Nationals Baseball: Keep winning?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Keep winning?

Hey they listened. Good game.

Should Ohlendorf replace Haren? Not quite yet. The guy did have a 4.27 ERA in AAA before getting the call up and a 4.52 ERA in AAA last year. He doesn't strike out enough to make up for the fact he will give up walks. But hey, you want to gamble with him as opposed to Haren, feel free. It's not my 13 million that would be riding the pine.

The Nats are scoring some runs again. They've scored at least 5 runs in 3 of the last four games. Have they turned a corner? Well... they scored more than 5 runs 4 times in 6 games in late May, and 4 times in 5 games in early May. If they can do this for a few more games then we'll talk, but the signs are encouraging. They haven't had a really bad offensive game since the Atlanta series ended.  They've had at least 3 XBH in every game since but one, and at least 8 hits in every game but one. No, these aren't world beater numbers, they might not even be playoff numbers, but with a healthy pitching staff, they are good enough numbers to be in the coversation. Baby steps, people.

Who's hitting well. Rendon (.400 / .429 / .550) and Desmond (.421 / .476 / .474) are but those are highly influenced by big BABIP numbers. (if you can make contact, sometimes you'll just have good weeks)  I'm more interested in Werth's .316 / .409 / .526 line. Good patience, decent pop, backed up by nothing indicating luck.

I feel like Werth is the linchpin in this offense, because I feel he has to play and his recent results have been so disparate. With the other guys I feel like I know their level. But "Used to be great, is he injured or just aging or both" Werth is an enigma. Is he at a place where any injury is going to kill his production like it did in 2011? Is he a good average, low pop guy like it looked like at the end of last year? Or can he give the Nats just 1 or 2 more years of power threat Jayson Werth when healthy? When Bryce comes back and starts hitting again (which I completely take for granted), which Werth we see will make the difference between the Nats offense being good and the Nats offense getting by.

Remember the doom and gloom around the Nats is all conditional. The season is pretty much over IF the Nats don't pull out of this slide by the end of the month. But it's not the end of the month. They might be reversing course right now. If so, on July 1st we can talk about playoffs position and if a division title is possible again.  Everything wouldn't exactly be right again for an pre-season WS favorite, but it would be a lot better.


cass said...

I don't there's any reason to assume that Ohlendorf will be better than Haren, but he's certainly more fun to watch!

And no one's 13 million is on the bench. That 13 million is gone no matter what the Nats do with Haren. The costs are sunk. Nats need to make the best of a bad situation.

Who do they think will perform the best for the rest of the season? That's the only question.

Anonymous said...

Don't know if folks are realizing it, but with a win today, the Nats will have very quietly shaved 2.5 games off the Braves lead in just 5 days. (Hope I didn't just jinx us!)

ocw5000 said...

Yes, Rendon's BABIP is redonkadonk, but so is his line-drive rate. 45.9%! That too is unsustainable, but it passes the eye test as he's making good contact. It's also an indicator that when both values inevitably regress, the BABIP should still be above normal.

Here are the BABIP and LD% of the top 5 line drive hitters in MLB (per FanGraphs):

1 James Loney Rays .337 30.2 %
2 Daniel Nava Red Sox .331 28.7 %
3 Jay Bruce Reds .350 28.5 %
4 Howie Kendrick Angels .370 28.0 %
5 Joey Votto Reds .383 27.7 %

There are only 5 BABIP under .300 in the top 30.

Erich said...


Bringing a little economic reasoning to the argument. I like it.

However, the incentives don't align for Rizzo. He made the decision and hopes that it does even marginally payoff. I doubt it.

What I want to know is how long we'd have to watch Ohlendorf throw out of that crazy windup before he mis-grips the ball and throws a standard H-Rod fastball to the backstop. That question alone makes it a more entertaining game than Haren.

BlueLoneWolf said...

I agree with the wait and see on Ohlendorf- remember, Haren blows but he had that one ridiculous game in Atlanta, so we don't want to be suckered in by one good game. Granted, it was one good game at a time we needed it, but still. Krol's looked good, and I'm a bit excited that the new blood that's flooded the team seems to have really helped get a pep in the step of our boys in red. We need everyone healthy again- and to tell Espinosa to shut up, sit down, and get shoulder surgery. I'd rather platoon Lombo and Rendon at 2B rather than see Espo play another inning there at this point, no matter how much he thinks his wrist is better.

But National Det makes a start today, and Stras is coming off the DL soon. Too bad Ramos had a setback again. The dude needs like permanent splints and braces on those legs of his at this rate, though.

Clip&Store said...

I do think, like ocw, that Rendon is possible to sustain a high average, especially considering the type of contact he makes. How high? Not sure.

I do think we gotta see more before knowing the Ohlendorf-Haren situation. Hey, maybe we can get a sucker to take Haren? Ohlendorf had a nice outing but he did get help from his D for sure. But if i had to pick between the 2 I think its hard to changle to Ross quite yet.

Harper said...

cass - Oh it's on the bench. The sunk cost fallacy is a fine reason not to use Haren, but let's not go as far to say the 13 million isn't attached to Haren in any way. You can't strip away that it matters psychologically to the owner of the team (even if it shouldn't). You can't strip away that it matters greatly to the evaluation of Rizzo and Haren going forward. For the fans all that matters is win win win, but there are lots of other things at play here other than winning (unfortunately for us) - especially given that only winning it ALL, and not just winning, cures all ills in sports.

Anon - Well the Nats weren't going to keep falling back forever (one would hope) Keep it up, though, make it last.

ocw5000 - Yeah he is hitting it really well. (42% LD in current stretch) but to say he won't keep it up is an understatement. No one has gone over 27.5 since Polanco in '05. It's way too early so I'm not saying yet his BABIP will be above normal. (flipside - I'm not saying he won't develop true pop either)

Nice start, way too early to say anything about his hitting definitively, love the walk rate.

Erich - I'd say it's time for Ross to grow a handlebar mustache, but nowadays that would just mean he'd dress in suspenders and play banjo in a folk rock band

Froggy said...

Agree with cass that the $13 mil is sunk, (so what, it's not my money) and also agree that Ohlendorf was fun to watch. Digging the old school windup in his delivery. All he needs now are one of those funny looking old school mitts! Hey, maybe the guy figured something out in AAA and hopefully it works going forward. Only his next start will tell.

As to the sunk cost of Haren's contract, do you guys see value in having Haren become the new Gorzelanny middle innings eater? Seems he has about 2 good innings in him each outing then the wheels come flying off.

Loving the Rendon production at the plate and although it is probably too early to assess his defensive range compared to Danny, he seems to be doing an adequate job so far.

Harper said...

BLW - Yes, unless Espy is just unstoppable in AAA I'd rather see him get healthy. Even though the haters are going to hate, he's important for the next couple of years. Ramos is getting closer to not needed rehab, but needing retirement.

C&Store - Definitely let Haren go again. Indians would be next opponent. Haven't scored more than 5 in May and only have done that once in 3 1/2 weeks (maybe) by the time of his start. If he can't get on track versus them...

Anonymous said...

Nice piece Harper.

cass said...

Rizzo will be evaluated on how often the Nats make the playoffs and how deep they go. Recognizing that things aren't working out and avoiding logical fallacies is part of what it takes to be a good GM. I agree that most owners and GM's are influenced by the sunk cost fallacy, but they shouldn't be. In the end, if the fans aren't happy, it'll mean less revenue.

I'm not saying it's time to drop Haren and replace him with Ohlendorf. It is time to start thinking about any and all alternatives to Haren, though. If the Nats want to go for it, they probably should be prepared to grab a quality starter on the trade market if need be.

At the end of the day, Ohlendorf displays all the signs of being a replacement level pitcher and Haren has been pitching like one for awhile. Neither of them are likely to add much to the team.

Froggy said...

Great point cass about the correlation with fans being happy (or not) and decreased revenue. The effect of the last month of poor play was evident during the last homestand where there was a lot of grumbling among season ticket holders who couldn't give tickets away. I think Rizzo has to sign a FA pitcher and bench player to atone for his Haren debacle.

Jbwhite said...

I looked it up and Haren has given up about a quarter of the Nats' earned runs this season -- a lot of the negative run differential is due to him. Do you really want him on the mound in a potential playoff/crucial September game, knowing that Bad Haren could show up?

DezoPenguin said...

Ohlendorf replacing Haren? Don't think so, at least not on the basis of one good start. On the other hand, Ohlendorf replacing *Karns* as the #6 starter is a decision I can get behind right away. Somebody's got to fill in until Stras gets back and I don't mind giving Ross-B a shot at that. Karns has been iffy at best, poor most of the time, and replacement level is an improvement on that.

cass said...

I was thinking more longterm, actually. Teams tend to draw well after playoff runs and championships. So the team will make more money (and have a greater value) if it manages to win a lot. I don't think the ebb and flow of the season has as big an effect, though I've seen a little bit of weakening in the secondary ticket market in the last few weeks. There were some great deals on Karns's Sunday night start, that's for sure. The main weekend games have been strong all season, though, despite the Nats generally hovering around .500.

No need to fill in for Strasburg at the moment. He starts on Sunday. Rotation is back to full.