Nationals Baseball: Will you ever learn?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Will you ever learn?

I'm talking to you. You know who you are. Why must we go through this every spring?  The beat guys have to write these stories because you can only pen so many Bryce Harper attitude pieces in one week. But you the reader, you need to know these reports come with mall-purchased soft pretzel sized grains of salt.

Gio Gonzalez doing real well in Spring?  Doesn't matter.
Eury Perez doing real well in Spring?  Doesn't matter.
Jayson Werth struggling in Spring?  Doesn't matter.
Ian Desmond struggling in Spring? Doesn't matter.
Chien-Ming Wang struggling in Spring? Doesn't matter.
Mark Teahan struggling in Spring? Telling. (Sorry, Mark. You're done)

Also if you could stop with the "why not have this guy play center" questions, that would be nice too.  It's bad enough Werth may be playing there and he's spent the majority of his career as an above average corner outfielder in the majors. You can't just stick someone in the outfield and expect them to play ok, this isn't Little League. As fake Ron Washington would tell Andy from Parks and Rec; "It's incredibly hard."

23 comments:

Bryan said...

Hey, but I watched that movie "Moneyball," and they made that catcher play first. And it worked. That movie was about baseball. Ergo...

I tend to agree, though I'll disagree about Gio, somewhat. Spring stats can tend to confirm what we already know - good pitcher pitches well - yeah, old, washed up hitter hits poorly - decline confirmed. Gio pitching well is what you would expect, so I think you can assume he'll be good.

As unreliable as spring stats are, I'm not sure why they aren't reaffirming for a player with Gio's cred, especially coming across the league. If you wanted to argue that Jackson pitching well meant nothing, I think I'd be on board.

Sec314 said...

The one interesting tidbit to emerge from ST so far is the fact that Davey is not happy with Desmond's approach to hitting. Davey is usually Mr. Positive and rarely knocks anyone publicly. Could it be that someone is finally noticing....?

blovy8 said...

What's the deal with Carroll? Given his past results, he seems to be getting a lot of playing time. Has he become their first choice for that RH platoon guy for Ankiel/Bernadina? That scares me a bit.

Hoo said...

I disagree a bit. I jumped on the Morse bandwagon b/c of the '11 spring training. And despite an early season detour, it roared to success.

I'm more than mildly concerned about Werth. Last year, we were told not reason to worry about Werth b/c he always tinkered with his batting in the spring. But of course there was reason to worry.

Be really nice to see him have worked his swing out early instead of searching all year.

michael k said...

Harper, Harper - I know you can't just stick anyone in CF, buddy. I've been saying for months now the Nats should trade Lannan for Bourjos. It works for both sides because I'm a fan of Lannan and the Angels have other outfielders. Maybe if Rizzo got his head out of his a$$ he'd see my trade offer is worth it and he'd actually improve this team!

Ollie said...

I like Lannan, but if Rizzo offered that trade straight up to the Angels all he'd hear would be seconds of uncontrollable laughter followed by a dial tone. Future Gold Glove CFer with upside to be an All-Star vastly outvalues solid #5 starter.

Anonymous said...

For Chien-Ming Wang it might matter if there were problems with his velocity or there was no movement on the ball. Since neither of those appear to be true, I agree it doesn't matter.

bdrube said...

I actually disagree on Desmond. It DOES matter for a guy who has still not established that he is everyday Shortstop in this league. If it didn't matter, why has Davy called him out already?

For the established guys and guys with no chance of making the opening day roster, I agree it doesn't matter. For the bubble players either trying to make the cut or prove they deserve to be in the lineup every day, it does matter, as Hoo said about Morse's 2011 spring.

michael k said...

Ollie I was joking

Harper said...

Bryan - well thanks to the variability of defensive stats it worked for a year.

I think that may be true (reaffirming) but it's hard for the fan to know that based of a few games. The doing well would be like 25% games, 75% what coaches see elsewhere. That can be related to us but there's a lot of noise out there.

Sec 314 - or it could be him trying to influence Desmond, or he could just be old and cranky now... so believe whatever is the most fun, I guess.

Blovy8 - I'm thinking they want to make a quikc judgement on whether it's worth keeping the guy around. I don't think he's a serious threat to start but if they feel his hitting could be fixed he might be worth sending down to AAA.

Hoo - Well since it worked one time... I must ask - were you hot on LaRoche last spring? Desmond after 2010?

Werth should worry you but really because last year was so consistently bad, more so than anything he does now. Could be 12 for 12 right now I'd dismiss it off hand.

mk - didn't get the joking tone either at first. Damn tone-less internet! Why go Lannan for Boujos? Why not Lannan fro Trout? Lannan for Ellsbury? Lannan for time-traveling Willie Mays!

Anon - I will kind of bite that for guys with injury concerns it may matter , but I still don't think we can tell that from stats of these games. And like I said there's too much noise out there in terms of what the team is feeding the reporters.

bdrube - ok how about ST does matter, but we're really not privy to it in a way that we can tell. Or at least we shouldn't be. It should be barely based on game stats, mostly on what they see day in and day out in practice, and that may or may not be disseminated to the fans, along with other information that may or may not be completely accurate.

If we can tell a guy won/lost a spot by his ST stats, that would worry me that the coaches are making bad decisions. So I ignore.

Ollie said...

@Harper: I like the idea of time-travelling one-sided trades.

Rizzo: "I'll give you 2007 Kory Casto for BJ Upton."

Friedman:"I've always wanted a guy whose name looks like 'Castro' who hits below the Mendoza line. Done."

Nattydread said...

Zimmerman is hitting the cover off the ball. Doesn't matter.

Donald said...

My assumption is that other than the very few guys competing for a roster spot, most of the players are focused on working out one or two issues. So a pitcher might be working to locate his fastball low in the zone, and will throw 15 of them in a row. He might get hit around doing that, but who cares. I think that's what Harper means about the coaches evaluating players on stuff other than the stats. If that same pitcher threw those 15 fastballs, but sprayed them around the strikezone, even if he didn't get hit, it wouldn't be as good.

The challenge in evaluating spring training is figuring out what the players are working on. Zimmerman implied that he's working on timing so he'd like to see more curves and offspeed pitches. Hitting fastballs a ton probably isn't an indication of where he'll be at the start of the season at all. Werth may be working on being more aggressive and swinging at more first pitches? Maybe Espi and Desi are working on recognizing the strike zone better and were told that it doesn't matter if they hit the ball just so long as they don't swing on anything that's not over the plate? Probably not, but the point is we don't really know, so *we* can't really put much stock in spring training. I assume Davey knows and is getting way more out of this than we are.

Hoo said...

Harper: I think spring training matters for those players looking for a change in trend. Werth qualifies and I believe Desmond does a bit. I give a bit more weight to it than you.

Don't forget Hanrhan's legendary spring outing which put him in the closer by committee spot. So there are times when the spring stats do matter.

Harper said...

Ollie - The Nats did a time traveling trade, they just got screwed getting 2005 Frank Robinson

ND - exactly.

Donald - cross your fingers, hope the coaches get it right, enjoy the show if you are down in Viera

Hoo - sure, but three games into the year will change all that. Werth could hit .350 with 6 homers now but if he's 0 for the first series no one will care. Desmond could hit .100 with no walks, but if he has an OBP of .450 after the first series no one will care.

Section 3, My Sofa said...

I should have trademarked that time-traveling Willie Mays idea when I had the chance.

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