Nationals Baseball: So... now what

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

So... now what

Spring Training right now boils down to two topics.  Let's discuss them now so we can concentrate on watching basketball for the next month.

1.  Who will be the 5th starter?  - Strasburg will start. Zimmermann will start. Gonzalez will start. Jackson will start. The first two are simply the best pitchers the Nats have. Gonzalez is a step behind them, but better than the rest. Jackson, in theory, should be in the "next best" group with Gio, but in practice he hasn't quite made that happen. Still you don't pay 10 million for a guy to middle relieve.  So it comes down to Wang, Lannan, and Detwiler.

You all know how I feel. (Lannan, Lannan, Lannan).  Now what do I think? 

Well I don't think it should be Wang. As a Yankees fan, I can tell you that the love of Chien-Ming is built on a house of cards. He was never truly a special pitcher, more a guy that got the breaks for a couple years when he was surrounded by starters either underperforming, unlucky, or unloved. It was the comparison to those guys, added to the win total in that market, that makes people a bit too fond of this guy.  But the like of Wang is reasonable. He was a good pitcher prior to injury. If healthy he should be on a major league rotation. His age though (32 next season), injury history, and type of pitcher he is makes him the least appealing to me.

Lannan is fine. He's objectively the least talented of the three but you can't argue with the results. Yes, eventually he won't be able to keep this up but that's true of all pitchers. With 3 1/2 seasons telling us one thing, it's far more likely to me that there is something about Lannan that we haven't been able to tease out in the stats. Not grit or heart or anything like that, something concrete, but still something that we don't know. In this new era of baseball when nearly everything is explainable, it can be hard to accept that there is something knowable out there that hasn't been quantified but to me it seems apparent there is. But here's the kicker, in my head I still don't pick Lannan for the rotation.  For all that he is, Lannan is still at best a #3 rotation type guy and probably more a 4/5.  We know the ceiling, and we know with the number of guys on the way with higher ones that Lannan is not long for the Nationals. With an option left he seems to be a fair starter but great insurance.

Detwiler is my "head" pick. He's the youngest and the potential maybe to be something special.  Oh, it's unlikely, true, but Wang wasn't special when he was thought to be (5 years ago), and Lannan has a mound of data saying the same. Detwiler, under control through 2016, though may in fact be. So why not find out now?  If he was substantially worse than Lannan or Wang, I'd feel differently, but he wasn't last year. The Nats haven't gone all in on 2012. It still seems to be a year of finding out where the last pieces for the run are going to need to go.  Starting Wang or Lannan, doesn't answer a question.  Starting Detwiler might.

If Lannan gets the nod, I'll be happy.  If Detwiler gets the nod, I'll understand.  If Wang gets the nod, well it's not the worst thing in the world and he may be the choice for those dying to make the playoffs in 2012.*

2. Will Bryce Harper start with the team?  This is a little simpler. No. No is the answer.  Not unless you are wanting desperately to win this year.  The money cost by the clock starting likely isn't worth the extra win that may or may not make the difference. Nor is a good idea to jury-rig an OF together for one year to do it.

Yes he was very good in the AFL.  He was also very mediocre in AA.  He fits so much better into 2013 that I'd love to see him kept down for a whole year (though I doubt that'll happen). If he forces the issue, so be it, but we aren't going to be able to tell that from silly Spring Training stats.

Let's do the annual dance, shall we? Who led the Nats in hitting last ST?  Jeff Fisher.  What about among players, who, you know, play in the majors?  Adam LaRoche.  Ok but who was 2nd?  Alberto Gonzalez.  Well who led the team in ERA? A few with 0.00 but the one with the most IP was Sean Burnett. What about Clip and Storen?  7.73 and 11.12, respectively.

SPRING TRAINING STATS ARE MEANINGLESS.  They should know right now what they are going to do with Bryce and they should announce it. It should be minor leagues, but if it's majors so be it.  Just don't let it be because he has 4 homers in Viera.

*This may seem contrary to what I've said in earlier posts say... about being mad CF is still a mess, or Desmond might lead off, because it might cost the Nats a win.  But I don't see those things as questions. You aren't potentially solving anything keeping CF a mess.  Desmond has never shown himself to be decent as a lead-off hitter. This isn't taking a bad gamble, this is wasting time.  That's never a good idea.


blovy8 said...

Agreed. But that's boring, so I'll say Davey is actually BSing us. He says he likes this bench. Where is the hairy-armed behemoth to sit next to him as his bodyguard to protect pitchers from that third at bat?

Wally said...

Do you really think Detwiler as a special SP is still an open question? I think that the odds are very long against that.

And if he does make it as a starter at all, it seems like it will be a several year process to learn how to pitch and pitch deep into games. In other words, that doesn't fit the Nats window for him as a starter.

To me, he is either trade bait to a team willing to give him the SP innings and hoping to get lucky, or he is a reliever for us. I think that there is a chance he could be a shutdown reliever.

I think it is Lannan. Surprisingly, you are underselling him. We lose Jackson after this year, and I see Lannan potentially moving up to #4 next year. It is all about the GB%, and the hope that he knocks 1 BB/9 off his stats.

But the like of Wang is reasonable? That's what she said. Had Rizzo known Oswalt would hang out there like he did and be available on a 1 year deal, he never would have resigned him.

Donald said...

My head and heart are with Detwiler and his potential, but I don't see any way Wang doesn't get the nod and Ross the bullpen unless someone is hurt. Nice to be talking about the trade-offs between these three as the #5 starter rather than the #1 or #2.

I agree that Harper won't start but I think Davey has convinced Rizzo to keep an open mind, at least outwardly, which is why it hasn't been officially announced yet.

The other big story line in spring training is going to be around injuries -- who gets them or how do those who had them look coming back.

Anonymous said...

Wang by a mile, Harper up by May. Guarantees, Next.

Harper said...

blovy8 - that guy went missing in the sabremetric revolution when they sent him out to look for walks.

Wally - I agree the odds are very long but I feel the odds for Lannan and Wang are zero. It may take a couple years to stretch Detwiler out but it may be worth it. I know they have pitchers coming, but pitchers coming is a long way from pitchers here.

I'd be fine trading him or making him a reliever, too. I'm not sold on Detwiler the starter, just think it's the Nats best direction. If they keep Lannan you have to think they aren't going after a big pitcher next year.

Someone is going to kill with Oswalt.

Donald- Injuries? Who's injured other than Wang, and Werth and well Zimm and Strasburg are still coming back and LaRoche is really coming back and... ok get your point.

Anon - if I agree as tersely can we now we can start the season?