Nationals Baseball: Around the league

Friday, January 29, 2016

Around the league

Nothing's really going on is it?So I'm going to ramble a bit

Fister signs with the Astros.

When the Fister had his great 2014 a lot of us were thinking that he was incredibly lucky. His strikeouts dwindled down to nothing and while his walks followed that down it still took a big drop in BABIP and increase in LOB% to get him to where he was. While a few optimists thought "Maybe Fister suddenly started learning how to get guys to hit it where he wanted to AND started bearing down with men on base!" most understood that as a 30 year old if he could control that, he would have done it already. Perhaps he wasn't a ~4.00 ERA pitcher as xFIP suggested (Taking out the fielding of his team) but he certainly wasn't a sub 2.50 ERA pitcher either.  So we braced for a mediocre bad year and prayed it would take place after his time with the Nats was done. No such luck.

Injuries probably played a part but the main problem still exists with Fister. He doesn't strike anyone out. Given that he can't work out of trouble by himself. Even if he induces a GB when he needs one he has to get lucky in a sense that it's weak enough and doesn't find a hole. In short Fister has to keep his BB% down, GB% up, and HR/FB rate down to have any sort of quality season. His BB% rate was the highest it had been since his rookie season of 2009, but it's low in general so that's good. His GB% is going down since peaking in 2013 and he's spent more of his career as an middle of the road creator of grounders, so that doesn't bode well. His HR/FB rate is also up and that has varied, so that's a question mark.

So is Fister a bounce back candidate? Not in my mind. He should be very average and with a FB speed that was down to 86.4, I think there is a good chance he could be terrible. Other stats (like how many times he was hit hard) are trending the wrong way, the expected way for a guy at his age. Those that think Fister can bounceback look at 2014, but 2014 was an aberration. Unless he gets lucky again the best Fister should be is a 4.00 ERA type guy. Now is that worth what the Astros paid? Probably. And I guess that's the important part. Assuming you don't REALLY care about winning, just about plugging a hole.

Dickerson was dealt for McGee

Those are two guys some Nats fans wanted. Now of course getting them would mean trading or moving around some guys already here but both would be good pieces to have and maybe are available still. For Dickerson, who I think is least likely to be available given his control and the fact the Rays have wanted an OF for some time (say hi to Souza for me!), the "he plays in Colorado" thing is mostly overblown. As many noted yesterday for the 80 games where a player gets a Rockies bonus, there are like 40 where they get a San Diego, LA, SF problem. So you can't look at road splits and go "Oh that's how he'll play". Really I think what you'll get is roughly the same player but scaled back for what that means in a normal environment. That means the power and average will take a hit but he'll still work out to be roughly the same OPS+ type player.  So instead of .305 and 25 homers, expect him to hit .290 and 20 homers in Tampa. But that's not a drop, really. Relative to the team he retains the value he did in Colorado. That's my guess anyway. 

That would have been nice to have but the Nats were in no position to trade a good reliever to get him and that's what Jake McGee is. Other than a 2013 that looks like an aberration Jake has been damn well dominant; ERAs around 2.00, good against both sides of the plate, not old, cheapish. He's the player now the Nats hope Kelley or Rivero becomes.  Unfortunately the Nats didn't have a young OF to tra... wait. Yes they did. That is a question - would you have given Taylor up for McGee. The Nats do need Taylor. I've said this before but I don't see him being traded because right now he's the only + outfielder on the roster and he's cheap and in control for a long while still (until after 2020). But this is more about belief. As nice a 4th OF he may be, if he's never more than that than an impact reliever for two years could be worth more. I lean toward, no though. I wouldn't deal Taylor for McGee. It's not really about Taylor, who I'm pretty suspect about. Two injuries for McGee last year to me means I can't count on him next year for sure and with only two years of control I think I'd have to feel that way to pull the trigger on a deal like this.

Nats prospects

Last year a lot was made of the Nats pipeline with 6 prospects in the Top 100. I tried to tell you though "6 in 100" wasn't really fair. More like "one of the best, one good one and a bunch of ones that have promise" Now that Ross - who surprised - and Taylor - who was a needed graduate but shows you really how most ~50th best prospects may pan out -  are officially out things are bleaker. Giolito is still the best. Turner though is not - should be a useful everyday player, could be better than that (I think he will be) and everyone else... is gone from the lists.Victor Robles, impressive but not even out of low A yet, has generally passed the Difo, Lopez, Cole crowd who all had various levels of disappointing 2015s.

This isn't so much a big deal for the Nats OD rosters in 2016/7. The Nats have things pretty well in place for that time frame. It's more for the in-season acquisition. If no one steps up to become that mid-100 level prospect then you have to offer bulk. If the Nats offer bulk though it'll pretty much empty out the organization. It's not a problem today, but it could be a problem tomorrow. Just keep an eye on these guys and let's hope a few guys really start to impress.


Ryan said...

I still don't understand how the Nationals got Ross and Turner for Souza

blovy8 said...

Tampa is not an easy place to hit, I'd bet he's closer to .260 than .290, but that's still a good deal for TB. Why did Colorado settle for two years of a good, but fairly expensive reliever instead of a starting pitcher controllable for longer? Every good inning they can get is probably important, but they are not in the mix for the next two seasons are they? Dickerson could have still been around for them at that point.

Nattydread said...

It's going to be a long 3 weeks before pitchers and catchers report. It wasn't a 'bad' off-season so far but then again it hasn't been anything to write home about. Rizzo no longer seems to be able to pull off the blow-em-away-out-from-nowhere deals. Other GMs may be wary of his success. We can't deal from a position of strength in the FA market because the budget it topping out. Rizzo's ability to scout good players from low levels seems also to have tarnished. Yes - it is very hard to stay at the top.

Werth, Zimmerman, Ramos & Rendon all seem to be injury crapshoots. They have very good performance ceilings --- but we've been watching them live out of the basement. Ho hum. March get here already!

Jimmy said...

Difo is the guy to look for a bounce back, he is probably a victim of being called up way to early halting regular ab's and a chance to develop. But one of Cole/lopez still has a shot to be a okay regular. I honestly think Voth has the best chance to be a good SP as he has exceeded expectations at seemingly every level, but is overlooked due lack of pedigree Prospect writers seem to be the most stubborn lot in baseball.

Bjd1207 said...

@Jimmy - I dunno that being called up for a 15 game cup of coffee halted Difo's progression that much. He was already at the high-end of the age curve, starting in High A in his age 23 year. He did get a pretty solid amount of AB's at Harrisburg last year and was pretty average. So if he starts the year off there again we'll probably still need to see a couple of jumps pretty soon if he's going to break into the bigs regularly before age 25-26. Hopefully we see his 2014 numbers in the higher minor leagues this year and then I'll probly get back on the train

Harper said...

Ryan - real short answer is Rays way overvalued Souza. Long answer has to do with money and various organizational roster make-ups, but short answer pretty much suffices. Though he could step in an immediately be good, basically replace Myers.

blovy8 - There's a sense the Rockies have no plan. However a cost controlled reliever is always a good flip at the end of the year so they might have been thinking about that and saw some flaw with Dickerson that was going to be exploited.

ND - But 3 weeks! I wouldn't saw Rizzo's scouting is bad. Some guys were dealt. Some graduated quickly. Some of it is approach - going for big gambles.

Jimmy - If I were to gamble on one I like Cole to dominate AAA and make himself a trade target. has another gear he can go to I think and MLB time hardly anything to base thoughts on. (of course if I could choose none to gamble on I might do that)

BJD - Yeah there isn't the continued minor league success. In a lot of ways he reminds me of desmond. A lot of moving up in the minors because it felt like time rather than because he was doing well. Then a sudden get. That worked out but it took him two full seasons of playing time to do it. I'm not sure Difo will ever get that here. Plus Desmond never had a regression in minors (but also never had chance - he was up and playing)

Jimmy said...


He only appeared in 15 games, he played those games in May, June, July and September. Getting shuttled back and forth like that could def. affect his timing in the box.

Jimmy said...

@ harper

Meh I'm not a fan of Cole or really Lopez,his delivery is just so bizarre. @Nattydread, We'll see, I just don't think the Farm is in dire straights they graduate guys at a pretty good rate and look at guys like norris, karns, and burns around the league that rizzo found. We trade a lot for ready mlb talent and still have a pretty healthy system, I think we have one of the better mixes of paying for FA's and homegrown talent. Plus we probably end up with 3 extra 1st round picks this year to restock.

Bjd1207 said...

@Jimmy - Yeah you certainly have a point and I tend to underestimate the impact those sorts of disruptions have. I may just be seeing that his upward trajectory had already leveled off somewhat so there wasn't much of a boat to rock

John C. said...

Harper, you are really taking the "glass half empty" view on the prospects. Last year you were down because, even though they had six (!) in the top 100, the Nats' prospects were mostly at the back end. So, this year it drops to four in the top 100, but three in the top 29 (Giolito #3; Turner #13; Robles #29; Lopez #75).

So, to make you happy they will need to have six prospects in the top 20, then? :)

Old Man River said...

@John C. - I think the point being made is that generally prospects like Giolito are as close to "sure things" as you can get. And if you're not one of those you're just full of hope and unpredictable. The fact that we only have one sure-fire prospect is where the glass-half-empty approach comes from. Outside of Giolito, we shouldn't expect greatness out of any of these guys. But I wouldn't say we are in dire straits with our farm system. I'm comfortable with our situation - its just there is such a drop off after Robles (frankly I'm surprised Lopez cracked the Top 100).

Bjd1207 said...

But John C points out that we have 3 in the top 30. So how many teams can say they have more than 1 sure fire prospect? If we assume one per team on average then that's the top 32 prospects and we have 3.

John C. said...

FWIW (and recognizing that we tend to tout rankings that support our views and dismiss those that do not), the Baseball America Prospect Handbook is out. They have the Nationals as the #5 minor league system overall. Given the graduation of Joe Ross and Michael Taylor, that's pretty impressive.

JW said...

I don't think you can say that each team would necessarily have 1 "sure fire" prospect. When considering prospect lists, you can't just take the assumption that each spot corresponds to an overall talent level. Some years, the top 50 players could all be future impact MLBers. Other years, it could only 5 prospects will even make it to the Big League. You really just have to look at the performance of each player individually. That's why these types of lists are great for fan discussion but otherwise can be used for little else.

Giolito looks like he will be at least a #3 starter, if not better. Turner looks like he could be an every day SS. After that, it's really unclear. That's not necessarily an indictment of the Nats farm system, it's just the reality of the uncertainty of minor league talent.

Harper said...

All - OK well there are two things here. (1) If you are high on Victor Robles then that makes the whole Nats organization look that much better. #27 to me seems RIDICULOUS and I think it's part of a hype train. Part of ranking prospects, in my mind, is to say "See we got this guy before anyone" so I think there is a bit of a push to rank younger prospects higher than they should be (and conversely older prospects a bit lower than they should) That's how I feel (2) I admittedly can't put the Nats organization in context of other organizations. Are they #5? I don't know. It doesn't feel like it should be that high but I don't have a good handle on every other team.

What I know is that touting all those guys in the Top 100 last year made fans think top notch help was coming all over the place in 2016 and 2017. That's far from the truth.