Nationals Baseball: The Dog Days of Winter

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Dog Days of Winter

Pickings are slim this time of year. Do you really want to read another "Just waiting on LaRoche" article? Here is Boz's Q&A and some points I thought were interesting.
Revere has been a terror in the minors, hitting .326 at all stops, but he has now had MORE than 1,000 plate appearances in the majors. That is a LOT. He's not raw. He has 0 homers (!) and an OPS 100 points lower than Span. No reason, at this point, that at 25, he's suddenly going to hit in MLB the way he did in the minors
Ian Desmond had 1302 PAs before last year. Then last year, at 26, he hit in the MLB the way he did in the minors (some of the time). I'm not saying Boz is completely wrong here. The better bet is on it not happening. But you can't dismiss the possibility that someone gets it at a decently young age, after a couple of poor years in the majors, especially when he's moving to a more hitter friendly ballpark and especially especially WHEN YOU SAW IT HAPPEN IN FRONT OF YOU IN A SEASON THAT ENDED 2 MONTHS AGO.

Overall getting Revere is the better play, but for the Nats specifically, a team wanting to win in 2013 and with a potential CF in the minors, Span makes more sense.
Look at LaRoche's 10 "most comparable" players at age 33. Plenty were useful at 33. But, of the 10, only Joe Adcock was good enough at 33-34-35 to be worth the kind of 3-yr deal LaRoche would want in B'more.  
Fed Baseball looked at this a bit and found that Boz wasn't that far off. Most of those guys did peter out quickly.  Here's the thing.  I'd argue that 7 of those 10 guys had one of their least productive (if not flat out worst) seasons at age 32.  Adam had one of his best. You can't look at the totality alone.  Recency counts.  Out of the remaining 3 you have to dismiss Wally Post, who was an injury issue since age 28 and retired with presumably another injury riddled season at age 33.  The other two are Joe Adcock and JT Snow who both had good seasons at least through age 36.  Rather than work against him, I'd say the comparables work for Adam.
(They did the decent thing letting Lannan free.)
I've read this, or stuff like it, in other places and it's complete and utter nonsense.Rizzo isn't Gandhi for not keeping Lannan around, ok?  Lannan had a contract they considered way too expensive and this year, as opposed to last year, they have more confidence in their rotation to give them the innings they need. Last year circumstances and a dull trade market made the decision for them. This isn't about honor. For god's sake you just said they cut Gorzo to save 3 million bucks even though he'd be useful. You think they want to spend 5+ million on Lannan but set him free so he could find success elsewhere? Honestly?
Morse is consistently underrated as a hitter. In 1246 at bats as a Nat his slash line is .294/.343/.514 or an .857 OPS. That can bat cleanup, or certainly fifth, in almost any lineup. The guy is a Beast. No, Nats offense wouldn't suffer much, or at all, with Morse, not LaRoche.
I wouldn't call Morse a "Beast" and I wouldn't personally expect that slash line, but he's completely right that the Nats offense won't suffer much if LaRoche comes back.  Right now, with LaRoche at first I think the Nats have improved a couple games with their moves. If it's Morse at first maybe one game. There's only so much you can do to improve when you've won 98 games. Not signing LaRoche, by sticking to a 2 year deal, will not be a tragedy.
Plus it gives the Nats something interesting in the next offseason.  Imagine, LaRoche resigns and one young pitcher develops enough to look deserving at a shot at the 5th spot in the rotation. A Gorzo type move would be the HIGHLIGHT of next offseason then. That's good for the team, bad for guys like me. Let LaRoche walk - then you have all sorts of interesting possibilities. Resign Morse? Let Rendon play 1st? Moore? FA? Trade Espy for a 1B, let Rendon play 2nd?  That's a lot more fun. 


cass said...

It's amazing how different this offseason is from previous offseasons. All the fun used to be in hoping that things could be different, wondering if the Nats could make some moves or if prospects could develop in the AFL. Now, the Nats are one of the best teams in baseball and largely all under contract for a couple more years. All the fun is in the regular season.

Assembling the team is no longer the important part. The team is here. The important part is how the team actually plays on the field. How many wins they get. How they do in the post season.

It's striking just how different this feels. It used to be that the regular season wasn't really important. We knew the Nats wouldn't make the playoffs on Opening Day and the games, by and large, didn't really matter. All that mattered during the regular season was how players developed. The L's and W's were meaningless. Now they are everything.

DezoPenguin said...

And I, for one, embrace this change!

Harper said...

This isn't just a different offseason in comparison to the Nats ones of the past is pretty rare in general. They had their couple important but not critical moves this year and could really have NOTHING to do next season. That's odd even for good teams.

Matt said...

Harper - nice article. That said, if we're going to adjust our expectations for LaRoche's based on his recent performance, I also don't think you can ignore his 2011 (as you did). Yeah, it was due to injury, but it still makes me a little more cautious about him going forward.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but what possible fifth fifth starter would develop, other than maybe Garcia? Even if LaRoche resigns, Rendon also might develop enough to force a decision on Espy next offseason, as well.

BlueLoneWolf said...

Tempered enthusiasm all around. I just think that trading away Morse wouldn't be a good idea because while Beast wasn't full on Beast mode last year, we don't really have that many ~.300 hitters with as good a pop as he's got, and maybe without all the hand injuries he returns to 2011 Morse. Of course, that means losing LaRoche because of positional locations. Unless you're trading Morse away for someone or something that replicates his bat somewhere else, I think it's a bad proposition. I also don't think it's a great idea to give a 3 year deal to LaRoche when Rendon might get stuck at first because, face it, Zimmerman's at 3rd until he doesn't want to be there. Right now the best move might be to cut bait on LaRoche, which is kinda sad, but such is the way business goes. Unless you can flip Morse for something that would give us better production than what we've got elsewhere (which I doubt you could, no one would trade him for an upgrade at 2B or 1B (If he or LaRoche or both leave in one way or another), it's probably better to keep him.

But that's just my opinion. When this is the kind of thing you're worrying about, and not like 'Who's going to start opening day' or 'What's the status of 1-5 on our rotation' or 'How come our total payroll's at like $800,000? Should we expect to win even 40 games this year?', then you can't really complain.

blovy8 said...

The biggest worry is going to be whether they are able/how much it will cost to lock up their young players. They would need to set a record to keep Strasburg, just like they did in the draft.

Anonymous said...

I think the Dodgers are the ones to worry about. They're scary. I think it's ok if LaRoche leaves. Morse can hit and played an above average first base two years ago. Plus without a great September LaRoche wouldn't had a very good year. He's very streaky. Also, IF Rendon stays healthy (and that is a big if) he plays second - not first or third. He doesn't have enough power for a corner spot.

My two cents. Thanks.

Dr Trea (formerly #werthquake) said...

I wouldn't say Morse played above average D. And btw, does anyone think Rizzo is already going through possibilities for how much it'll take to extend Stras and (to a lesser degree since he's further from free agency) Harper? It would suck to see them leave one day dominating for some other team...

BlueLoneWolf said...

Breaking: Don't have to worry about Hamilton in the NL, let alone with the Phils in the NL East. He just went to the Angels

Donald said...

@BLW -- that might not bode well for the Nats retaining ALR. Zuckerman has an article saying that if Texas doesn't keep Hamilton, then they may turn to Adam.

BlueLoneWolf said...

@Donald: Personally I think it was probably better for him personally to be in Texas rather than LA, but hey, that's the life move he wants to make. Might have to lock him indoors for his own good in a city like LA, though.

As for losing LaRoche, yeah, that'd be a bummer, but at least this move will force some action one way or another rather than sitting on our hands. I'd PREFER to keep him, but on the two year deal that Rizzo wants rather than a three year. He might be afraid for a year rental then a flip in the next year. Two year with a mutual option and a partial to full no-trade clause?

Anonymous said...

Espy is due for his breakout season like desmond had this year so he will not be traded next offseason if he does have a desmond season. He also is pretty much a gold glover at second

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