Nationals Baseball: Last Year's Offseason Discussions - revisted

Friday, November 14, 2014

Last Year's Offseason Discussions - revisted

It's easy to just throw out some ideas on what the Nats should and shouldn't do and move on. You'll seem pretty smart at the time and there are no consequences because you aren't really connected to the team. But I like consequences. Therefore let's go over what I said last year and if I was SMART or I was SMRT.

My Take: Ramos starts, sign Soto as a back-up, if you can.
Out of Box :Trade Ramos in package for Price. Sign McCann

2014 Reality : Soto ended up getting a chance to start so that couldn't happen, but the Nats did focus on getting a decent back-up trading for Lobaton and it worked out about as well as having a back-up catcher play alot could. The OOB take trading Ramos might have been a smart move, his value only dipped with another injury filled year, and if he could have been a centerpiece for Price even better. Signing McCann would have been a huge mistake but hilarious. If Nats fans don't like him now, imagine the hate when he played terribly and was due a lot of money.

MT: LaRoche is the only option. But please don't use Moore. Sign Baker instead
OOB: Platoon LaRoche with Morse

2014 Reality : My take was so spot on it hurts. Moore was terrible and rightfully shipped down. LaRoche would hit .204/.284/.336 versus lefties.  Baker .319 / .362 / .462.  DAMN YOU RIZZO. Morse would have worked too (.248 / .316 / .511 vs LHP) but he got re-signed to basically start when healthy for the Giants so I don't think he would have come here to platoon.

MT: Rendon and Lombo as the back-up is fine. That's right. I was ok with Lombo as the 25th man.
OOB: Put Rendon at 3rd and Zimmerman at 2nd!

2014 Reality : Rendon was so good that whereever you put him would have been fine. Lombo is better than Frandsen (not hard to do) and cheaper, but if the Tigers wanted him you put him in that deal so fast his grit spins. #25 is #25. Zimmerman at 2nd still intrigues me but given his arm strength issues it probably would have ended badly as outs on balls up the middle and DPs never materialized, replaced by weak flings bouncing into the dugout.

MT: Desmond with Lombo is ok
OOB: Trade Desmond to the Cardinals for Adams, Martinez and Descalso.

2014 Reality : Desmond with whoever was ok.  The OOB trade ceased being a great idea when Zimm stopped being able to play a position. I'm a big Matt Adams fan but if he were on the team now we'd be running into the "where does Zimm play" question all over again. Descalso in place of Desmond would have cost the Nats a couple wins but not enough to effect the pennant and hell - what the worst playoff implication? Nats don't win that one game? Martinez didn't blossom last year but remains an intriguing starter prospect who'd morph nicely into a pen prospect if starting doesn't work. I still like the deal but the hole at SS would be huge. 

MT: Trying Ryan is fine. Jeff Baker would be good enough to back-up if he was signed
OOB: Zimm to 1B, Rendon to 3b, Cano signed.

2014 Reality :WHY DIDN'T THE NATS SIGN BAKER?!  Zimm at 3rd wasn't fine as we found out. As for the OOB, assuming there wasn't a big chemistry issue with LaRoche/Zimm platooning this would have made the Nats a 100+ win team and huge favorites. Does Cano over whoever win the Nats the Giants series and get them a title? We don't know for sure but let's just go ahead and say, yes, yes it would have.

MT: Bryce, Werth, Span is good. Hairston is ok as 4th, sign Gutierrez as the 5th.
OOB: Bring in Ellsbury! Make Span the 4th.

2014 Reality : Gutierrez took the year off. McLouth was brought in to be the 4th. He was pretty terrible but I'm not going to crow for Hairston as being such a great idea. As for the OOB that would have been a bad idea. The Nats maybe get a little better in 2014 (maybe) and end up tied to a big salary. Still the Ellsbury play wouldn't be terrible in the long run, I don't think. At least for a team without the Nats' specific make-up issues. He'd shift to a corner and give good D and value there, and Taylor/Souza would get needed time in majors. But Ellsbury can't with the Nats because Werth is stuck in the corner because Zimm has to play first. This is the reality for the next 3 seasons. The Nats have two first basemen and only one first base.

MT: Sign Kuroda or maybe Hudson. Let others fight it out for 5th.
OOB: Sign Ricky Nolasco and try a 4-man rotation

2014 Reality : Either Kuroda or Hudson would have been fine, (Hudson signing does set up an alternate universe where perhaps the Nats legs have something between them) but Fister is obviously better. Well played Rizzo.  The OOB would have been fun to see but would have blown up as Ricky Nolasco was terrible again. Terrible. Don't listen to my starting pitching ideas is the take away.

MT: Soriano, Storen, Clippard, Stammen, are all good. Maybe sign Boone Logan because Det is done.
OOB: go no lefties -sing Stauffer and Jesse Crain. Let Williams manage

2014 Reality: Det was done, but the Nats really didn't need to sign anyone. Soriano (despite his late season swoon), Storen, Clippard, Stammen were fine. Barrett/Thorton also was good. Logan ened up blowing up and needing surgery but I don't believe anything about pitchers in Colorado. He could have been ok here. Stauffer was fine but no better than what the Nats had. He was still good versus lefties though. Crain never pitched. Again - I don't know pitching apparently.


Chaz R said...

Yep, Baker would have really been a great addition. Didn't the Nats make him an offer and he chose to take the Marlins' offer?

Harper said...

From what I can tell Marlins were willing to go 2 years, Nats weren't. which as you see was a brilliant idea because after Frandsen did nothing special they were able to cut ties wit...oh.

Anonymous said...

Wooo Hooo Frandsen is back!!!! 2015 World Series Champs!!!!

Chaz R said...

Hey Harper, you got some national recognition:

John C. said...

Woo Hoo! You were right about Baker. I guess we will be hearing about that for years and ignoring the starting pitcher follies and other wrong guesses/disaster plans.

Werth is not a first baseman. For starters, he's not a terrible outfielder (yet). Not just the Mark I eyeball, but many of the advance defensive metrics have him at pretty firmly "meh" last year. His arm is good, his range is below par but his hands are good. That's not even getting to the fact that he's barely played IF in his career, and was moved off of 1b as quickly as he was moved onto it in the minors 10 years ago. I know, every time he doesn't get to a baseball it's "man, he's terrible" - but we either never notice or don't retain the plays that he makes.

You rate Lombardozzi ahead of Frandsen? Interesting. I'm not saying that Frandsen is anything to write home about, but Lombo is terrible - his OPS in AAA last year was about the same as Frandsen's OPS in the majors. Frandsen actually has a better UZR and UZR/150 than Lombo at 2b, and can play more positions. I've never understood the fascination that is Steve Lombarozzi Jr.

John C. said...

Ah, that last comment was a little snarkier than I meant it to be. Apologies for that. I stand by my Werth and Lombardozzi comments though :)

Wally said...

Harper - kudos to the willingness to self review. Accountability is meaningful, especially in today's world.

Looking again at this offseason, I find myself flip flopping more than in past years as to what I think they should do. In addition to the normal difficulty around 'if/then' questions - if they won't extend JZ at market, then they should trade him - I think the reason for my hesitancy comes down to the following: what kind of players do we think Souza, Treinen, Roark and to a lesser extent, Jordan, are? You will never know that exactly, even with MLB players, but each of these guys has shown promise to maybe be a piece you can rely on, yet not enough to make me highly confident. And it matters quite a bit, as to what I do if I had control of the steering wheel for the next few months.

Steamer projects Souza for 2.5 WAR next year. If that was solid, I think it suggests trying to move Werth to free up payroll to extend pitchers. Conversely, if Roark is this good, maybe letting JZ and Fister go (or traded) isn't so concerning. Stuf like that, although Jordan can probably only be thought of as deep SPdepth, at this point.

Zimmerman11 said...

:ayroll Flexibility

If the Nats don't have payroll flexibility, then no one does according to this graphic!

KW said...

I don't think the Nats will re-sign J-Zim after 2015. So the equation comes down to whether the team could get players in return in a trade who would benefit the team more than another year of a top pitcher in his prime plus a draft pick (after J-Zim declines the QO). FWIW, the talent by the teen-numbered picks in the 2014 draft wasn't appealing, which is why the Nats took a flier on another wounded wing.

Donald said...

I agree with KW. I think my inclination would be to keep Znn this year and let him walk next. My guess is that his value to the team in 2015 plus that pick is worth more than they'd get back in trade now. Part of this is based on an assumption that he isn't super eager to sign an extension at this point, unless it's an overwhelming offer.

Harper said...



Range > > > > Hands > Arm. If you can't get to the ball it doesn't matter how you handle it.

I don't defend Lombo often, but that was basically his worst year ever. Unless he's fallen off a cliff at 25 the historic stats say better than Frandsen. Of course "better than Frandsen" ^= "Good" or even "OK". "better than Frandsen" = "Less Objectionable"

Wally - the pieces question is big. If they are reliable the Nats can still compete for pennants despite personnel losses. If not, there's going to be a dip. The good news is they have 2015 to find out (the bad news is they don't really have a lot of playing time for Souza/Treinen as a SP)

z11 - where is that graphic from?

KW/Donald - ZNN was the 2nd most important player on the team, behind Rendon. You could argue that Stras or Bryce could leapfrog him but the other guys up there, Werth, Desi, Fister, Span I'd all expect to drift down a little. If you trade ZNN you are probably giving up your advantage in the NL East

BUT - if you really don't think the Braves can bounce back or the Mets or Marlins can make the next step, (or the Phillies become NL mercenaries and sign a contract with the other teams in the league to try to literally beat the Nats with bats) you might get by.

So that's something to think about. Don't get something that can immediately help back - you're losing wins, and potentially value. But that might be acceptable given the 17 game cushion you had in 2014.

Zimmerman11 said...


I'm not ashamed to admit I had to do google image search to jog my memory.

It's from an article on and is using data from Cot's Baseball Contracts.

John C. said...

Braves are going to have trouble bouncing back next year, since they just traded away Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden for Shelby Miller and a pitching prospect. Right now their outfield is slated to be Gattis in LF, B.J. Upton in CF and Justin Upton in RF. Even with Melvin in CF that's a terrible defensive OF. They traded La Stella and their top prospect, Peraza, has barely reached AA. They have a catcher (Bethancourt) and SS (Simmons) who don't hit, and a 3b (Johnson) who doesn't hit much either and is also bad defensively. They have Teheran and now Miller, but have lost Santana, Harang and Medlen. 2015 may look a lot like the second half of 2014 in Atlanta.

It looks like the Braves have decided to step back for 2015 and aim for the opening of their new stadium in 2017.

JWLumley said...

Perhaps the Nats re-signed Frandsen for his interviewing skills.

Also, looks like the Barves are waving the white flag on this year. How few runs do you think they're capable of scoring? Besides OBP is overrated as is defense.

Jay said...

A couple of questions. One, is it me or is Giancarlo Stanton crazy? Sure, it's the richest contract in sports. Do you really think the Marlins will contend? Remember they traded Mark Buerhle and Jose Reyes the offseason after signing them to big contracts. They dumped all of their talent after winning the World Series. Everything about screams get away as fast as you can.
Second, are the Braves really giving up on next year? I agree they have traded away Heyward and LaStella, but I keep waiting for them to pull some big move out of their pocket and say - see I fooled you. We're all in for this year suckers.
Third and final question. Are the Mets delusional enough to think they are making the playoffs this year? Last year Sandy Alderson said they were going to win 90 games and everyone laughed. This year it appears Alderson still think they are going to win 90+ games. I just don't see it.

Ollie said...

@Jay Stanton's smart: he got a record-setting payday and knows there's a 50/50 chance he'll end up in pinstripes or Dodger blue with that contract because almost no one else can afford it.

I agree with the groupthink that the Braves seem to be pulling back from next year to restock for the new stadium. I sort of wonder if they don't try to re-sign Heyward if he hits the open market though.

And living in New York I can affirm that yes, Mets fans think they're going to the playoffs next year and they're driving management to act that way. They have Harvey back and some other decent pieces and I could maybe see them squeaking out a Wild Card, but I don't see them taking back the NL East.

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