Nationals Arm Race

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

Unbelievably, the 2019 Nats are WS champs!


They did it. Photo via

They did it. Photo via

The final  unbelievable act in an unbelievable season has come to pass.  The cardiac kids overcame yet another 2019 playoff elimination in-game deficit (their 5th of the post-season I believe) to rally in the late innings for an improbable win.

Only this time, it was in Game 7 of a World Series that they were 2-1 underdogs in at the start and in which they got swept on home soil.

Game thoughts:

  • Max Scherzer pitched better than i thought he would, but labored to get through 5 innings on more than 100 pitches.
  • Zack Greinke was pitching the absolute game of his life, and I thought this team was done for in the 6th.
  • For all the scorn heaped on Patrick Corbin … damn what an outing.  Three scoreless innings, faces just one over the min, gets the W in game 7.  Bravo.
  • Anthony Rendonhe continued to make himself a lot of money with his off-season.  Same with Strasburg (a subject for another day).
  • Kendrick finally came alive to win it for the team.  Eaton had a heck of a game.  Soto; well, nobody in America will be surprised by Soto again after this post-season.

Now, some more detailed thoughts on the absolute butchering of the pitching management by Houston’s manager A.J. Hinch.

  • Why would you possibly take out a guy in Greinke who had completely flummoxed the Nats lineup for 6+ innings in that situation?  He was on just 80 pitches.  Yes he’d given up a homer to Rendon, and yes he’d walked Soto … but that’s the two most dangerous hitters in the lineup.  Once you get past Soto, you have to favor your chances against our 5-9 (with all due respect to Kendrick of course).  I couldn’t believe our fortunes there, to move on from Greinke and get into the suspect bullpen.  Was Greinke gassed?  On 80 pitches?  Was he giving up a ton of sharp hit balls?  Rendon’s homer was hit hard, sure, but it was also a rare mistake from a guy who had been painting corners all night.  You pitch around Soto b/c you don’t want him to beat  you.  I just couldn’t believe this over-managing move.
  • Then, instead of bringing Gerritt Cole or his closer … he goes with Will Harris.  Ok.  I guess you could have looked at  Harris’ numbers prior to this inning this post season and said, “oh that’s their stopper.”  But he’s clearly  not better than Greinke.  So it was karma when 3 pitches later Kendrick gets a lucky homer off the foul pole.  Just amazing turn of luck.
  • NOW he goes to his closer Osuna.  Still no Cole, who was idly throwing the ball in the pen.
  • Then, in the next inning, he leaves in his one-inning closer to runout of gas and give up another run.
  • THEN in the next inning he cycles through more of his ineffective bullpen, who leaks two more demoralizing runs to make the 9th a coronation.
  • Cole?  Sitting on his ass in the bullpen.  Peacock?  burned last night.  he eventually goes with 4th starter Jose Urquidy to stop the bleeding, 5 runs too late.

I was texting along with friends throughout all of this, calling the debacle as it happened.  Houston deserved their fate here for pulling an effective starter 30 pitches too early.    And the Nats made them pay.

Go Nats!  This is a long time coming.  A long time coming for everyone who was there at the beginning, helped support this team for years before they actually began trying, who stuck with them as they tried to find their way.


47 Responses to 'Unbelievably, the 2019 Nats are WS champs!'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Unbelievably, the 2019 Nats are WS champs!'.

  1. Is Gerrit Cole still warming up? Did anyone tell him that it’s over? Ha! That was my great fear, after six one-hit innings from Greinke — that they’d bring in Cole for the last three and we’d have no chance. But Greinke was so good that he tantalized Hinch into letting him try to run through the heart of the order a third time. Then he didn’t go to Cole to face Kendrick because he was following that old canard of wanting to give a starter a “clean inning” to begin a relief appearance (as if starters never work with guys on base?).


    31 Oct 19 at 10:51 am

  2. I’ll move this forward from the last post:

    I’ve been following baseball since I was a kid, and this is only the second time the primary team I followed has won the World Series, and the time that I’ve actually lived in the area. Long time coming!

    I’m sorry that Todd has struggled to have time to keep up with things here this year, as this has pretty much been my prime Nats community, and I share this with all you folks with whom we’ve debated roster construction, bullpen disasters, and everything else for the past several years. Hard to believe that the Nats FINALLY did it!

    In some ways, it’s sort of easy now to see why, in retrospect, though. This is just a better, deeper team than any of the earlier ones, particularly when it comes to the second-tier guys who aren’t afraid of the big moments. The fact that we’ve held up the Werth walk-off eight years ago for so long speaks to the fact that previous Nat teams just weren’t able to come up with many other big hits in the postseason. In the 2019 postseason, we’ve got a two-page list of them.

    So hail to the champions. Our bullpen still sucks, and in a few weeks, we can again start fretting over what we’re going to do about it, but the flag will fly FOREVER!


    31 Oct 19 at 10:51 am

  3. Every World Series there a very ordinary player who has a great series.
    This time its Adam Eaton who was so clutch all series long. Hats off to him.

    Totally agree that Strasburg was MVP. We all remember those years when he was so weak mentally, etc. This year he had a playoffs for the history books.

    Mark L

    31 Oct 19 at 11:42 am

  4. Almost forgot…… Let’s hear it for old farts playing baseball!

    Mark L

    31 Oct 19 at 11:51 am

  5. Lucky homer? Really. Howie Kendrick can hit. Always has and has gotten better with age. He was looking outside and down and got outside and down. And he put a good swing on it. Not some wild, fling the bat through the zone and hope, swing. Nothing lucky about it. A great piece of hitting off a GREAT pitch. Cole couldn’t have thrown a better pitch. Sometimes you tip the hat to a great feat. Don’t cheapen it by calling it lucky.

    M lloyd

    31 Oct 19 at 11:56 am

  6. What a win, what a team! The Washington Nationals are World Series Champions!

    This game reminded me so much of Game 2 of the 2014 NLDS. Jordan Zimmermann had thrown something like 21 consecutive scoreless innings, including a no-hitter, and was cruising through 8 2/3. Matt Williams panics (Paniks?) after a walk and takes him out. Storen comes in and blows it, Yusmeiro Petit outpitches Tanner Roark in extras, and the rest is history.

    You could feel it that night in 2014 that changing pitchers gave the Giants hope, and you could feel it last night that changing pitchers gave the Nats hope. I’m honestly not sure it actually mattered who they brought in. Once Greinke was out, the Nats were destined to come back. Cole on 2 days rest and having never pitched in relief before is by no means a guarantee.


    31 Oct 19 at 12:04 pm

  7. Kendrick’s HR: he did a tremendous job of hitting with a difficult pitch. That wouldn’t have gone out of Nats Park, but it might have bounced off the wall and plated Soto. Rendon’s HR was 374 feet. The left-center wall in Nats Park is 377. I really don’t like the band-box ballparks, but the Nats certainly benefited from the Minute Maid dimensions in this one.


    31 Oct 19 at 12:32 pm

  8. I got the feeling throughout the series that neither the Astros nor their fans could really believe that the Nats were beating them and their star-studded lineup. Admittedly, I might be a bit bitter if I was on the other side and getting beaten by Kendrick, Eaton, and Cabrerra. But their “stars” fell apart. Bregman hit .207 and made some crucial errors. Altuve had a .294 OBP from the #2 spot in the order. Correa hit .222. The Nats did have a few weak links in guys like Turner (.161) and Zim (.208), yet Zim also had a major HR that broke the Verlander spell in his first start.

    As for NG’s comparison to the series with the Giants, I’m reminded of the Hudson and Peavy comments that the Giants had more, um, stones in their pants than the Nats did. This year, the Nats had boulders.


    31 Oct 19 at 12:48 pm

  9. KW-

    I agree with you on band box ballparks, but not sure about the benefit. Bregman’s “bat carry” homer had an estimated distance of 355 feet. I don’t think that would’ve even made the warning track at Nats Park (or just about any other stadium in the league).


    31 Oct 19 at 12:56 pm

  10. Soto’s bat-carry HR literally went almost 100 feet further! That one would have been out of any park, even Yellowstone.


    31 Oct 19 at 1:10 pm

  11. Stras’s career postseason numbers: 55.1 IP, 1.46 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 11.5 K/9.

    I was just thinking this morning about how we’ve had to listen to all the “shutdown” blather for years. We heard a lot of crap from the Braves in 2013, particularly about how they knew better about Medlen. In 2015, it was the Mets who knew better about Harvey. Those guys are bums now, basically washed up. Stras is the World Series MVP and about to add to his fortune.


    31 Oct 19 at 1:19 pm

  12. What a happy, special, emotionally thrilling day for this poster who first began following baseball and the Montreal Expos in 1972. Apart from the unforgettable fun of this run of recent weeks, and the unfamiliar feeling of being a champion, I confess that it ripples down to how I look at the farm system, wins and losses, and “player development.”

    Longtime Expos fans like myself who came around to the Nationals appreciate being able to love a team that is assembled by Rizzo rather than Jim Fanning or borderline retardates like Omar Minaya. No GM is perfect, and there are ways in which the front office can improve. But after enduring the trades for Mark Langston and Bartolo Colon, which I found even more traumatic than free agent losses (all except the daggers to the heart of Vlad and Pedro, at least), it’s refreshing to have a GM who doesn’t suffer weaknesses well, owners who pay for necessary pieces but don’t overpay, and a front office that allows for stars to break through, sells before value is lost (usually) and gets undervalued rather than shiny object players.

    Juan Soto is a player whose persona will impact the team and well beyond. He will make Victor Robles a better player. Robles is himself a charismatic and exciting, fun three way player who has to appreciate Soto’s ability to grind his defense into a superior level this year. Their baseball IQ and joy for the game are a big reason why this Series win will ripple into international dividends for the Nationals. I hope the windfall is both investment in scouting and Latin player development. Roberto Clemente did that for the Pirates of my youth.

    But no matter the future, the 2019 Nationals were so fun to watch and root for, and they are two reasons why.

    Two other reasons, of course, are Strasburg and Scherzer. It’s unthinkable to have envisioned mentioning them in that order, but Strasburg simply broke through his own ceiling while Scherzer’s body may be redefining his. But the grit of Scherzer and the dead eye assassin’s touch of the Series MVP were winning and engendered confidence. I admit that I gave up on the Nationals offense after game 5. But I did not give up on Strasburg.

    And Daniel Hudson. What would the season have come to if he had not emerged down the stretch when Doolittle faded? I do hope he returns.

    Count me among those who say, “Pay Rendon what you must.” The younger stars like Soto, and others like Strasburg, need to see the example of a core that stays together in the interest of multiple World Series runs. The Astros have players locked up who should be locked up. And Rendon proved this year that he is an MVP-caliber player who will live up to the stats and fit into the team around him and bring it every day. He is worth his 30 million for all of the reasons that Bryce Harper was not.

    As for Howie Kendrick, one cannot overstate the intangible value he has demonstrated as his career advances to the identity of this team. I would absolutely pay him and outbid anyone to keep him aboard. He does not want to be a DH. The can surely find him enough at bats, even if Carter Kieboom makes it to the next level.

    Kieboom’s future may have everything to do with Trea Turner’s finger, and whatever must be done in the off-season to remedy it. He won’t come up to sit on the bench, and Fresno is nothing more than a service time solution at this point. In my mind, there is room for Rendon, Kendrick and Kieboom in the same starting lineup.

    Ryan Zimmerman is the odd man out, but as a World Series champion, that’s OK. He’s had his run with the Nats, and the lineup can be better served otherwise.

    Rizzo always makes the off season unpredictable, and there are many graduated and Rule-5 eligibles who will keep things interesting.

    I would be quite regretful if the Nationals lost or traded Yadiel Hernandez, who brings not only a lefty bat but the maturity of his life experience and tenacity. He may be no more than an extra and backup OF who learns 1B while Adam Eaton is here, but I’d welcome him more than Matt Adams off the Nats bench if he can get enough at bats. Michael Taylor is hard to envision making another 25 man, but his defense is special. Andrew Stevenson has quietly arrived and is himself an odd man out. They’re all odd men out – but a couple will make it.

    The same could be said of the graduating “5th starter class.” Fedde, Ross, Voth. For the first time in forever, there is no derby to find a fifth and sixth starter a la Hellickson. I am partial to Voth as a person who will rise. Ross can improve a bullpen just as Corbin showed the value of multi-inning dominance. The Strasburg outcome dictates quite a bit.

    Since we know Rizzo NOT to be a person who sits still, it appears the Nationals are going to resolve the fates of Rendon, Strasburg, and perhaps others they WANT to invest in to keep (Kendrick? Hudson?) before scanning the other possibilities. Whatever the trade market holds, the Nats have better chips now than at this time last year, and those chips have all the more luster with their exposure during the playoffs and even late season run.

    What comes back in return? And who among the youngest arms will rise in the bullpen? And, with Reetz down, is there an organizational solution at catcher in 20? Is there another young Wilson Ramos waiting to be plucked from someone else’s garden?

    Thank you to my fellow Nats fans for bringing your enthusiasm to this site and other places in which we can commune from far flung points. Thank you to Todd for this site and for the incredibly hard efforts he invests in thoughtful, truly instructive and educational posts. Thank you to Paul Menhart, who may have been the most important graduate of the farm system this year. And thank you to the Lerners, who are champions and fulfilled an imperative of World Series or bust, with neither bluster nor compromise. Above all, thank you to the nationals for joys that will live long.


    31 Oct 19 at 4:19 pm

  13. I hope DC doesn’t have to wait another 95 years for a baseball championship, but I also hope Nat fans don’t take this for granted, or assume that more titles will follow. The Bosox won last year but finished third in their division this season, didn’t make the playoffs, and fired their GM. The Astros, having added Cole, Greinke, Brantley, and Osuna since 2017, were significantly better this year but couldn’t get it done. In 2016, it looked like the Cubs might be on the verge of an extended run, but look at them now, out of the playoffs and with Maddon the Genius fired. Hard to believe that KC won just four years ago, considering what a dumpster fire that team has become (59-103). The Giants are the last example we have of a franchise that managed to keep things together for multiple titles, but they’ve only been to the playoffs once in the five years since their last ring in 2014. (Considering how “old” the Nat squad is, it’s interesting to look at the how old the 2010 Giants were and note how they managed to retool and keep things going.)


    1 Nov 19 at 10:00 am

  14. A quick comment on why I called Kendrick’s home run “lucky.” Because it hit the foul pole. Because he hit the RF foul pole as a RH hitter. And because the RF corner at Minute Maid park is just 326ft.

    Yes i’m aware that Kendrick is a skilled hitter: did you know that he literally has the highest BA of any player in the game with more than a nominal amount of ABs over the last three years? Higher than Altuve, higher than Yelich, higher than any player who plays in Colorado or the Houston band box. this was not a comment disparaging Kendrick. He put good wood on a tough pitch, but he was lucky to get a homer out of it. Most parks that’s at best an extra base hit; in a lot of parks with a longer foul line its a foul ball.

    Hey; i’ll take the luck. It won us the series.

    Todd Boss

    1 Nov 19 at 10:05 am

  15. There was some scuttlebutt a few weeks ago that the Nats might once again have exceeded the tax line by a few bucks, which was surprising news since they had vowed to stay under in 2019. Flags fly forever, so it’s hard to get too upset this time, but whether or not they’re actually over may affect their willingness to go over in 2020 if they didn’t achieve the intended reset.


    1 Nov 19 at 10:07 am

  16. Strasburg and shutdown: it bristled me when Tom Verducci brought it up at Strasburg’s biggest moment. And yes history has really shown that a) the management of Stras’ innings worked and that b) he is pretty appreciative of it.

    Will the national media issue a collective mea culpa? Of course not. its yesterday’s news, and its a lot easier to be negative and “i told you so” in today’s twitter-length analysis than it is to acknowledge there’s nuances to every decision. Just look at the litany of anti-Harper comments we have heard. He’s been nothing but gracious to his former team members when asked for comments, some of which are presented to him as patently strawman arguments. As we know (as acute followers of the team), Harper’s departure enabled the team to free a lineup spot for Robles, enabled the team to buy Corbin (who’s 3 scoreless middle relief innings in game 7 were pretty brilliant), and enabled the team to move on several other role players that all added up. I really hate these narrative driven conversations that just equate Harper leaving with the team winning.

    off topic but related. The nationals hopefully retired a lot of decade-long BS narratives about being losers, deer-in-the-headlights and cleverer-than-you w/r/t the shutdown with this win.

    Todd Boss

    1 Nov 19 at 10:10 am

  17. At last, FanGraphs does a deep dive into what REALLY drove the championship run:

    Love it!


    1 Nov 19 at 10:17 am

  18. I’ll admit that, in the moment, I was really surprised when Hinch hooked Greinke in the 7th. But I was NOT surprised that he went with Harris over Cole. Both decisions look bad in hindsight because Kendrick went yard (in what will be THE iconic image of the entire 2019 season). Now that I’ve had more time to digest it, though, even the decision to pull Greinke wasn’t an objectively bad call.

    First, Greinke had been lights out, but he was going into his third time through the lineup, and Rendon crushed that pitch. Greinke then walked Soto in an at-bat where he was visibly upset by a missed strike call. At that point, you have a possibly rattled Greinke pitching to the potential go-ahead run in Kendrick, who wasn’t great in the WS, but had been lights-out in the postseason. Also, unlike the Nats, Houston has a really solid bullpen. Now I personally would still have let Greinke pitch to Kendrick, and if Kendrick got on base, I would have hooked him then. To me, though, it’s such a judgment call that if Hinch had let Greinke pitch, and then Kendrick had homered off him, Hinch would have been criticized for “sentimentally” staying with his starter in a situation where he had fresh arms ready. On the other side of this same coin, there is NO WAY that I would have left Max in to pitch as long as Dave Martinez did. Worse, Martinez flat out admitted that he was going to let Max go for as long as Max wanted. That is a total surrender of his managerial responsibilities to his superstar pitcher, and we’re damn lucky that the Astros only scored two runs off Max.

    Second, I absolutely still agree with Hinch’s decision to pitch Harris over Cole. I don’t really understand the logic of plugging in starters as relievers if you don’t have to. Martinez HAD to because his ‘pen was horrific. (As an aside, I take back every Gio comparison that I made about Patrick Corbin this postseason, because he was CLUTCH in Game 7). But Hinch didn’t have to put in a starter in that situation (1) because he has a solid bullpen, (2) because Cole had never pitched in relief before and was on short rest, and (3) because Harris had better numbers than Cole (as Boz points out in his latest column). Also, Harris’s pitch that Kendrick hit out was a really good pitch. It’s a credit to Kendrick’s hitting ability (not luck) that he was able to drive the ball that far.

    Anyway, my point is just that, while I disagree with Hinch’s decision to pull Greinke, it was not an objectively bad call; and the decision to tap Harris over Cole was just fine. No problem with it.


    1 Nov 19 at 10:30 am

  19. Todd, regarding Strasburg’s shutdown, I’m genuinely grateful that at least some new sources are recognizing how correct that action was. See this link, from a New York Times columnist, after Strasburg’s gem in Game 6:

    It’s an entertaining piece in general, but the relevant portion reads:

    “That set the stage for Game 6, which was a taut affair for six innings. There were home runs and sweet fielding plays and spectacular pitching by Stephen Strasburg, who varied speed and location and was masterful. It’s worth recalling that baseball tough guys got exercised back in 2012, when he returned from elbow surgery and the Nationals shut him down before the playoffs rather than insist he push his surgically repaired elbow.

    “You’re pampering this kid,” they moaned. Strasburg has become one of baseball’s best postseason pitchers, 6-2 with a 1.46 E.R.A. in nine games, tossing 71 strikeouts in 55⅓ innings. Contrast that with the sad tale of Matt Harvey, who was persuaded to pitch way beyond agreed innings limits in the Mets’ 2015 playoff push and has never been the same.”


    1 Nov 19 at 10:39 am

  20. I also really enjoyed this piece from FiveThirtyEight:


    1 Nov 19 at 10:41 am

  21. Clark, Boz also made the case for Harris over Cole in one of his columns, noting that Harris had better regular-season and playoff numbers than Cole.

    Yes, but . . . many think that overall, Cole was the best pitcher in baseball this year. Still, yes, there’s a lot of logic in not bringing in a starter in the middle of an inning.

    The more questionable logic to me seems to be Osuna over Cole for the 8th. It was only a one-run game at that point. Hinch has said something about only wanting to use Cole with a lead. Hmm. It was only a one-run game at that point. Davey used Stras and Corbin in the postseason when trailing. It worked. Would he have done it if he had a bridge guy with stats like Harris’s? We’ll never know.


    1 Nov 19 at 10:54 am

  22. I know there’s a big party this weekend, but the offseason calendar starts moving rapidly for WS teams. The Nats have the exclusive window only until Monday with Rendon and Stras. I imagine the Rendon deal won’t be settled by then; I’ll breathe a little easier if Stras’s is.

    Nov. 4 is also the last day for option decisions. The touchy one there is Zim’s. He knows they’re not going to pay him $18M. The logical number is probably around 2/$8M, and even that may be more sentimental than logical. One figures the Doolittle and Eaton options will be picked up. There’s also a $4M mutual one for Matt Adams. Is he “worth” that much to the Nats, particularly when you consider that they’ll also likely bring back Kendrick?

    I mean, Kendrick has to come back, right? And maybe even be considered the starter at 1B? Maybe Cabrerra is coming back, too? C. Kieboom is basically ready, but the Nats have little in the system (other than Garcia) in INF reserve. Difo and Sanchez are out of options.

    Parra . . . I sure wish they could make him a coach/dance coordinator. Can you imagine how much fun it would be to have him as the third-base coach?!


    1 Nov 19 at 11:34 am

  23. Todd, don’t want to belabor this but…when a ball finds green, whether it’s on a line, the foul pole or between fielders, it’s baseball, not luck. Minute Maid Park is a bandbox, you play the field you’re on. Half the homers hit in the series at Minute Maid don’t make it out of Nationals Park. But the games weren’t played there. You live by the bandbox, you die by the bandbox. Again, not luck…circumstance.

    M lloyd

    1 Nov 19 at 11:37 am

  24. Great to see NYtimes write an article like that about operation shutdown.

    Todd Boss

    1 Nov 19 at 11:53 am

  25. Just saw that opt-outs must be exercised by Saturday night. So it’s very likely Stras will opt out, even if he hopes/plans to come back.


    1 Nov 19 at 1:46 pm

  26. Back of the envelope . . . Stras AAV figures to jump to around $30M, so +5M. Rendon was at 18M this year, so there would be a massive jump to the 32-35M ran — +12 to 17M. So that’s +17 to 23M with just those two players. They will probably save around 12M on a Zim restructuring, though, and Dozier’s 9M will come off the books, although some of that will probably go to Cabrerra. I’m not sure how Rosenthal’s counted, but it was 8M minimum. So . . . Zim cut + Dozier + Rosey = 29M, so it appears that the Nats can cover the delta to keep Rendon and Stras within their current general payroll.

    Todd’s much better at this than I am, though. Am I missing something?

    (For the record, I expect/hope the Nats are willing to go over the tax threshold in 2020 and perhaps add another significant player.)


    1 Nov 19 at 2:12 pm

  27. to the 32-35M “range”


    1 Nov 19 at 2:13 pm

  28. Wow, the free agent reliever market really, REALLY stinks. I wonder if we could interest Will Harris in not having to face any Nationals in next year’s postseason. Will Smith is probably going to want “closer money,” and with the market so tight, he can probably get it.

    I hope the Nats can bring back Hudson for a reasonable amount, but they’ve still got several holes to fill.


    1 Nov 19 at 2:30 pm

  29. On a different subject, here’s my first stab at trying to rank the 12 postseason wins in some sort of order. Things are already getting a bit hazy on some of them. I feel like I’m slighting the dominant performance in the NLCS, but there wasn’t that much drama, other than over potential no-hitters. I also feel like I have NLDS Gm 2 a bit low, as that was a huge win in the grand scheme of things. But was it “bigger” than the first two wins in the WS?

    1. WS Gm 7
    2. NLDS Gm 5
    3. WS Gm 6
    4. Wild Card
    5. NLDS Gm 4
    6. WS Gm 2
    7. WS Gm 1
    8. NLCS Gm 1
    9. NLDS Gm 2
    10. NLCS Gm 3
    11. NLCS Gm 4
    12. NLCS Gm 2


    1 Nov 19 at 3:04 pm

  30. Did everybody see Gerritt Cole less than 1 hour after game 7 saying he was no longer a member of the Astros organization while wearing a Boras Corp. hat?

    That’s why this team is so easy to like; we no longer have anyone like that on our team.

    Mark L

    1 Nov 19 at 3:42 pm

  31. Mark — Yes, I saw that about Cole. I know nothing about his past as a teammate/person/whatever, so I don’t want to jump to the immediate conclusion that he’s a jerk and a mercenary, but there’s no way that act left a good impression with his teammates and his city. Even Bryce wasn’t that much of a mercenary. I’m sorta surprised Altuve didn’t hunt him down and destroy the Boras hat!


    1 Nov 19 at 7:55 pm

  32. Nats decline Matt Adams’s option.


    1 Nov 19 at 9:10 pm

  33. I drew up a payroll with 30M for SS, 35M for Rendon, and some other guesses.

    If they move Eaton, that $10M can go to the bullpen.
    It should be noted that the relievers on the 25-man world series roster were NOT awful. If you put their numbers together (including Suero, Rainey, and Rodney) would be in the middle of the NL. Not good, but decidedly okay. I think they just need a couple more decent guys. Hang on to some of the role-players from this year, because they’re cheap. Parra’s an above-replacement-level CF for cheap. Hudson’s deal was only 1.5M, if you can believe that.

    It appears MAT may have figured something out and really cut his Ks. If he has, and he maintains any semblance of his production from 8/15 through 10/30, (357/406/670) with his defense and price, that’s a guy who play every day.


    1 Nov 19 at 10:49 pm

  34. Kevin — Good stuff. I don’t think they’ll have to spend a lot on the bullpen, plus as I noted, the FA options even if they have the money are not good. Rainey figures to grow into more of a late-inning role. I think Ross will probably end up in the ‘pen as a swingman. (Ross and Fedde are out of options, so there are some interesting decisions to be made, particularly if Voth is the presumptive 5th starter.) I don’t know the injury recovery situations for Glover and Austen Williams. There are some minor-leaguers worth a look like Condra-Bogan and Andrew Lee (who both just dominated in the AZ Fall League) and Andrew Istler.

    I can’t see them moving on from Eaton. He’s one of the key “glue guys,” he had a great WS, and they’ve got nothing in the pipeline behind him. Taylor is tricky because he isn’t worth nearly his arb number, plus he’s out of options, but perhaps they would keep him around if he would take a contract in the $1.5M range. Otherwise, he’ll be non-tendered or traded.


    2 Nov 19 at 1:23 pm

  35. Congratulations folks, on a long awaited, and well deserved, World Series, especially KW who gets my vote for longest-running and most-committed poster :-). The entire playoff run seemed magical and almost fated, although I am sure that’s the benefit of hindsight already talking.

    I doubt my absence was noticed, but if curious, since the summer, I’ve lurked here and there but otherwise been largely honoring the age-old baseball pastime of ‘superstition’. After taking a step back at the valley, then dealing with the normal distractions of school letting out and vacations etc, I noticed how they were playing better as I was maintaining a low profile from my usual haunts, so I decided to keep it going and see what happened. They just kept going, and so did I. All the way through Hudson v Brantley.

    What a great run. So much fun, and so many near fatal moments. The team always seemed to feel more comfortable as the underdog than the favorite, so down 3-2, especially with Stras, didn’t seem as scary to me as the media made it seem.

    But this also has a different feel than the Caps, who have stayed very good and similar. I dunno, even if they bring back Stras and Rendon, it just seems like everything came together in a way this year that is very unlikely to happen again. The next WS team will look much different, is all I’m saying.

    On to the offseason. How high do the contracts for Stras and Rendon go? Bowden said 7/$238m for Stras on the radio today. yikes!


    3 Nov 19 at 5:03 pm

  36. Wally — Very glad you checked in to celebrate the championship, my (virtual) friend. Hope others will do the same.

    I agree that there was an “unlikely” nature to the run, one that might make it difficult to repeat, all the more to celebrate the one we did get. At the same time, I would point to the Giants as a time that managed to replicate “unlikely” three times in six years.

    The Braves only ended up with one title, but they managed to stay relevant for a decade and a half by keeping around three quality starters and a third baseman. If Stras and Rendon come back, the Nats will still have a similar set of cornerstones.


    3 Nov 19 at 7:18 pm

  37. And the tough decisions have begun — options picked up on Eaton and Doolittle and declined on Adams, Gomes, and Zim. Everyone assumes Zim will be back, of course, and I’m guessing Adams will be gone, unless he’ll take a significant pay cut. That leaves Gomes. I agree with not paying him $9M, but they also really need him back . . . for something around 2/$9M. We’ll see.

    Among the lesser free agents, obviously I hope they can get Kendrick and Cabrerra back, for reasonable amounts. How could most of the players not want to come back after the amazing and fun ride they just had? Dozier was having the time of his life during the celebration on Saturday. He’s probably gone, but if I’m him, at his stage of career and life, I’d at least ask Rizzo if there’s some way to stick around, even if it means following the Kendrick path and learning a little OF.

    Most folks are assuming that Stras will be back, but there are going to be some big bids out there if he wants them. Same for Rendon. They both absolutely hit the jackpot with their timing. The Nats can afford both of them, even at inflated prices. Don’t let anyone tell you that they can’t. Max comes off the books in two more years, so they can carry an inflated payroll for that long, and they don’t have other big tickets on the immediate horizon (besides that Soto 20-year contract!).

    Is it “smart” to spend that much on Stras and Rendon? That’s an entirely different conversation. Carter Kieboom is ready, or Josh Donaldson is on the market, with similar production for less money and fewer years. There are several very good starting pitchers who are free agents.

    The one thing I would say with Stras and Rendon — much like I said about Harper — is don’t wait for them. If their deals aren’t done by the Winter Meetings in December, move on and spend your money elsewhere. That strategy got us Corbin, who ultimately proved to be a huge piece. So sign Wheeler and Bumgarner collectively for what you would have paid Stras. Doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

    I’ll add this — if the Nats hadn’t won, and they had let Stras and Rendon walk on top of losing Bryce, that collectively would have been a huge PR hit. I don’t think it would be so bad with the championship in hand, though. If Stras and Rendon get insane deals, I think most would understand and wish them well, much more so than they did Bryce.

    My guess? I think Stras will be back, and that Rendon will mull until after Christmas. Unlike that guy who just left, though, if his options are a place like Philly vs. taking some deferred money with the Nats, he’s more likely to stay. We’ll see. Both are very different cats than Bryce.


    3 Nov 19 at 7:54 pm

  38. Free agents by position (with fWAR):


    3 Nov 19 at 7:57 pm

  39. Agree that the off-season is already here for the Nats. Has a recent World Series winner faced so many decisions?

    I think Stras is the more important FA than Rendon, but I worry that both will get mega contracts exceeding their value by a good bit. A week ago I thought adding 2 years to his current contract (making it 6/$150m) would do it, but now I don’t think so. I think the AAV has to go up too. I’d be surprised if both come back, and wouldn’t be shocked if neither did. Let’s be conservative and say Stras does.

    But the Nats also need to restock their farm system. I also read somewhere that they went over the lux tax again. I hope that’s not true, because it will greatly reduce their comp if one of those guys leaves.

    Is there a view whether Kieboom can play 3rd? If Rendon leaves, and Kieboom can play 3rd, I’d rather have Dozier back over Cabrera. Better D and pop, and Cabrera is the poster child for the magic of 2019 unlikely to be repeated (as is our beloved Howie, as much as no one wants to hear that. Btw, how great was it to hear him rip Philly without naming them in his speech during the celebration?). If Rendon does come back though, I’d reverse it and bring back AssCab. More versatile.

    I’d like Zim back in a platoon. Howie too, although they’re redundant.

    And let’s see if we can get some long term extensions going for Soto, Turner and Robles. Would love some of those ATL deals.

    So I hope you enjoyed the celebration, Mike. Well done! Now, there’s lots to do!


    4 Nov 19 at 7:54 am

  40. Yeah, it’s pretty sad that MLB kick-starts the offseason immediately after the WS. I mean, Rizzo was probably literally having to pull guys aside on the flight home and say “we’re not picking up your option.”

    Yes, there seems to be a lot of speculation that they’ve gone over the tax line again, despite vowing all year that they wouldn’t. But flags fly FOREVER! That said, they screwed themselves by not staying under in ’17 and ’18 despite being very close to the line.

    Their farm system is struggling in part from “graduations,” in part from years of overall poor drafting, in part from trades, and in part from squeezed international money because of the tax line. That’s one area where the tax issue will really hurt, as they’ve done much better overall with recent Latin scouting and development than they have domestic drafting. Anyway, there’s not an easy way to “fix” the lack of talent.

    Wally — you hint at a question/discussion that most are avoiding about Rendon: is he “worth” what the Nats would have to pay to keep him? That isn’t an easy question. By fWAR, he’s actually “worth” twice his asking price. But yes, C. Kieboom and/or Cabrerra could play 3B. Kieboom reminds me a lot of Bregman. Not saying that he’s going to BE Bregman, but he seems of a similar mold.

    Rendon also just had one of the greatest clutch postseason runs in the history of baseball. If you pay a premium for that, good luck, as there aren’t a lot of David Ortizes out there who repeat it regularly.

    The other question I have about the Rendon price is who are the other bidders? The Dodgers, Astros, and Bosox are set at 3B. The Braves need one but probably aren’t willing/needing to pay that price, particularly with Camargo still in house. The Cards have Carpenter. Anyway, in general, it would seem that if TTB truly wants a significant premium over what the Nats would pay, he’s going to be faced with having to get it from a non-contending or borderline-contending team. I’m sorry, if I’m going to make more than $200M regardless, I’m going to want to do it with a contender, not squeeze every dime and commit to 13 years in hell/Philly. (Dude, where’s my ring? It’s in DC, baby! And it ain’t yours!)


    4 Nov 19 at 9:38 am

  41. A quick note on Stras: I think he’s on the cusp of a Max-like run through his early 30s that will make him a legit HOF contender. I think he’s going to be extraordinarily good.


    4 Nov 19 at 9:49 am

  42. FanGraphs top 50 FA estimates:

    More palatable numbers for Stras and TTB than some have floated. I still think Stras gets at least six years, though.


    4 Nov 19 at 9:53 am

  43. I think there’s a decent chance Strasburg signs quickly without really testing the market. I think he’s using the leverage he has (the opt-out clauses he negotiated when he signed an extension a few years ago) to get a raise from the Nats, not to make as much money as possible. I don’t think he wants to be one of the “prizes” discussed ad nauseum at the winter meetings, or to “take meetings” with a bunch of front offices. By contrast, I think Bryce actually wanted these things. Stras, I think, will be willing to do them if he doesn’t like what the Nats are offering. As for what would get it done, I think it will take at least two extra years, and the salary floor probably is $30 million a season. So we’re looking at 6/$180 as basically a floor for him. I suspect the Nats will go higher than that (possibly a seventh year) to get it done.

    I’m really glad I don’t have to make this decision. Strasburg is my all-time favorite Nat, and his performance has been consistently excellent for his entire career. When he’s pitched, he’s pitched very well. And when he’s had stretches with poor results, the fancy stats have shown that those poor results were being driven by some bad luck on batted balls. He’s just an awesome pitcher, and I can’t look at any of his numbers and foresee a meaningful decline in the near term (other than the fact that getting older means getting worse when you’re 31). On the other hand, he has been simply less durable than the other big money pitchers of recent vintage, such as Kershaw, Greinke, Max, Sale, and Price. Kershaw has been hurt, and his performance has declined. Greinke has simply declined with age. Sale has been hurt, but has mostly pitched like himself. Price has been hurt but has also declined. Max, unlike those others, has stayed healthy and dominant. I don’t know that I’d want to bet $200 mil on Stras being more like Max or Sale and less like the others.

    Rendon, I think, is different. I think he wants to see what else is out there (even though I don’t think he’s looking forward to being at the center of the hot stove). And it’s possible his preferences – a shorter term higher AAV contract – are simply incompatible with what the Nats are willing to do. I wouldn’t be surprised if he re-signs, but it aint happening soon, I think.

    Re Kieboom, what I’ve read from scouting reports is that he is a fringe SS but that he can likely handle 2B or 3B. The concern about him as a SS is range, not arm, so I think it’s probably right that he could handle 3B. I think it’s far more likely he plays 2B than 3B, though, because there are more and better 3B options available than 2B options.


    4 Nov 19 at 9:54 am

  44. Hey team. Lots of action coming hard and fast. We need a 1000 word post on the machinations of the roster already; agreed that MLB should let teams, you know, actually enjoy the damn world series victories before forcing options decisions upon the players/clubs.

    Also KW: got your game ranking; i’ll throw out another post on all those game rankings plus intersprinkled other Nats post-season game rankings; that’s an easy one.

    Todd Boss

    4 Nov 19 at 9:56 am

  45. Fangraphs estimates are very interesting, and the Stras estimate is much lower than Bowden’s. Bowden is a buffoon, and in a dispute between Bowden and Fangraphs, the smart money is on Fangraphs. But Bowden does have a decent history of correctly predicting FA contract terms…


    4 Nov 19 at 10:06 am

  46. Todd, I couldn’t agree more with the timing of these roster moves.
    The Nats have no choice, I realize, but it’s unseemly to have to do this so close to the celebration.

    Mark L

    4 Nov 19 at 10:18 am

  47. Derek — I wrote before the end of the WS that I thought the starting point with Stras is 6/180. And I have no problem with that number.

    What I haven’t seen folks discussing is whether Stras might take a longer deal at a lower AAV to give the Nats cash to help keep the band together. If Stras would do something like 8/216 (AAV $27M), with something like a $10M buyout for the last season, he’d make essentially the same as 7/210 plus give Rizzo $3M of AAV in his pocket. Not holding my breath on this, just floating an idea. There’s talk all the time of NFL players like Brady restructuring contracts to keep good players around them, but your rarely hear it in baseball. (It’s probably frowned upon by the union.)


    4 Nov 19 at 11:16 am

Leave a Reply