Nationals Arm Race

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

No surprises in Sept 1 call-ups, yet


Treinen returns to the Nats for the September run.  Photo via

Treinen returns to the Nats for the September run. Photo via

[A quick note; a combination of a dead-time for issues that I like to write about and a new consulting engagement has conspired to mean very little activity here.  Now that the minor league seasons are ending though, I look forward to some wrap-up posts looking at the starters.  Apologies for the lack of posts/activity here].

9/1/14 came and went, and there was little drama in the Nats call-ups.  All six players called up were a) already on the 40-man roster, and b) already had MLB service time this year.

  • Pitchers: Blake Treinen, Aaron Barrett and Xavier Cedeno.
  • Catcher: Sandy Leon
  • 1B/OFs Tyler Moore and Steven Souza

So, nobody shocking thus far.  In fact, its almost easier to talk about the remaining 40-man players they did NOT call up than the ones they did.   In fact, lets do just that.  Here’s the players still on the 40-man but not initially called up:

  • Taylor Hill: hey, somebody’s got to start for Syracuse in the playoffs, right?  He may be approaching an innings limit anyway.
  • Sammy Solis: still rehabbing, no where near ready for prime time.
  • Felipe Rivero: only a handful of AA starts since his long D/L stint.
  • Ryan Mattheus: completely ineffective this season (5.80 ERA), likely on his way to a DFA/outright this off-season.
  • Jhonatan Solano: hey, somebody’s got to catch for Syracuse in the playoffs, right? 🙂
  • Michael Taylor: many think he’s ready for prime time; would you start his service time clock so he can ride the pine in September?  I wouldn’t.
  • Jeff Kobernus and Eury Perez: with Moore and Souza call-ups, there’s already 7 outfielders … no need for two more right?

I can still see some value in calling up Perez for his speed, but almost nobody else at this point from this list.

What about those in Syracuse that had great seasons but are not on the 40-man?  Tougher call: You’d have to clear room to add someone right now, and the team seems to have made its moves to that end already in Matt Thornton and Nate Schierholtz.  But, if someone wanted to congratulate minor league vets like Brandon Laird (.300/.350/.490 for Syracuse this year), Rafael Martin (0.80 ERA in 33+ AAA innings) or Matt Grace (a combined 1.17 ERA over 77 innings in AA and AAA this year) with a September call-up and a month’s worth of MLB per diems, I wouldn’t disagree.  I just think it’d be kind of hard to find the space.  I would support a DFA of Mattheus right now to make room; after that is tougher.  You’d have to cut the likes of Kobernus or perhaps a MLB veteran like Jerry Hairston and/or Kevin Frandsen to make room based on performance.  And I don’t think a players’ manager like Matt Williams is cutting any veterans to make room for some 25-yr old he’s never met in AAA.

Nonetheless; there’s some baseball to play and some impact to be had by these 9/1 call-ups.  I think Barrett and Treinen are going to slip right back into the bullpen.  Cedeno could take away lefty-lefty opportunities that Jerry Blevins has been squandering all year (speaking of someone who may be on his way to a DFA this off-season…).  I could see Moore getting some playing time spelling Adam LaRoche at first (he seems like a better offensive option there than Frandsen, who has been the sub of choice lately when LaRoche gets a blow).  I’m excited to see what Souza brings to the table too; he led the Chiefs in steals this year despite missing 40% of the season; he isn’t just some big 6’4″ slugger.

Seven game lead this morning after last night’s win and a guaranteed road-trip split.  That’s fantastic, especially considering who they’ve been playing and beating (ahem, Felix Hernandez having his hat handed to him).

29 Responses to 'No surprises in Sept 1 call-ups, yet'

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  1. One informational comment: I don’t think being in the majors during the September 40-man roster period counts towards service time. The Nats already started the clock on Taylor when called him up in August, but since he is already 23 (assuming he becomes a great or very good player) he won’t be eligible for free agency until after his age 29 season. I think the decision to leave him at Syracuse (for the time being) is more about the overabundance of outfielders on the MLB roster and giving him a chance to continue to play every day during the International League playoffs.

    My take on the rest:

    Solano – didn’t get called up at all this season and seems unlikely to when Syracuse finishes its season. He’s out of options, so I expect a DFA for The Onion this offseason.

    Hill – I think you’re right about the innings limit. Hill could well be this offseason’s Nate Karns–a highly tradable young pitcher with a nevertheless somewhat limited upside to use in a deal.

    Solis – totally agree with your assessment. They no doubt want him to get healthy and be a bullpen candidate for next season.

    Rivero – didn’t pitch above AA and stunk up the joint when he was healthy.

    Matheus – Yep…he’s got DFA written all over him. Still, his solid production in 2011-2012 was a great return for two months of Joe Beimel.

    Kobernus – could get called up after the IL playoffs as his versitility would allow him to do a lot of subbing for the Nats should they clinch the division early.

    Perez – similar to Kobernus, he might get the call after the IL playoffs to take advantage of his speed as a pinch runner. He’s also out of options and will likely be traded or DFA’d this offseason.

    The one non-roster guy I’d like to see get the call is Martin-who has been out of this world this season and would be a great story as a 30-year-old rookie who finally made it after starting his career in the Mexican League.

    As for Matt Grace, I seem him more likely being next year’s Aaron Barrett.


    2 Sep 14 at 9:55 am

  2. Hmm. 9/1 call-ups not counting towards service time? May have to research that. I would think it does (hence, why havn’t the Cubs called up Kris Bryant? He’s clearly MLB ready but you have to think they’re waiting until mid April to control him for another year). But I don’t have links one way or the other.

    Forgot about Taylor’s call-up, but do agree that it seems to be related to the glut of OFs they have. Same argument holds for Kobernus and Perez.

    Can’t disagree with any of your other thoughts. It does seem like Syracuse has been *gutted* just in time for the IL playoffs. That has to suck for Chief’s fans … heck, when was the last time they were in the playoffs?

    Todd Boss

    2 Sep 14 at 10:45 am

  3. I agree on all counts. I would kind of expect one of Taylor, Kobernus or Eury to get called up after the the playoffs just to have an even stronger pinch runner option. Was about to say that it didn’t seem like THAT much of a “gutting” of Syracuse, given that there were pretty solid backups for almost all of the callups, but just saw that they also shut down AJ Cole on an innings limit, so losing Treinen definitely hurts that rotation.


    2 Sep 14 at 11:34 am

  4. Syracuse’s rotation: Cole shut down, Treinen called up, and Hill was skipped in his last start (if my notes are correct). They called up Espino to take Cole’s spot, but otherwise are depending on Laffey, Lively and McGregor in the playoffs? That’s not very inspiring.

    I may be wrong in the above; maybe Hill is being saved for the playoffs and Treinen heads back down for a start.

    Todd Boss

    2 Sep 14 at 11:40 am

  5. I just tried to do some quick research on service time and the 40-man roster in Spetember. It’s all very confusing and I couldn’t find the old article I read in which I swear it said it didn’t.

    In any event, even if the time does count, the effect is fairly negligible for the six players already called up. They are all already on the 40-man roster (meaning they already have options that expire for each season they are sent down to the minors for anything more than a DL rehab assignment or for just a few days for roster juggling purposes). The true rookies Taylor and Souza won’t accumulate enough time to speed up their arbitration or free agency clocks.

    In Souza’s case, you’re talking about a guy who will be under team control through his age 31 season (assuming they want him that long) and for Taylor it will be through his age 29 season.

    As for Bryant, I’m not sure if he is on the Cubs’ 40-man roster, but if not they certainly will want to wait until next season to starts his various clocks running.


    2 Sep 14 at 12:10 pm

  6. According to a poster on National Prospects, the last time Syracuse made the playoffs was in 1989, but a severe storm damaged their park so they had to play the whole (one) losing playoff series on the road. In fact, crappy talent support was reportedly one of the reasons the Cheifs wanted out of their long standing affiliation deal with Toronto. The one consolation for them this year is that their opponents will also be suffering roster losses from September callups.

    And anyone who follows affliiated minor league baseball knows that the whole season is really just one long exhibition. Another example beyond Cole: Ryan Tatusko, the “other” guy the Nats got from Texas for Cristian Guzman, was having a solid year (2.89 ERA in 79 IPs) when the Nats granted him his release in June so he could go play in the Korean league for presumably more money. Would they really allow that if Syracuse winning at all costs meant more than keeping a reputation as an organizaition that will help a AAAA player out if he gets a better opportunity elsewhere?

    Some people are thrilled that for the second straight year three Nats’ affiliates are in the playoffs. Me, I’m more thrilled that three Nats’ minor leaguers (Souza, Taylor and Difo) won their league MVP awards and one (Giolito) won the Most Oustanding Pitcher award for his league.


    2 Sep 14 at 12:24 pm

  7. I did see something related to September service time NOT counting … but it was related to keeping your rookie status for award purposes. I’m pretty sure a day on the MLB roster is a day on the roster, whether it happens in April, July or September.

    Here’s some good links:

    Bryant; that’s the whole point; he’s NOT on the 40-man, the moment you put him on it his clock starts ticking.

    Todd Boss

    2 Sep 14 at 12:26 pm

  8. I am pretty sure that Sep time is just major league time for all purposes, including rookie calculations (I agree that 40 man issues are the bigger driver). Most rookie discussions that I have heard around Sep call ups is that the threshold (50 IPs, for instance) usually aren’t met by a prospect who is only called up in Sep. Roark was an unusual case last year; while called up earlier, he was in the pen and only moved to the rotation in late Aug, so he got most of his innings in Sep and lost his rookie status.

    Otherwise, I agree with the other comments on call ups with one caveat. If a 40 man decision has to be made this winter on Martin and Grace (and they feel like they know enough to want to add them), I’d bring them up now and make the 40 man roster decisions. You can never have too many pitchers.

    Lastly, does anyone know any more about the Cole decision? He seems to be right at his IPs from last year, so it is a curious decision to say shut down for innings limits. Is there any suspicion of injury? Maybe Forensicane heard something?


    2 Sep 14 at 1:10 pm

  9. Martin/Grace 40-man decision comment; absolutely. Maybe they’re just waiting for AAA playoffs to end. I mean, somebody’s gotta pitch for them right?

    Todd Boss

    2 Sep 14 at 1:38 pm

  10. Time to dfa Mattheus and Solan to get Martin and Grace up. Would also dfa Kobernus if he’s not deemed valuable enough to bring up now. We should reward guys for having excellent seasons.

    Andrew R

    2 Sep 14 at 3:10 pm

  11. DFA Sammy Solis? no way, that’s not happening. Way too much invested in him; he’ll be on the roster til the bitter end of his options expiring.

    I don’t think its as if they don’t like Kobernus; he’s just not going to be a better option than what they already have in the OF and on the bench. So to me that says they should move him. Same reasoning behind their trade of Corey Brown, or Billy Burns.

    However yes I generally agree that we should be experimenting with Martin and Grace especially, since both will be rule-5 protection candidates, and as an award for their seasonal performances.

    Todd Boss

    3 Sep 14 at 8:35 am

  12. Grace will almost certainly be put on the 40-man roster to protect him. Martin, however, is already 30 years old and prior to this year had been nothing special in the minor leagues. His days as a true prospect are well behind him, I’m afraid. Though I still hope he gets his “cup of coffee” this year.


    3 Sep 14 at 2:26 pm

  13. Agreed: Grace for sure; can’t have enough loogy options. Martin may make an interesting test case; no he certainly isn’t a prospect, but he’s an asset. He’s the kind of “spare part” that makes a ton of sense to stash in AAA going forward. This year’s version of Mattheus and/or Barrett, though Mattheus may be a bad example since he was so poor this year.

    Todd Boss

    3 Sep 14 at 3:04 pm

  14. Welcome back, Todd…we obviously missed you. What an interesting few weeks it has been for the organization, and everything is beautiful when the team is in first place.

    1) Per above, the Nats have been shutting down high level, young prospects with workloads to which they are not accustomed. In addition to Giolito and Cole, Austin Voth & John Simms (both first full year) were shut down already.

    2) Count me among those who think Martin is a prospect, one of their best prospects, and will be called up. His success is not a fluke – he has a slider that now, inexplicably, he had been able to spin with extreme revolution. It is not just baffling hitters in AAA and for well over a month, but he has been having consistent success in high pressure situations and not merely getting junk time. Why not reward that maturity in September? He is of greater value to the Nats than Matthews. It’s not either him or Grace; I think the Nats can and will make room for both.

    3) We have to be careful not to get caught up in reading too much into full year stats. There are quite a number of players who have come on strong the last couple of months, and they would otherwise be overlooked, be they Ian Dickson or Matt Skole.

    4) Speaking of which, the Nats have in fact looked out for the minor league playoff teams; promotions this year well into August to get the performing talent (like Espino, Manny Rodriguez, and Tyler Herron) onto those teams even as players like Giolito and Cole were shut down. Other players who could have been promoted off playoff teams, like batting champion Renda and Severino, were not. Perhaps the dreariness of last years’ affiliate shutout in the playoffs, losing all three, is best avoided for affiliate goodwill.

    5) Speaking of which, the most dramatic resurrection of the year has to be Felipe Rivero. He had three very strong outings for Harrisburg in August after returning from an “elbow injury.” Like so many other Nats pitchers this year, from Purke to Jordan (who may be in the same Gio-Cole-Voth-Simms shutdown boat) to Blake Schwartz and Mooneyham who disappear with injuries like they have been banished to Siberia, I did not expect to see Rivero until 2015. When he emerged in August from the lower minors and after a few really good starts, earned an AFL nod, I thought the Nats must be simply promoting a fair haired trade yield for Nate Karns. Now that Rivero has been specifically selected for promotion to AAA for the playoffs, I think it’s safe to say that the Nats think their 2-7 4.00 ERA pitcher is that good and has turned the corner.

    6) The AFL roster is an interesting mix. With a lot of catching talents at the lower levels of the minors, including at GCL, the Nats have to figure out who is King of the Hill. So Severino and Kieboom are head to head with the same pitchers and baserunners. Severino is younger, headed for AA, and has the generalship pedigree. Kieboom only started full year baseball this year and was more consistent all the way through, batting cleanup and starting at catcher for the most successful team of home developed players in the Nats minor league system. As for the relievers, Self, Holland and Grace are all older and will be showcased on a level playing field. The instruction available to them, can it help them take the next step?

    7) I’ve noted several times before how the Nats are using the caribbean as their high school feeder, and that the strategy to develop quantity is proving to be brilliant. Rey Lopez, who has come the farthest in the second half to be a top – 10 prospect in the system, was signed for 17K! And others are proving to be promising.

    What is also becoming clear is that a number of lower level pitchers are really coming around and may be heard from in AA next year. Potomac in particular has several starters and relievers who should get the chance to more fully develop in the instructional league.


    3 Sep 14 at 3:47 pm

  15. PS.

    We will see Eury Perez in DC in September. The guy has been one of the hottest hitters in the organization since returning from injury, and on an expanded roster, will get a run or two as a pinch runner and can spell defensively. Why not? Kobernus picked it up this past month as well. He has more “positional versatility” because he can play 2B, but Perez actually plays the OF well.


    3 Sep 14 at 4:01 pm

  16. Welcome back, Todd.
    The cobwebs were beginning to show on your last post! 🙂

    Mark L

    3 Sep 14 at 8:15 pm

  17. Whew! The Nats may well need more bullpen arms after today’s game.


    3 Sep 14 at 9:27 pm

  18. That really was some game yesterday. I turned on the radio on my way to my daughters soccer practice literally just as ALR hit the HR in the 9th. Then was checking MLB at Bat throughout the entire time while trying to coach (lots of grumbling with all those bases loaded situations), and caught the Cabrera HR when I got home. I can only imagine what it was like to watch it in real time.

    Here is AJ Cole’s inning totals the last three years:
    2012 – 133
    2013 – 142
    2014 – 134

    So it surprises me that they are saying innings limits are behind the shutdown. He is still very young, so maybe it is just a feel thing, but I am curious if someone else is going on. He struck out 8 in 5 IPs his last start, so I assume velocity was normal, and he wasn’t listed as an AFL guy, so they aren’t saving him for that, so it seems a little odd.


    4 Sep 14 at 8:49 am

  19. Thanks to the 9/1 deadline for 3 more relievers, eh? They used NINE relievers yesterday. Only reliever not to get the ball was Detwiler. Poor Detwiler; what a waste of a season. Mostly low-leverage/mop-up longman work all year (182 of his 248 plate appearances on the year are defined by baseball reference as “low leverage.” I’ve always been a defender of Detwiler … but now i’m thinking he’s well on his way to a non-tender. Maybe it isn’t “poor” detwiler; he’s making $3M this year to be the last guy out of the pen on a playoff team.

    Gut-punch Werth error in the 9th. But you have to hand it to the offense to come back, then stake an extra innings lead, and then stake *another* extra innings lead. These were key games; taking 2 of 3 in Los Angeles, only dropping the expected loss to Kershaw, bodes well for a potential NLCS matchup for this team.

    Cole inning workload; can’t disagree. You want to push these guys, increase their innings 10-15% each year so they build up to the point where they’re at 160 over the expected 25 or so MiLB starts they’ll get each season … so they can begin to make the Verducci approved jump up to 175 and then 200+ innings later on. Why wouldn’t he have been pushed this year to try to get to 160 or so? Maybe he’s nursing a sore shoulder or something and was set to miss a start in mid-august and they just said screw it and shut him down.

    Todd Boss

    4 Sep 14 at 9:14 am

  20. Det – I agree that he hasn’t been used well, but he also hasn’t produced either, so it becomes a chicken/egg thing. at some point he is being used the way his performance merits. I think they expected his velocity to tick up in relief, maybe average 95. Hasn’t happened, though. He has been kind of in line with his career averages, and I think that matters. Agree, he seems like a non tender if they can’t trade him.

    On Werth, yeah seemed like an easy catch. But sh!t happens sometimes, and with how great the guy has been this year, I think he gets a pass, even if they would have lost the game. At some point, he and Desi need to get some rest before playoffs hit. Hopefully they can hold serve with this lead for another week and start taking days off.

    Rizzo deserves credit for his mid season deals. Thornton and Cabrera have been huge positives. Rizzo hasn’t always been aggressive mid season, but this year has worked out (even if Walters already has 6 homers for CLE).


    4 Sep 14 at 9:34 am

  21. Detwiler: I think the team (and us bloggers/fans) saw his relief splits from before and just assumed he’d be the left-handed equivalent of Craig Stammen. I certainly did. Velocity; to be fair, his avg fastball has gone up from 2013 (92.4 to 93.1) and his max velocity has up-ticked a bit too (95.7 to 96.4). And look how much higher that is than his 2009/2010 numbers. Other teams have to be seeing the same writing on the wall and will wait like vultures after his non-tender, knowing the Nats will be forced into a corner. Unless an opportunistic GM out there (Billy Beane, anyone?) recognizes what is going to happen and offers to flip us a prospect for his rights. I can see that. Detwiler as a lefty sinker pitching in those massive AL west parks could be a heck of a 5th starter.

    Werth: I won’t kill him for that; clearly the ball was directly in the sun.

    I agree on Rizzo’s moves. Walters is what he is: .179/.236/.463 with 6 homers and 24 strikeouts in 72 plate appearances. That’s a lotta ks. If he can get that average up to about .220 … he’s Danny Espinosa 🙂 20 homer capability, league-leading strikeout figures and a low .200s batting average. The difference seems to be this: we *know* how good Espinosa’s defense is (heck, he probably is a better short stop than Desmond defensively and in arm strength) while we have all heard how weak Walters’ defense is. Isn’t that a quick enough summary to explain why he was traded?

    Right now; post-season roster decision time. Do you even carry Detwiler or Blevins? I don’t think so: I think the rotation goes Stras,Gio,Zim,Fister, Roark is (unfortunately) relegated to be the “Tim Lincecum” like long-man. But if Roark (5th starter) is your long-man, then there’s no need/room for Detwiler. Likewise, Thornton is making his push over Blevins. And, power wins in short series, so Barrett and Treinen are getting looks too. Soriano, Clippard, Storen, Stammen, Thornton, Barrett and Roark is my performance-based playoff-bullpen. But is that a thumb in the eye of Blevins and Detwiler?

    Todd Boss

    4 Sep 14 at 10:01 am

  22. I don’t disagree that the bullpen for the NLDS would have Soriano, Clippard, Storen, Stammen, Thornton, Barrett and Roark. But I think there’s one more spot there, because the rotation is only four deep (instead of going 5 starters/7 bullpen, they go 4/8). They could use that on a PR/bench guy or an extra bullpen arm. But given that the bullpen outlined above only has one LHP, I’m guessing they still bring in Blevins (or perhaps Cedeno) as a true LOOGY for matchups.

    John C.

    4 Sep 14 at 10:17 am

  23. As someone who did not like the Cabrera trade, it’s hard to argue with his catalytic effect on the Nats. Their record since he has joined has been incredible, especially notable since they were doing well with Zimm back in the lineup. The Cabrera addition is thus far playing out like the classic midseason rental tha pushes a team over the top (as is Thornton).

    I am reluctant to judge Walters by his performance now. He needs better plate discipline and is young enough to make that happen. He can be a DH in the AL if he does not find a position. And he has a strong arm and great athleticism – there has to be one position he can develop at, even if he is not ideally suited to SS. So the deal has merit for the Nats only because of what Cabrera has added that Walters could not have.

    Yesterday’s thriller showed that Williams was more ready to use Treinen in a game on line role than he was Detwiler. He also went to Blevins before Det. So Det off the playoff roster will surprise no one, including Det. If the team clinches early and Det can be showcased, perhaps the team can flip him for good value. I find it hard to believe that a man of his talent would simply be cut loose rather than paid and then traded. Someone would value him as a lefty starter.

    Simply amazing turn of events to see Barrett, Cedeno, and Treinen step up andd play pivotal roles in a game in which Stammen, Soriano (OK,OK), and Clippard did not.

    Rizzo deserves credit for a lot, and those deals are part of it. He runs the team like a man with a vision, a man who makes a fast decision but a man who will not make a panicked decision. We’ll be enjoying these Nats for a long time because of how this team is making its personnel decisions, top to bottom.

    As for Cole, they use “the eye” test. Scouts eye said shut him down. I trust Rizzo’s sense of managing arms more than a Sports Illustrated writer.


    4 Sep 14 at 10:28 am

  24. In fairness, Detwiler pitcher nearly two full innings the day before, so him being the very last option out of the pen yesterday was not surprising. What IS surprising about Detwiler is his lack of Ks, both this year and for his career. His K/9 rate this year is 5.2, which is actually lower than John Lannan’s rookie campaign (5.8). How a lefty who throws hard is incapable of getting punchouts is baffling.

    And speaking of strikeouts, regarding Walters I’m with Todd. He has NEVER had any plate discipline, and it has gotten worse rather than better as his career has progressed. Had he not started inexplicably hitting dingers, he would still be back at Harrisburg with “organizational guy” tatooed on his forehead.


    4 Sep 14 at 11:00 am

  25. I agree with the bullpen comments, including John C’s that there will be an extra RP and it will be a loogy – my bet is its Blevins, but I wouldn’t wager a lot on it. It may depend on how Cedeno does in Sep.

    There is a ‘but’ for Barrett though. He did great yesterday, but he has to show that this balk/wind up thing is behind him over numerous appearances. If not, he is a liability. If it is, he is truly a weapon. Where in the world did this guy come from, and how come he wasn’t being talked up before this season? His stuff is off the charts. I have mentioned before that I am not much for following prospects on my own (I really don’t even bother learning most of their names until they at least get to Potomac, unless they are well known like Giolito), which is why I appreciate what Todd and everyone else offer up. But I had barely heard of this guy, and certainly didn’t think he’d amount to much more than a middle reliever, if that. Now I think he has the best stuff in the pen, and should be the closer next year (again, assuming the hiccup over that balk is behind him). He makes me very curious to get a look at Grace.


    4 Sep 14 at 1:14 pm

  26. Wally – in fairness to you, minor league relief pitchers rarely show up on any team’s top 20 prospects list unles they are a blue chip draft picks like Storen. Barrett’s emergence is not surprising given the Nats’ organizational philosophy under Rizzo, namely accumulate as many hard throwers as possible and hope a few of them learn to harness their stuff. That goes a long way to explaining why they were so patient with Henry Roriguez.

    And don’t forget Treinen. He also throws smoke, and with the rotation likely full through the end of 2015, I’ve heard mention that he is viewed by the organization as a potential future closer. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a great September that he ends up on the playoff roster as well. That would give them a postseason pen of Soriano, Clippard, Storen, Thorton, Roark, Barrett, Stammen and Treinen with Blevins AND Detwiler as the odd men out.


    4 Sep 14 at 2:08 pm

  27. Relief pitchers never get any press from prospect hounds because they’re almost always failed starters. Well that and they’re fungible/replaceable/fringe members of a 25-man roster. Kind of like backup middle infielders.

    And I’ll freely admit I pay almost no attention to relievers in my own analysis. Maybe that’s not fair … but it also may just be a function of time. Tracking 5-6 rotation guys per 6 levels is nearly 40 starters to keep an eye on at any given time. If you were throw in a full reliever set for each of our 6 levels (not including DSL which i long ago gave up on tracking) would more than double the workload. Once a year I check in with relievers unless someone’s putting up psychotic numbers (think Manno a few years ago, Grace/Martin this year). So I too really didn’t know anything about Barrett or Davis til they were protected … and yeah, he’s a beast.

    I hope they don’t convert Treinen to relief; flip him instead. That’s what you do with prospect depth.

    Todd Boss

    4 Sep 14 at 3:42 pm

  28. Barrett was a known quantity among followers of the minor league system ever since he turned the corner. He dominated Double A last year in such a way that the astute Menhart was quoted in mid-year to be saying that he could pitch in the major leagues last year. He has long been known to have the closer makeup; it’s not just that he does not have a full repertoire. You gotta have balls. Perhaps some middle relievers are failed closers.

    The beat writers for the minor league teams are often highly informative. Geoff Morrow, who covers the Harrisburg Senators at Penn Live, is particularly thoughtful about putting quotes in from managers and coaches throughout his coverage. These morsels may tell you a lot, especially when they do not come from hypesters. Otherwise, you read subtext. For example, it is obvious from the day to day coverage of the Senators, for example, that Michael taylor was the special kind of player that you go to a game just to watch his at-bats. That has not yet translated at the AAA or ML level, but those kinds of things transcend statistics and strikeout numbers.

    The best prospect watchers are the Nats staff themselves and the managers who rate them for Baseball America after watching them play. This year, for example, they were the first to herald the leaps forward for Hood, Perez, and Difo. As they say, “just ask the locals.”


    5 Sep 14 at 6:31 am

  29. One interesting footnote to this discussion is that the Nats have successful starting pitchers who started out as long relievers this year for lack of open spots and gained opportunity through injury, coupled with their own great success.

    It will be no different next year.

    I track the folks who are throwing 3-4 inning stints as potential starters in waiting. That’s how John Simms started this year, for example, and he ended up rising higher than any 2013 draft pick to date.

    The AFL squad is made up of almost 50% relief pitchers. Developing them and discerning whose stuff plays at the highest level is still part of the overall mandate for success.


    5 Sep 14 at 7:05 am

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