Nationals Baseball: Joe Nathan and Matt Albers

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Joe Nathan and Matt Albers

The Nats signed a couple guys yesterday to minor league deals. These things are basically no-lose situations because if the guy isn't good enough you don't have to keep him and pay him. There's no real harm in filling out those extra spring innings with guys like this. All teams do this.

However, just because the individual deals are perfectly fine, that doesn't mean there isn't a negative spin to it. There are only so many Spring Training innings out there. If you want to evaluate Joe Nathan and Matt Albers and Vance Worley AND Tim Collins against even the vaguely "real" competition of a Spring Training game you start to lose innings that guys you know you want to keep need to get ready for the season. In other words - the more guys like this you sign, the less likely it is you sign someone that isn't a question mark. I don't think the Nats have gotten to that point yet but it's something to keep an eye on if you hear of more signings like this.

What about these guys?

Joe Nathan
Relatively few fans have the affection for Joe Nathan that I do.  He's the best contemporary ball player from my neck of the woods. But let's be honest he's very old and a huge injury risk. To be more specific he is 42 and coming off his second Tommy John surgery. In the history of baseball only 81 times has a 42+ pitcher thrown 10+ innings of better than average ball. Since 2010 it's only been done 4 times. Is he any good to be bothering with even trying? Hard to say. He's has been decent since returning from surgery but had very limited pitching the past two seasons; 1 inning total in 2015, 21.2 innings last year. Neither the Cubs nor the Giants, two playoff contenders, saw him and thought they needed to keep him, so my guess is no. But we think Maddux likes him, so there's that

Matt Albers
Albers is a a sinkerball pitcher who had a short stint of success and an even shorter stint of deserved success in the 2010s. He doesn't miss bats, and his control has mostly been poor, so his success lies completely in forcing GBs and getting a good BABIP.  If he can do both he's passable, if not he's terrible. Since he seemingly had an epiphany in 2015 (Ks up, BBs down) that made him a better pithcer, it's worth kicking the tires, but his overall history and his recent one say the same thing. Pass

Vance Worley
Worley is an underappreciated mediocrity.  It's easy to look at his stats and see no reason to be interested. Like Albers he doesn't strike anyone out anymore and he's not particularly unhittable. But he has better control in general and he's usually not giving up a bunch of homers. While nothing from the last two seasons suggests a rebound is likely (everything is trending in a bad way with age) His age and his FB speed both suggest there is no reason to believe he suddenly will be a lot worse than he is. If you want to stash a guy in AAA who seems likely to be a inning eating 4.50+ ERA type, and the Nats can use someone like that, Worley fills that role perfectly.

Tim Collins
Collins was a very good reliever for three+ years. He had untouchable stuff  (9.7 K/9, 7.4 H/9 from 2011-2013) but was held back from elite status by control issues (5.2 BB/9). Then his arm blew. He got Tommy John but in what should be a cautionary tale for everyone that thinks TJ surgery will work perfectly, Collins felt discomfort during his rehab period and it was discovered that the TJ had failed. He would need another one. That is why he is where he is now.  I can't really find any info on his rehab so far so it's all a big question mark. But someone was going to give him a chance with that arm. Oh he's also short! 5'7". So if you are a short guy who roots for short guys that's something.

22 comments:

Jay said...

Their bullpen sounds like a disaster waiting to happen to me. Dusty is know to be an iffy bullpen manager. The Nats have like 3ish legitimate guys in their bullpen. All but 1 of them is an injury risk. Sounds like a season spent in a minefield to me. If they don't sign a couple of relievers (which at this point seems unlikely to me - see above Harper post) then they are at least likely to be tiptoeing through the season and hoping for the best.

If they trade for Robertson or another closer then I think things change, but I don't see that happening either.

The Nats have had 11 pitchers record at least 10 saves in the last 12 seasons per MASN article. Just think the Nats could have traded Giolitto for Andrew Miller straight up last year. Anyone have a time machine?? Oh and the Eaton deal was still a huge reach.

Chas R said...

The pen is likely the biggest question mark. Hope we learn something good in ST- not that that really means anything for the regular season.

Fran said...

Interesting article about Kelley closing from fangraphs: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/shawn-kelley-washington-nationals-closer/

I just worry he can't handle the usage and his arm is going to go flying over home plate. Seems Rizzo is betting on him in a big way.

blovy8 said...

The WBC will take some innings, your handwringing might be for nothing, depending on who's going. We know that somebody will get Roark's work. It could be that Cotts and Collins will get Lopez's innings since he'll be pitching for Mexico. The trick will be having enough catchers for all these guys, that's about it. Three of those guys are an example of the Nats' next "moneyball " - 2nd TJ guys, now that Rizzo has a binder that worked for Kelley, right?

Worley doesn't fit that mold, sadly - he's a just a unexciting ground ball guy. But, hey, depth! Is there such a thing as an innings eater in the bullpen? I guess this means Cole will still go into camp as a starter, that's something, but damned if I know what it is. Options.

Albers is strictly from hunger - around in case of injuries, they check to see if he's getting ground balls, but everything has to go badly for several guys to give him a spot. That is scarily plausible...

I bet Nathan has a decent shot if his velocity is good and he can manage to stick around long enough to throw back-to-back days. Collins is similar, but probably would have to accept AAA assignment initially, as he'd be a third lefty. Cotts might have a better chance than him, who knows? OTOH, the numbers for pitchers after the WBC is not good...one of your blog competitors - http://www.nationalsarmrace.com/

blovy8 said...

are not good according to the brief history on that site, I meant to say.

Ole PBN said...

Jay - getting a little tired of the Eaton trade push-back. So you'd rather have a closer for 2 seasons and part of one, than a center fielder for cheap for 5 years? Especially with Bryce's future as a Nat a big unknown? I say good on Rizzo for not giving up 'Lito for Miller. I'd much rather have another bat that solidifies our outfield. Our bullpen is a mess, I agree, but I do believe we have some good arms in there. Glover is special, Treinin could be ready, Kelly (albeit injury risk) was great last year. They could get by through the trade deadline. Do I know this for a fact? No. But neither does anyone know that Eaton will be a bust.

However, mark my words, 'Lito is a bust. Take that to the bank. I'll be posting up at the dunk tank if he proves otherwise.

Jay said...

I will say Ole PBN could be right. As the saying goes - Rizzo's next bad trade will be his first bad trade. Giolitto did request to change his mechanics per various reports I have read this offseason. His velocity was well down after that. He did not dominate at AA or AAA, much less at the major league level. I do worry that he may still figure it out though (though Alex Meyer has yet to figure it out). Plus you throw in Lopez and Dunning. If they had traded Lopez or Giolitto plus Dunning, I would have been ok. If they had traded Giolitto, Lopez, and Dunning for Robertson and Eaton, I would have been ok. I feel like giving up 3 arms for Eaton is a ton. Hopefully, I am wrong and he averages 5-6 WAR per year the next few years. Rizzo is usually right.

In a perfect world the Nats would spend some money on bullpen help at this point since there are so many arms still available. I'd love to pick up Blanton and Romo and a lefty. Also, I know I am in the minority but I'd love to pick up Wieters. We bet on TJ guys all the time on the mound. Why not see if Wieters can find his old form with a 1 year contract.

Fries said...

Despite us and the White Sox and basically every baseball fan thinking the Nats overpaid, I think the Eaton trade will prove to be a completely even deal, maybe even a slightly better deal for the Nats.

But that's not the issue. When performing a trade, you're doing it based on the market, and the market at the time of the trade said that Eaton wasn't worth as much as we gave. That's why we all hate the trade, and that's why I view the trade as a "bad" one. The results will prove to be even I suspect, but we should have been able to give away less.

Chas R said...

@Fries- I don't know... I think we have to believe the Nats front office knows our prospects better than the White Sox and everyone else in baseball. Lopez is most likely to be reliever, Giolito seems trending towards mid/back rotation starter, Dunning is the arrest of raw prospects and is a complete roll of the dice. Eaton is a proven MLB everyday CFer, considered one of the best OFers in MLB. If all of that is true, I don't see the overpay.

Zimmerman11 said...

Was going to say since no guarantees, they're using the signings as leverage for remaining bullpen arms who want multiple years... you know, to negotiate a BOone Logan type down... but CLE just got Logan so...

Joe Nathan is our closer!

Zimmerman11 said...

Jay, at the time I think they were asking for Giolito PLUS for Miller... that we got EATON for Giolito PLUS seems to back that up (that and what they got for him). Don't get me wrong, seeing CLE go for it and us not as much is painful. Miller? Encarnacion? Dayum.

NotBobby said...

Ugh. And the Boone Logan deal is only one year with a club option. Either Rizzo really has no more money to work with or he really didn't like Logan...

I do not like the bullpen depth!

NotBobby said...

And Belisle is off the market to the Twins.

JCC said...

Well, I wasn't a big fan of Boone Logan so I wouldn't be surprised if Rizzo wasn't a big fan either.

Remember last year how fans howled when Belisle signed with the Nats? I'm just waiting to see if anyone complains that he signed with another team now.

Flapjack said...

The only real news here is that Harper doesn't think tall guys root for short guys, but short guys do. I'm rooting for Nathan, the old guy.

Fries said...

Fangraphs isn't too high on the Nats moves this offseason either

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-nationals-have-a-depth-problem/

Jay said...

It seems to me the Nats have no money. They waited to sign Stephen Drew until after Holland chose Colorado. They signed Nathan and Albers for next to nothing. They traded for Eaton in part bc his deal is so team friendly. They could have signed Fowler and kept those prospects. People argue they went after Melancon and Jansen, but there may have been corresponding salary dumps/trades to follow up a deal for a closer. Hopefully this is a MASN thing, but I am beginning to suspect not.

mike k said...

Not saying MASN is a valid excuse, but clearly it must play a role, no? If the Nats got $100M more per year with a different TV deal, they'd keep their spending the same?

NotBobby said...

Ok and now Romo is a Dodger. I bet we will hear something about whether Rizzo went after him or not. I think he would have had to truly beat substantially any offer by a west coast team and he obviously didn't.

Froggy said...

It would be nice if the 'mystery' team in the Romo negotiations were the Nats and Rizzo could actually pull it off. Especially since he was non-tendered by the Gigantes.

Jay said...

Ken Rosenthal pretty much blasts the Lerners in an article on fox sports.

http://www.foxsports.com/mlb/story/washington-nationals-offseason-trade-free-agent-signing-ownership-salary-ken-rosenthal-020617

He pretty much writes what I have been trying to say about the Lerners for the last few years. They aren't cheap, but in some ways they really are. If Harper is leaving in 2 years then you don't go into the year with the bullpen and bench they have this year. You're better off to trade Harper and go from there. This year looks like a big gamble where we will be holding our breath all year hoping for zero injuries to anyone of consequence.

I don't see how Rizzo doesn't eventually quit. A guy with his track recored shouldn't have to fight tooth and nail with ownership for every move.

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