Nationals Baseball: This shocks me more than the Werth deal

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

This shocks me more than the Werth deal


The overpay for Werth (also a Boras client), the constant praise we heard of Pena from sources on the team, the actual mutual interest, the "Carlos 4 eva" homemade tattoo across Rizzo's chest... How could the Nats not get Pena?

Best guess I have : Boras convinced Pena that a one-year deal would be better for him (next year's FA first base market should be exceedingly slim) and Rizzo did not want a guy on a one-year deal.

Oh well, it's not like I thought Pena was best for the Nats anyway. He may be fine next year, but I wouldn't bet on it. I do like LaRoche, the supposed next target, better. He doesn't have the (super small) chance to be great like Carlos Pena, but he also doesn't have the (not so small) chance to be a complete nothing, either. LaRoche should be average or better for at least a couple more years. Plus, his name is Adam. After LaRoche, the next best available first basemen out there are the old Derrek Lee and the contender seeking Lyle Overbay (good luck with all that Lyle).

In more disappointing but far less shocking news, the Nats are likely a no-go for a Greinke deal. This makes perfect sense. The gap between the Nats best prospects (which they weren't going to give up) and their next best is pretty big. I suppose if the Nats gutted their system and offered up Norris and Espinosa and Solis and Storen the Royals might bite, but that would (1) leave the Nationals with a Bryce Harper and absolutely nothing else minor league system, and (2) give the Royals a couple of projected low average starters, a relief arm, and a guy that just became a modest starter prospect for their best chip. (If that sounds like a lot for Grienke remember that a fan will almost always overrate his team's own prospects. Storen is the only sure thing on that list and you don't make a reliever the key part of a package deal for your Cy Young winning, 2 reasonable years left, 27 year old starter.)


Farid Rushdi said...

Couldn't agree more -- Pena at $10 million is a lot like buying General Motors at $132/share two years ago. Just doesn't make sense.

Last year, Adam Dunn made $12 million and drove in 103 runs while Adam LaRoche drove in 100 making half that.

I was rooting for LaRoche @ $7.5million over Pena at any cost.

As constituted, the team's middle of the lineup could hit like this:

2nd: Ian Desmond (.275-15-65)
3rd: Ryan Zimmerman (.303-33-115)
4th: Jayson Werth (.295-30-111)
5th: Adam LaRoche (.260-24-89)
6th: Josh Willingham
or Mike Morse (.275-23-75)
7th: Danny Espinosa (.255-20-65)

I doubt Willingham stays but I really like Morse. Based on 550 at-bats (instead of 266 last season), he would have hit .289-32-90. No, he won't come close to that in 2011 but he easily could hit .275-24-80 or so.

Harper said...

That's an ok lineup - but is it more than a win or 2 better than last year? Based on last year the Nats would still have a 8-9-1 gap. Of course that depends on Ramos/Norris/Flores development and Morgan's bounce back but I'd say even with LaRoche the Nats have a greater potential of a 4 player pitcher-rest period than a 1-8 run of decent offense.

(in other words - if they sign LaRoche they still need a great pitcher)

Wally said...

I am kind of surprised, too. The Nats payroll will be below average this year even with a Lee signing (bottom 5 without it), so a 1 year deal like this, while also an overpay, fits their salary profile well. Plus Rizzo has been jonesing for Pena for like, I dunno, 3 years.

Here is my Boras theory, which I now think applies to 75% of Nats' actions - Scottie wants the Nats to give Prince 5/$100m next year, and doesn't want to take the chance that they fall into multi year love with Pena, so he directed him elsewhere.

I don't like LaRoche much, tho. Would love to see then try something on the trade market. Alternatively, what about Branyan to platoon with Morse for a low budget 1B option, especially if it lets them get a quality starter?

Farid - I like that lineup (although you are much more optimistic on Espy than I, especially in 2011). You could also insert several other names for LaRoche and it is still fine. But, in addition to Harper's point about pitching, what really jumped out at me is how important NoMO is. If he gets back to a .370 OBP guy, and takes his head out of another body part on D, that lineup could be the best that we have seen in DC. And also pretty good.

Anonymous said...

10 mil for a guy who didnt even hit .200 last year? haha what a joke. This makes the Werth deal look genuis. ha. thank god the Nats didnt sign him. I agree, would MUCH rather LaRoche.

Also, Harper you said is the lineup better then 1 or 2 more wins. I would hope so just absed on Desmond not making another 90 errors in the field.

Anonymous said...

They still need another lefty bat. Why not Crawford? He has speed, he's athletic, he has power, not the huge power that a Morse could potential generate. Maybe not as much as Espinosa. But he fits all the criteria that Rizzo envisions for his model of a Nationals winning team? They would have plenty of guys who could play center field when Morgan falters. And Crawford looks like he could even lead off?

And the Nats still would have the money to pursue Lee and still be well under the perennial winners and teams like the Cubbies.

Perhaps, then you trade Willingham and go with Morse at first base. Oh, Harper? At first I thought this was a non-starter ... then well Callis thinks its 2013 for Harper. And the Nats aren't going to start that clock that leads to free agency unless they think he could lead them to a world series championship in 2012. Unless the pitching is there that won't happen. Besides, Harper and Crawford in the outfield with Werth sounds like a plan.

Given how the Nats and Boras seem to have used Pena as a bit of a smoke screen when their main target was Werth? Isn't this possible?

Consider this lineup:


Wally said...

Its rumored the Yanks just went to 7 years for Lee. If true, it removes the last bit of hope for the Nats to snag him. I think the starters to begin 2011 are already on the roster. I am ok with that, so long as they can add to the lineup. Like to see a 1B and either a new CF or 2B. Plus a Rauch type arm for the pen.

Maybe they can try to get Ellsbury from Red Sox. Ramos?

Unknown said...

Dunn wanted to stay as long as he was paid. The nats let him go and paid a less of a player in Worth way more money than he will ever live up to. And any one ripping on Pena is insane because anyone with that much power is easily worth a one year ten million dollar risk. The deal that the Nationals made with worth will set a once promising team back at least five years much like Texas and overpaying A-Rod back in the day.

Harper said...

Wally - Would certainly not put it past Boras. As for a platoon - I like the idea but don't see it. Riggleman doesn't seem like the manager to buy into not keeping playing a hot bat.

Anon #1 - I wouldn't say it makes the Werth deal look good. Any one and done deal has its advantage in being... well one and done. But it does have the potential to be far more an overpay in 2010 than Werth's 18 million. As for Desmond, if he IS a leader it is time for him to cut down on the dumb errors.

Anon #2 - nice idea and officially moot.

Wally #2 - Ramos for Ellsbury would be a good exchange but I think the Red Sox are holding onto him. Cameron and Drew come off the books after next year. Reddick looks like he might never stick and they traded their next best OF. If they let go of Ellsbury it's just Kalish. Not that they can't fill an OF hole, though.

Bill - Werth isn't less of a player than Dunn. (It was an overpay though). I wouldn't pay 10 million for Pena but I'm not against pretty much any one year deal. It's one year. Will the Werth deal kill the Nats like A-rod? Well that was a bigger deal in a time of lower payrolls but if the Lerner's don't open up the purse strings it could. Remember though that the payroll was only 60 million last year -Dunn +Werth only brings it to 68 mill. There's still plenty of room for growth. PLENTY. Enough to make up for Werth if he fails.

Wally said...

Harper - pretty sure payroll was $60m with Dunn and Guzzie, so there is actually a net savings if they only add Werth. Of course, Zim and Hammer get step ups, but right now they are slightly over $60m for 2011, I think. Plenty, plenty o' room for more.

Here is my litmus test - if the Nats starting 8 is good enough that Bernie and Morse are bench guys, that is a pretty good lineup. If Bernie and Morse are starters, especially both of them and especially if they are full timers, that is a weak lineup