Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Quick Shots

Monday, October 07, 2013

Monday Quickie - Quick Shots

FYI I'll be trying to do a Monday - Tuesday - Thursday schedule in the offseason with news dictating if I break that. I'll still tweet when new ones are up though if you don't like being on schedule.

Quick replies to C/1B comments

How about Ryan Doumit? 

Not a bad idea. They guy can play 1B and C (though not well) and can sit in the OF as well as say, Tyler Moore can. He can also hit lefty to complement Ramos and righty to complement LaRoche (though historically he's not a good right handed hitter). He's not meant to be an everyday player but as a bench player on a good team he's a good choice. Of course he was concussed last year, but he still plans on playing C in 2014. Do the Nats have what it takes to get him? Not sure. The Nats don't have a deep system and can't afford to trade anything worthwhile. Are the Twins going to deal him? They'd love to move Mauer out of the position and Doumit gives them some flexibility to do it. Again not a bad idea in theory, not sure it can work out in practice.

Will Geovany Soto seek out starters money and time? 

Maybe but he hasn't been a full-time starter since 2008 and hit under .200 in 2012, so I'm not sure who's betting on this guy being a starter. I'd expect him to end up a back-up somewhere.

How about Jose Abreu?

It's a gamble. One that paid off so far for the A's with Cespedes (just barely though - his 2013 left a lot to be desired), but these things can get out of hand quickly. Kei Igawa anyone? Still hitters are more projectable than pitchers and 1B is weak for FAs over the next few years. Seems though that the Nats aren't really in for him. As has been noted by others, signing Desmond, ZNN long term might be better use of money right now.

Why not move Bryce to first to keep him healthy? 

It'd be a waste of an arm and even if he's only ever going to be average out there he's still average out there. Zimm's troubles might pop up again. Werth might need a resting place. You can always try to move FA boppers there. There are better 1B options than Bryce for the next few years.

Maybe Moore will "get it" and flourish. It happens.

Yep it does. It also doesn't happen more often than it does. But his age and inability to offer anything else to the team makes it a fair gamble to let Moore go if needed, in my opinion. It's safer to deal him than say, the younger, more athletic Zach Walters, who also K's a bunch.

What about Walters at first? Or Skole? 

My opinion on both is the same. Wait and see. Let's see what Skole does in the AFL and how both do next year. They are probably Moore-like players, but maybe one breaks out. I won't depend on either right now though.

What about sliding Zimm over to First? 

Not next year (unless it's a Cano thing, which we'll talk about tomorrow). The FA market just isn't good enough to definitely get someone better than LaRoche without paying through the nose.

Why do you want Jeff Baker? That guy had one good fluke year!

Yeah, you're buying high off a year that won't be repeated but here's the thing. Baker vs LHP :

2013:  .314 / .407 / .667
2012:  .240 / .277 / .388
2011:  .314 / .349 / .463
2010:  .350 / .395 / .550

He's not an everyday replacement for LaRoche, but the guy can hit lefties or at least he's a good bet to next season. Building a bench is about making good bets. The Nats made a lot of bad ones last year.

The fielding wasn't bad, it was a fluke of looking at one year of fielding data.

Maybe. I completely agree with the fact you can't look at one year of fielding data. I also think the Nats D peaked in 2012. Werth is trending down. LaRoche wasn't very good before so him not being very good now is not a surprise. Bryce doesn't look to be improving to me. Zimm is a question mark. I think it's fair to say the Nats aren't a bad fielding team, but I think they are only in the average to slightly above average range. I don't think they'll be back near elite like they were in 2012.


Booyah Suckah! said...

I'm a few days behind, but I scanned the comments and didn't see anyone mention this. I'd keep Solano or whatever schlub I can get for minor-league money just to spell Ramos on the occasional day off. If the worst happens and Ramos goes down again, I'd move Harper back there. Anyone off the bench can play left field (Heck, Morse did it for a 98-win ball club last year) while Harper returns to his natural position and you retain the benefit of his awesome arm. And it's not like he can get any more banged-up behind the plate than he can slamming into walls in the outfield.

Harper said...

I think they moved him off of catcher in part to save him from wear and tear. With his hip and knee taking a beating this year I doubt they are in a hurry to put him back there.

I WOULD like to see him play a few innings a year behind the plate just so he can still be emergency catcher material. You know if there's a big lead in a game before a day off or something.

blovy8 said...

I think the Twins had at least four catchers on their roster last month, and one guy in Pinto who probably deserves a shot to play more. Another prospect of theirs - Hermann - shows you how much Fall League stats are worth, but would probably fit in as a Doumit replacement in their future plan since he's versatile, even if he hasn't shown much of an ML-level bat yet. Mauer will be able to play less behind the plate in any case since they seem to have ample coverage without Doumit.

There's no reason to really shop the guy except to make room for prospects to get AB's, but they'd probably be better served continuing to amass talent, while Arcia, Hicks, Presley, etc. get OF time, and big time prospects Buxton and Sano attempt to master AA. Don't the Twins still have Willingham to be a former cathcer who DH's and plays subpar OF?

Besides the Twins having a bunch of catchers, there's still the A's with two LH hitting catchers in Jaso and Vogt under control. They could probably find a way to make that work, but it's an opportunity too, with a club where they've got a trade pipeline. Maybe they'd rather the Nats go to arbitration with Jaso and pay the 2 million.

blovy8 said...

Ah, the more I think about it, the more I know it'll be the Onion.

John C. said...

Harper's not going to catch. Tgey moved him out of there for his health; you think that they're going to move him back 2+ years later? Think Harper is just as likely to get hurt in LF as C? Have you been watching the Nats at all the last three years (Ramos, Flores, Leon, etc)?

I'm more optimistic than you on tge Nats' defense.

Anonymous said...

I don't see why you think that LaRoche isn't that great on defense. The guy won a gold glove. He may continue to decline a bit due to age, but overall I think he is above average and picks a lot of balls out of the dirt for Desmond and Zimmerman.

Booyah Suckah! said...

Yeah, they moved him for his health. How well has that worked out? He spent a month either on the DL or riding the bench, and looked hobbled the rest of the season after he finally came back. He's 20. I'm pretty sure he can stand a couple of seasons behind the plate without irreparable damage, and he won't be slamming into brick walls and metal fences at a full sprint. I'm not saying it's the best place for him, I'm just saying that if Ramos went down, it wouldn't be the worst idea. And I think the health concerns are silly given what we've seen of his tendency to play in the OF with no regard for his own body. Maybe for someone else, OF is safer than C. Not for Harper.

Hopefully it's a moot point. Hopefully Ramos has a full year in him. I'm not sure I'm ready to place the "injury prone" tag on him yet. Yes, he had some problems with the hammy, but the ACL thing really wasn't the same. It's not like he hurt it running the bases or something, it was a collision. Shit happens.

Harper said...

Anon - LaRoche does not have good range. That's about it. But that matters a lot and it's exascerbated by not have Espy at 2nd so LaRoche could cheat the line a bit more.

Booyah Suckah! said...

Harper, is there some quantifiable metric for range besides RF? It seems to me that RF doesn't actually measure a fielder's physical range, or if it does (indirectly), it's also susceptible to a lot of noise, especially for a first baseman. Having a very good or very poor infield, playing a shift, having very good high-K pitchers or high flyball pitchers would all affect an IFs RF, even though he might be just as physically gifted as the next guy. Is there some stat (almost like a heat map for batters) that actually physically accounts for a player's range?

Not saying any of those things are dragging ALR down. Maybe, maybe not. Just seems like a very tricky stat to use to say a guy isn't a good defensive 1B.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone have a statistic for the Nationals and percentage of time they played defensive shifts? I think I heard that the Pirates and the Rays led their respective leagues in shifts. If we are talking about having a number of sub-par defenders (3 of the 4 infielders) then it would seem that we should be shifting more often.

Harper said...

BS - well the stat I'm looking at is fangraphs fielding stat which uses a UZR variation which is more of a "when a ball is hit here - this usually happens - what did your guy do" stat as opposed to pure numbers like RF. Either way - it's still a tricky thing, you are right.

Basically with LaRoche the idea is this - if you look at last year and his career, the overall sense is that he's got below average range and decent, though not spectacular hands. Since range is usually effected negatively with age, it's likely he won't have good range next year as well.

Because one year of defensive stats can be highly variable, it is a lot of "feel". In other words - we can agree to disagree here. Obviously, I don't think the Nats are in desperate need for a defensive back-up if I'm calling for Jeff Baker (average) or Morse (I'd expect terrible but who knows)

Anon - I seem to recall the Nats being on the low end but I'm not sure. The idea of defensive shifts is interesting and in my mind still in its infancy. I'd like to see more I guess but I'm not going to crush the Nats for waiting for the data to play out on its effectiveness when used often.

Froggy said...

The last comments by Booyah and you Harper make me curious as to who you guys think would be a good example of someone who does have 'spectacular hands'?

If I go 'by feel' I think LaRoche does have spectacular hands. Range however he does not. I guess I would take mediocre hands if it translates into .50 more BA points or Werth like OBP. It was painful to watch Adam this year.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone see David Schoenfield's comment about LaRoche platooning with Zimm playing 1B/3B, Rendon 3B/2B, and have a platoon 2B to play against lefties.


John C. said...

I'm not a fan of shifting regulars all over the lot, especially for positons they at which they are inexperienced (Zim at 1st, Rendon at 2nd)

Booyah Suckah! said...

Froggy, I actually do think LaRoche has very good if not great hands. Spectacular? I don't really know how to define that. Seems to me there's only three categories of 1B:

Great ones, who have above average range, help their teammates by making picks that other 1Bs don't, and add something offensively, be it slugging or OBP.

Average ones, who have average range, make the defensive plays/picks they should, and aren't a hole in the lineup.

Offensive ones, who are great hitters but don't fit anywhere else on the field.

Granted, ALR was a hole in the lineup this year, but I don't think that's innately who he is. I see a return to more 2012-ish numbers next year. I think he makes picks that only a few other current 1Bs make, which makes him especially valuable during Zimm's occasional freak-outs at third. And I really don't think his physical range is that bad. Best in the NL? Of course not, he's getting old. But good enough, especially as Rendon gets more accustomed to playing second.

blovy8 said...

I think Harper has the right idea, and we may need to go into the season with diminished expectations regarding LaRoche. It could be true that he's now a below-average 1B if he has to hit against lefties regularly. The opportunity to groom another player for that position is there, and should be taken advantage of while they have him under contract and can get some production from him in 2014. If it's not Moore, Marrero, or whatever RH 1b on the roster now, then a platoon FA there. and as the year goes on if he's injured or ineffective, you can give Skole or a deserving LH guy some more ML at bats. The team is at the point where they can eat his contract on the bench if a better player should play.

Froggy said...

Booyah, agree and think (hope) 2013 was an outlier year for Zimm as well. I also hope the trainers begin an earlier conditioning program that focuses on hammy's and obliques. The number of guys on the DL for those things was ridiculous.

blovy8 said...

I think you have to go into the season thinking of Zim as your starting 3B and my feeling is you can expect average out of him, since his arm strength was back, and he could position himself properly again.

I think defensive shifting does help, and they are lagging in using it properly. It sure seemed like it worked against the Nats, anyway.