Nationals Baseball: Still dreaming...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Still dreaming...

The Fait Accompli became just accompli last night as the Nats clinched the NL East. Most of us had called it at least a couple of weeks ago and you could have been justified calling it as early as Aug 23rd after the Braves put up their first good run in a long while going 7-2 over nine games... and they lost a game in the standings to the streaking Nats.

Still that doesn't make it any less exciting for Nats fans. The whole "Waffle House" thing turned me off a little as it totally went against my DBAD life philosophy but find me a fanbase that wouldn't react in a similar manner and I'll point out that you are referencing a fictional population from children's book about fair play.

I titled this post in reference to a post I made after 2012, in which I noted how the Nats were propelled to their title in large part due to great pitcher health. They literally had 0 starts that year made for injury reasons. Wang started 4 games when they thought he could be the 5th, and one game to set the rotation back to normal rest after a double header.  Lannan started 2 DH games and four games in place of Strasburg. Gorzelanny started 1 to set the rotation for the playoffs.

In 2013 things got a little worse, but still weren't terrible.  The Nats had 22 injury starts (Ohlendorf made 3 starts related to DHs) primarily for Detwiler who suffered an injury early, then after a brief comeback was out for the season. There were also a couple starts for Haren and one for Stras.

This year? More health. The Nats have had 9 injury starts (Treinen had a DH spot start) as Fister (5 Jordan, 1 Treinen) and Gio (3 Treinan) both missed a little bit of time.

Assuming all goes to plan over the next dozen or so games the Nats will have had only 31 injury starts over the past 3 seasons. In other words the guy they wanted to have on the mound was there almost 94% of the time. The Braves, for contrast, lost about 31 starts just in 2014 just for Beachy.

It's tempting to say Rizzo is great! Shutdown worked! but I'm not sure we can go that far. Rizzo does right by giving the Nats young arms, arms with history of health, and keeping the immediate rotation depth strong, but beyond that the Nats were fortunate. Some pitchers are going to get hurt; see : Detwiler, Purke, Solis, hell Strasburg went out under Rizzo. The Nats haven't had bad luck cost them.

Other notes :

I haven't heard and I hope I never hear "No one believed in us".  Everyone believed in the Nats, and that's after the Nats burned everyone last year. The talent on this team was undeniably better than anyone in the NL East.

I'm curious - what would make a March 2015 version of yourself satisfied? Obviously a World Series victory is the crown everyone wants but how far would the Nats have to go for you to look back and say it was a successful season? Personally I'm going with "make the World Series".  Obviously another NLDS exit wouldn't do it. They need to improve on the past. An NLCS appearance though, doesn't feel like enough to me.

56 comments:

Jimmy said...

Tanner Roark has been phenomenal this year. Enough cannot be said about him, and yet I keep waiting for the wheels to fall off and he keeps delivering. 7 ip 0 ER in the season clincher, awesome.

EmDash said...

I'd be reasonably satisfied with an NLCS appearance as long as it's well-played/close. If they get there and collapse that would leave things on a sour note.

Jimmy said...

@EmDash- that is called settling and you shouldn't settle for tying for 3rd they don't even make trophies for that.

EmDash said...

I mean, obviously I'd be happiest with a World Series win. But the topic is "what's enough for you to feel okay about the season?," and that's where I am on that.

pauloyd said...

They won the division - so I am okay with this season. You can't predict ball, especially in the postseason.

Harper said...

Jimmy - on one hand only one pitcher has faced an easier set of opponents by Opponents OPS than Roark (it's Gio!) on the other hand he beat them like a drum like you'd want him to. I don't see how you can pen him.


Strasburger said...

To be honest my goal is winning the NLCS, but that in turn makes my goal for winning the World Series. To me, match-up wise, if the Nats can get by the Dodgers starting KERSHAW THREE TIMES (assuming we play them in the NLCS), then we can smoke any AL team.

I seriously think that there is a good chance we could see an O's Nats WS. Can you imagine that atmosphere along the beltway?! Being able to see every game in person.

Gives me chills just thinking about it. Nothing amps me up more than playoff baseball.

Jay said...

I second Pauloyd. Unless they fall apart in the postseason in a fairly obvious way, I'm going to be pleased with this season no matter what happens in the playoffs. I want a World Series, but all they can do is play well. I won't be angry in the long term if they lose because baseball is baseball.

Jimmy said...

@Harper can only play the hand you are dealt and your right he has delivered. I still think they pen him though, if MW is anything he is a traditionalist (thus far anyway) he will want a lefty in a start.

Jimmy said...

Honestly I really just don't need another playoff loss/meltdown like 2012 anything but that. I'm a through and through dc fan but that loss had to be one of the worse gut wrenching losses that I've ever experienced.

cass said...

On some level, I'll be happy to watch Strasburg in a playoff game. That was the one missing ingredient in 2012, even though I agreed with the shutdown.

But, like I said last post, success is winning the first pennant for DC in integrated baseball history. Call me old-fashioned, but divisions come and go; flags fly forever. Winning the league title is baseball immortality.

Plus I'd love to see all these guys in the World Series.

My great fear is that the Nats will lose their drive and fire over the next two weeks of playing meaningless games and will get shocked in the first round by a hot team. I think they can match up with anyone in a seven game series.

cass said...

My rotation solution would be 4/5 innings of Gio and 4/5 of Roark. Why not? It'd stop opponents from optimizing lefty-righty against them and give our bullpen a day off. They could still both prepare as starters, since the second guy would know when he's coming in.

Anonymous said...

I'm hoping they keep up their drive over the next couple weeks if only to try and secure the top seed and home field. I think playing the WC winner, who will presumably have used their best pitcher already, will be huge for us. That would give the Dodgers and Cardinals the chance to beat each other up, meaning (1) we wouldn't have to face both of them, and (2) they may have used their best pitcher in an elimination game, making him unavailable for 3 starts in the NLCS.

That's all just hope though, and I think the Dodgers have an easier home stretch, so it may be a pipe dream.

Zimmerman11 said...

World Series appearance would be enough knowing that the team is intact next season and could look forward to potentially seeing postseason baseball a few more times over the next 3-4 years. World Series loss would sting though!

Expectation for 2012 team was the NLCS, they didn't make it, but the expectation for this team should be higher... this team is better.

Jimmy said...

@ cass lol that would be cool but no way anything like that happens.

Donald said...

I think the odds are that the Nats will be the top seed. They are up one in the win column and 2 in the loss column against the Dodgers. Even if the Dodgers tie them, the Nats win the tie-breaker on head-to-head record. So we'll likely play the Giants or Pirates in the first round, with the Dodgers and Cards facing off. Losing that first series would be a big disappointment against a wild card team.

Assuming the Nats make the second round, losing to the Cards would feel like a failure given the past history. That would really sting. But losing to the Dodgers, particularly if Kershaw pitches twice would be acceptable. A disappointment, but acceptable.

Erich said...

@ cass- No way MW would ever do that. Agree, it is a good idea. Depends on whether bullpen needs a day off though.

John C. said...

Well Harper, at least you're giving Rizzo some credit ("Rizzo does right by the Nationals ... .") while also citing good fortune. Guess what? ALL playoff teams are the result of that type of good fortune. Where are the Dodgers if Kershaw and/or Greinke break? You can play that game with any roster. I would argue that the Nats have had bad luck with position player injuries, with the good luck kernal at the core that (so far, knock on wood) none of the key injuries were for the rest of the season.

Bottom line, Rizzo has done one hell of a job. When you say "the talent on this team was undeniably better than anyone in the NL East," that's a feather in Rizzo's cap and if you won't say so explicitly I will note the implicit compliment. In the WaPo today Barry Svrluga quoted a scout who thinks "Washington has the best roster, one through 45, of anybody in baseball." That's not luck. That's Rizzo and his staff.

For contrast, while the Braves lost many starts for Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen I would argue those injuries had very little impact on their season, because their pitching has not been the problem. They picked up Santana to replace Medlen and the weird phenomenon that is Aaron Harang's 2014 season (all those baserunners, so few runs!) neatly replaced much, if not all, of Beachy's production. The problem is that the rest of the roster is built around bad free agent signings (B.J. Upton, Uggla before they dumped him), bad assumptions about ability (Chris Johnson, Simmons with the bat) and a bench that makes the Nats' bench look excellent. That's a GM problem, because the Braves' core problem was in their position players, who were remarkably healthy this year.

So congratulations to the Nationals players, coaches and organization. Well done, a necessary first step. Going forward, I think the season is a qualified success now; they've proven that they ARE good, that 2012 was not a fluke/one-off.

Going forward, we all know the playoffs are a crap shoot. Analysis has shown that going into the playoffs hot or cold doesn't really matter, going in with the #1 seed doesn't really matter. Getting to the playoffs (past the Wild Card "play-in" game) is what matters. They've done that. Personally I'll be disappointed if they don't get to the NLCS. After that, it's all gravy.

Or another way of looking at it: as long as the Nats get one round farther than the O's, I'm good!

Wally said...

I watched the 'Kolko beer-drench' last night for a while.

Best line (paraphrasing from memory)
Dan: What can you say about the job Matt Williams did as a rookie manager to take this team to the NL East title?
Were-Werth: Well, for starters, he was given a really good team.


2d best
Dan: Your team seemed to struggle early, and then turned it on. What do you think the turning point was?
Matt Williams: the 10 game winning streak really helped.


Got a few chuckles out of both of those.

Kenny B. said...

It was so nice to do the clinching on a shutout of Atlanta to emphatically put that boogeyman behind us. I still would rather go into the post season as the best NL team and secure that home field/wildcard opponent combo, but I'm less freaked out about the St. Louis Boogeyman than I have been in the stretch run up to this point.

I'm with others in thinking a division series win feels like progress and would leave me feeling pretty good as long as the NLCS doesn't end with a sweep of the Nats or an elimination game meltdown a la 2012.

But of course, the World Series is the goal. Rings look really nice with pennants.

Kenny B. said...

@Wally: Sports media interpretation of Werth comment, "Did Werth disrespect Matt Williams as a manager?"

Harper said...

john C - Yes, everyone needs luck. All any team can do is lessen the blows of bad luck by building a roster that should be healthy, building a good bench and making good in-season moves.

You sound angry as if I'm slighting Rizzo. I've always maintained he has a great ability to do the first thing on the list above. Which is incidentally the most important. The second thing he seems to be improving on and the third... well the jury is still out on that but that's a good thing - means the first thing really worked out.

I'd say he's one of the better GMs (top 10? Top 5) in the majors and he has a chance to prove himself to be elite over the next few years, if he can make this run of success last beyond this initial period

Froggy said...

Yes, Rizzo deserves a lot of credit (can't believe I'm saying that...) blah, blah...but the players are what has got the team to where it is, not Rizzo. Seems like this team of players has good faith in the coaches and each other and really believes they should be in the post season in a different way this year than 2012.

As far as what would make for a happy March 2015, of course winning the WS, but other than that, being able to go to games 3,4,5 and seeing a great series.

Bang, zoom!

Chinatown Express said...

@Wally- My favorite was Gio's description of Matt Williams. "One word: 'He wins.'"

John C. said...

Hey Harper, thanks for responding. I wasn't/am not angry about it, so apologies if that's what came across. My intent was to make explicit what was implicit in your OP. It's always easy to focus on the negative in our culture, and I think that giving credit where credit is due gets short shrift sometimes. We spend a lot of time chewing (sometimes ad nauseum) on things we dislike/don't agree with, that it starts to feel lopsided. So I turned up the volume on the kudos a bit. :)

FWIW, I agree with you on Rizzo's placement as a GM (somewhere between #5-#10, with a chance to move up). Probably closer to #5 than #10, but we'll see. I also agree that his move into the elite will be determined on how he transitions from "up & coming" organization to "established" organization. I don't know how that will come out, but he's certainly earned the chance to try by creating the up & coming organization almost from scratch. As you say, facing challenge #3 is good, because it means challenge #1 was aced. It will be interesting to watch.

Harper said...

John C - To me the question with Rizzo lies with the fact that some of this is Bowden-time residue (not alot but a sprinkling) and he was spotted Strasburg and Bryce, two moves anyone would make. Combined it's just enough to say... "ok he gets the lion share of credit but without those things are the Nats THIS good?"

What's coming up is very interesting because there are impt FA moves to make (LaRoche, Span, Fister, ZNN, Desmond, Clippard) over the next two offseasons, the long-term signings may come back to haunt him, and the minor league system is not flush. Maybe it all works out. Maybe Zimm can stay healthy, Werth ages slowly, Giolito becomes Kershaw, Cole develops into a #2 type, Bryce breaks out. But barring everything at the top working out he's going to have to work to keep this team a favorite in 2016 and beyond. But that's really an offseason topic. (and you could argue 2015 offseason because they are going to be favored next year too)

Wally said...

@KennyB - is that actually going on, or are you just speculating? I haven't heard it taken that way, although clearly Werth put the roles in context, and was spot on in my book. Hard to believe that Matty, as a former player, would disagree.

@ Chinatown - I remember Gio being interviewed, but missed that part. It would definitely have made the list. I do remember him calling down Carp and FP for the dousing.

I also enjoyed Kolko's 'its in the eyes, its in the eyes, oh no, its in the eyes'. It reminded me of Schwarzenegger's line from the Simpsons - the goggles do nothing!'.

Anonymous said...

What are people's opinions of putting Roark in the rotation instead of Gio for the playoffs. His ERA is a full run better and GIo is unbelivably unreliable. He could either throw a shutout or get knocked out in the 1st inning.

WiredHK said...

The Nationals have helped me love baseball again. I grew up an O's fan (being raised in Nova) but became so angry with Angelos in the late 90s that I threw out my affection for both the O's and MLB on the whole.

With the Nats arriving in the mid 2000s, I rediscovered the game and an appreciation for it. Watching this franchise evolve and grow into what we see now, I feel pretty fortunate to live in this area (despite the many, many poor examples of how to run a franchise that have existed around here the past two decades).

So for me, and I get that this is idealistic, but the season is already a success. I've had a ton of fun watching them over the summer months. They appear to be a special group of guys. They appear to genuinely like each other and have fun in the dugout. They're supremely talented and have done things this year that left me speechless (I took exception to Sportscenter suggesting last night that the Nats' game of the year was the 16 inning win vs Mil; I personally think it was the comeback blowout win over SF at home that left me in the most awe).

So, for me, the challenge will actually be to remind my March 2015 self of these things above if we exit the playoffs without a WS title. Playoffs are a funny thing, and every team that gets there is really, really good. There's zero shame losing to any of them....

Jimmy said...

@ anon
Lately he has been pretty good, his last five starts 2.84 era going 6 and over all 5 times.

WiredHK said...

Don't make me and Lumley debate Roark vs Gio again. :)

But I will say, Harper -- isn't it time to say that Roark, at the minimum, shows no signs of arm fatigue or being worn down at this stage? I know that was a concern...

Harper said...

wired - certainly want to believe it but the last good offensive team he faced was in mid August (didn't do that well) then early August (also not good). He missed the last two decent ones (SF and LA)

So maybe it's him... maybe it's dead teams playing out the string. (which to be honest is be playing out for all the Nats pitchers 2nd half surges)

Good news - we don't see velocity issues.
? news - we do see some movement changes.

I'd err on the side of "No there isn't an issue" but I don't think it's conclusive

cass said...

Dave Cameron echoed my idea in his chat today, but with the added twist of not letting the other team know that the starter will be replaced in a few innings. So let the team gear up to face Roark and then, without warning, drop the Gio hammer on their lefty lineup.

MW will never do it, but it would be awesome.

WiredHK said...

Even mediocre MLB teams beat up on a pitcher who is pitching poorly or who has lost his fastball (see: Soriano, R). If he is dominating teams we would like to see him dominate, to me, that's case closed on the question of his durability pitching this deep into a season. Sorry, I'm not swayed by your weak reservations....

Even the best pitchers have trouble vs potent offenses at times. That's not really proving any fatigue issues at all. It just proves they are...good at hitting.

Chaos said...

What would make March, 2015? Looking back on Ryan Zimmerman's pinch-hit walkoff to finish the Series in Game 5 @ Nats Park...the minimum is making the Series (though I might live with a 7 game NLCS, just as long as it's not like 2012's end)

Chaos

Froggy said...

For me the 'make exceptions for why Roark is good' train pulled out of the station awhile ago. He's pitched 192 innings, (second only to Strasburg) .240 BAA , 1.10 whip. In fact his numbers look remarkably similar to our NL all star Jordan Zimmermann. Both with almost identical 2.83-85 ERA.

Time to stop talking about who's prettier and dance with who brung ya...Tanner.

cass said...

And I missed it earlier, but there's an entire article about the bait 'n switch righty/lefty starter thing. Apparently the 1924 Nats did it in the World Series.

http://www.hardballtimes.com/playing-the-as-grow-a-beard./

Let's build some momentum and make it happen.

Gonzoark for Game 4.

Super Homer said...

I know this has little chance of happening, but building on the idea of a dual Gonzalark start...

It would allow for a de facto DH in a NL-ruled game.

Save it for a home game so you can possibly get 3 innings pitched by the first guy, pull the starter in the bottom of the third inning for a pinch hitter.

If the pitcher comes up sooner, gauge the situation.

No runners on? Maybe you go another cycle. In this case, the Nats have probably already scored a few runs.

Men on base? And you have Roalez ready in the wings? Pinch hit the crap out of that situation.

When the second pitcher AB comes up, re-evaluate, rinse, repeat. And then you are into the bullpen.

Jay said...

The Rockies are killing the Dodgers at the moment. Here's hoping the Nats can pull off a win and drop the new magic number to 8. Up 2.5 games (3 in the loss column) with 10 or 11 games to go. Good times.

I like Roark - the man was lights out last night, but Gonzalez has to pitch. The two big questions to me are Soriano - yes or no on the postseason roster, and where does Zimmerman play - it took him about 100 AB before he really started hitting earlier this year. My vote sadly is yes on Soriano (just can't bring myself to leave him out entirely), and yes on Zimmerman (he's the face of the franchise and the at the heart of "I'll do whatever is needed to win" attitude that makes this team so much fun to watch.

Just going to try and enjoy it no matter what.

In my opnion, I'll be mildly disappointed if they don't make it to the WS, but I view this year as a success already. They overcame a lot of injuries and proved to be head and shoulders about the rest of the division. People forget - it was Atlanta's offense that killed them this year, not their pitching. I'm hoping BJ Upton bats leadoff next year too.

John C. said...

Harper, there is some residue from Bowden (Zimmerman, Desmond, Detwiler - even Bowden credits Rizzo with drafting Zimmermann) but there's not much. And its more than offset by the otherwise crappy drafts, free agent signings and the implosion of the team's operations in Latin America that are only know beginning to bear fruit again.

And sure, Rizzo drafted Harper and Strasburg. But Harper and Strasburg have both been very uneven this year, whether due to injuries, inconsistency or both. There's this assumption that, because they were drafted 1/1, they are destined to be Kershaw/Trout. Not only is that a ridiculous expectation, but even if they make it they are clearly not there yet. The team's success has been helped by Strasburg and Harper, but in no sense can the team's success be said to be driven by Strasburg and Harper.

I'll go back to the scout's point in the quote I mentioned earlier, that the Nats' roster, from one to 45, was the best in baseball. No matter how you slice it, Stras/Harp are only two of those spots. I think Rizzo gets underrated a lot because people are constantly bombarded with Stras/Harp hype (to the point where there's been a backlash in many circles) and so lose track of the depth of the quality that is what really makes the team.

Kenny B. said...

@Wally, no, no one has actually said that, just mocking the tabloid nature of sports press.

Man, can you imagine the hype for a Harper v. Trout World Series? That would be good for the whole sport of baseball. Take note, umps, in case you see some close calls in October that can go either way.

Wally said...

Is anyone really underrating Rizzo these days? I'd be surprised if any of the people in the game are. There has to be a decent chance he gets Exec of the Year. There are certainly bigger and flashier names, like Beane and Dombrowski, but it seems impossible to argue with his top to bottom turnaround of the Nats, and he has an almost unparalleled talent for acquiring and/or developing pitching talent.

But baseball is complicated and hard, and as well as Rizzo has done, he has a heck of a tough road coming up in the next year or two. Stay with the core and drift into Philly payroll territory? Let them go and drop back for a couple of years, with no guarantee of recovery? These rules where the owners agreed to cap amateur spending make it much harder to build through the draft again (it still seems shocking that the teams agreed to tie their hands like that). But he has some big ticket decisions coming up.

My guess is that this post season goes a long way to deciding what they do. Win the WS, and I'll bet they bring back numerous guys. Out in the NLDS, and maybe there is a big turnover as soon as this offseason (maybe). In between, depends on how close and how much.

JWLumley said...

Holy Crap, how'd I miss this post yesterday. You let me down Google Now, you let me down. Even missed a Murray Chass-ian rant from John C. At least I'm guessing that's what it it was, since I didn't read it.

Still, to weigh in a day late and a dollar short. I'd be happy with a World Series appearance or if they get Kershaw'd in the NLCS, or rather play well in the NLCS, but lose to Kershaw 3 times and someone else once.

I heard a piece on the Effectively Wild podcast from Baseball Prospectus where they interviewed an expert in Sports Medicine and it really changed my opinion on Rizzo. It sounds like the Nats are employing some of the most up to date knowledge about what causes injuries and applying it on a case by case basis, which is key--at least according to this expert--because genetics can vary greatly. The Nats have had pitching injuries, but it's been at a significantly lower rate than other big league teams org wide. Really, if Rizzo would just use some basic advanced metrics in player evaluation, he'd be a phenomenal GM, perhaps the best in baseball.

Kenny B. said...

@JWL, that's interesting. It definitely feels like they do a good job in maintaining pitcher health, and it would fit well with their strategy of picking up injury risk players in the draft at a discount. Do they apply the same ideas to position players and pitchers? I feel like they treat pitchers like china dolls, but position players are supposed to "walk it off," but I don't have any special knowledge that informs that perception.

Also, I think I read once that Rizzo does use advanced metrics in conjunction with traditional scouting, and uses some metrics that the team has developed itself and keeps secret. It's the sort of thing we'll probably never find out much about unless there's some kind of leak, but so far Rizzo's player evaluation methods have been pretty solid in terms of results, even beyond the much discussed "sure bets" of Strasburg and Harper.

cass said...

Who are the 5+ GM's ahead of Rizzo? Just curious.

JWLumley said...

@KennyB I think Rizzo uses metrics and the Nats have an Advanced Metrics staff, but they don't seem to be a focal point and they make a lot of moves that would go against most of what advanced metrics tell us. They also don't seem to use it in lineup construction at all and seem enamored with the gritty Kevin Frandsen types that advanced metrics universally agree hurt your chances of winning, even from the bench. For all the love a guy like Frandsen gets from Mr. Utility Infielder himself, FP Santangelo, he's been below replacement level this year. There's no reason someone who's been at or below replacement level for his career should get 213 PA's in a season. I mean, it's not like there was a track record of success there or there was some upside. It's not even like the low WAR totals are due to poor defense and more spurious defensive metrics. We're talking about a guy with a career .296 wOBA. When you consider that Hairston has a career .300 wOBA against right handers and .344 against lefties you don't need Frandsen on your team if you use and trust advanced metrics. Even from a versatility standpoint, have someone who can play 2B, 3B, 1B and LF isn't exactly like he was playing C, SS or CF.

Rizzo also probably never would have traded for Denard Span, because he's never really been down with OBP until this year (side question: Are you down with OBP? Yes, showing my age.)They wouldn't have organizational philosophies like pitching to contact and wouldn't keep acting like Tyler Moore has a future as an everyday big leaguer.

As for treating pitchers more delicately, it may be because they are. A position player can come back from some pretty horrific injuries and be fine, but pitcher's shoulders and arms can only take so much before they're busted for good.

JWLumley said...

@Cass I might say that there's more than 5, but I'd say ahead of Rizzo is Beane, Friedman, Cherington, Epstein, Mozeliak (who I'd say is somewhat in the same mold as Rizzo) are all better currently. Then I'd say there's the next group, which Rizzo is in with people like Sandy Alderson (low payroll isn't his fault), Dave Dombrowski, Sabean, Cashman and John Daniels.

Wally said...

These kind of GM rankings are fun, but ultimately without answers, unless it is just personal preference. Too many variables and too many unknowns to be precise, plus what time frame do you measure?

Seems like @JWL prefers the development type; I think that I like his second group over the first one (minus Sabean; don't really like him but can't argue with the two WS titles).

But my point is, with the exception of Cherington, whom I think is wildly overrated, all of those guys are good and there is no way empirically to say one is better than the other (and Rizzo is certainly in this group, imo). You might be able say one guy has demonstrated better skill in certain areas of being a GM than the others (like identifying and developing amateur talent, or maybe pricing and acquiring major league talent), which could fit your ball club better. But any of those guys would be good choices, I think.

As for Cherington, I think his WS year was fluke/lucky and if you literally remove that year, he's closer to getting fired than making a list like this. Two last place finishes in three years (WS in the middle, sure) and how are all those prospects working out? The WS year, I really think that they got incredibly lucky betting on a bunch of older guys who all had big years for them at the same time. Plus, most of their prospects get huge hype but fizzle out. Bradley, Bogaerts, Middlebrooks, Webster, De La Rosa, Ranaudo, Workman. I don't think any of those are guaranteed starters for the majority of their careers (to me). No way that I'd take him over Rizzo.

Bjd1207 said...

@JW - I'm down with OBP (Yea you know me)

Confused by your point "Rizzo would never have traded for Span"

Rizzo did trade for Span...

And a big part of your analysis leaves out the available options. With Span the option was him or Michael Bourn who had better offensive metrics, similar D, but he went for 4yr/$48mil compared to picking up Spans last 2 years at $10 mil. Not saying Bourn wouldnt be objectively better but is he $14mil better?

Also Scott Hairston's never played infield since his rookie year I think. It's one thing to pick up a utility guy and have him cover 1st. It's a whole different story asking a career right fielder to turn double plays or man the hot corner. Would you be willing to risk all of that on .004 points of wOBA over the course of their careers? I wouldn't

Anonymous said...

JWL,

I agree with a lot of what you say except for "They wouldn't have organizational philosophies like pitching to contact and wouldn't keep acting like Tyler Moore has a future as an everyday big leaguer."

I think you might be conflating "things said to the media" with "things the organization actually believes." Regarding T-Mo, how many MLB ABs has he gotten this year? Pretending to the media that he's a big leaguer may positively affect his value, but the playing time evidence sure is that they don't think of him as anything more than a bench bat, if that. And notwithstanding all the McCatty nonsense about pitching to contact, the starting pitchers K rates suggest that isn't an actual team wide philosophy.

JE34 said...

Postseason hooks will be quicker - so I fully expect to see Gonzoark happen. We will see Tanner if/when Gio has his bad first inning and trouble finding the plate in innings 2-3, especially if the Nats are up against a top shelf arm. Perhaps not Gonzoark by design, but it'll happen. I would put Gio in the pen and go with "Roalez" at the first sign of trouble against a lefty lineup, but I don't see MW doing that.

Will be happy with the Nats reaching the WS... division champ banners are nice and all, just kinda lame when it comes to in-park advertisements of success. Gotta start somewhere though. Plus, each of us needs to hear Charlie Slowes go nuts with a pennant win. He has overused the "remember where you are..." line (Pujols' 500th homer?), but it'll be acceptable then. Ish.


Kenny B. said...

Interesting points. Just remarking on what I recall reading once. I'm by no means an expert on these matters (learning slowly, largely by being an avid reader of this blog), but I understand most good baseball people, and even true stat-heads don't think sabermetrics should be the exclusive means of player evaluation. Rizzo seems to have an eye for the reasonably priced, above average player, and he seems to be pretty good at making deals (although that perception is largely from the great Fister heist and the Capps-for-Ramos robbery).

In any case, as Nats fans, we can second guess him all day long in blog comments to discuss and entertain, but at this point, we have to at least give him the benefit of the doubt until he hits the bad times. I mean, we've got 2 division championships in three years, with the first coming only two years after a long campout in the division cellar. None of this Kansas City-style ten years of waiting for the seeds to bloom, he made good on the promise of "rebuilding" in a way that makes the more popular DC-named sports club in Landover look pathetic and impotent.

Just re-read what I wrote, and it came off super-Boz-like. I'm posting it anyway, because I'm feeling' the Natitude, and narratives are fun.

Anonymous said...

John C. makes some persuasive, evidence based points about Rizzo'ner. More so than our fearless automaton who conveniently ignored his comments regarding the Braves' excellent rotation replacements negating the injuries to their starters. I also agree with the sentiment that there is a negativity impulse in online forums that should be occasionally be pushed back against, when credit is due and credit is certainly due here. I agree with Harper that Rizzo can make himself elite by handling the Established Franchise mantle as well as he's handled the Up And Coming one.

JWL, are you saying that in some alternate universe Rizzo would not have traded for Span? Because in this one, he did. If I recall correctly, it was around the same time that BJ Upton signed with the Braves for $75M and there was some hand wringing among fans that we didn't make a move for him instead...

cass said...

JE34:

I'd say he already delivered the greatest call in Nationals history for the Jayson Werth home run. Well, the Nook Logan call might be the greatest in a different way, for those who were around back then. Look it up if you've never heard it. :)

I love Charlie and Dave. The only thing is I wish they'd stop complaining about the strike zone so much, especially with such an indignant tone. Okay to point it out, but with some acknowledgement that it's part of the game and it goes both ways.

But for the big moments - Werth's home run or Strasburg's 14 strikeouts, they can't be beat. Thank god Dibble's gone though.

Bjd1207 said...

@cass - I'm right with you on the Charlie and Dave stuff. They often adopt that tone as if some MLB administrator is listening and will swoop in to correct the injustices they're seeing on the field. Dave in particular loves using the "Wonder where that one was?" or "Another miss by Strasburg, right down the middle." Definitely gets under my skin if they refuse to move on from it.

Also Charlie seems to be getting a little punch-drunk lately. They were talking about love boat the other day and Charlie laughed/giggled for like 10 minutes straight on just dumb little jokes. I think it was the off-day game where we played all of our subs, so maybe they were taking a day off too.

Froggy said...

Charlie and Dave are pretty funny. I kind of like how sarcastic they get about the strike zone sometimes.

"A swing.............(triple pause for effect)....and a miss".