Friday, November 30, 2012
Span-ning the Globe
Why not just keep Bryce in center?
You could say that they thought his body type wasn't made for CF as he filled out, or that they wanted to save his legs but I think it comes down to the fact that it didn't seem like he had the instincts to play CF. He made up for that as best he could through his natural ability, and actually had a decent year in center according to the stats, but the same stats had him below average in RF.
Would he have gotten better over time? I guess, but this more of a scouting decision and I think they wanted a guy out there in the most important OF positions that they trusted to be a plus fielder.
So Span in center and Bryce over in LF?
Well... given the rocket mounted on Bryce's shoulder, it may make more sense to move him to right in order to cut down on those first to third runners and let Werth play LF. I'd expect that's the way it'll shake out.
How does Span compare to Bourn? Upton?
He's not the transcendent fielder that Bourn has been recently, but he's good, better than Upton.
Offensively he's a pretty big question mark. In 2005 and 6 it looked like he might be a star. His line was .305 / .390 / .422 over that period and at 24 and 25 you thought he still had another step or two to take. But in the past three years he hasn't looked nearly as strong. 2011 can be forgiven as injury riddled, but 2010's .264 / .331 / .348 did happen. Last year he was a bit above average.
Who's the real Denard? If I were to guess I'd say something not quite as good as last year, something very average. In other words, not as good as Upton, who's power makes him special, but about the same as Bourn.
Some more facts
Span can run but outside of an awesome 2010, he steals bases at a low 70s% clip. That's good but not great or anything.
Span hits a TON of grounballs. He was 11th in the league in 2012, 9th in 2010. He also doesn't strike out or walk very often. He is completely a leg it out type of player, but it does mean he'll hit into a few more DPs than you might expect. This is something that might be an issue down the line but not something I'd worry about in the next couple of years.
If you ARE looking to be worried about something, Span's stats away from Minnesota have been dreadful the past few years.
2010 : .228 / .293 / .309
2012 : .235 / .278 / .315
I can't really explain the drop in average but having even less power is in part because Target Field seems to be pretty good for allowing triples. Nationals Park seems not to be, so don't expect a SLG over .400.
Yeah most of 2011 was lost because of a concussion issue. Seemed fine in 2012 though.
OK so even though it's not a big difference, a smidge really, he's likely not as good as Bourn or Upton. Why him and not them?
Both Upton and Bourn would have required 5 year commitments at about 15 mill a year. Span can be let go after 2 years and he's a LOT cheaper (~5Mill next, 6.5 in 2014). This fits into the Nats plan that (1) Goodwin will be their CF of the future and (2) the Nats will have money free starting in 2015 to start signing the guys they want out of Desmond, ZNN, Stras, Gio etc..
So are the Nats better now?
For old timey baseball guys definitely. You'll hear a lot about how they have a "true lead-off guy" etc etc. They'll love it just because it's what they've been told for 100 years a team should look like. Of course just last year the Nats won 98 games with Werth at leadoff but the crushing force of reality can take time to seep in.
For us soulless automatons... well, it depends on if they sign LaRoche and trade Morse or let Adam walk and move Morse. The OF defense is going to be better. If Morse stays, the first base defense takes a hit though and if you just look at last years stats, losing LaRoche would matter much more than losing Morse. So I'd say if the Nats end up with Morse at first then they'd be ever so slightly worse, if they end up with LaRoche they'd be ever so slightly better.
Really, though, I don't think it's that big a deal from what it means on the field. Really what it's about is it gives the Nats freedom now and later to make big money deals they may want to make.
What about Meyer?
Oh he's good. You know when someone is drafted and they say "Best case, he develops in way X"? That's what Meyer has been doing. The issues people have had with him are mainly control based and he's looked pretty good with that issue in A-ball. He also handled the minor promotion from A to A+ easily. (Minor league stats here) He's a ground ball guy which keeps the home runs down. He's not the best minor league arm out there but he's sitting around #30 right now, and a good showing in AA would kick him up fast.
Side note the Nats farm is pretty bereft of young healthy arms now. Everyone else is either not a big time prospect (Rosenbaum) or coming back from injury (Solis, Purke, Giolito).
If he was that good why did the Nats deal him?
Because the top 4 pitchers are set until 2015 barring injury. Zimmermann and Detwiler are both here through 2015. Strasburg through 2016. Gio potentially through 2018 if the Nats want him that long. Gio is the oldest of the group and he won't turn 28 until late next season. You have to figure the injury risk near-term is slight.
That means there is plenty of time to develop, or trade for, or sign another stud pitcher if you think the Nats need one. Meyer was a damn good prospect, but an A-ball pitcher is expendable when you have this type or rotation in the majors.
What's next for the Nats?
See if they can get LaRoche to take a 2-year deal and if they can then trade Morse + whatever for a decent 5th pitcher. Really we're all still waiting out Josh Hamilton right now as he'll cause a bunch of dominoes to fall.