Nationals Baseball: Mad, Son because they do little? Not anymore

Monday, July 17, 2017

Mad, Son because they do little? Not anymore

The Nats made a deal to fix the pen.  How excited should you be?  Pretty excited.

The Nats are getting two great arms. Both Doolittle and Madson are having great years and have been consistently very good in recent history.

2017 Doolittle : 0.656 WHIP, 0.8 BB/9, 13.1 K/9
2017 Madson : 0.788 WHIP, 1.4 BB/9, 8.9 K/9

2015-6 Doolittle : 1.101 WHIP, 2.2 BB/9, 10.3 K/9
2015-6 Madson : 1.125 WHIP, 2.4 BB/9, 7.5 K/9

A lefty in Doolittle that is death to left handed batters (no hits to LHB this year) A right hander in Madson who is killer to righties (.177 / .226 / .253). Both though good against all batters. It's hard to see a downside with what the Nats are getting.

Of course we can try.  For Madson the worry would primarily be his age. Madson will be 37 soon and has already missed seasons worth of time due to a Tommy John injury. That was a few years ago and Madson has been fine since returning in 2015, but you still have to think of him as an old arm with a TJ surgery in the bank. That's not the best combination. We all saw how Joe Blanton dropped off a cliff dramtically and he didn't have the elbow history.  For Doolittle it's injury that should concern you. He has missed time in each of the past three seasons with the dreaded shoulder problems. So far rest has been enough to get him back on track but eventually it won't be. The other thing that might be an issue with Doolittle is that he wasn't all that good a righties last year. Both are over performing as well.

Those are the negatives. For Madson's age it's something to think about but hard to see how that's going to matter now 60% into 2017. I think it he was going off a cliff he would have already.  As for Doolittle, yes, that has to always be on your mind, but right now he's healthy and that's what matters most. His RHB numbers were never terrible so he doesn't have to LOOGY it unless he performs worse than usual. And while these two might, probably should, perform not as well as they have been, that really means they should be good to very good instead of great. There isn't much of a downside here for 2017.

So the Nats got two good arms. What did they give up?  Well Blake Trienen for one.  Based on the news from yesterday everyone lives Blake as much as the Nats did. He does have great stuff. High 90s heavy fastball. That's killer. His BABIP and LOB percentages suggest a bit of bad luck.  Last year Blake was one of the better middle relievers in the game.  He's not being paid and under control till 2021 (though he is older at 29).  Treinen could be very good.

Then again that's ignoring the elephant in the room, Treinen's history of pitching worse in more important situations. If the A's can't fix that the best you can hope for is one of the better 7th inning men in the game and that's not really worth all that much.

Sheldon Neuse is an overall talent who can do it all. Field, hit, run, pop. The question is if this jack of all trades can do any one thing well enough to be impactful. Luzado was a legit prospect who was Tommy Johned into a Nats bargain draft pick. He just came back and has been good but it's real early, he's real young and it's real low level.

Neuse reminds me of Max Shrock, the guy the Nats traded the A's for Repcynski last year. They are early in careers and still on the development path they should be. If they keep on that path, they will become useful pieces. If they surprise, and at this stage/age it's still certainly possible, they could be keystone players.  Luzardo is more of an "all or nothing" lowest of the low ball players.* It's the gamble Beane is taking.  Instead of taking the Billy Burns - guys you know are bench players or middle relief arms today - you take a chance to get something more.  But with players that you like to still be something even if they aren't.  It's sound strategy for a middle reliever.

For those that want to add Sonny Gray to the mix, a Sonny Gray would need something more. Something closer to a Robles or Soto. This will be true of nearly any starting pitcher that's not a FA next year or who the Nats aren't eating a large contract for.

This is exciting because the Nats needed multiple bullpen arms, at least two preferably three, and they've already gotten their two without giving up major prospect pieces. For those hoping they can add David Robertson this leaves that possibility completely open.  For those hoping they can add another rotation arm, this leaves that open as well.

Could it all fail? Sure. Anything can. But this is a far more sounder plan than relying on two talented guys that ended 2016 injured and a guy with one good year of middle relief in his history. When they all failed it was surprising. If Doolittle and Madson did it would be shocking.

*However give me lefty starters with stuff if you are giving this type of player because I like these guys transitioning into bullpen arms. Luzardo is this type


Jon Quimby said...

Somehow we proclaimed to the world that we need bullpen help, but didn't get fleeced obtaining it. Listening to the radio this morning, the "expert" was high on both Madson and Doolittle and said both are better this year than Robertson. Both have high pressure experience. With the Nat's lineup and rotation this year, I don't think you necessarily need dominance out of the bullpen. You just need it to be competent. One more competent arm and I think we're there.

JW said...

Like I am sure pretty much everyone else, I love the trade for the Nats. Never been blown away by Treinen; just puts too many men on base and there's the apparent issues with high leverage situations.

Regarding Luzardo, I just feel like someone that low in the organization is typically easy to replace in a subsequent draft. That might not be at all based on actual facts, admittedly just my gut feeling. Sure he could turn out better than a pitcher drafted in the 2018 draft, but the probabilities to me seem pretty similar -- i.e., too much variability at that point for anything resembling certainty.

To me, the biggest con for the trade is that the Nats are actually adding salary. That would seem to foreclose the possibility that they would do so again before the trade deadline given the team's history. I'm not sure if they need another bullpen arm or not (probably but I don't know that the "closer" becomes as much a priority as just a cheap dependable arm).

I am more concerned about the starting pitching at this point. I don't think they need to add a Sonny Gray -- although if you could get him for Soto but not Robles, then go for it -- but I feel like Straily or someone needs to come in for the 5th starter. Hopefully one out of Gio/Roark/"starter to be added" can be the third arm they'll need in the playoffs.

Alex Freeman said...

A closer and a starter should be the next two priorities now. I'd put more emphasis on getting a starter. Max and Stras are fantastic, probably the best 1-2 combo in baseball (although Kershaw-Wood might have them beat) but you need at least 3 good starters for the playoffs and ideally 4 (remember the Nationals used 4 starters last year, but would've used 3 had they been down in game 4 and would've gone with Scherzer on short rest). So I'd be okay with Gio as that third starter as long as we have another viable option to pitch as well. I think Straily should be a solid target to go for, shouldn't cost too terribly much and only a little bit of added salary (but good luck to Mike trying to get the Lerners to okay that one). If they can get him, then and only then do you move onto a closer. I still love the idea of Robertson as he won't cost a Soto or Robles but adding even MORE salary is something I can't see the Lerners okaying. In that case, trade Soto and another mid-level prospect for Colome or Ramos or Iglesias (but I think he'll cost more). Then you've gone from a garbage bullpen to a pretty solid one with two trades and it only cost you one top-tier prospect. But I think another starter is definitely needed to make the options for the playoffs more comfortable after you get past Scherzer and Strasburg

DezoPenguin said...

Love the trade. We get players we need for relatively low cost. Our risk is Madson's age and Doolittle's injury history; our upside is that we get Madson for next year and Doolittle for multiple years if they continue to pitch well (and both have pitched well when they pitched). Meanwhile, while we bet that our players don't break, the A's are betting that their players develop into something. Treinen might be as good as either of the guys we got someday, or he might never be better than a solid 7th-or-so-inning guy. Neuse might be Ben Zobrist someday, or he might be a career backup or AAAA guy. Luzardo might be an ace, have his arm fall off, or anywhere in between. It's a good balance of risk for everybody and our win-now needs versus their win-later needs.

So, knowing Dusty, I figure that Madson becomes the closer immediately, with Albers and Doolittle being the RH/LH 8th-inning guys (unless he flatly gives Doolittle the 8th), Romero the top non-Doolittle lefty option, and everybody else hangs around and eats innings. If Glover can return and pitch like he was before getting hurt, then that's actually a functional bullpen.

With Ross done for the year, I expect that Rizzo is going to try to pick up an SP, but he might also let things percolate for a week or two. If Roark gets back on track, that gives us four good pitchers and nobody uses a fifth starter in the playoffs anyway; if the flotsam and Jackson can be even adequate in that role then we can get through the end of the year without having to waste more of the farm (and Fedde might get an audition by the end of the year as well). If Roark continues to be shaky and the fifth starters melt down completely, then Rizzo can pounce at the deadline.

G Cracka X said...

Very happy about the trade. I think it makes sense for both teams.

Also, how about the Nats starting rotation giving up zero earned runs all weekend? Excellent job!

I'd like for them to give one more arm and/or 1 more starter (ideally someone that is around next year as well since Ross will still be out), but the salary addition from the trade may make these wishes untenable.

BxJaycobb said...

@Harper: let's give Lerners credit where credit is due! They absorbed real salary (for them) mid season in order to not give up prospects. Good job owners!

Anonymous said...

This is the final move we need to make to lock it up this year! We are going all the way people! We will destroy all those in our way and get that championship! GUARANTEED!!!! NATS SWEEP SERIES!!!!

JE34 said...

@BX: Amen.

Also... remember Jim Bowden? Thank goodness for Mike Rizzo. So many franchises have it so much worse that the Nats. It's exciting to think that he's likely not done.

BTW, Ray Knight is reminding me that FP has grown on me. In these pages, I once decried FP's antics and suggested Ray would be good as an analyst. Boy was I wrong - I should atone with public penance of some kind. FP is consistently fun (albeit occasionally ridiculous), and Ray is audio-brutality in the booth.

Rob Evans said...

@JE34 - I agree, Ray talks waaaaay too much. I, personally, love FP. I don't need some deep analysis during a game. He keeps it light and fun.

Harper said...

BX - they are about roughly at the amount they absorbed last year with Melancon and Repcynski. That's the bar they set for themselves FINALLY last year which is a perfectly adequate bar. Adding a Wilson wouldn't do much to change that.

A Roberston on the other hand indicates we are in uncharted territory.

Josh Higham said...

Also team FP. Not that he's good--I wouldn't actually make that claim. But in the past, when I was out of market and had the option, when FP was out and it was Bob and Ray I would usually watch the other team's broadcast.

Very happy about the trade. I'd take a starter over a closer if there's only one move to be made, but it would be deeply wonderful if Rizzo could sell other GMs and the Lerners on two moves for pieces.

mike k said...

Like others here, I too am happy with the trade. I would like them to still add a good closer (very good closer would be too expensive), but they don't *nned* to now. Note I say this because I'm not that confident that Kelley will bounce back, and not sure Glover is ready for the pressure of top playoff innings.

It's been suggested here that the Nats might also go for a bat or a mid-rotation starter. I would go closer over those two, for the reason that we are now building a team for the playoffs, not the regular season. Max and Stras are going to pitch most of the starters' playoff innings. I have confidence in a Roark/Gio "platoon" depending on if we're playing the Dodgers or not at #3. This means you're trading for a guy to pitch #4 over the other half of the Roark/Gio platoon, which, IMO, doesn't give you as much in the playoffs as a good closer. It gives you more in the regular season, but we're not building for the regular season. Same analysis with getting a bat. Might give the Nats a lot of value in the regular season with current injuries and giving starters time off, but in the playoffs where you play starters as much as possible, I don't really see where a mid-level bat helps the Nats that much the way the roster is currently constructed.

Of course, this is all assuming the trade values are equal between good closer = mid-level starter = mid-level bat.

I'm also team FP. I think he's funny. And he can pull an analysis gem out of his butt every once and a while. Was going to make a joke here but I'm refraining...

JE34 said...

Curmudgeonly Public Service Announcement: In preparation for postseason broadcast irritation, I have experimented with some success, using DVR to delay the TV broadcast slightly, such that the MLB AtBat app Charlie-and-Dave feed lines up with the video on TV. Requires a little tinkering with pause/play to get the timing right, but it is very satisfying when snychronized.

BxJaycobb said...

Ray literally won't stop talking. And the taking also is strung out. He will like forget what he is saying and pause for 10 minutes between words. FP isn't good at all. But Ray is simply murder. I muted broadcast.

Mythra said...

I missed the last 2 game broadcasts and and glad I did. I love the post-game Ray, when he's all bubbly and won't shut up about how well the Nats played, but talking and thinking on his feet Ray is terrible.

I love the trade. Blake is in Storenland in terms of headcase problems. He needs a scenery change and some time to get back in the saddle. The As are not going to contend anytime soon, so pressure is off. The other two are so low they are better odds to be busts than not. Unless we trade pieces at AA or AAA, they're still a crapshoot. Look at Giolito for what I mean.

Also, how good does the signing of Jackson look after Joe had to get TJ surgery? Every 5th day you can roll out Edwin and long relief bullpen arm. Edwin is still good enough to steal some wins with this offense behind him, and he'll eat innings. If they go for a 5th starter, I would bet they look at someone like Dickey.

If thinking ahead to playoffs, Gio starts if the opponent is LAD. He's earned it with his play this year, and those guys are terrible against lefties. Offseason they can get a 5th starter slot, maybe a low cost innings eater.

BxJaycobb said...

It seems almost impossible at this point that gio isn't going to start a playoff game. Even if we acquire a starter, Roark is not starting ahead of gio this year. And we need 4.

Alan Wiecking said...

FP. You can toss Bob on the dumpster fire and leave Ray doing short postgame work.

Unless somebody wants to drop a #3 starting pitcher on the Nats for no cost, the only move they're making is bullpen. Gio is starting to move beyond smoke and mirrors and you only need 3 in the playoffs. Why sell any future when you've got a playoff spot pretty much locked in and you're only going to start 3 guys. #4 and 5 come from AAAA, although I'm psyched to see what Edwin looks like nowadays.

Rizzo can talk all about how he's looking at more deals the next 2 weeks but I'm guessing this is the big splash. And the cool thing is, it looks like a big splash for both teams!

Ole PBN said...

FP over Ray in a heartbeat. Not to say that FP is great, its truly Bob that I would love to replace. It's his voice... its like he's hosting family feud or somthing. The problem with this pair is that you have a guy who really struggles with the intricacies and nuances of the game (Bob) and a guy who used to play and throws around so much lingo and baseball-isms to show his wealth of playing experiences (FP) that it comes off obnoxious. Bob comes off as a t-ball mickey mouse homer that is figuring out baseball is "fun ain't it!" and FP throws him under the bus with the "vast" knowledge of the game. Its not FP's fault that Bob is inept, their chemistry just doesn't jive. Go out there and read reviews from all MLB clubs. We're constantly rankes in the 5 worst.

Enough about that... the trade was a good one. Treinen's ship had sailed earlier this season, which is a shame because I think he was a good middle inning reliever. But the fact that we got Madsen and Doolittle for him? Abso-freakin-lutely. If that's what it takes to get these two, happy trails Treinen! Plus the prospects are way too early in their careers to evaluate. Rizzo strikes again.

Robot said...

I've never liked ol' Treinen-and-Failnin'. Glad to see him go.

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