Nationals Baseball: Season in review : The pre-season

Monday, October 05, 2015

Season in review : The pre-season

Before we get into the nitty gritty of the clubhouse or the individual position reviews. I wanted to talk about expectations. The season was only a disappointment because expectations weren't met. That's how it works. But were these expectations fair to begin with? I'll look at two expectation points today and one tomorrow. 

The 2015 Nats season began on October 8th, 2014 and the Nats' immediate future looked rosy. Yes, they had just failed again to advance past the NLDS in heartbreaking fashion but in the past 3 years they had twice won the NL East with ease, and had twice lost competitive series to the eventual World Series winners the current standard bearers for the National League. Beyond that the Nats had nearly all the same pieces in place for 2015. The rotation was all returning. They would only lose one relief arm, one that fell out of favor as the season went on. They could have lost as many as three offensive starters but had a plan that limited the effective loss to only one. They only had two moderate injury concerns at season's end. And most impressive, out of the 20 or so active roster spots likely to return, only 2 were going to be older than 31 in the following season.

There was no reason, on October 8th, to believe there was anything to worry about. The question wasn't whether the Nats would make the playoffs, it would seemingly take a major change in fortune for that not to happen, or whether the Nats would win the NL East, a possibility of course, but fairly unlikely given the gap between the teams in 2014, but what the Nats could do to get over the playoff hump?  How could they find a 2nd baseman, improve the bench, and maybe get a solid relief arm while finding that missing something? 

At this point - this was a completely rational line of thinking. Re-read the above. 20 or or so returning players from a 96 win team, 18 or so 31 or younger, that won their division by 17 games. It would be silly to have a negative opinion of this team, at least as far as regular season record was assumed. Yes 2013 turned out badly, but there was a very good Braves team that year, a back of the rotation issue, no Anthony Rendon... no no, 2015 couldn't be 2013 again. And then... 

This created a minor worry among Nats fans. After a middling 2013, Span had blossomed into a big part of the team. But they said he'd be ready for Spring, and even if he wasn't the Nats had two guys they liked waiting in the wings. Steven Souza, an older prospect but one who crushed AAA the year before, and Michael A Taylor, the heir apparent for when Span left. They'd be fine

We underestimated the impact of Span, who put up a fringy MVP season in 2014 and as lead-off and CF occupied very important positions in the Nats offense and defense. Any assumption that his 2014 season could easily be replaced was misplaced.

Dec 12th - Ross Detwiler traded to the Rangers

Maybe this got a shrug. Detwiler had never recovered from his 2013 injury and had been passed by Roark in the rotation. He spent much of 2014 as a mediocre long man. Whatever.

It shouldn't have been completely dismissed. Detwiler did pitch the 3rd most innings in the pen and they had already let Soriano, who pitched the 4th most innings, go. The question of who would exactly replace those innings grew. It shouldn't be hard to find a mediocre or better arm to fill these innings but the more innings that needed to be filled the more time it would probably take.

Dec 19th - Steven Souza traded to the Rays

This caused a little bit of worry, but mainly in fans who liked Souza more than they should have. You make this deal 100 times out of 100, but it did leave the Nats with a little bit of a hole in the OF for 2015. If Span couldn't make it back or if another guy got injured mid-season or MAT failed miserably, the Nats could have an issue.

I think we had the right understanding here. With only Span out at the time and looking to be back in Spring, the loss of 1 of 2 4th/5th OF wasn't a big thing to worry about. At the time.

Dec 23rd / 26th - Signed Heath Bell, and Dan Uggla

The Nats made signings like this - cheap gambles on fixing the bench and pen. It was their way. Unless the Nats got injured though it shouldn't matter.

Again at the time these types of attempts to fill the roster with other team's trash weren't terrible. You can't sign good players to have them not play.

Jan 8th - Jayson Werth undergoes shoulder surgery

Now things get hairy, but fans remained optimistic. There was no word that Span wasn't progressing on schedule and Werth should be ready for the start of the season too. You didn't like to have two guys have surgery in the offseason but as long as they were back in the Spring there wasn't a big reason to be worried. Still a trade for Zobrist would go a long way to assuage our fears (and cover 2B - which was still in the hands of Espy as of this date)

Total underestimation of problem. We had too easily bought into the Nats party line that these guys would be back at this date and be pretty much ready to go, with maybe a couple weeks of at bats. Injuries are serious business. They can wipe out a season, either by keeping a player out or making them much worse than they were before. Werth was the best offensive player on the Nats in 2014. He could be gone. Span was maybe the best all around player on the team. He could be gone. Plus no one had a clue if MAT was really ready for a big time role. I think part of the reason though that we were not overly concerned was that Zobrist, who was the PERFECT fit, was still out there. Surely they'd get him now. I don't know why'd we'd believe that though. When have the Nats ever went out and got the perfect fit? Combine this with the Souza trade and the Nats FA tendencies to go cheap and a potential lurking problem should have been identified 

Jan 10th - Zobrist traded to the A's

Oops. We were concerned but again not all that concerned. Span and Werth should be back.  They'll get someone to fill in 2B or OF for 2015. It'll be fine.

See above. Injuries, especially core injuries or injuries to older players, need to be taken more seriously than we were taking them and the Nats rarely make acquisitions that would help a single year.  

Jan 14th - Tyler Clippard traded for Yunel Escobar

Finally some alarm bells started going off. I mean getting Yunel Escobar was good. It served a purpose (two actually assuming Desmond was leaving and Yuney would shift) but Clippard was huge in the pen in 2014 and had been so for years. But maybe they have a cheap pick-up or a trade in mind?

I think even though we were worried we weren't worried enough because of the totality of the relief issues. They lost now the 2nd, 3rd and 4th most IP from the pen. 200IP. That's so much to replace. You very well may not replace all that with even the slightly below average arm Detwiler was. It takes time to find one arm. To find three? Forget alarm bells, we needed klaxons going off.  

Jan 21st - Max Scherzer is signed.

Almost all our worries faded away as the prospect of a historic rotation came to be. In the back of our minds we could envision a rotation issue, Gio was trending the wrong way, Fister's fancy stats said he was overperforming, Roark had only been good for one year, we had no depth. Now in one fell swoop those fears were blown away. This could be a rotation they talk about throughout history.

This is a separate place where we failed to grasp the situation. Because the Nats had pretty much avoided major SP injuries and crashes since 2012, and had found replacements rather easily, we just assumed that would be the case forever. The reality is the opposite is the standard. Guys get injured. Guys get worse very quickly. A rotation should never be assumed to go through a season without issue and if ZNN, Scherzer or Stras was that issue, well then the back of our minds might have been right all along.

Feb 2nd - Casey Janssen signed.

OK, it was clear at this point that there was no real relief help coming. There would be just buy low players who could break out or could amount to nothing. But again - who cares if the rotation is as strong as we thought it could be.

I think we were wrapping our head around the pen issue rightly, but were also overwhelmed by the rotation, thinking then pen wouldn't matter with those guys starting games. It always matters. 

March 7th - Yunel Escobar gets an oblique strain

It'll be fine. He should be good to go in a couple weeks

What are we delusional? Another Nats player goes down and we wave it off? I mean sure Espy was probably roughly the same value but what the hell are we thinking here?

March 9th - Denard Span has a second surgery

Uh oh. He was now going to miss big time. Werth is still on track though and Escobar is only slightly behind schedule. It's going to come down to Taylor, yes, but with the team around him that we should see, it should be ok.

See my original hindsight take on Span. He was a huge loss that we just kind of assumed the team could absorb. Maybe it could have but with all else going on at the moment with the offense I don't know why we weren't more concerned.

March 10th - Anthony Rendon misses a game 
Roughly March 26th - Rendon injury healing time is clearly unknown

Surely he'll be healthy. It was just day to day a few days ago. This is all piling up true, but they just have to weather a few tough weeks to start the year (at most) and then everything will be right again.

WE ARE SO STUPID. Injuries can be huge and now the Nats other potentially best all around player, who is also an injury risk, goes down for who knows how long? We should have been very worried here. Panic in the streets.

March 30th - Jerry Blevins traded for Matt denDekker

Wait what? Now the 5th most IP from the pen was traded for a guy that couldn't be seen as anything more than organizational depth. What is going on here?

By this time we could feel the pen was going to be an issue. Hooray us. But still I don't think we grasped the totality now that the 5th most IP were added to the mix and 253 IP needed to be replaced! If Stammen or Storen went down that would be 300+ relief innings that needed to be taken up by someone.  Here's a funny thing - there are only like 450 relief innings in a year. So fully 2/3rd of the Nats pen innings could be gone just like that, if a pitcher went down to injury which is like a 1/3 chance every year. 

At this point we were at the beginning of the year, and what looked in the fall like it should clearly be an easy repeat had grown cloudy. But still... Yes the Nats had a lot of injuries coming into the year but outside of Span they seemed to be missing a couple weeks of the season at most. Besides look at that rotation! Yes the pen was an issue but how hard is it to find decent pen arms? And look at that rotation! The Nats will be fine. Maybe knock a win or two off what you thought in October but still likely NL East champs unless some team made a surprise turn for the better. Right?

Turns out this was demonstrably wrong. The win estimations might have been ok with the information at hand. I had the Nats at 93. BUT we really weren't getting how broad the range of wins could be. The Nats had absolutely gutted their pen, which had been pretty decent in 2014. Arms could be found but trying veterans other teams didn't want and young guys with no experience was adding a lot of variance. The injuries could easily go on like the Nats said they would, but they easily could go on longer and/or have lingering effects. Again more variability. The rotation should be strong, but starting rotations are among the hardest things to keep healthy and up to predictions. Injuries are commonplace, not rare.

We should have been prepared for a potential fall. While 93 or so might have been the right guess, we should have been more up in the air about it, understanding that 85 was probably more likely than 95 given the circumstance the Nats found themselves in at the start of the season. We should have understood that those things that weren't fair questions 6 months prior, winning the division, making the playoffs, were fair questions now. Distracted by the shiny bauble that was the Nats rotation, we didn't think like this though. Or at least I didn't.That was a mistake.


Anonymous said...

2012 they lost to the Cards, who did not win the Series. Even year = Giants.

BornInDC said...

Another problem with trading away Clippard is that Rizzo ignored who his manager was. Matt Williams with his PBN approach needed an 8th Inning Guy.

One of Rizxo's weaknesses is that often seems to make decisions that ignore the consequences of previous decisions he has made, such as hiring Matt Williams as manager.

Another example of this has been ignoring the fact that he has regularly acquired players with significant injury histories and not putting money aside to deal with inevitable injuries during the season. Instead, he keeps spending significant money on closers, i.e., Soriano and Papelbon, when that has not been a position of significant weakness for the Nationals in recent years. Plus, given the manager Rizzo hired, the use of the closer will be more limited than with some teams because of Matt Williams' PBN approach.

leebaron22 said...

Is it too simplistic to say that the tone would be a lot more different had the Nationals won 4 very winnable games h2h with the Mets (or perhaps the 3 h2h at home on Sept 7-9, and assorted blown games to the Cards and Rockies)? That alone would have flipped the NL East in the Nats' favor.

JC said...

I was looking this morning at Fangraph's base run data. It is interesting because the Royals/Cards both have +11 wins above expected from base runs.

Nats were -7 and Mets were at 0. At least using base runs our output could have placed us much higher up the standings.

Both the Cards and Nats had lots of injuries but both but both ended up with the same baseruns.

Our season was undoubtably a disaster, but perhaps the offensive/defense aren't as bad as the actual record suggests.

Chaz R said...

All true Harper, but we weren't the only ones that missed these warning signs. About 99% of baseball experts, pundits, and journalists (present company excluded) thought highly of the Nats. Even Fangraphs had them as World Series favorites.

Take a look at your posting at the end of the 2013 season:

Hauntingly Hotel California-ish.

Breaking news (not really)- MW fired

Fries said...

And Williams is gone, took them long enough

Anonymous said...

JC: "Our season was undoubtably a disaster, but perhaps the offensive/defense aren't as bad as the actual record suggests."

Yeah, that's called choking. [insert pic of Papelbon's hand on Harper's neck]

Despite all, the numbers show they had enough ability this season to at least take the division race down to the wire. The Nats just found different ways to lose games by just enough. They're like the reverse image of the Cards whose numbers, as you said, are similar to the Nats. Yet the Cards found different ways to win games by just enough because they're not chokers.

Anonymous said...

My optimism for the 2015 year stemmed from the fact that ZNN and Desmond were in their walk years. Traditionally, players in this situation tend to overachieve in order to get that big payday. Yes, their refusal to listen to offers was a concern long term, but even if they left, usually they had their slump after signing with the new team (Adam Dunn for example). Since they both had had a productive year in 2014, I believed that they would be even better for 2015.

blovy8 said...

I think you may actually be underestimating the injury cloud over this team, Harper. It extended to those guys they traded! There is very little chance that Zobrist could have survived a Nats spring training any easier than Escobar. Do you really think Blevins would have pitched more than five innings for the Nats? If his revamped leg kick stance keeps working, den Dekker may end up being a pretty useful cost-controlled player, it seems like people sold his power a little short.

Ultimately, they could have gotten a surer thing than Janssen to replace Clippard, that's the beginning of it going wrong, since he was coming off an injury and still cost 3.5 mil a year. Well, that and losing Stammen right away hurt a lot. That they weren't willing to pay the freight on another reasonable set-up man again made taking a chance on middle-innings matchup guys pitching their way into that role a decent gamble, because you have a guy in Williams who somehow did not believe "proven closer of yesteryear" Thornton could do it. The lack of depth was more important than the lesser quality. Guys like Barrett and Treinen have good stuff, at a certain point you need to see if they can get guys out under more pressure. Probably Treinen's command was too inconsistent for an important role. Barrett probably pitched hurt. Even a good waiver pickup in Carpenter got hurt. Rivero was still learning how to be a reliever. Same with the other converted starters like Grace, Roark, Solis, etc. But really, those guys aren't much worse than your average reliever, it just all didn't work. These guys stunk plenty, but Williams certainly didn't use the pen very well.

I think the larger issue is that Rizzo may as well spend as much as he can get by Opening Day, because he won't get any more $$ during the season. That means he either has to be clever with deferring or offsetting money in any contract he takes on, or be willing to deal important prospects/young players to get that money in the deal. Given how many spots need to be replaced every season with limited funds, I think both strategies are troublesome. Essentially, with the full budget route, he has to be ready with plan a, b, and c and hope it doesn't come to d, because there's no money or trade options for that without jeopardizing plans for the future. I think he has decided that contending for the playoffs is better than "going for it" one year if such a thing is even possible. That led to taking on a risk like Papelbon instead of almost any upgrade who cost anything in a deal. He couldn't afford to get Clippard back, Parra as another LH outfielder, or presumably other decent targets that didn't get past the discussion stage.

I suppose if there were wiggle room for adding salary, he would have flexibility, but perhaps the free agents you eschew to achieve that smaller payroll would drop the team's talent level in April down to a point where they'd have an even harder time competing. There are some serious depth issues as it is, and you'd have to take even more chances with young guys and retreads. There's already enough of that with the health problems on this club. It seems to be the price for having talent they can draft lower or sign for less is that they can't stay on the field enough to help the club win.

We can only hope the next guy figures out a way.

Bryceroni said...

Full house cleaning. Seems necessary, but unfortunate that ole PBN took so many people down with him

BornInDC said...


To your point: the Nats needed Cespedes and Clippard as much as the Mets did and both players were available at a relatively low price in $$ and prospects, yet the Nats could not "afford" to acquire either player.

Mitch said...

Ryan Zimmerman needs to go. (He needed to go a long time ago when he was no longer able to throw, but that ship sailed.) He too perfectly encapsulates this team -- talented for sure, maybe just a little overrated, but injury prone, unreliable, and ultimately short on results that matter. It could be a big step in changing the culture/righting the ship, or whatever cliche you'd like.

(And I don't care about the contract issue. Anyone can be moved, just as the Red Sox did a few years ago with A-Gone, Crawford, etc.)

Booyah Suckah! said...

Anon 8:41, I believe THIS is why the Cardinals and Nats were similarly productive and yet had such horribly dissimilar records:

The Cards come in at second overall, and an unbelievable +103 on the defensive side.

Not that cluster luck accounts for everything. But "choking" versus "finding a way to win" are terms with little meaning outside the television broadcast booth. Leaving a bazillion runs standing on base while you jog back into the dugout, however, is a real thing.

John C. said...

To follow on Booyah's comment, the point about cluster luck/sequencing is that it's not a repeatable skill. Like when the O's posted the best record in one run games in 50 years a couple of seasons ago, then turned around and flopped in such games the next season with essentially the same team.

DezoPenguin said...

Luck is real, and most of the Nats' luck in 2015 was bad. That said, though, let's look at the bad luck piece-by-piece:

1. Lineup. Rendon hurt, Werth sucks, then hurt. Zim sucks because hurt, then just hurt. Desmond sucks for no apparent reason. Ramos sucks for no apparent reason. These were offset to a certain extent by MAT being occasionally useful on offense and borderline stellar on defense, Escobar being way more useful than envisioned, Espi turning in his best season in, well, ever, and Robinson being genuinely productive, and of course Bryce deciding that this was the year to make Trout vs. Harper an actual debate. So kind of a wash.

2. Rotation. Scherzer was great for four months, not so great for July and August. Stras was bad, then hurt, then good, then hurt, then good. Znn had some regression. Gio was basically Gio. Fister got eaten alive by the regression bug. Roark was not good as a fill-in. Ross, on the other hand, was quite good. The rotation wasn't BEST EVER!!!! but overall was still a strength (I mean, we're complaining about Znn and Gio, and those are three-win guys.)

3. Bullpen. Uh-oh. As Harper's post indicates, way too many people were let go without there being a viable Plan B. Then Stammen got hurt, taking out the third-most-reliable arm standing. Barrett, Treinen, and Roark all underperformed. Janssen was hurt to start, then underperformed. Carpenter was an attempt to plug gaps and was good (except for one outing where he got shelled) but then got hurt. Rivero had growing pains. Grace was pretty well meh. Then, when Rizzo tried to solve two problems at once (getting a second top-level arm AND solving Williams's need to think about what to do in the 8th inning), it blew up when Storen totally melted down after his first couple of outings, likely forever earning the "weak-minded" tag for the rest of his career and costing himself millions in future earnings. Then Papelbon followed in September with a meltdown of his own. The combination of bad pitching and bad use of pitchers met with repeated disaster. (Seriously, whomever replaces Williams, can you see them actually relying on anybody except Thornton and Rivero for next year...if Thornton is even back (I don't know his contract status)?)

The part that gets me is, despite all the injuries we were still staggering along in first place...and then August hit and the entire team exploded. The bullpen died, the starting pitching melted (Ross ran out of juice, Scherzer got bad, Stras was hurt...), and the returning starters all more or less stank.

Mitch said...

Nice link, Booyah. I read an article recently which sort of boiled this down to the Cards historically good bullpen results, despite not being populated by Kimbrel's and Chapman's. Not only very good overall, but in high-leverage situations they were mystifyingly good. Essentially if you had runners on with two outs against their bullpen, you were absolutely not going to score.

Naturally the comments were flooded with Cards fans talking about WINNERS WIN and PLAYING THE GAME THE RIGHT WAY, NOT ON COMPUTERS YOU NERDS.

blovy8 said...

Thornton is a free agent, and while he should be a priority, they'll be competing with 29 teams, so I don't like those odds.

Sammy Kent said...

My expectations for this team went way down before spring training. Letting LaRoche go was not a terrible mistake in itself, since defensively we had Zimmerman to move to first. Failing to do anything at all to replace the 30 HRs and 90 RBIs that were now missing was a HUGE mistake....and one Rizzo still hasn't addressed.

Y'all that are jonesing for Tyler Clippard back are, I'm sorry, NUTS. C'mon people, surely you haven't forgotten that this man patented the eighth inning two run dinger. He cost us WAAAAY too many games with his perfectly grooved fat pitches.

DezoPenguin said...

That is bad. Let's see, that leaves us with:

Scherzer/Strasburg/Gio/Roark/Ross as 1-5 in the rotation, with Cole, Jordan, and maybe Giolito on deck. That needs some depth, yeah, and I wouldn't mind at all signing somebody else, but that's not a bad rotation, it's just a rotation in need of depth.

Werth/Taylor/Harper in the OF. Rendon/Espinosa/Escobar/Zimmerman in the IF. Ramos catching. Robinson, den Dekker, Difo, Turner all hanging around. This isn't bad, but depth is a serious issue. Improvement at the catching position (I mean, we're not getting Martin or Cervelli or Molina or the like, but can we at least get someone who's elite at either offense or defense? Ramos's first healthy year in ever produced lousily at both!) and the OF are key. I'm not sure I trust Robinson to repeat his 2015 quality play. Turner winning the SS job and making Espi the backup infielder would help a lot, but who knows if that's at all viable? Zim and Werth are huge breakdown candidates.

Bullpen, though, ugh! Rivero is a nice start. Hopefully Stammen will be back. Barrett was actually functional later on. I don't mind counting on the younger guys for a couple of spots, but we need to sign some fungible-but-reliable talent for the middle innings, guys in the Thornton mold but younger. Not necessarily world-beater types, but players who have a solid track record of success and who aren't at such an age that expected decline will bite them in the butt. And the Storen and Papelbon questions have to be answered, even if those answers are "unload them for a bag of balls and a 4th OF."

With regard to Roark, it seems that he needs to be either a starter or a reliever, since as a swingman he has trouble, well, swinging. Pick one.

The big issue is, Rizzo has shown repeatedly that he really doesn't like to make mid-season corrections, and he's basically good for one per year at most (eg. Suzuki in 2012, Papelbon this year). That means taking this offseason to seriously evaluate the roster and build it in such a way that there's a Plan B and perhaps a Plan C already ready to go for the expected problems, and that those plans do not involve giving replacement-level guys like Tyler Moore and Matt den Dekker significant playtime in what looks like it'll again be a two-team division race.

In turn that means hiring a manager relatively early on, and then building the roster with that in mind. BornInDC, above, made a good point: if you *know* your manager believes in locked-in bullpen roles, then you gave to give him the guys who will be those roles. Take risks in such a way that play to the manager's strengths (see, eg., the good work Ron Washington did coaching Marcus Seimen this year in Oakland, turning his defense from "flaming train wreck" to "passable major leaguer"--if your manager is good at coaching up young players, you can take risks on young players. If your manager is good at handling a pen, you can get more situational guys for the pen.

Jay said...

Any thoughts on the next manager. Ripken? No experience, but his dad was a manager. Big personality. Bud Black - the last former San Diego manager to be hired by another team was Bruce Bochy. I'd be ok with either of those two guys. Dave Martinez - Maddon's bench coach. I'd be ok with him too. Not to excited by Gardenhire. Dusty Baker - I don't see since he was MW's mentor so to speak. He does when a lot in the regular season and was a couple of outs away from winning the whole thing in San Francisco. I haven't heard anyone mention Charlie Manuel. He knows Werth well and won in Philly. Anyway, we'll see. Should be a very interesting off season. Doubt I'll watch much of the playoffs - too painful again.

JC said...

I think the issue of "luck" is important to consider either when you have a winning or losing season. Luck in this case means deviation from the expected W/L baserun record.

Since there is no way to control luck, if you want to maximize odds of being in the playoffs then you need a team that can get 95+ expected wins. This way even if you have bad luck you are hopefully still getting 90+ wins. Rizzo obviously thought they had a 95+ expected wins team but in reality they were are 90 expected team. If we had good luck like the Cardinals we could be +7 and everyone would talk about how great the Nats team was this year. Instead we are -7 and out of the playoffs.

Moving forward though it is important to realize that the team "should" have won more games. I do not mean the theoretical team i.e. healthy Stras/Werth/Span/Zimm. The hobbled team that played this season should have won more games but didn't based on luck.

Teams that do better then baserun expectations are in danger of expecting luck to play out the same way next season. The nats should at least consider that the team we put out there this year still got 90 baserun wins. There needs to be a rebuilding but I think it can be done.

Robot said...

I've expressed my preference for Ripken on this blog before. I agree with others that Bo Porter would be a good choice, as well.

Guy said...

I think even though we were worried we weren't worried enough because of the totality of the relief issues. They lost now the 2nd, 3rd and 4th most IP from the pen. 200IP. That's so much to replace. You very well may not replace all that with even the slightly below average arm Detwiler was. It takes time to find one arm. To find three? Forget alarm bells, we needed klaxons going off.

This. I never saw this stat before. Wow.

Kenny B. said...

Thankfully, Rizzo saw the same season we saw, and probably feels his seat getting a little warm. Rizzo has his flaws and his rigidity, but he is a human being who witnesses events and responds/adapts to them. We've known for years that this is where things would start to get interesting for him as a GM. This is where he has to prove that he can consistently keep up a contender without spending Yankees money. Remember, next year we still have Bryce, and as long as that's the case, a lot of things can work with just a dash of good luck.

Also, can we harp on just a little more about how completely insufferable the Cardinals fanbase is? What a bunch of sanctimonious blowhards. They don't deserve to have the Patriots of the MLB.

sirc said...

Thank you for writing these, Harper. I look forward to the rest.

ProphetNAT said...

Thank you for your work this season Harper - great analytical piece. Takes me back to Spring when all was rainbows and unicorns. You and Barry Svrluga do your jobs well. Cheers!

VI said...

There is no "luck.," even if I suppose some folks really do change seats when commanded by FP. What is termed "luck" is a variance that exceeds 2 or 3 standard deviations from the expected value due to variables that are not controlled, not controllable, or not included in the prediction model. The latter is most often the case with "advanced metrics" because these predictors are not subjected to the level of rigor in validation as prediction models used in other venues. A runs scored (or run differential) model is useful, but will naturally vary, too often, beyond what is required. Additionally, plottied results show a vaguely normal distribution with "loose" tails, meaning even one standard deviation from the mean will disappoint the prognosticator more than one third of the time. But it's not due to luck.

Dave said...

I look forward to seeing how the how the roster is altered, specifically the bullpen and coaching staff. IMO, they need Rendon at 3rd. Trade Escobar for a relief pitcher or a 4th OF. If they don't move him, he will have to be hidden somewhere in the infield with a rabbit's foot necklace. Pull out the old extortion tapes of someone to make them trade for Papelbon.

Booyah Suckah! said...

Anyone know the actual status of Papelbon's contract? I remember there being some language in there about 2016 being guaranteed based on reaching a certain save plateau, which everyone agreed at the time was a foregone conclusion. But having only reached 7 saves as a Nat (both his fault for crappy pitching and the team's for not really having many save opportunities after the trade deadline), I'm wondering what that does to his guarantee for next year, and whether that might make him easier to move. Please, tell me it makes him easier to move.

Froggy said...
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Froggy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Froggy said...

Booyah, I believe he bypassed the vesting component and renegotiated his 2016 for a slightly reduced (couple million I think) but guaranteed amount. So he is ours to pay for next season.