Nationals Baseball: I wouldn't worry about Espinosa. I might worry about the pen.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I wouldn't worry about Espinosa. I might worry about the pen.

Just a quick one today as I battle various ailments.

One of the big concerns in the off-season is how Danny Espinosa will play through his rotator cuff injury. It's scary sounding, mainly because history has show that if a pitcher gets that injury in his throwing arm you might as well call it a career. Danny has three things going for him though.  He's not a pitcher, he plays 2nd base. He's youngish (26 in April) which means he should recover better than someone on the wrong side of 30.  The injury is in his left shoulder, not his throwing arm. Basically if you had to have someone on your starting team get this injury, that is what you would ask for - an injury to the off-arm of a young position player.

But what about his numbers last year?  Clearly that shows that he was being bothered by his injury, right? Not really. While his numbers were down last year a lot of it had to do with an absolutely terrible start.

April : .205 / .300 / .369
Rest of Year :  .254 / .317 / .422

As unimpressive as you might see those "rest of the year" numbers as, they're actually enough to maybe squeak him into the Top 10 offensive 2nd basemen in the majors. Add in his defense and he might just be a Top 5 2nd basemen. The competition is weak here.

Month by month you'd call his offense : TERRIBLE!, good, bad, great, good, fair.   That doesn't look like someone bothered by his injury.  Sure he says he was but so would you if given an easy excuse for what looks like an off year.

So I wouldn't worry about Danny.  I wouldn't necessarily expect him to have a Desmond like break-out, but simply a little above average should make him one of the better second basemen in the league.

Now what I worry about in the back of my head is the bullpen. While we all talk about how young the Nats are, their bullpen is of pretty average age.  Drew Storen is the only young one at 25. Clip will be 28 this year, Stammen and Mattheus 29, and Soriano 33. I'm not saying that's old.  It isn't. Outside of Soriano none of these guys are at the age where you'd expect a drop in production. But at the same time they aren't in a age range where you can reasonably expect improvement. 

That in itself would be fine - they've all been good pitchers so they don't need to improve. And I like the fact that the three "middle inning" guys were all former starters (I think that means they can handle more innings - of course this is just a feeling) But each one has an issue you can pick out. Storen had his injury and his breakdown in the playoffs.  Clippard, who is among the most used pitchers over the past 3 years, completely washed out at the end of last season. Mattheus pitched his most innings as a reliever and battled through a foot issue early in the year. Stammen threw 88 innings, which is was the 2nd most for a pure reliever last year.  Soriano missed a good part of 2011 with injury.

If I'm looking for a place where a lot can go wrong fast it's here. A couple arms go down, one guy just doesn't pitch well this year, suddenly that strength becomes... well, it probably wouldn't be a weakness. The addition of Soriano means we're looking at five decent arms here and even just two decent arms can be ridden to an average season. But it wouldn't be a strength and given how the Nats pen held up last year, no one would be looking forward to a post-season where you didn't feel good about the pen.


Donald said...

What I worry about with Danny is pushing himself too hard and trying to play through it, if it starts to bother him a lot. That could lead to a lot of ugly at bats.

As for the pen, I may be wrong, but that seems like one of the easiest areas to fix come the trade deadline, if people are struggling.

Anonymous said...

If the bullpen does become a problem, the Nats might have enough depth at AAA to overcome it.

Harper said...

Donald - probably an easy fix... if you want to trade a prospect for a relief rental, which feels like it goes against Rizzo's beliefs. Still they could get someone - especially if Moore or the like have a decent year

Anon - maybe - we'll see during the course of the year. No names really being talked about now, but plenty of time for that.

BlueLoneWolf said...


Walk rate plate discipline walk rate strikeouts walk rate.
Danny walked on 46 AB's in a total of 594 on the season. That's a ludicrously low .077. Compared to strikeouts at 189 ABs. Which means that 31.8% of the time, he struck out.

THAT'S where/why I worry about Espinosa. I know that in some ways the walk was overglorified by Moneyball, but you've got to lay off of pitches out of zones and give the pitcher rope to hang himself.

Sirc said...

Danny is going down. There is no way to protect an existing tear from tearing more without full and complete immobilization. Simple extension of the join will cause a healing muscle to rupture. Full extension, something a life-long ballplayer will do instinctively on a ball in the hole, will certainly cause the rupture plus additional tearing.

I would bet real cash money that the Lombo fans will get their wish this year, and we'll have a better idea going into next season whether Lombo is worthy of being an every day infielder on a good team.

The Rendon at 2nd chatter needs to stop. 3B and 2B aren't comparable.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone shed some light on the nature and origin of this injury? Had not heard of this before recently.

Nathan Armstrong said...

Isn't there also still a player to be named from the Morse trade? Perhaps that could be for a reliever?

BlueLoneWolf said...

New details regarding Gio's involvement in Biogenesis:

Harper said...

BLW - well technically you should be using PAs not ABs but he does strike out a hell of a lot. But I think the point should be that walk rate should go up. That's the key because if he can walk that's another source of value and he has shown himself to be ok at it in the minors.

Sirc - I agree he will go down, but I guess the hope is not this year. If they thought it was just going to happen real easy I doubt they let him play, right? I think they want to see if he can play out the year and then go right for surgery in the post-season. That'd be my guess.

Anon - He said he thinks he injured his rotator cuff diving for a ball in September but no one really knows for sure. That could have simply aggravated it or he could be equating the injury with when he struggled (because the mind will do that).

It's a shoulder injury that is prominent when the arm is lifted up, the higher the more problematic (which is why it stops a pitcher dead in his tracks). As it's in Danny's off arm it shouldn't effect his throwing and possibly not his swing. It can only be repaired by surgery.

NA - yes there is. Maybe so. SOmething in the back pocket.

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