Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - the Haren the Hound

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday Quickie - the Haren the Hound

Dan Haren is off to LA. Good for him. The Nats really couldn't re-sign him even if his 2nd half was decent. Bad contracts are like bad relationships. You get a pass on it once, but if you go back to him/her and it's bad again your friends start thinking "well you brought it on yourself". With a contract you get a pass on an injury riddled under-expectation season as part of the game. Bring him back and he fails again, fans start thinking "this GM doesn't know what he's doing, does he"?

Its been a quiet month for the Nats. Promotions and Minor league signings have been pretty much it.  And that's ok. Rizzo doesn't usually move a light speed. I can't think of any big pre-Thanksgiving moves. The Span trade (Nov 29th) was the earliest that I see. Haren and Werth were both signed in the first week in December. Gio deal was near Christmas. LaRoche - Jan 7th then the 8th. Soriano was signed mid January, about when Morse was traded in his time frame. Edwin Jackson - February. Honestly signing Chein-Ming Wang might be his biggest move before the holiday season starts.

While no news isn't good news, it's expected news. Just the way Rizzo seems to operate and honestly what has it cost him? Not much.

Anything else we should remember about Rizzo?

He's loathe to give out extra years for the sake of signing someone (Werth excluded). FA pitching signings (Jackson, Haren) were both one year dealies. Didn't want to give LaRoche a third year when that would have cleared up 1st base super early in the FA process. Didn't give in to Prince's demands. What it could mean: Moves might be late in the contract period where he can get a deal. (Burnett for a year + option?) Expect him to stick to his evaluation on any FA signings. Which in my mind makes the Cano dream unlikely, also makes guys looking to be overpaid like Choo & Ellsbury very unlikely for whatever crazy "he moves here" domino game you had in mind. Hasn't yet given a long term pitching deal out so guys like Jimenez, Santana, Garza are extremely unlikely unless they fall into that deal zone mentioned above.

He has been willing to deal. Dealt for Gio and Span giving up decent prospects to begin with. That's a good sign now that the minors have a few decent arms that could bring something back. The Gio deal wasn't with his guys, though, nor top-notch propects either. The Span deal wasn't a slam dunk win. And while the minors have a few decent arms, that's pretty much all it has so to deal means to empty out the minors again. Will it make him gun-shy on another deal? Might not know for a couple years because one deal-less off season isn't exactly telling. What it could mean: SP trade could be coming. Don't give up on the Price dream just yet. However don't bet on it because that is really a minor league system dumping for the Nats. Scherzer, if still on the market might be more possible. Are there any dark horse candidates? Yovani Gallardo. If the Brewers realize they aren't winning now he sort of fits what the Nats like. Jhoulys Chacin is also an interesting case. Gio like contract left, but not as good a pitcher so potentially not as costly a deal.

He can surprise you. Signed Soriano to "strengthen a strength".  You can say it didn't work out or you can imagine if Storen pitched the same way and Soriano wasn't here. So what kind of similar move could he make? What it could mean :  I don't see a big splash deal, just because I don't see any of the BIGGEST position player names falling into 2-3 year contract territory like Soriano did as a closer. But if people shy away from a Nelson Cruz? Or if Granderson finds himself with no home and it's closing in on February? With a deep middle in the class, I could see him making a deal for an OF and letting Matt Williams figure out how to use that talent.


Chas R said...

Harper, so it looks as though you feel Rizzo would deal just to make a good deal, rather than stick with the obvious priorities that need to be addressed- lefty reliever, bench augmentation, etc.-?

Given that, I have seen reports that they are shopping around Desmond and Span, among others. That just doesn't make sense to me if you have a team that built to win today.

Donald said...

I suspect if there are any big moves, it'll be for pitching. I think Rizzo is comfortable enough with the position players that he doesn't see huge upgrades out there that are worth trading for. For example, he might be able to get a better hitter than Span but how much better to justify losing the prospects, especially with a couple young guys in the wings. Cano would certainly be the one significant upgrade he could make, but the asking price is way too high and it would piss of Boras.

@Chaz -- I could be wrong but I'd be really surprised if they were shopping Desmond. If he left, it would create a huge hole that isn't easily filled -- there just aren't very many good SS out there right now. I'm not saying he wouldn't trade Desmond under the right conditions, but I don't see him actively looking for that.

Harper said...

Chaz R - Well I wouldn't bet on something like that, but I don't think he'll pass up a good deal if it's there and it's not totally unworkable and I don't think he'll force something that may not happen. Look for the bench to get better because he can do that no question, but lefty relievers might go elsewhere and he might stick with Krol and someone internal (Cedeno?)

Can't see them shopping Desmond unless they are getting back a whole hell of a lot. You can lose a Span and still be good - have to have right plan in place though.

Donald - Agree - I think Rizzo thinks "sign hitting, trade for pitching" which isn't a bad idea given the usual age of FA pitchers puts them in a danger zone.

Anonymous said...

On your thought on adding another outfielder for a deal. Wasn't part of the Morse deal based on the the "amount of playing time"? The fact both of those guys are better than Morse aside, wouldn't the idea of adding a Granderson or Cruz be the opposite of the logic in the Morse deal.

Matt said...

I think the only sense that a quiet start to the offseason is bad news for the Nats is that the Cards just got better with the the Peralta signing. I would have picked them as the best team in the NL beforehand anyways off the cuff (which lines up with the Fangraphs projections). Obviously the Cards aren't the only competition for the Nats, but as they get better the road to the WS for the Nats only gets harder.

And, while I'm complaining, the draft pick that Atlanta is going to get from the Yankees for McCann was towards the better end of what they could have gotten. Not the end of the world and nothing Rizzo could ave done about that, but still not great news for the long term.

Zimmerman11 said...

I saw the Desmond thing mentioned on ESPN. He's the last Expo, I will be very sore if he goes. I mean, he's a top 2 SS by WAR according to FanGraphs. What can you trade for that would be worth that?!?!

blovy8 said...

Since Rizzo doesn't dismiss the idea of Detwiler or Solis being in the bullpen, it kind of tells you that he's not very serious about making a top bid on a left-handed reliever. There's no need to be cagey in negotiations with these relievers, because they get their piece of the TV bonanza money one way or another. I'd be very surprised if he went two years for anyone available again, unless a trade depleted some depth.

Already, we're seeing some of the better bench options go to places where they have more of a chance to start, again, unless a trade happens, it's hard to see a splashy free agent upgrade coming.
The time where Rizzo would be willing to take on a SP re-establishing value is probably past given the options out there. I agree that a trade for a controllable, higher ceiling starting pitcher is the likely scenario, but if the analysis is that Jordan or Roark's numbers are close to sustainable, it's complicated. If I'm trying to figure it out, and I expect 90 or so starts from the Strasburg/Gio/Zimmermann trio, I need 70 starts from the rest of my club. The depth of Detwiler/Jordan/Roark/Davis/Ohlendorf is acceptable only if you believe Detwiler is capable of pitching as a starter for most of a full season. He's only really done that once.

Harper said...

Anon - Yes. And I am just guessing here. I do think there are a couple differences (1) LaRoche's time may be limited in a way they didn't consider going into 2013 (2) there may be worries about Bryce's playing time that there weren't to begin 2013. (3) Rather than a demotion, which it would have been for Morse, whoever is brought in would be brought in with the idea you may not play everyday.

Matt - the Peralta thing does suck, but worrying about a playoff opponent is not worth the trouble. A lot of time between then and now. As long as the Nats improve more than the Braves I consider the offseason a success. (I also don't worry about draft picks that aren't in the Top 3)

Z11 - Price plus something. Some other young pitcher with a lot of time left. Bumgarner? (wouldn't do that if I were the Giants though). Something inbetween that. Short of it - you're right, not really a lot you can deal for if you expect Ian to play like the last 2 years.

blovy8 - I think it's a little bit contract play (you're right cageyness doesn't matter to this bunch as someone will sign them) but more a laying out Plan B for the fans in case they can't sign someone. Everyone wants lefties. Not everyone can have them. Nats may give a true effort and end up empty handed.

short on the 2nd paragraph - agree. Risky to sign if you like your guys but riskier not to given your guys have no favorable history

blovy8 said...

Here are the viable free agent LH or switch hitters I could find, taking out the middle infielders. Would you expect them to fit the Tracy role as it stands? Keeping in mind that David Murphy just got 2/12, and Chris Young got 1/7.2 deals:

Beltran - be serious
Kendry Morales - wants and will likely get 5 million more a year than his apparent value.
Saltalamacchia - starting someplace
Pierzynski - same as above, but in a more annoying way with equal spelling issues
James Loney - will start too, but not as powerfully, although I guess he'll be sort of cheapish and wouldn't be awful if he could play OF.
Nate McLouth - may get a platoon job, kind of overrated although admittedly faster
Dioner Navarro - coming off a flukey looking year, probably in this catchers' market will get starter's money, if he falls to Soto rate, maybe Rizzo likes him
Eric Chavez - if he could play OF or cost less, yeah, but will be primary 3B in a platoon for some smart team with a backup plan
Kelly Johnson - has a reasonable shot at being average and would kinda fit, but I would assume he'd get starter dough too, and he became a Diamondback too late. Would upgrade and make Lombo expendable for extra $, don't really see it, unless there's a trade, but he does have more pop.
Justin Morneau - might still rate a starting gig, figures to be LaRoche lite.
Raul Ibanez - was past playing the field, but he has hit some big homers against us and seems to have enough left to start at DH somwhere
Jason Kubel - could be a bounceback sort of guy, but I doubt he'd want to be a bench player, can't field, and wasn't a dback until too late.
Casey Kotchman - weak power, not really suitable
Luke Scott - injury-prone, and the kind of jerk who TB or Oakland will sign and get something useful out of
Wilson Betemit - yeah, it could happen but why?
Jerry Hairston - One brother isn't enough? Not really the power guy you'd want.
Travis Hafner -can't even walk on the field without getting hurt
Lyle Overbay - maybe a minor league deal, but not exciting at all and not really versatile though the Yanks really tried
Grady Sizemore - does he have enough of his original parts left? He makes Detwiler look like Cal Ripken.
Chris Dickerson - not really better than Corey Brown
Juan Pierre - no longer even as useful as Eury Perez
Andres Torres - Ponce de Leon is no longer available in syringe form.
Koyie Hill - um, is he still playing? Carpenter would like saying his name, that's about it.
Hector Gimenez - backup left handed C but that hasn't mattered since he's been a AAAA guy, but hey, he's Venezuelan so there's a chance he has forgettable atbats here.