Nationals Baseball: Let it Schrock.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Let it Schrock.

The Nats won last night as Scherzer was dominant and the Nats bats... well they did enough! Thus ends all four games of the "tough" part of the schedule from Mid-August to Mid-September. Now it's the Rockies and Phillies and Mets and Braves and Phillies and Mets and Braves and Marlins. This should be where the Nats officially start putting teams away one by one. The Braves should be any day now. Ideally the Mets will be eliminated in that second series and the Marlins in that last one, but we'll see.

Speaking of Maxs the Nats made a trade yesterday sending Max Schrock to the A's for Marc Rzepczynski. Who is "Scrabble" (the only time I'll use that nickname - though it isn't a bad one)?  He's a 30 year old southpaw reliever whose job it is to get lefties out and pretty much nothing else. Now you may say "But Harper - he isn't getting lefites out this year!" and you'd be right. Lefties have a .755 OPS against him (while righties have a .674 one).  But historically he's been death to lefties and a delicious feast for righties.

2015:  RHB OPS : .972  LHB OPS : .661
2014:  RHB OPS : .944  LHB OPS : .441
2013:  RHB OPS : .859  LHB OPS : .480

If you believe this year's just been a fluke so far he's a LOOGY, plain and simple.  And even if you worry about it not being a fluke - understand that the .755 OPS, somewhere between Chris Heisey and Jayson Werth is pretty much completely average and is mainly average driven. In 81 ABs he's given up only 5 XBH to lefties, only 1 home run. Plus he's struck out 23 lefties in 89 PAs. This pick up makes sense.

Now is Max Schrock too much to give up? Depends on who you ask. We went over this for the Melancon trade but if all you care about is potential future value nearly anything is too much to give up for a rental reliever. Relievers pitch such few innings that they are barely going to effect a team's season, especially not a team with as large a lead as the Nats. In the playoffs chance drives their impact and there's always the "couldn't have another pitcher gotten this out" hanging over them. Since outs happen far more often that hits, even in bad matchups, the answer is usually yes to that latter point. The impact a reliever can have over the alternative is just very limited.

But is all you care about potential future value? If you care about winning then it's usually fine to trade prospects for anything, even rental relievers. Most prospects amount to very little. This is especially true when considering the 10th best prospect, not for the sport or a league, but for a team. They don't make the majors or when they do their impact is limited. It may not feel like that's the case but it is. You can just look at the players the Nats have traded and hell, the ones they haven't, to see that. For every Turner there are a dozen Balesters, Coles, Milones, Norrises, Peacocks, Freitases, Meyers, Pineyros, Krols, Lombardozzis, Burnses, and Karnses. A mix of never-made-its, cups of coffee, barely role players, and maybe a good year or two. That's what you usually give up and what you usually get.

Then why do people care so much? The same reason they'd scream if you ripped up a lottery ticket. "But what if?" Schrock isn't a nothing prospect. He's 21 (although nearly an "old" 21*) and he's hit really well in advanced A-ball (.341) after hitting in low A and regular A. That's good. He doesn't have any power. He doesn't have any patience. He's not particularly known for his fielding. That's not so good. The minute he stops hitting for .300 or so, his usefulness ends. (For completeness he seems like an ok runner). He probably tops out, if he's lucky, as a useful bench piece for a couple years. A guy who can come up and put the ball in play for you. That's worth more than 40 games of a reliever yes, but it's also something you can get with a couple million dollars at any point.

In other words if Schrock develops into what most people think he will he'd be a good piece to have. But in no way should his presence make the difference between success and failure for a team. You can get what it is Max Schrock is expected to be for next to nothing as far as a baseball payroll goes. That's what the trade is. Something you could get for a couple million today (an effective LOOGY reliever) for something you can get for a couple million later (an ok bench player).  

Does the variability in Schrock, the potential, matter? Yes, but only in bulk. If your team consistently makes these trades, empties out prospects 3-13 for a few years in a row, you'll likely find yourself with a dearth of bench prospects and probably will have "unlucked out" into trading someone who might have a 5-10 year decent career. Instead of a couple million, you may have cost the current team something more like 20 million. That can matter to a team** But the Nats don't do that. A trade or two every year should be fine. 

It's nearly playoff time and the Nats need to optimize for that. They aren't going to spend a ton of money so they will tweak here and there. LOOGY is something that looked like it could be improved. Rizzo did it. What's left? I guess they could find a bench player you like better than Difo. But I'm not sure there is one. He's good enough defensively and a fast enough runner to fill those roles. You'd really have to bring in someone who is a special at either of those to matter. I suppose a truly great contact hitter might be worth grabbing. Really we're at the margins here.


*If you have forgotten or never knew I like to make distinctions between "young" and "old" ages. Since the age for a player in the great baseball-reference website is set of July 1st that year it gives you the impression that someone who turned 25 on June 29th was the same age as someone who turned 26 on July 2nd, when they were more accurately closer to a year apart. That's not a bug. The line has to be set somewhere. But in order to lessen that false impression I call players who have a birthday in the first half of the season (OD-July1st) "young" and those in the second half (July 1st -October whatever) "old"  It's less important as you age, but it matters for minors IMO. 

**Though as always - it shouldn't matter. Rich men's toys whose valuations grow rapidly should not have payroll issues. There is no money bucket. However, I understand it will matter. 

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yep, this is about one thing and one thing only: we're probably facing the Dodgers in the NLDS, and we desperately need lefties against that lefty heavy lineup in order to give ourselves the best possible chance to win.

Personally, I love the fact that Rizzo is showing that he will do everything that he possibly can within the Lerner budget constraints to get us past that first round.

cass said...

I imagine anyone who has never heard of Mylz Jones will be fine with this trade, but for those who have, like me, we will feel very sad about this for pretty irrational reasons. Always tough to lose a future MVP.

Chas R said...

I agree, it's a good move by Rizzo and I'm happy to see he is doing what he can to improve our chances. Hopefully, Mr. Scrabble's splits are indeed a fluke.

Was that not a fantastic game last night??!!! Max was MAX again! We really needed that lift after the poor play over the last 3 games and in Atlanta. Time for a winning streak!

NotBobby said...

Cass - was thinking the same thing. Always tough to lose the next Donaldson. ..

John Lushetsky said...

I was at the P-Nats game on Saturday and saw Schrock for the first time. Good looking player. Talked about him with some other fans who said he looked like a Steve Lombardozzi but they were hoping for a Dustin Pedroia. I think the Lombo comparison is dead on. In any case, 2nd base is going to be pretty crowded for a few years. Good trade.

Robot said...

I was a little schrocked when I saw they let Max "The Schrocktopus" go. Seen him play a few times. Mr. Schrock-and-Roll. His Schrock-and-Awe approach to the opposing pitcher was Schrocksteady.

Schrock on, Max. Punning on your name will be dearly missed.

mike k said...

^ Can we at least agree the harm of losing Schrock is mitigated because we get to avoid 6+ years of Schrock puns?

Anonymous said...

I think it needs to be said that Trea Turner has become one of the best leadoff hitters in all of baseball. The whole Danny vs Trea argument we had on here a couple months ago is moot now. Turner looks like he has the tools to be an elite CF and man has he improved our production from the leadoff spot. He'll be a difference maker in October. Why did we trade for Ben Revere again?

Bjd1207 said...

@Anon - Why did we trade for Ben Revere again?

Cuz http://www.fangraphs.com/statsd.aspx?playerid=6983&position=P

Chas R said...

@Robot- NICE!

Anonymous said...

cass and NotBobby--

Wait, what? Mylz Jones and Max Schrock future MVPs? Another Josh Donaldson?

Froggy said...

I'm good with giving up a prospect for a LOOGY, or at the least the additional option of one for the post season. And thinking ahead to the likelihood of a West coast team match up is prudent. Whatever we got to do to avoid a Storen or Barrett-esque playoff game meltdown is fine by me.

Harper said...

Josh - the comparisons are interesting but both Lombo and Pedroia were successful in AAA at 22 and in the majors, so he better have a hell of a 2017 to keep up

Robot / mike k - The man was destined to take off like a schrocket and be a Schrockstar. I hate that this denies us Max leading the Nats to playoff success in Schrocktober and those summers of trying to Schrock-the-Vote to get him into the All-Star game. At least in Oakland he can form a 1-2 punch with Burns at the top of a "Schrock-a-Billy" line-up. At least until his career fizzles and he hits schrockbottom

Anon @ 8:58 a little premature but just a little. He does look good. (and thanks to Dusty I need to clarify that I'm not talking about his butt)

Anon @ 10.29 - a fangraphs post that was made in jest that noted that Donaldson's SEC career or last seasons or something was most comparable to Max Schrock so therefore Schrock = Donaldson.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Schrock can learn to be 5 inches taller in Instructional League, too.

JE34 said...

Charlie and Dave should enjoy their new spelling assignment.

Robot said...

Harper, i would propose as an alternate title to this post, "Schrockodile Dun-deal"

cass said...

After that FanGraphs post by Carson Cistulli (who is known for favoring fringe prospects) in the offseason, he's actually had a really good year. And, subsequently, made Cistulli's Fringe Five a number of times - yes, another FanGraphs thing.

In a podcast featuring Cistulli and Jeff Sullivan, Jeff was making fun of Carson's obsession with Max Schrock and picked his own 13th rounder with a funny name (Mylz Jones) and the two made a bet about which would be the first to win the MVP or have the most career WAR or whatever. Unfortunately for Jeff, it turns out that Mylz Jones is no Max Schrock.

So, anyway, for those of us who follow FanGraphs, having one of their guys in our farm system was fun. And it works out often enough - Kluber was another fringe prospect that Cistulli obsessed over and then turned into a superstar. So mostly it's just fun but if Schrock turned out to have success in DC, it would've turned out to be really fun and good.

Of course, another dimension is trade value. Couldn't we get something for Schrock better than a little cash? Seems a poor return.

Oh and I should also mention that Schrock was championed by the Nats stats guys - they were really big on him and convinced the team to draft him. (Source on this is Dave Cameron who knows the Nats stats people.)

PJI said...

Following the Nationals loss to the Rockies, wondering why Mike Arizona did not want Charlie Blackmon?

PJI said...

Meant Mike Rizzo.

Jay said...

Colorado always wants a ton of prospects for their players bc of how Coors inflates offensive numbers. Also, I think other clubs are less certain of how Rockies hitters will do outside of Coors. The two things combine to make it tough to trade for one of the Colorado OF.

Anonymous said...

Giolito? More like little Gio oh no!

Some "phenom".

Froggy said...

Can we finally agree that AJ Cole and Giolito should not pitch for the big club the rest of the season. Seriously, I just don't see anything from Giolito that warrants being the #1 pitching prospect in baseball. Of his first 13 pitches 9 were balls and he had 80 something PC after 3 or 4 innings.

I would trade him straight up for any of the Rockies that murdered us this weekend...

Ole PBN said...

We could get quite a return for trading Giolito. I'm in, pull the trigger. Perhaps the Rockies would like him for CarGo? Lucas would have a 6.50 ERA in Colorado anyways.

Ole PBN said...

As a follow up on Giolito, I think the opinions of him being a top prospect is this: He's 6'6", well-built, throws 96 mph, a 80 mph breaking ball, and he just turned 22.

Why I disagree and think that those above plus's are just from watching bullpens and seeing him dominate low-A hitters: High/straight-over-the-top and predictable release point, fastball with little to any late action, control issues, breaking ball that does not fool a lot of hitters.

Of all these things, I think he can fix his control issues - thus making him all the more hittable - exchanging free passes for hits. I originally wanted to see more from him as I thought his debut and a start or two after that wouldn't be enough to justify parting ways. Unfortunately, I don't see it with this kid, and in all of his appearances this season I can't even recall a single pitch that made me perk up in my seat. Seen it dozens of times with Lopez, Turner, Stras when he was coming up, see it Glover. Roark wasn't flashy, but he produced results. These young guys have to show you SOMETHING, something in the game situation that makes you say WOW! Tyler Moore even showed us this on occasion, which is why he stuck around (floundered) here for years. I'd would love to see Giolito succeed somewhere else, but am confident in whoever we get in return would be just as good. We won't miss this.

Anonymous said...

I'll say one thing in support of Giolito: he is clearly working at tweaking his mechanics. The predictable release point, straight fastball, and lack of control all stem from the mechanics that the Nats tried to fix over the offseason. But if anyone noticed this weekend, his FB was sitting at around 93-94 instead of 95-96, he had a bit more control than previous outings, and the hard hit balls were all on FB's he tried to throw past the hitter, leading to a flat 95-96 pitch instead of a controlled, late breaking 93-94. He's definitely got more work, but I am by no means on the trade train just yet