Nationals Baseball: Some notes from yesterday's presser

Friday, January 08, 2016

Some notes from yesterday's presser

That's what they call it in the biz. Pressers.

"When the lights are bright, this guy seems to put his best at bat"

The Post focused on Murphy's K-rate which was a MLB low 7.1% last year. Even if we buy the connection - there are two follow-up questions, is a low K-rate necessarily good and can Murphy keep up this low K-rate.

To answer the first...  eh. The next lower K-rate for a batter was held by Andrelton Simmons who was awful. After that though came Buster Posey, Michael Brantley, and Jose Altruve. So I looked at the past five years and found... nothing conclusive. Not striking out, even at an extreme level doesn't really seem to help you out.

Can he keep it up? As far as the K-rate goes I'd guess no. He pretty much was a 13.5% guy from 2012-2014. But I'm not sure that means anything either. Last year was an odd year for Murphy. He dropped his K-rate and his BB-rate dropped too. That's not unexpected assuming you think he's trying to put the ball in play more. However he bumped his power up, which is a bit strange. Well maybe he was hitting the ball harder? Well at the same time though his BABIP dropped considerably from past years. And let's not forget he became a much stronger pull hitter. Put it all together and you have a year that gets Murphy results but in a way he never got it before.

If you're asking me if he can keep up production. I would bet on Murphy not walking and not striking out. I'd bet on him hitting around .285 with 15 homers. However I don't know exactly how he'll do it. So if you're asking me if he can be that tough to strike out again, I guess I'd say no.

Oh, but what if we don't buy the connection in the article. What if we take it to mean hitting well in big spots. We all know he killed it in the playoffs... until he didn't.  When the bright lights were brightest - the World Series - he actually hit only .150 / .320 / .150.  Ouch. But before that he was a golden God and he overall had a great post-season.

Career wise it's a mixed bag. Late & Close - terrible. High Leverage - meh. 2 outs, RISP - great! There isn't any pattern here (which is what we usually expect to see - no pattern).

Basically if you take the comment to be he'll do well in big spots... I don't see how you can believe that. He'll do as he does. Fine.

"I’m most comfortable with, whichever one they plug me in that day, that’s my favorite position"

Nice to say but probably not true. He hasn't played a ton of innings anywhere outside of 2nd since 2011 so we can't say anything with a lot of confidence but it does seem he is not comfortable at all at 2nd. His range looks bad no matter which defensive measure you like and he makes a ton of errors. He seems a bit less error prone at 3rd base (and possibly ok in the OF but that's been years) so he's probably most comforatble there, despite what he likes to say.  Of course he did get better it appears at 2nd but it's still not good and he's not getting younger.

I can't actually put down the quote. Maybe he really doesn't care. However, there's a good chance he should be playing 3rd. 

Boswell : Rizzo believes he completed the last essential part of the Nats’ offseason

I'm not sure that's true. Rizzo will say whatever he feels like is the best thing to say at the time. At best, I can take it to be 90% true. As Boswell writes - they got their pen arms. They got their lefty bat. They don't have any obvious holes to fill from a departing player from last year. They could go out there as is. What's the 10% then? Trading Storen. That has to happen and don't tell me it doesn't.  Papelbon we'll get to in a second, but Storen has to go. Boswell also catches the important caveat to what he's saying. The Nats don't have to act but can. They can fiddle for a new pitcher or another OF or something else.

Now personally I think they Nats still NEED to do more. There's that Storen piece and I'd argue given the injury history of this Nats team (Murphy missed 20 games 2 years ago 30 games last year) the Nats need another playable bat and preferably one in the OF since we don't know if MAT will turn the corner. But this is me. I can see Boz's take on what Rizzo's is saying here. I just hope it's not actually the truth of Rizzo's opinion.

“And I’ve talked to Pap.”... According to one person present, Rizzo spread his arms, looked to the heavens and said, “Thank you!”

Papelbon will be here next year. I've been saying this for a while. The Nats put themselves in a terrible spot where they have two guys on the team they don't really want and can't feel secure about. Given Storen's reaction again to pitching in the 8th, you can't keep both. But given you didn't trust him enough that you brought in a "real closer" twice now, you can't trade Papelbon and keep Storen. But given Papelbon choked Bryce, you can't keep Papelbon and trade Storen. But given Storen's reaction again to pitching the 8th...

The way out of this endless circle* is if you CAN keep Papelbon and trade Storen because Bryce says you can.  Short leash on Pap, no tolerance, and making it clear that he's only here on Bryce's good graces, but it can work. And that's what I think will happen unless someone makes a great offer for the guy.

*or trading both but then you have to bring in someone else completely reliable - tough to do. 


Chas R said...

Yup, I tend to agree with you Harper. I think Rizzo is done unless some great team friendly deal falls in his lap (which may happen given the likely tumbling value of the last FAs). Which is unfortunate given the big question mark with MAT and OF depth. I guess once again TMo survives to play another season.

The Pap-Storen debacle is quite a mess. I can only think if it doesn't somehoe work out; either with one or both of them traded or both prove themselves to be valuable this season should they stay, it will really make Rizzo look bad and likely on the hotseat with the Lerners.

I'm really disappointed with the Nats offseason this year (so far).

Harper said...

Chaz R - If the offseason ended today I'd be shocked that Storen was still here but otherwise I'd be ok. It was ok. They did what they had to do in adding bullpen arms and creating MI depth by signing Murphy and Drew after trading Yuney. They still didn't address potential OF depth issues with injuries and MAT playing as is but as of Day 1 they'd be ok and they'd have Clint in back-up role.

It's fine.. I can't say I'm disappointed, but I'm not enthused. Right now this offseason is saying "We're good. We had some missteps but we can still take the East pretty much as is". That's true but it's also had a 50% success rate

Rob said...

I understand from a baseball perspective why they need to keep Pap. As a fan I hope they can move past it and win. As a person, I hope the bum implodes and is gone before the trade deadline.

Anonymous said...

They have a lineup, rotation, and bullpen as currently constructed that can win the NL East (I suspect the projection systems like our chances better than the Mets' chances as currently constructed, although the difference is probably small). In that sense, the offseason has been ok.

Putting aside the back of the bullpen, two things worry me most* about the team. Injury/performance decline to Werth and MAT's performance. Both players are riskier than the average player (perhaps much riskier), and the team ought to do something to insure against that risk. Zim is risky in the same way as Werth, but Clint Robinson seems like decent (and very cheap) insurance against that risk, so I don't believe much more needs to be done there. What's nice is that the SAME player can serve as insurance against the risks presented by BOTH Werth and MAT. Simply put, we need another outfielder that's better than Den Dekkar. In an ideal world he would hit left handed and be able to play CF, but both of those things aren't absolutely necessary (Bryce can and should be able to slide to CF if Taylor needs to sit). Parra would be ok, but I don't really want to see him in CF much if it comes to that. Blackmon in COL is a good target if we don't have to give up too much. A Blackmon/MAT platoon is appealing to me. But I think this is a significant enough need that the Nats should be willing to give up something of value for the right player.

*Actually what worries me most are injuries to the most important players - Harper, Rendon, Scherzer, and Strasburg - but this is the greatest worry everyone has about all teams.

Chas R said... (Christina Kahrl) this morning predicts BRYCE to win the Triple Crown and second MVP.

I guess that means he's now cursed to be injured this season.

Kenny B. said...

I have this gut feeling that the offseason moves have been pretty subtle this year to keep the door open for adding money in-season. If they're prepared to add money in-season, this is a smart strategy. Wait to see if your core guys can stay healthy enough to keep you in it for one more year, and if you're still hanging around, make your flashy move at the deadline. This is more or less what the Mets did last year to good effect. I get this sense like Rizzo went to the Lerners and said, "guys, I need more flexibility to make a splash during the season if we're going to get over the hump," and they said, "okay maybe, but don't go hog wild in the offseason."

If they are *actually* willing to make a big acquisition mid-season, this is a good way to see whether your core guys have another year of contention left, or whether you need a big sell off to prepare to build around mega-Bryce of the future.

Donald said...

I agree that they are probably stuck with Papelbon, though my dream would be that they trade him to the Red Sox who probably feel pressure to keep up with the Yankees. That would put Pabelbon behind Kimbrel. Not sure if Boston is on his no-trade list but would be funny to see him pushed out of his closer role.

Harper said...

Rob - that pretty much sums up how I feel too. Reminds me of Clemens on the Yanks, praying for 12-11 wins.

Anon - Feel the same way although I think Parra would be good (well for 2016 - I really wonder about him in any year after that) If they stop here they are basically saying "There was nothing wrong with last year's plan. And I think we can all say that there kind of was"

Chaz R - Bryce is BRYCE now curses mean nothing to him.

Kenny B - I said something similar a while back. Even if it isn't true the Nats should SAY that they are adjusting their budget for in-season acquistions. They won't have angry fans that they aren't spending money now and there's a chance you won't even have to spend it later (if team flails). But I'd buy it, along with every other Nats fan. "We built similar team but left room to improve it"? Love it. Roll with it.

Donald - That's my dream too although it also includes him then choking Betts in one hand and Bogaerts in the other and they both demand trades.

sirc said...

I view the Murphy signing as Ian's replacement in the lineup. I'd rather have Murphy than Ian.

Zimmerman11 said...

"'then choking Betts in one hand and Bogaerts in the other and they both demand trades."

And THAT ladies and gentlemen, is why I love this blog. Thanks for making me chortle, Haper.

Froggy said...

So what are the gangs thoughts on the Revere for Storen-ish trade scuttlebutt? Seems we get a genuine leadoff hitter who plays 'below average to awful' defense.


Flapjack said...

Maybe we platoon him with MAT. Or maybe MAT has a special spring training and relegates Revere to 4th OF. The bad news is that Revere is a step down from Span (whose loss last year may have been the club's costliest injury). The good news is that the deal gives MAT room to excel -- if he can -- something that would have been less likely had the Nats signed, say, Heyward.

Getting Revere for Storen, the drama queen, ain't bad. It's especially good for Storen, who (assuming he pitches to form) stands to get a bigger deal next year unencumbered by a QO. I can't imagine den Decker is doing back flips.

It does look like Rizzo is pretty much done for the year.

Anonymous said...

Revere is a good get if used properly. MAT should be the CF starter and given a reasonable length leash. If he stinks, Revere is a nice option to have to take over. With Dusty at the helm, though, I worry that Revere is already penciled in at leadoff and CF. This is not a terrible result, but the team is best if MAT plays well. His ceiling is much higher than Revere's. In any event, I like the move - fills a real need.

Anagramsci said...

In my opinion, this is probably worse than getting nothing for Storen (who certainly had to go). Ben Revere seems like he was grown in a lab by a cabal of sabermetricians intent on proving once and for all that you can hit .300 and still be a worthless offensive player (with bad defense thrown in for effect)

Anonymous said...

At some point in 2016, the lineup will include Revere, Turner, and MAT at the same time. That is an insane amount of speed.

Fries said...

I like the Revere move. He's a good, not great player, that is going to be here for two years tops while MAT polishes his rough edges. I love MAT's potential, but he's not ready to be in the starting lineup in my book. Revere has consistently improved over his career and at age 27 he could still potentially improve a little more, not to mention he swipes bases A LOT, which this team is subpar at.

Storen needed to go, there was no future for him here. I love the guy, but as soon as Pap was brought in we all knew Storen was gone. I wish him the best of luck in the Great White North. Now if we could only dump Pap...

DezoPenguin said...

Revere...well, if he hits like last year, he'll be useful (.342 OBP plus speed has some measure of value); 2.1 fWAR in 2014, 1.9 last year. He doesn't have the bat for left or the glove for center, but is definitely better than Matt den Dekker as a fourth OF. Plus, he gives a reason to get Moore off the 25-man roster (with Robinson as the 1B/LF/PH guy, Revere as OF4, den Dekker as OF5). He seems a not-unreasonable fallback position for hurt/aged Werth or non-developing Taylor, like what McLouth was *supposed* to be but with a better track record. The roster is improved with him here, which is a pleasant result when trading away a player who pretty much everyone in the free world knew that the Nats had to get rid of one way or another.

And since the Blue Jays are my favorite AL team, I wish Drew well next year. ^_^

ProphetNat said...

@ Anagramsci - how is a .300 hitter, who doesn't strike out, swipes a ton of bases, has speed, hits leadoff, and is a left-handed bat a "worthless offensive player" for this team? I understand you're trying to make a point, but theres a level of ridiculousness most people try to stay clear of.

Anagramsci said...

Revere has never even broken the 100 OPS+ barrier in a season... that's a terrible person to entrust the leadoff spot to, but of course that's where we're headed...

Anagramsci said...

I live in Toronto (my Nats fandom derives from growing up in Montreal during the Expos' "Team of the 80s" glory years), so I'll be very interested to see if Storen can get himself into a better frame of mind up here. One good thing about the Revere acquisition, as DezoPenguin points out, hopefully it gets rid of Tyler Moore once and for all. I have no problem with Revere as a 4th/5th OF who bats low in the order when he plays - but that's obviously not how Dusty is going to use him

Chas R said...

This looks like a great low cost move. Revere is a cheap, fast, contact guy. Put him with Murphy and Rendon at the lineup and you have some very nice table setters for The BRYCE. Yes, Revere's defense is not good, but we have MAT as a defensive replacement. I suspect MAT will get a lot of playing time to polish his skills and work on that K rate.

Froggy said...

Then there is the below the radar move of hiring Dan Jennings as a front office special assistant to Rizzo. I know everyone is focused on player acquisitions and trades as the metric for off season success, but as equally important are the reformations of EVERYTHING behind the scenes from manager, coaches, medical / training staff, and conditioning philosophy to now front office.

For first time since the Scherzer deal I feel pretty optimistic about things.

Now go get CarGo or Blackmon!

Donald said...

Harper -- who says no to a trade of Gio Gonzalez for Andrew Miller? Any chance it happens?

von_bluff said...

I like the idea of having a 3-man rotation in LF-CF, Werth is too old to be playing everyday and should be subbed late it games for defensive purposes. Sit MAT against tough righties, sit Revere vs. lefties, spell Werth for x at-bats, and a relatively even amount of PAs could be divided up. Decent move.

(Still like Storen but he had to go following Paps trade. Put me firmly on the side of "should've been given one more shot in playoffs")

John C. said...

Anagramski, SLG (and so, OPS and OPS+) will always underestimate singles hitters with speed, because their stolen bases turn singles into doubles and triples. As a leadoff hitter, Revere's job would be to get on base and run. Even sabermetric analysts recognize that SLG in a leadoff hitter isn't a primary need.

Now frankly, I'd like someone who is better than more or less league average at getting on base in the leadoff spot - but Revere isn't likely to be a flaming disaster there (looking at you, Nyjer Morgan).

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