Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Last words on Bryce

Monday, March 04, 2019

Monday Quickie - Last words on Bryce

Now this won't be the last time we ever talk about Bryce. Going to the Phillies makes sure of that. However, there really isn't a reason to talk about him more than any other NL East opponent going forward. So I'll wrap up some final thoughts today and we can move forward picking apart the Nats pen or celebrating the arrival of Craig Kimbrel.  There is no inbetween.

There are some pundits who I think are engaging in some wishful thinking when it comes to Bryce and Philadelphia. We like, for whatever reason, to exaggerate the toughness of sports towns, but in general they follow the same rules as any other place.  If you meet expectations - you are treated well. If you meet expectations and win, and by that I mean championship appearances and victories - you are treated very well. If you do not meet expectations - you are treated poorly. 

The latter might differ by town, sure. But pretty much any sports crazy, media heavy town will be "tough". Boston, NY, Philly, Chicago. It also depends on the sport too. There are a lot of tough media markets for football because people care about that. Where I am now is a killer market for college basketball if you fail. So if Bryce really wanted a market that cared dearly about baseball he was going to find himself in this sort of potential situation.

I think it'll matter also what happens this year, first impressions are hard to shake. David Price, just helped the Red Sox win a World Series. They love him. There is also a lingering resentment toward him though - his attitude and performance those first two years.  A-Rod eventually helped the Yankees get a title, but it was almost a "thank god we don't have to talk about this loser anymore" situation with the fanbase because it was 7 seasons after arrival. Meanwhile guys like JD Martinez, one assumes, and Sabathia, I can vouch for, have basically passes for coming in and delivering.

Yes, yes attitude matters, but production matters more.  No one is talking about Bryce's hair tosses if he delivered 4 straight seasons like 2015. In the end that's what's going to make him loved or hated. He can't "effort" his way to their hearts. That's for guys with low expectations. Guys like Bryce need to perform. If he does it'll be great. If not it will be rough

27 comments:

Jimmy said...

I have no idea what to expect from Bryce in Philly. All I know is I hope he's demanding for a trade 3 years into the deal. What to make of the Kimbrel scuttlbutt Harp? LERNERS CHEAP!!!! Negotiating posture, or terrible bet? BP depth scares me the most and we don't really have too many needs next year beyond 1st base, maybe another bridge second maybe, extend Rendon, 5 SP and BP. Kimbrel's as good a bet as any, although there are some scary numbers from Boston. Bostons lack of interest given their BP woes is also concerning.

G Cracka X said...

My parting thought on Bryce is that his last playoff AB as a Nat (Game 5 vs. the Cubs. You know the one. The EPIC battle.....) helped alter the course of the franchise. On a full count, with his 44th pitch of the evening, Wade Davis threw a nasty slider that JUST missed the plate. Bryce swung and missed. Take a look here for the location of that pitch (or watch the highlight):

https://www.mlb.com/gameday/cubs-vs-nationals/2017/10/12/526496?partnerId=LR_box#game_tab=play-by-play,game_state=final,game=526496

If Bryce is able to lay off that pitch (and keep in mind, I in NO way blame him for swinging. It was a great pitch, and striking out looking would have been bad too. You have to make a split second decision). Anyways, if Davis walks Bryce, or Bryce somehow finds a way to foul that off or get on base, then what do the Cubs do? You probably need to pull Davis at that point, right? He's already up to 45 pitches, and now the tying run's on first. If the Nats could have won that game, Dusty would have been brought back, and then who knows how 2018 would have turned out.

BxJaycobb said...

@G Cracka X: and if Bryce doesn’t take Edwards deep in Game 2, we probably get swept. It’s also annoying Bryce was clearly playing in that series hurt (rushing back from the base slip leg injury) as was Max after his hammy issue—-and who knows maybe that’s why max went to pieces in game 5....I’m sort of amazed nobody ever talks about that. Like. You bring in arguably the best pitcher in baseball in game 5 with a lead and he blows chunks. Not BOMBED but like....immediately fails. And you never hear about that because everybody loves Max. He hasn’t been the beast you might expect in the playoffs for us though. He’s been what....great once, mediocre a few times, and terrible once?

Jimmy said...

still can't believe we let dusty go given his track record here. If we didn't sign Wieters may have one the series the year before.

Kevin Rusch said...

I really wish the nats would (or had) signed another mid-tier reliever. They don't need Kimbrel (in fact, I'm starting to think maybe he's another Papelbon) but I think they're gonna need more help, and I don't know if they'll be able to trade for another good reliever in July.

I really wish they'd raised the white flag and sold the team off in earnest last year. Now that Harper's gone, and was obviously never really coming back, they could have gotten something for him, and traded away all the other FAs for anything in return too. It seems the half-measures were the worst possible outcome.

Jimmy said...

@ Kevin Rusch- Adam Warren was the guy I would have targeted. Just solid, replacing our most terrible arm.

DezoPenguin said...

And if we're not going to break the bank for Kimbrel, Tony Sipp is still out there, a LHP who has the track record to be not-terrible, replacing our most terrible arm. A one-year deal for him ought to be available at this time.

Ole PBN said...

Regarding the pen, the thing that bothers me is the defense of Rosenthal and Barraclough being here. Sure, if they are solid relievers, then I'm not worried in the same way. But, this will most definitely lead to overuse. We saw it with Masdon last year. When Dave only has 2 or three relievers he can rely on he will wear them into the ground. And can you blame him? I don't know, but aside from Doolittle, our best reliever is a question mark coming off of major surgery and hasn't pitched in over a year. Luxury tax be damned - sign Kimbrel.

But... do we think that Doo will pull a "Drew Storen" and fold in the 8th because Kimbrel's presence shows a lack of organizational confidence? Oh boy. Somehow I think we are doomed either way. But getting Kimbrel means we actually tried in this area, some I'm in.

blovy8 said...

I agree that Sipp is the best fit left for the likely price. But is he still waiting for something? I kind of expect minor league deals only. Maybe they'll see if Jorge De La Rosa needs a spring training invitation, 37 is still young for a lefty reliever, right? Probably no worse than Nuno. Does Edwin Jackson have a job yet?

Anonymous said...

Before looking closely at the stats, my thoughts on Kimbrel were "once upon a time, a devastating relief ace with an exceptional K rate and a good enough BB rate. After many years, he looks to be in decline. Performance in most recent postseason is especially concerning. Am worried he's about to fall off a cliff."

The stats don't really tell that story, however. Kimbrel has been remarkably consistent since his first full season in 2011. His K-rate has wavered between 36-50%: always elite, sometimes otherworldly. His K-rate the last two years: 49.6 ('17) and 38.9 ('18). So he's shown (roughly, for him) top-end and low-end ability to strike guys out each of the last two years. His BB-rate has been between 5.5% and 12.5%, with his very best rate occurring in '17 and his very worst rate occurring in '18. His two worst seasons by FIP were in Boston in '16 and '18. Sandwiched between those seasons is perhaps his very best season, where he ran his second highest ever K rate and his lowest ever BB rate. This trend makes predicting Kimbrel's future very difficult. On the one hand, "bad" seasons for Kimbrel appear to be happening more frequently now than in the past. On the other hand, he followed up '16 - the year that's most similar to his performance last year - with one of his very best seasons, which suggests he could do the same again. And he's still just 30.

All the projection systems have him at sub-3.00 FIP. In general, I think "bet on pitchers with elite K-rates" is a good organizational philosophy, one the Nats have followed with starting pitchers (Scherzer, Stras, Gio, and Corbin) but not relievers - Soriano and Papelbon had middling K-rates for back-end relievers and Kintzler's was downright bad; Doolittle and Madson were better, but still not elite.

It's tough to pull the trigger on a big-money multi-year deal for a reliever because RP performance is variable and career-ruining injuries are common. Kimbrel seems like a pretty good risk to take even if we shouldn't expect the same sort of consistent dominance he exhibited during his Atlanta years.

DezoPenguin said...

The most important thing about Kimbrel is that Doolittle is, by all accounts, the exact opposite of a headcase, and has extensive experience doing things other than close games. The problem with the Papelbon-Storen move was that not only was Papelbon not as good as Storen, but Storen melted down immediately so the impact of the trade was to make the closer spot worse, not improve the rest of the 'pen, and do so at a cost in money and trade assets, plus the impact on clubhouse chemistry. Doolittle seems much more like Andrew Miller, as I suggested in the other thread.

(The more I think about it, I think the Nats should sign Kimbrel AND Sipp. Sipp replaces Solis, who gets DFA'd. Kimbrel replaces Glover, who goes on the IL (man, it's gonna be hard to not say DL). Suero hangs out in the minors to replace the first guy who breaks. And if and when Glover is actually healthy enough to pitch we can work out what to do next at that point, whether it's to DFA Miller or something else.)

Jay said...

I'd sign Kimbrel all day, every day. Doolittle great guy, great pitcher when healthy. Only problem is he can't pitch whenever. He can't warm up multiple times a game or he may break down. I'd give him the 8th. Rosenthal. Great talent. Throws 100. Had control issues with the Cardinals and tended to walk guys. Coming off TJ and didn't pitch at all last year. Again, great when healthy. Barraclough. Throws hard. Control issues. No injury risk but dropped off in performance a good bit last year. Anyway, adding Kimbrel dramatically changes the BP. A comment a couple days ago made the point that as the BP is currently constructed that if Harper comes to bat in the 7th or 8th inning in a crucial situation that Sammy Solis is our situational lefty. No thanks. I think this is a no brainer in my book. Also, that leaves Kimbrel, Rosenthal, and Doolittle signed through this year and next I believe. However, both Rosenthal and Doolittle are free agents after that. I think you could ask Doolittle and he would be up front about whether or not he'd be ok adding Kimbrel.

blovy8 said...

I'd rather have Kimbrel facing the meat of the order in the late innings no matter where that is; probably not the ninth as often, so I can get my money's worth. Even guys like Lilliquist and Martinez can figure out when the tough spot happens. Kimbrel has made plenty enough to not worry about saves. Also, with Roesenthal and Doolittle, you'd probably rather have a somewhat more set pattern given their health issues. Kimbrel would be the guy you could use to keep the other team down and allow the offense to abuse the middle relief on the other side and less is left to chance. The only guy regularly getting into the seventh is probably Scherzer, and why use him up? Let Kimbrel take the meat of the order when Scherzer gets up to 100 pitches.

Jimmy said...

@blovy8 Kimbrel is the guy I'd be most worried about caring about his role. Doo is the guy I'd peg who'd embrace the firefighter role.

sirc said...

I don't think that the Kimbrel rumors are true. I believe that it's reporters performing a service for the Boras group in an attempt to get Atlanta to part with some of those absurd riches that they're hoarding.

I do believe Jamal Collier that the Nats won't be going over the luxury tax limit. I'm not advocating for staying under the tax threshold but I believe that to be the intent of the Lerners.

So if they do sign Kimbrel they would then have to shave whatever amount they're paying Kimbrel from their current roster obligations. I don't know which contracts are movable beyond Eaton's and they had better not move Eaton. Also that would only get them halfway to a Kimbrel AAV.

Who else has a contract the Nats could move, and whose leaving wouldn't harm the Nats' ability to compete in 2019?

Ole PBN said...

@ sirc - Zimmerman? Of course that would never happen. Would be silly to let logic get in the way of that one.

Anonymous said...

@Old PBN. We can't move Zimm (full no trade and no one would want him and we don't have a better 1B to replace him), but you can make the 1 year $18m + $2m buyout a 3 year $25 million deal and reduce our tax liability for this year by $10m.

$5m for 2 more years might not be enough for him, so that might not work either. But a similar deal is the only way to free up Zimm's cap space.

sirc said...

The Nats are paying Rafael Soriano and Joe Blanton $2 million each in 2019. It doesn't count against the luxury tax, but it is interesting.

https://www.spotrac.com/mlb/washington-nationals/payroll/

Anyway, here is a way to free up some money:

-Trade Michael A.
-Trade Solis
-Trade Barraclough
(All must be traded for minor leaguers or cash or int. bonus money)
-Cut Nuno
-Cut Hellickson
-Keep Joe Ross at AAA until at least after the all star break

All of that creates...~$12 million (for Hellickson, it assumes he reaches escalators, which makes his salary roughly 4.5 million)

That isn't enough to sign Kimbrel. But the Nats are around 4 million under the cap. So maybe they could do it. But...

Would they be better with Kimbrel but without all of those players?

mike k said...

@sirc I didn't get the same number as you did. Did you take from luxury tax hit or from their actual salary? Remember we're worried about the luxury hit. Also, remember you have to replace these players, presumably with players making major league minimum, so that's another 3M you're not cutting.

It's Kimbrell or luxury tax threshold. That's the decision.

BxJaycobb said...

I think the Kimbrel rumors are true. They make perfect sense. The Nats just took a *bit* of a PR hit...franchise iconic went to division rival....and more importantly they have objectively the worst bullpen among the 4 division contenders. And also because people like Keith Law are not Heyman/Morosi/nihtengale/Rosenthal rumor mongers. They may not get him but I would be surprised if they’re not involved.

BxJaycobb said...

@blovy8 there is absolutely no chance kimbrel is ok not being closer. He wants to be in the Hall of Fame (and will be even if second half of career is half as good as first). And among relievers, non closers don’t get in. And he wants the saves all time record which is a possibility for him.

BxJaycobb said...

1. Kimbrel is probably in decline.
2. The first few years of his decline may still very very cool good. Like....2.5-3ERA, not utterly end of game dominant. But extremely good.
3. It would transform Nats pen from a weakness to a mild strength with potential for powerhouse if rosenthal and Barraclough have good healthy years.
4. Best way to save some money is to renegotiate Zims deal and pick up his option and another year at like 13m this year, 12m next year, 8m year after that, etc.

JWLumley said...

Here's the thing about bullpens: By and large, they're kind of crapshoots. Take Ryan Madson for example. Going in to last year everyone expected him to be good, he wasn't. Yes, some may have been able to predict injuries, but Sean Doolittle who was supposed to be healthy, given his track record, he wasn't. Many people may not have expected much from Matt Grace, but he put up a 2.87 ERA and 0.6 WAR. Even Kimbrel was lights out during the season and was not good in the postseason and he's one of the most consistent relievers in baseball. All that being said, I think Kimbrel would help the Nats bullpen considerably, but the fact remains that the Nats bullpen is a big question mark that could be very good, very bad or somewhere in between.

Anonymous said...

BxJ - I agree with your point #1. Your point #2 is where all the action is. It's certainly possible that Kimbrel could be in decline but still an excellent reliever. His performance over his career has been so good that there's a huge amount of distance between the baseline he's established and "good." But I don't know that data or anything else can reliably tell us whether Kimbrel's decline is going to be steady and long, sharp and quick, or somewhere in between. Kenley Jansen's FIP jumped 2.3 points last year without any real indicators (the primary cause is that he lost roughly 3.5 K/9 from his career mark). Jansen was still good, but I wouldn't sign up to pay him the 4/$64 million that the Dodgers still owe.

This is the main problem with relievers: even though past performance is the best guide to future performance we have, it's not a very good guide because relievers are so volatile, both in terms of health and in terms of performance.

blovy8 said...

There's no way to sign Kimbrel and be under the cap. My guess would be that if they wouldn't go over for Harper, they obviously won't do that for Kimbrel. If they figure themselves as a 90 win team, getting to 91 wins isn't worth paying 25 million and not resetting the tax threshold. He's gonna have to be a bargain.

JWLumley said...

@Blovy8 Either he'll need to be a bargain or accept a bunch of deferred money, which is the Nats signature. If he wants to save face, there's a chance he takes the deferrals for something that appears to make the contract look bigger.

Mark said...

Davy broke Madson last year. The stretch where he pitched him 3 games in a row ruined him. He CANNOT do that to any of these guys this year. They need more depth unless they get lucky and Glover really will be healthy (he probably wont) or one of the young arms surprises.