Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - you are all snowed in

Monday, March 03, 2014

Monday Quickie - you are all snowed in

Was it just last year when our intrepid beat guys were complaining "Oh it's not that warm down in Florida either!" Today around 80 for a high in Viera. So please remember to shut it if it only happens to be in the mid 50s one year.

There isn't much to talk about spring training wise. Only one of the three 5th starter candidates has pitched yet (Taylor Jordan, by all accounts he looked fine). Ryan Mattheus, arguably the 2nd to last man in the pen, is the only injury question right now.

No the only story is Boz realizing that there are no guarantees on how long the Nats "window" will be. Of course this is the same guy who :
  • Calls last year's Red Sox a "miracle team"*.  
  • Mentions 2012 failures without talking about shutdown, the ultimate "window is open for a while" move. 
  • Blames 2013 failure on tight play, lack of mental toughness and fundamentals, and expectations, rather than injuries, poor bench construction, and a lack of necessary in-season moves.
But regardless of how or why Boz gets to where he gets, he ends up in the right place. The Nats need to realize that they have the talent to win now so winning now must take priority. It wasn't something necessary clear in 2012, certainly not when the season began. In 2014 though, it is. The early prognosticators still like the Nats, though a bit gun shy from last year's performance.

The thing to remember about windows is that, while in my mind you should always try to win hard while they are open, you never know when they are going to close.  The Phillies dominated the NL East for years and then doubled down during their open window. Injuries and Performance drops shut it down fast. The Angels ruled the AL West for a while but Morales celebrates a bit too hard and they can't get the ship righted. These windows that were open for years, shut overnight.

Other things can happen too. The Reds probably thought they would be king of the mountain for the NL Central for while, given the depth of young pitching they had and possibly the best young bat in the game at the time in Votto. But the Cardinals reloaded and the Pirates finally developed into something and while the window isn't closed, they are now looking at a dogfight for a playoff spot. The poor Brewers probably thought they'd be in the mix for a while, watched their window turn out to be a single season before the pitching failed to develop and the big bats went away for one reason or another. On the flip side the Dodgers only won 92 games last year and haven't developed into a dominating force in the past half-decade as expected. A team like the Diamondbacks, who should rightfully be a mediocre also-ran looking up at better teams, is staring at a dream that remains possible.

For the Nats the Braves look good and should be a good team for a while, but the Mets and Marlins have big questions and the Phillies are going down.  Given the age and contract situations, one should feel justifiable saying the Nats have two years to compete. It could easily be more. It could also, with some bad luck, be less. Fool hardy moves chasing one more win aren't needed just yet, but a sense of urgency needs to hang over this team. They can win in '14. Looks good for '15.  After that... it could be all over.

*Wins in past seasons, 96, 95, 95, 89, 90, 69, 97.  4th highest payroll in baseball in 2013. The 2012 Red Sox were the miracle team. It was a miracle they were as bad as they were


Positively Half St. said...

Boswell is about to have his weekly slow-motion chat. I'm sure there will be at least one fanboy gem in there. I admit I enjoy that.

Zimmerman11 said...

Red Sox had BIG TIME roster turnover though, so the years preceding last year's run aren't as indicative as they would be if they were still running Beckett, Crawford, Gonzalez, etc out there, right?

Will be interesting to see if JBJ and Bogaerts and other young guys are able to step up for them this year, if called upon. Will also be interested to see how Ellsbury does...both to justify the contract, and specifically vs the Red Sox.

Anonymous said...

Besides the fifth starter competition brewing is the one for backup infielder. I think if Espinosa doesn't have a solid spring, they will send him down to get back on track. Meanwhile, with the usual spring training caveats, the coaches seem to like Walters. Also, apparently he has a history with Williams. Check on the WaPo blurb. Meanwhile, Carroll does the little things, like yesterday advancing a runner to third with one out.

Clip&Store said...

I'm in South Central PA (about half hour from Hagerstown) and actually not snowed in... It's nice for once.

Anonymous said...

Hey Harper, can you link back to your posts around the time of 37s shutdown? Would like to read them. What was your take? I'm guessing it was "If you really want to win, pitch him."

Wally said...

but a sense of urgency needs to hang over this team

Ok, but what are you suggesting? A transaction? Attitude change? Boz read more like he was advocating an attitude adjustment by the players, which I just don't buy into. It is the rare major league player that isn't trying really hard to perform his best every day. Too much rides on it: big dollars, reputation in a very public setting. By and large, the 'slackers' have been weeded out long ago. I can't quite tell what is your suggestion to do differently, other than some of the (minor) transaction moves like Baker.

And on the transaction, I assume it would look like a prospects for big hitter trade: let's say it is Giolito, Goodwin, Cole, Skole for Joey Votto. Isn't it plausible to at least ask which is better for a fan base to have: a Florida Marlin profile (win a WS, be terrible for several years, have another 2-3 year peak performance, drop off again) v. an ATL string of success over long periods with lesser chance of the brass ring. Because I think that is what results from an urgency-fueled go-for-it trade. I don't know which way I lean, but I think the question is one that can have multiple reasonable answers.

blovy8 said...

Boswell likes to have a "theme". Complaining about injuries isn't one. By adding Lobaton and McLouth, he can't really make much hay out of the bench depth, plus, I still think the delay of Rendon taking Espinosa's job is similar to the delay of Harper's arrival. They have super-2 status and the position to actually learn how to play. Giving up value for a marginal increase at 2nd probably wasn't worth the risk in lack of production from 2nd. There aren't a lot of stellar offensive players there anyway.

5 for 5 with two doubles and a triple should get Walters some attention.

I think the other thing is, in a way, the down year allows for some competition, knowing that even apart from the injuries, the regular lineup didn't quite get it done offensively. There's room on the bench for a guy who comes out of nowhere. It's not like there aren't flaws galore all over the place.

Harper said...

+1/2 st - we'll check back. Generally I expect optimism, overrating of Nats prospects, and some silliness trying to mix in some intangible stuff. Nothing to get dander up about... unless he's liking Tyler Moore!

Z11 - Sure. But if you are starting with guys like Pedroia, Ortiz, Ellsbury, Lester, Lackey, Bucholz, you have to think you have a "good team". The base remains strong. I think it's a stretch to call last year a surprise, but you could do it. A "miracle" is just silly.

I like Bogarts, not JBJ so much. I think OF might be a big issue for them. I think you could expect Gomes, Victorino, Nava and Carp ALL to regress. If Bradley isn't good it's a problem.

Anon #1 - yeah, back-up IF is another spot up for grabs. That's another one that's not much a interest grabber, but it's there.

C&S - Im in NC "sleet event" turning into a big nothing - drier air.

Anon #2 -
Here's a good one.

Basically I said I'd sit him because it wouldn't hurt the fanbase and it was best bet to maximize wins during Strasburg contract time frame. I also noted that's a very soulless automaton take.

Now's a different time. I wouldn't say... sit a Giolito in 2015.

Wally - One more bench bat WOULD have been nice. Ship may have sailed on that.

Really I mean there should be quick action when holes are noted and hurting the team. So a Votto deal might be something to look at if it's late May, the Nats are .500, Bryce is hurt and LaRoche is hitting .180. More along the lines of - oh Hairston is terrible? Get a new back-up OF! Joarkwiler not working out? Get a new 5th SP!

akın sürmeneli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sirc said...

"Fool hardy moves chasing one more win aren't needed just yet, but a sense of urgency needs to hang over this team."

That's why today Mike Rizzo said "screw the luxury tax" and went out and got the final piece to the puzzle: Michael Gonzalez.

Is it WSoB? I. think. so!

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