded when they’re done.   I even believe this when it comes to closers, and will cite lots of research done by people like Joe Posnanski about how even with $10M closers MLB teams are winning almost the exact same percentage of games with 3-run leads in the 9th inning now that they did in the 50s before the closer was invented.

However, I completely acknowledge that Clippard is easily our most important reliever, more valuable and better than Storen, and I love the fact that we’re using our best reliever right now in the highest leverage situations instead of letting him sit on his ass waiting for a “save opportunity” while the 5th best guy in your pen tries to get the starter out of bases-loaded, no outs jams in the 6th innings of games (a personal managing pet peeve of mine).  Meanwhile Storen is a poster child for our team’s player development and drafting, having signed quickly and risen through the minors to nearly become the first player of his draft class to debut in the majors.

For me though, both Clippard and Storen have one other overriding factor; their contract status.  They’re both pre-arbitration guys with lots of years of team control still to come.  The absolute best asset in all of baseball is the pre-arbitration pitcher, so i’d have to think this team would need to be completely overblown by a trade offer to consider moving either guy.  We control Tyler Clippard THROUGH 2015, Storen even longer.  Even with four arbitration years coming Clippard is going to be vastly underpaid as compared to what he’s worth on the open market.

We all know there are certain players that are “un-tradeable.”  Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper, Danny Espinosa, Steven Strasburg are names that come to mind on this team.  So if some offer came in for Clippard and Storen that was just unbelievable we’d have to consider it of course.  But should we be shopping these guys?  Absolutely not.

Nats Rotation Cycle #15: good/bad/soso


It is good to have the Face of the Franchise back. Photo unknown credit via

The Nats finally get Ryan Zimmerman back into a suddenly potent lineup, and continue their longest winning streak in several years.  How’d our guys fare heading into the weekend Interleague series with the Orioles?


  • Livan Hernandez pitched perhaps his best game in a Nats uniform on June 15th (box/gamer) against the powerful St. Louis lineup.  A 3-hit shutout.  Three errors and 4 bombs from his improving offense definitely helped, but he would have won this game even with his typical crummy run support.  Game score on the night: 87.  Nice.  (Verlander‘s no hitter on May 7th scored a 90, for comparison purposes).  For a nice overview of the Bill James Gamescore, and a list of the greatest pitching performances in National’s history, read Zuckerman‘s piece here.
  • John Lannan continues to look like a different pitcher than earlier this season, throwing his sixth straight quality start in the St. Louis series finale on 6/16 (box/gamer).  He was denied the spoils of victory though, with Danny Espinosa‘s walkoff 3-run shot giving Burnett a victory.  The win pulled the Nats out of last place in the NL east for the first time this late in the season since perhaps 2005.
  • While not quite as dominant as his past few starts, Jordan Zimmermann threw yet another quality start in saturday 6/18’s game versus Baltimore (box/gamer).  He went 6 1/3, giving up 2 runs on 8 hits for his 9th consecutive quality start.  In that time he’s driven his ERA from 4.55 to its current 3.08, good enough for 12th in the NL as of 6/19.  Can we say “second Ace” yet?


  • Jason Marquis somehow willed his way out of 12 hits in less than 6 innings without giving up a dozen runs, settling for 4 against the Orioles on friday night (box/gamer).  The Orioles certainly did not hit well with RISP, and it cost them as the Nats bats continued to be hot and they extended their winning streak.
  • Tom Gorzelanny‘s return from the DL was poor: he failed to get out of the 5th inning and got pounded by the Orioles to end the Nats 8-game winning streak on 6/19 (box/gamer).  He gave up 10 hits for 5 runs (4 earned) on the afternoon.  No strikeouts for the team’s leading k/9 guy, making you wonder if he’s rushed back from his injury.  His velocity seemed ok and he was pitching to contact … but the Orioles aren’t exactly a weak-hitting team.  We’ll have to hope for a stronger start next time out.

Starter Trends: Lannan and Zimmermann continue their hot streaks, Livan continues his yo-yo-ing of performances, and Marquis gets a win on a day he got hit around pretty badly.

MLB Trends (through gorzelanny 6/19)
Lhernandez         soso,soso,good,bad,great
Marquis                soso,good,good,good,bad
Lannan                  great,good,good,good,good
Zimmermann     good,good,good,great,good
Gorzelanny         good,bad,soso,bad->dl,bad

Relievers of Note

  • Boy its nice to see a bullpen full of shut-down arms.  A quick glance at the ERA+ stats of our bullpen as of 6/19 offers up some pretty dominant figures.  Storen-159, Clippard-197, Rodriguez-219, Coffey-183, Mattheus-infinite (he’s yet to give up a run in two appearances).  Only Balester and Burnett have sub 100 figures.  The ERA+ is a bit deceptive for certain people (for example, Doug Slaten has a 179 figure despite a god-awful WHIP and a horrible inherited runners-scoring track record) but for the most part does a good job characterizing the performance of pitchers over the long haul.

Thoughts on the offense

  • Rick Ankiel can’t seem to catch a break this season, going back on the DL to let a strained rib cage muscle heal properly.  The move was fortuitous for the Nats, who needed to activate Tom Gorzelanny to make his 6/20 start and offers a stay of execution for (likely) Brian Bixler on the active roster.
  • 6 of the 8 starting hitters for this team now feature OPS+ stats > 100.  Only Desmond and Bernadina (who just missed out with a 95 OPS+) are struggling to join the hit parade.
  • More importantly for our power-starved team, with 43% of the season gone we’ve got 4 players on pace to eclipse 20 homers on the season (Werth, Nix, Morse and Espinosa), and Zimmerman may pick up the pace and threaten that same mark.  Espinosa is noteworthy as the team leader, currently on pace for 27-28 homers during his rookie season, from the 2nd base position.  He may become a very valuable player indeed.