Nationals Arm Race

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

Romero: I’m not the kinda guy to say I told you so …


Hopefully you recognize the title of this post as a quote from one of the most entertaining movies of all time, "Midnight Run."

Hopefully you recognize the title of this post as a quote from one of the most entertaining movies of all time, “Midnight Run.”

News that should surprise practically nobody who follows Nats prospects dropped over the Labor Day weekend: 2017 lightning rod 1st rounder Seth Romero will likely miss the *entirety* of the 2019 season as he undergoes Tommy John surgery.

Just to recap Romero’s stellar tenure with the Nats thus far:

  • He gets kicked off his college team, multiple times for multiple different knuckle head moves (drugs, curfew, fighting with teammates, etc)
  • The Nats telegraph their 2017 first round pick to basically every draft-predicting pundit and select Romero with the 25th overall pick in the 1st round.
  • They pay him an *over slot* bonus for some fool reason, despite the fact that he (like a college senior) has no college team to return to.
  • He throws just 22 professional innings in 2017, including six short-A starts with a (short sample size ugly ERA of 5.40).
  • He’s sent home from spring training for “multiple team rule violations,” and misses fully two months of the 2018 minor league season.
  • He finally debuts in 2018 in Low-A (a 1st rounder of his stature should be in at least High-A in his first full pro season), throws 6 starts of 3.91 ERA.
  • He hits the D/L in early July, misses another 6 weeks
  • Comes back mid-August, throws 2 innings, is removed from the game … and then three weeks later we find out about his TJ.

Grand total pro starts to this point: 14 (two of which were of the 2-inning “pseudo start” varieties).  Age he’ll be in spring training 2020 when he’s ready to go again?  23, turning 24 as soon as the 2020 season starts.

Extent to which this entire situation has blown up in the Nats’ faces: very high.

I’m really beginning to question this group’s ability to execute on first rounders in the new CBA.  I focus on the 1st rounders because, really, that’s where you spend the most money and that’s really the one pick you cannot afford to screw up.  Here’s the Nats first picks since the new CBA went into effect:

  • 2012: Giolito, Renda, Mooneyham
  • 2013: No 1st rounder, Johansen, Ward
  • 2014: Fedde, Suarez (who didn’t sign), Reetz
  • 2015: No 1st rounder, Stevenson, Perkins, Wisemann
  • 2016: Kieboom, Dunning, Neuse, Luzardo
  • 2017: Romero, Crowe, Raquet
  • 2018: Denaburg, Cate, Schaller

I’m sorry, but tell me which of these sets of players is a “success?”  2012?  Nope; Giolito may pan out, maybe not, but he’s been at best the definition of inconsistent in 2018 … and for another team.  2013?  Absolutely not.  2014?  Fedde looks like maybe a 5th starter right now and Suarez didn’t sign; how do you not sign a 2nd rounder under the modern draft rules?  2015?  A 5th outfielder, a guy who may have peaked in low-A and a corner org-guy.  That’s not a win.

2016 looks pretty damn good … except that three of these four players were traded to other teams to make up for other team deficiencies!  Dunning is projecting like a mid-rotation guy perhaps, Neuse looks solid, but Luzardo is now being called perhaps the best lefty prospect in the minors.  All gone.  At least they managed to retain Kieboom.  But its ironic that perhaps their best draft in the last 7 years essentially ends up benefiting primarily other teams.  Ok, yes that’s unfair given that we traded these guys to get assets to help us now, but its worth noting that the two guys we flipped Neuse and Luzardo for are now traded and injured, and the guy we acquired for Dunning (and others) missed essentially the entirety of 2017.  Yeah you can’t predict injuries, blah, blah, but given how 2018 has turned out don’t you wish you had these moves back at this point?  Do you think this team would have done any differently in 2017 and 2018 without those moves?  Just a thought.

2017?  Crowe looks like a great pick.  Nothing personal against Raquet, but I hated the pick when it happened, and he’s done little to impress since.  In High-A this year he struck out just 36 guys in 55 innings, had a .319 Batting average against (giving up an astounding 72 hits in 55 innings) and finished the season with a 4.91 ERA (greatly helped by his managing to throw a 1-hit shut out his last start).  I mean, where do you go from here with him?  He’s not a starter; do you dump him to the bullpen and have him repeat High-A?

2018?  Obviously too soon to pass judgement, but where the hell is Denaburg?  He got assigned to the GCL team in mid July and never appeared.  Cate ended the year in the low-A rotation, which would normally indicate a nice season, but he posted ugly ERAs in both Short-A and Low-A with mediocre peripherals.  Schaller was drafted as a reliever but stretched out as a starter professionally and struggled; a 5.90 ERA and just 16 Ks in 29 short-A innings.  Not good.

Conclusion: I’m not sure this front office can draft anymore.  And after watching them him and haw at the trade deadline and then eventually get little to no return for departing vets, i’m not sure they are effectively managing things either.  And lastly, having the GM come in and trade away two veteran players in order to save his rookie manager’s face smacks of having your big older brother come in and slug the neighborhood bullies because you’re too weak to handle your own problems.

All in all, not a very good 2018.  I’ve been a defender of Mike Rizzo in the past, but a lot of these moves are reminders that  he has some weaknesses as an overall GM.  He’s now on his 6th manager in 10 years in charge (Acta, Riggleman, Johnson, Williams, Baker and now Martinez, not counting a few interim games post-Riggleman resignation).  He’s clearly struggling to handle the draft correctly.  Scott Boras routinely goes over his head to management to make bad moves (its no surprise that Romero was a Boras client), and as a result of poor roster construction they’ve gutted the farm system over the past few years only to completely lose the plot in 2018, the year they were supposed to win it all.

At what point do you really question the direction of this team under Rizzo?


28 Responses to 'Romero: I’m not the kinda guy to say I told you so …'

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  1. I told you so . . . even BEFORE they drafted him!

    Here’s a point I just made on Nats Prospects as well: Romero had some sort of prior arm issues before they drafted him. I seem to remember something about a plate in his elbow. So even though this isn’t technically his second TJ, it’s his second major arm injury, which tends to lengthen the recovery, sometimes by another year . . . and that’s assuming the player is dedicated to the rehab. The only assumption with came make with Romero is that he’s never seemed dedicated to anything other than having a good time.

    Sigh. Now we just sit and awaiting the Denaburg TJ announcement . . .

    (More thoughts on the drafting mistakes when I have some time. They’re REALLY coming back to haunt them now that contracts are ending and players are leaving.)


    4 Sep 18 at 10:12 am

  2. Drafts are easy to criticize, and goodness knows I’ve been known to do it. In some cases it’s easy to say who they should have picked instead, but in others, it’s harder. Easy: in 2012, the two college arms picked immediately after Giolito were Wacha and Stroman. The Nats had already drafted Stroman out of HS (as a SS) and presumably had a relationship. Double oops there.

    Harder: in 2013, yes, the Johansen picked sucked. He had bad numbers at a small college but looked good in a uniform and on a radar gun. But if you scroll through the rest of the 2d round and all of the 3d, the Nats didn’t really miss out on much. It was a sucky draft. Pivetta at the end of the 4th was actually a terrific pick . . . until they traded him.

    Who would they have taken instead of Fedde in 2014? The next college arm off the board, Nick Howard from UVA, hasn’t made the majors. The next three college hitters were Casey Gillaspie, Bradley Zimmer, and Matt Chapman. Chapman has panned out, but the others have struggled. The rest of the 1st round hasn’t done much. (Also, Suarez was a very good pick in the 2d, but they screwed up the signing, probably pushing too much money to Fedde.)

    I hated what they did in 2015 with light-hitting Stevenson and Perkins (who never seemed worth the bonus). Not too many picked after Stevenson have done much, though, until you get down to Bader, another SEC OF who projected pretty similarly. I liked the Wiseman pick. He’s finally showing the power, but the rest of his game hasn’t developed. Hard to fault getting Glover in the 8th, though.

    In 2017, I hated the Romero, Raquet, and Freeman picks but loved the Crowe one. I’m 4-for-4 on that front thus far. I would have picked Alex Lange, who has done OK, but not as well as Crowe thus far.

    None of the top three from 2018 are looking promising. If they took a pitcher, I wanted Jackson Kowar; if it was a hitter, I wanted Seth Beer, who went the pick following Denaburg. Both have had very good starts to their pro careers, unlike Denaburg, who has yet to have a pro career.


    4 Sep 18 at 3:34 pm

  3. Rizzo hasn’t had a good year, I agree with that. My reasoning though is that he didn’t know his team. It happens.

    As for drafting, I agree it doesn’t look good but it’s unfair to ding the scouting when they trade guys. And if they don’t trade those guys, they likely have 6 top 100 prospects, including two pitchers on the cusp of coming into the rotation. Would the drafts that washed out look so bad then?

    As for the trades, I think they would take back the Eaton and Doolittle trades if they could, but you can’t. I didn’t feel the Eaton trade was necessary, but the Doolittle one absolutely was. That team (2017) was loaded and playing well, but had no bullpen. You had to go for it, and teams aren’t foolish. If you want quality, you have to give it up. While I would take a redo if I could because they didn’t win anything, I can’t fault that trade. I can, however, criticize the off-season roster building that required it.


    4 Sep 18 at 7:47 pm

  4. I’m more irritated by the 2013/2015 drafts because of the pick foregone rather than the poorly picked players. 2013 especially since the Rafael Soriano signing was just so short sighted. I think the 2015 pick was forgone thanks to the Murphy signing so, well that was worth it plus they had an extra one thanks to blowing the 2014 2nd rounder

    Todd Boss

    4 Sep 18 at 10:07 pm

  5. Love love Midnight Run, most underrated road movie of all time. Best against-type character of DeNiro’s career.

    As you pointed out, Romero had no leverage and few suitors when the Nats went above-slot to sign him. And no doubt he and his agent played Rizzo and co. smartly while the latter did their “due diligence.” And, incidentally, wasn’t Wil Crowe the fallback 1st pick if Romero had been taken earlier and not available at 25? I seem to remember Crowe’s name being mentioned in some mock drafts.

    John N

    5 Sep 18 at 2:31 am

  6. Of the Murphy, Soriano, Eaton, and Doolittle-Madson deals, the only one I really didn’t like was the Soriano one.

    That said, would the Nats have gotten a decent 1st rounder in 2013 if they had passed on Soriano? Let’s see . . . I’ve forgotten exactly what number pick the Nats surrendered that year, but here are the college arms in the latter part of the round: Chi Chi Gonzalez (23d), Ryne Stanek (29th), Jason Hursh (31st), Sean Manaea (34th), Aaron Blair (36th). If they specifically wanted a reliever, Corey Knebel went 39th. So . . . it’s possible that the Nats could have ended up with Manaea, but it would have meant that they would have had to pass on a couple of guys other teams had more highly rated, so it’s possible but not likely. College hitters taken in that part of the draft were Eric Jagielo (26th), Phil Ervin (27th), and some kid named Judge (32d). Before you jump up and down that the Nats would have gotten Judge, though, consider that the Yanks had both the 26th and 32d picks and chose him second.

    Anyway, see for yourself:

    So yeah, technically they passed on Judge and Manaea to sign Soriano, although it’s more likely that they would have taken a stiff.


    5 Sep 18 at 9:36 am

  7. For those curious, here’s a look at just how bad Johansen’s numbers were in college:

    His ERAs in college were over 5, as they remained at every stop in the Nats’ system. Also note that despite his supposed “big arm,” his K/9% wasn’t great, while his H/9 numbers were frightening. There’s NOTHING here that would have remotely made me want to draft this guy. Overall college ERA was 6.03, with 10.5 hits allowed per 9 IP, WHIP of 1.67. You wouldn’t touch a guy from the SEC or ACC with those numbers, much less someone from Dallas Baptist.


    5 Sep 18 at 9:47 am

  8. Also, the 2015 1st rounder was surrendered for Scherzer. I think he’s worked out OK. They surrendered the 2016 1st rounder for Murphy but got two comp picks back from JZim and Desi.


    5 Sep 18 at 10:33 am

  9. One thing about the the trade of Luzardo–that was a direct result of Rizzo’s complete inability to build a decent bullpen. He’s been trading off young arms on patches for years, and finally wrecked the team’s chance to have a new young ace to acquire one rapidly declining reliever and another who’s always been injury prone. The A’s must have been giddy the day they closed that deal. Meanwhile Felipe and Treinen have somehow became All Stars, which if the Nats had been able to properly develop them would have made the trading of Luzardo completely unnecessary.

    Let’s face it, since the Turner/Ross trade Rizzo’s tenure as GM has largely been a disaster in terms of player development. They were stacked, had rebuilt a Dominican operation that was about to start producing quality players and were in a position if their talent was a carefully managed to be in contention for a decade.

    Rizzo always had an arrogant air about him, but in the past couple of years has become insufferable. Since Kasten left there has been no one else in the baseball operations end who can challenge or second guess him. Now he wants to go all out on re-signing Harper, which if the Weiters and Romero contracts are any indicator he’ll probably do for $100 million or more than any other team would pay him at this point. That will leave the Nats unable to acquire nearly enough pitching to be competitive given how barren the system is (I’m not nearly as high on Crowe as you are).

    The Lerners should have waited to see how this season was going to pan out before the extending Rizzo. Now I fear that their refusal to eat bad contracts means that we will be stuck with him and his handpicked stooge in the dugout for two more years as the Nats slowly descend into long term mediocrity.

    Karl Kolchak

    5 Sep 18 at 11:14 am

  10. Re: drafts, the thing is, most draftees, even high ones, don’t pan out. Which is why I said earlier ‘if they kept those 2016 kids, wouldn’t you feel good’? It s a game of attrition and hitting just enough to keep the cupboards filled. And honestly, one way to say that they were a success is how many were able to be traded for major league value.

    On Karl’s point about all of this being attributable to Rizzo’s inability to craft a successful bullpen in the offseason, I agree that there is definitely a correlation. But, because I can’t help being devil’s advocate, tell me the philosophy that works. Bring in established major leaguers. Like, say the Rockies? Go with the kids? How did that work for the Nats? and is it the GM, or how the manager uses them?

    I agree it is a problem, but it is also one that gets made by most organizations, which suggests it pretty complicated.


    5 Sep 18 at 12:32 pm

  11. Fans love to be able to say “I told you so.” And we remember every single time that we can plausibly argue that we did – but we’re pretty lousy collectively at remembering when we were wrong.

    As for Seth Romero, the TJ surgery can’t really be hung on anything, because pitchers break. Joe Ross ended up having TJ surgery, and he’s pretty much a boy scout. If Romero had been up for the Clemente Award, it wouldn’t have insulated him from needing TJ surgery.

    Also, it makes no sense at all to say that the 2016 draft doesn’t count in some way because, while the players turned out to be good/excellent prospects, they were traded. What? If you don’t like the return that they got, OK (although to be fair you should also remember all of the times that Rizzo moved prospects that never made it). But they are good players that were drafted and initially developed by the team, and its incoherent to suggest that trading them invalidates that work.

    John C.

    8 Sep 18 at 9:25 am

  12. JohnC; yes you’re right in that “good guys” and “bad guys” all get TJ. I didn’t specifically discuss Romero’s mechanics as a root cause for eventual TJ … but if you’ve seen him throw, he’s got really crummy mechanics.

    And yes, I still put this at the feet of this Nats management group. Kid’s got a great arm, great. Awful rep. bad mechanics. difficult agent. Instead of passing, they not only take him AND give him over slot money!!

    What happens when you combine someone with sh*tty mechanics AND someone with poor work ethics? Nothing good; he’s not working out like he should, strenghtening his core, working on his legs to off-set his bad arm action … so, again, is it any surprise to anyone here that Romero ended up with TJ? He’s listed as 6’3 and 250 (!) pounds right now. By way of comparison, Roark (who nobody is going to say is in awesome shape) is listed as 6’2 230.

    Would anyone like to hazard a guess as to what he’ll weigh now that he’s essentially going to be out of the gym for weeks thanks to his arm recovery?

    Todd Boss

    10 Sep 18 at 12:31 pm

  13. I wonder what Roark weighed when he was an all-state quarterback in high school?

    Romero once ballooned as high as 250 at U of H, which was the cause of one of his suspensions. Also, among his many other faults, Romero also had pre-existing arm issues.


    10 Sep 18 at 3:20 pm

  14. Beyond this minor drama, I’m still shaking my head about the Nats’ season. Boz went off a few days ago for the team selling and yet not getting under the luxury tax. That’s the ONLY reason I advocated selling. Unlike so many on some other sites (not this one), I no illusions that they’d get anyone useful in return. (If any of the August trade returns make the majors, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.)

    Did the Nats sell too soon? Or too late? I’ll admit up front that I’ve underestimated the Braves and the Phils all season. That said, both of those teams have been struggling down the stretch. It’s not too far out of the realm of possibility to suggest that if Nats had won three or four of the recent games that they’ve dropped — several because their AAA bullpen and AAA starters couldn’t hold up — that they might STILL be within sniffing distance.

    So yeah, I’d say that if they knew they wouldn’t be able to get under the luxury tax, they should have kept the band together. They had nothing to lose and perhaps an outside chance at something to gain. But they stripped most of that chance with the trades.

    Incidentally, if the playoffs began today, the Dodgers, Nats, and D-Backs would all be on the outside looking in. Amazing. And consequently, I don’t like the NL’s chances in the WS. What does the NL have? The Cubs, who have little starting pitching or bullpen (as the Nats just exposed)?


    10 Sep 18 at 3:38 pm

  15. Karl, I had a nice conversation with a high level As executive who I sat next to at the homerun derby. He said the As didn’t think Doo could stay healthy for a full season and they were always worried about him. He said they couldn’t believe they could get Treinen and Luzardo and jumped on the trade. He also said that they were offered a nice package for Treinen immediately after acquiring him and declined because they felt he had all the makings to be a top closer.

    Andrew R

    11 Sep 18 at 1:53 am

  16. I had the same health concerns about Doo when he was mentioned as a possible trade target earlier in 2017. Frankly, he’s held up much better than I had feared. His recent injury had nothing to do with his arm and was rather freakish.

    I don’t regret giving up Treinen. For whatever reasons, Maddux didn’t know how to connect with him, at least in 2017 (Blake was very good in 2016). That’s the thing with relievers in general, though — reliability is hard to predict with them. Albers had been awful for a couple years, had a great season with the Nats, then went back to being awful. Kelley was a roller coaster his entire time with the Nats.

    For the part of 2017 before the trade, we forget how bad Treinen was: 5.73 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 11.5 hits per 9. He wasn’t worth much, which is why the Nats had to toss in a chip as big as Luzardo.


    11 Sep 18 at 9:29 am

  17. Then there’s Greg Holland, who with the Cards had an insanely bad 7.92 ERA, 2.24 WHIP. With the Nats, it’s 0.56, 0.88. Same guy, same season. When folks are so quick to credit other teams for “turning around” Nat relievers, please remember this guy. Doo and Madson were also better after arriving in DC in ’17 than they were before the trade. Doo has continued to be phenomenal this year. Age just caught up with Madson, perhaps goosed a bit by overuse. He’s been awful with the Dodgers.


    12 Sep 18 at 8:44 am

  18. Meanwhile, that Soto kid may have a future, eh?


    12 Sep 18 at 8:49 am

  19. Finally driving a stake in the Phillies. If the Nats could have back five or six games they frittered away during the season, they could really be making the Braves sweat. But they can’t and they aren’t. Barring an epic collapse by the Braves, all we’re playing for now are moral victories.

    Well, and stats. Sure would love for Soto to get to 25 homers (which would be the record for teenagers) and Harper to get to 40, although it’s asking a lot of them to hit six and seven respectively over the last 16 games (particularly if the weekend games get moved to the Miami mausoleum). Max should get three starts, giving him a shot for three more wins to get to 20.


    13 Sep 18 at 10:22 am

  20. It’s easy for all of us to say, I told you so.

    I’ve been a Rizzo defender, historically. I defended the Dusty firing. I defended the Dusty hiring.

    My biggest issues with the management of the Nationals have been selected errors. There were overpays for spare rental pieces. Max Schrock really grated at me, and here we are, and Schrock stalled in AAA this year. But thankfully, the team does not do that anymore.

    I don’t get excited over Felipe Rivero or Treinen because I can’t mentally separate them from Hanrahan – players who did not develop here, whom I thought were never going to develop here, and developed elsewhere.

    My issue is selling low rather than high. Rizzo has done a decent job of not selling at the bottom, but not perfect. He sold high on Souza. He sold low on Treinen. He sold low on Giolito.

    The team has made a number of “statement” moves to get a closer, because they have failed to develop one from within since Storen. Papelbon was a failure for the acquisition. Melancon, was a mistake of thinking he could be signed and be a long term answer. Herrera was a statement move, and a good one that did not pan out. Who knew?

    Soriano was a mistake of allowing Boras’ hype to sway ownership, which may be as much the problem behind the Romero draft — and overpay — the Fedde draft and possible overpay, the Wieters signing, and perhaps the Harper signing to come. It certainly appears that the nationals are committing to signing him.

    I can’t take issue with the Doolittle trade, even though the numbers are as they are on the Treinen side. Treinen may not have done that here; did they give up on him too soon? ‘Who could have known,’ I say, as we all ready for the ultimate exit of Sammy Solis and his live arm. Doolittle has delivered all star performance, and the team has two more years of control. This is at least a valuable asset in a critical role. Neuse stalled this year but is young. Luzardo rose beautifully this year but still has yet to master AAA. And he is a TJ survivor. So we need to calm down a bit.

    After a year of wringing my hands about the pitching assets liquidated in the Eaton deal, I’m over that as well. If we can get exorcised about the ‘prospects’ of people who have not yet performed, how is it that we cannot get excited over people who themselves have prospects and have not yet consistently showed up? Eaton has delivered high level major league production when in the lineup. He is still playing below his defensive and power potential, however. But he has still showed the capacity to carry a team. And his contract is a great asset. It would be a shame to see the Nats give him up without a high value return. As for the others, they are but potential. Giolito is potential, so is Lopez. I’m not sure that either would have put the Nationals over the top this year. Dunning is at AA and lost two months to a leg injury. I just can’t get excited over that, under the circumstances.

    Todd’s consternation about the draft is well taken, to a point. The 2016 draft was outstanding. The 2017 draft is showing a number of promising returns. 2018? Way too early. The international yield is improving and promising as well. My biggest issue with the Nats
    on the personnel side has been the inability to draft and develop high caliber starting position players who are not first round draft picks. Will that change? Hard to tell. A lot of the position players are emerging from the international ranks, and the drafts have been pitching heavy. But there are other US draftees who may represent progress outside the first round. I believe in Daniel Johnson, and am watching Jake Noll. Auburn had some nice years, but those are collegians who should be doing well at NYPL. I’m not otherwise sure how I feel about people like Tres Barrera and Nick Banks.

    So beyond that hole, it’s the outsized influence of Boras, and the hiring of coaches. I understand Kevin Long, but that was not an upgrade over Rick Schu. And Lilliquist? Has anyone taken a leap forward?

    The coaching, development, scouting can be upgraded in numerous ways. If the Pirates can benefit from a Searage, the Nationals should pay to get that kind of talent. If the Dodgers can take low round picks and turn them into stars, something good is happening in their minor league system. Are the Nationals suffering the curse of the ailing Doug Harris this year? I don’t know.

    Last year, the minor leagues underperformed to a degree worse than any other in my memory. This year, a number of players took quantum leaps forward. Soto was the most obvious, but there were numerous others, like Bourque, McGowin and Williams. So something good is down under, and the Nats ought to know what that is and why it happened in 2018 and not in 2017.
    My own top 50 prospects has remarkably transformed. That’s fun to see.

    In all, my biggest gripe is that of others — waiting too long to jettison players who had a sell by date. The team won without Murphy and is winning without him now. Murphy had lower value at the trading deadline, that is true. He was not yet hitting. Weiters had no value. Gio could have fetched more — and I think Rizzo may have done well as he did, at that late stage.

    The team has underperformed in many areas, and injuries did not help. Separating realities from sportswriter poison, often jock sniffing Schadenfreude, is useful. It’s complicated. But this has not been Rizzo’s year, that is for sure.

    I’m excitedly watching the team for Robles, whom I do hope they keep, Spencer Kieboom, who I always touted as a major leaguer here, and seeing starts by players like McGowin and Fedde to see if they can step it up a level. We’re watching 2019 now, and Rizzo’s destiny as well.


    14 Sep 18 at 12:21 pm

  21. I wish they were playing Robles more too, but it’s kind of tough spot because several of the others have reasons to care about counting stats, too. Soto is trying for RoY, Harp for his big contract. Eaton could be benched but if they re-sign Harp, they’ll want to trade Eaton so …. plus maybe if Robles isn’t in a good place, they think they could hurt his off-season value by playing him a lot and he shows poorly.

    As for the offseason, they need to reset their rotation to some degree. I genuinely don’t see anyone in the org that presents a high likelihood of being a quality big league starter beyond Ross. I’m still pretty bullish on him. Fedde is a maybe but I wouldn’t count on him more than a 6-7 depth piece. Here is an out of the box idea: what type of pitching would make you want to trade Soto?

    I think one thing that Rizzo has done very well is position them for the Harp decision. If he wants to come back on a reasonable deal, Great let’s do it. If not, Robles, Soto and Eaton is a fine, above average group, with a few other guys on the farm.

    I think yesterday killed any post season awards. De Grom is the clear favorite and acuna would have to collapse while Soto hits even better. I don’t really care about the awards though they get a lot of press.


    15 Sep 18 at 10:26 am

  22. If there’s a Nat now I’d nominate to be the next one to go somewhere else and turn into something, a la Treinen and the artist formerly known as Felipe Rivero, I’d say Solis. When he’s good, he’s very, very good, and not in the way of some of the big-armed guys who get lucky to get it over the plate every now and then (Enny Romero et al.). Solis has really struggled in the second half this season, though, and will be out of options for ’19. They could trade him but wouldn’t get much in return. Since it’s hard to count on him making the 25-man in the spring, he might even be a non-tender candidate. But if they could fix him . . . he’s got the stuff to pitch in the 7th or 8th.


    17 Sep 18 at 8:50 am

  23. Robles has flashed some leather, but his crashing into fences and the ground really worries me. He’s got that Young Bryce mentality . . . which resulted in multiple DL stints. If the Nats re-sign Bryce, I’d trade Robles over Eaton, not because I want to see Robles gone, but because I’m not sure he’ll stay healthy enough to realize his full potential. Plus Robles should bring a lot more in trade than Eaton.

    I’m really on the fence on re-signing Harper. I’m thinking it’s more in play now than it was. I really love watching him play, and do think the team would not be as strong offensively with him gone. Would re-signing Bryce hamstring their budget? Would it not leave them enough to extend Rendon? (Ghost is saying that, but I’m not sure I follow his accounting.)

    Pitching: they’ll have Max, Stras, and Roark. Ross looks very good, but he’ll be innings-limited. I’m still not sold on Fedde, although he’s been better recently. They can keep J-Rod in the minors and call him up just to pitch every series against the Braves! Seriously, though, I don’t know what the play is. I think Corbin is going to be overpriced based on only one good season. Keuchel seems like a better option, but he still wouldn’t be cheap. I wouldn’t mind having Hellickson back, for the right price. (I’ve suggested intentionally pairing Hellickson and Ross to pitch together, but it probably wouldn’t happen.) Is the door still open for Gio to potentially come back? I’m not advocating for it, but at the right price, it wouldn’t shock me.

    Anyway, they have five starters in Max, Stras, Roark, Ross, and Fedde. We all know that they’ll need more than those five, but are they really going to spend in the $10-12M range for another starter? I’m not convinced that they will.


    17 Sep 18 at 9:07 am

  24. Boz talking lots of Nats today with the football season already over:


    17 Sep 18 at 12:45 pm

  25. Solis – yes, I totally agree. it wouldn’t be surprising if he left and became good. I’d keep him.

    I kind of get the Robles comment, especially if they get pitching back (Mackenzie Gore, Michel Baez from SDP?). But who plays CF? Can’t see Bryce out there for another two years, so unless Eaton’s knee comes all the way back to let him play a passable CF, I think he has to go.

    No more Gio. I might have to find a different team.


    17 Sep 18 at 1:59 pm

  26. A couple of articles yesterday touched on issues that I’ve been trying to watch during Sept. Chelsea Janes wrote on how the team still really seems to be behind Martinez, while Mark Zuckerman wrote on how the Nats had matched up with the Braves and Phils.

    The Nats have “competed” in every game in Sept. and probably would have a better record if not for having traded half the bullpen. It seems clear that Martinez hasn’t “lost” the team and likely will be back next season. What remains unanswered, though — and Janes avoids — is why the team was so bad, and often so lifeless, when it was still in contention. Martinez made many questionable decisions, and he’s continued to make some, including Max’s quest for a complete game two starts ago that left him totally gassed for his start in ATL.

    As for the second question, there was a time when it appeared that the Braves and Phils might be moving ahead of the team the Nats will be able to field in 2019, but I now don’t believe that’s true. The Phils are falling apart. Much of the Brave success has been built on an overachieving starting staff that probably can’t replicate its efforts. The Braves seem to have more young talent in the field than the Phils do and are more likely to stay at a higher level, although the Phils have zillions of dollars to spend to flesh out their squad. In short, while neither team is going away, the Nats should be able to field at least as good a squad as those two in ’19 . . . at least on paper. The Nats’ “on paper” team in ’18 turned out to be a paper tiger.


    18 Sep 18 at 8:45 am

  27. I agree that prior to the offseason moves, the Nats are on par with ATL and PHI. Offseasons can change that view dramatically though. But neither ATL and PHI are loaded, and the Nats can retool effectively.

    But the calculus for a fan – or at least this fan – is different than just putting together a roster that gives you the best % chance of winning. There are guys that I just don’t want to watch any more (Gio, for example) and guys I do (Robles, Soto, Turner, Ross). Ideally those two motivations overlap, but it gets hard when they don’t.

    I’m not really sure what I am getting at here. Maybe its nothing more than I’m glad that its likely the roster will turn over to a considerable degree. Would like to see a changed core group here.


    18 Sep 18 at 10:59 am

  28. The Post has a headline about this possibly being Harper’s last homestand. That really brings it home, doesn’t it? I don’t want to see him go . . . but I also don’t want a contract that would hamstring the team from getting the pieces it needs to remain competitive.

    Where to spend the money? The catcher market really, REALLY sucks. Grandal is supposed to be far and away the best option out there . . . but he’s hitting .233. Do you really want to give that guy four or five years? No one thinks Ramos can/should catch that much anymore. Lucroy has a .290 OBP, while Hundley’s is .298. Kurt Suzuki, anyone?

    They probably need another starting pitcher, most likely a lefty. As noted, I don’t want to overpay for Corbin’s one-year wondering. Keuchel seems to be into a slow but reasonable decline. Happ has been good recently with the Yanks but will be 36. Would he do something modest, like 2/$24M? Would he be worth that?

    Doo is good for another year, but they’re probably going to have to add two or three setup arms, to the tune of maybe $10-12M total if they’re upper-tier guys.

    Really, I think the equation on whether they think they can pay Harper will mostly come down to whether they’d prefer to get into a bidding war for Corbin instead, and perhaps where they are with a potential Rendon extension. I’m personally not too keen on the FA crop in the areas where they will be looking, so I’m not jumping up and down for them to overpay. I’d celebrate a Harper-Rendon co-re-signing party a lot more.


    19 Sep 18 at 1:26 pm

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