Nationals Baseball: Last year second base discussion : revisited

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Last year second base discussion : revisited

Second Base

Take : Right at the moment we were discussing it Danny Espinosa looked to be the starter with who the hell knows as the back-up, maybe Frandsen. But it didn't feel like the Nats were committed to this, nor should they be based on how Espinosa had hit in 2014, and how mediocre overall Frandsen was.  Maybe Difo would play a role, maybe not.

2015 Reality : The take coming in was shown to be completely spot on. The Nats didn't trust Danny as a full-time starter, trading for Yunel Escobar. However, the never ending injury to Anthony Rendon forced a move by Escobar to the less demanding third base and Danny into an everyday role at second. He actually did suprisingly well, certainly to start the year.

Like I talked about in discussing next season, Danny was really good for the first half of the year, but couldn't sustain it and was, well, really bad in the second half - at least at the plate. You might blame the fact that Rendon came back and pushed him out of his role, but in reality he had over a month of bad starts before Rendon was back for good. For a guy in Danny's position (re: deemed not starter worthy in offseason) hitting .198 / .245 / .297 for over a month, will, and should, lose you your spot. So, as often as certain people said "Danny deserves to play! He's been so good!" they were basing that off the memories of Spring, not the realities of Summer.

When Rendon came back initially in early June (from the knee issues) he was ok but then he went out again with a strained quad. When he came back from that in late July, he struggled terribly. He hit .200 / .274 / .271  for almost a month. Then he turned it on again for an equal amount of time (.364 / .442 / .525) before limping to the finish line over the last 2 weeks plus (.151 / .242 / .226).

In totality 2B ended up being a slight negative for the Nats. Danny gave the Nats 60 games of solid play, and Rendon another 40 good to great, but the remaining 60 or so combined were god awful at the plate.  Defensively, Danny was good but a hampered Rendon was not and he played like 35% of the innings there (Danny played like 45%) so the Nats couldn't make up the offensive issues with great D.

Hmmm that doesn't seem right. It still seems like the Nats should be around average at secon... Oh I nearly forgot! Coming into the year the didn't like Frandsen and they did let him go. Difo didn't play a role. Instead Mike Rizzo made arguably his biggest mistake* and brought in Dan Uggla for a last man on the bench role that grew to a starting role for a week, and a spot starting role through mid May. All in all he'd end up playing about 15% of the time at 2nd base. Dan Uggla is a garbage fielder and couldn't hit. That dragged the position down like an anchor.

I noted I wanted Zobrist. I was not alone in this want and frankly we were all right again. He would have been perfect. Que era, era.

Out of the box : Move Rendon back was the idea and get a third baseman. In practice this ended up happening but the theory would have had them grabbing a real 3B in the offseason. Would it have worked? Depends on the 3B they got. I wasn't picky, but to summarize quickly based on last year's performance -

Trade for Beltre : Couldn't happen, Texas wasn't selling. Would have been good though
Sign Sandoval : Could have happened, FA. Would have been huge mistake and an albatross contract
Trade for Donaldson : Could have happened, A's did sell. Would have been awesome, perhaps season changing.
Sign Headley super cheap: Couldn't have happened, Yanks paid him. Would have maybe made things a tiny bit better, mostly by dominoing Uggla out of the picture.
Sign Ramirez cheap : Couldn't have happened, Brewers and him picked up mutual option. Would have changed nothing.

So the Nats could have either saved the season or plunged it into even worse chaos. Good to know.

*did other things not work out and have more impact? Sure. But come on Uggla was and is terrible and was only picked up to rub it in the Braves face while helping a friend out. You know why players should be on rosters? Because they can play? You know why players shouldn't be on rosters? To rub it in other team's faces or to help out friends


Chaz R said...

Uggla had that one amazing game in Atlanta that ended up to be one of the highlights of the Nats season. I really like Uggla, I met him at the Nats Gala. Very personable and funny. But, he really is past his prime pro baseball years, past even being a serviceable pro player really.

Can you imagine Donaldson in the lineup with Harper this past year?! Wow.

SM said...

. . . and instead did nothing. Then again, why would the Nats do otherwise?

On the one hand, the Donaldson trade took place in late November. Could the Nats have anticipated the conga line of injuries that would beset them the following spring?

But on the other hand, given the team's history, they might at least have entertained that possibility--Span's surgery should have triggered an alarm bell--or at least been more observant of their players' off-season fitness regimen.

The thing that struck me about the Donaldson trade was how relatively little the Jays gave up: a pair of minor-league pitchers who haven't shown anything special; a young shortstop deep in the bowels of the minors who may or may not turn out; and a wild man third baseman who played like sugar and caffeine, instead of blood, flowed through his veins. (And he always seemed to be nursing some injury.)

If the Nats had dealt with the A's, they would have needed to give up a big-league third baseman, and that almost certainly would have meant Rendon. So who knows?

Donaldson for Rendon (basically) would have been interesting. Then again, the Nats wouldn't have Bautista and Encarnacion hitting behind him.

Too many on-the-one-hands and on-the-other-hands. I'm getting woozy.

ProphetNAT said...

This might go for your 3B discussion, but figure I'd bring it up now. Trade for Todd Frazier. Reds are not going to be contending. When we inquired about Chapman in July, we were inquiring about the arguably the best closer in the game (1 of perhaps 3 lights out closers with reputation) - so naturally they wanted the house for him. Being that Frazier is a solid 3B, perhaps top 10?, I think we could get him for less that Giolito, Turner, or Ross. I know Harper, you brought this up a while ago, but I think it would be a good move. Frazier also seems like a great personality and someone the fans/players would love having. He's also been very durable the last 3 years since playing full-time.

Chaz R said...

If the decision is made to move Rendon back to 2B (which I think is a big mistake), and obtain a big bat at 3B, the FA options are limited- Aramis Ramirez? Daniel Murphy? So, it would likely need to be a trade. Frazier would be interesting in a trade scenario. But, if going the trade route with a rebuilding team, why not try for Arenado?

I don't see the Nats giving up prospects to shore up 3B when they have Rendon; and much more likely to stay pat with Yuni or Danny at 2B.

Harper said...

Chaz - I assume the Nats would have won it all with Donaldson and would have folded and moved back to Montreal with Sandoval.

Ramirez was terrible and retiring, I think. Arenando would be great but I can't see them taking anything other than Giolito for him.

SM - don't sell that shortstop short. He was a well-liked top 100 guy and will probably be a Top 20 guy going into next year. I tried to think of a Nats equivalent from last season to the trade but really couldn't. Turner, Cole, and Jordan would have been close to the prospects but the Nats really don't have a Brett Lawrie-type on team (ok, cheap, team control for a few more years) Think Espinosa if Espinosa had never gotten hurt and had played 2013 and 2014 like 2012.

So Donaldson for Cole, Jordan, Turner, alternate universe-Danny

Prophet - it'll come up. If I were Reds I'd start with Turner. When Nats say no, I'd stick at Ross. The rest of the Nats minor leagues are so meh, I wouldn't want say... Lopez, Difo, & Cole (who could very well be 2-3-4 in Nats minors after Giolitoe assuming Turner is up) over Ross.

Robot said...

From everything I've heard, Dan Uggla is a stand-up guy and loved by many. I think that plus the homerun against Atlanta combined bought him waaaay too much playing time this year. He has no place on a major league roster these days, certainly not one in a pennant race.

I don't expect the Nationals to deal Yuni, as much as they should. He just had the offensive season of his career and he's fairly cheap, so hey why not expect him to repeat that again at age 33?

John C. said...

Heh. If the Nats don't deal Escobar it's clearly because they assume he's going to put up another crazy BABIP-fueled season at the plate, and are fools!

One thing we KNOW is that it would clearly NOT be because the other 29 teams can read the same stats, look at Yuni's age and defense and would know not to make a substantial offer.

blovy8 said...

The real problem is some of these deals aren't just an auction. GM's talk and then it's a surprise that a guy is available. I bet a lot of clubs didn't know Beane was dumping Donaldson like that so easily, as I suspect some would have liked a chance to beat that offer. He probably wouldn't think of Rizzo as a partner since the Nats were pretty set in having Rendon play 3B. If you know Rendon is untouchable, you might not bother. He was coming off a great year.

I really like trying to pry Kinsler away from the Tigers but they aren't dumping a good deal like that easily. Neil Walker is starting to make some money in arbitration, would the Pirates deal him?

blovy8 said...

If the Nats had a better bullpen and more games from an injured guy or two, (let's say, Span) Uggla would probably have been seen as a great clubhouse guy like Ross has been for the Cubs, despite his terrible offensive numbers. He didn't play enough to be a real scapegoat.

Anonymous said...

Harper, is there any chance Rizzo will go after Donny Baseball as manager? It occurs to me that Donny never played for the Diamondbacks, so he probably doesn't have a chance. But wouldn't a Mattingly hire present problems for you, since you can't criticize him?

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