Nationals Arm Race

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

Just when we were starting to talk about McKenzie Mills…


Kendrick shores up a very fragile outfield for the Nats. PHoto via si

Kendrick shores up a very fragile outfield for the Nats. PHoto via si

… the Nats go and trade him away.  We flipped him for Howie Kendrick last night (throwing in Intl’ bonus money but getting back salary relief, of course, since its the Lerners).

Now, in arguably Kendrick fills a need.  The Nats now have SIX outfielders on the D/L.  Two of their opening day starters, their primary bench OF, plus three other guys.  They’re running out Adam Lind and Wilmer Difo in the outfield with predictable negative UZR results.  So Kendrick helps there.  Kendrick can also help in the infield, where our primary backup right now is a long-serving org-guy in Adrian Sanchez who, while being a great story, is clearly overmatched at the major league level (2 for 17 as we speak).

But we give up what was looking like a heck of a find.  McKenzie Mills stepped it up this year, making the Low-A all-star team and just earning a promotion to high-A in his age 21 season.  He’s 12-2 with a 3.01 ERA and great K/9 rates.  Philly should be ecstatic to have him, and to have gotten him for a spare part.

I’m sure our prospect guys will hate giving up Mills for a rental like Kendrick.  Its a win-now, fix-the-now-issues move for sure.  On the other hand … Mills is a ways away, needs to solve two more levels of the minor league before being in consideration for the majors, and is no sure thing.  But … yeah sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

More pertinently; the acquisition of Kendrick means a series of roster moves needs to happen.  On top of that, we’re still expecting the selection of Erick Fedde for tonight’s game.  So that’s two 25-man roster moves and, more importantly, two 40-man moves.  I’m guessing:

  • Sanchez goes back down to make room for Kendrick on 25-man roster
  • Sammy Solis goes back down to make way for Fedde … they’re carrying 8 relievers right now and the only guys they can really option back are Solis, Enny Romero and Matt Grace.  These latter two have pitched their way into stability while Solis still hasn’t proven he has it back.  So he heads back to Syracuse.
  • Two 40-man moves: I suppose they could do a 60-day D/L transfer of Trea Turner; that’d guarantee he was out until August 30th though and I thought he was supposed to come back prior to that.  Shawn Kelleyhas been out since 6/17 … if they did him to the 60 day he’d be out until 8/17 at a time when he’s nearing a rehab assignment.  So, I’m guessing they DFA two guys.  First two guys on my list to go: Jimmy Cordero and Trevor Gott .  I just don’t know why they stll have Cordero on the roster at this point; he’s 25, is struggling with control in AA (more walks than Ks) and even though he’s gotten his ERA down, its still nearly 6.00.  As for Gott … he got shelled at the MLB level, he’s not exactly awesome at the AAA level either, and at some point you have to look at these roster spots and go, “why are we still holding a spot for this guy?”  But I could also make this same argument for A.J. Cole, Austin Adams to a certain extent, Matt Skole and even Jose Marmolejos at this point.  All of these guys are sitting on 40-man spots, none seem to be in the near term plans … so I could see any of them getting the dreaded DFA this weekend.  Skole in particular (knowing certain readers have a boner for him): why is he on the 40-man at this point?  The team has now traded not once but twice for guys to add and call up that should have been Skole spots (Ryan Raburn and now Kendrick).  And don’t forget Sanchez (even if that was a slightly different position-eligibilty driven move).  Earlier this week they called up Pedro Severino, not Skole, to serve basically as a bench bat.  Severino!  If you’re not going to use Skole, then use his roster spot more efficiently.

Thoughts this saturday morning?



71 Responses to 'Just when we were starting to talk about McKenzie Mills…'

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  1. I think Skole will be one of the DFAs; maybe Sanchez as the other? There’s nothing about him that should excite other teams . . . or us for that matter. Cordero has been better of late after a terrible start to the season. Gott was memorably awful in his last MLB audition.

    I’m still trying to wrap my head around how much of a prospect Mills was before I judge this too harshly. Yes, he had been great this year but was mediocre last year and terrible in his first two pro years. He was an 18th-round pick and I don’t think got much of a bonus. I’ve never seen a scouting report on him so don’t know how hard he throws. His K/9 was very average until this season. The Natosphere thought he was probably on the fringes of the top 10 in the system, but had only put him at #18.

    Would I have liked to have gotten more for Mills? Yes. If Kendrick gets a hit to win a playoff game, will I get over the loss of Mills pretty quickly? Yes.


    29 Jul 17 at 11:11 am

  2. Meanwhile, since everything we’re doing now is with the playoffs in mind, let’s look at the playoff bench. I assume they’re taking five, and we’re going to assume that Turner, Werth, and Taylor are back and starting.

    Locks: Lobaton, Lind, Drew, and Kendrick (unless he comes over and stinks).

    That leaves exactly one spot from among Goodwin, Heisey, Raburn, and Difo. Heisey has been awful this year but is a Dusty pet and of course did rise to the playoff occasion pretty well. Even though Raburn has been better than Heisey, I think he loses out between the two RH bats. Among Goodwin, Heisey, and Raburn, I would peg Goodwin as the best defensive replacement. I doubt Difo is still in the picture.

    So to my mind, it comes down to Heisey vs. Goodwin. If we’re not counting Loby, they’ve got two LH bats in Drew and Lind and only one RH bat in Kendrick. Goodwin has hit better than Heisey and is better defensively, but I would bet they go with the RH bat in Heisey . . . unless Dusty fully platoons Taylor and Goodwin after Taylor comes back.


    29 Jul 17 at 11:20 am

  3. I’d DFA Skole for sure and buy time by moving Kelley to the 60 day DL. I’d move down Sanchez and Severino (is he still up). I also don’t think they can option Romero any more, which is why TBR traded him.

    Still don’t love this trade, but really, it’s because of (a) the position they filled, and (b) many of the other ones, like Hearn, Luzardo, Avila … But I do think they have little choice but to at least kind of go for it. But the pen needs a lot of help still, and even the rotation with Stras’ uncertainty. How much value does Kendrick add over Heisey/Rayburn? More, certainly, but enough?


    29 Jul 17 at 12:44 pm

  4. Rosenthal has the Nats in heavily on Justin Wilson, FWIW. Gotta think he would cost Soto or Kieboom plus other stuff, though. Wilson is controlled for just one more season but is cheap relative to how effective he’s been.


    29 Jul 17 at 12:58 pm

  5. I doubt that he would cost Soto. Or at least, Rizzo shouldn’t pay that price for him. But I could see Kieboom and another decent prospect or two, maybe Stevenson or Severino? Would really hope it isn’t DJ and Kieboom.

    This time of year always starts fun but then I get aggravated. I don’t think I like trading the prospects much.


    29 Jul 17 at 1:10 pm

  6. I haven’t seen it mentioned, but I guess it’s possible that the addition of Kendrick sets them up to where they could include Taylor or Goodwin in a bigger trade. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, and it would be risky with Werth’s status still uncertain, but if it does happen, you heard it here first!


    29 Jul 17 at 1:12 pm

  7. ON trading prospects … remember when we all wanted to hang onto A.J. Cole? That didn’t really turn out well for us; he’s basically wasting time in AAA until he exhausts his options.

    So, yeah we traded a kid who looks promising on the mound. But he’s no sure thing.

    Todd Boss

    29 Jul 17 at 1:41 pm

  8. Yeah, that’s definitely true but at some point its a volume thing. The saving grace is that at least I like Kendrick


    29 Jul 17 at 2:12 pm

  9. This looks like a panic trade.
    Right now the only thing the Nats are playing for is either the #2 or #3 seed. That’s it!

    Did Mike Rizzo give up another pitcher for 1 or 2 at bats in October? Sure looks like it.
    Did he think that none of the players are coming back from the DL?

    Mark L

    29 Jul 17 at 2:32 pm

  10. Maybe he isn’t sure that Werth IS coming back. Or he’s hedging against the inevitable (but yet to be seen) injury to Murphy or Zimmerman. But yeah, its a bench bat rental for a prospect. At least it wasn’t a big prospect.

    Todd Boss

    29 Jul 17 at 4:31 pm

  11. Well, one shoe has dropped:

    INdeed, It turned out to be Skole.

    Todd Boss

    29 Jul 17 at 4:42 pm

  12. Rizzo has proven he’d rather buy or pay a king’s ransom in salary for his starting pitchers than grow a cheap one. Like how he was all in on Sale in the offseason. Just think he’d rather pay the freight on proven starters than trust the future on any young guys.

    Kendrick is a really really good hitter. Nice to have around and even try to convince to have next year. Elite hitters always welcome. Will be a very long lineup with Kendrick in there. It’s no coincidence that our offense has improved dramatically just by subtracting Espinosa. (Even with a bunch of fillers getting a ton of ab’s for us) None of them have had the awful rally killing strikeout stench of Espinosa.

    Skole, too bad he didn’t get a sniff. We all know what a cesspool career killer Syracuse is. Like many who used Robinson’s minor league stats to prove what a real hitting prospect should look like, look what Robinson is doing this year in that black hole. Skole may have had surprising Goodwin type results in MLB. You never know until you get the chance. Bringing up Severino was puzzling. You don’t need 3 catchers when you would not want any of them up in a pinch hitting role.

    Rendon I think has clearly changed his whole swing concept for the better which has vaulted him to superstar potential status. If you look at his ab’s from last year and earlier this year, you would see that all his swing and misses he was totally spun out with his entire torso facing the 3b dugout. Now when he finishes his swing his torso is squarely facing the pitcher. This is extremely “Murphy-like” I think Murphy the hitting genius is rubbing off on everyone. ( Even though he’s looked a bit off lately himself)

    Marty C

    29 Jul 17 at 5:19 pm

  13. Heyman’s latest, for what little it’s worth, has the Nats focused on Wilson, Britton, and Hand. Why would the O’s trade for a starter but then give up their best reliever? But then why do the O’s do anything . . .

    The Kendrick trade happened so that Difo wouldn’t be facing Kershaw with the season on the line, and I’m OK with that line of reasoning. It wasn’t desperation at all; it’s solely focused on the postseason.

    Marty, it seems pretty clear that Murph has rubbed off on Harper, Rendon, and Zimm, with remarkable results. Now he needs to spend some time with Wieters! Anyway, it says a lot about Harper, Rendon, and Zimm, all proven stars, that they’ve been willing to keep listening and learning.


    29 Jul 17 at 5:59 pm

  14. You know, if you actually look at the numbers, Hand has been slightly better than Wilson this year, and significantly better than the struggling Britton. Hand is controlled for two more years and costs very little. He doesn’t have much experience as a True Closer (TM), though, but that should make him cost less, right? Of course if Britton gets, “right,” he’s top-tier elite. The question would be whether the O’s have him priced as such. (Probably.)


    29 Jul 17 at 6:14 pm

  15. Something about Hand makes me not trust his numbers. I certainly wouldn’t mind having him, but at the kings ransom that he’s likely to get, I don’t know. I think I’d pass. Wilson hasn’t done quite as well but has a longer track record. Of course, I’d still rather have Osuna or Iglesias, but that ship seems to have sailed.


    29 Jul 17 at 8:39 pm

  16. The Reds are nuts not to have gotten something for their assets . . . again. They wait and wait and very little happens, every year. Cozart just went on the DL and probably won’t get traded, again. He’ll walk and they’ll get nothing. Iglesias is at peak value, but he’s hardly being mentioned right now because they want too much.

    I haven’t heard Osuna mentioned much during the trade season. I would be surprised if he goes anywhere. The Jays must think that they can fill a few holes and still be competitive next year, their last one with Donaldson.

    I think I believe in Hand, but not enough to pay a big “True Closer” price for him. He was mediocre as a Miami starter but has two good years in the SD ‘pen. His numbers look pretty solid across the board.

    With all the buzz, though, it’s starting to look like something is going to happen.

    Nice Nat debut for Kendrick.


    29 Jul 17 at 10:22 pm

  17. I do detest rental trades for strong prospects, and Mills was proven to be. Whatever his age, he lost a year to injury and this was his first year at Low-A. Clearly he took a leap forward.

    I read this as KW did, to a degree; that we are unlikely to see Werth for a while, and perhaps ever. And, the team reflecting on losing Wilson late in the season and wanting to get a good bat-pressure player-experienced clubhouse guy people like-versatile player who can start as long as you need him to in case something happens to Murphy and Rendon and they don;t want to be dependent on Difo making a bonehead play in a playoff game.

    If Mills makes it to the majors as a 4-5 starter, he was expendable, because the Nats maintain such a high pedigree of starters. Anything higher and this deal is like a Scrabble trade with Schrock matriculating to the majors as a starter, unless they win the World Series.

    I hope Taylor is not being traded. I wonder whether Goodwin is, but I suppose that he would not be getting the everyday at bats were the team ready to plug in Stevenson while Taylor rehabs fully.

    Always exciting to be on Rizzo watch. Baseball respects the Nats farm system, whatever the ranking, and Nats players of recent years have regularly performed well after trades. When all is said and done, we may be looking at Souza-Ott for Turner-Ross to be far less lopsided.


    30 Jul 17 at 3:11 am

  18. Wilson as in Wilson Ramos, late in 2016.


    30 Jul 17 at 3:12 am

  19. Problem for guys like Taylor and Goodwin is this: in the 2018 outfield … do they have a role? Harper in RF, EAton back in CF. So there’s an opening in LF (or perhaps Eaton goes to left for a year to help him transition out of his ACL injury). If Eaton needs to play LF, that leans towards Taylor, who has a nice healthy OPS this year but still is striking out more than once a game. Goodwin’s numbers slightly lesser … and he’s also on a K/game pace. And now we have Stevenson as the perfect bench bat/cf-capable cover guy/fast speedy pinch runner type. So yeah, I think one of Goodwin/Taylor is expendible.

    And that paragraph assumes that a) we don’t sign Werth back for a 1-2 year deal to return to LF or b) we don’t sign a heavier hitting slugger to slot into LF like many teams do.

    So I could see them being packaged in trade, even though they’re both blossoming this year. Maybe in the winter.

    Todd Boss

    30 Jul 17 at 8:42 am

  20. Goodwin looks like he is wearing down a bit. Though useful, both he and Difo are really #8 hitters like Taylor at this point.

    They each got more ab’s than Zimm, Murphy, Rendon and Lind last night. Each of whom have OPS near 1000.

    Kendrick trade one way of forcing Dusty to construct a better lineup. Because you are not going to bat him behind Goodwin and Difo too are you?

    The curious and downside surprising thing to me about Goodwin and Difo is their complete lack of speed. I thought both of these guys were supposed to be plus speed guys but they are not. Goodwin is a plodder on the bases and they only have a combined 6 stolen bases this year in about 350 ab’s! Another reason I don’t bat them 1-2. I could understand a newbie like Stevenson batting up there because he can turn a walk or single into a double or triple.

    Our lineup reality needs to be dealt with now because you can’t count on much better production from Turner, Werth and Taylor coming off such long layoffs. And Drew not nearly as effective as he was last year for us.

    Marty C

    30 Jul 17 at 11:31 am

  21. Taylor’s June gets him a starting spot next year, to me. Goodwin’s July tells me, sell high.

    Werth misses too much time to take up a roster spot going forward. He still has skills, and he was Werth it, but he cannot be counted on with the approaching ascent of Robles, who is on track to be in the starting lineup by mid-year, or whenever injury then strikes Taylor-Eaton-Harper.

    Difo is a guy I hope they keep, but I would bet the Nats are getting a LOT of play on him, or will be this fall. He has made a very difficult step up this year, and his impact on the rest of the team gives him that much more value.

    And I am way aboard the Seve train, at least for giving him a shot to see what he can do with Weiters looking so moribund.


    30 Jul 17 at 12:12 pm

  22. OK, Mr. Fedde is not ready for Prime Time. Did we just ruin his trade value, find out what we needed to find out, or a little of both?

    I’m surprised that they moved on from Heisey, but it’s the logical move. Raburn and Goodwin have both been better. Plus Nat pinch hitters ALWAYS stink in their second season!

    As for LF next season, or CF if Eaton moves to LF, if I had to guess now, I would say a Taylor/Goodwin platoon. If there was much thought to bringing back Werth, yet another extended DL time this season probably seals his fate. Boz has been saying pretty confidently all season that Werth wants to play a couple of more years but knows it will need to be in the AL.

    Even with Werth coming off the books, I’m not sure the Nats would be able to afford a player who would be significantly better than Taylor/Goodwin. They will be hit pretty hard in arb, Bryce has already signed for a significant increase, and they added Madson and Doolittle.


    30 Jul 17 at 3:00 pm

  23. Just checking the rumors. Price on Hand said to be coming down, not seeking top-tier prospects. Nats said to be serious about Wilson. O’s wanting a Chapman-plus package for Britton. (For the way he’s pitched this season, plus his issues staying healthy, no thanks.)

    I still think Wilson costs either Kieboom or Soto, plus stuff.


    30 Jul 17 at 3:04 pm

  24. To be honest, I think Difo has looked surprisingly good, better than I was expecting. He’s even drawing walks. And despite the analysis, he actually has the second highest base running value of anyone on the team after Trea (according to Fangraphs). Limited power, but there is a chance that comes too. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had trade value, per Fore’s comment, but I’ll bet the Nats keep him in a super sub role. I actually don’t see any of Difo, MAT or Goody being traded this July. None of that is to say that Difo should be batting second though. I agree that I’d drop at least one of him or a goody down to 7th.

    I didn’t see the game. Did Fedde look as bad as his numbers? Zuckerman was reasonably ok on him.


    30 Jul 17 at 9:18 pm

  25. Trade is a classic “sell high” trade. Mills is an 18th round pick coming off three meh-to-bad seasons. He has a good three months & turns himself into a trading chip that the Nats cash in while they can. I have no problem with it.

    If anyone thinks that one start tells them anything definite about Fedde, good or bad, I think that person is kidding him/herself.

    John C.

    30 Jul 17 at 11:27 pm

  26. Wilson and Avila . . . to the Cubs, not the Nats. If you don’t trade for them, you’ll end up in the playoffs against them.

    Meanwhile, EJax is making the Nats look like geniuses, a sentence I never thought I’d write. Will it last? Who knows? He certainly looks happy and confident right now. The one glimmer of hope is that he did pitch very well as recently as 2015.

    So we’re down to the final day. The one guy to whom the Nats had really been attached was Wilson, but they didn’t get him. If they still want a lefty, the better ones left are Hand and Britton. Since I would set the chances of them getting Britton as “when Hell freezes over,” I’m thinking it’s probably Hand or bust.

    (And no, I’m not giving up on Fedde by any means. But I stand by the statement that he doesn’t look ready to help the big club right now.)


    31 Jul 17 at 7:16 am

  27. I thought Fedde looked ok. Not great, but ok. Nearly everything the Rockies put in play against him went for a hit, as the .588 BABIP shows. A few were well struck (I believe Blackmon and LeMehieu hit doubles) but most were seeing eye singles. That fastball is going to generate a lot of ground balls, and I see him as a relatively low homer guy. My concern is that he doesn’t seem to get a lot of whiffs, so he’s going to need good command to get good results, which limits his ceiling a bit. But overall, he perrformed much better than his results.

    I agree, Marty, that Goodwin’s speed doesn’t seem to be there. Difo, on the other hand, looks to be quite fast (see the stand up triple from last night). Difo’s speed hasn’t shown up in SBs because he’s hitting in front of Harper so much (which he shouldn’t be, but that’s another topic).


    31 Jul 17 at 7:54 am

  28. Derek, your Fedde observations are in line with the stats. His GB rate has run between 50 to 60 percent throughout the minors. His K rate was around 8.5/9 in AA but took a troubling drop to 6.43/9 at AAA, which was around the same rate he produced yesterday. That said, he hasn’t had much time at AAA, so it’s a SSS, even less as a starter.

    Again, I’m not beating the kid up based on one MLB start where he suffered from terrible BABIP. I’m just saying that he doesn’t look rotation-ready right now if they suddenly need him to be.

    In the grand scheme of things, I’m much more worried about Roark reverting to shakiness.


    31 Jul 17 at 8:08 am

  29. If I had time today i’d do a Fedde reaction post. But i’m in agreement with the general consensus. He was pretty unlucky to give up 2 runs in the first; bloop single on a 2 strike pitch, then a pretty good piece of hitting inside-out swing on a good inside fastball, another bloop single scoring the 2nd run. Zero fly ball outs.

    What impressed me was the velocity; much higher than I thoguth he was supposed to have. here’s his pitchfs:

    Average velocity 94, peak 96. Lots of strikes. ridiculously unlucky on babip as noted. And its worth noting Colorado is a tough first opponent; would Fedde look a ton better against (say) the 4-A phillies?

    Todd Boss

    31 Jul 17 at 9:45 am

  30. Baker’s lineups; MartyC; i agree with you :-). This is one area where “old school” Baker seems to falter with the times. Rendon is 6th in the league right now in bWAR; why the F is he batting 6th? Goodwin’s OBP is just .311; why is he in the 1-2 hole?

    The acquisition of Kendrick should fix this; in the night cap he had Stevenson 1, Kendrick 2. I think Kendrick stays in the 2 hole until the rest of our team comes back off the DL. I’m guessing Baker keeps Goodwin or Difo in the leadoff spot because that’s the “cliche” thing to do. But looking at who we have available right now i’m not sure who else you put in leadoff. Actually … i take that back. Kendrick has nearly a .400 obp on the year; stick HIM at leadoff.

    Ideal lineup right now: Kendrick, Rendon, Harper, Zimmerman, Murphy, Difo, Goodwin, Wieters.

    now all that being said … let us remind ourselves that lineup construction doesn’t really matter (studies have shown its worth perhaps one win a season) and is probably more important/more valuable as a tool for judging manager capabilities/acceptance of modern practices. But then again … there’s some immeasurables in here too; why is Rendon still batting 6th? Is it because he’s comfortable there, players are superstitious and doesn’t want to move? perhaps so; can’t measure that with a statistical analysis.

    Todd Boss

    31 Jul 17 at 9:53 am

  31. Dusty’s go-to excuse for keeping Rendon in the 6th spot is to provide protection for Murphy.


    31 Jul 17 at 10:00 am

  32. A guy who really interests me at the deadline is someone hardly anyone is mentioning: Blake Parker of the Angels. He’s sort of a one-year wonder at age 32, but what a year. He makes the minimum and is controlled for three more seasons.


    31 Jul 17 at 10:03 am

  33. “Protection.” again, like lineup construction something that statistically doesn’t exist but in the minds of players/managers/old baseball writers/broadcasters is vitally important.

    Todd Boss

    31 Jul 17 at 10:06 am

  34. Even if EJax can carry the ball to the goal line this year, he is not part of the 2018 picture unless a small miracle happens.

    All of those pitches may be catching up to Roark, and Strasburg is an uncertainty. Now is the time to swoop in on a controllable fifth starter for 2018. That takes nothing away from Fedde, but Ross is down and the free agent crop this fall will not get it done, either.

    People like Difo and Goodwin, perhaps even Taylor (with Robles coming up) may be candidates for big returns in winter trades if the Taylor, Turner come bag strong. If they continue to produce well and to elevate, they will both become the ultimate commodity – affordable, controllable, everyday players with winning pedigree who deserve a shot. That is how the Nats leveraged Souza as a spare but excellent part.

    I’m hoping Rizzo has one of his three way specials planned. Nats are very quiet, and that is the best. I am reminded that Daniel Murphy was a plan C, and the Nats have been repeatedly blessed in moves that eluded them.

    Key: Bolster WS run with Dodgers, Cubs, DBacks, Rox in mind, and build for 2018 while full lower levels shake out and players use the next two years to rise (like Daniel Johnson, who is the next big thing).

    We’re also starting to see players promoted, and should see Romero any day now. Tim Collins is in A+ and healthy, and deserved upward mobility is slowly grinding forward. This affects winter planning as well.

    Still rooting hard for Seve.


    31 Jul 17 at 11:14 am

  35. John C., your point on Mills is well taken. He may be a sell high, even if he still has some helium. Mills is one of several prospects who would logically have been promoted but for the impending trading deadline.

    Neuse was another, and he is faring well in the California league, high A. But he is a 23 year old college graduate, so he is where he ought to be developmentally.

    Those of us who were enamored of Schrock saw a younger player who was excelling as he went up the chain, unrestrained by trading deadline gamesmanship, and indeed Schrock is handling AA fine.

    Luzardo was throwing up great numbers and could not have fared better as a first impression of TJ. But he is still off TJ.


    31 Jul 17 at 11:20 am

  36. Rendon is setting himself up for a huge payday. I would hate to think a guy who is going to make $20- 25 million a year is too fragile mentally to bat 2nd. if he is that fragile he’s not worth the superstar money.

    This is the first slump I’ve ever really seen Murph in since he got here. Taking some unusual looking K swings lately. Will be interesting to see how he grinds or adjusts his way out of it.

    I still think Murphy should be hitting 2 -3 or 4. He’s too good of a hitter to have us lose out 60- 90 ab’s on him for the year.

    Hendrick #1 is a good idea Todd. What I don’t like with Goodwin-Difo there is it potentially sets up the opposing pitcher for a very smooth low stress start to the game with our guys swinging at balls. We don’t seem to do well when the opposing pitcher gets off to a fast start. That said, I am very encouraged by Goodwin and Difo. They just should not be at the top of our formidable lineup right now. Goodwin’s power showing better than his speed so he could be useful at #6 or #7.

    Marty C

    31 Jul 17 at 12:05 pm

  37. I did forget to mention: how about Jackson’s night cap performance? 7 IP, 4 hits, 6Ks, 1 run. I mean, if you get that just every OTHER start you’re ecstatic with your 5th starter production right?

    Mills: I tend to agree with you on selling high. As a prospect follower, you’d like to tell yourself, “hey, here’s found money, an 18th rounder who figured it out this year.” On the other hand, its still a long ways up, and its entirely possible that Rizzo’s dev staff is telling him, “hey, his numbers look great and all, but he still might never make it so flip him now.”

    Rendon: most underrated star in the game. top 10 in WAR, didn’t even make the all -star team. He reminds me of Beltre in that way; for years Beltre was considered this glove-first solid but not awesome player (he’s only made 4 all star teams and he’s playing in his 20th MLB season). He’s still mashing the ball at 38 and looks like he coudl easily play into his early 40s. Now suddenly he’s at 3,000 hits and 450 homers (only done by 3 other players, ever) and people are like, “man he’s a first ballot hall of famer.” How are you a first ballot hall of famer only having made 4 all star teams? Criminally under-rated.

    Todd Boss

    31 Jul 17 at 12:25 pm

  38. As we sit here refreshing MLBTR over lunch, here are some realities that occur to me:

    — Unless Stras isn’t healthy, neither Gray nor Darvish would really move the needle on the Nats’ postseason chances. No available starter would. (I’m still pining for Bumgarner.) So there’s no reason for the Nats to overpay for Darvish, and little reason to give much for Gray, although he would be a nice addition to the rotation for next year.

    — No healthy, available closer has the high-leverage experience the Nats need, including the missed-on Wilson. Britton does but isn’t healthy, not to mention employed by our mortal enemy. Rosenthal, who has been inconsistent this year, is about the closest to be the experienced type who might make a postseason difference. The Cards are only 4.5 behind the Cubs, though. It would be great to get an arm like Iglesias or Hand, but there’s no postseason guarantee with either of them.

    — There are no decent, affordable OF bats who would be an upgrade on Taylor and Goodwin. Kendrick was a nice reserve addition. And if they make it that far, the Nats already have a tremendous DH in Lind.

    — The Nats don’t think they need an upgrade at catcher. We may beg to differ.

    So . . . I’m not expecting a miracle this afternoon. There’s not one to be had. If a deal happens, my guess would be that it’s for a non-closing bullpen arm.


    31 Jul 17 at 1:00 pm

  39. Trade deadline: the team may very be thinking “we’ll get back Turner and Strasburg before the play offs” so that’s as good as trading for a significant player.

    Todd Boss

    31 Jul 17 at 1:09 pm

  40. They’re looking at Kintzler? A closer with a K/9 of 5.4? Maybe for a bag of balls, but not much more than that.


    31 Jul 17 at 1:13 pm

  41. P-Nats website has MAT beginning his rehab assignment there tonight. For those in the area, it’s Dollar Monday at the Pfitz, so I may try to mobilize the kids and go take a gander at Daniel Johnson in person.


    31 Jul 17 at 2:47 pm

  42. Tyler Watson for Kintzler. That’s three lefties from the lower half of the system. Romero and Raquet had better pan out!


    31 Jul 17 at 4:20 pm

  43. But Dodgers and Cubs REALLY loaded up.


    31 Jul 17 at 4:22 pm

  44. Jimmy Cordero DFA’d.


    31 Jul 17 at 4:53 pm

  45. The value of lefty arms. Three trade chips from two years of draft. I’m glad they picked a lot this year.

    With Watson and Mills out of Hagerstown, perhaps room soon for one of the draftees like Wil Crowe to move up.

    Kintzler is not Melancon, but they gave up a lot less. It’s a bet on Glover not to get a controllable player, unless Difo and others get packaged over the winter and Iglesias comes back.


    31 Jul 17 at 5:20 pm

  46. Ok, so I’ve been out all day and am just catching up. Here are some random, off the cuff reactions. Keep in mind I’ve had a few beers 🙂

    I know almost nothing about Kinsler. I don’t think I’ve even seen him pitch on highlights. Reads like a treinen that throws strikes. Ok that’s valuable. But there goes another young arm. I don’t know that I’ve loved any of them individually but the volume, as I said the other day, makes me concerned about where do all the replacements come from. But really, what can we expect. Contenders needs to bolster themselves, and it’s probably more of a surprise that they haven’t emptied the system more than they have.

    As for the other trades, it was kind of a boring deadline. I thought Oakland did well in the Gray and Mad/Doo trades. On Gray, there might not have been anyone else bidding, and I really liked Fowler and Kaprelian pre-injury. So if they can bounce back, that trade will look great for them. Plus Gray is another (like Hand) that I have trouble accepting the numbers as his true level. But he does seem like he’d be a kick ass Miller type.

    I’m not troubled by what LAD did. Don’t get me wrong, they were the team to beat before these trades, but none of those three guys, including Darvish, particularly worry me. I wasn’t the biggest Darvish fan even before his TJ, and he’s never looked all the way back (and I really like Calhoun). I think CHC and NYY probably did the best of any contender, and HOU the worst, but I can’t stand Maddon, so I hope the Cubs fall flat on their faces. If it isn’t going to be us this year, I’m rooting for CLE or LAD.

    I still really like our team. I think we do and will regret losing Rivero and Treinen, but I understand why they traded both at the time. I think our bullpen is still unreliable and do not like Dusty as a manager much, but otherwise I think this is our strongest team ever (assuming Stras is ok and trea comes back), and it is also a team that I enjoy watching (until the 8th inning, when I have to turn it off due to blood pressure concerns).


    31 Jul 17 at 6:18 pm

  47. I feel very good about the team right now as well. It’s astonishing to me, no exaggeration, that the team is playing this well without Trea Turner (especially), Taylor, Werth, Eaton, Glover, Kelley, and Ross. The team feels better by a quantum leap with Madsen and Doolittle. Kintzler was added to that team, and not to replace an injury.

    The team has been enhanced without trading one minor league asset above AA. Its very impressive to watch what Rivero has done, but it would not have happened here and it would not have happened with Treinen, either. What remains is organizational depth through 2018 that allows the maturing of the crop down below, with certain players poised to start at AA who could potentially fit in.

    I have high hopes for Marmolejos, Robles, Spencer Kieboom, Stevenson, Fedde and Johnson as the next layer of 2018 depth, and am still holding out for Voth and Simms. Voth had too much to offer to tail off like that and hopefully they can fix him over the winter.

    Even with Werth leaving, there will be an OF jam this off season that will have to be resolved by trade. That trading should be done to bring back multiple prospect pieces like the Morse and Karns deals. At this point, the Nats have enough bullpen depth that players going out will include relief pitchers as well. Just as Treinen was valued, and underperforming Rivero was valued, so will be others.

    For all of the criticism levied at Rizzo, he got Romero for virtually nothing and Albers for nothing. He patched up with Raburn for nothing.

    Dusty has his faults, but players have developed under his managerial lead to a ceiling we did not envision. There is a lot to be said for his bring out quality from Goodwin and Difo, Zimmerman, and Turner at SS that exceeded our expectations.

    The big lead and injuries afford Baker the chance to play people like Stevenson and Severino (and Glover, when he returns) to get them valuable ML experience and to sort out who fits for the post season. As such, the Nats are in a position, like never before, to groom young platers with key game experience and to learn on the job with a winning team. We have NEVER enjoyed this as fans before on August 1.

    September 1 expansions and the 40 man will be interesting, especially since some of the roster dead weight has been jettisoned.


    1 Aug 17 at 4:15 am

  48. Fore – that’s a good note. On Dusty, there is no argument that he is charismatic and can bring out the best in some players. But my biggest problem is something you’ve touched on (‘the big lead let’s him play Stevenson…’). This was true almost from May 1, but he hasn’t used his lead that way. I’ve worried that he plays virtually every game to win and rides the players hard, especially pitchers, towards that end. I’ve wondered if Stras is on DL now precisely to avoid letting Dusty pitch him 110 pitches in his next start.

    I’m open minded though. If he skips Max a start or too and holds him under 100 pitches otherwise. Avoids Doo or Madson in consecutive days, then I’ll get over my concerns.


    1 Aug 17 at 8:03 am

  49. Thank you Wally, I agree with yours and others’ criticisms of Dusty about pitcher use. That noted, he deserves credit for the team’s record as well. He has cultivated the right atmosphere, and players want to play for him. Whether it is his charisma, or simply as a former player and one of the few very good players who actually is a capable manager, whether it’s how he can identify with a younger generation, or whether it is because he is black and relates well to minority players without alienating white players with social justice tripe, who knows. But when one looks at Goodwin and Difo in particular, and Taylor as well, and players who have returned to form like Gio and Zim, it’s hard not to credit the manager’s role along the way.

    Whether he should have been playing Stevenson and Seve by now is unclear. I wanted it, as have others, but the organization plan to bury the exposure of trade prospects would have included folks at the ML level, too. I would not be surprised a bit for Stevenson and Seve to be sought by other teams prior to the trading deadline. Were they to look lost, it might have impacted deals we never heard about and will not unt the winter.

    Now the deadline is passed, and they can go through growing pains without repercussion. This is a fantastic time to develop organizational depth and to develop younger players for key roles in 2018, be it with the Nationals or another club. It never happens except for a losing club. Now we get our cake as fans (winning!) and hopefully will get a chance as fans to see the little cookies too.


    1 Aug 17 at 8:19 am

  50. At this point, not resting the pitchers adequately and keeping their pitch counts reasonably low, with the exception of no hitter-record K games is malpractice.

    I wonder to what degree Kintzler is a component of a plan to use Doolittle with adequate rest and Kintzler as closer B. If so, the move will prove to be all the more important in time.

    The trades of Mills, Watson, and Hearn before them make GCL Baby Nats watching a better sport down the stretch. There are a whole lotta arms pining for innings down there, Some, like Braymer, now get to show whether they are the next thing in Hagerstown. Others like Crowe, Engelbrekt, Hill, Johnston, Troop, Raquet, and JJohnson have crept into Auburn. Still others are fighting it out in the GCL for relevance, and are giving plenty of reason for optimism. And we have not even seen Romero yet.


    1 Aug 17 at 8:35 am

  51. Dusty pulled Gio right after he gave up the hit in the 9th. Didn’t even give him a choice to run up his pitch count, or to lose the game. Doolittle, impressively, got Stanton to ground into a double play.

    The Dodgers and Cubs both added “name” (read: expensive) starting pitchers . . . who have ERAs over 4. The relievers the Dodgers got yesterday were Watson, who has struggled all year and got demoted from closing, and Cingrani, whose ERA is close to 6. I’ll be glad to have either of those guys face Harper and Murphy in October. They don’t worry me at all. It’s total media silliness that the Dodgers “won” the deadline. Note that the Pirates are still somewhat in contention in the Central but didn’t worry about unloading Watson, which shows you what they think of him.

    If Stras is healthy, and if Roark steadies, the Nats have the best four-man rotation of any team that will be in the postseason. They also have the best four-man middle of the order of any team, including the high-flying Astros (who may not have enough pitching to make it very far; they really NEEDED Gray). That’s not counting the expected return of Turner, Werth, and Taylor.

    And please media, spare me the columns about how the Nats didn’t get the “true closer” they needed. That “true closer” was not available in this market. The Cubs did pick up Justin Wilson, but not to close. But Iglesias, Osuna, and Rosenthal are still with the same teams. Anyway, the Nats picked up THREE guys who have closed, which will lead to a lively bullpen competition just for spots on the postseason roster.

    Can’t believe some teams like the Reds, Padres, and O’s just sat on their assets. The Mets also didn’t move much, but there wasn’t much market for some of their stiffs.


    1 Aug 17 at 9:12 am

  52. I shouldn’t be totally dismissive of Quintana and Darvish, both of whom, when on, are very good. My point is more that they’ve struggled this year, as have nearly every other Cub starter.

    And make no mistake, the Dodgers got those lefty relievers with exactly three guys in mind: Harper, Murphy, and Anthony Rizzo. However, they’ll have to get past the RH-heavy D-Backs to face any of those. (I’m assuming the D-Backs over the Rox if the Snakes are at home and starting Greinke.)


    1 Aug 17 at 9:40 am

  53. The Mets are a little different than the other team selling. I think they really want to compete in 2018, so they only wanted to sell guys in their walk years. But it’s a shock that they weren’t able to trade Bruce, Granderson, or walker. Those guys are all quality players, even role players, to contenders. I’m assuming they got offers but it required them paying down salary, and I’m just surprised they didn’t do it.

    Dusty should also start giving Harp, Murph and Rendon a day a week off. I dunno, maybe I’m being too critical of Dusty. But it’s now a 14 game lead, two months left and every other team sold players at the deadline. Let’s start resting guys to get them into optimal form for the playoffs.

    Robles, Soto, Fedde, Kieboom, DJohnson and Romero (that’s how I’d rank them). That’s not a bad top 6 after all these trades. After that it thins out quickly, but as I said yesterday, that’s pretty good for a contending team after several years of roster bolstering trades. A fair bit better than CHC and BOS, for instance.


    1 Aug 17 at 9:41 am

  54. Quintana is definitely good. Darvish, as I said yesterday, I never loved him even before he got hurt, and I don’t think he’s recovered to those levels. He isn’t a guy that scares me in October. He certainly might put up good games, but feeling confident now about that is a stretch.


    1 Aug 17 at 9:43 am

  55. Nat playoff bullpen, assuming they’re taking eight:

    Locks: Doolittle, Madson, Kintzler, Albers

    Probables: Romero

    In the mix: Kelley (if healthy), Glover (if healthy), Perez, Grace (who Dusty really likes), EJax

    A long way to go to get in the mix: Blanton (if not released), Solis, Fedde

    Lurking, if truly healthy: Tim Collins (now at Potomac)


    1 Aug 17 at 9:48 am

  56. Wally, the “problem” for a big-market team like the Mets is that it fears significant financial loss if it admits that it’s going into rebuilding mode. The Giants aren’t in as big a market but have a similar problem, with high fan expectations and a stadium allegedly sold out every game.

    The Mets can’t contend in 2018, not against the Nats. Much like the Phils, they kept the band together, but the band collectively got old quickly. They also lost their two glue guys, Murphy (let him walk) and Wright (to injuries), while keeping a truckload of unglued knuckleheads (Harvey, Thor, Cespedes, et al.). On top of that, they ruined the young arms that would have kept them relevant, much like the Braves did five years ago.

    The Mets should have sold their fan base on a “skinny rebuild” and gotten what they could for half their team. Even then, the market was slim for the types of guys who they wanted to move, like Bruce and Granderson, and they didn’t advertise some guys who would have had value, like Blevins. He’s got better numbers than either of the guys the Dodgers picked up yesterday.

    But hey, I’m fine if the Mets want to stand pat. It just makes our life easier!


    1 Aug 17 at 10:58 am

  57. Re Mets: I hate them with the fire of 1000 suns and the Nats (as currently constructed) are certainly the favorites over them next year. But it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see them as an 85 win team that could push for a division title if things go right. A (healthy) Syndergaard-DeGrom is a solid 1-2 punch. Cespedes and Conforto are capable middle of the order hitters. Rosario (SS) is the #1 prospect in baseball in a lot of minds. The bullpen is good if Familia is healthy. They have a lot of holes, but also a lot of money coming off the books.

    I think the Nats have the best divisional situation in baseball, probably by a significant margin. But I don’t think it’s crazy for Mets management to think they have a shot to get in the playoffs next year. And Bruce/Granderson will definitely clear waivers, so there’s no need to trade them by 7/31.


    1 Aug 17 at 11:45 am

  58. Re Bullpen: as constructed right now this is a solid bullpen. I’ll reserve judgment on Kintzler until I see him, but I assume he’s solid. Madson has looked great, and Doolittle has a great track record (and has looked very good recently). I would be fine with Madson, Doolittle, or Albers appearing in a big situation in the playoffs. I hope to feel that way about Kintzler.

    Romero and Ollie are fine for me as LOOGY matchup guys. If Ollie faces a RH batter in a playoff game with the score within 3 runs, something horrible has happened.

    The big question on the bullpen between now and October is the health of Kelley and Glover. If both come back and pitch close to as good as they’ve pitched in the past, this becomes an excellent bullpen. What it would lack in very top-end talent (e.g., Kimbrel, Chapman, Miller), it would make up for in depth. There would be six guys – Madson, Doolittle, Kintzler, Kelley, Glover, Albers (Albers to a much lesser extent, IMO) who could pitch in a big situation. That both shortens the game but allows you to keep guys fresh. I have no idea if we’re going to see the “real” Kelley/Glover this year. Kelley, in particular, is really important because he’s the one guy who has a great K% and sometimes you just need the K.


    1 Aug 17 at 11:54 am

  59. Ollie is a true loogy who splits say should never face a RHB. Romero, however, has been much more dominant this year against RHB than LHB. I don’t know how LHB’s have the guts to stand in against him, but they do. Despite Ollie’s experience, I don’t think he’s a postseason-roster lock, particularly if Grace continues to show well.

    (Romero, by the way, is only 26 and controlled through 2021. He’s going to be a bigger part of Nat ‘pens of the future than we currently realize.)

    Add me to the list of those who have never seen Kintzler pitch.

    Kelley is already on a rehab assignment at Syracuse. He hasn’t seemed completely healthy all year, though. I don’t know about Glover’s status.

    I completely agree that a deep bullpen is a huge asset in October. Lack of quality depth has waylaid the Nats in previous playoff excursions almost as much as closer failure has.


    1 Aug 17 at 12:27 pm

  60. Here’s what we’ve been missing in the playoffs, “what’s inside”:

    Brandon Kintzler, Minnesota Twins reliever: “From my own experience, the ninth inning, and that last out, is by far the hardest to get. A few times I’ve had two outs and nobody on, and either lost the game or had to battle to get that third out.

    “I’ve done both roles, and I’m not taking that sixth, seventh, or eight inning away from anyone — they’re definitely tough outs to get — but it’s just a different animal in the ninth inning. That said, once guys get to set up a bunch of times, then they can go into the ninth inning and try it out.

    “Everyone thinks, ‘He’s a future closer? Why? Because he has good stuff.’ But you have to see what’s inside of him first. It’s not stuff in the ninth inning — it’s what’s inside. That’s the difference.”


    1 Aug 17 at 12:39 pm

  61. Derek, I will admit up front that I perpetually underestimated the Mets in 2015-16, probably due to my loathing of them. But you’re asking for an awful lot of health and good Karma (which they don’t deserve!) to get them to 85 wins in 2018. I would more or less agree with you that they could reach that level if everything goes right. However, if the baseball gods grant the Nats that level of health and stability in 2018, they should win about 110! Really, it’s pretty amazing that the Nats are still on an upper-90s win pace this season despite all the injuries and bullpen struggles.


    1 Aug 17 at 2:16 pm

  62. Here’s a weird one: why did the Nationals release Matt Skole??

    He was dfa’d cleared waivers and THEN released?? Why? Why not just release him immediately if this was their plan? He cleared waivers, meaning he could have been outrighted to AAA. Somethings weird here.

    Todd Boss

    1 Aug 17 at 7:55 pm

  63. My understanding is that Skole requested his release.

    Now MAX down . . . uh oh . . .


    1 Aug 17 at 8:07 pm

  64. While I try not to fret about Max… how in this day and age was Kintzler not able to make in from San Diego to Miami in a 24 hour time period? You can’t tell me there were no flights. Perhaps the Nats said take your time hoping Gio goes on paternity leave at the same time to aavoid making a tough call like Blanton vs Grace?


    1 Aug 17 at 8:47 pm

  65. There is one race for the Nats that is still contested, and it will come into more focus this weekend. The Nats are currently six games ahead of the Cubs for home field in the NLDS. This when our current starting rotation looks like Larry, Curly, and Cole.


    2 Aug 17 at 8:07 am

  66. It’s good for Skole that he is a free agent.
    The Nats don’t have any plans for him and his window is closing fast.
    Good for him that he has a chance with a lesser organization.

    The rest of the season is to determine whether the Nats are a #2 or a #3 seed in the playoffs. That’s it.

    Mark L

    2 Aug 17 at 8:19 am

  67. There are a few names to watch in the minors who are retreads but showing a lot of production. Normally one might dismiss, but all three may be interesting September options if spots on the 40 open up unexpectedly.

    Neftali Soto played for Dusty Baker once and has kicked around the Nats system since 2016. This year he has been very productive and is hitting very well at Syracuse.

    Dan Gamache is a Pirates castoff who had peaked at AAA. He showed good offensive promise for the Bucs and had an uninspired AAA year but then was cast away. He signed elsewhere and struggled, and the Nats signed him immediately when he was cut — as if they had wanted him for awhile. After starting way below level, he is mashing at AA. It will be interesting to see how soon he gets a shot at AAA and how he’ll show up.

    Clint Robinson, yeah him. The power is there and his numbers do not look that impressive, but he had a horrendous start and has been very solid since then. It wasn’t so long ago that he added value, though Lind made him pretty forgettable.


    3 Aug 17 at 5:02 am

  68. Speaking of 40-man spots, I just checked, and Bautista hasn’t played since 5/23. Why hasn’t he been moved to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man spot? They’ve DFA’d both Skole and Cordero instead.

    I didn’t see the game last night. It looks like Cole was half-decent for four innings but then got crushed . . . just like Worley did in nearly every outing in the spring for the Nats. When they signed him, I thought he was the odds-on favorite to be the long man. But he sucked nearly every time he pitched.


    3 Aug 17 at 8:15 am

  69. BA just did a re-ranking of farm systems after the trade deadline. Anyone know where the Nats ranked? I don’t have a subscription and was curious. My guess is mid-20s.

    I wouldn’t be shocked to see an August pickup for a starter. They may need to also move down a bench guy and carry an extra reliever for a few weeks. Their goal should be .500 ball through August, maybe even a little less. I wouldn’t sell out (i.e. Push players to injury points) to keep home field for the first round. Health has to be paramount.


    3 Aug 17 at 9:23 am

  70. The Nats only have four series left with teams with records above .500: Cubs, Astros, Dodgers, and Brewers. I imagine folks are going to try to read a lot into this Cubs series, but Fedde and EJax are likely to be pitching, and the Nats are still without Turner, Werth, and Taylor. We will be bolstered considerably from the DL at some point. (The Kendrick trade does make me wonder if they have concerns whether Werth will make it back, though.)

    As for Sept. call-ups, I’d like to see them give Robles a look. I know it would “start the clock” on him, but since he’s likely to be back on the farm for at least half a season in 2018 anyway, that shouldn’t matter. I doubt they will call him up, but he seems like a lock for the AZ Fall League.


    3 Aug 17 at 9:34 am

  71. It’s August 2. If he rakes for the next month, why on earth not?


    3 Aug 17 at 4:57 pm

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