Nationals Baseball: The future is... almost now?

Friday, June 17, 2011

The future is... almost now?

First Yay Lannan!

The sweep of the Cardinals has only heightened a belief that was being made apparent by the "Don't Trade Marquis" movement. Nats fans want to win sooner rather than later. "Big deal", you say. "Everyone wants that". Well it is a big deal when sooner= 2012 and later = 2014. This isn't about giving up on a future that may never happen. The Nats will be better. This is about how much they'll be better, how soon they'll be better, and how long they'll be better.

Let's all agree that the goal is to be playoff level competitive in 2013. Maybe not high 80s / low 90s in wins, but at worst a bad-luck low 80s team with all signs pointing to a great 2014. What is the best way to get there? Do you start going "all-in" spending money on mid-level signings that are more luxuries than necessities to get that extra 2-3 wins? Or do you keep on building looking for players that can come up fairly quickly but are probably not going to make an impact on next year?

This next month is when that decision has to be made... maybe. Marquis, and on some level Nix - though only because the Nats OF situation is so dicey, is exactly the type of player I described. They don't bring enough extra talent to the table to be necessities, but are more useful than your run of the mill 3/4 starter and 3rd/4th OF. Resigning both of them would more likely than not put the Nats in line for a season with a couple more wins in 2012 than the alternative. (let's ignore the fact for now that they can trade them AND resign them). But does that mean the same for 2013? Maybe 2014?

Trading them sets up the possibility of something really special in 2013 and beyond. The right deals could fill the Nats to busting with young cheap major league talent through 2016. That could afford them more room to make key signings. With luck it could build a nice 4+year run or so. But it could also just end up being a small step back if those players don't pan out (which is always a strong possibility with prospects) When you hope to compete for a Wild Card (or more) every win does matter.

From what I gather Nats fans are tired of looking toward the future. They have their great young players in Strasburg and Bryce. They'd rather take the better bet on the near future, and hope through luck and $$$ that the far end of the run takes care of itself. Is that being short sighted or is it reasonable given that they know even regarded draft (like 2007) can disappoint?
The Nats may be one or two moves away from something really special and this win now attitude could be impatience that leads to a Nats team that always seems one player short of making it. Or it could be knowingly striking while the iron is hot. Fans are pretty sure 2012 can be good, who knows what could happen by 2014?

I stand firmly in the trade side. (and like I said this is ignoring the fact that you can re-sign these guys after a deal and I wouldn't be against that) The market seems to indicate that Marquis will be one of the hottest commodities on the market and his recent pitching is only helping drive up that interest. One right deal, one smart deal even if it's for a great A-ball guy that doesn't see the light of day until late 2013, to me that seems worth losing a player like Marquis. He's not a difference maker. You might be able to get back someone that is. You also insulate yourself against the possibilty of things going poorly in 2012. Another key injury or some steps back by young players and the 2013 dream could die. By not trading you are essentially wasting these years, if this happens.

But I don't live and die with the Nats. If they don't make the playoffs in the next few years I won't be crushed. That factors into my cold heartless robot opinions. If I were a die-hard than keeping Marquis might make more sense. They team has a chance now to win. They are better. They should keep continuing to improve. To not make a run now seems cruel, even if there might be a much better opening coming up, because that "might" also means "might not".

It's a tough decision for Rizzo and company. I hope for their sakes, and everyone elses, whichever way they choose to go works out.


Kevin Rusch said...

I saw a post somewhere the other day describing the kind of money Marquis will be expecting on the free-agent market -- the nats may be able to extend him for cheap, but if they trade him they'll have to pay full freight, and that's going to mean 3-4 years. Considering how few really good years he's had, there's a risk of real suckage there, and that's a lot of money to commit.

Then again, a "rotation filler" can be hard to come by, so maybe we should sign him. It depends on if someone gets desperate.

For Nix, he's kinda occupying Harper's spot, so..

Wally said...

If Marquis really is one of the hottest commodities on this year's trading market, then I think that we would get a good enough prospect/young player that I would be in favor of the trade. But if not (and I suspect that he won't be as hot as you think, for the same reasons that you don't want to keep him or resign him to a market deal - ie he won't sustain his current level), then I wouldn't trade him.

To give context by looking at our recent trades, I would trade him for the Capps package (which we won't get), maybe Willingham's, but no one else I can think of in recent memory. That is really the thing that I am curious about - at what return would you NOT trade him?

Bryan said...

I tend to agree, somewhat, with Wally. I would trade Marquis if we can get a good deal in return. Not just a nice deal, but a good, borderline shocking deal.

I do disagree with Wally's take on Marquis's value. Some team out there is going to think they are one solid pitcher away and that "this is their year." Even if they think he will crash next year or the year after, they'll probably pay for this year's production if they truly believe they are 1 pitcher away. That may be especially true in the NL, where everyone in the playoffs will be in an arms race with the Phils.

It would hurt to trade Marquis, but as I said, if we get a pretty good return, I'm fine with it. I would rather trade the midlevel guys like Marquis and continue to build for the "bright" future. That's what is best for the team. Winning an extra 2-5 games this year and next does nothing for me.

FYI - as a Phils follower, I can tell you that team is at most 2-3 years from collapse. Hitters are getting old all at once, pitchers are mostly old. Keep building for what should be a wide-open East in 2012-2015.

Wally said...

Bryan - I hope that you are right about Marquis. It also feels like the Phils will transition better than a complete collapse, but who knows.

Harper - I reread your 'Sabremetric Moooomm! He's doing it again!' blog again, because I am trying to figure out if Lannan is doing anything differently. Lately he has kept his walks down, which is huge for him and also my biggest concern. But here is a question - did he always have this big, slow, two plane slurvy pitch? It is significantly slower than his other offerings, and goes through several eye levels. Maybe it is throwing off hitters just enough to help them not make good contact. I don't recall him having that pitch before, but if he did, it feels like he is throwing it more now.

Anonymous said...

I'm solidly in the "Stay on target...stay on target...stay on target" camp. 2013-14 has been the target year since it became clear we were going to get Stras. This team projects to have some really good players at some spots, but is hardly yet a "full-to-bursting" young team like the Rays were a couple years ago. There's no real 1b masher, there's no CF, there's no clear frontline guy after Stras and ZNN, and it's not clear Desmond can really handle MLB pitching. Six wins in a row is nice, but let's not fool ourselves into thinking this team has a real shot in 2012. Trading Marquis for a A- near-MLB prospect is the right move, or for an A further-away prospect. Realistically, the difference between Marquis and Detwiler/Milone/Peacock/etc is what? 2-3 wins in 2012?

Besides that, by my count, you've got Stras, ZNN, Lannan, Livo, Gorzelanny as your first five in 2012 without Marquis. So that AAAA crowd is #6. No reason to keep him at all - this reminds me of the "Keep Soriano" question back then.

Hoo said...

I'd trade Marquis for some good AA/A bats.

I'm not as concerned about pitching as hitting. Nats hitting prospects are not that good. Is there any Of that's close to major league ready?
Michael Aubrey? Marrero/Flores are you only ML position guys in Syracuse.

I'm not as worried about pitching as hitting at this pt. Team needs to spend more on bats this winter than hitting in the FA market.

I'd like see Marquis for a real minor league bat with potential or a starter (bit better than Aaron Thompson). Don't want to see Marquis go for a reliever even though those have been our best trades (Clippard, Matthieus (sic)

Section 220 said...

I'm with Anonymous in "stay on target" mode. One of the things that some fans forget about Strabsurg II: The Revenge of the Stras, is that he will have a strict innings limit that will have him shut down in, like, August. That's 2012. Even in 2013, how many innings can you realistically expect to get out of him? Maybe 180 if you get 150 in 2012? Maybe 190? That's not enough really for a full regular season, let alone a playoff run. There is a future, and it's not far off, but it's not, like, next year. Trade Marquis, trade Nix, listen to offers on Clippard et al.

Hoo said...

I'd listen to offers for Clippard but it would take a lot. A helluva lot. Why would the Nats trade a guy who is at a minimum at top 5 at his position? He's pretty much the second best Setup guy behind Jonny Venters with Atlanta.

I know that Harper is a reliever is fungible type of guy. But I think that Clips play has elevating him towards the near keeper list for Harper.

When you have a guy who's elite at his position, what good does trading him do? And Clips has pitched at a high rate for a few seasons now. He's the Nats version of Joba Chamberlain. If Clips was a Yankee, you'd have hundreds of fans wearing Clippard glasses to show their appreciation.

I understand you listen, but if you're given up a top 5 guy at his position, then you need to ask for a ton in return.

John O'Connor said...

I look at it like what the Nats really need to do to make the big step forward in the future is get one big-time starter to go with Strasburg and Zimmermann. One way to do that is through free agency. I think you can be a more attractive free agent destination if your team doesn't appear that far away. One way to do that is to hold onto a guy like Marquis.

That said, another way to get a top-end starting pitcher is to trade for a high-level prospect. So if you could flip Marquis for such a prospect, I'd do it. Also, if you can get some other prosepct who is sufficiently highly-regarded, then you do it even if subracting Marquis diminishes the short-term product.

So to use Wally's example, I trade Marquis for the Capps package (a top 100 prospect), but I don't do it for the Willingham package (iffy reliever plus middling prospect). But I think everybody's overestimating what we can get in a trade for Marquis.

Anonymous said...

Marquis is on fire compared to his performance in the past. When he starts to have some off days the Nats aren't gonna get any trade offers. Trade him now, get a big risk/big reward prospect if you can. Then he'll choke for some team in the playoffs and if we want him he'll be back on the free agent market where we found him.

Nattydread said...

The winning streak shows how the Nats can click when they are "on". We add Strasberg in 2012, possibly Harper. Add a front end starter and a CF-lead-off man. A possible contender?

Some of us think 2012 might still be the first year that sees a playoff run.

Rizzo must be asking three questions:

1. What value can Marquis bring today? If he gets what he wants, he makes the deal.

2. How badly does Marquis want to stay with the team? Of course nobody is sincere when they are on the open market... But if this team looks like a winner, he may want to stay.

3. What happens to the current team if Marquis is traded? Another 7 game winning streak and this team is a contender. It's not impossible. Sabermetrics aside, the addition of Zimmerman has been a shot in the arm.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7 said...

The NATS are in 3rd place and one game under .500 and are poised win 9 in a row and acheive their second sweep of a series. Marquis has been a part of this resurance. So, if the NATS stay hot and are in contention (I will not put on the jinx bt saying how many games out of the wild card they are) the trade Marguis crowd and Rizzo are in a hard place. Like the Sorriano season, it will all depend who wants/needs Marquis and how much prospective talent they will give up to get him.

LetsGoNats said...

I think the Nationals might be able to get Brett Gardner from the Yankees for Marquis since they are in desperate need of starting pitching and don't seem to realize how good he is. Gardner is a ridiculously fast starting center fielder and lead off hitter something the nationals desperately need.