Nationals Baseball: Werth rhymes with a lot of stuff

Friday, January 09, 2015

Werth rhymes with a lot of stuff

Werth is about to have surgery. The upside is he's supposed to be ready in 2-3 months. That makes the best case that he returns in time for the bulk of Spring Training and the worst case he returns just a week into the season.

The downside is everything else.

Jayson Werth is no spring chicken. He'll be 36 in May and things tend to have more impact the older you are. The recovery can take longer and the return to previous skill level can take longer. If he's not ready by that 3 month date then things start to get a little hairy on who replaces him (we'll get to that in a minute).  Worse would be if he is ready to play but not at his typical level. Last year after he sat out he came back hot - hitting .367 with 4 homers in just 15 games. But then all the power went away and he hit zero homers in his last 20 games. The optimist sees someone that can rake if his shoulder feels right. The pessimist sees someone who's a 17 million dollar Singly Joe if it's not.

Let's now assume he looks to be reaching that 3 month limit on recovery. As noted in the last post, the presumed replacement, Souza, was traded away. That's fine, it was a good deal, but it wasn't made in a vacuum. You lose Souza and you do have to replace him. The quick answer right now on who gets Werth's week of playing time is McLouth but if it's more than a couple weeks you don't want McLouth eating up those at bats. Taylor is a possibility for a longer replacement, but there's the flipside problem. You don't want to bring him up to get a few at bats for 2 weeks. You also have no idea if he can handle major league pitching yet. So you can't really plan on that right now. Tyler Moore has been floated out there as well. But no. No. Stop trying to make Tyler Moore a thing.

There isn't a good option, the 4th OF who you wouldn't mind playing for a week or if needed, a month.  Instead the Nats have two different options for two different scenarios. All isn't lost but the Nats are going to have to make sure they have a good grasp on Jayson's recovery time so they can use the right player.

This also doesn't bode well for down the line. I talked about it just last post. Werth is an injury risk. Zimm is. Bryce is a lesser one. Span even has had concussion issues that caused him to miss a ton of games a few years ago. That's a scary one where one bump on the head might cost you a season. The Nats need a solid bench with at the very least no OF holes and a 1B who can play everyday if needed. Injuries have a way of causing more injuries and we shouldn't just assume if Werth is ready by Opening Day that he'll be playing 154 games. I think, in fact, you have to assume the opposite and pencil Werth in for 120.

Who makes the most sense? As has been the case for the past couple months, Zobrist does. He plays OF. He plays 2B. Perfect. Supposedly the asking price is high. Well there's a difference between Cole and Goodwin high and Giolito and Taylor high. Find out what high it is. As for the FAs whenwe just look at the OF - Colby Rasmus would be a pretty decent fit. He's the Danny Espinosa of the OF, better suited to the bench than a starting gig, but able to hold his own playing everyday. But it's likely he'll hold out for a starting job. (maybe with the O's - things look iffy over there - the Nats 4th OF possibility is their hopeful Nelson Cruz esque savior). The remainder of the players available are pretty much the same. Roughly 30 year olds who aren't particularly bad at offense or defense, but certainly not good. One of the nearly dozen of these guys will have a good year. Good luck figuring out which one it is. They like Nate SheerHoles? Sure. Whatever. Honestly, if you are going to go with a cheap guy ... I suppose Eric Young might be ok. He checks the marks for that last OF role - good fielder, can steal a base, not huge strikeout guy. Or if he'd do it, Ichiro is an interesting play here (another guy the O's might use to start... man they better hope everyone else is healthy) But that's filling a role on a team with Werth, not potentially without him.

Truth is, as you might imagine, it's hard to find a back-up OF who would be ok starting because they are most likely going to find a starting job somewhere else. That's why we like Zobrist so much. The Nats have a guy who might hold his own starting, but you'd rather have him on the bench. We just talked about him. Danny Espinosa. Get Zobrist, push Danny to the bench and then if an OF injury happens and he's forced into duty, well oh well, you deal with it. You get Zobrist and those 40 games without Werth you expect are now 40 games of Danny at 2B, rather than 40 games of McLouth or Hairston or Reed Johnson or whoever in the OF, very possibly contributing nothing, not even good D.

I guess I'd end this by saying Werth's injury is no cause for panic. He should be ready for the vast majority, if not all of the season, and even a singly Joe Werth has value. This isn't going to derail the year by itself. However, I would take it as a giant sign to get Zobrist on the team. It makes too much sense not to do it.

31 comments:

Jimmy said...

You and Rosenthal seem to be on the same page.

Zimmerman11 said...

Cole plus Goodwin? We already traded Souza... if we trade Goodwin, that leaves Taylor... with all three guys, you're pretty certain one will pan out and provide several controllable years of MLB value. With just the one? Prospects are a numbers game... throw the spaghetti at the wall and see who sticks. Giving 12 years of team control of two good prospects... for one year of Zobrist seems like too much.

Jimmy said...

I for one feel like asdrubal for eight should have been the answer, less positional flexibilty sure but a platoon of him and Danny would have done a pretty good impression of Zobrist of last year minus the defense but you get to keep the two top 100 prospects.

JWLumley said...

I wouldn't trade Cole, while the Nats have some depth at SP in the minors, Cole is the only one that's close. If need be, I'd trade Fedde, whom I really like, but is at least 2 years away. I still don't believe in Taylor and his high K numbers in the minors so he'd be the first one I dealt supposing Goodwin wouldn't get it done, but the Nats seem to think he'll be an everyday player next year and he probably will be, but I'm expecting Danny Espinosa 2.0.

I miss Souza, it wasn't a bad deal, but given the Nats roster, maybe it wasn't the best deal in the long run and certainly didn't help them for this year. Although, since the Nats were never going to move Harper back to CF it was probably a good move given that fact. So yeah, I'd make the deal for Zobrist at the right price, but who knows what the Rays are asking.

Anonymous said...

Is Josh Hamilton (and his salary) out of the question?

JWLumley said...

Also, regarding Zobrist, perhaps the Nats think the price will drop significantly at the trade deadline and want to wait until then.

Harper said...

Jimmy - I am Ken Rosenthal. This is where I get out all those things I can't say in public....

I'm a very boring person obsessed with the Nats.

Z11 - Team Control. That and Marginal Wins per dollar will get you a nice write up in Fangraphs as an organization doing it right. I'd rather win.

I think we're at a very crucial turning point in the Nats and we're having issues because the crux is ZNN/Desi/Stras etc. You sign all these guys, guys like Cole and Goodwin, a back of the rotation prospect and a toolsy guy rapidly losing status, become trade chips. You don't sign them and these guys become necessary because of what you say - you need the numbers.

I do think we have to worry about perception. Seems like Nats fans think they are building a SF/STL type team or an ATL 90s team but PLENTY of teams have tried the constant build from within strategy and met with little success. It's easy to see a Nats team in 2017 having 75 wins, a couple shining players, and a lot of middling guys who were prospects.

The future is cloudy. The present is clear. If it doesn't cost you the A prospects I say deal.

Jimmy - Asdrubal would have been ok. Figured the Nats didn't want to go nulti-year which is fine but he didn't sign multi-year which puts it back on it being about $. Perhaps that's the case - payroll can't increase. Or perhaps they don't want to make any moves for sig $ until FA stuff is cleared up.

EmDash said...

Something to consider with Zobrist: are they willing to take on his salary with a payroll already in the $140m range? He's going to make $7.5m next year and there's been no evidence the Nats are willing to add any payroll obligations beyond league minimum players for 2015. They could make room if they salary-dump trade someone like Clippard, of course, but that makes acquiring Zobrist costlier.

I'd want them to trade Cole for Zobrist all things being equal, but I wonder if the money isn't the bigger factor.

Harper said...

JW - It's going to come down the signing ZNN and Fister and Stras - what happens - do they NEED AJ or not. Balls in the air right now. A resistance to trading him could easily be seen as waving by to ZNN/Fister...

I like Taylor better than Goodwin. Goodwin is Taylor with less power, fields worse, walks less, but K's just the same.

Anon - Yes.

Harper said...

Em Dash - definitely - like with Cabrera. If they wouldn't take on 8 mill for 1 year for a potential solution without prospect loss will they take on 7.5mill with? (for a much better 1 yr solution)

Zimmerman11 said...

I forgot Goodwin tore up his shoulder and had an otherwise forgettable year. Looks like he definitely took a big step back... though that begs the question why would TB take him...

I envy the Mets a LITTLE bit... all their prospects are gonna get a shot to play. But making the postseason is nice too I suppose :)

Harper said...

Z11 - TB different market then almost anyone. Numbers game with prospects is the only game they can play.

KO said...

What if you move Zim to LF while Werth cant play and pick up Juan Francisco or someone else as a 1b? There's also a former Nat who is technically a FA and might be willing to come back in Adam Dunn at first. And they do always have t-mo. It doesn't seem the OF options are great and the 1b market looks a little better right now.

John C. said...

Rosenthal pretty much loves every deal and potential deal. Why not? He's not in the "winning baseball games" business; every game and series has a winner, and he's agnostic on who that might be. No, he's in the story lines business, and deals make for story lines. It's like the "all in" narrative. It generates interest, excitement and story lines - who wouldn't be against that? Well, except that "all in" rarely works out the way you anticipate. But Rosenthal/media/MLB Network types don't care as long as they have what they want.

I don't know anyone who is against the Nats picking up Zobrist. The dispute is entirely over how much he's worth, and discussions are necessarily hamstrung because we aren't privy to what the teams have actually discussed. If the trade doesn't happen everyone will assume that Rizzo blew it, when in fact the price may simply have been too high.

If Werth is sidelined into the seasons, a month of 2014 McLouth would be hard to take. A month of 2013 McLouth would fit just fine, thanks. Which is why the O's have been nosing about trying to pick him up on the cheap, btw. How many times will we get burned giving up on players after one crappy year and then having them rebound (Werth, LaRoche, Span, etc) before we learn that regression to the mean can be positive as well as negative?

I'm OK with not picking up Asdrubal Cabrera for $8M because I was not impressed by his baseball abilities; he's not old, but he's been declining for years. Perhaps more importantly, he lost his cool and got tossed in NLDS Game 2, and you just can't do that. Compare that with Desmond, who in a crucial playoff situation got called out on a checked swing call by the home plate ump that was so egregiously awful that it got written up by Fangraphs as an example of why the checked swing call should be taken away from the home plate umpire. Desmond started to object, realized the game situation, and kept his cool. Sign that guy, not Cabrera.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't Werth deal with the shoulder sooner? Did he not know he needed surgery till now? Act a few weeks earlier and we have our questions answered in March not April.

Clip&Store said...

I'm not that big on Taylor to be honest. I feel like at least half the organizations have guys just like him and 90% of the time they turn out to be nothing. I can easily see him being like Cameron maybin 2.0 I'd prefer Cole over him

Anonymous said...

Harper, small nit: "I like Taylor better than Goodwin. Goodwin is Taylor with less power, fields worse, walks less, but K's just the same."

Goodwin's only advantage over Taylor is the walks. In full season ball, Goodwin has BB% of 16.2, 9.7, 12.4, and 15.2. Taylor's BB% are 6.6, 9.3, 9.5, 11.3.

Taylor's certainly trending the right way, but I think this is literally the one are we can say confidently that Goodwin does better than Taylor right now.

Harper said...

Anon #2 - totally right. Must have flipped the numbers when looking at it back and forth.

Anonymous said...

One of the good things about being a terrible team-the 2006-2010 Nats for example--is being able to see EVERY ONE of your minor league prospects play at the major league level and have a good feel about their future before making big changes at the major league level.

One of the bad things about being a good team is not being able to do that. You have to guess if it's going to be Taylor, Souza or Goodwin that becomes the everyday major-leaguer. So you guess and you guess wrong, and you lose your quality major league players to free agency or trade, and the team becomes a boatload of minor league misses.

And then you become a bad team again, and it all starts over.

blovy8 said...

Zobrist is a fine player, but all signs point to them asking for more than a prospect like Heaney. We can't do that for one year and not open up huge holes barring some unforeseen windfall that the dragged out MASN case is not going to provide. It's not just the 7.5 million this year, it's not having Taylor or, Cole, i.e, the guys who COULD play for you in 2016. Span will cost at least the qualifying amount next season, and you have to hope Cole and Treinen or someone else can replace 2 starters, while planning on yet another middle infield set of stopgaps. That's a nightmare.

Zimmerman11 said...

Zobrist to OAK. This is good... we can sort things out in the first half, and if we dont' have an answer, trade with OAK (AGAIN) to get Zobrist :)

I'm glad we did not pay the price Beane paid for a rental player.

Jaso, Robertson, and Powell...Jaso appeared in 99 games last season for Oakland, batting .264 with nine homers and 40 RBIs.

Robertson, 20, was a first-round draft selection of the Athletics in 2012 and batted .310 with 15 homers at Class A Stockton last season.

Powell, who is not related to former Baltimore Orioles slugger Boog Powell, batted .343 while splitting last season between Stockton and Class A Beloit.

Donald said...

A trade with the A's to get Zobrist may not wait until the trading deadline. They got Escobar too, who it sounds like they were sweet on. Since the A's are in more of a rebuild mode, that may have been more of their target with the hopes to quickly flip Zobrist to recoup the loss in prospects. Just a thought.

Zimmerman11 said...

Trade AJ Cole AGAIN to OAK? LMFAO!!!

Barney said...

Regarding Werth's injury: I can't remember a time when an injured player, out for a couple of weeks or more, came back on time and performed as he did before. Let's look for Werth performing as expected sometime in the middle of June (or later).
That makes KO's idea of moving Zimm to left and looking for a first baseman much more likely to succeed, planning for the 1B replacement to be there much of the year (and we'll assume that no one else will be injured this year! :) )

Anonymous said...

Unless Zim has suddenly developed an arm, putting him in the OF is not a good idea. But not as terrible as having Tyler Moore as part of the solution. Unless he is wearing an Oakland A's uniform.

Bjd1207 said...

I don't think the A's want T-Mo. They're clearing space for their top 1b prospect.

On another note, is an Espinosa/Uggla platoon secretly not as terrible as it appears on-face?

Chinatown Express said...

Bjd: How does that platoon work? Uggla is a righty and his splits against right handed pitching weren't exceptionaly even before he fel off a cliff.

Bjd1207 said...

@C-Ex

So your saying it is as terrible as it sounds on-face?

Lol, for whatever reason I had it in my head that he was a switch hitter, which is what made me look up the splits in the first place. And he was slightly better against righties, especially the last couple years.

Anonymous said...

I think it must be the middle of winter if uggla is starting to look like a solution.

Just for kicks, what (just from a value standpoint) would the Nat's ha e had to offer to mafch the return for zobrist + escobar? Is cole + Taylor in the neighborhood?

Bjd1207 said...

@Anon -

Well they got a major's ready catcher, so equate that to Lobaton. Their top MI-prospect, for which we don't have a great comparison, and then a promising hitting prospect. So Lobaton/Cole/Taylor might be in the ballpark. I think Robertson's probly worth more than Cole in the long run, but Taylor's more established than Boog Powell

Jay said...

But Dan Uggla supposedly got plunked twice prior to falling off said cliff. He states a doctor recently told him that this caused him to be unable to track a baseball with his eyes. He has now undergone physical therapy and been "cured". So Uggla is obviously the answer at 2b. (preceding statement was example of sarcasm)

Also, did anyone read the article about Danny the K still being a switch hitter written in the Post? Wow, that guy is still in major denial. The best quote - "If I've been successful as a ball player switch hitting, why wouldn't I continue switch hitting?" Uhh.... how does he define successful??

It hurts losing Souza. If he were still here I don't know that fans would even sweat Werth's surgery. Also, is anyone else still worried that the Nats have signed no one to an extension or contract? Looks like the Nats are now the Oakland A's. Oh well.