Nationals Arm Race

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

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Nats System 2016 Pitching Staff Projections

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Scherzer leads the MLB rotation for a second year. Photo via sportingnews.com

Scherzer leads the MLB rotation for a second year. Photo via sportingnews.com

(Editor note: I was out of the country for the last week; good timing in terms of missing the snow, but not so much for trying to get on a flight back to DC.  Never got one actually; had to settle for a flight to JFK last night and a train ride ride down).

Now that we’re through all the 2015 Pitching staff review series, level by level, here’s a summary projection of what the pitching staffs may look like for 2016.  These projections are based on the 7 deep dive rotation reviews but are all put in one place.  Since player movement occurs daily, I may have missed one or two MLFA signings but these should be up-to-date as of the time of publishing.

All the reviews in the 2015 series:


 

Nats System Staff projections for 2016 season

(* == lefty, ^ == MLFA or new acquisition for 2016)

MLB

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

Quick Discussion: This assumes no more rotation acquisitions; if one occurs, bump Roark to long-man with Treinen then getting dumped to AAA save for injury (See next section for the Arroyo discussion).  It looks like the team can’t move Papelbon for anything of value and refuses to eat $11M and instead moved Storen for something we do value (a CF).  I know they’re still connected to random starters here and there, which continues my amazement in their lack of trust of Roark as an effective 5th starter (I guess his 50 innings in 2013 and 200 awesome innings in 2014 just weren’t convincing enough).  Honestly if they don’t trust Roark, then just call up Giolito.  This is their last season with Strasburg and one of their last with Harper, so “saving” Giolito at this “win now” point seems dumb.  We’ll see.

AAA

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

Quick Discussion: Both Hill and Davis took outright assignments to AAA to stick with the team after being DFA’d in the last few weeks: this could lead to some downstream moves in spring training (specifically someone like McGregor getting squeezed in a numbers game).  We have slightly overloaded the bullpen assuming that there’s some injuries to come.  Only a few “veteran MLFA” types listed here, a good sign for the system and its ability to generate upper-level minor league talent, but seemingly every other day we hear about more such signings, probably for competition purposes and/or to fulfil what seems to be the annual ritual of giving guys a few weeks of meal money to throw innings in spring training for one last shot at a roster spot.

The very recent signing of Bronson Arroyo is an interesting one; he’ll be 40, coming off of TJ and has shown himself to be effective even despite a lack of velocity even deep into his 30s.  Is he a competitor to Roark for the 5th starter spot?  Is this a favor to Dusty Baker?  For now, i’m putting him as AAA depth but have to think he’s got an opt-out if he doesn’t make the MLB team so he’s likely to be either the 5th starter or a FA come 4/1/16.

Post-publish edit: thanks to JohnC, I totally forgot about our early off-season MLFA signing of Sean Burnett, our old favorite loogy (who also happens to throw the ball right handed while shagging flies in the OF).  If he doesn’t have an opt-out, I’ll project him as a Syracuse loogy but perhaps behind Solis and Grace thanks to his lack of 40-man status.  I hope he’s still got it after two TJs.

AA

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

Quick Discussion: here’s where we start to see some log jamming going on; we already have 6 good candidates for the AA rotation (and that was before the recently announced Gorski signing), 10 for the bullpen (some of which already have been promoted to AAA in 2015) and another 4 guys who could still slot in somewhere who i’ve called “release candidates” because of the numbers game.  That’s 20+ guys for 12-13 slots.  Do they get pushed down and cause cascading High-A fall out (where the story is the same?) or do we see some wholesale shredding of contracts this coming spring training?  Do you move UP guys like Giolito, Harper instead and cut AAA veteran MLFAs?

High-A

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

Quick Discussion: Again, I see this as an overloaded squad; 6 starters, 10 relievers.  Perhaps some AA guys drop down, perhaps there’s guys listed here to are more likely release candidates than sure things (Napoli?  Amlung?  Johanssen even?). We may eventually get our answer; the team just released Cooper despite my thinking he was more or less a lock for the Potomac bullpen in 2016.   I’m really curious to see what a couple of the starters here do this year in particular: Austen Williams and Erick Fedde.  We talked earlier about Fedde perhaps starting the season in Hagerstown … but as we’re about to see, there’s just so many guys for a couple of slots.

Low-A

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

Quick Discussion: 6 projected starters, another 8 for the bullpen, and another 6 relievers who … well, i’m not sure where you put them.  You can’t have 20 pitchers in XST can you?  Well, maybe you can and they can catch on with the short-season squads … but look at who is already projected for Short-A below.  In the comments section of the Short-A post a few weeks back, we talked about the four lefty college starters who were drafted and in the Auburn rotation (Hearn, Crownover, Guilbeau and Borne); all had more or less the same pro numbers in Auburn; who stays in the rotation moving up?  Who goes to the pen?  There were already 4 guys who made sense to project to the Hagerstown rotation; where are 4 more college lefties going to go?  Its almost like the team needs an entire additional low-A team to staff.

Short-A

  • Rotation: Bourque, AMartinez, Valero, Watson
  • Bullpen: Morales (swingman), LTorres, Acevedo, Harmening, Serrata
  • release candidates: Feliz, Reynoso, Mills, DeRosier, VanVossen, Copping, Pantoja
  • out of organization: Overton, Plouck, Webb, McDowell, Sylvestri

Quick Discussion: I’ve already got nearly a full squad of arms for short-A as it is, and we havn’t accounted for any 2016 draftees nor potential dropdowns from Hagerstown.  I just feel like there’s going to be some whole sale releases this spring.  Either that or Rizzo is going to draft nothing but bats in 2016.

Rookie

  • Rotation: Avila, Fuentes, WPena
  • Bullpen: CPena
  • release candidate: De La Cruz
  • out of organization: Salazar, Jauss, DVasquez, Morel, EGomez, Charlis, JRamirez, Costa, Uribarri, Mancini, Yrizarri, Bermudez

Quick discussion: practically nobody in the domestic system right now projects to repeat the Rookie league, which means that a) we should expect a ton of guys to make their way from the DSL and/or b) we should expect more 2016 draftees to start here.  Perhaps I should have done a review of the DSL guys to make predictions on who earned their way off the island.

 

——————————–

Guys who really impressed me in 2015 and to watch out for in 2016.  Kind of my own version of Luke’s “watch list” but I was definitely struck by several guys while doing these posts and here’s the list.

  • MLB: Ross, Rivero
  • AAA: Espino, Martin
  • AA: Voth, Giolito, de los Santos, Harper, NLee
  • High-A: Lopez, Mapes, Walsh
  • Low-A: Valdez, ALee, Orlan, Glover, Brinley
  • Short-A: AWilliams,Fedde, Rivera Jr, Johns (why was he released??)
  • Rookie: Valero, Watson, Avila

 

 

Nationals Arm Race Best Stories for 2015; Happy New Year!

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Here’s a quick recap of the year in stories on this blog, to tie a bow on 2015.  From each month, I’ve grabbed a couple of the more interesting or unique posts I did, with thoughts and follow-on.

(Here’s 2014’s review and  2013’s review as well, to see how far we have or have not evolved…)

Jan 2015:

  • Holy Cow Scherzer! Nats make a statement by signing Scherzer for $210M; he does not disappoint with 2 no-hitters in his first season.  We’ll conveniently forget his 6+ ERA during crunch time when the team was caught and surpassed in the standings by the eventual NL champion Mets.
  • Like the Janssen signing: Yeah; this one didn’t work out as well.

Feb 2015

Mar 2015

  • Brady Aiken has TJ surgery, shakes up draft boards: Aiken eventually goes 17th overall and loses millions versus where he was drafted the year prior.  Hope he can come back from such an early TJ surgery.
  • Nats Outfield … what happens next?  Big discussion once it became clear that both Span and Werth were not making the 2015 opening day lineup healthy.

Apr 2015

May 2015

  • 2015 CWS Field of 64 announced; teams and analysis: one of many CWS posts, culminating in UVA winning in Omaha in late June.
  • DC/MD/VA District High School Tournament Report: 2015 post-season: May is Prep HS tournament time.  June has a ton of College and College World Series posts.  I know I don’t get a lot of comments on my HS and College coverage, but I enjoy following both and try to keep interest in local baseball alive.  FWIW, the area may very well have a first round pick in 2016 in Oakton HS’ Joe Rizzo.  More to come in February when I start up Prep baseball 2016 posts.

June 2015

July 2015

Aug 2015

Sept 2015

Oct 2015

Nov 2015

Dec 2015

 


Total posts for 2015 (including this one): 115.  That’s down from 130 posts in 2014 and down significantly from 2013 (237 posts).  Wow, how in the heck did I do 237 posts in 2013.  That’s nearly a post for every weekday, all year.  Including this post, i’ve published 923 total since the inception of the blog.  When I hit 1000 i’ll do some cool retrospective or something.  Should happen midway through 2016.

923 posts; that’s a lot of writing.  I once calculated that a typical novel is between 90,000 and 100,000 words.  Well, most of my posts are between 1000 and 2500 words … so that means I’m writing about a book every 50 posts.  I’m in the wrong profession.  Of course, i’m not sure who would ever read a book about some random IT guy’s musings about his local baseball team.  :-)

I feel like we have a solid group always commenting, no trolls.  Very grateful for everyone who stops by and everyone who comments.  I wonder how we can get more readers; should I do more publishing on twitter when I post?  Probably.  Now that natsinsider.com is gone, we may struggle to get the word out since Mark was my primary feeder site.

We generally have 20-30 comments on each post, which is cool.  High comments on posts were 70 on a “Ladson Inbox”post in January 2015 and an astonishing 115 comments on the August “call me when we sweep Atlanta” post.

Happy New Year and thanks for reading in 2015.

Baseball’s Off-Season calendar 2015-16

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Published online at Google Docs link here, and included as a link along the right-hand side of the blog.

But here’s a quick table with the dates and events that mark the furious off-season of Baseball:

Date Event
9/24/2015 Nominees for Roberto Clemente Award
10/4/2015 Last day of regular season
10/5/2015 End of Year BBWAA award ballots due (prior to beginning of post season)
10/6/2015 Beginning of 2015 Post-Season
10/23/2015 Gold Glove finalists announced
10/24/2015 – 10/29/2015 NPB Japan World Series
10/26/2015 Sporting News Comeback Players of the Year AL and NL
10/26/2015 Sporting News Rookies of the Year AL and NL
10/27/2015 Sporting News Managers of the Year AL and NL
10/28/2015 Sporting News All Star Teams of the year
10/28/2015 MLB Relievers of the year (Rivera and Hoffman Awards)
10/29/2015 Sporting News Player of the Year, MLB
10/29/2015 Sporting News Executive of the Year announced
10/30/2015 Roberto Clemente Award given
10/30/2015 Fielding Bible Awards given
10/31/2015 approx Hall of Fame “Veterans Committee/Golden Era” releases ballot.
10/31/2015 Hank Aaron Awards given
11/1/2015 Last actual day of 2015 World Series; official end of 2015 season
11/2/15 (WS end + 1) MLB Coaches contracts expire
11/2/15 (WS end + 1) MLB announces nominees for GIBBYs
11/2/15 (WS end + 1) Official start of FA period (8am CST the day after the last game of the WS).   First day of the 5-day exclusive window to negotiate with your own Fas
11/4/15 (WS end + 3) Team and player options must be decided three days after the end of the World Series.
11/6/15 (WS end + 5) Clubs have to re-set their 40-man rosters, moving all 60-day DL players back to active.
11/6/15 (WS end + 5) 5pm EST: Deadline to make Qualifying offers for your own FAs (average of top 125 salaries or $15.8M for 2015). 5 days after end of WS
11/6/15 (WS end + 5) Last Day of “Quiet Period.” Teams have “exclusive” negotiating rights with their own free agents during this period.
11/6/15 (WS end + 5) 5 days after WS ends: Free agent filing period and exclusive negotiating window ends at 12:01 a.m. ET. Free agents can sign with any team.
11/6/15 (WS end + 5) Free Agency granted to all eligible Minor League free agents (5 days after the end of the WS). Eligibility done on service time; 6 years ML service for college draftees or 7 years ML service for HS draftees or free agents under the age of 18.
11/9/2015 MLBPA announces “Players Choice” awards: Player of the year, Comeback Player of the year, etc
11/10/2015 BBWAA Award Nominees announced on MLB networks
11/10/2015 Rawlings AL & NL Gold Glove Announcements
11/11/2015 Wilson Defensive Player of the Year awards, given by MLB to best defensive player on each club.
11/12/2015 Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Awards
11/10/2015 MLB Comeback Players of the Year AL and NL
11/9/15 – 11/12/15 GM Meetings, Boca Raton, Florida for 2015
11/13/2015 (WS end + 12) 12 Days after WS ends: Players must accept or reject Qualifying Options by 5pm today
11/16/2015 AL, NL Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Awards
11/17/2015 AL and NL Manager of the Year
11/18/2015 AL and NL Cy Young
11/19/2015 AL and NL Most Valuable Player
11/18/2015 – 11/19/2015 Owner Meetings, Dallas for 2015
11/20/2015 Esurance MLB Awards
11/20/2015 Day to file reserve lists for all Major and Minor League levels. In other words, Last day to add players to 40-man to protect them from the Rule5 Draft
11/24/2015 approx Hall of Fame Ballot for 2015 class officially released
12/2/15 Midnight: Deadline for teams to Tender contracts to arbitration eligible players and/or unsigned players. If not tendered, those players immediately become free agents.     This is the non-tender deadline for arbitration eligible players
12/3/2015 (7 days prior to Rule-5 draft) Last date to request outright waivers to assign player prior to Rule 5 Draft
12/2/2015 approx Baseball America announces its Executive of the Year
12/7/15 -12/10/15 Winter Meetings, Nashville, TN
12/7/2015 Hall of Fame “Golden Era” (1947-1972) vote announced, San diego
12/7/15 (3 days prior to Rule-5 draft) Last date to outright a player prior to Rule 5 Draft
12/8/2015 approx MLB announces winners of 21 “GIBBY” awards (greatness in Baseball yearly awards)
12/9/2015 approx J.G. Taylor Spink Award voting results announced
12/10/2015 approx MLB Balloting results announced for Hall of Fame Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in baseball broadcasting
12/10/2015 Rule 5 Draft. Occurs on last day of Winter meetings
12/13/2015 – 12/14/2015 Nats Winterfest 2015 (DC Convention center?)
12/31/2015 Deadline for BBWAA ballots for Hall of Fame voting.
1/6/2016 Hall of Fame BBWAA voting announced; the Hall of Fame class of 2015
1/12/2016 Salary arbitration filing Date
1/15/2016 Salary arbitration figures exchanged (1pm)
2/1/2016 – 2/21/2016 Salary arbitration hearings (actual hearing date per player picked at random), Phoenix AZ
2/18/2016 Voluntary Spring Training reporting date for Pitchers, Catchers, Injured players
2/23/2016 Mandatory Spring Training reporting date for position players
3/1/2016 Mandatory Reporting Date
3/2/2015 – 3/11/2015 Contracts of unsigned players who are not yet eligible for Arbitration may be renewed
3/5/2015 First Exhibition Game of Spring training
3/15/2016 Deadline to request unconditional release waivers without having to pay the player’s full salary or $100k bonus for certain types of veterans.   Last day to place a player on unconditional release waivers and pay 30 days termination pay instead of 45 days.
4/3/2016 2016 Season Opener; Opening Day 2015; active rosters must be reduced to 25 players and 40-man rosters must be established
4/3/2016 Opening Night 2016: Cubs@Los Angeles Angels

 

Written by Todd Boss

November 7th, 2015 at 8:28 am

Posted in Baseball in General

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Summer Prep Travel team guide & Summer Showcase/tourney schedule

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Back in the day, (no this isn’t a “get off my lawn” post), once you got to high school age as a baseball player, you had just two choices for summer ball once the high school season was done; you’d either play Legion ball (if they were the elite of the town) or Babe Ruth (which was still pretty good baseball), and scouts would generally depend on scouting high school and Legion games and to hang out with high school coaches to figure out who the draftable talents were.

No longer.

These days, every kid of note hoping for a Division 1 scholarship or pro interest out of high school plays on a travel team.  These same players also go to Showcase events throughout the  year, either by invitation (for the best of the best) or on their own dime, where scouts can see players in a “combine” like setting and gauge their skills in a relatively controlled environment.  More and more, the actual performance in HS is downgraded or ignored and performances in these elite events is highlighted, since the opponent skill levels are so elevated and consistent.  This move has badly hurt Legion ball and has decimated Babe Ruth (here locally leagues have had to combine with other towns just to field enough teams to compete, and they struggle to find enough pitching to make the games competitive), but its the way of the future.

When you try to track prep kids (as I’ve begun to do more and more), you constantly hear about these teams and these events.  So I’ve finally broken down and tried to summarize them for the local area as best as I can.


This is my attempt to characterize the landscape of Travel Baseball in the DC/MD/VA area.  A ton of this is drawn from participation in the recent Perfect Game Wood Bat 17-U championships, so I likely am missing teams that did not participate.  If you come across this post and i’m missing your team, please comment as such.

Elite Talent Teams

  • Evoshield Canes: Based in Fredericksburg, VA with “outposts” up and down the east-coast.  This franchise is huge, fielding multiple teams at the latest WWBA event.  One of the leading talent teams in the land, winner of recent national travel team championships.
  • Stars Showcase Red (formerly Demarini Stars): Based in Oakton, Va.  Also large enough to field multiple teams in national events.
  • Chandler World: based out of Norristown PA but with a couple local players of note for 2015.
  • The Dirtbags All-Blacks: based just across the border in North Carolina, but draws players from southern and SW Virginia.

Mid-level Talent Teams

  • Richmond Braves National: based in Richmond.
  • Virginia Cardinals; based in Midlothian, VA.  The best of the Richmond area players.
  • Diamond Elite 17U: Ashburn; was independent, now joined with Evoshield Canes as one of their off-spring.  Comprised mostly of Ashburn/Leesburg guys from leading high schools out there like Stone Bridge.
  • Mid Atlantic Red Sox: Frederick MD

Lower-end Talent Teams

  • RISE Baseball Midlothian VA: ; not at WWBA 17u.
  • Arena STARZ 17U out of Bel Air, MD.   Lots of Battlefield players on this roster despite its geographic location.
  • Diamond Skills Dodgers (Silver Spring): mostly St. Johns Prep players
  • Maryland Monarchs: Gambrils, MD: Anne Arundel county players
  • Rawlings MD Prospects: Millersville MD
  • Rawlings Prospects of VA Sandlot Elite Sterling, VA
  • Tidewater Orioles Virginia Beach, VA
  • Virginia Baseball Network: Mostly guys from Lynchburg and Forest based  high schools. (not at WWBA 17u)
  • CBA Rays: Chesapeake based, mostly from Chesapeake-based high schools Greenbrier Christian, Great Bridge and Grassfield.  Not at WWBA 17u.
  • Hampton Road Hurricanes: not at WWBA 17u
  • Baltimore Bandits 17u: travel team run out of Calvert Hall HS in Baltimore.  Not at WWBA 17u.
  • Old Dominion Hitters: some D-I talent, not at WWBA 17u.

It should also be noted that the big programs (Evoshield, Stars, DirtBags, etc) fielded a number of “alternate” teams that were not as talented as their leading “varsity” team.  Those squads, as fielded at WWBA 2015 were:

  • Evoshield Canes American: Fredericksburg
  • Evoshield North (NC): Raleigh
  • Evoshield South (SC): Columbia
  • Evoshield Seminoles (Richmond)
  • Evoshield Canes Mid-Atlantic
  • Evoshield Canes North
  • Richmond Braves American
  • Dirtbags Select (NC)
  • Stars Black
  • Stars Blue

Showcase Guide 2015

So, what events are these kids playing?  Spurred on by this excellent summer-kick off article from Jonathan Mayo, here’s a good guide for the 2015 summer/fall events that the upper end rising HS seniors will be participating in.  Some of these have already passed and are listed here for completion purposes:

Perfectgame.org is *the* website for these kinds of things.  At PG’s events, all the teams, with their full rosters of players with home towns and college commits, are online and viewable.  Very good information if you’re interested in (say) one particular team’s roster of players.


Prep tournament guide 2015

 


 

This is my first cut at this data.  I’m sure i’m missing local teams and showcases.  Please let me know if you disagree with my characterization of the talent level of these teams (mostly taken by eyeballing the college commits to gauge the strength of the roster), if you feel i’m missing any major teams, or if you think a show-case or tourney is missing.

 

Written by Todd Boss

July 27th, 2015 at 9:09 am

Posted in Draft,Local Baseball

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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.

High School Baseball starting up…

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logo via vhsl.org, the Virginia High School League.

logo via vhsl.org, the Virginia High School League.

There may have been nearly a foot of snow on the ground a week ago, and it may be scheduled to snow yet again tomorrow (Friday 3/20/15), but prep baseball kicks off this week in the DC metro area.

Baseball America posted their pre-season top 50 High School rankings in mid February, since the southern/warm states can start playing a ton earlier than us northern states (there are schools in Texas who have already played 10-12 games).  The only DC-area school noted is my alma mater James Madison HS in Vienna, ranked 27th to start by BA.  Which I can’t quite believe, even as a homer fan, based on who they have returning and who they have being recruited for Div 1 schools right now (they do have the returning all-Met John DeFazio, one of just a handful of returning Junior all-Mets from last year).  But hey, that’s why they play the games, right?

(post publishing note: the WP’s first top 10 on 3/26/15 has Madison #1 with the expected local powerhouses populating the top 10).

Other National HS team ranking sites for reference:

  • Baseball America: 2/24/15 pre-season rankings and their 3/10/15 rankings early into the National seasons.
  • USA today; too early yet for rankings but home page at http://usatodayhss.com/
  • Maxpreps.com: at this link, constantly updating.  Per their pre-season top-100 list, local teams getting recognition early include both 5-A finalists from last year Freeman and Hickory, 6-A Richmond power Cosby, Madison at #51, and defending Maryland 3-A champ Reservoir at #77.
  • PerfectGame.org: top 50 ranks: unclear if they have updated this for the new season yet, but this is the permalink.  They mention only Hickory and Battlefield.
  • (if you are aware of other ranking sites, please let me know).

Madison’s season (and a lot of other local HS teams) kicks off on Friday March 20th against defending 5-A north champion Stone Bridge.  A juicy match-up; basically the two best regular season teams from the area last year face off to start the new season.  Too bad its likely to get snowed out and maybe not even rescheduled.  Battlefield looks like it could be quite good this year as chronicled in this InsideNova.com article.  Otherwise it is hard to predict how the 2015 season may run.

Madison finished 21-3 last year and surprisingly lost in the regional semi finals, while Stone Bridge finished the year 22-2 and made it to the state semi finals despite losing ace Jacob (J.B.) Bukauskas prior to the playoffs (Bukauskas passed up on being a possible 1st round pick and is now in UNC’s rotation as a freshman, already seemingly moving from being their Sunday to their Saturday starter).  Lets hope if they don’t play tomorrow that they at least get to re-schedule the game.

Can’t wait for another season of prep baseball to track.  Local draft/marquee player post coming soon.


Local Baseball Resources that I use constantly: this is my typical list of resources that I’ll tag onto all HS posts

National High School Baseball Ranking Lists: once they start publishing, i’ll include direct links here.  See above links for what’s available this early in the season.

Local Prep Resources:

 

Written by Todd Boss

March 19th, 2015 at 12:26 pm

Posted in Local Baseball

Tagged with ,

Nationals Arm Race Best Stories for 2014; Happy New Year!

43 comments

With little baseball news to report on this week, and clearly with us tired of arguing about Danny Espinosa :-), here’s a quick recap of the year in stories on this blog.  From each month, I’ve grabbed a couple of the more interesting or unique posts I did, with thoughts and follow-on.

(Here’s 2013’s review as well, to see how far we have or have not evolved…)

Jan 2014:

Feb 2014

  • The Phillies are purposely sabotaging college player eligibility; a shockingly petty story at the time; it has more or less faded after nothing much happened after the 2014 draft.
  • Ranking Baseball’s General Managers: it was hard to do then, and after this off-season’s GM shuffle its even harder to do now.  Looking back, I ranked Sabean #11; his team has only won 3 of the last 7 World Series.  I ranked Daniels 4th, Cherington 6th and both their teams finished in last place in 2014.  I had Wren 8th and he was fired before 2014 even ended.  Tough ranking to really do well.

Mar 2014

Apr 2014

  • Qualifying Offers; are they working?  Short answer: I don’t think so.  We’ll revisit this topic once the last two guys with Q.O.s sign this off-season (Shields and Scherzer).
  • Law trashes Williams and their handling of Harper: Law posts in late April the same criticisms of Williams we had all year; bullpen management, lineup construction, handling of vets versus youngsters.  Your 2014 manager of the year!  Still incredibly bitter about the Zimmermann yanking in the NLDS (see below).

May 2014

  • TJ Surgery epidemic: upbringing, showcases and mechanics.  I eventually published a second post with a ton of TJ material for those interested in deep dives into the topic.
  • DC/MD/VA District High School Tournament Report; for some reason I really got into following the local high school baseball tournaments in 2014.  I definitely will do this again in 2015.  Even though these local baseball posts don’t get much commenting (nothing to really argue about I guess), I feel like there’s almost nobody else out there doing the same work.

June 2014

July 2014

Aug 2014; a job switch made the pickings and postings a bit light in Aug and Sept of 2014.

Sept 2014

  • Rotation Reviews of your 2014 Playoff Teams; I didn’t get enough time to do the typical playoff team analysis I do; i missed out on roster construction this year, one of my favorite posts to do.  We’ll hope for more time next year.

Oct 2014

  • Would you have pulled Zimmermann?  A classic second-guessing blog post, questioning a manager move that back fired.  I wish I had a time-stamped video of my reaction at the moment of the event so that people would know I wasn’t back-seat driving.  Still irked about this, still convinced this changed the course of the post-season.
  • World Series Pitching Matchups & Predictions (that you should laugh at); I finish off an abhorrent prediction season with an equally bad (and eventually wrong) WS prediction.
  • Nats Payroll Projections for 2015: where we hear the bad news … that we’re close to $150M on a team where $135M was “beyond the budget” for 2014…

Nov 2014

Dec 2014

I only posted 130 posts this year, down significantly from 2013 (237 posts).  But I feel like we have a ton more commentary now.  There were 75 comments on the Detwiler post earlier this month!  That’s great.  I’m glad we have a great place to discuss and argue about stuff.

Happy New Year and thanks for reading in 2014.

Written by Todd Boss

December 31st, 2014 at 8:35 pm

Happy Thanksgiving 2014

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thanksgiving_turkeybaseball via bloguin.com

Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers!

I am thankful for lots of things that are more important than arguing about rule-5 draftees and theoretical Nats trades: family and friends, good health, and the means to keep my family warm and fed.

But I’m also thankful for the great outlet for our little niche discussions, and I’m thankful for the great set of regular readers here who provide great commentary.  When I look back on some of the comment sections in the blog i’m amazed when I see 50 or 60 follow-ups, each providing thoughtful comments and making this the first page I generally bring up each day, to see who else has commented.

So go get some turkey, watch some football, and spend time with loved ones.

ps: this is my 800th post!  That’s a lot of baseball :-)

Written by Todd Boss

November 27th, 2014 at 9:49 am

Posted in Non-Baseball

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Baseball’s Off-Season Calendar of Events

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Welcome to the off-season.  Here’s data pulled from my 2014-15 off-season calendar, available in spreadsheet form on the Links to the right-hand side of the blog.

I don’t know all the exact dates right now (some of the events slightly move from year to year), and I havn’t dug up the exact dates for the 2015 events yet, but these are good approximations.  In the google doc, the approximated dates are color coded.

We’re into the very critical time period immediately following the end of the World Series, and we’re already seeing player decisions.  Stay tuned!

Date Event
9/28/2014 Last day of regular season
9/30/2014 Beginning of 2014 Post season (NL WC game)
9/30/2014 End of Year BBWAA award ballots due (prior to beginning of post season)
10/20/2014 Sporting News Comeback Players of the Year AL and NL
10/20/2014 Sporting News Rookies of the Year AL and NL
10/21/2014 Sporting News Managers of the Year AL and NL
10/22/2014 Sporting News All Star Teams of the year
10/23/2014 Sporting News Player of the Year, MLB
10/23/2014 Gold Glove finalists announced
10/24/2014 Roberto Clemente Award given
10/25/2014 Hank Aaron Awards given
Oct 28th, 2014 Fielding Bible Awards given
10/30/14 Hall of Fame “Veterans Committee” releases ballot.
10/29/2014 Last actual day of 2014 World Series; official end of 2014 season
10/30/2014 (WS end + 1) MLB Coaches contracts expire
10/30/14 (WS end + 1) MLB announces nominees for GIBBYs
10/30/14 (WS end + 1) Official start of FA period (8am CST the day after the last game of the WS)
11/1/14 (WS end + 3) Team and player options must be decided three days after the end of the World Series.
11/3/2014 (WS end + 5) Clubs have to re-set their 40-man rosters, moving all 60-day DL players back to active.
11/3/2014 (WS end + 5) 5pm: Deadline to make Qualifying offers for your own FAs (average of top 125 salaries or $15.3M for 2014).  5 days after end of WS
11/3/2014 (WS end + 5) End of “Quiet Period.”  Teams have “exclusive” negotiating rights with their own free agents during this period.
11/3/2014 (WS end + 5) 5 days after WS ends: Free agent filing period and exclusive negotiating window ends at 12:01 a.m. ET. Free agents can sign with any team.
11/3/2014 (WS end + 5) Free Agency granted to all eligible Minor League free agents (5 days after the end of the WS).  Eligibility done on service time; 6 years ML service for college draftees or 7 years ML service for HS draftees or free agents under the age of 18.
11/4/2014 Rawlings AL & NL Gold Glove Announcements
Nov 5th 2014 MLB Comeback Players of the Year AL and NL
Nov 4th, 2014 MLBPA announces “Players Choice” awards: Player of the year, Comeback Player of the year, etc
Nov 5th, 2014 BBWAA Award Nominees announced on MLB networks
Nov 6th, 2014 Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Awards
Nov 7th, 2014 Wilson Defensive Player of the Year awards, given by MLB to best defensive player on each club.
11/10/14 – 11/13/14 GM Meetings, Phoenix, AZ for 2014
11/10/14 (WS end + 12) 12 Days after WS ends: Players must accept or reject Qualifying Options
11/12/14 – 11/18/14 NPB Japan World Series
Nov 11th, 2014 Sporting News Executive of the Year announced
11/10/2014 AL, NL Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Awards
11/11/2014 AL and NL Manager of the Year
11/12/2014 AL and NL Cy Young
Nov 13-14th, 2014 Owner Meetings, ?? Location for 2014
11/13/2014 AL and NL Most Valuable Player
11/19/2014 Day to file reserve lists for all Major and Minor League levels.  In other words, Last day to add players to 40-man to protect them from the Rule5 Draft
Nov 26th, 2014 Hall of Fame Ballot for 2014 class officially released
Nov ?, 2014 Rolaids Relief Man Announced
12/2/14 Midnight: Deadline for teams to Tender contracts to arbitration eligible players and/or unsigned players.  If not tendered, those players immediately become free agents.   This is the non-tender deadline for arbitration eligible players
Dec 3rd, 2014 Baseball America announces its Executive of the Year
Dec 5th, 2014 Last date to request outright waivers to assign player prior to Rule 5 Draft
12/8/14 – 12/11/14 Winter Meetings, San Diego, CA
12/8/14 Hall of Fame “Golden Era” (1947-1972) vote announced, San diego
Dec 9th, 2014 Last date to outright a player prior to Rule 5 Draft
Dec 9th, 2014 Hall of Fame “Veterans Committee” officially announces the results of its voting
Dec 9th, 2014 MLB announces winners of 21 “GIBBY” awards (greatness in Baseball yearly awards)
Dec 10th, 2014 J.G. Taylor Spink Award voting results announced
12/11/2014 Rule 5 Draft.  Occurs at Winter meetings
Dec 13th, 2014 MLB Balloting results announced for Hall of Fame Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in baseball broadcasting
Dec 31st, 2014 Deadline for BBWAA ballots for Hall of Fame voting.
Jan 8th, 2015 Hall of Fame BBWAA voting announced; the Hall of Fame class of 2015
1/13/2015 Salary arbitration filing Date
1/16/2015 Salary arbitration figures exchanged (1pm)
2/1/15 – 2/21/15 Salary arbitration hearings (actual hearing date per player picked at random), Phoenix AZ
Feb 13th, 2015 Nats Mandatory Spring Training reporting date for Pitchers, Catchers, Injured players
Feb 20th, 2015 Mandatory Spring Training reporting date for position players
Feb 28th, 2015 First Spring Training Game for the Nats
Mar 2-11th, 2015 Contracts of unsigned players who are not yet eligible for Arbitration may be renewed
March 13th, 2015 Last day to place a player on unconditional release waivers and pay 30 days termination pay instead of 45 days.
March 27th, 2015 Deadline to request unconditional release waivers without having to pay the player’s full salary or $100k bonus for certain types of veterans
March 31st, 2015 2015 Season Opener; Opening Day 2015; active rosters must be reduced to 25 players and 40-man rosters must be established
4/5/2015 Opening Night 2015: Teams tbd
4/6/2015 Nats Opening Day 2015

Written by Todd Boss

October 30th, 2014 at 5:12 pm

Posted in Baseball in General

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Babe Ruth, American Legion and other youth league Updates

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Continuing my coverage this year of youth baseball.  We covered the local High School tournaments and Little League tournaments so far.  We talked about all the local area draft prospects ahead of the draft.   I have a draft post covering the multitude of College Wood Bat leagues, but since those leagues are almost over I may just save it for next year.  Now lets try to bridge the gap between little league and high school.

The youth landscape in baseball has changed a ton since I was a kid in Northern Virginia.  It used to be simple:

  • you’d play Little League until  you were 12
  • then you’d play Babe Ruth til you were 15
  • then if you were good enough you’d play HS ball in the spring and you’d play American Legion in the summers.  But you could always play “Senior” Babe Ruth from the time you were 16-18.
  • and that was it.  If you weren’t playing some other sport there was always “fall ball” at each age level, but the above were the leagues that “counted.”

Now a days, I’m not even sure what is going on with youth baseball.  We all know about the wide growth of travel baseball, which has essentially destroyed Babe Ruth at its older levels (thanks to the siphoning off of any one talented enough to pitch).  But now apparently there’s a whole slew of leagues i’m not familiar with:

  • “Major60” and “Major70” distinctions for 11 and 12 year olds
  • Modifications to the classic “little league” rules to try to capture those kids they’re losing to travel teams
  • Pony League baseball (more prevalent in southern virginia; is there even a northern virginia league?)
  • Cal Ripken youth leagues, which I guess is a division of Babe Ruth for youngsters
  • Travel teams; do they even have “leagues?”  Or do they just go to tournaments?

Back in the day, when Babe Ruth had no competition for the youngest teens, winning the 13-year old and/or the 13-15 year old Babe Ruth tournaments still meant something.  Likewise, American Legion was essentially a hand-picked/all-star team of your hometown high schools.  Now, I’m not so sure.  How is American Legion faring, considering that big-time travel teams now have all the major prep prospects out there?   As far back as 2005, there were stories in the Washington Post about how Legion ball was badly suffering.  It seems to me now that Legion ball is struggling just like senior Babe Ruth ball.

That being said, I did go looking for district and state results for the leagues I grew up knowing.  We reveiwed Little League’s local and state tournaments, so here’s the subsequent state results for Babe Ruth and other amateur youth leagues:

American Legion’s district tournaments are complete; the state tournament kicks off on 7/28/14 from the great Fireman’s Field in Purcellville.  Your 8 teams in the Virginia American Legion state tournament are from Roanoke #3, hosts Leesburg #34, Stafford #290, Williamsburg #39, Albemarle #74, West End (Richmond) #361, Big Island (outside of Lynchburg) #217 and lastly my “home post” of 180, Vienna.  Editor Update: Here’s the tourney results: Vienna Post 180 went two and out, losing to Albemarle and then Williamsburg (by forfeit of all things) to end their involvement in the tournament.   Albemarle breezed through the state tournament, winning 4 straight to win the State title.  Big Island fought through the loser’s bracket to

Cal Ripken Leagues (not to be confused with the Cal Ripken Collegiate league, nor “Ripken Baseball,” a for-profit academy run by the Ripken brothers) have all finished their state tourneys as well, and most of those state champs are already deep into their regional tournaments.

I have no information on Pony League baseball, other than what’s on their incredibly confusing website.  Pony baseball has more divisions than … well something with a lot of divisions.  My pun-making ability failed me here.


I have no idea if there’s even organized leagues for these multitude of travel teams.  I know there’s an official Northern Virginia Travel League, but nowhere on this site can i find something like a “schedule” or “standings.”  Do these teams just exist to go play weekend tournaments?   The locally based EvoShield Canes “schedule” is just a list of tournaments they’re playing in.   So what do these teams do the rest of the time?  Don’t they play regular games?

I dunno.  My kid is too young to force me to know all these things yet.  Hell, he may not even play baseball.  Are there readers out there who can fill me in?  Is it even worth tracking these all-star results anymore, thanks to the complete dilution of talent?

Feedback welcome/encouraged.

Written by Todd Boss

July 29th, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Posted in Local Baseball

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