Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - MLB 2015 is dead. Long live 2016.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Monday Quickie - MLB 2015 is dead. Long live 2016.

Congratulations KC.

Feel free to enjoy this right up until game 1. Hell until whenever your season ends next year. For the Nats though, well wishing time is over. Now let's start next season.

Bud Black will be officially announced soon I would think. Mike Rizzo will probably be there too. Three questions I'd like to hear the answers to :
1) Rizzo : Why didn't you interview DeMarlo Hale? I know you were going after experience but other non-managers were interviewed. (This is more my curiosity than anything else)
2) Black : If this teams goal is a World Series, how can you be confident in your ability to get them there considering you've never managed a playoff team?
3) Rizzo : What's the payroll estimated to be next year?

Oh that 3rd question. That very important, off-season and next-season defining question. Someone recently let float that the Nats payroll could go as low as 110 million this year. That would be a pretty dire situation where the Nats don't do anything while shedding some useful players. Around 130 is more of a reasonable guess. It makes the 160 mill of 2015 a one-year aberration, setting the Nats general level in the 10-15 range. It's a disappointing level, but one that can be worked with and would allow Rizzo some freedom this offseason. Then there are the optimists who think the Nats will maintain that 160 mill Top 5ish payroll next year. If that's the case then the Nats would like be big players in the FA market in the off-season.

Also this week - Qualifying offers go out. ZNN should get one. Desmond might. Span probably won't. Those are my guesses. They need to be out by Friday, players need to respond by next Friday. Once that's done true FA can begin. What can you read into QOs? Not too much because they can be offered because you want a player back at a reasonable price or because you know they won't come back and you want a draft pick. I would say that if the Nats offer NO QOs out, I'd be kind of worried that the 110 payroll is a reality. That's because if these guys accept QOs it throws a wrench into plans for a payroll that low. I suppose the opposite is also true - if they offer all of them QOs they aren't going to have a low payroll... but they could know none of them will accept. Still I'd take it as a positive sign (in regards to the payroll - team building is another story).

Of course things really don't get moving until the week of December 6th when the Winter Meetings take place (in Nashville).

OK let's get this thing started. Back on track for what should very well be the last seasons of Strasburg, Ramos, Stammen, and if he's still here Storen. Along with what may be the only season of Chokey Weinerface. Get it done guys.

23 comments:

Mattyice said...

What are your thoughts on saving some cash for in season adjustments? Ideally you would put your best team forward at the beginning of the season and then add payroll if necessary to get you the needed pieces (like the Mets did this season). But in reality it seems pretty apparent that the Lerner's set a budget and then they won't go over it regardless of what is going on. For a team with multiple injury concerns wouldn't it be best if Rizzo told Lerner that he wanted to save some of his budget for an in season addition?

Anonymous said...

I'd be absolutely shocked/disappointed if Desmond doesn't get a qualifying offer. I think they should give one to Span too. If he accepts, some problems are solved.

Boswell mentioned on the chat last week (I believe) that the Nats have a $175M budget for baseball ops each year. How that money is allocated - MLB payroll, draft, int'l signings, analytic research, scouting, etc - can vary from year to year. Given the likelihood that the Nats will have a number of high draft picks, it seems like we should expect the draft component of the budget to be fairly high.

Donald said...

Should we care about payroll? There just doesn't seem to be much correlation between a higher payroll and success, and yet people all assume that you have to spend big bucks if you are serious about contending.

Chaz R said...

So, here we are at the closing of "the window" that opened in 2012. Wow, that was quick; probably mostly because of the disappointing seasons of 2013 and 2015. The Nats have so many question marks going into 2016, it will be very interesting to see if they truly are still in Win Now mode.

Harper said...

MattyIce - That's an interesting take. I think Rizzo has been relatively successful in getting teams to eat salary that he wouldn't bother, but the well is getting pretty dry now for even good returns, forget about potentially season changing ones. He may have to do something like that.

Lerner's may not like that though - might be a budgetary thing. Like they don't want a sudden influx of costs - plan for steady money in and out.

Anon - I wouldnt' say "solved" as much as "resolved" - they have an answer that we'd have to accept.

Donald - that actually ins't true. Higher payroll correlates with more wins pretty well over time. True in the playoffs not so much, but the facts are you can compete by spending a little by hoarding talent and getting luck that they all develop as you expect but that is only temporary. It's doubtful you built up another store behind them (lower draft picks, no trade deadline dumps, trade deadline acquistions) so to compete at the end of that 5 years window you have to spend money (or repeat the process and cross your fingers)

Spending is the most reliable way to be consistently competitive... if you commit to it and do it smartly.

Chaz R - If they aren't in win now mode in 2016 they should burn it all down. Because 2016 is a year with potential. Trade Bryce, package with Zimm (to get out from under that deal). Trade Stras, package with Werth (ditto). Just burn it to the ground to build back up.

Froggy said...

Harper, do you think Rizzo jumps out in front and makes any significant deals at the Nov 9-12 GM meetings? Like dangle Papalbon and Storen for a bag of balls?

blovy8 said...

They're still in their "competitive window", "win now" is pre-wildcard thinking. It's like wishing there wasn't a DH...

I bet they can spend less next year and have a better record, it just takes a little more health and relievers.

SM said...

Re: Your reply to Chaz R.

Burn it down, plow it under and salt it, like Carthage might be what the Nats choose. In which case, hiring Bud Black at this point--or any point, in my opinion--makes no sense.

But if the Nats go that route, it would be interesting to see how long it would take to rebuild a contender. Provided the team is smart about it, and focused, one would be surprised at how quickly it can be done--depending on how you define quickly.

Weighed against how a furious and disheartened fan base would react seeing Bryce lead the Yankees to a World Series, I wonder how far Montgomery Burns Lerner is prepared to go.

Anonymous said...

Another question I would like to see asked and answered is: when is that ****ing judge going to make his ruling in the endless MASN dispute?

Anonymous said...

Understand that Papelbon bought a house in Alexandria. Looks like he successfully auditioned for the Walking Dead.

blovy8 said...

I thought that sale was still in limbo, it affects me since I live near that neighborhood and assumed that I would have to put up a lot of "no-choking zone" signs if it went through.

Harper said...

Froggy - No. I wouldn't expect any major deals until after t-giving. Sometimes he gets things done before the Winter Meetings. And he also wouldn't trade either of those for a bag of balls. He'll try to get fair value.

blovy8 - Sure. I think they can easily do that. Really all I need to see Rizzo do something to address pen and bench. You can do that for a few million so going back up 30 to 160 isn't necessary. 140+ would probably be fine.

SM _ I don't know. Teams are so finicky with prospects now. Hoard 'em. Still you think 3 years of Bryce would get a major haul and Strasburg would get something.

Anon - He wants the parties to come to their own resolution. My guess is it's like the Brady ruling. Judge sees that best ruling is probably against what's written (meaning while within a legal right to do the arbitration themselves MLB had an self-interest which they knew and should have recused themselves from the process) but if he goes thtat way it legally prolongs the whole thing as an appeal is almost certain. So tries to get these guys to come to agreement on their own

ProphetNAT said...

The Mets were not supposed to contend until maybe next season. Look what happened? They were playing baseball games in November. This "competitive window" that everyone seems so sure is closing after this season is nonsense talk. The only reason people say this is, when we think of losing Strasburg, Ramos, ZNN, Desmond, Span, Fister, Storen, Stammen - we cry out "who is going to take their place!? Who?!?!" Perhaps someone better? Ever think of that? Maybe not an individual upgrade at a position, but someone who overall helps the team? The unknown scares a lot of people, understandably. But understand that this team is not poised to return to .500 baseball with an uncertain direction and a fanbase still to be won over.

I understand that it is a long off-season. We need something to talk about. But this "competitive window" and the "win-now mode" talk is baseless. Rizzo has said that he wants to compete now and in the future. He's never said we're in it to win it THIS YEAR and after that, who knows? No. Let's talk about what players are available to fill our weaknesses and who is leaving. That should be plenty of discussion until pitchers/catchers report...

SM said...

By the way: Royals in 5, you said. And Royals in 5 it was.

I shall read what you write more carefully--if not with more alarm--from now on. You've made Nostradamus look like a utility forecaster.

Anonymous said...

Anon - He wants the parties to come to their own resolution.

Good luck with that. He'll be waiting forever, because Peter Angelos has no incentive whatsoever to change the current status quo.

Robot said...

@SM - He also called the season for the Nationals back in like June, so make of that what you will. I read this blog for the analysis, not the prognostications, but to each his own...

Alan Wiecking said...

Augh! CBS is reporting that Black is out, Baker is in. I hear a window slamming closed.

Alan Wiecking said...

.........and, it's official. More bad in-games choices to follow.

blovy8 said...

That's really silly to lost your top managerial pick because of money and length of contract. A one-year deal is insulting. If what I read is true, they didn't want to pay him as much as the Padres. That's a terrible omen anyway you spin it.

Ursa Major said...

In MW's first spring training, there was enough mystery to be optimistic about what he would bring. But the first moment of dread came when I heard that his coaching model was Dusty Baker.

I agree with Alan - Augh! (cue Charlie Brown banging head into tree)

Fries said...

The next couple of seasons are going to be laughable. This was a power move by the Lerners. Rizzo wanted Black, Lerners wanted Baker, so they purposely muck up the contract negotiations to get the guy they want. Rizzo is gone at the end of the year, he's done with this organization and as one of the better GMs in baseball, he can do better elsewhere. The window to win is gone at the end of this year and honestly I don't see the Nationals coming back until the Lerners are gone or they begin to realize that owning a baseball team isn't like owning a real estate company

JE34 said...

And... they managed to screw up the managerial hire too. "No seriously, Dusty, we wanted you first the whole time." They managed to undermine the confidence in their new hire right out of the chute.

JW said...

Yeah, you'd have to expect Rizzo to be not far behind MW out the door (but most likely on his own accord) after the Black/Baker fiasco. That's the kind of thing that really undermines his credibility in the MLB community. It was most likely the Lerners move, but it falls on him and creates a negative reflection on his competence.

I personally don't think the manager choice is as significant as the roster issues (which I have zero confidence will be fixed this offseason), but mucking up the process like this is really a big fail.

I love going to baseball games, but it's hard to get excited about paying more money for less competence.