Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Nothing of note

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday Quickie - Nothing of note

Really nothing.

Williams gave a preview of a possible line-up. Most people like it. I kind of hate it. Span could very well be the worst offensive player in the line-up next year and putting him in the #1 spot because "he's speedy"is just dumb. The "problem" Williams faces is that there is no obvious stereotypical leadoff hitter on the team otherwise. Easy answer is - break stereotype but that's hard for guys brought up thinking one way for 40+ years to do. Short of it though again is - Span sucks, batting a guy who sucks first is silly despite how well he may go 1st to 3rd on the rare opportunities he's on first.

Rendon is a little sick so Espinosa might play more and Espy hit 2 home runs! Of course he had 0 home runs before Saturday and is batting .214 but hope springs eternal.

That's all I got - an honest quickie today.

27 comments:

Anagramsci said...

Span should definitely be hitting 8th unless the back-up catcher is playing

Eric said...

You don't think Span would be acceptable if he hits reasonably close to how he hit in the second half last year?

Or do you think first half numbers are more likely?

JWLumley said...

@Eric 2nd half numbers for Span were basically that of a league average hitter which isn't exactly the guy you're hoping to get the most PA's of any player on the team for the year. Not to mention, since his concussion Span has been a below league average hitter, never even posting a wOBA of .330. To echo Harper: He sucks as a hitter. Maybe the defense makes up for it, but he shouldn't be leading off under any circumstances and given relative health of other players shouldn't bat higher than 7th.

Anonymous said...

I am personally of the opinion you give him a 1-2 week window to show if he can produce at the top. Then bump him to the back if he isn't.

But then again, I am of the opinion that every guy goes through slumps so each and every guy on the team should be subject to being dropped to the back when they aren't hitting. Why should any player hurt the team when they are in a slump battling their swings. They should have a team first mentality and be thrilled to be hitting 6th-8th when slumping rather than outright getting benched. Though if any slump started to approach the 3 week to month duration, I would start to take games away.

I am sure I would be a very "popular" manager... amongst the pitchers anyway. They would appreciate the run support I would be trying to create.

Chaz R said...

Agreed on Span not being the ideal lead-off hitter, but as Harper notes, the Nats don't have a prototype lead-off hitter. Who do you put there- Rendon? I guess we could go back to Werth leading off. From what I recall, he didn't do too bad.

Donald said...

All right, Harper -- put your money where your mouth is. It's easy to throw this out there -- " Easy answer is - break stereotype " without giving any suggestions to a better line-up. While I don't really like Span leading off either, who do you put there? I'd guess the next best option is Chaz's suggestion of Rendon. He's probably not going to steal a lot of bases, but he seems to have a decent eye and takes a number of pitches. On days he sits, you wouldn't want Espinosa leading off, though, right?

Wally said...

What, no prediction on who gets the 5th SP role? I predict Jordan. My theory is that Williams has already decided, assuming both are healthy. If it was Roark, he'd announce it now since he has made his last start. So he is waiting for Jordan to come through today healthy, and if so, then give him the nod.

Chaz R said...

@Wally Harper already gave his opinion on the 5th SP:
http://natsbaseball.blogspot.com/2014/03/roark-vs-jordan.html

I don't know if that would qualify as a prediction, but I'm thinking that it makes the most sense for the team to start the season. They can always adjust from there.

Wally said...

Chaz - I took that as more who he thought they should take. Since the decision seems imminent, I was more curious about who he thought that they would take. Maybe it is the same thing.

Donald said...

I wouldn't read too much into the fact that no decision has been stated yet. Williams has said that he likes guys to keep competing so he not want to announce Jordan going to AAA before his last start. He may want Jordan thinking he's still got a chance to see how he does under some pressure even if he's already decided on Roark.

My prediction is that it'll be Roark, but then I had predicted Detwiler not too long ago, so what do I know? One complicating factor is also the last bullpen spot. People are assuming that if Jordan gets #5, then Roark goes to the pen. If Roark gets #5, then Jordan goes to Syracuse. I'm not sure they really need Roark in the pen given Stammen and Detwiler who can do long relief. They may prefer Barrett or Gonzalez or even Matheus.

JWLumley said...

Here's a little rosterbation for everyone of how I'd do it.

Rendon
Harper
Zimmerman
Werth
Desmond
Ramos
LOLaRoche
Span
Pitcher

Could flip-flop Rendon and Werth depending on how Werth's power numbers look.

Nattydread said...

Harper has to be considered for lead off. He sees a lot of pitches, walks, causes havoc on the bases and worries pitchers. You want him to get up the most -- isn't he a bit like Soriano in his prime? What would billy Beane do?

Michael Polcen said...

Natty - Don't think you want Harper leading off. He's got the ability to drive in runs with extra base hits. I'll take 2 & 3 run dingers over solo shots.

blovy8 said...

If you take atbats away because of slumps you lose the hot streaks too.

They traded for this guy to have him leadoff just like they traded for Soriano to close. I like Span leading off as a choice a LOT more. Why can't he have the same OBP as any non-Werth batter given his career numbers? His biggest problems last year were his declining walk rate and numbers against lefties. He doesn't have bad career splits against lefties, and given the pitching injuries in the league so far, it's less of an issue even if it's persistent. He was aggressive down the stretch to get his .300 average in the second half, but I don't think it's crazy to expect something around his 350 OBP mark, since he was at .344 in the second half. Strategically, you're not wasting extra base hits in a lineup spot that has the fewest guys on base. You're leveraging his speed to allow the middle guys to see more fastballs with the SB threat during those times on base, perhaps offsetting his lack of power a bit. While it's true you'd like 10-12 homers from him, it's better to give him triples opportunities without a sloth like LaRoche in front of him getting hugged by the third base coach as he rounds third.

Harper is the only other really fast guy playing regularly, and perhaps not coincidentally the only guy who likes leading off. Werth has hit better in the middle of the order than the top, he was team guy about moving up, but he wants to drive in runs more than score them. OK, so he doesn't have to like it if it's the right thing to do, but the team is better off with everyone comfortable in their role if possible. Zim really doesn't seem like a candidate although they're batting him second a lot. Desmond's OBP is going to be worse than Span's. Rendon would probably be the one to take that spot if it happens, but he's not fast either and probably profiles as a Zim-type hitter. If he hits like Boggs, I'll submit.

Chinatown Express said...

@blovy8: "They traded for this guy to have him leadoff just like they traded for Soriano to close." Where I come from, we call that thurrr a "sunk cost."

blovy8 said...

Lumley has a LOT of confidence in Rendon's power apparently. I hope you're right.

blovy8 said...

CE, where I sit, it's called "Reality". Get used to it.

Alan Wiecking said...

We went around this tree last year, too. The only time the batting order is really an "order" is that first inning; after that, it's in flux through the rest of the game. It's nice to get that first run, first inning and if that involves a infield single, stolen base and a soft single, I'm happy. Give Span a shot, say 'til the Cards come to town, then change it (Harper) if he's not getting it done.

Chinatown Express said...

blovy8: What do you mean? It's reality that Nats management will make an objectively poor decision (let's just concede that Span leading off is a poor decision for the sake of argument) based on their refusal to recognize a sunk cost? Cool. Maybe that's reality. But we should still point out that it's a bad idea. Because, you know, someone is wrong on the internet.

JWLumley said...

@blovy8 It's not a question of having confidence in his power, it's confidence that his OBP will be better than Span, LaRoche, Ramos and Desmond and his power will be less than Harper, Werth or Zimmerman.

Anonymous said...

My preferred Line Ups: Opposing Starter Dependent:

vs. Righty Starter: Harper, Desmond, Zim, Laroche, Werth, Ramos, Span, Rendon

vs. Lefty Starter: Desmond, Rendon, Zim, Harper, Werth, Ramos, Moore, Span

That's right I am platooning Moore and LaRoche until 1 or both of them needs to be cut or traded so deal with it Harper!!!!

JWLumley said...

@Alan - Regardless of the inning, having players in front of you who reach base more often inevitably means more opportunities to drive in runs over the course of a game/season. But really, where the batting order really matters is over the course of season where the difference between batting 1st and 8th could mean up to 75 PA's. So that means if you bat Span first you're giving your worst hitter 75 more PA's than whoever bats 8th.

Greg said...

Here's what I think it should be:

Versus a Righty:
1. Span (.298/.344/.422 against righties last year)
2. Werth
3. Harper
4. Zimmerman
5. Desmond
6. LaRoche
7. Rendon
8. Ramos

Versus a Lefty:
1. Werth
2. Zimmerman
3. Desmond
4. Ramos
5. Rendon
6. Harper
7. Moore
8. Span

Zimmerman11 said...

The soulless automaton probably thinks it's a fruitless endeavor creating/comparing lineups. You just stack them by OPS 1-9 to maximize run potential and to the credit of some of his readers pointing this out, platoon guys to get better results if that is an option.

According to ZIPS' OPS+, it'd be:

Harper
Werth
Zimmerman
Rendon
Ramos
Desmond
LaRoche
Span
Pitcher...

blovy8 said...

Lumley, you flipped Rendon alternately in the cleanup spot instead of Werth, that's what I was commenting on. I guess maybe I'm still old school in thinking cleanup hitters should have power but I figured it meant you were thinking dingers.

CE, I agree Soriano is a sunk cost, I was advocating for Span a bit, because I like triples. Well, to be fair, I'd REALLY like an inside the park grand slam, but I suspect I'll never see that.

I also accept that Soriano believes he would probably suck worse if he didn't close, and I kind wonder if Span would suck worse if he doesn't leadoff. Do we know what his BABIP will be, how many lefties he'll face, or how healthy he'll stay either?

I understand this is an argument for applying "The Book" to the Nats lineup, but at a certain point, it's pretty clear to me that Rizzo and Williams aren't going to be the second coming of LaRussa with experimentation, hence my reality statement. The soundbites are more like guys trying to put their hitters in comfortable roles.

While I'm not quite crazy enough to believe Span should lead off if he's not getting onbase, the soulless automaton must feed some emotional data into the system. There's years of conditioning these players have had to roles and lineup status. I don't think jumping these guys around constantly for an OPS edge is a good idea unless you have an established systemic approach, because these are creatures of habit who are not likely to respond well to that type of instability. Even simple bullpen roles are specified supposedly because pitchers like to know how to prepare every day. Messing with mental side of things is probably worse than worrying about who gets those extra 20 ab's.

Eric said...

I know it's sorting training and all, but Span's numbers are looking really good atm. Fingers crossed that it carries over...

Eric said...

Sorting training? Oddly, that kind of makes sense... Heh