Nationals Arm Race

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

Happy New Year and Nothing to Report


Nationals Stadium in the off-season. Photo via Federal Baseball

Hello all.

Coming to you live from Wintergreen Ski Resort, where my son races on the team and we spend every weekend when there’s snow on the ground.

I realized it’s been quite a while since I posted anything here. My last post said “Happy Thanksgiving” on it. That’s not really for lack of wanting to post; its just reality that there hasn’t been a whole heck of a lot to post about for someone like me, given the state of our team and the specific interests I like to write about.

  • The Nats are not spending any money in FA, which indicates another year of lack of competition. It is what it is. I firmly believe the rebuild is on track as compared to the 2009-2012 cycle. From 2009-12 the team went from 59 to 69 to 80 to 98 wins. Compare to where we are now starting from 2022: 55 wins to 71 wins. If 2023 shows this team at .500, look for major spending next off-season to fill in the holes we have and to really make a push.
  • Yes, I’m bullish on our top echelon of prospects. I think Cavalli comes back and makes a new “big 3” along with Grey and Gore. I think Crews and Woods and House are all on track and could form a pretty solid middle of the order for this team for 5-6 years straight. I like the chances of some of the next group of hitters (Green, Morales, Hassell) to get it together and make a name for themselves too. Maybe we can get Bennett or Rutledge to be better than the average bear in the near term. Then suddenly you’re just a couple of major signings away from another 6-year playoff run.
  • The draft lottery was already set; we were always going to be #10, so there was no drama. We found out later that the Nats actually “won” the lottery and would have had the #1 pick, then “won” it again for #3. Figures.
  • Since we’re not spending money, there’s little to do from a payroll analysis to see what money they “have left” to spend.
  • MASN past due money got resolved. Woo hoo. I fully expect another petty lawsuit coming for the next tronche of cash. I still maintain MLB is just waiting out the string on Angelos to die so they can stick the sword to that franchise and basically say to them, “you’ve embarrassed yourselves and this sport for more than a decade whining and fighting me on this damn TV deal, so now the tab comes due: if you want to sell the team or transfer it to your arrogant asshole of a Son, then you’ll divest yourselves of MASN ownership so the Nats aren’t tied to you anymore.” But, since this is baseball we’re talking about, and since reason rarely comes into play with decisions made in this sport … don’t hold your breath.
  • Speaking of selling … the Lerners have had the for sale sign out for a while now with no news, eh? Which is partly one of the reasons there’s little FA spending. Gee, you think this MASN contract is a non-starter for prospective buyers or what? I think if the Nats owned their own RSN outright, Ted Leonsis would have bought the team the NEXT DAY, packed all his other tv contracts into one network, and he’d have a near monopoly on DC sports. Still could happen … though now Leonsis has a shiny new toy coming down in Potomac Yard. By the way, tangent here: for ANYONE who is whining about Leonsis moving his teams out of Chinatown …. you have nowhere to blame at all except the idiots in the DC Mayor’s office. This is modern pro sports; yes its ridiculous to expect a city to finance a stadium for a billionaire …but its also ridiculous to not recognize what a massive positive impact that stadium’s location at 7&H had on that area. DC was nickel and diming Leonsis with police and services and it was having an impact on the game day experience, and now they’ll have nothing in that space for decades. There’s a whole big blog called “Field and Schemes” that basically criticizes every single public financing deal made, without really giving any context for the for-real economic impact these stadiums make (again, look no further than the area around Nationals stadium, which was a frigging demilitarized zone prior to that stadium being built and now looks like Crystal City). I have no sympathy for DC residents, or even for whiny suburban Maryland residents who complain about the extra metro time to get to Potomac Yard … uh, what do you think us residents of Arlington and Fairfax county have been dealing with for decades, with every pro sport in this damn city? Rant over.
  • Our non-tender deadline and arb cases were pretty straight forward; nothing really to even write about.
  • We added a $2m signing in Nick Senzel that seems to be the end of the road for Carter Kieboom. Really amazing if so; Kieboom was a top 20 prospect in all of baseball as a 20yr old in AAA and just basically has disappeared. Otherwise we’ve done very little in terms of signings: a RHP middle reliever to a major league deal in Florio, a bunch of AAA guys, that’s it.

What’s next? We’ll we’re into prospect season, so i’ll start to see the rankings roll out. I love pontificating about lists, so we’ll get more content coming. But otherwise; what’s to talk about? I should probably do an options status post at some point; there are a couple of very notable names out of Options and with question marks surrounding their status on this team.

So, sorry it’s been radio silence for so long. I hope everyone is doing well and is still reading along. It’s an interesting time to be a Nats blogger; i’ve talked about this in the past, but there’s not a ton to analyze/talk about when you know the team isn’t actively trying to win, nor when they’re a perennial playoff contender. So that leads to this middle ground.

Written by Todd Boss

January 13th, 2024 at 8:30 am

Posted in Nats in General

6 Responses to 'Happy New Year and Nothing to Report'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Happy New Year and Nothing to Report'.

  1. Happy New Year, Todd! Glad to see even a placeholder post. It’s something to read while we stare out the window and wait until Spring. Or, in your case, watch your son on the slopes. My Dad used to call skiing “the fine art of falling down mountains.” When he remarried and his spouse turned out to be a fan of skiing, he revised it to “the fine art of falling down mountains … with style!”

    On the Lerners, there is some buzz of a family split, with Mark wanting to keep the team and some of the siblings to cash out. But from the outside we have no real way of knowing. Not that this will stop us from speculating!

    John C.

    16 Jan 24 at 12:34 pm

  2. Welcome back on the (weather) radar, Todd! I agree that there’s been almost nothing worth talking about, although I’ve missed a place to have our Seinfeld chats about nothing.

    I wish I shared your optimism about the Nats verging on .500 for 2024. I just don’t see it happening without a pitching upgrade and without several of the star prospects being ready to succeed at the MLB level by mid-season. First and foremost, they can’t let Trevor Williams remain as a starter. Maybe they’re just planning to replace him with Rutledge. I doubt that Cavalli will be ready to go at the beginning of the season, and he’ll be limited whenever he does pitch. Adon is out of options, so it’s (way past) time to give him a bullpen look. (FYI, Bennett had a TJ so is off the radar for the 2024.) Henry’s addition to the 40-man gives me a bit of hope that the prognosis on his health is better than what he showed on the mound in 2023.

    I don’t really blame the front office/ownership for not spending this offseason because there’s a ton of overpriced risk on the free agent market this winter. Even bounce-back risks like Giolito are getting nearly $20M. On the hitting side, Jeimer got 3/$45M. He’s not worth that to the Nats right now.

    That said, the team really hasn’t given the fan base much incentive to, you know, actually buy tickets, at least until the prospects start showing up. And I may be in the minority on this, but I’m in no rush on the prospects. I HOPE at least some of them start looking ready by June/July, but there’s no rush. I have big hopes for House, Crews, and Wood, with Morales not far behind. I’m actually more bullish on Pinckney than I am on guys like Hassell and Green. Both of them need to be given time to figure things out.

    With the returning MLB squad, I’m hoping for steps forward in 2024 from Abrams, Ruiz, Gray, and Gore. It would be great if Garcia can be a part of the core going forward as well, but he’s out of options and has reached a prove-it point in his career. It seems that nearly everyone has given up on Robles being a part of that future, despite some improvement last year before he got hurt. It will be interesting to see what becomes of him when/if the CF prospects are ready.


    16 Jan 24 at 2:35 pm

  3. the path back makes a lot more sense in you compare the 2022 team to the 2008 team. the success they had last year could very easily be more luck than we’d like to admit. they exceeded their Pythagorean winning percentage by four games and did very well in one run games. if they have 70-75 wins this year it is not necessarily a setback.

    stay the course, there are still young players who releasing now could prove premature.


    17 Jan 24 at 9:03 am

  4. I do still think they’re on the uptick in general, just not at the 2011 level yet. They’ve got a good stock of hitting talent in the pipeline, similar to when they had had Desi, Espi, Ramos, and Harper all arriving over a couple of seasons. The pitching side concerns me, and even a year or two from now I don’t think they’re going to be contending without a significant outside Gio-like addition or two. (The Corbin contract will be off the books after 2024.)

    In some ways the playoffs are easier to make now than they were then, with the extra wild card slot and with half the teams not really spending enough to even try. At the same time, the Nats are in the same division with three big-spending franchises, two that have become playoff powerhouses (and one a laughingstock). The Phils are starting to age and have a lot of guys aging on big contacts (reminiscent of 2011), but no such luck with the Braves.

    I agree that 70-75 wins seems likely for the Nats in 2024. Two NL teams made the playoffs in 2023 with 84 wins, one of which made it all the way to the World Series, mostly carried by young talent. Maybe we’ll have such dreams for the Nats in 2025-26.


    17 Jan 24 at 11:58 am

  5. Well, Todd, there is now something to report.Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus just released prospects list.

    Mark L

    19 Jan 24 at 3:23 pm

  6. BA and BP lists, awesome. I’ve never subscribed to BP, even though i subscribe to a slew of other shops. I dunno why. But when i see the BA stuff i’ll get to it.

    Todd Boss

    21 Jan 24 at 11:21 am

Leave a Reply