Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Now you see why Davis pitched 7 outs

Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday Quickie - Now you see why Davis pitched 7 outs

While the Nats beaters go down meekly to the back to being all-powerful Dodgers, the Nats themselves must go on. And as the team does, so does the paper of record.

Janes managed to put together the 5 biggest offseason questions without actually including the biggest one (extending Bryce). Boz wrote a column about the Nats lacking intangibles that the Cubs have that looks only more ludicrous after a weekend of losing and continued bad managing.   I could pick that column apart but Boz is reeling just as bad as any of you, so I'll pass.* **

What we'll do is go through the offseason position discussions again. Probably starting this week. Today though, because some of these decisions may be made sooner rather than later, we'll go over all the free agents the Nats have and what I think will happen with them and why.

Dusty Baker - the biggest free agent of all is the manager. While I've made no secret I don't love the Dusty persona as much as most fans (and nearly all media) it is undeniable that Dusty wins games where ever he goes.  It's also undeniable that he doesn't win in the playoffs. Why? I don't know if there is a particularly good reason. I think Dusty is an average tactician so he can get outmanaged, but more often than not it's just the breaks of a short series versus a team of equal talent.

I think Dusty will be back because the Nats and Dusty line up really well. Dusty wants to win a World Series so he can make the Hall of Fame. He needs a team that's a good shot to make the playoffs. It's hard to argue that any team is a better shot to do that next year than the Nats. The Nats are all about winning enough to get to the playoffs and using the "quantity, not quality" argument to find themselves in more important playoff rounds. Dusty wins a lot of regular season games.

What's the hold up then? Money. That's the only thing that differs between the two. Dusty would of course rather get paid like managers of his record and experience get paid (and probably thinks he deserves a bit more than that). He'd like a contract with some long term assurances. The Nats like to pay their managers around the low end of what managers make and for short term deals so they don't get locked into a Matt Williams situation again (paying a guy not to manage).

I expect the Nats to offer Dusty a deal with a modest raise for 1 year with a team option for a 2nd. Does Dusty take it? Well any team likely to make the playoffs and wanting to go further is probably not going to hire Dusty, given his track record. So right away, the teams Dusty would want to be managing to hit his goal are out. That leaves him with teams on the cusp of the playoffs who think Dusty could put them in with a solid regular season. The Mets? The Mariners? The Angels? The Orioles? It would be a gamble for Dusty and a gamble is probably only worth it if one of these teams pays out big time for him. I don't see it happening. So I think Dusty reluctantly signs back on.

Jayson Werth - Werth is gone. There's no way around that. With Eaton's return and Zimmerman's resurgance and MAT's... uhhh... "surgance" there isn't a place for Werth on the field. It's possible he could be a bench player but Goodwin showed enough that you'd probably pencil him in as the 4th OF. And we're not even mentioning where Robles ends up (likely AAA but that's not the only development path). No, the team is crowded with OF and the only way you take a Jayson Werth back is in a Chris Heisey type of role, where  you pinch hit unless on the field injuries make you play everyday. That's not a role I think Werth wants. Not when he can probably get a team to buy in an a full time DH job in the AL, at least for a year. Unless the Nats pull a trade and they suddenly need an OF, this is the last we've seen of Werth in a Nats uniform.

Howie Kendrick - He's not going to make 10 million a year but last year showed he wasn't washed up. At a reasonable 34 next year ome team will give him a deal to start in the outfield or maybe even at 3rd, for starter money. The Nats don't have a position for him out there nor are they going pay him a lot to sit the bench just in case. They might for a younger player who they may see as being able to bridge a post Bryce, post Muprhy era, but Kendrick ain't that.

Oliver Perez - Perez is a LOOGY now, but not a dominant one. When you talk about replaceable bullpen pieces, this is what they mean.  While the Nats could offer him a cheap-o deal to stay, I don't think they bother. They let him walk and Solis becomes the LHP guy.

Joe Blanton - What a terrible year for Joe Blanton. Despite a great last two years as a reliever, no one trusted him and he sat out on the FA market for such a long time that the Nats were able to sweep in and get him. Then he showed why no one trusted him as injuries and poor performance regulated him to the middle innings. There may be another year or two in Joe Blanton's future but that's for another team to figure out. The Nats aren't against taking chances, but I don't see them taking one with Blanton.

Stephen Drew - Drew is a good player but ended the year injured and is obviously nearing his career's end. Meanwhile Wilmer Difo had a very fine year filling in. I don't know if you want to go into next year with Difo/Goodwin as your top bench players though so there is room for a guy like Drew to come back. However it would have to be a minimum type deal. I think it's possible because he has a good relationship with the team, but I think the Nats will explore other options first.

Brandon Kintzler - He's gone. Not that the Nats couldn't use him but they'll be paying a cool 12 million for Doolittle and Madson next year and keeping Kintzler for the 5 million or more it'll cost the Nats is a bridge too far I think. I also think there is just a natural tendency to look away from guys who are going into their 30s and don't strike anyone out. He'll find a team, everyone needs bullpen help, and probably a team to close for.

Jose Lobaton - Why would you bring back Jose Lobaton? The Nats have to keep Wieters (he'll pick-up his option, and no one will take that contract and the Nats won't eat it). They are desperate to prove Pedro Severino can hit in the majors. Lobaton is terrible. This isn't difficult.

Matt Albers - Sometimes things just work out and Matt Albers becoming a solid reliever with the Nats is one of those things. When things do work out, a lot of times you lean toward keeping that good thing going, so I can see Albers wanting to stick around. The Nats of course would want him to stay but Albers does only have one good year behind him and isn't young (35 in January). I think the Nationals cautiously offer him a deal like Dusty. 1 + option, maybe two, for a modest cost. And I think Albers takes it. The one caveat is you never know if the reliver market is going to explode and if it does Albers could be offered a deal he can't refuse.

Adam Lind - I think both sides want Lind in Washington but I don't think it'll work out. Like Werth and Kendrick before, there isn't a good place for Werth and he has proven he can still hit like an everyday player. He probably needs a DH role though because he doesn't field well. Perhaps the Nats could still lure him by offering to pick-up the option for 5 million but that's a lot of money for a bench player for this team. In the end I don't think the Nats can offer Lind the money or the time he'll find elsewhere, not even close really, and it won't be much of a choice.

*I will note that it's no coincidence that the first player Boz blames for the loss is Bryce Harper. He's setting the fans up for a post-Bryce world.  

**I'll also agree that praising Wieters and Werth for being angry at losing while not addressing how they were among the biggest contributors to the losing is ridiculous. OK I'm done. I swear. For now.


Robot said...

Serious question about the NLDS series - Why didn't Kendrick see any playing time whatsoever? That's really just shocking to me. Not a single AB. Even Robles got PH'ed. I'm tempted to speculate that Howie wanted the start over Werth and there was some internal discord over that. Nothing else makes sense to me.

SomeGuyInVA said...

@Robot - Howie had three PAs in the NLDS, went 0-2 with a walk. Should've been starting in left, yeah, but he didn't not play at all.

Harper said...

Yeah - I can see you losing the first AB (he PH for Strasburg in G1 with two-outs) and the last one (He PH for Goodwin after MAT hit the big homer - then went into LF for an inning). I think noth ended their innings and you were probably focused on other things. But the 2nd one was pretty key. It was during the Zimm steals 2nd inning, he PH for Gio and walked to load the bases after MAT walked. (Then Trea would strikeout)

Jon Quimby said...

I am glad Werth was here. I'm glad his contract is over.

elchupinazo said...

That Boz article was a breathless piece of hackneyed writing. I get it, you're shell-shocked like the rest of us and as a writer you want to give your fans something other than the obvious recap. But sometimes the obvious things are all you need to point to, and dusting off the "they wanted it more" takes is about as lazy as it gets.

His whole "I watched the tape, so I noticed the little things" angle is obnoxious, too. I mean it's really nice that you did that to yourself and made the astute observation that Zimmerman and Lobaton had leads that were too short and too long, respectively, but the value of those observations is reduced when you refuse to acknowledge that Werth and Wieters (who as Harper mentioned were the only ones "mad" enough for Boz) were statues both in the field and at the plate.

I like Boz, but he laid an egg there, especially given what we're seeing from the Cubs now.

Robot said...

Ah, somehow missed that. Still...

dc rl said...

Man, Harper, really disappointed that you don't rip that Boswell piece to shreds. And I usually like Boz too, but that was him at his most infuriating, cherry-picking-facts-to-fit-today's-narrative worst.

Anonymous said...

If it weren't for the fact that Boz has been a baseball writer for 100 years and is a Post Sports institution we'd all be laughing at the guy. Like Jayson Werth, the guy has lost SEVERAL steps and should probably call it quits.

Anonymous said...

And don't get me started about his tweets admonishing the Nats Park playoff crowds for not "cheering correctly" or whatever the hell it was. I was at two of the games. Boz must have been off his meds because the crowds were incredible. He just sees what he wants to see and shits out a column now (ok I'm done.)

MattyIce said...

This quote from Boz's chat today seems to run counter to exactly what he did in that bogus article ..."But I try not to fall into the trap of thinking that the RESULTS of post-season MEAN a great deal." Guess he wants to cover all of his bases.

SM said...

Re: Boz piece:

No baseball article is worth its salt when it uses a Gene Mauch quote to support its thesis.

I pretty sure Casey Stengel said that. You could look it up.

SomeGuyInVA said...

@SM - Funny, that quote (and I don't care who said it first) is what resonated the most with me from that column, because it's absolutely true, based on my own experience coaching kids.

Froggy said...

I go to the games. I don't need Bauz to tell me what I saw.

Werth's performance post coming off the DL simply didn't earn his spot in the postseason roster. At least not as a starter. Kendrick should have been out there and would have:

A. Caught or got a glove on the blooper that Werth half-assed.

B. Caught or got a glove on the drive by Jay to the warning track that Werth misplayed.

C. Not dropped the 3rd out flyball that Werth slid on a knee to not make.

Froggy said...

I must say though, I think it was a net plus having him here the last 7 years and he was a sentimental fan favorite. But MLB is a performance profession and I wish Jayson the best as a DH somewhere. Oakland perhaps.

Nattydread said...

I like Dusty and would keep him. But it was infuriating to see him start Werth and then move him up to second when he made his big lineup change. Bad move.

He is a "put players in a position where they can succeed" manager. Less strategy, more let the players play. I get it. If either Werth or Harper had knocked one out in the bottom of the 9th and the Nats had won, Boz would've been talking about what a great players manager Dusty is and the clutchness of [Werth][Harper]. Instead they just stood and flailed for the fences and we filed out of the park. Anti-climax.

Giving Werth his chance to have his last moment. Sad. But it would've been a nice punctuation.

Eric said...

"Unless the Nats pull a trade and they suddenly need an OF"

A trade like Stanton for Goodwin, MAT, and a bunch of minor league pitching?

blovy8 said...

I think 5 mil for Lind is still worth it, but Lind probably shouldn't take it. Why should we assume Zim will not get hurt again?

If we are preparing for a post-Bryce world, where's the narrative push to sign Rendon to an extension?

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that the Nats could blackball by Wieters by saying, "we're gonna start Pedro and you'll ride the bench", in hopes that he declines his option and looks elsewhere? Or would that be too far fetched?

JE34 said...

Really hope to see Albers and Lind back. For the right $, Ollie Perez too, who has been a pretty good LOOGY, and with that gray-as-a-mule head of hair, he's an empowering figure to those of us who are old and broken down.

Jayson was werth it overall. Thank you, Jayson. Definitely would have been awesome if he had delivered in the last moments. Of course, managing to sentimentality/egos doesn't always align with sound strategy, so Dusty needs to follow Jayson out of DC. If they could make a buddy film that somehow featured Matt Wieters in a supporting role... grisled baseball veterans in a madcap road trip across America... I'd buy a ticket to that show. Especially if it meant that Wieters would have something to do OTHER than catch for Washington in 2018.

{stifling Wieters rant}

I can't remember who suggested it in the comments over the weekend (Yes, I am the highly suggestible type!), but I'd see what's out there, looking to sell high on MAT. A good rotation arm, maybe?

JE34 said...

Wieters is certain to exercise his option b/c no one will come near the money he'll get from the Nats, especially after his performance this season and postseason. I would love to live in a world where Wieters had to play his way onto the field by outperforming a productive player. I don't think we live in that world.

Fries said...


Yeah, I don't see that happening. If I'm Weiters, I call that bluff, because that's a lot of money to just ride the pine all year. Save your knees a bit. Sounds like a good deal

BxJaycobb said...

Harper. I need you to shred the Boz piece in its own post. It's the worst, dumbest piece he has ever written. I'll put it up against anything. And we have nothing now. We need this.
(My personal favorite aspects were the lionization of Werth and weiters--WERTH AND WEITERS!!!....and also now be laid out various ways of saying "the Cubs do clever little things and plays and we don't....that means our players lack will to win..." and unwittingly was listing exclusively things that the manger has control over (like holding runners on, pick offs, etc.)

PotomacFan said...

Yep, Dusty couldn't do it, but Joe Maddon would have trained Ryan Z, who has 10+ years of experience and is himself a first baseman, not to wander 20 feet from the bag and be dancing on his feet so as to get picked off by freaking Jon Lester, and would have trained Jose Lobaton to keep his foot on the bag when sliding back to first base. And if Matt Wieters were catching for Joe Maddon, Wieters wouldn't have let strike 3 roll past him.

Now, I can't get too carried away, though, because Maddon would have given Werth some quality time on the bench (just like he gave to Schwarber) for his inability to field his position. And maybe Maddon would have carried three catchers, so that he could pinch hit or pinch run much earlier in the game for a stiff like Wieters. So far as I can recall, Enny Romero never pitched in the series, so that was a wasted roster spot.

So, the players have to do their jobs -- but the manager does have to put in his best players. Maddon usually does that (although not last night!) and Dusty does not always do that.

G Cracka X said...

Boz had a good point in his chat about bringing Dusty back. Who are you going to bring in that is better? You could try bringing in someone new, but that is a big risk. Dusty ain't perfect, but Dusty is proven and manages a season well. However, I was surprised about Bryce's 'no comment'.

G Cracka X said...

Offseason post ideas:

1) Who should/will be the Nats' 5th starter?
2) If Lind is likely gone, who will replace him?
3) Werth legacy post
4) Does MAT regress, stay the same, or progress next year?
5) Should the Nats #1 non-manager offseason priority be extending Rendon?
6) What should the Nats do with Robles?
7) Should the Nats go 'all in' in '18, given that Harper, Murph, and Gio only have 1 more season left? Or the division going to be weak enough that they don't need to?
8) What is the Nats' '18 payroll situation? Do they even have any money to sign anyone, given all the deferrals and raises that are coming due?
9) Now that he has solidified his reputation for subpar playoff performances, does Gio continue to be the most underrated Nat?
10) Which team is the most likely to threaten the Nats for the NL East in '18?

BxJaycobb said...

This fan base is totally scarred by Matt Williams into thinking that a non dusty manager can take a loaded roster and miss the playoffs in a disaster year. Honestly whether the Nats make playoffs or not is probably not going to be affected by who is manager. More likely its due to injuries and performance. Where a manager makes his mark is in the playoffs with all the key moves you need to make. And Dusty is a terrible tactician. Just terrible. Not the worst. But we could do better. How about Alex Cora? Ron Gardenhire? There are various possibilities. People think of Dusty as some legend. He's lost 10 straight clinch games!!!

JE34 said...

John Farrell won two rings in Boston (once as pitching coach, once as manager). How bout that guy?

Mitch said...

I'm wondering how many other than myself are starting to hope that the Nats don't actually extend Bryce. He'll get paid more than Trout while producing less. Talent notwithstanding, there is the steady stream of injuries, ejections, missing the cut-off man, caught stealing, and last year's mysterious total loss of the ability to hit a fastball high and away. He's an unreliable Ferrari that you're not sure will start, and if it does you're almost too afraid to actually drive it.

For the record, I'm 70% serious and 30% still sore from Game 5. Curious what others think.

JE34 said...

This coming year will tell us a lot re Bryce. As it stands right now, I would not back up the $400M truck to his house if I were the Nats. Without the injuries, there are too many holes in that swing, plus the recurring tendency he has to fall towards first base against lefties... without much of an interest in taking what teams give him.

It'll be very interesting to see if he can regain MVP form in his contract year. Remember when he would mash homers to the opposite field?

Josh Higham said...

I love Bryce and would really like to see him in a Nats uniform for his whole career, but I'd rather have Rendon if it was one or the other. 400+ million is a phenomenal amount of money, even for a great player who still has significant upside. Add in injury history, too many strikeouts, and regular knucklehead plays trying to be a hero and it's even iffier.

Honestly, it astonishes me that there is so much consensus that he's worth 10+/400+. You better be getting an unprecedented number of wins and jerseys sold for that contract. And you especially better not try to have a 10th-ish in baseball payroll.

Anonymous said...

Bryce for Judge perhaps?

JW said...

The Yankees would not make that trade. They know they can get Bryce in free agency.

I'm not sure I would go so far as to say that I hope the Nats don't extend Bryce. He's one of the best players in the baseball and can be a joy to watch (emphasis on can be). However, I am in the camp that he won't be worth the type of money he will likely demand, and I would worry significantly about the impact signing him to that kind of money would have on the rest of the roster given the Lerner's payroll targets. But I don't think we need to see Boz hack jobs on Bryce to poison the well with the fans though; that's just garbage journalism.

This year really was a wasted opportunity. I don't think the pitching will be as good next year -- expect Gio to regress significantly and we still don't have an answer to the #5 starter question. I don't think the bench will be as good. I still think they win the division (absent injuries and big moves by other teams), but I think this year really was the year to make a run.

Jay said...

I do wonder if Harper should be signed?? Harper did hit that homer in game 2. However, he did strikeout to end the game in game 5. I think they need another #2 or 3 pitcher not a number 5. Preferably left handed. I don't think Gio should EVER pitch in the playoffs again. I think they need another big BP arm, maybe even a closer. I really think they need a #4 hitter preferably right handed. I am never able to guess Rizzo's moves each offseason, so it'll be fun to see. I'd be ok with Farrell, but supposedly the knock on him is that he had poor clubhouse communication in Boston. I'm not sure he would be better than Dusty. We'll see I guess. Everything I have read up until now states it is a given Dusty is coming back. Then Svrluga writes another hack job with zero facts stating maybe Dusty isn't coming back after all. Reminded me a lot of his article on Strasburg.

JE34 said...

I think I expect too much from managers/coaches. Anthony Rizzo and Joey Votto willingly sacrifice power with 2 strikes, choking up to increase odds of contact and avoid strikeouts, and it appears to be entirely their idea. In the article linked above, Maddon basically says "golly I wish more players did this." I suppose this is just the reality of millionaire athletes doing what they think is best for them, but one would think Maddon would (for example) staple the insane-swinging Javy Baez to the bench until he adopted a smarter approach, especially with 2 strikes. Holy cow, that guy has no impulse control at the plate.

This all comes to mind in light of our To-Dusty-Or-Not-To-Dusty question. Is there any manager in the majors who could get through to a non-rookie, to help him avoid the ugly 9th inning at bats we saw in Game 5? Can a manager say to a veteran hitter, "Dude, we need baserunners more than anything right now... Trust your teammates" or is that somehow offensive to a grisled veteran who thinks his job is to tie the game with one swing? Of course, that's a mantra that requires constant reinforcement.

If we need a regular season manager, Dusty can do that. If we need a postseason tactician, we've seen that Dusty has fallen short of that mark. What would be awesome would be someone who could do both, AND convince hitters to be situationally aware in how they approach different at-bats throughout the season and postseason, developing smart-hitting habits that became just that: habits.

Maybe I'll apply. Anyone have Mike Rizzo's email address?

BornInDC said...

With respect to the issue of re-signing Bryce two of my big questions are:

1. If Bryce was with the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs or Phillies, would they re-sign him?

2. Are the Nats $400+ million more valuable over the next 10 years than without him if they sign him for $400+ million?

History has not been kind to DC sports teams where it was perceived by fans that management would not spend the $$$ to produce a teams that could compete New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, etc., see, for example, what happened with both the original and expansion Senators and the Bullets/Wizards. In contrast, owners who spent the $$$ to compete with the other big city teams have been rewarded, see, for example the Capitals who have improbably turned DC into a Hockey, something I never would have imagined growing up here, and are now rated the 11th most valuable NHL franchise by Forbes:

and the Redskins, the 5th most valuable franchise in the NFL:

The Nationals are currently rated by Forbes as the 10th most valuable MLB franchise, right behind the Phillies at #9:

The Nats are in a relatively large and rich market, and although having the problem of having to split a market with Baltimore to the North and the bad TV deal, the Nats also have the favorable situation of having the nearest MLB to the south being hundreds of miles away in Atlanta.

If the Nats want to be successful long-term, they need to act more like the big market team they are.