Nationals Baseball: Friday Quickie - C & 1B revisited

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Quickie - C & 1B revisited

Answering some comments

Explain more about your Wild Card tweet

So I said that the modern relief usage undercut the theory behind the introduction of the Wild Card game. The move to a WC playoff game happened for several reasons (never forget $$$) but primarily because it didn't seem like disadvantage to be a Wild Card or an advantage to play one. In order to correct that they added an extra team and a one-game playoff, the theory being that

1) teams would want to win the division rather than leave their playoff fate to a single game
2) WC teams that won that single game would have exhausted their best pitchers giving the #1 seed a decided advantage in their playoff series.

The first point holds absolutely true. No one wants to be the WC if the division is winnable. But the second point grows less meaningful every year. Teams have grown very successful at cultivating the 5-6 IP starter and the strong bullpen as a way to succeed lessening the need for a strong Johnson/Schilling like 1-2 punch. You may have noticed many teams in this years playoff lacked that #1 guy. Even if they do have a true ace, it matters less than you would think. If they do run them out in that WC game, that's fine because as described above they no longer lean on that ace as they did even 5 years ago. They lean on the pen. And as was pointed out to me, when you are battling for the WC you often aren't thinking about setting up the WC game. That means you might have used your ace at the end of the year making them unlikely to pitch in the WC game and thus ready to pitch twice in that DS.

All in all the new playoff format does give wild card teams a significant disadvantage. No one wants to play a single-game elimination to start the playoffs. But as for giving division winners that play the Wild Card a significant advantage, that hasn't happened and I'm not sure it can be done. If you are in the playoffs, you are good and in a short series against a good team, even the best can go down.

Maybe Ramos overswung to compensate for lost power and that led to a bad September.

Maybe but in August he had by far his best slugging month. 6 homers, a .241 isoSLG (which is really good). So then you are saying he overswung in August it worked but pitchers caught on and got to him in Sept? Or even less likely he was swinging regularly in August and then said "I want to hit 10 homers in September! I'm King of the Homers!" and started overswinging... I don't see it. I'm sticking to getting tired.

Trade for Blake Swihart! 

The Red Sox have two very good catching prospects and have given first crack at the position to the defensively superior Christian Vazquez, so Swihart may be available (maybe - they are most likely going to see if Vazquez hits ok this season before doing anything and they could try to move Swihart to another position if he hits like crazy). Can the Nats deal for him? Sure. But it's going to take a lot. Like Cole or Taylor + something a lot. That's the going rate. I don't think it's worth it.

We should be ready to trade for a mid-season catching replacement 

Agree. If Ramos goes down again you can't rely on Lobaton to catch 100 games. Now if Ramos is simply struggling I think you have to wait it out until at least the trade deadline.

Sucks to be having this discussion now


Sign Martin, make Ramos back-up, trade Lobaton. 

Sure. It's not my money.

Wait, what is your 1B plan again? 

Ok MY 1B plan would be Zimmerman with Daric Barton as a back-up (plays against tough RHP and comes in for D if Zimm doesn't adapt like we think he will). With the contingency plan that if Zimm gets injured again, Barton doesn't play 1B regularly, Werth does and one of the young OFs (Souza/Taylor) come in to replace him.

In the comments I've inferred that some (most?) want it to be Zimm with Werth as the defacto back-up, and when he gives Zimm a day off a young guy comes in for Werth. That's fine by me too, but I like the Barton idea because the lefty bat and good defense is a good foil for Ryan. It makes sense for your back-ups to have complementary skills.

What about Souza at 1B? 

Seems like a waste of his skills as he's a better OF than Werth or Bryce.

Will Werth except the move?  Does the fact he's still in RF rather than LF prove he's stubborn about it?

No idea. I'd like to think the guy will be receptive to moving and even if he's not at first, can be shown that he's not a good OF anymore. I don't know. As for the LF thing, they put Bryce in LF because Werth was set at the time in RF and now LF is what Bryce knows so they probably don't want to move him. Werth also thought at the time, take this for what you will, that LF being the easier position was the better position for Bryce to learn to play the OF. He didn't seem against moving at some point. It's all a funny confidence guessing game at times.

Daric Barton? He stinks! And he hits lefties better historically.

True (on the last point) but that hasn't been true the last few years. He's become a more typical lefty bat hitting righties better than lefties. I give heavy weight to the recent history especially when it covers more than just the last year.

Werth might just be awful in the IF, you ever think about that? 

Sure maybe. It's worth a look I think but you're right. He may be terrible at fielding grounders quickly. If so, I want to hear that, though. (not that I expect to, but I'd want to)

Stephen Vogt! He hits left-handed can catch and play first.

Good idea, but your latter thought, that the A's would want to keep him, is on point. He not a FA until 2020 and isn't arb eligible for a few years. He's not just cheap he's super cheap. Now Jaso is a possibility... if you like terrible catching.

Doesn't the first baseman have to make throws? 

Ummm... yes. But it's the position where that's the least important so you stick Zimm there and hope over the course of the season he adapts and is ok by the end. No, it's not perfect but it's the best decision.


Anonymous said...

Ramos scares me because when he is cold at the plate he is below average offensively, defensively, and running

Chinatown Express said...

Anon: The phrase "Ramos . . . is below average . . . running" makes me smile. It's like "a Hummer H2 has below-average handling." Or "Little Debbie snack cakes have below-average nutritional value."

Chaz R said...

Ramos just ran out of gas in September-October. I would think that is also abundantly clear to him and that he will do what he can in the offseason to adjust.

It just sucks that the Nats put together a really nice 162 game/6 month season, especially down the stretch, and here they are at home with 2 WC teams playing in the WS.

JWLumley said...

I don't fully understand its impact, but smart people like Friedman have targeted catchers who hit like pitchers, but are excellent pitch-framers. Wilson Ramos is below average at pitch framing and has negative impact being worth -2.6 RAA in a shortened season, Lobaton only has a slightly positive impact with 0.2 RAA. Basically, Ramos needs to hit really well to have value, but Russell Martin does hit well and also frames pitches well. The Nats should sign Martin and use Ramos as a backup/bat off the bench.

KW said...

I had to laugh at the comment about trading for a viable catcher at mid-season. You guys must believe in the Tooth Fairy, or at least Kurt Suzuki.

I kind of like the Jaso idea. He'd be a strong LH bat off the bench and a backup at both C and 1B. Whether he would make Lobotan expendable, or if he'd be there mainly for his bat, I don't know. One of the canards in baseball I hate most is the thought that you can't PH your backup catcher.

Let's have Beane include Jaso in our deal for Josh Donaldson . . .

JWLumley said...

@KW Jaso and Donaldson for Cole with Tyler Moore going to San Francisco along with Danny Espinosa and Michael Morse going to Oakland. Did I leave anyone out?

KW said...

Sounds good to me, although Mikey is about to be a FA. (I'm surprised the Nats' blogosphere doesn't have the campaign going to be bring him back.)

Seriously, though, Donaldson would take a big package to pry loose, but he'd be my dream piece to fill the IF hole. Plus he'd be yet another emergency catcher!

Anonymous said...

I think it was my comment about Ramos and the hamate bone that got replied to.

I think the idea that pitchers/scouting could have made adjustments in September is a fairly conservative theory. I also think talking about ISO over the course of 90 something plate appearances is probably not a extremely accurate picture. Guy overswings into a couple bad pitches and boom upgraded ISO. He did strike out at a higher rate in August than September.

Again I its only a theory but unless someone has lots of film pre and post injury probably not one that can be substantiated, but I don't think it can be dismissed easily either. (in case my defense didn't show that)

Anonymous said...

Why isn't anyone intrigued about a trade for Edwin Encarnacion? Guy puts up real good numbers and I think we need another heavy bat in the line up considering LaRoche is gone. Seems affordable and it isn't an experiment either. Harper brought it up casually but perhaps its a good move!

Chaz R said...

Encarnacion is a good idea, but really how necessary? Where is he going to play? Is the thinking for another RH bat to platoon with Zim at 1B?

KW said...

Encarnacion's career OPS is only seven points more than Zimmerman's, he's two years older, and he would take some significant bait to acquire. What's the point, particularly for a RH bat with no place to play? Sure, if the Nats could trade for him straight up for Zimmerman, that would be worth considering because of Encarnacion's recent power surge, but that's not how the world works. Save our bait for a quality 2B or 3B.

Anonymous said...

ZNN and Desmond for Tulowitzki. Just sayin'.

John C. said...

Why do the Rockies make that trade? They aren't in "win now" mode, and Desmond & Zimmermann would be rental players. It makes no sense. If they move Tulo, it will be for a premium package of prospects.

Anonymous said...

On the WC card point, one thing that would make it more of a punishment is to play both WC games on Tuesday (assuming season ends on a Sunday; need Monday for possible tiebreaker) and then one of them has to play on Wednesday, the other on Thursday (rotated annually by league). That the Giants only had to play one game b/w Sunday and Friday meant their bullpen would be fully rested even if they had to use them in the WC game (which they obviously didn't).

Harper said...

Anon #1 / JW - eh he's average defensively, at least in my mind. wasn't last year but 2013 looked better and you gotta look over a couple years.

Martin and Ramos is ballsy. Thus not going to happen

KW / JW - Someone with a decent catcher will be bad midseason. Whether you want to pay for it is the real question.

I'm just asking Beane to give us everyone good. Let him pick out the ones he wants to keep

Anon #2 - It's a viable theory. I'll still say I like mine better though. I think the overswinging that's tough to nail down because it's not exactly bad judgment either. He could just be swinging really hard at good pitches in your definition. How to pick that out?

However if we do look at overswinging as something that's done in concert with more swinging - that's a annual trend

John C - It's a salary dump I guess but like you say, you can get something (much) better for Tulo.

Anon - both WC games should be day before DS starts. That's the only way to really give the team playing the WC an advantage. There's a much better chance to have to rest some pen arms or run them out ragged if they play WC-G1-G2 in succession.