Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - and so it goes

Monday, December 10, 2018

Monday Quickie - and so it goes

Winter Meetings have started which is typically the time frame where big deals start to take place. Of course the Nats have bucked that trend and have nearly completed their off-season wish list early like that annoying person who tells you on December 1st that they've finished Christmas shopping. For the Nats the Winter Meetings are less about filling in those last few holes (2nd base? Reliever?) and more about seeing how the other teams maneuver around them. Do the Mets make any major moves? Where do the Phillies spend their money? Is there a surprise waiting from the Braves? Does any of this include Bryce Harper?

We shall find out shortly.  As it stands now I'd rank the NL East teams as such

Nationals
Braves
Phillies
Mets

With each team quite capable of winning enough games to make the playoffs.

Meanwhile the NL hasn't remained quiet as the Diamondbacks have begun their selling off, packagin Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals. Another team in the NL strengthened if indeed they are to be faced in the playoffs.  It's going to be a hell of a year and someone is going to win 15+ fewer games then they set out to (probably primarily because of injuries)  


Over the weekend we found out Harold Baines and Lee Smith were elected to the Hall by the Modern Era committee virutally ensuring the Modern Era committee faces some major changes in the near future.  Lee Smith was always going to be a close call. He was a dominant save gatherer for years and for a long while held the saves record. He was never so great though that he made a big impression on fans and it seemed like the line for closers were going to be "Better than Lee Smith" Now it shifts again.  "Better than Billy Wagner"?  Line has to be somewhere.The Baines election though is a mess and is going to be the issue. He's was a good hitter for a long while with some very good years in there. And that's it. He didn't field well (eventually he'd move to DH and spend most of his time there). He didn't run well.  He didn't have any post-season heroics. You can name a handful players off the top of your head better than him and if Baines is the bar there a seeral dozen players who probably should get in. But no one wants that, well except the players and managers. When clearly better players don't get the votes and most impactful personnel don't either seeing a guy like Baines get in is jarring.


We also found out last week Chelsea Janes is off the Nats beat.  Some people liked her, some didn't. The Post generaly has a good feel for hires, so we'll see what Red Sox fa... I mean random sports reporter, takes over for her.

35 comments:

Anagramsci said...

Chili Davis for HOF; Baines for hitting coach

Ole PBN said...

I feel like the HOF is becoming too accepting. Harold Baines? I suppose longevity and consistency a very heavily weighted now... He never led the league in a single offensive category, except in slugging % one year, was a 5x All-Star (in 22 years), and never finished higher than 10th in MVP voting. This whole charade remind of the quote from the movie Office Space: "Just remember, if you hang in there long enough, good things can happen in this world. I mean look at me. - Tom Smykowski says in a bodycast after a car accident in his driveway.

It seems like every year, we're scouring the earth to come up with names to induct in the HOF. Do we really need someone every year? How about sometimes, people just haven't done enough to get in? It just lowers the bar of entry overall when players like Harold Baines get in. But I'm sure he's a very nice man though.

Froggy said...

Any thoughts on DJ LeMahieu at 2nd?

Harper said...

DJ would be great - but he should be taking his best offer in the next couple of days bc 2B is going to be a logjam and waiting will only hurt him. His best offer won't be the Nats.

BxJaycobb said...

I would argue that Harold Baines is the worst offensive player (and arguably be worst player period) to be inducted since World War 2.
Challenge to everybody on blog: find me a HOF position player with lower career WAR.
@Froggy: if given choice between beast reliever, 2B signing like LaMahieu, or back end starter signing who is solid (like Wade Miley or Charlie Morton, etc) I choose both of the latter over 2B signing. But if they’re going to manage one or both of the others anyway, go for it. Personally I think that trading for Scooter Gennett is the better move (less expensive, would not require much in prospects, gone in 1 year after which perhaps Kieboom takes over.)

Harper said...

BX - By worst offensive player you mean worst non-pitcher, right? Because offensively you can find defensive guys pretty easily worse (Ozzie, Brooks, Maz). Overall Maz, Campenella, George Kell, Rizzuto are in a discussion but I'm not sure how D was measured for those guys. Maz is in bc of his glove. Campanella was super short career and wasn't going to add much when he went down but 3 time MVP. So Rizzuto (solid short with a better bat than typical for position at time, though still not good, weird MVP, well-known personality for sport after retirement) and Kell (good 3B with a good bat but that's it )

PotomacFan said...

Harold Baines is probably a nice guy. He had a nice career. But there is no way that he should be in the Hall of Fame. That's ridiculous.

So, as of this year, Harold Baines is in the Hall of Fame, but Mike Mussina is not. That's just wrong.

Fred McGriff's career stats are much better than Harold Baines. McGriff does not belong in the HOF.

Gary Sheffield's stats are much better than McGriff's.

Heck, if RZimm plays a few more decent years, he'll equal Baines' stats.

Josh Higham said...

Can we ignore the travesty that is Baines in the HoF and talk about how to use statistics again?

Scott said...

@PotomacFan -- Heck, RZimm already is at virtually the same WAR as Baines in 8 less seasons.

blovy8 said...

1.8 WAA for his career, never had a 5 WAR season. I think it's hard to pick on shortstops from the 40s like Rizzuto, since the tradition for SS was set by guys like Maranville, Bancroft, etc. It's still kind of happening with Vizquel. I figured the Scooter got in on the dynasty's coattails like Tony Perez did from the Big Red Machine.

Ole PBN said...

Bx/Blovy - regarding Baines' WAR, and the only defense I'll have for such a bogus HOF member, is that it's a little misleading. All of the seasons where Baines was exclusively used as a DH (meaning he didn't play a single inning in the field), he put up the following dWAR figures:

1993: -1.1
1994: -0.8
1995: -1.1
1996: -1.0
1998: -0.7
1999: -1.0
2000: -0.6
2001: -0.2

How the hell does that work? How can you negatively rate someone for not even playing? It's a huge reason why I have a problem with these advanced stats like WAR.

SuburbanSteve said...

I'd love to see us come out of the Winter meetings trading a few prospects to the Reds for Scooter Gennett...make it happen!

Jay said...

My dream scenario is signing Harper and then trading for Kluber.

Harper said...

blovy8 - Rizzuto got in way later than the other guys on those teams. Like twenty years. Hell, he went in after Catfish and Reggie. Perez was coattails. Rizzuto was goodwill toward a beloved sportscaster.

OlePBN - dWAR is an adjustment in comparison to the average player defense so all DHs have a negative value. yeah a lot of people say it doesn't make sense/is too confusing. But the other option is DHs are treated like average fielders.

DezoPenguin said...

@OlePBN: The basic theory behind giving a DH a negative positional adjustment is the underlying assumption that if they were any good at defense, the manager would be playing them at, well, a defensive position. Basically, the DH is by definition, the worst defensive player in the lineup because they wouldn't BE DHing if they were better in the field than any of the other OF/IF positions. And this is generally how the DH is used; for all the talk of rotating guys through and the like, there's never an equal time-share in the position. Like, if the Nats were in the AL, we'd either play Soto (bad at defense) or Eaton (occasional rest) at DH and have Taylor and Robles in the OF most of the time. It's why the Red Sox played Benintendi/Bradley/Betts most of the time and Martinez at DH.

Whether the positional penalty applied to DH accurately reflects the position is a subject for argument. Jeff Zimmerman did some analytical work a few years ago, for example, that showed that there is a statistical "DH penalty" for most players--that most hitters hit better as a position player than as a DH, whether because playing the field keeps their mind in the game or whatever. Hitters like Martinez (who was also a good fielder at 3B before he switched to DH) or Ortiz, who excel at DH, are relatively few. This suggested that the positional adjustment for DH should be no worse than 1B. So it's an ongoing subject of analysis, and more refinement suggests that guys like Baines (or Martinez, Ortiz, or Frank Thomas) may look better for their careers when the numbers get tweaked.

But basically, the point is that most DHs are too old, or slow, or recovering from injury, or generally iron-gloved to be wanted in the field, and putting them in the DH spot for the sake of their bat forces the team to put somebody else just a little bit less old, slow, hurt, or iron-gloved out in the field.

That said, Harold Baines's biggest skill seems to be to have avoided serious injury or deterioration for a great length of time. Heck, he had the second-best offensive season of his career at age 40. "Solidly above average for a really long time" is worth something. I'm just not sure that "something" is a Hall of Fame berth.

Johnny Callison said...

Lou Whitaker and Bobby Grich belong in the hall way before Harold Baines.

Meanwhile, Harper's market is collapsing. Yanks out, Nats probably out. He doesn't want to go to the ChiSox. Dodgers are interested but fairly loaded already, Cubs ditto. The Phillies look like the only team prepared to bid against themselves and give him what he wants. Hope not. I think the market correction is real and it's not collusion, it's sabermetrics that's doing it.

blovy8 said...

Bancroft got in 40 years after he played too, and it was a cronyism scandal when he did. Rizzuto had the advantage of bridging the DiMaggio/Dickey and Mantle/Berra eras. Also gets WWII credit. I know a lot of people who couldn't stand Rizzuto as a broadcaster. I would say he's about as polarizing as Hawk Harrelson.

blovy8 said...

These veteran committees seem to be completely about having advocates and not merit. I agree about the DH penalty being too harsh, because I do believe its a bit more like pinch hitting four times a game than people think - but just as a starting point, even if you call Baines 1B-ish, he's got 10 or 12 guys his era who are better, and why aren't they even on that list? Clearly the hall of pretty good.

DezoPenguin said...

Hopefully the Today's Game Committee will get in gear and put Lou Whitaker in. His rapid dismissal from the writers' ballot was one of the true absurdities of their voting.

BxJaycobb said...

Yes sorry I meant worst non pitcher.

BxJaycobb said...

No that’s correct. Because WAR assigns negative dWAR for defensively non value positions and it gives a little bonus for playing value positions like catcher or shortstop. The idea being that Manny Machado shouldn’t get beat up in his value when he moves from 3B to SS and goes from best 3B defensively in baseball to an average shortstop. The same player really should have the same value. So for DH somebody properly should be the defensive value of a below average defensive player at say 1B or RF. Harold Baines shouldn’t have a higher value than somebody who was chosen over him on the Orioles to actually play defense (since obviously that player has more defensive value since he is CAPABLE of playing defense.) think of Ortiz. Clearly he shouldn’t be getting 0 dWAR, since plug him into 1B or the outfield and he’s going to be negative value. WAR is trying to estimate the player’s value to a team, so it has to ding people who are sufficiently bad on defense that they can’t play difficult defensive positions (or no positions at all.) If DH got 0 dWAR you’d have the perverse situation where a shortstop like say Trea Turner was “average” shortstop play and got 0 WAR he and Harold Baines would have the same defensive value. So every position gets a bump of loses one. (I think the nuetral d position is 3B....you get a small bump at 2B and a large one at CF and SS and C, and u get downgraded as a corner outfielder or 1B and seriously downgraded as a DH. You SHOULD have to be an awesome bat as a DH to create value since you’re playing half the game. This is why it is fair that very few DHs should be in HOF.

BxJaycobb said...

I think it def makes sense for reasons stated above. It makes so sense for a SS or CF playing average defense at their position to have the same dWAR as a 1B or DH, since the latter by definition are incapable of playing harder positions. The DH is the DH because if he played defense he would be a bad defensive player. You’re trying to estimate the value of a given player. What would not make sense is the alternative IMO.

BxJaycobb said...

To be clear you meant Edgar Martinez was a decent 3B, not JD Martinez, who was a heinous outfielder, right?

BxJaycobb said...

This is why I think it’s possible that Harper ends up not getting the big money offer that easily out-distances the 300m offer from the Nats.

Cardinal Ximinez said...

dj's glove plays. but his home/away splits scare me.

Josh Higham said...

@Bx you need to make it clearer who you're replying to if you're going to post 5 consecutive comments in 15 minutes.

DezoPenguin said...

@Bx: Yeah, like Josh said, mention at the start of your comments whom you're replying to. And yes, I did mean Edgar Martinez, not J.D. Martinez.

@Cardinal: Worth noting is that the "Coors Effect" plays both ways. Traditionally, Rockies hitters have exaggerated home numbers but suppressed road numbers. So projecting LeMahieu's performance on a non-Rockies team is not the same as applying his road splits to the full season. That said, unless you're a big believer in DRC+ as a measure of hitting, signing LeMahieu would definitely be a glove-first move (in his entire career, he's posted a wRC+ of 100 or higher only once, in 2016; the last two years he also had negative baserunning value).

PotomacFan said...

Why in the world would the Nationals trade Tanner Roark? And for what? Roark is a darn good 4th starter. Never injured, eats innings (although not so much in the first half of last year), pitches to a low 4.00 ERA, and wins more than half of his games (last year excepted). And he's not expensive ($10 million).

Jimmy said...

@potomacFan

I don't get it either he pitches 180 innings every year and is always healthy. It seems counter-intuitive to replace him with a little better older option when we have several health questions throughout the starting five (strasburg and whichever rehabing starter we put at the 5 spot).

Jay said...

I would guess the thinking on Tanner is that they want to upgrade a lot. Plus Tanner has looked shaky for a good part of the last two years. He was part of the reason the Nats started on their skid in mid-season. Anyway, if they figure they can spend an extra $5-10 million per year in addition to Roark's $10 million that is a pretty good upgrade. If they sign someone for close to the same money, then they must figure Roark is on his last legs.

I'm ok with picking up a 2B. Last year everyone figured Eaton was going to be fine by the beginning of the year and he wasn't. If Kendrick isn't ready then you're talking a month or two of Wilmer Difoe. That is suboptimal.

blovy8 said...

I agree with Jay. In trying to read between the GM-lines, I'm thinking there may be a big difference between what the Nats want to pay in arbitration and what MLBTR and/or Roark's agent estimates he should get. The Nats do not like to go to a hearing and lose - they have traded guys who won in arbitration. OTOH, all Rizzo has said is that they would need to sign another starter before dealing Tanner - which probably means, yes, they are looking to acquire a better starter, because if Roark is sort of a back-end (albeit durable) starting pitcher for 10 million, why not trade him and get a better guy for a few million more or at the cost of a non-prospect or two?

Happ is about to go off the market. After Keutchel and Morton sign, it would be difficult to upgrade except by a trade, since you'd be looking at guys like Gio, Cahill, Miley, and Sanchez who aren't demonstrably better. Sabathia got 8m, you might save a few million. Rizzo would be negligent if he didn't listen to what the offers are now. It would be better to trade him now before the hearing when his value is a bit more vague, but I would be surprised if Roark was paid 10 million by the Nationals. I'd rather trade him to Arizona for Greinke and some cash. Get Mark Lerner on board for more luxury tax.

Johnny Callison said...

Morton to the Rays. I really wanted Morton. I think the Nats are their usual first round and out team with Max-Stras-Corbin. But I think a good #4 (more like a second #3) puts them into the next round of the playoffs. Happ and Morton were probably the best of the affordable options left. Maybe Rizzo pulls off some great trade. Maybe Roark gets in shape and wins 14, which would be excellent. Maybe Ross comes all the way back (still with the innings limit). I prefer not to gamble, so would like a real solid acquisition to deepen the rotation, like when we had Max-JZ-Gio-Stras. We shall see.

Ole PBN said...

We also didn’t make the playoffs with that rotation. I know what you’re saying though, and I hope we get someone else too. But it’s important to note, that with a healthy Strasburg, that is an unmatched three-headed monster there. I think it’s hasty to say that this team is a first round and out kind of team.

Cardinal Ximinez said...

au revoir msr Roark. Tanner off to the Reds. Sonny Gray to the Nats?

Anonymous said...

Trading one Tanner for another Tanner? What the . . .?