Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Margin call

Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday Quickie - Margin call

I like the All-Star break where it is. It separates the baseball season not into exact halves but into "don't worry there's plenty of time" and "uh oh, you need to start winning like, now" time periods. It starts with two weeks of "do we need to deal for someone now or not" where every at bat or start from a marginal player is picked apart. After that it's August and the stretch run begins getting increasingly tense as the number of games left gets smaller and smaller. 

If the All-Star game were half-way through the season, you'd come out of it with a full 3 months left to the season. Even though it's only about 2 extra weeks of baseball we're talking about, you'd lose that a sense of immediate urgency.

Anyway where do the Nats stand now? Depends on Zimmermann.

If Zimmermann is not healthy then a starter becomes an obvious priority.  The Nats wouldn't actually NEED a starter at that point to continue to contend for a play-off spot with Stras, Fister, and Gio slotted 1-3. But not getting one would leave their playoff chances to the mercies of fate. A ZNN injury would kill what little depth the Nats have (no one in AAA is pitching particularly well recently) so one would think one more pitching injury would probably cripple them.

But all signs are that Zimmerman are healthy so let's leave the SP discussion out for a few days. What other areas of improvement do the Nats have? Well whether they start Span or they start Espinosa they have a spot in their lineup that could be improved. Span is the better offensive player so the question really is can you find a OF or 2B that will improve on Span's bat by alot. Two remote possibilities (Stanton and Daniel Murphy) are non-starters as those are intradivisional rivals who expect to challenge the Nats in the next couple of years. They aren't trading good players to the Nats.

As far as the OF is concerned there is no one straight up good enough to be a slam-dunk replacement of Span. A couple guys can hit, like Willingham, Byrd, or Alex Rios, but they are more corner outfielders, which means you'd have to bet on Bryce to carry CF with questionable talent at the corner spots. I don't feel good about that unless the bat you are bringing in is a game changer and those guys aren't.

Oddly 2b gives you a few more options, along with Murphy, Chase Utley would be a great fit, and the Phillies would be waving a white flag to the next couple years by dealing him. But it's a tough trade to see happen unless the Nats wow the Phillies and the Nats aren't the type of dealer that gives up a lot in prospects.  Plus, Chase has no interest in being traded.

So the only starter type-deal that would make sense for the Nats is one for Ben Zobrist who can play 2B and OF. This would be ideal. Zobrist is patient (his OBP would immediately be 3rd on the team), hits at the top of the line-up (could take that spot from the ill-suited Span), and plays good defense. He could play 2B float most of the time allowing Rendon to play 3B and Zimmerman to play OF and if that isn't working out he could play OF with Bryce shifting to CF without missing a beat. Plus, the Rays and Nats have trade history together with the Karns/Lobaton deal happening just this offseason. However, Zobrist is a starter and will cost a lot if he's up for trade. The Nats have yet shown they are ever going to be "all in" and I don't think they'll start with a mid-season trade. 

So that leaves back-ups. The Nats could use an IF replacement that can hit and a late inning defensive replacement in the OF or 1B.

The former is nigh-impossible to get. Maybe a Luis Valbuena or a Sean Rodriguez? They would provide pop that Frandsen does not, while admittedly providing the low average Frandsen does give. In the minors if you don't like Zach Walters (and I don't - I think he's useful only in HR or nothing scenarios) then the cupboard is bare.

As far as the OF would go, there isn't an obvious defensive replacement out there.  They could probably pick up a Cameron Maybin for cheap. Gerardo Parra or Ryan Sweeney... maybe Emilio Bonaficio (not my choice)? Of course this would only be worth it if the manager would pull Werth or Bryce late in the game, and I don't know if Matt Williams is that kind of thinker. A more interesting solution, if the Nats weren't inclined to worry about "starting clocks", would be bringing up Michael Taylor. He looks good enough at the plate in AA to maybe hang in the majors. True at first he'd probably be a lot like Walters but we're talking D not O for the OF, and Taylor is supposedly one of the best in the minors.

That's about where the Nats stand now. They are waiting on ZNN to see if he's really ok like they say. If so they could maybe make a big splash and grab a Zobrist, but more likey (for a number of reasons) will go small. The question is does that mean grabbing a Valbuena or Rodriguez and calling up Taylor to better round out the bench? Or does that mean doing nothing because nothing is easier, cheaper and hey- they aren't pressed to do something right now? We'll see.

Either way the likely move is playing at the margins for a team that should make their push in July to the top of the heap. 

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

Harper, what do you think they should do with Souza? He's raking at AAA (1.000+ OPS). Though his numbers this year are supported by an unsustainable BABIP, it's the third or fourth year in a row he's had above .400 OBP, which suggests he's not a mirage (and that he's a better hitter than Tyler Moore). It seems unlikely that he'd play regularly over Span, but couldn't he provide the offensive boost?

Also, Harper, it's about time for a mea culpa from you on your suggestion that the Nats consider sitting Werth when Bryce gets back.

Also, I think Zobrist is an ideal target but the Rays will ask a lot. What sort of prospect would be worth the improvement Zobrist would provide (1.5, 2 games?)?

karlkolchak said...

I was also surprised you left Souza out of the discussion. The guy is having an all world season and is only 25. Brining him up to play left field while placing Harper in center might just give this offense the bumb it needs to be consistently productive.

Donald said...

I agree that I like the timing of the All-star break. My guess is that the Nats, like most teams use the last two weeks in July to see where they stand. If the Nats are still playing decent ball and are roughly where they are currently in the standings, they stand pat on any big deals. At that point, they just have to ride out the month of August. In September, they get to the call-ups where they can add the defensive replacements and PH's with some pop.

If they come out of the break like last year, though, with the Braves jumping out to a 5 game lead or something, then I think Rizzo has to do something. What he does might depend on the source of their issues at that time.

Questions -- is Rizzo influenced by anything the Braves do? If the Braves made some sort of splash, would Rizzo feel forced to counter? I'm pretty sure it's impossible, but say the Braves got David Price. Could Rizzo still afford to do nothing? My guess is that he won't be influenced by the Braves at all, but it oculd get interesting.

If you're the Mets or Marlins, are you sellers?

Jimmy said...

My problem with Zobrist is his severe splits, we already have a guy' that can hit lefties off the bench and play adequate d in Espinosa and Frandsen, we need a guy who can hit rightys.

Harper said...

Anon / karl - Souza will almost certainly be a Sept call-up but he doesn't exactly fit a need. He'll simply replace Hairston as the first righty OF bench bat. I don't mean to sell him short but that's the reality of the situation. He could provide the offensive boost... or could not. It's not a certainty (well nothing is - but with major league success you have greater probability), it's a question. You only have to look to Tyler Moore to see that big AAA numbers don't mean big league success, especially if you are in your mid 20s already. Souza is more promising given the lack of Ks, but he needs big league ABs to see if he's a AAAA player or not and he can't get them with the Nats. Now because everyone is healthy, before because Rizzo/Williams prefer the veteran player.

No mea culpa - I said I thought it should be considered and it should have been. I did tweet that I wouldn't do it.

For Zobrist - the Rays would start with Giolito (no) then move to Cole (maybe?). An interesting idea would be seeing if some combo of the Nats AAA All-Stars (Moore, Souza, Walters) could be packaged to do it without giving up an arm.

Donald - I think Rizzo will be influenced by the Braves but not a tit for tat situation. He might think he can take the Braves now and be inclined to do nothing, but if they get Price he might feel the need from more security and do those minor moves I suggested. I don't think he'll try to match big move to big move.

Mets / Marlins - I'd sell but only guys you knew you wouldn't need in 2 years. Colon, Young, for Mets. Jones, Baker for Marlins. Guys like that. Mets especially - whatever non-starter you can deal for young bullpen arms - do it.

DezoPenguin said...

I suppose that if you're going to open talks with the Rays about Zobrist, one might kick the tires on Price as well, which not only would cover veeeeery nicely for any future SP injuries, but also would allow the Nats to freely field offers on Roark, who may well be at the top of his value and could be quite useful for a team seeking SP help but isn't in the Price sweepstakes, something that might bring back at least some prospects (though not at the level it would take to get Price/Zobrist). The cost in prospects might be darned high (I'm guessing it starts with Giolito just to get the discussion going), but the Nats are in a situation where a chunk of their core players are going to be gone in a year or two, plus age is taking its toll on Werth and Zim, so 2014-15 are going to be their prime years to go for it full-speed-ahead.

Harper said...

jimmy - First - I don't know which Frandsen you are talking about but it isn't the Kevin on this team. Second - This year Espy is good vs LH, garbage vs RH. Zobrist is great vs LH, meh vs RH. So it's an improvement. Third - Zobrist splits this year aren't backed up historically. In other words in 2012 & 2013 he hit RH just fine, would think he still can do that.

Harper said...

Dezo - yeah the Nats age doesn't get talked about enough. Still pretty young on the mound but one of the older teams at the plate. Part of that is injuries (Bryce vs McLouth is an 11 year diff) but next yr could have 5 starters 29 or older (with Ian hitting 30 at years end), and two over 35. Clock IS ticking

Mythical Monkey said...

Ben Zobrist is 33. I can't imagine Rizzo trading a package of young anything for a 33 year old ballplayer, even one as good as Zobrist.

Jimmy said...

Harper yeah my bad Frandsen is terrible was looking at career splits and this year for Zobrist. Any deal for Zobrist would probably include Espinosa anyway.

JWLumley said...

@Anon Why is Souza's BABIP unsustainable? It may or may not be, just curious as to the reasoning. I really like Souza and I think he'd make a good replacement for Frandsen. There's really no reason to have both Frandsen and Espinosa, pick one or the other, but I know Rizzo loves Frandsen's gamery gritty veteraninenss.

As for Taylor, I'm not familiar with many guys who had his strikeout rate in the minors who succeeded in the big leagues. Usually a high K rate is a surefire sign of someone who won't make it at the big league level. But I'm wondering if there are examples of guys who have had high K totals in the minors who went on to successful careers.

@Harper I'm not sure I share your concern with Harper in CF. I think a lot of his value is wasted by not being in CF. Span's ability to get to balls, notwithstanding, he has a very weak arm that seems to be getting weaker. Teams can run on him like crazy, take extra bases and even score on sac flies to shallow center. If the Nats want to upgrade their offense, the best way, IMO is to call up Souza and give him some starts in LF. Move Harper to CF and see what you have in both guys. Perhaps, that's because I'm not bullish on Michael Taylor, but I don't see another OF bat in the Nats system that will make an impact at the big league level outside of Souza in the next 3-4 years.

JWLumley said...

@Harper The Souza and Moore comparisons are unfair I think. Moore had a very high K rate in the minors, which is typically a sign someone won't succeed at the next level. Souza's K rate isn't great, but it's not bad either and his high OBP would suggest he sees the ball much better than Moore did/does.

Jimmy said...

"The healthier the Nats get the more they look like the title contenders they were picked to be at the start of the season. They are 10-6 since the return of Wilson Ramos to the lineup, and 8-4 since Bryce Harper's bat came back. -- Harper Gordek (@harpergordek)"

While we are 8-4 I think we're still waiting on Harper's bat to get back.

Bjd1207 said...

@Harper - On the age stuff, I think we're in pretty good shape. The young pitchers is the key.

Scenario 1 is all or almost all of them re-sign at the end of their deals in which case we're set on pitching for the foreseeable future.

I find that unlikely as you do, in which case we'll be flipping some of those expiring contracts. Given the performance of people like ZNN, Roark, Detwiler (2013), Treinen (2014), Barrett (2014), and even if necessary the Gio and Fister deals as they're expiring, I'd expect we could get some very good returns on those guys (or packages of those guys).

The bad part of that scenario is that our lack of depth is in the positions that teams are usually not willing to part with (SS after Desmond, CF). I'm sure we could pick up whoever the hot bat is in Free Agency to cover 1b, but those defensive positions need some planning

JWLumley said...

Also, Alex Meyer looked awesome yesterday. Absolutely awesome. Wish the Nats had him...oh wait they did and traded him for a meh CFer that they insist on batting leadoff. This will conclude your regularly scheduled Denard Span rant.

JE34 said...

I could see them moving Detwiler into a starting role if ZNN is hurt, then scrounging for bullpen help. Here's hoping it doesn't come to that.

Anonymous said...

Souza's BABIP is unsustainable because it's .410 this year, which is 50 points higher than Mike Trout's career .365 (which itself is almost certainly likely to go down). Even the dead ball era greats don't touch .410.

Bjd1207 said...

@JW - haha that one was relatively short compared to the usual!

Still think you're being entirely too hard on the 11th best CF'er by WAR (fangraphs)

Again, no argument from me on dropping him in the order, but this ongoing debate always makes me think 'you don't know what you got till its gone'

Jay said...

I vote move Harper to CF and Zimmerman back to LF. Did anyone see that throw Zim made from deep at 3rd yesterday? He bent over with his hands on his knees afterward like his arm just fell off. I was worried he had re-injured his shoulder. Course next inning he hit a mammoth home run to CF. Still he should be in LF. Also, with his bat and his arm - Harper is a great CF.

Why not go get a second baseman? I was thinking of Aaron Hill. The whole D-backs connection. Knows both Rizzo and MW. Plays good defense and a clutch guy. I'd trade Espinosa and Detwiler maybe? MW and Kirk Gibson are buddies - make it happen.

Anyway, in my mind Zim needs to go to LF with whatever move they make.

JWLumley said...

@Anon Unsustainable at the next level certainly, but just because a BABIP is high doesn't mean it's unsustainable. Look at the BABIP's that Bonds and Williams put up. LD% is probably a better indicator of unsustainable BABIP.

@bjd I'm trying to keep them shorter so people will like me more. 11th best CFer by WAR doesn't mean 11th best CFer since it's out of 20 and a middle of the road CFer isn't worth a top flight pitching prospect. You wouldn't trade Giolito Leonys Martin. This is probably 90% of my beef with Span, with 10% being him hitting leadoff. It's not so much the player he is, it's the player they gave up to get him and how they diminished Harper's value by moving him off CF.

JWLumley said...

In talking about Souza, very interesting article about prospect rankings. This systems likes Goodwin best, but likes Souza better than Taylor, altough not by much. http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2014/7/14/5862042/mlb-prospects-iso-bb-k-javier-baez-introduction

Donald said...

@Jay -- you may have touched on the one wildcard to Rizzo's thought process. That throw from Zim was just awful. If Rizzo decides he just can't stay at 3b, maybe he tries to trade LaRoche to some desperate team (Reds?, Mariners?) for an A/AA pitching prcspect that can be added to the pot to get a 2B. The best replacement for LaRoche's bat who could play 2B is Utley. He might not accept the trade but who knows what kind of relationship he has with Frandsen and Werth. Maybe they could lure him over.

But if Zim can't throw from 3rd, I don't think he can throw from LF, so 1b seems his more likely landing spot.

Bjd1207 said...

@Donald/Jay - When do you envision this trade happening? You mention desperate teams like Reds who are waiting on Votto to return, so I assume you meant before this deadline.

No way LaRoche gets traded this season. You don't trade away your tools when you're in the hunt, especially tied for 1st. If we deal at all, we deal prospects for big leaguers (or a positional switch like Espi/prospects for a 2b). We're not trading LaRoche

Jay said...

I'd agree that I don't see them trading LaRoche. I think when Zim has time to get behind the throw it's not as bad ie. LF most throws. I don't think they will trade for anyone - Rizzo is an ex-scout and hates to lose prospects. If they do trade for someone I think it should be for a 2nd baseman. I don't think Dbacks are going anywhere next couple of years, so maybe they'd be willing to let go of Hill. He's an above average 2b. I don't see Utley, bc Phillies are in same division. Only way it happens is if they have fallen in love with Espinosa and figure they can fix his swing.

Section 220 said...

Ted Williams' career BABIP is .328. He did have one year when it was .429, but his second best year was .378. Barry Bonds' career BABIP is .285. Yes, .410 is unsustainable.

JWLumley said...

@Section 220 Averages are misleading. Bonds had four straight years with a BABIP between .408 and .536. Still doesn't change the fact that having a high BABIP in and of itself doesn't make it unsustainable. A high BABIP with a low LD% does, as does a high BABIP outside of career norms makes it likely unsustainable, but not necessarily. All of this is forgetting that there will be some regression for nearly every AAA BABIP in the big leagues.

Anonymous said...

Souza's BABIP may be based on high line drive %. When I saw him play, he was absolutely ripping what he hit. Is there anywhere that has GB/FB/LD rates for minor leaguers? If his BABIP comes from making solid contact, it wouldn't be entirely luck-driven and, though some dropoff should be expected, could be somewhat sustainable.

Section 220 said...

JW - wait, no, I don't think that's at all right. Barry Bonds never had a year with a BABIP above .330. Where are you getting those numbers? Here's where I'm getting mine:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/bondsba01-bat.shtml

Am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

A "high" BABIP is sometimes sustainable depending upon a batter's speed, LD%, GB%, and other components that affect BABIP. I didn't get into the components (not that I would even know where to find them) because no one has ever had a .410 BABIP for a career.

Here is an article showing single season BABIPs above .400: http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/11061

None of the seasons with BABIPs higher than Souza's have occurred since 1930.

I'm fairly certain that there is nothing in Souza's batted ball profile to suggest he can sustain a .410 BABIP. I'm also fairly certain that Souza is not a true talent .365 BABIP guy (that being Mike Trout's BABIP - the career BABIP leader since WWII).

JWLumley said...

@Section 220 You're right, I was looking at the wrong column. Those are his ISO numbers. My eyes are getting old. Still, a .400 BABIP in AAA isn't necessarily unsustainable in AAA. Bonds and Williams were probably bad examples since BABIP isn't as high for power hitters as it is for doubles hitters. Still a BABIP of any number isn't necessarily unsustainable because of how high it is was my point.

JWLumley said...

@Anon, everything you've sited is at the big league level. Obviously there will be some regression for nearly all AAA players, especially with regards to BABIP as defense is much better in the big leagues. There isn't enough data on minor leaguers to say a .400 BABIP isn't sustainable in AAA.

Harper said...

JWLumley / Anon / Sec 220 - JW looks like he's reading the ISO line not BABIP. That's the problem nowadays with 92134 different stats, all kind of similar range.

Everyone - Souza is killing it. Souza's OPS is SCARY and improving each month. .883 -> .976 -> 1.036 -> 1.325. He could be very very good in the majors. All I'm saying is that there isn't a place for him. If you start him you sit Span. As much as I've been on Span, Span is useful. A meh bat who shouldn't leadoff, yes. But if your #8 hitter is meh, runs the bases well and plays good CF D? Everyone would want that. You take that away from the Nats and the Nats are losing something. You have to guarantee they get something in return. Souza, as awesome as he has been, is no guarantee. He's a gamble. A gamble magnified by the disruption to the team and the short time he'll have to prove himself. (and add a management who loves character when Souza has a PED suspension and other things hanging over his head) Do you gamble with the playoffs on the line? "Yes" is a fair answer but let's not assume for the 2nd half Souza will be a stud and make the decision "stud bat or no stud bat"

Section 220 said...

This concludes today's digression on BABIP!

Geez those Bonds ISO numbers are terrifying. Holy smokes.

JWLumley said...

@Harper I don't know that Souza will be a stud bat over the second half, and you're right that it's a gamble I highly doubt the Nats will take, but I think they should. Span could be gone after this year and the Nats need to figure out if Harper can play CF every day. They also need to figure out what they have in Souza. As you pointed out the everyday lineup is getting OLD so why not give Souza an extended tryout. Is the potential dropoff of Harper in CF and Souza in LF really that huge? I'm sure it would be a controversy, but factoring that stuff in is a bad way to make decisions. Kind of moot though, because it'll never happen.

DezoPenguin said...

The problem is that "extended tryout to see what you've got" is something you do when you're either basically out of it in the race (and have nothing to lose), or you're trying the prospect at a position of need (like, for example, if Souza was in the Mariners' system, they should call him up immediately and give him a chance because they're in the midst of a race and are running Ackley and Chavez out there at two OF slots).

The Nats are tied for first right now, and their problem is that they have too many guys for the OF (Harper, Werth, Span, and Zim), not too few. Calling up Souza puts Harper in CF and means that Zim now has to play 3B so the Zim/Rendon/Espi situation is still going on.

Now, bringing up Souza as a 4th OF to take playing time from Hairston or McLouth, like Harper suggested (replacing Hairston), that I could see doing, but he's just not part of the solution to the Nationals' 2014 problems unless he's going to hit in the majors exactly like he did at AAA, which is likely more wishful thinking than practical reality.

Donald said...

Rizzo seems very patient. I think he's willing to wait until September to call up Souza, barring an injury of course. He'll then let him pinch hit or have spot starts to evaluate him.

As for trading LaRoche now, I don't see it happening either, but it is an interesting option if you could replace his bat with Utley who has significant post-season experience. He's almost certainly gone after this season anyway. Still, I'd be shocked if it happened but before totally dismissing it, do you think the Nats would be weaker or stronger with Utley at 2b and Zim at 1b versus LaRoche at 1b and Zim in LF?

John C. said...

Utley has said he's not interested in a trade, and he can refuse one. He's not coming. Rizzo isn't going to trade a top pitching prospect for a 33yo player with limited team control. He did trade one for a 28yo OF under team control for 2-3 years. And STILL gets roasted for it regularly. So why are we advocating he make a worse deal for Zobrist again?

Trading ALR would be nuts. Even with the past week, he's been the top offensive performer on a team that often struggles to score runs. Add that his age & contract status severely limit his market (and thus potential return). He will be gone after the season, that's soon enough.

The development of Souza & Taylor (and continued options of Goodwin & Hood) make it quite possible that Span joins ALR & Hairston on the exit ramp for next season.

Given that Hairston has actually done his (limited) role pretty well, he's likely staying. Sure the Nats haven't gotten much from McLouth (except walks & defense) so far, but remember that he's likely to do better in the second half through positive regression.

Froggy said...

Fan favorite emotion aside, I just don't see Rizzo exercising LaRoch's $15million option for one year, especially with a $2million buy out. He walks at the end of this season anyway, so why don't you deal him for a corner OF(or part of a three team trade that gets us Utley), move Zim to 1st, Rendon to 3rd, and Espy to 2nd?

Personally, I think Utley is a perfect fit and for Werth-esque money he comes here. Don't kid yourself, both Werth and Frandsen probably have already convinced him he's on a sinking ship.

John C. said...

Froggy, that's a whole lot of wishful thinking. For one thing, Utley has no intention of waiving his no-trade rights. So Utley isn't donning the Curly W. Thank God - because your riposte that "for Werth-esque money he comes here" would essentially be certifiably insane. The Nats were roasted for throwing Werth-esque money at Werth when he was 31. They've skated by on that so far, but they're facing the downside years now that Werth is 35 with 3 years and $63M left on his contract. Let's add to that by throwing $21M/year at someone who is already 35, turns 36 in December.

You are also optimistic in your assessment of LaRoche's value. His contract and age make him pretty much useless to any team that is not contending right now. Most contending teams already have first baseman. And if there was one that could use him, it's unlikely that they have a piece that could help the Nats as much as moving ALR hurts the team. Moving ALR hurts the offense unless you can find a second baseman who hits as well as he does. Good luck with that.

The reason that the Nats would be OK with not tendering ALR and letting him walk uncompensated at the end of the season is because he can help them make the postseason. To say nothing of doing damage if they can get there. That's a powerful motivator.

Froggy said...

John C, true on all counts, especially the up-side potential of ALR in your last paragraph. For clarification, I didn't mean to imply a trade of Adam for Utley, and that he would get the years Werth got but at least a couple (three?) years at a ridiculous amount. That said, I'm perfectly happy with Danny at 2nd as I think he is in the top five defensive players at his position. Maybe since his numbers/power are better hitting R, he considers making the permanent transition to being a .275 righty with pop. Outside the box thought: can Danny play OF? He has an obviously great infielders arm, bat I know that doesn't always translate to OF's. ANYwayz...move him to L , and Leadoff hitter, and Bryce to CF. (Should I put my crazy thoughts back in the box?)

As for ALR, I love the guy and DON'T want him to walk, but since it was pretty clear with the way his last contract negotiations went, he is gone at seasons end. I think it is in his best interests to go to a contending team with short right field fences who needs a platoon 1b/DH now. Besides, the elephant in the room is Zimmerman's throwing shoulder and the certainty of major shoulder surgery or him going to 1b asap.

Then again, if there are no teams willing to pay $15 mil for a season then we ride the war horse hard to the post season and afterwards he is UR'd.

Donald said...

@Froggy -- I agree about that the issue with Zim's throwing. That's the only reason I raised the topic of dealing LaRoche. They have way more invested in Zim than LaRoche. If the only place on the diamond Zim can reliably play is 1B, then trading LaRoche now may make some sense. If they think Zim can hold down 3B or are willing to sit Span push Zim to LF, then LaRoche stays. But as it stands now, everyone cringes each time Zim has to make a throw from third. He's probably their best hitter but how are people going to feel with him at 3b in a tied play-off game with a fast batter at the plate? Or Zim in LF with the go-ahead runner on third with 1 out? And if you pull Zim for a defensive replacement, how are you going to feel removing his clutch bat?

It's okay to roll the dice now while there are a lot of games left to play and the Nats are tied for 1st. How about when there are just a few games left and each one is critical?

blovy8 said...

Murphy would be a good addition, and even help in 2015 at his likely arbitration value, but he's played well enough to raise the asking price and the Mets aren't dumb or desperate enough to give him away anymore.

I agree the key at the moment is the health of Zimm, but they do have Treinen. No trade is really necessary unless they feel like Det cannot be stretched out ever again for a doubleheader or that Cole can't have his ML clock started this season. If JZ's out for the year, I might set those gears in motion in a pinch before I'd pony up the price for Price for 45 starts. If their need is assessed as fourth starter level, then Det et al are just as good and why deal for pitching all?

You can't part with a hitter like LaRoche when you're trying to win, especially in this run-scoring environment. I think the plan on opening day is still the best one. Sit LaRoche against lefties now and then, transition Zim to 1st, with the added new benefit of working him at left for Harper or Span down the stretch with Espinosa getting some right-handed at-bats and Hairston getting a start a few times in left when the match-up is good. Espinosa has done nothing to really earn more playing time than that. The modest improvement any bench deal would make is probably not worth the minor leaguer(s) they'd give up - such is the developmental puzzle to me, that even an oldish fellow laboring at AA like Cutter Dykstra is now looking like he could get a cup of coffee in an emergency some day. Destin Hood has even started to look like he was worth drafting.

The hype on Taylor is getting thick though, I really don't see how someone could think he's ready given his contact issues. Why do they need him to rush him up and waste developmental time, when Souza is raking at the higher level? Taylor's probably a guy who needs AAA where he'll see a lot of off-speed stuff, and it's pretty much guaranteed that 30% K's in AA equal 40% in the ML if not more. Regardless, there aren't atbats to experiment with for these guys currently unless you don't care about the playoffs, you're not looking at Trout, Puig, or Harper-level talent. Just because he's leap-frogged over Goodwin on the prospect list doesn't make him ready.

Froggy said...

It looks like LaRoche salary is a sunk cost, so why not enjoy him as long as we can, right? At the end of the cost benefit analysis, he's the kind of guy we need going into the second half and possibly the post season. Agree with Bloch8, sir him against lefties and use Zim at first. I'm buying a LaRoche jersey next home game!

blovy8 said...

In my experience Froggy, if you buy a guy's jersey, he's almost certainly gone the next year.