Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Maybe they listened?

Monday, February 18, 2019

Monday Quickie - Maybe they listened?

Bryce talk got super-heated yesterday but at the same time until the pen hits the paper and the contracts are signed that's all it is. I've been kind of working with idea that the 300 million contract the Nats offered Bryce was more a "300 million" contract "offered" Bryce.  As in -  maybe the contract was deferred to the end of time, maybe the contract was filled with team options, maybe it was never really offered at all.  At the time it seemed like it served both the Nationals and Boras/Bryce to put it out there that the Nats would pay 300 million but Bryce wouldn't take it.  If that's the case - that this may not be real - who's to say any other contract we hear about is?

Meanwhile Boz wrote a mouthpiece column, speaking for whichever sources wanted to get the idea out that Bryce was a fundamentally bad player that was making the Nationals worse. Is it true? Well, no. That's not how it works. Bryce was too good at the plate (yes - dammit this is true, stop convincing yourself it is not) to hurt the team overall. However, he could still have been fundamentally flawed which hurt his value.

The rest of the column is classic Nats excuse making and sanctioned sniping. An unnamed player hilariously told Boz "Write it!" regarding an insult about Bryce but couldn't be bothered to attach his name. In the column it's noted that they have tried to be good fundamentally and last year it failed. Of course it's pretty easy to note that Bryce wasn't just on the team last year, although a certain skipper was. There are digs at Daniel Murphy's fielding, which is fair, but none for Ryan Zimmerman who couldn't field and faked being ok to start the year. There's digs on Bryce's fielding, playing a good deal of time out of position, but not a word of wunderkind Juan Soto who with the athleticism of a 19 year old couldn't put up even a blah season in the field. There's digs on Bryce as a leader, but then praise for Jayson Werth who, as I remind you constantly, also "led" the team to two missed playoffs season, no playoff series wins, back bit every manager he had, and couldn't be bothered to stay out of jail. There's talk of Howie Kendrick being a team leader (one playoff series wins since 2009) and Brian Dozier being a clubhouse leader (no playoff series wins until the Dodgers drug his body to the world series last year) and Yan Gomes being a clubhouse leader (remember the 2016 Indians playoff run? Yeah Gomes got hurt and barely played) and Suzuki being a clubhouse leader (nope).  Apparently finding a clubhouse leader who plays well in the playoffs leading to a team winning a series is impossible.

The Nats are good at looking at themselves and identifying flaws, but they aren't good at then accepting that the current team are the ones with them. It's always the guys who are gone. Be it the managers who get blamed and tossed at an alarming rate. Or the relievers traded away after they get mad at questionable usage patterns. Or, as we see now with Murphy and Bryce leaving, the star bats with bad fielding. The fix has always already happened it seems.


I don't know. It feels like we've heard this story all before. We have enough talent to win the East. Win the East and no one can control what happens in the playoffs. Rinse. Repeat.  I don't know what I'm after right now, but I know it's something different.

40 comments:

Jimmy said...

Our sports media is terrible in this town, it's the worst. I'm not big on New York but the stuff this team gets away with that our obvious questions never get asked by a single reporter on the beat. The Harper saga, the inability to pay a quality manager and the various Strasburg sagas were and are all worth at the very least worth questioning and we get nothing but backslapping and water-carrying.

BxJaycobb said...

@Harper. I agree that column was disgusting. I hate Boz but will admit his most recent column (about the pitching) is more even-handed in pointing out the Nats are counting on a ton of variable performing players, and he uses the Yankees pen as a contrast to say “you also could just get awesome pitchers.”

BxJaycobb said...

Also. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Bryce Harper was worth 30 WAR over 6+ seasons with the Nats, more than anybody else, including Rendon and Stras. So....yeah. Include defense, don’t include defense, whatever. The Nats are letting their best player go in his prime. That’s the bottom line.

BxJaycobb said...

And now that we didn’t pay Bryce for all those folks advocating we give it to 29 year old Rendon instead....let’s all watch to see if that happens. I predict it becomes its own circus and we risk losing both.

Harper said...

Jimmy - on one hand - how much do you want to question a franchise that's arguably been one of the most successful over the past 7-8 seasons. On the other, without a championship or even a series win and with three missed playoff seasons out of 6 after the 2012 surprise rise, is it not fair to say something? I think what it is is that the beat guys have to play nice to a degree and the columnists know the score. This is the Nats plan - it has mostly worked - you aren't getting more out of Rizzo.

BX - As someone noted on Twitter - you aren't getting better losing Bryce, no team would. You CAN get better through a better allocation of the money that was going to be used to sign Bryce, but you have to spend that money (and do it wisely)

Anonymous said...

1) Boswell is an even bigger weathervane than your average fan. One day a guy is the equivalent of Reggie Jackson, the next day he’s a bad leader and poor fundamental player.

2) Boswell’s primary source of information on the Nats is Mike Rizzo, and has been for years. When Boz puts anonymously sourced Nats stuff out there, 90% of the time it’s coming straight from Riz’s mouth.

3) Rizzo never for one moment considered bringing Harper back to be a major imperative. In fact, he was more than happy to move on. Yes, it’s more than a little self-serving, but when he says he likes the current roster he truly means it and believes it.

Johnny Callison said...

Meanwhile Dietrich reportedly signed a $2M contract with Cincinnati (not even guaranteed). I like him enough to think that you sign him, plug him in at second (where his D is better than his other positions) and use the money saved (compared to the Dozier contract) to get one or even two relievers. Not quite sure we paid so much for Dozier when Dietrich as available for peanuts. I get that Doz is a former star, but why expect him to bounce back--high risk, high reward versus solid 2B and TWO relievers (or one very good one).

BxJaycobb said...

@Johnny. Yeah, part of paying for Dozier is you are thinking there is at least a chance he was injured last year and will bounce back. If you had no hope of that you wouldn’t sign him for that money. I think the Nats believe he will be at least a decent amount better than last year even if he doesn’t hit 35-40 homers.

Johnny Callison said...

BxJ: It will be fun if Dozier is close to what he was.

G Cracka X said...

Dozier's projected to be worth at least 2 WAR next year. ZiPS has him at 2.8:

https://blogs.fangraphs.com/2019-zips-projections-washington-nationals/

Of course, ZiPS is also comping Soto to Griffey Jr., so take that with a grain or two of salt!

G Cracka X said...

Hmm, Rendon's being comped to Davey Johnson of all people. Interesting.....

Jay said...

My problem is that the Nats always halfway do everything. The proverbial 90-win team. Really they have mishandled the Harper bazaar. Rumor has it they had a trade lined up with Houston last year for multiple prospects. Mark Lerner said no. Evidently, they did this bc they wanted to try and keep Harper. Now here we are in February and they are going to let him walk over $1 million dollars a year. Even if the Nats offer had deferrals and such, why keep Harper if your grand scheme to keep him is to make an offer 2 weeks before the offseason?? They should have traded him let year or legitimately try to resign him now.

Now Rizzo comes out and says he likes the roster?? Dallas Keuchel and/or Kimbrel can't help the Nats?? There is no one on the roster we would rather have than either of those guys or Marwin Gonzalez. If Harper signs with Philly for 10/$310 and the Nats don't do anything else then I'm going to be pretty upset.

Don't even get me started on Boz's garbage character assassination article. What spineless player says "write it" like he's a tough guy but won't go on the record. Weak. It's the same weak stuff the Nats show up with in the playoffs.

cronus titan said...

Don't read too much into this. The Nats knew they could lose Harper in 2019 since he showed up in 2012. THe normal Boras strategy is to test the market, no hometown advantages, so the Nats are no different than anyone else for Harper's services. They had to plan 2019 and beyond on the assumption Harper would leave -- that is not a moral thing, just reality. They did. THey offered Harper 10 years/$300M to gauge his interest and he walked away, choosing to test the market. That is his right but the fact he would not continue talks until testing the market shows the Nats were smart to prepare for his departure. No one could have foreseen how much the market collapsed -- there was a definitely a trend but I don't think anyone saw Harper (and Machado and a lot of others) unsigned this late in the game.

I will not hold it against Harper for taking the most money. If it turns out to be Philly for $10M more spread over ten years, that is testament to the market collapse AND to how sensible the Nats' original offer was. It may be too late now since the Nats signed COrbin and several others, eating the money that was in the original offer.

THe Nats, like any other club, are better with Harper. But not that much better since they planed well.

BxJaycobb said...

@cronus They didn’t plan that well. If they had planned well they would’ve offered Bryce 10/300 last year at the AS break, and when he turned that down, known that they could trade him at the deadline for JB Bukauskas (a highly ranked prospect the Astros were offering, and the deal was supposedly done) but Nats didn’t do it partially because they still wanted a chance at him in FA. The whole 10/300 thing in September when season ended was absurd. Nobody has ever taken an offer weeks before FA starts in history of baseball.

BxJaycobb said...

@Jay couldn’t agree more....except for it’s the same way they play in the playoffs. The latter is mostly just luck.

BxJaycobb said...

@G Cracka X: I think that we all would take Eaton and Dozier at a combined 5 WAR... however they get there is fine with me.
I actually think ZIPS is a little bit light on the Rendon projection....if I had to guess on him it would be closer to 5-6 WAR, even if he takes his usual one DL stint. He’s a stud (as I’ve maintained, my preference for signing Harper over him is not really that Harper is better than Rendon right *now* and more that Harper is so much younger, etc.

Anonymous said...

Some have noted that Bryce has a higher career WAR than Rendon but over the past 5 seasons, Rendon has the higher WAR and it should be noted that includes Bryce's 2015 MVP season, so it's not difficult to draw the conclusion that Rendon has been our best player over the past 5 seasons and definitely more consistent. There is no reason to doubt the Nats' original offer. Although Rizzo never quotes a price, he mentioned it and said they had to put an expiration date on it, so they could pursue other needs. Finally, like some here I would hope Nats would spend some more money if they don't re-sign Harper but it's very possible that he may be seen as the exception in going over the luxury tax threshold.

ssln said...

Harper

You are like a petulant child who didn't get the toy he wanted. Maybe you are just having a bad hair day. I liked you better when you were pretending to know something about economics. I am open to discussing FCF or asset valuation with you at any point you become rational...which, apparently, won't be any time soon.
We have the usual crying from the guys who see the end of the world when Bryce signs with whoever. Has anyone noticed that the perennial league leading teams took a pass on Bryce. The Dodgers passed, after cleaning out their outfield, Cubs said no thank you, Yankees didn't give him a sniff and Houston that wanted him last year was never mentioned as a suitor. So who is after the boy wonder? San Diego who is a couple of years away from competing for anything, the White Sox who are a couple of years from competing for anything, the Giants who are five years away from competing for anything and the Phillies who may have the best mascot in baseball. The boy wonder has no serious WS contender even considering him but all you wanna be GM's know more than the real GM's.
Since you guys have all the answers, explain too me why no real contender has made an offer and just remember our intrepid host said the Nats offer wasn't real so don't even go there because Harper, the host walks on water even though he is having a bad hair day.

Anonymous said...

@BxJaycobb The Nats' preseason plan may have included an AS break offer like you suggest, but after the first half Bryce had, they may rightly have hit the pause button.

Unknown said...

Harper,

Hated Boz's column, but not sure your attack on Rizzo and Nat's ownership is on the mark. Rizzo may have wanted to keep Bryce, but sensing that wasn't in the cards teed up a trade with Houston. The fact that the Lerners vetoed the trade says they wanted to keep him. Since then they have been pretty consistent in their message, we like Bryce, we want Bryce, but if he's not prepared to sign, we have to get on with the business of improving our team. Makes sense to me. In hindsight, its a shame they didn't make the trade, but I understand their desire to keep Bryce.
Maybe there are no bad actors here, just people who couldn't make a deal. Good luck to the Nats and good luck to Bryce. Hope we can re-sign Tony Two Bags.

Jay said...

The Nats (aka ownership) decided they didn't want to trade Harper last year theoretically because they wanted to try and sign him. Then they make a fairly good, but definitely not great, offer mere weeks before free agency. I don't see how anyone would expect Harper to take that offer at that point. Then this offseason the Nats were aggressive in free agency and were not all that interested in bringing back Harper unless he comes back at a major discount. Does anyone know why they traded away or cut the players they did last year because they didn't get under the luxury tax doing it? Salary relief??

Also, what was meant in my earlier comment about the Nats in the playoffs goes back to Tim Hudson's comments when they played the Giants. He questioned their toughness prior to the series and then pretty much folded and confirmed what he said.

blovy8 said...

Even the Yankees don't act like the Yankees any more. Once GM dinosaurs like Dombrowski retire, it's going to take another maverick owner to spend like Steinbrenner (and win the World Series) to change the current pattern. You don't see clubs maxing out like the Red Sox did in 2018 this year. Quite the opposite - the Cubs and Dodgers could easily afford Harper and the tax. The Phillies could have stopped dicking around and just made a stupid enough offer to keep the Padres and White Sox thinking they had no chance. Wouldn't be close to the CBT. But the years are the factor, right? You probably need to clear a multi-year deal for a guy over 33 with the commissioner's office now.

Harper said...

Jay - the 2014 Hudson stuff is overrated. The Nats offense sort of withered on the vine late in 2014 - they had issues thanks to injury - got healthy and roared back, but then got injured again and crumbled. It was going to be a struggle to win anything in that post-season. My guess is Hudson saw that and saw and easy poke. I mean the pitching allowed 9 runs in 45 innings - that's far from folding.

Harper said...

ss1n - Q : Are all (good) remaining / recently signed by non-contenders FAs in the same "must be something wrong if they got no deals" boat as Bryce for you? Machado, Keuchel, or even guys like Asdrubal and Jed Lowrie?

I never really think about my hair. It's is still full and dark though so a better hair day than most men I imagine.

Anonymous said...

The brutal truth is that Bryce is not worth stupid money. Now the Phillies may pay him stupid money, the Nats offered him stupid money (he was not lowballed by the Nats), but a player with declining output does not the highest paid player in the game make. Is a Harper, Soto, Robles outfield better than a Soto, Robles, Eaton outfield? Depends on which player shows up. The 2015 Harper or the 2016, 2018 Harper. The 2016 Eaton or the injured Eaton of the past 2 seasons. One thing I know, Robles will have a heart attack trying to cover for both Harper and Soto in the outfield.

TwoGloves said...

Machado has apparently just signed with Padres - 10yr, $300 million. I think this will put the full court press on Philly to sign Bryce.

Anonymous said...

SSLN must be a parody account. No real human could intentionally write posts that consistently idiotic without doing it on purpose.

Anonymous said...

Oops. Guess I was the only one who thought Boz told it like it was.

We now have on the team a guy, in Soto, whose comp is Ken Griffey Jr, for criminy sakes! Last year, some of the (old) folks on this page were ready to trade him away in any number of packages. (You know who you are.)

Which brings me to spring training. It's like airline food: Absolutely terrible, but you can't wait for it to come. There must be something analytical for Harper to write about.

Ole PBN said...

Machado to the Friars (10yr/$300M)... interesting. I guess that proves you can never believe the all the media buzz. Bryce to the Blue Jays then?

Froggy said...

Hey SSLN, It's Harper's blog dude. I think he's entitled to any opinion he likes. I don't always agree with him but he provides a civil forum to discuss all things Nats. Consider toning down your ad hominem comments if you'd like to be taken seriously.

Froggy

Jay said...

I disagree that Harper isn't worth 10/300. Harper has been one of the best players in the game. The Juan Soto comparisons are with Harper when he was younger. Harper had a horrid first half last year and hit .300/434/972 after the All Star break. He played out of position in CF for most of the latter half of the year. He's won an MVP. He was on his way to a second MVP season when he hurt his knee running to first base. He's had zero protection in the line up the last few years. Anyone remember the Cubs fiasco and Ryan Zimmerman being unable to hit a beach ball after Harper repeatedly walked. Sorry but the Harper isn't really that good stuff makes zero sense to me.

I'm still hoping Ted Lerner decides to sign both Harper and Rendon. It isn't necessarily an either-or proposition. Zimmerman comes off the books after this year, so it will be over the luxury tax but it is doable.

Anonymous said...

Just gotta love posters like SSLN who seem to be so convinced of their intellectual superiority that they just come off a raging jerks.

Take a pill dude, it's just baseball for crying out loud.

Mark said...

BxJaycobb ... Bryce Harper had 27.4 WAR over 7 seasons with one outlier 10 WAR year. Two of the last 3 years he was under 2 WAR. He's been offensively inconsistent and was poor defensively last year. His slump after Maddon walked him something like 10 times in a row and his slump last summer killed the Nationals those years. Of course he is a good player, but your Bryce worship is over the top. I'd rather have Eaton, Robles and Soto and use the $30+M for more pressing needs.

DezoPenguin said...

Machado to the Padres for 10/$300M. Our long national nightmare is half over.

The thing that gets me is...I can see why the Padres would pay that much money to Machado. Machado is a good hitter now and a good fielder at 3B now (and in an extreme SSS with the Dodgers not a butcher at SS). He's young and good, and in ten years is likely to still be at least competent and maybe better than competent. And the Padres are not good, but have young talent in the pipeline, so Machado makes for a very nice anchor to plug in and build around. Nor do they have a truckload of contracts weighing their budget down. For all these reasons, this makes perfect sense. (It makes tons more sense than their signing of Hosmer last year, because Hosmer is not reliably good at baseball right now, let alone in six years from now, and it is quite likely that they can obtain a better player than Hosmer for a lot less money. His largest value are intangibles and advertising, Werth-like, to other FAs. Who knows, maybe it helped sell Machado on the idea that the Padres weren't going to stink on ice forever. But you can buy advertising by paying money for good players, like, well, Manny Machado).

On the other hand, signing Machado makes little sense for the Nationals, because the third baseman the Nats have is every bit as good as Machado is, and the shortstop the Nats have has a fairly good chance of also being as good, or at least within half a win. You don't pay $30M for a maybe half-win upgrade.

It's the same reason why the Yankees aren't a serious suitor for Harper. Given that Harper is an utter butcher in CF, and the Yankees already have Stanton and Judge, it means that they'd be paying either Harper or Stanton to be a full-time DH.

As for Soto vs. Harper...Soto put up a 146 wRC+ at age 19. Even Bryce only had a 121 at that age (Bryce was a better runner and defender at that age, hence their similar WAR). That's why the comparisons are to guys like Griffey; that's tied for eleventh (with Jose Ramirez) in all of baseball with 200+ PA! Obviously, I have no idea if he's going to hit a sophomore slump or if his fielding will improve or anything else, but there's a reason projection systems are looking at his bat and salivating.

Anonymous said...

Jay, Bryce has had zero protection in the line-up? Daniel Murphy 2016-2017, Anthony Rendon 2014-2017-2018, Ryan Zimmerman 2012-2013-2017, Juan Soto 2018, Jason Werth 2012, 2014, Adam LaRouche 2012, 2014, all OPS+'s of around 120 and higher. That statement is a canard. Harper carried the Nationals one season 2015, the rest of the time he was part of a package of good to very good hitters. In 2017 there were three players (in addition to Harper) with OPS+'s of over 130.

Robot said...

Manny has allegedly signed. Good. Now give Bryce $300,000,001 so he can be the highest (or $325,000,001 if we're still counting Giancarlo's longer contact) and let's move on.

Sammy Kent said...

Machado to the Padres. Good. Can't stand the sumbuck. Now he's on the left coast playing late night games for a team we'll not have to worry about meeting in the playoffs--should we make it of course. Out of sight, out of mind. Hallelujah.

Now, sign Bryce. Bryce, sign. You've said for years you'd love to be a National your whole career. So do it, already.

BxJaycobb said...

@Mark. You’re using bWAR. I’m using fWAR. I believe it’s methodology for defense make far far more sense, given positioning. (Bryce was over 3 fWAR last year, for example.) I don’t worship Bryce, and it’s possible that the more prudent move is not signing him. But as I have laid out elsewhere, the notion that he is not worthy of a 300m/10 deal is objectively false, simply looking at his value (you can take average of two WAR totals) and the rate of one win above replacement. In any event, my MAIN problem (and I suspect Harper G’s problem) is the option of not signing him suggests that you will use all of that money elsewhere, which is a fallacy. There’s no requirement the Lerners will spend the 30m elsewhere. It’s more likely they’ll say they can’t go over the tax and not spend the money anywhere. I am in favor of the Lerners, who have infinite money, spending as much as possible. If you told me “we will sign Keuchel and Kimbrel instead of Bryce” then super. I’m good with that. But they won’t. That’s the “I’d rather spend those resources elsewhere” argument. Any Nats fan should be in favor of the team spending more money, as long as it’s not foolish spending, and signing a 26 year old with 30 career WAR who is the youngest unanimous MVP in NL history and will hit 500 homers in his career to a 8-10 year deal is not stupid spending. It’s market rate spending.

BxJaycobb said...

It’s so disorienting to look over a few comments from Philly fans (look at bottom of this article by Philly Athletic writer). They are willing to pay absolutely anything to get Bryce. https://theathletic.com/827011/2019/02/19/with-machado-to-padres-phillies-say-they-wont-be-pressured-into-a-bryce-harper-deal-now-what/

Anonymous said...

The positive way to look at Boz's column is that management's more willing to feed him their perspective than they are to any other reporter in town, and he's got a responsibility to therefore put it out there.

The negative way is that Boz then feels it necessary to go out and 'prove' that management's thesis is correct, that all these leaders are in fact leaders, that Harper was never really all that good, and that his lack of discipline was what killed the team.