Nationals Baseball

Monday, January 15, 2018

Nats sign Kendrick

Here's a tweet

It makes too much sense to be anything but pleased.

The Nats needed someone to play 2nd base for a while if Murphy couldn't open the season.  Howie can do that.

The Nats needed a veteran 4th OF.  Howie can do that

The Nats needed a veteran IF bench player. Howie can do that

The Nats didn't want to spend a lot of money.  Howie didn't get that. 3.5 million a year (or I'm going to guess 3 this year, 4 next) is not a lot.

The Nats wanted someone good. Howie is that.

Now obviously Howie can't fill all those holes at the same time, but the hope is a Difo or Goodwin or someone else can step up and take one of those spots. 

Yes he's a little on the older side now.  He'll be 34/35 this year (birthday in July) so 36 when the contract expires. But if he was younger that his long streak of average to slightly above average offense would have gotten him more than the Nats offered. 

There's no point in repeating exactly what we said about him just last July so go read that. If you want it brief : negatives - not patient, not powerful, has had injuries. positives - great contact, good average, good runner, good fielder, not complete zero in patience/power. Arguably good enough to be your 3rd OF, definitely good enough to be an all-around super sub. Especially at that price.

I suppose a pessimist might think "Well if we got Howie for this cheap couldn't we have gotten X Pitcher/Catcher for cheap first?"   Maybe. We don't know how those markets are progressing. We'll have to wait until the Nats are done, the league is done, before we can address that.

For now, nothing but positives for this move in the moment.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Shut down the offseason! Edwin Jackson is back!

This happened yesterday.

In the grand scheme of things it's not all that important Minor league deals are things teams throw at a lot of veterans to see if any stick. The money involved is usually minimal and that is true in this case. He'd earn under 2 million if he makes the team. Edwin Jackson, who ended the season with the Nats is the perfect candidate for such a deal. He's not a good pitcher so you don't want to be contracted to pay him, but it wouldn't surprise you if he put up a mid 4.00s ERA for most of a year and that has value. So you see in the Spring if that's what he looks like.

The belief floating around is that last year he was a pretty good pitcher for the Nats until those last 5 starts. Actually he had a lot of  "scattered hit" games in his successful time. 5 hits, 2 walks, 1 homer in 6 innings - 1 run. 8 hits and a walk in 7 - 1 run. 6 hits, 3 walks, 1 homer in 6 innings - 2 runs. 6 hits, 4 walks, 1 homer in 6 innings - 2 earned runs. You usually don't find a WHIP of 1.4 leading to a 2.18 ERA unless you are cutting out all homers (he wasn't - about 1 per game) or striking out everyone (he wasn't - about 5.4 per 9).

That's not to say he was pitching poorly. Something more like a high 3.00s would have been expected and perfectly ok! But then those 1 homers became 2 and 3 and that 1.4 WHIP became 1.8 and you can't luck out of that. He really was earned awful those last 5 games.

That's the real question going forward. How much of Edwin Jackson is that guy who can be a 5th starter that we saw for 6-7 games and how much of him is the guy that can't that we saw for the last 5?  A mix of the two isn't good enough. He has to be pretty much all the former to be useful.  

The other thing that bothers one about a deal like this is that it's a late February deal made in early January. This is a last piece kind of thing. "Eh, we're still not completely happy with our starting pitching. Let's throw in a few other vets on minor league deals here just to see if we get lucky" What does it mean to be doing this now?  Are the Nats done with the off-season already pitching wise? Or was this just offered up to them and they couldn't refuse.

I'm not excited or bothered by the deal by itself. It has some worrying connotations, but we'll have to see if those actually play out. The free agent market is moving so slow that those that want movement still can't worry about inaction.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Monday Quickie - continuing all that we have

Harper, what would you do about a 5th starter? Try to make a boffo trade for Chris Archer? Go after a journeyman/wild card like Sean Manaea? Make deals with reclamation projects such as Chris Tillman and others with a Spring Training invitation attached? Or see what A.J. Cole or Eric Fedde can produce and hope Joe Ross can recover in time for the second half of the season? Me, I'd offer Soto, Ross, and Fedde and a pair of decent throw-ins for Archer. 

What would I do? I'd sign Darvish! Or Arrieta! Not my money! 

Given how the NL East hasn't built itself up yet, I'd ignore the journeyman route (unless you can get a bargain on a them late - which is what I think will happen with a Lackey or Garcia). I also wouldn't go the reclamation route. The last thing the Nats need is more injury risk players. So I guess I would in a more "this is baseball today" sense - would go young. Go ahead and try out Fedde again, give Voth a shot, etc. etc. and then trade for someone come July if need be. The Nats have this flexibility so use it. I guess.

But honestly I think they end up with that bargain journeyman at the very least to give Fedde a few months in the minors.

Christian Yelich’ Wikipedia page lists Boston RedSox 2018- under the “Teams” section. Has anyone heard any news on this? Lol

What? Does the WaPo Sports Desk edit Wiki pages now?   No news that I've heard.

Yeah. As you mention, the people who think Yelich (particularly a yelich who has to play CF where he is average to below average) is a comparable return for everybody but Robles/ those who think yelich plus realmuto for every prospect we have including Robles and MAT is fair....are nuts. That’s all I will say. If you want Realmuto, offer Soto and MAT and hand CF to Robles. That will almost certainly get it done. If you want realmuto ANd Yelich, offer Robles and MAT. That also probably does it IMO. And I would support both I think.  

I wish there was a "fan trade database" of sorts where you could enter your in-your-head fair deal to the fan of the other team and watch them rip it apart.

As for your deals - the idea that the Marlins really would want MAT... I guess in a Soto+ deal for Realmuto he could be part of it - but if the Marlins are giving up Realmuto (or Yelich) they want guys they can control and probably a handful of them. I think they'd rather have Soto + Kieboom + a couple #10-#20 Nats prospects. Same with the Realmuto, Yelich deal. Why would they give up two great players with control and in part get back MAT, a worse player with less control? That makes no sense. They may take him to help the Nats make space but not at the expense of getting what they really want.

Harper. One other quick comment/q. Am I the only one that think Lucroy would be a great fit for Nats if they strike out on realmuto? He’s better than Weiters, even the version of him from last year. And I feel like there is a 25-40% chance you get lucky and you sign him at his absolute bottom value and he pops halfway back up to what he was a couple years ago and suddenly you have a moderately priced C who hits .270/.350/.450 and plays ok defense. He’s an ideal guy to grab for a pillow contract of 1-2 years and make Weiters back up and deal severino. 

I doubt you are the only one but convincing the management to see Wieters as a sunk cost is the issue. They probably want to play him out in 2018 at least for a 2-3 months before giving up on him. And you could argue that's not unfair. He was reliably blah before last year. I'm sure this is what Boras is telling them. If you expect to dedicate half a year to seeing if Wieters can play there's no point in signing/trading anyone that isn't a long term replacement. (and I don't think you get Lucroy on a long-term bargain deal)

Friday, January 05, 2018

I'm bored

This off-season is dullsville. AMA

Oh before you ask me something, that meant American Medical Association.  Ok, now go ahead and ask me anything.

Were you happy with The Last Jedi? I guess maybe I should ask if you like Star Wars and if you've seen it but I'm going to assume based on the age demographic I think you're in that you do and you have.

You should have asked. I like Star Wars but the emphasis is on "like". I caught the Force Awakens on a plane on my iPhone last year. So I haven't seen it the new one. Or that other one that a side story.

If I was running the Nats, I would be offering the fish Robles, Soto, MAT, and another 2 lower level prospects for Realmuto & Yelich if they are also willing to take Wieters contract. If they want nothing to do with Wieters 1 year deal, they can have Soto, MAT, & Severino + the lower tier prospects. Do you think this would be enough to entice them... is it enough to outbid other suitors... is it too much and its a good thing I am not running the Nats

YES! YES! 1000x YES! on the Robles one. It would also outbid other teams and be too much. The Soto one is tougher I'd say no but only because MAT has only 3 years before hitting FA but some people like Soto more than others. The Soto deal is probably something like what people are offering now "How about our 2nd best prospect and a good young player for your two almost stars?" so probably not an outbid and probably not too much.

I think you could get Yelich & Realmuto almost for any deal offering Robles. That's his general current status - guaranteed good player, maybe great just starting the clock.

AnonymousCouldn't they pry Sal Perez away from the Royals for a similar package? If the Royals are rebuilding, why not go get the best catcher alive? 

Certainly for a Robles package. Otherwise... I kind of get the feeling he's the guy they are planning on keeping around. I mean if he doesn't nosedive they could get 2 more years of play from him and still ask for a Robles type in return after that.

Harper, what's the FA catcher pool look like for 2019? Anything in your opinion look like worth waiting for?Delete 

About as good as one could hope... so not great. Grandal and Ramos head it up, with possibilities of it being deeper if Flowers keeps hitting and Mesoraco ever recovers. I like Grandal. I like Ramos. I wouldn't wait for either though. 

OK, I have a training wheels question. Please name one or two books good for an intro to looking at baseball from an analytic perspective, but for the beginner (ie, not the "SAS programmer by day" crowd.)Anonymous 

We've had this asked before I think... yes... there we are People seem to like "Baseball Between the Numbers", "The Book:  Playing the Percentages" and I've seen a couple recommened "Understanding Sabermetrics". In the comments sirc recommends Nate Sliver's Signal/Noise book, Brian Kenny's Ahead of the Curve, Bill James' historical abstracts if you can find them, and Moneyball.

I've not read the first set of recommendations but have read all of sirc's. Personal opinions - I didn't like Silver's; No issue with ideas, I didn't find the writing good.  I liked Kenny's more than I thought; looks more at where these ideas could go then where we are.  Bill James can be curmudgeonly but I like reading his stuff. Moneyball is great but obviously more of a GM top-down view. 

I'd like to see more on how the CBA luxury tax is affecting off-season bidding-wars. Buster Olney thinks it's putting a damper on mid-market FAs. My sense is that also crimps the market for big-name FAs, such as Arieta. Could this be the year when the price per WAR flattens out?

Maybe.  But really we should be looking at the price per marginal WAR.  Oh god, that sounds terrible. Ok what I'm saying is that getting a 1 WAR players costs $X, 2 WAR $X+, 3 WAR $X++ but it's not linear. Getting from 1-2 is cheaper than from 5-6. I don't think that has changed. But I think the approach now is to try to get a lot of the "cheap" WARs - ideally as cheaply as possible (re: propsects)  That'll damper the WAR cost some but really they won't be paying alot for those additional WARs and losing that will screw with the average. So how about this - the median cost may drop some but the mean could plummet.

It's not necessarily the luxury tax that is doing this. I mean that matters but it only matters in so much as the owners and management care. What's really driving this is that the owners and managerment are REALLY starting to care about costs. 

Looking to next year, should the Nats get in a bidding war for Bryce with, say, the Dodgers? if we win, what are the implications for the team's ability to build a supporting cast? Are there likely to be better values for the $30MM+ salary that Harper would command?

It's all up to the ownership. It's only a hamper as much as they let it be. You can put together a damn good team for 150-175 million, put 30 million on top of that is not crazy. But owners don't want to spend that much anymore (mainly because ownership is a lot more a set of investors who want a return than crazy rich guys) 

What are the opportunities this year for a salary dump?

For signing Bryce - well Madson, Gio, Murphy, Wieters,  Adams and Kelly are all off the books - that's like 57 million alone. Also another 9 million if they don't pick up Doolittle and Kintzler but that's a whole bullpen rebuild then. There will be money - the ideal situatoin is Difo looks fine replacing Murphy, a young reliever (Glover?) becomes dominant, Severino or Read takes the next step, and they find a good young pitcher (Ross back in form?).  But that's drawing a straight flush on the river.
Another way to look at it - out of the high $ guys for 2019 and beyond  you can't deal Scherzer or Stras or Rendon - you need them. It coud be hard to get rid of Zimm becauase he's costly and of limited value (though maybe he kills it again this year?) Your best bet is probably dealing Roark and his ~10 million in 2019 salary but you'd have to find someone to replace him and Gio. It would take some work from Rizzo.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Happy New Year!

Long break so now I'll catch you up on everything Nationals related you might have missed.

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and

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don't forget

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And now you're all caught up!

Baseball was almost as quiet. The Brewers signed Chacin and Gallardo taking away a couple back of the rotation possibilites. The Indians finalized their Alonso deal which means almost nothing for the Nats. Same lack of impact for the Nats is the Yankees holding on to CC Sabthia. The Twins signed Zach Duke, who has been a quality reliever for everyone except the Nats since 2011, probably nothing as well now that Kintzler is in hand. They won't be signing a reliever that isn't a tiny deal (well they never pass up a bargain).

Finally in something that did potentially matter in some way is the Rockies signed Wade Davis to like a billion dollars over 100 years. While it was probably a non-impact for the Nats (unless you think they were going to build a super-bullpen) it was a reminder again that the Nats were not signing that "proven closer".  Of course, Wade Davis isn't Jansen or Chapman or the like. After he dominated in the 2015 playoffs, he was less than impressive last year. Though he did get one important set of outs...

If this bothers you - let it go. The Nats were done actively looking at the back end of the bullpen once Kintzler was signed. Doesn't mean they can't end up with someone else - even a Holland, but the price is going to have to work out.  The reality though is it's 5th starter and back-up MI time.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Adam Lind is Dead. Love Live Matt Adams

The Nats are successfully recreating their team from the end of 2017. Kintzler is back meaning the 7-8-9 from the pen is returning. And now Matt Adams has come in and replaced Adam Lind as the first big lefty bat off the bench.

Who is Matt Adams?  Short answer is he's a lefty first baseman who has hit well but can't hit LHP, who isn't well regarded in the field. He's had been relegated to back-up play for most of the past few years but an injury to Freddie Freeman opened up full time work. The 131 games he played last year being the second most of his career. If this sounds familiar it's because Adam Lind was a lefty first baseman who had hit well but couldn't hit LHP, who wasn't well regarded in the field and had been relegated to back-up play for some of the past few years.

There's a general sense that Matt Adams is a better fielder than Lind was. There's also a general feeling that Lind is more of a professional hitter, more likely to work a walk or put the ball in play than Adams is. But these are niggling things. For a back-up/platoon 1B Adams should be every bit as good as Lind. Both these guys are worthy starters vs RHP and are great bench players.

The Nats won 97 games last year and while part of that was the NL East, a lot of that was a roster that was arguably at it's peak at the end of the year. So recreating it isn't the worst idea. Is it enough? Well it wasn't last year but if you aren't for going "ALL IN" for the sake of trying everything, I don't see how you can ask for more than what they are doing now. Get a Stephen Drew replacement and a cheap but ok 5th starter and you'd have to expect another 90+ win season, NL East title, and crack at breaking through. (barring injuries/surprises) of course

In other news - Tommy Milone is back. You may remember him as one of the "Gio 4" sent to Oakland for Gonzalez. Milone stands now as the 2nd most successful of the bunch, three of which turned into useful players.* Milone had a handful of decent seasons filling the back of the rotation for the A's and Twins. However he's been terrible the past two years and there isn't much for him to fall back on. He doesn't have strikeout stuff and is not a master of control. His "success" came from being not particularly bad at any specific things. That's a tightrope walk that can't be maintained and it wasn't. He's organizational filler and nothing more. 

*Derek Norris was a legit good C for a few seasons before suddenly crashing. Brad Peacock struggled to find himself until 2016 when he emerged as a valuable swingman / spot starter for the Astros. The fourth man the Nats brought back very quickly and has not made a name for himself, Mr. Alan Jervicious Cole (may not be his real name).  Still he was the youngest of the bunch and almost was useful last year. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Nats spin their wheels, so far, and it's ok, so far.

The Winter meetings ended and the Nats took their Brandon Kintzler and went home without anything else. That's not troubling just something to note.

The Nats did have news but of the off-season talk kind. You had future contract news, like how the Nats (and other teams) are set up for the big Bryce deal, and how Rendon would be perfectly fine staying with the Nats*. You had injury news Max saying he's fine and Murphy not committing to any time table for his return basically telling you Opening Day is in question. (As we all kind of assumed). The most recent news on any of this is the Dodgers clearing cap space - in theory they could use it for a bid on one of the Bryce/Machado duo, but I think it's just setting up the payroll for the assumed Kershaw opt-out re-sign. 

You also had Strasburg blame the ASG for his injury because Strasburg is in fact the fragile-minded routine obsessed player everyone thinks he is. I thought about it again over the weekend but we really just dropped the Game 4 story after it happened didn't we? I mean the crazy Game 5 and then Dusty's firing took away a lot of interest, but it seems like we have decided to never speak of the whole early announcement of who's pitching, Strasburg sick, did he throw?, is it mold???, he's suddenly healthy! thing again. I mean... ok? You want to take the team's take "It's just a miscommunication! Dusty's fault" and move on? That's fine, I guess. Me - it never made sense to me in general, nor is it the simplest explanation given what we knew at the time, so I'm not going to buy it. I think Strasburg begging off because he wasn't able to throw to his routine (because he was sick earlier) made the most sense and this ASG thing just is another factoid that backs that up. But you keep him around because... well now because they have him under contract, but even then because he's a great pitcher when he's healthy and in his routine. And because now he's proven he will start in the playoffs when he may not want to and what more do you want? Less complaining? Ok sure but in the end that doesn't really matter to the Ws and Ls

As far as National League teams go the Cubs have had a fruitful couple of weeks as we talked about before grabbing two relievers and two starters for not that much money all who could be good next year. They also might not (well except Cishek who's pretty reliable) but if they come up with two very good years out of the four it'll be a win. The Rockies built up their pen as well to replace Greg Holland. The Cardinals, on the outside looking in last year, added a pen arm and more importantly a minor star in Marcell Ozuna that puts them that much closer to being a playoff team again.

But that's not the East. In the East the Marlins have become a 100 loss team, the Braves have committed to doing not much being the Dodgers salary dump partners, and the Mets have barely moved the needle signing one decent reliever, matching the Nats true but starting from a position about 10 games worse.  The team that made news in the East were the Phillies who paid too much for Carlos Santana while shipping off Freddy Galvis to San Diego. The Galvis trade makes sense. First, he's not all that good. Second, they want to see what the underwhelming but still touted, JP Crawford can do. Third, it helps payroll wise. You see, the Phillies can afford to overpay for a guy like Santana. Even though Santana will add 20 million to the payroll, they still will be around 60 million in payroll (this includes Neshek and Hunter shoring up the pen). Galvis was going to be the highest paid player at ~7.5 million so they save that. Right now they could add 80 million in salary... and only get to about the MLB median. They have a ton of room to play with. They aren't lined up to be winners in 2018 but make a play for an Arrieta and sign a Bryce Harper and suddenly 2019 is a different story. They still have to get some of these young players to become something special but there is a trend here. A willingness to spend that we haven't seen in the Braves, and had to be pulled kicking and screaming out of the Mets.


*He literally said nothing though. The only news that could come out of an ask like this is Rendon saying he desperately wants to stay with the Nats and he'll do anything to work out a deal, or he is probably going to move on. That kind of response never happens. This is nothing more than the usual "I'm open to sticking around if they pay me the right amount" talk which is 100% expected. But still you gotta ask