Nationals Baseball: November 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hey look! I was right about something!

De La Rosa should be signed any minute now. It's down to Webb and Pavano now, and really, it was only ever Webb. The question is whether Rizzo will try to pass Webb off as the front of the rotation guy he brought up or if he'll make a deal for a hurler like Garza or Shields. Any of those three could be that type of pitcher, but they could also be another (un-injured) Marquis-like arm, just eating innings with average pitching.

Also, as commenter Wally noted we'll find out about Dunn's arbitration acceptance or non-acceptance today not next week, so stay tuned for that (if you can't wait to hear the words "Dunn rejects Nats arbitration offer".)

Monday, November 29, 2010

No Vazquez, No surprise

It looks like teams don't want to be left out of pitching if the Lee sweepstakes goes the way everyone thinks it will go. Westbrook, Garland, and now Vazquez have all found homes before executives have even fluffed their first class pillows on the way down to the Winter Meetings. The Nats made a token swipe at Javy, trying to get him on the cheap (when sources won't confirm is was a fair offer, it likely means it wasn't) but surprise, surprise, you don't get a lot of deals when it comes to established starting pitching. Not a big deal in my book, I didn't think they really wanted Javy anyway, but now things are getting serious.

The best starting pitchers left outside of Lee are De La Rosa and Pavano, two guys the Nats have interest in. Webb remains the most intriguing possibility for teams willing to take a risk. All signs point to the Nats going after Webb first, but he seems content to wait until the Winter Meetings (Dec 6th) to get the talks moving. Waiting at this point is a dangerous game. If another pitcher signs, particularly De La Rosa or Pavano, the supply gets that much smaller. Waiting might rob the Nats of any leverage they have with Webb forcing them to sign him to a much more player friendly deal.

That's not the worst thing usually but this is a deal for a guy who basically hasn't pitched in 2 years. You aren't talking worst case he crashes and is a mediocre innings eater for you. The worst case is he doesn't pitch at all. Of course all this is exactly why Webb is content to wait. Everyone knows the caveats that comes with signing Webb but at the same time everyone always needs pitching. Some team is going to come out of the early signings with nothing to show for it and will be desperate to throw money at someone, even someone like Webb, to show that they are doing something. Webb wants to be the guy they throw money at. (who wouldn't - I wouldn't be surprised if the more veteran Pavano does the same thing. I expect De La Rosa to sign though before the meetings)

The Nats are already stuck in a holding pattern when it comes to their offensive moves until Adam Dunn makes a decision on arbitration (has to by Dec 7th Nov 30th). It's still very likely that he doesn't accept, but they can't move forward with their signing of Carlos Pe...I mean "whatever they may do" because they really can't have two starting first basemen on the team. For pitching, however, they shouldn't let any one player drive them right out of the market for everyone else.

Of course this is assuming that they really do have interest in these other guys. It's quite likely that they see Pavano and De La Rosa as "maaaaaybe we'll try to get one of these two if we can't sign Webb" players. If so, more power to Rizzo and everyone, but they better be able to sign Webb, and they better be right about him still being able to pitch effectively.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Would Dunn screw Rizzo? Could Dunn screw Rizzo?

The Nats have offered Dunn arbitration, the assumption being that he will decline arbitration and sign somewhere else and because he is a Type A player the Nats will pick up a couple comp draft slots for their trouble. It's a very safe assumption. Dunn wants a long term deal, and arbitration only promises a one-year contract. It would also be unwise of his to go through arbitration, he's on the wrong side of 30 now and he had a fantastic year last year. Playing another year to see what he can get is more likely to lower the value of his next contract, rather than raise it. He doesn't want arbitration and he doesn't need arbitration.

Still, I can't help wondering what the situation would be if Dunn shocked the Natsmosphere and accepted arbitration. I guess it IS still possible. The Tigers signed V-Mart. The White Sox went ahead and offered arbitration to Paul Konerko, who as a long time White Sock, you have to figure is more likely than Dunn to agree to it at the very least to re-open contract negotiations. Plus it makes it less likely a team will grab Konerko which makes it less likely that a spot will open up for Dunn. Of course I wouldn't put it past the WhiteSox to bring back Konerko AND sign Dunn.* The Cubs are still in the hunt and he would be a pretty nice fit there too. Not to mention outside of Thome and Ortiz, who both could crash at any moment, and the surprising Luke Scott, Dunn would be a big improvement for every other AL team at DH.

*That seems dumb but Kenny Williams is smarter than you think. If 2/3rds the league are quixotically aiming for the same goal - super good, super cheap teams somewhere 3+ years down the road - that means there is going to always be a nice surplus of good but somewhat older talent available. If you have some cash to play around with you can build a perennial winner from these neglected souls. There's a reason he's GM'd the team to only two losing seasons in 10 years.

If Dunn did go for arbitration they might be able to get him back with whatever 3 year deal they offered him before. Kind of doubt it though. If he only accepts the one-year arbitation the Nats would have around $15 mill invested in Dunn for next season, plus that roster spot at first locked up. It shouldn't matter - the Nats could still spend money and get a pitcher, if not a pitcher and a bat. But, there would be no good reason for Rizzo to go after his BFF Carlos Pena, and 15 million is a lot of money. Maybe there is a cap we haven't heard about and that Carlos Pena bargain Rizzo is expecting is what's allowing him to test the free agent pitcher waters. If that's the case then it would at least create assumed friction between the front office and a fairly popular player. In short, it would be great off-season blogger fodder.

It's not going to happpen, though. Right? Right.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bryce Update

The Fall League is over and how exactly did Bryce do? Well if you were just following AFL coverage you'd feel like he hit 30 homers in 15 games while batting .800 but here's the back of the envelope final line:

.333 / .395 / .590 1 HR, 8 RBIs, 13 Ks in 39 at bats.

The Arizona Fall League can be a hitters league. Despite the impressive line Bryce would only 14th in average and 10th in slugging if he had enough at bats to qualify. But let's not kid ourselves, that's very good. The only concern at all is that strikeout number. That's real high as well. That's going to be the question for Bryce as he starts his trek toward the major leagues. Will the pitching ever catch up to him so that he doesn't make enough contact?

The fact he did so well in the AFL suggests A ball won't be an issue. The fact that he's 12 and super excited about the third installment of the Transformers franchise means that he's got plenty of time to make adjustments and still be a prospect. Like 5 years or so. Barring some late in life David Robinson esque growth spurt putting him at an awkward 6' 7" or something the odds are in his (and the Nats) favor.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Why the Nats won't be signing Javy Vazquez

In recent days we've heard the names Jorge De La Rosa and Carl Pavano floated out as potential rotation fillers if the whole Cliff Lee thing somehow doesn't work out (as if!). This seems kind of strange because the talk has been about getting a "true #1" kind of guy and these two don't seem to be much better than the two rotation fillers the Nats have now, Jason Marquis and John Lannan. Take a look at the average numbers :

Marquis (2007-9) : 4.37 ERA, 1.403 WHIP, 0.8 HR/9, 4.9 K/9
Lannan (2007-9) : 3.91 ERA, 1.359 WHIP, 1.0 HR/9, 4.6 K/9
De La Rosa (2008-10) : 4.49 ERA, 1.385 WHIP, 1.0 HR/9, 8.9 K/9
Pavano (2009-10) : 4.39 ERA, 1.280 WHIP, 1.1 HR/9, 5.7 K/9

That's pretty similar right? You could be worried about the injuries to Lannan and Marquis but take a look at these post break 2010 numbers:

Marquis : 4.29, 1.510, 1.3, 5.0
Lannan: 3.42, 1.244, 0.9, 6.2

While there are some vagaries in there (Marquis first two hideous starts are counted - he was much better after that, Lannan seems to be over his head in the strikeout dept) it does seem like these two should be able to at least match their 3 years averages noted above.

You can't be betting on youth with De La Rosa and Pavano, they aren't young. You can't be betting on the anti-Coors field effect with De La Rosa, he was roughly the same on the road as at home the past 3 years. I initially thought was they were intrigued by De La Rosa's pure stuff (that 8.9 K/9 is nice), and Pavano's superior 2010. But De La Rosa has always had stuff and it's never come together and he's 30 years old, that doesn't seem like a smart bet. Pavano is 35 and spent the good part of his major league career on what amounted to the best worker's comp deal you'll ever see. Not that either would be a terrible pick-up but it was hard to see exactly what they brought to the table that the Nats were interested enough in to mention them by name. Then I saw the groundball numbers

De La Rosa - 52.3% of the balls put in play off of him were groundballs in 2010
Pavano - 51%

Both these guys were heavy ground ball picthers in 2010. If you were to rank all pitchers with 120 IP or more (120IP to get De La Rosa in there) De La Rosa would be 15th and Pavano would be 19th. That's up there. Rizzo is sticking to his "defense first" guns. (which makes the Uggla flirtation so confusing - maybe he'd put him at first?) Last year he brought in Marquis (55.6% in 2009), and Wang (53.3% 2009), while ignoring Garland and Davis, both flyball pitchers. He's always made known his love of Webb (career 64%). This is the type of team he wants. Pitchers that keep the ball in play so a great infield defense can go after it.

Obviously this is bad news for Dunn lovers. If there were any out there with hope that he will be back, forget it. I think now more than ever, it's very likely that the "deal" offered to Dunn wasn't anywhere near market value. It's also bad news for those that want the team to take a gamble on Javy Vazquez. His GB% was 35.5% last year and career-wise he usually didn't get past 40%. That's not the type of pitcher Rizzo wants.

Now to be sure, Rizzo won't pass up a bargain on anything. He did eventually take that minor-league flier on Livan, a fly ball pitcher, and he did sign him for next year on an incentive-filled 1 million dollar deal. However, I wouldn't hold my breath on Rizzo offering a fair market price to anyone who doesn't force the opposing bats to drive balls into the dirt. Lee, Webb, De La Rosa, and Pavano probably make-up the entire population of potential new Nats starters for 2010.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Don't get comfortable Josh

Kilgore at the Post reports that it's unlikely that Josh Willingham will get the extension he wants. This isn't much of a surprise. An extension makes Willingham less valuable in a trade and an oft-injured 32 year old (in Feb) Josh is not seen as a long term piece of the puzzle. While it may seem cold and callous, it's actually the right move by Rizzo.

The two biggest reasons Rizzo is right I just mentioned. Josh will be 32 next year. Whatever you think about a player's peak years, 32 is not one of them. At best it's in the middle of a gradual decline phase. At worst it's at the start of a steep drop off in production. Josh also seems a tad injury prone. That usually only gets worse as you age. The accumulated injuries over a lifetime of hard playing mean more things that can get tweaked, which means more ways the body will try to adjust, which means new injuries that can occur. The body takes longer to heal from these injuries.

Let's look at similar players - here are the closest players to Josh by Baseball Reference's similarity scores. If you go through player by player you'll see wildly different careers but one thing that is similar. There doesn't seem to be much of a decline phase for these players. One year they are ok, the next they are not, the year after that they are "spending more time with the family". There is a precipitous drop in games played along with production, seemingly showing an injury in their mid 30s that they just couldn't come back from. This makes sense based on what we've seen of Josh in the past two years. Niggling injuries killed his production by the end of 2009. A more major one robbed him of his power in 2010. There isn't much room for error when your batting average is sitting closer to .250 than .285 and your power isn't awesome.

I don't think last year's injury was that career killer for Josh. While it did cost him his pop, his batting average was actually quite stable from June on. He can play through this one, if it's not actively killing him (as it was post All-star break). The Nats are not fools for keeping him around, and teams aren't dumb for wanting him. But it makes no sense to offer Josh a long term deal until you see him put together a completely healthy and productive season. Until that moment, you have to expect the worst and deal with Josh in that manner contract-wise. (And that year better happen this year or next because after that he'll simply be too old to trust.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Memo to anyone drafted by the Diamondbacks from 1998-2006

De La Rosa
He's getting the band back together. Finally the Deep Blue Something reunion America has been waiting for.

(Yes, the pic is terrible. I apologize. I can do better.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

NL ROY question

If you voted for Posey, then I assume it was based on a "he was better when he was out there" line of thinking. But if that's the case, why not vote for Strasburg then? It seems to me if you valued production over the course of the full season Heyward was the pick and if you valued sheer awesomeness when in there Strasburg was the selection.

My guess is that there was a lot of hedging "well one third of a season is too little but two-thirds is good enough" which is fine, but I'd like to hear a Posey supporter say as much instead of saying "he was the best when he could play!" because we all know who would win an argument based on that reasoning alone.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Awards Voting

This year I was asked to give my votes for the major awards for the SweetSpot network. Not wanting to keep my loyal reader in the dark (hi, me at work!) I figured I'd give you my votes here as well.

First, though it's probably necessary to understand my philosophy about this. If feelings about the importance of these awards ranged on an axis from "Honor deemed sacred over generations" to "Meaningless hunk of metal given to a millionaire playing a kid's game", you'd find me somewhere around the "l" in "Meaningless". I can't get worked up about who wins. Just like not being named an All-Star didn't mean Ryan Zimmerman wasn't an All-Star caliber player, not getting this award doesn't change the stats of any of the guys up here. If they were awesome, they are still awesome. I don't need that knowledge to be validated in award form to feel good.

There is another axis coming off from "Meaningless hunk of metal given to a millionaire playing a kid's game". This one leads to "If the statistical leader doesn't win this award, ignorance has won". I'm about halfway between these two philosophies. On one hand I don't want someone bad to win the award. It shouldn't be random or anything. On the other hand, simply figuring out who was the best statistically if everyone played in a vacuum and handing that person the award... that doesn't seem like much fun to me. That's as little fun as looking at wins or RBI leaders and giving awards to those people. I welcome conjecture and differing opinions. I want each voter to have their own philosophy and guidelines. I don't care if they contradict themselves every year or even within the same year. I'm glad it's called the most "valuable" player award, so we can argue the definition of "value" in the context of a baseball season. That's fun.

Personally I like to "vote" for the player who had the best year, rather than the best player that year, if this makes sense. I like to factor in who got lucky this year as a positive for that player, not a negative. For God's sake, this is a sport that awards its highest honor (world champions) to one of the top eight or so teams after 162 games that happens to win three short series over 4 weeks. Luck matters.

With all that being said here are my award votes and reasoning

AL ROY: Neftali Feliz
It was tough between him and Austin Jackson, but we all know how teams can get all worked up about the closer role. The fact that Neftali was able to come in immediately and hold that spot down was huge.

NL ROY: Jason Heyward
Have you seen the guy? He's awesome. (Posey was the only other option and Heyward played a bunch more games)

AL Manager of the Year: Ron Washington
It's the silliest of silly awards but it has to go to someone, so why not Ron? The whole season could have imploded with his cocaine revelations but it didn't. Instead they made it to the World Series. That seems pretty good.

NL Manager of the Year: Bobby Cox
Cheers to you Mr. Cox. It's hard to tell but it always seemed like you knew what you were doing.

AL Cy Young: CC Sabathia
Felix Hernandez was the best pitcher in the AL, no duh (well you could argue Cliff Lee if you wanted but I'm not listening to all that). Felix Hernandez was also 13-12! I mean like that actually happened. He went out there, pitched really well, and his team lost anyway. It sucks for him. In BPs adjusted standings, if everything had been equal, the Rockies should have made the playoffs. That sucks for them. Sometimes things suck for people. In my mind the community is not here to make up for it by looking past your terrible luck to give you an award. The giant contract you are going to get is what's going to make up for it.

NL Cy Young: Roy Halladay
In my heart, Roy Halladay is much better than Cliff Lee. No one can convince me otherwise. I want the Yankees to sign Cliff Lee then trade him to the Phillies for Roy Halladay.

AL MVP: Josh Hamilton
He's like a better Jason Heyward!

NL MVP: Joey Votto
Toss up but doesn't Pujols have enough of these already? I have no problem given him another one, but he already has enough that he wraps them up and uses them for those gift exchange games people play at work. "What is it, Rasmus?" "It's... a 2008 MVP award." (everyone looks at Albert) "Why are you looking at me. I swear I brought in the Whitman's sampler". Plus, there's an equally good candidate right over there.

For those interested the raw stat winners (by WAR)
AL ROY : Austin Jackson
NL ROY : Jayson Heyward
AL CY YOUNG : Cliff Lee
NL CY YOUNG : Roy Halladay
AL MVP : Josh Hamilton
NL MVP : Joey Votto

See! Even when trying to be different I pretty much picked 2/3rd the same people. Why is everyone so angry all the time about something that doesn't matter that's mostly right?

(measured by biggest positive difference between BP adjusted standings and actual standings)
AL MOY : Mike Scioscia
NL MOY : Brad Mills (that's the Astros coach)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I went to Nats School to learn, not for a fashion show

The new unis are in and early reviews seem mixed. I think most people will agree that the new ones are better than the old ones, but are they good? The whole new look seems focused on the Curly W of the Nationals, trying to make it a iconic symbol of the team like the interlocking NY of the Yankees, or more specifically the gothic D of Detroit. They've even changed the logo removing the interlocking DC (which I have really liked) in favor of the W. It's an attempt at really creating a brand that the team can sell to the fans as an idea, but more that they can sell for cash money. I hope you love the Curly W because that single letter IS the Washington Nationals now. Personally, I'll miss the interlocking DC, but think the overall look is an improvement. Uniwatch has his opinions and this is what he does so read that here

Some of my thoughts:

  • Glad to see the beveling gone on the numbers and the name. I don't like attempts to add depth on jerseys.
  • Glad to see the Nats pare down their official colors by one. I'm not sure I would have gone with dropping the gold (probably would have dropped red) but red, white, blue and gold was too much.
  • Sad to see double piping on the jerseys. Single piping just looks cleaner.
  • Sad to see a double color hat. Again - single color much cleaner.
  • Not sure how I feel about the front numbers on the jerseys. On one hand it helps to break up the big block of color left by no script name, especially needed on the red alternate. On the other hand the placement seems awkward - a remnant of where it would be if the script name was on the uniform. Directly opposite the Curly W might have worked. Then again it might not have.
  • Not sure how I feel about the numbers in general - really blah.
  • Some alternate ideas to mix-up the jersey keeping the same basic idea - not sure any of these would actually work:
  • Name under symbol / remove piping - ala old expos.
  • Just collar color - ala the 1915 Tigers (scroll down for Cobb)
  • Solid button area color - ala the 1933 Indiana
New alternate #1

I hate the all red look. Bright red doesn't lend itself to large swatches of uniform. I do think that both the double piping and the front number work best here.

New Alternate #2

Obviously hideous. You just can't do that with the W, it's far too busy. I know they want to get stars and stripes on the uniform somehow. (and a strpied or starred uniform is out of the question) How about a striped W on a background of a single star?

New Home

Best of the bunch by far, but the double piping and the number looks the worst here. On the piping, the red and blue don't contrast enough to totally separate out for me. My first choice would have been a flag blue curly W and flag blue piping, but that's a color scheme change they aren't going to make. My second choice would have been the same with the dark blue they use now. However, I can see where dark blue wasn't an iconic option as both the Tigers and Yanks are dark blue. Even as my third choice I would have been fine with just red.

As for the number, part the iconic look that the Yanks and Tigers have worked out is based on the only thing on the front of the jersey being the symbol. It works very well. The number may help the Nats stand out from being a direct Tigers clone but there's nothing wrong with copying something that was done right.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fashion Show Betting Odds

Yes, this has nothing to do with baseball, but anyone that's been reading me for a while knows I can't get past a bad headline when I see one. For example :

This story about Strawberry Shortcake


Also tonight is new uni night!

Some Odds:
2 to 1 : Mock-ups of new uniforms released to the press feature digitally modified shots of Carlos Pena and Brandon Webb.
8 to 1 : Kasten shows up on E!'s "Fashion Police", quoted saying "Somebody call Snooki because this was a total Jersey 'Snore', am I right?"
10 to 1
: One of Clippard, Storen, or Zimmermann tears a shoulder muscle putting on the uniform and is out for 2011.
20 to 1 : All the Nats players come out wearing jerseys with "Lee" on the back
5 to 1 : It's for Derek Lee.
30 to 1 : Both home and away uniforms are vest designs because sleeves aren't free people!
100 to 1 : Pudge puts on uniform backward and buttoned incorrectly, tells media he has at least 4 good years of modeling left in him.
5 to 3 : Giving in to BP shagging Mark Lerner's demands the new uniforms feature slimming pinstripes and the pants are relaxed fit with a hidden tummy tuck panel.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Fire Jim Bowden out!

FJB might be shuffling off this mortal coil, and by "mortal coil" of course I mean "blogging about the Nationals on the internet". While I won't believe it for sure until Spring (stopping blogging about baseball in Novemeber is like quitting cigarettes when your hands are away for cleaning. What? That's a bad simile? Maybe, but it's not about me and my blog people! It's about FJB! Let's focus here.) he seems pretty serious so say toodles over there.

If anything FJB will end with a 100% blog name success rate.

Phrase using the word "done", except in the place of "done" we use "Dunn" signifying that this post has something to do with National Adam Dunn

Do we hate the Nationals or not? I think (though I can't find it right now) that at some point I said that if the Nats offered Dunn a fair 3-year deal then I couldn't really hold it against them if they let Dunn walk. They offered him a 3-year deal. The question is - was it fair?

My guess is the Nats offered Dunn right around 30 million for 3 years. To me anything 30 mill and over is a reasonable offer, though 30 million would be on the low side. The Nats offer him one year less than he's asking for at the lowest price that would be considered fair in the market and they watch him reject the deal. There's nothing unusual about this so far. It's the type of deal that you open negotiations with if you're the team. The difference is that for the Nats, and this is just my guess, this deal is a negotiation ender as well.

They want Carlos Pena. They need Carlos Pena. I don't know why. Nobody really does. But there is a deep psychological yearning in Mike Rizzo that will only be satisfied when Carlos Pena buttons up his Washington jersey and runs out onto the field in Viera. However, they can't just dismiss Dunn because, well because he's really good at hitting and the fans love him. So they offer him this deal. A fair deal but just barely so. Now they can turn around and say to the fans "Hey, we tried" when actually they really didn't, and then move on to their real goal of signing Carlos Pena. (and if Dunn accepts this - well they got him at basically a discount for a year less than he was asking for. Hard to complain about that.) This is just a guess, but it certainly seems like the Nats and Dunn are parting ways and I can't see that happening if they tossed a 3 year deal worth over 40 million at Adam.

I'm not a betting man, but if I were I would put money on Dunn leaving, Pena coming, and Webb being signed by the Nats. That by itself I don't like, but I'm going to give Rizzo the benefit of the doubt until the offseason is over. His love of Pena over Dunn may confuse us, just like it made no sense why Alex P Keaton would let Marty help break up his relationship with Lauren*, but if he makes the necessary moves this offseason to make up for the loss of offense, while improving the team in pitching and defense then it would ultimately be good for the Nationals. Making a better team is what matters in judging a GM, not making a better team the way I would build it.

*seriously - Jane Adams over Courtney Cox? You expect us to buy what you're selling Family Ties writers? I know you had to rush out the end of the last season but please. And then there's that whole last episode...

Friday, November 05, 2010

Side note : Todd Jones

As if this offseason won't be anything other than mostly side notes:

I once bought tickets to a Tiger game online. I've done this for several teams but the Tigers are the only ones that signed me up for some sort of newsletter. Normally I'd get off of it, but it's my junk email address so the effort it would take to get off of it seems more than the effort needed to delete these emails when they come in. I know that's not true, but I don't see myself getting over this imaginary hump anytime soon.

The fact that I receive these occasional updates has actually given me some minor affinity for the Tigers, like they want to be my friend really badly. Poor kids. It also helps that one of the few non-National baseball blogs I check with any regularity is a Tigers Blog, Roar of the Tigers. I'm a sucker for drawings, especially ones with a sense of humor. You had me at Detriot Tigers Passover. Anyway...

I recently got an email and happened to actually read it before deleting it. It was about a Detroit Tigers Fantasy camp. One of the players that would be there would be the Tigers' all-time save leader Todd Jones. That sounded strange. It couldn't be right that their all-time saves leader was Todd Jones, could it? Nope, he totally is and it isn't even close. Over seven (non-consecutive) years of closing for the Tigers. If anyone tells you closers are a special breed point to this guy. He was really only good for one year (and that was with the Marlins) and yet the guy is 14th all-time in saves. 14th all-time! Roberto Hernandez is 12th? Doug Jones is 20th? I don't even remember that guy. I thought he was Todd Jones.

Another odd thing is that in one year, despite never really being that good, he got Cy Young vote(s). Pedro ran away with the Cy Young that year, but Todd Jones, with a WAR* of 1.5 got votes. It was basically the least important season to get a Cy Young vote since the strike. The Tigers didn't win their division. They didn't even finish with a winning record. Yet because he led the league in saves, he got some votes. What I can't figure though, is why then Derek Lowe, who was much better and tied him for the lead in saves, didn't get any votes. I can see why Sasaki (#3) didn't get votes - he was going to be the ROY. I can see why Rivera (#4) didn't get votes - he had much better years. I guess Lowe just didn't have the support of that rogue voter or two like Jones did.

Looking at all this, I still can't decide whether it is bad that I dismissed Todd Jones, top 20 all-time save leader, Cy Young vote getter, All-Star. Eh, whatever. You're still taking Willie Hernandez for your all-time Tigers fantasy team.

*WAR, for those of you unfamiliar is an attempt to get one overall stat to judge a player by, like factoring in everything. Stands for Wins Above Replacement. We could go into it more but it was not important to the point I'm trying to make. Maybe some other day.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Dunn, the only man on the Nats with a glove.

At least that's how it feels sometimes. I was perusing Bill Ladson's Off-Season Blog Saver (aka him answering questions from his inbox) and the first couple pertain to Dunn and his fielding. I agree, it is bad. True, it wasn't terrible last year, but it could easily be terrible in 2011. But why have the Nats singled out replacing Adam Dunn as a cure for all their defensive woes? Well for them it's easy, they don't want to give him as long a deal for as much as he wants, but why does everyone else feel that way? Here's a quick list of the Nationals that were good in the field last year: Ryan Zimmerman. Here's a longer list : RRRyyyyaaannnn Zzzzimmmmeeeerrrmmannnn. (Ok Danny Espinosa looked pretty good but he barely played). If the Nats want to be GOOD in the field just flipping Dunn for a Derrek Lee won't be nearly enough.

Other things from Ladson's column

He equates the Dunn situation to the Soriano situation after 2006, and they do have a lot in common. Both featured a 30yr old low-average, high-power, bad-fielder that K's a lot looking for a long-term deal. However there are important differences. Soriano was coming off his best year ever and a year that was an outlier in comparison to his most recent 2 years. Dunn is coming off a typical Dunn year right in line with 7 of his past 8 years. Soriano was putting his glove in a far more exploitable position than Dunn. Soriano was going to get PAID, where as Dunn is looking for that extra year at a fair salary. In short Dunn is better at the plate, cheaper in the pocket, and willing to be hidden in the field.

A Ladson reader wants to know how "Dunn's errors outweigh his offensive production". The important thing to remember is that they don't. They lessen the overall value of Dunn, but they don't turn the positive asset that Dunn is, into a negative one.

Ladson drops this shocker (stop sipping that drink while your boss is standing right in front of you!)
Rodriguez believes that he has a least four more years as an everyday player
(I warned you! Now look at your boss! He's completely covered in your spit take!). I'd believe this if it was about ALEX Rodriguez. If it weren't for the name, Pudge Rodriguez would actually have NEGATIVE four years left as an everyday player. Next year he should be no better than a 30-40% time back-up to a young catcher a team hopes to develop and it's not going to get better as he gets older. You aren't Benjamin Button, Pudge. (I actually think your life would make an enjoyable movie)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Nats Offseason : Scenarios

One Worst Case : The Nats go hard after Cliff Lee. While consumed with that, Garza is dealt, Grienke is officially pulled off the table and Vazquez is signed. When Lee goes elsewhere, the Nats find their options limited. Rizzo however, can't get past the "true #1" he promised the Nats would go after so he deals Desmond plus some junk to the Braves for Derek Lowe. To cover his bases, Rizzo also tosses a Sheets like deal to Webb. Having just added 20-25 million to the payroll, the Nats can't make any serious moves offensively. They let Dunn walk. Both Pena and Lee price out of what the Nats can offer. The Nats throw up their hands and sign Lyle Overbay to cheaply man first, ostensibly because of his defense. They make no other moves, and start pumping up Roger Bernadina as best they can as a full time right fielder.

Sort-of Expected: The Nats go hard after Cliff Lee, but he goes elsewhere. They try to deal for Garza but get outbid by a more desperate team. They try to deal for Grienke but with no real impetus to get a deal done this year, the Royals asking price is too high for every team. Seeing the pitching options close up, the Nats grab Javy Vazquez on an cheap 1-year deal, and thanks to Rizzo's personal connections are able do the same with Brandon Webb. With money now "free" the Nats push hard after Jayson Werth instead and are able to sign the free agent. Rizzo fritters around the edges but is unable to make any other deals of significance.

One Best Case: The Nats go hard after Cliff Lee. They drastically overpay, and they shock the world by getting him. It's also thought that Lee liked going back to the National League and being able to stick it to the Phillies. With all the money spent, the Nats wait out the free agent market and work the trade market. They are able, surprisingly, to grab Matt Kemp from the Dodgers, giving up not too much, when the "right-place right-time" opportunity presents itself while Rizzo is fishing for James Loney. Carlos Pena watches as his demands and a saturated market full of "ok" FA firstbasemen combine to make him one of the last men standing. The Nats are able to sign him to a cheap incentive laden deal. They end free agency snatching up Brandon Webb, who also didn't find the deal he was looking for, in part thanks to Ben Sheets being unable to justify his big "trust me" contract in 2010.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Final World Series thoughts

Congratulations to Pat Burrell and the rest of the San Francisco Giants on their World Series Championship. (I've always had a soft spot for Pat the Bat, don't know why). Some other thoughts:

I'm very glad Cliff Lee lost again in what was a good but not great game. I understood the awesomeness that Cliff Lee was showing fans, but I couldn't get the near universal "OMG!!! CLIFF IS TEH AWESOMES!!1!!" that I was reading. Oh I expected that from the usual media sources, but even the "enlightened" community was wearing Cliff Lee's letter jacket in school the other day and seriously considering letting him get to third base. It was a handful of games, and usually they'd be screaming "SMALL SAMPLE SIZE" but whatever hypnotic power Mr. Lee had extended over even the most ardent stat guy. Great pitchers often make the playoffs and the best will always pitch the most, it stands to reason then that over the course of 100 years a few will have these streaks of near dominance for several games. Enjoy it, but don't make it out to be something special inside the pitcher.

I watched far more of this series than I thought I would. I think the last time I watched this much of a non-Yankee World Series might have been 2002. Before that... maybe 1993. I have to assume it was the closeness of the games that did it.

I couldn't help but think if the Yankees had suddenly taken the Rangers place in the 9th inning that Girardi would have had Robertson pitching the top of the 9th and Mariano wasting away in the bullpen, just in case the Yankees came back to tie the game.

I know nothing can be done about it, but I much prefer when teams win at home.

I've been surprised by the utter contempt for Vlad that a lot of Rangers fans seem to have. I'm hoping it's all mostly a holdover from hating him as an Angel, because he is actually a really good DH still, free swinging mess or not.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Non-selective Bryce Harper Newsflash

Unlike here at Nationals Baseball you get the good and the bad, or more precisely the bad and the good. After noting Bryce's 0-4 2K outing the other day, I would be remiss if I didn't also note that he went 3-4 Saturday, with a double and a homer. So there you go. It didn't seem to be a particularly well pitched game but then again that could have been because of all the hits Bryce was getting. His .353 average would be up there but they are picking and choosing the spots for Bryce to play so he doesn't have enough at bats. Derek Norris does have enough at bats and is 2nd in the league in slugging. The better he does, the easier it becomes to imagine that trade for a #1 starter.

A few other notes:

I'm glad the "warrior" eye black is gone but it's still pretty thick on there. A fair compromise, I suppose.

The phrase "a triple short of the cycle" should never be used.

While I'm not sure if I'll be happier if the Giants, rather than the Rangers, win the World Series, I know I'll be glad I'll never have to utter the phrase "World Series Champion Jeff Francoeur"