Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Quick thoughts

Monday, February 29, 2016

Monday Quickie - Quick thoughts

Totally forgot to do the "nightmare" and "dream" stuff last week so that'll be this week. Random thoughts as we are mere hours away from watching baseball for about 2 innings and then waiting until Opening Day.

Ian signed. I still think he could have gotten a multi-year deal if he waited until after the draft but I can also understand not wanting to wait for that. If you are desperate to prove your worth, you want to play Day 1, even if it's at a different position in a different league. That is where Desmond is. Was Desmond stupid not to take the extension? In hindsight definitely. Now his future lies heavily in how he does in 2016. But the failure was based in him having arguably the worst year in four years at 29 in a walk year. Even a simple average offensive performance would have kept him paid. It's a bet most would take.Was he stupid not to take the qualifying offer... well I think this is more of an agent thing. A few guys read the market and took those QOs understanding the depth of the market and the shift toward (overoverover)valuing draft picks. You have to think though they were heavily influenced by the guys they hire to read the market. Anyway - it's over now. We can get on with the Spring.

Everyone loves Dusty don't they? Man the guy plays the media like a virtuoso and dammit if he doesn't win over a lot of fans too. But I state again: a winning manager doesn't get fired three times for no reason. He likes to find enemies from anywhere outside the clubhouse, and while that can be unifying, it can also make his continued presence untenable as it is often upper management or ownership that he's clashing with. (but don't think you're safe - he's made the fans the bad guys too). I see a lot of potential for a Bobby V in Boston type crash here. Not that it's likely, but all the same elements are basically in play. Despite that, I feel like the coverage and attention Dusty gets has been pretty much completely positive. At worst it's "This is a question for Dust..... NAH! LOVE THIS GUY!" Am I crazy here? Aren't there important potential negatives? Let's just hope things go well and the Nats win a bunch of games and it doesn't even matter.

I'm not sure how Revere/Taylor will play out, but I'm getting fairly certain Arroyo and not Roark will get that 5th rotation spot. Which means after a great 2014 they'd have relegated Tanner to long relief two straight years. I'm all for depth but Tanner was a hot commodity after 2014. If you didn't internally think he was good enough to be a rotation regular for the Nats, he should have been dealt then and there. Depth can be found or developed. Tradeable players at the top of their value you can afford to lose are rare beasts.


markus puskar said...

I definitely feel you on this whole "dusty is the messiah" energy I'm picking up on. A couple of extremely troubling things I saw:
1. Dusty was asked whether Difo would be in camp, and said "who's Difo?"
- I don't care if you've been out of the game, for a manager to not fully understand the organizational depth of his team is absurd. It's literally one of the few things he HAS to know. (This screams reminders of why everyone didn't want dusty)

2. Calling Bryce "Royce".
- now this is just pathetic. In baseball, Bryce has become as big of a name as they come. Hearing that dusty doesn't know his name is extremely distressing. What DOES this guy know? What is he bringing to the table?

In the ESPN feature on dusty, dusty mentioned he is ashamed that no one ever called him a smart manager. I can already see why.

Anonymous said...

Re: Arroyo, there may be a reason to have him start the season in the rotation, just to see if he still has the potential to give you ~175 league average innings. He has a minor league deal, so he probably has an out-clause if he doesn't make the big league roster. In a vacuum, I wouldn't be opposed to pushing out a starter you control to see what you've got in Arroyo.

Having said that, I'd prefer Roark/Arroyo over Ross/Arroyo for a few reasons. First, the team seems likely to be careful with Ross's innings this year. Keeping him at 5 IP starts is easier to do in the minors and may enable him to pitch deeper in the big leagues in September. Second, he needs to work on getting lefties out.

I'd definitely feel bad for Roark if he gets pushed to long relief duty again, but if the talent evaluators like Arroyo better than him, I can't really complain too much. Rizzo would need to be involved in that sort of decision, I think. Dusty doesn't have enough juice to make it happen, and he'd be the only one pushing for Arroyo on the (dubious) "he's been great in the past" "he's a bulldog" grounds.

blovy8 said...

Roark has a big fan already in Maddux, so it's way too early to predict that verdict. Do you believe that they don't realize by now that Roark's ability to adjust to the hitters, lack of a K pitch, and his need for fastball movement vs. velocity better suit him to start? They won't need two RH long men if Petit earns his money. My guess is that if everyone looks good, the "brain trust" say they want to be careful with Arroyo's rehab and delay his arrival as a health issue even if he's up to 80 pitches or five innings in late March. But any setback someone has at all can be used an excuse if they find themselves with six viable starters. The odds are that somebody will get injured anyway, and they'll need the sixth guy. They haven't said much about the 180 innings or so Ross might be limited to, and it's possible that he's the guy that goes down to keep him ready to use those innings as a starter, but kept to a limit of some sort. It's a waste of resources in a way, but he also has possibilities as a lockdown reliever, because that slider IS an out pitch.

JW said...

Count me in the camp that prefers Roark over Arroyo (who I am I really skeptical has anything left). I think Arroyo would be/will be something like a worse 2013 Dan Haren.

But I would have been much happier if they had traded Roark last year. Once they signed Max, they should have traded Roark. Roark seems like a good guy and a hard worker, but I just don't think he can sustain what he was doing in 2014. I think you could have gotten a much more valuable piece from an organization standpoint.

Old Man River said...

I don't know about the Bobby V comparison to Dusty. The only similarity is that they're both experienced managers who took a year+ off and crashed and burned (or could in Dusty's case). Bobby V was disliked by the players from day 1. Also, Boston had VERY strong personalities in Ortiz, Pedroia, among others who were used to doing things a certain way. The only one I can see like this is Werth, but even he isn't as vocal as Ortiz. Werth blew up at a manager in his second year on the bench after being a third base coach - who subsequently returned to the third base line. Seems understandable Werth's frustration with the man.

I view Dusty as a guy who, like you said, is respected as well-liked by everyone in the clubhouse. I can see him creating an "us against the world" type of atmosphere which may in time piss of Boswell, but who cares? That type of attitude really does work in teams across all sports and is what I think everyone has actually meant by "Natitude" all these years. I want to see these guys play with a little more sense of urgency and passion right out of the gate. No more "keep your head down, do your job." I always found it funny how people take this job as an athlete so seriously, almost military-esque, yet then say "just go have fun!" These Nats take themselves wayyyy to seriously, aside from Gio maybe. But even his goofy side is an eyesore because it doesn't blend with the rest of the guys. Woof.

How about a little more child-like love and charisma for playing a sport you've enjoyed since the sandlots? Hopefully Dusty can get them to do that.

Anonymous said...

@Markus Puskar - regarding "Royce"

Simple slip of tongue. Nothing more. Leave it alone. Besides, you sound like an ESPN writer trying to look for smoke/fire coming out of a frozen pond. No mas.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I'm going to be playing attention this March. I'm not falling into the trap anymore of thinking that how the starters look in spring training is completely irrelevant. Because it isn't true. No, the final scores don't matter, but how our important players prepare for the real season absolutely matters.

Every single regular season game is going to be important for this team, and they have a bad habit in recent years of treating March like a vacation, thinking that they're so great that they can flip the switch on whenever they want to.

They aren't, they can't, and if they actually still believe their own B.S., then they're already in big trouble.

Anonymous said...

Slips of the tongue don't happen more than once, and not for the only name you really should know

DW said...

Wow – just looked at April’s schedule, we need to pounce out of the gate. May looks tough.

Anonymous said...

Yep! The first three and a half weeks are about as soft a cream-puff schedule as we'll ever see in our lifetime. It's absolutely tailor made for a good and talented team to get off to a monster start.

But no matter how bad they are, the Phillies and Braves of the world are going to come out wanting to do everything possible to beat our brains in. And if these guys pull their usual loaf around act in April, they'll be in big trouble before May even arrives.

Harper said...

mp - 1. I'd like him to know it before, but it's something he can pick up in Spring. If he's leaning heavily on Rizzo for roster decisions (which he probably is) you can get away with slacking off on this.

2. If he's still doing it it's a problem. But you get older, you do make these kind of mistakes. So... I'll willfully believe it's an honest mistake for now

Anon - I guess what I would say is that talent evaluators like Arroyo more than Roark then whoever evaluated talent 2 years ago made a mistake not dealing Tanner.

blovy8 - "he odds are that somebody will get injured anyway, and they'll need the sixth guy" Yeah that'll probably make all this moot.

OMR - I think Dusty is like Bobby V in that they are both strong personalities that were expected to win immediately with a talented team who may react poorly to losing. Of course you do make a point. Bobby V is an inside out type of guys - losing players and coaches first. Dusty is outside in. So it's not the same in that sense but I can see a bad break-up.

Anon - yes at same time Mets schedule only slightly harder. Royals but just for two games. Indians / Twins could be wash. Reds just as bad as any NL East team. Really with the NL East the way it is, both Mets and Nats will have long stretches of schedule they should do well in.

sirc said...

Why is it Arroyo vs. Roark? Isn't Ross a better candidate to be left out than Roark? Unproven, very young, loads of options, splits show he needs a lot of work when facing lefty batters...

Davey used similar tactics, regarding "us vs. them" tactics with the "them" in the equation being the variable. Davey also wore out his welcome at each stop regardless of bottom line results. I expect that our time with Dusty will feel very similar to our time with Davey.

SM said...

I'm sure we all hope things work out well for the Nats.

But when's the best-before expiry date for this Dusty-Baker-as-a-hepcat-Forrest-Gump trope? Is there any cultural icon Dusty hasn't rubbed shoulders with?

Hank Aaron, apparently, taught Dusty how to conduct himself, even made him go to church--although that didn't stop Dusty from sharing a spliff with Jimi Hendrix, or savouring complementary, Buddy Guy hooch in the Cubbie clubhouse. I'm waiting for a story about playing pinochle with Martin Luther King, and urging MLK to go with Dusty's "I Have A Dream" line. Or dropping acid with Steve Jobs in a macintosh apple orchard.

I think Max gets it--viz. his sly dig when he said Dusty played with Babe Ruth--and I hope the rest of the team will, too. If it keeps the clubhouse loosey-goosey and results in wins, it'll serve as a kind of bracing, inside-joke, tonic. ("Tell me about teaching Satchel Paige the 'hesitation pitch' again, Coach." Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.)

If things turn ugly, though--and I agree with the Bobby Valentine comparison, if for different reasons--the reverberations will be felt in the front office as well as the clubhouse. Let's hope not.

Matt said...

A few quick thoughts on Baker:

1) I bet half the reason the press loves him is that he makes for great copy. Half-remembered (and probably more than half-horse****) stories about everyone famous in the last 50 years is far easier to write ST fluff pieces about than Williams's clubhouse motivational quotes.

2) So Baker will probably wear out his welcome. Eh. This is what happens to nearly all managers -- it's good for a few years then the team stinks for whatever reason, you've already fired the pitching/hitting coach, so the manager gets the sack and we get the usual fluff quotes about how the new guy is a refreshing change or whatever. The press blames the old manager, the fans blame the old manager, in some cases, the players blame the old manager (because, hey, if you're Werth it's far easier to blame your suckitude on MW and his scheduling of off days rather than the fact that you, say, got sent to jail for speeding and didn't train during the weekends for a few months).

Clearly, I'm having a cynical evening...

John C. said...

God forbid people be optimistic during Spring Training. If one is going to tease out every news item and every quote for possible negative connotations* then it seems rather unfair to jump on others who may be teasing out every news item and quote for positive signs. It's just the other side of the same coin.

*"OMG Baker called Bryce "Royce!" Disrespect! Horror! Bryce will sign with the Yankees!!!11!!" - having been on a team/in a locker room, this sounds like the kind of thing that happens once and becomes a self-referential joke/inside humor. Can it become toxic? Sure! Can it be actually a tension easing/team cohesion benefit? Sure!

Ric said...

@Anonymous said, "Slips of the tongue don't happen more than once, and not for the only name you really should know."

Actually, slips of the tongue often happen in spurts. Once you misspeak the first time, easy to just keep it going. It is when you constantly switch back and forth that indicates that the speaker does NOT know the name.

I was at a funeral last month. Midway through the eulogy, the priest started calling the deceased the wrong name. Continiuted with that wrong name until the end.

I'm not a Baker fan. I don't have high hopes for a manager that has a track record of being fired. But I accept his explanation that he 10 comes from the military, and 2) is used to the last names being on the back of jerseys. If he got "Harper" wrong, I'd be concerned. But he freely admits he messes up first names all the time.

blovy8 said...

The more I look at this, the more I think the joke will be on other clubs who imagine they're set at SS and overvalued losing a draft pick and slot money in 2016 vs. the QA version in 2017 by not getting Desmond at this price, assuming he would have signed elsewhere for that - Texas is a good place to hit. How many shortstops are there who can put up positive offensive numbers, never mind guys who will play anywhere and are probably athletic enough and have power enough to make that work? Is there even anyone on the list after Zobrist, if his OF experiment works out? Now eliminate SS like Reyes and Tulo who don't play full seasons. You're left with team-controlled players like Lindor and Bogearts. Probably Crawford is a bit better, and he just signed a 6/75 deal with San Francisco. For one year, the White Sox would rather have Jimmy Rollins or Tyler Saladino holding the space for their prospect Anderson. That's giving up a spot in the lineup before the season even starts. It seems like a huge overreaction after that lousy first half; his second half numbers paint a similar picture to the good SS he's been even with the high K rate. Can anyone honestly say Jhonny Peralta is better? Four years for 53 million just two years ago. Weird.