Nationals Baseball: Grass is always greener on my side actually

Friday, February 20, 2015

Grass is always greener on my side actually

It's cold. I'm sick.

For those that think ZNN contract might suffer because of all the talent becoming FA. Sure it's possible. He could find himself in a crowded market with David Price, Johnny Cueto, Rick Porcello, and Zack Greinke among other lesser talents. Of course...

Here's Cueto trying to get a deal now. The Tigers, who have an owner willing to throw money around like a fool, want Price back. Greinke, is unlikely to just take his remaining contract, but is on the Dodgers a team with a decent amount of money behind them I hear. Porcello is on the Red Sox, see Greinke comment. Even the White Sox, not known as big spenders, will try to make a play to keep Samardzija

Chances are probably as likely that the stacked FA class ends up being ZNN and Mat Latos, as it ends up being 4 really good pitchers. You don't usually let really good pitchers walk.

And for the "trade for a cheap but good young MI" crowd there is this. Profar out indefinitely after shoulder surgery. This is why you don't just deal guys, when it seems like there might be a problem, you wait until the situation basically dictates you have to deal guys. Forget being in a better trading position if the other team thinks you don't have to deal. When you are trading a young talented player you'll always be in a good trading position.

The Nats aren't getting a Ranger or Cub MI for a song. Not unless Rizzo pulls out his magic wand and hypnotizes another GM.

Then there's the Baseball America Top 100. Say 7 in the Top 100 and it sounds really good for the Nats.  Say 1 in the Top 10 and 4 in the bottom 3rd and it sounds different (and more honest). I said it before and I'll say it again. Lucas Giolito is the guy. When you are up that high it is very unlikely that you don't have some sort of impact in the major leagues, usually a pretty big one. The rest are question marks. Taylor is probably the best of the bunch but he's also the oldest (he'll be 24 in March - older than Rendon going into last year. Older than Bryce is now) Reynaldo Lopez is young but has had one good year, and not even a full one.  He's one bad year from being back off the list. (Don't believe me - check out Lucas Sims. Everyone is trying to beat everyone else on rankings so guys who perform when young 19/20 tend to get ranked a bit higher than they need to - at least that's my opinion).

This is just a friendly reminder that our views are often clouded by where we are coming from. We want ZNN to have a crowded FA market - so he'll be more likely to re-sign for a lower price. We want other teams to feel like they need to make deals when they have a glut of young players at one position - so we'll be able to pick up a good young player for ourselves. We want all the prospects in the Top 100 to be hot commodities - so we can imagine them helping the team or bringing back a lot in trades. All those views are biased though. Take a step back. See the whole picture.


JWLumley said...

You make a good point about the Nats prospects, but I'm not nearly as bearish as you. I think that Lopez is going to be a stud, I really like Fedde if he can recover and I think that Wilmer Difo has a shot to be an impact player. I hope Taylor proves me wrong and I'm not sure what to make of Ross yet, but I like their prospects because a lot of those lower third guys are young enough to really climb the prospect rankings. Sure, some will probably fall off, but you start with 4 and hope 2 make significant contributions with one being a star and you're doing well. The real wild card to me is Turner. He's a bit unorthodox and has been up and down, but I love the makeup and I think makeup is a much bigger factor for someone who reminds me of what Hunter Pence would be like if he played SS.

Also, yes, it's flipping cold. 10 degrees here in the birthplace of Ryan Zimmerman and there's still snow on the beach.

blovy8 said...

I think it's actually more likely than not. Is there a reason to think the odds are better that any of those teams can sign their guys than the Nats are to sign Zimm? Good luck with that outlook - money talks. There is essentially zero chance the Reds can pay market rate and years to Cueto, especially after overpaying for Homer Bailey, for instance - he'd have to give them a discount. You'd have to believe Price is going to forget what Scherzer got after rebuffing the Tigers seemingly "fair" offer. Porcello isn't nearly as good a pitcher as Zimm, I would think he'd have to take a big step forward for the Red Sox to sign him at anything close to a Lesterish deal, after all, they didn't want to do that for Lester. Maybe Samardzija signs, but the market is such that he'd be a fool not to test it. The White Sox can be cagey with Sale and Quintana locked up for a few years and having to get out from under that lousy Danks deal.

Lopez vaulted onto these lists because he can crank it up to 100mph as a starter, as long as he's controlling a high-90s heater, he's going to get a LONG look regardless of what anyone's top 100 looks like. The thing about these lists is that it's not Nats scouts making them.

Harper said...

JW - Lopez is a huge ? just huge. check out the 2012 stats. He could literally vanish as soon as he appeared. I don't like Difo to be impact. Now Fedde he might be something. I do think having a bunch is the way to go - I just wish they were distributed a bit more normally across the 100.

blovy8 - I think the odds are better simply because I think these teams want their guys more than the Nats want ZNN.

You talk about market rate but the market rate won't exist if ALL these guys go into FA. Someone will end up underpaid or with a shorter contract than expected. That's something they have to consider. Scherzer got his deal... over 20 years. Sheilds didn't get exactly what he wanted. Someone will get paid for sure, but someone won't and if you're Samardzjia and don't have the track record or Porcello on a team that will compete do you really turn down a slightly lesser deal? We'll see how it plays out though

JWLumley said...

Harper - I wish they were better distributed, but you have to look at the ages and levels of these guys. The Nats top prospects are all below high A ball. It's not normal for guys that age to be up near the top of the list because there's a longer path for them to the majors, but Giolito is, which is great. As for Lopez I don't care about most prospect numbers at that age. Lopez changed his delivery and it resulted in lots of extra velocity. Yes, he could flame out because TINSTAPP and all, but that's the point between Lopez, Fedde and Ross, I'd assume that at least one is a significant contributor, but maybe 2 of them with one reaching their full potential. What's more, is that I would bet that at least one of them climbs significantly higher on the top 100 type lists by this time next year.

As for Difo, why don't you like him to be impact? He's young, can switch hit and is supposed to be extremely strong. Plus, he swiped 49 bases last year. 49! How is that not impact? He's in the top 100 of a lot of lists and a lot of guys from the Dominican can take a year or two to adjust to the culture. He'll probably finish the year in AA and could make his debut sometime in 2016, when he'll only be 24.

What's more is that perhaps you should read Jeff Sullivan's recent pieces over at fangraphs about the number of productive big leaguers and impact guys who never make a top 100 list. I think it's changing my thinking on how we rank and evaluate prospects. I think too much weight is given to the upside of guys like Taylor, and too little given to guys like Difo.

Stephen Sexton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephen Sexton said...

Two points: the rule of thumb for prospects is that 70% of BA top 100 prospects fail (from a royals review study). Of top 20 prospects, pitchers fail 60%, position players fail 40%.

John C. said...

Yah, cold. But baseball is back, so things aren't as bad as they were last weekend!

Added prospect bonus: BA also listed a handful of players that they felt could easily jump onto the Top 100 next season; one of them was Wilmer Difo. Another All-Star to be!!!

OK, OK. Without getting into a debate about individual prospects, of course there's going to be prospect attrition. There are also going to be unexpected surprises. The advantage of having a pile of prospects in the Top 100 is the increased chance that one or two actually make it. No guarantees.

You don't usually let really good pitchers walk.

Of course, sometimes letting the good pitchers walk is exactly the right move. Ask the Yankees about CC Sabathia. To say nothing of the fact that you can't criticize the Nats for signing one pitcher to a long term contract and then criticize them for not signing another pitcher to a long term contract.

John C. said...

And feel better, Harper. It's bad enough that it's so f'n cold, to be sick on top of that is just unnecessary.

Bjd1207 said...

I'd bet with JW on Lopez, but I'd bet with Harper on Difo.

You can't ignore the underlying development track for Lopez. It was mechanical changes at the end of 2013 which resulted in a jump in velocity from high 80's up to like 100. You can't point back to the high 80's time and say he's likely to revert back to those numbers. It's not a regression situation its a PROgression situation based on real changes you can point to.

Not the same for Difo. He entered the minors and hit very much like he was expected to. But then floundered for 3 years in rookie/A ball before getting promoted just based on age to Hagerstown. Yes he ripped it up in 2014 but I want to see him repeat those results on any level because there WASNT any underlying change in mechanics or approach. It screams fluke, and his age is working against him. But if he puts up another year similar to 2014 then I think I'm ready to call him an MLB MI, maybe not impact yet.

John C. said...

Moncada to the Red Sox (for $31.5M signing bonus and $31.5M penalty). While this will cue the "Zimmermann/Strasburg to Boston" rumors I think it's more likely that the Red Sox will use their position player surplus to go after Cole Hamels (who comes with 4 years of team control).