Nationals Baseball: December 2017

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Adam Lind is Dead. Love Live Matt Adams

The Nats are successfully recreating their team from the end of 2017. Kintzler is back meaning the 7-8-9 from the pen is returning. And now Matt Adams has come in and replaced Adam Lind as the first big lefty bat off the bench.

Who is Matt Adams?  Short answer is he's a lefty first baseman who has hit well but can't hit LHP, who isn't well regarded in the field. He's had been relegated to back-up play for most of the past few years but an injury to Freddie Freeman opened up full time work. The 131 games he played last year being the second most of his career. If this sounds familiar it's because Adam Lind was a lefty first baseman who had hit well but couldn't hit LHP, who wasn't well regarded in the field and had been relegated to back-up play for some of the past few years.

There's a general sense that Matt Adams is a better fielder than Lind was. There's also a general feeling that Lind is more of a professional hitter, more likely to work a walk or put the ball in play than Adams is. But these are niggling things. For a back-up/platoon 1B Adams should be every bit as good as Lind. Both these guys are worthy starters vs RHP and are great bench players.

The Nats won 97 games last year and while part of that was the NL East, a lot of that was a roster that was arguably at it's peak at the end of the year. So recreating it isn't the worst idea. Is it enough? Well it wasn't last year but if you aren't for going "ALL IN" for the sake of trying everything, I don't see how you can ask for more than what they are doing now. Get a Stephen Drew replacement and a cheap but ok 5th starter and you'd have to expect another 90+ win season, NL East title, and crack at breaking through. (barring injuries/surprises) of course

In other news - Tommy Milone is back. You may remember him as one of the "Gio 4" sent to Oakland for Gonzalez. Milone stands now as the 2nd most successful of the bunch, three of which turned into useful players.* Milone had a handful of decent seasons filling the back of the rotation for the A's and Twins. However he's been terrible the past two years and there isn't much for him to fall back on. He doesn't have strikeout stuff and is not a master of control. His "success" came from being not particularly bad at any specific things. That's a tightrope walk that can't be maintained and it wasn't. He's organizational filler and nothing more. 

*Derek Norris was a legit good C for a few seasons before suddenly crashing. Brad Peacock struggled to find himself until 2016 when he emerged as a valuable swingman / spot starter for the Astros. The fourth man the Nats brought back very quickly and has not made a name for himself, Mr. Alan Jervicious Cole (may not be his real name).  Still he was the youngest of the bunch and almost was useful last year. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Nats spin their wheels, so far, and it's ok, so far.

The Winter meetings ended and the Nats took their Brandon Kintzler and went home without anything else. That's not troubling just something to note.

The Nats did have news but of the off-season talk kind. You had future contract news, like how the Nats (and other teams) are set up for the big Bryce deal, and how Rendon would be perfectly fine staying with the Nats*. You had injury news Max saying he's fine and Murphy not committing to any time table for his return basically telling you Opening Day is in question. (As we all kind of assumed). The most recent news on any of this is the Dodgers clearing cap space - in theory they could use it for a bid on one of the Bryce/Machado duo, but I think it's just setting up the payroll for the assumed Kershaw opt-out re-sign. 

You also had Strasburg blame the ASG for his injury because Strasburg is in fact the fragile-minded routine obsessed player everyone thinks he is. I thought about it again over the weekend but we really just dropped the Game 4 story after it happened didn't we? I mean the crazy Game 5 and then Dusty's firing took away a lot of interest, but it seems like we have decided to never speak of the whole early announcement of who's pitching, Strasburg sick, did he throw?, is it mold???, he's suddenly healthy! thing again. I mean... ok? You want to take the team's take "It's just a miscommunication! Dusty's fault" and move on? That's fine, I guess. Me - it never made sense to me in general, nor is it the simplest explanation given what we knew at the time, so I'm not going to buy it. I think Strasburg begging off because he wasn't able to throw to his routine (because he was sick earlier) made the most sense and this ASG thing just is another factoid that backs that up. But you keep him around because... well now because they have him under contract, but even then because he's a great pitcher when he's healthy and in his routine. And because now he's proven he will start in the playoffs when he may not want to and what more do you want? Less complaining? Ok sure but in the end that doesn't really matter to the Ws and Ls

As far as National League teams go the Cubs have had a fruitful couple of weeks as we talked about before grabbing two relievers and two starters for not that much money all who could be good next year. They also might not (well except Cishek who's pretty reliable) but if they come up with two very good years out of the four it'll be a win. The Rockies built up their pen as well to replace Greg Holland. The Cardinals, on the outside looking in last year, added a pen arm and more importantly a minor star in Marcell Ozuna that puts them that much closer to being a playoff team again.

But that's not the East. In the East the Marlins have become a 100 loss team, the Braves have committed to doing not much being the Dodgers salary dump partners, and the Mets have barely moved the needle signing one decent reliever, matching the Nats true but starting from a position about 10 games worse.  The team that made news in the East were the Phillies who paid too much for Carlos Santana while shipping off Freddy Galvis to San Diego. The Galvis trade makes sense. First, he's not all that good. Second, they want to see what the underwhelming but still touted, JP Crawford can do. Third, it helps payroll wise. You see, the Phillies can afford to overpay for a guy like Santana. Even though Santana will add 20 million to the payroll, they still will be around 60 million in payroll (this includes Neshek and Hunter shoring up the pen). Galvis was going to be the highest paid player at ~7.5 million so they save that. Right now they could add 80 million in salary... and only get to about the MLB median. They have a ton of room to play with. They aren't lined up to be winners in 2018 but make a play for an Arrieta and sign a Bryce Harper and suddenly 2019 is a different story. They still have to get some of these young players to become something special but there is a trend here. A willingness to spend that we haven't seen in the Braves, and had to be pulled kicking and screaming out of the Mets.

*He literally said nothing though. The only news that could come out of an ask like this is Rendon saying he desperately wants to stay with the Nats and he'll do anything to work out a deal, or he is probably going to move on. That kind of response never happens. This is nothing more than the usual "I'm open to sticking around if they pay me the right amount" talk which is 100% expected. But still you gotta ask

Friday, December 15, 2017

Last minute gift guide

For the Nats this is easy

A trade for JT Realmuto - The Marlins are having a fire sale but that doesn't mean you can walk into their house and demand they sell you their TV for $5. The Ozuna deal wasn't the best - but it was a haul of prospects that immediately gives depth to the Marlins system, if not a legit PROSPECT type. Like Ozuna, Realmuto is the ideal player for a team rebuilding - young and cheap. But he'll also start costing a bunch more this year as he heads into arbitration and he's marked for FA in 3 more years. The Marlins, if there is any truth to the rebuilding talk, are not planning to be good in that period of time.

So Realmuto should be available but he's going to cost you. However, based on the Ozuna deal I think he can be had with a bunch of younger prospects from the 5-15 of a good system rather than a top prospect. For the Nats that could mean something like Drew Ward, Joan Baez, and Yasel Antuna. Or Daniel Johnson, Luis Garcia & something. Like that. Names you might have heard of, or might not have. Not top guys but a bunch of mid-level guys with youth on their side.

A steal of Jaime Garcia - There's been talk about the Nats going in on Arrieta and trying to tie that to how they got Max when they didn't necessarily need him but that was a different time. The Nats were looking at a future where ZNN and Strasburg were coming up on FA and signing Max gave them the freedom to not feel the need that they had to sign both of them. Today the Nats are still locked into long term deals with Max and Stras, so another high-priced FA pitcher, while it would be great, wouldn't fit the same way.  Instead they need a guy to fill in for Gio as the lefty change of pace after the Nats let him walk. Jaime is not a great pitcher but he can be that.

It takes a little faith to see it, but when you are looking for bargains that's going to be the way. The things you can count on are Jaime Garcia being a GB pitcher (which the Nats prefer) and to not have a HR problem. The things you worry about may be a rising walk rate and the fact he may have settled into a low 4.00s rather than high 3.00s for his base level. But if you believe last year's issues were as much about being moved around 3 times than his pitching, then you might be able to grab him for 2 + a favorable team option and set him in the back of the rotation to eat innings. The injury he recovered from (thoracic outlet) is a worrying one but he does seem to amazingly be back for it (almost to the point where you wonder if it was a misdiagnosis) and again it's by taking these chances that you get your bargains (and your money to sign Rendon long-term).  MLB Trade rumors has him at 2 years 16 million, throw in a team option for a third at say 9 million and you could find yourself set at 1,2,4/5 for three years. Any where in the rotation you are set is a good thing.

What about for us? What about for REAL Christmas? It's 10 days to Christmas so you still have a chance to get some last minute shopping done

Here's some idea of things I like
Anker's Soundcore Bluetooth Speaker - You know what I want out of a Bluetooth speaker? Long time between needed charging and a low price. This succeeds at both. How's it sound? Fine to me, but you know what I don't care about from a speaker? Audio fidelity. Ok is good enough for me since it's generally playing podcasts or baseball games.  (I also like Anker's batteries for car trips and grabbing if going to be away from charging for a while. I have this and something like this the former is probably enough for most unless you need tablet charging mid travel.

Are you a fancy laptop carrying professional that feels your college backpack days should be over (and also don't have enough to carry to justify a backpack).  Well then this might be for you. Timbuk2's Hudson briefcase. I've had it for over a year now and I'm very happy with it as a traveling companion. For a guy who likes to be cheap it's pricey but I needed something that was not only sturdy but looked nice as I occasionally go to places for meetings with people outside my company.  Impressions and all.  I also figured this will probably be my breifcase for a decade or so and other than some wear and tear on the handles it's holding up beautifully. (my last attempt at something like this basically fell apart in a year - I'm not rough, but I'm not gentle either)

I've found this cord keeper useful to keep charging cords from falling to the floor or behind things.  I guess you know if you have that problem or not.

This is my lunch bag. Black. I've had it for... jeez like 5 years? More? Before that one Christmas where it popped up on all the lists and then everyone bought it. Any way 5 years and I don't think about it which is good bc why should I think about a lunch bag? It's pretty spacious, still seems in good condition, and you can throw it in the wash. I wouldn't call it insulating though. It's not like a cold lunch would stay cold for hours. More like better than no insulation. But I haven't tested it or anything.

I like my Bodum tea presses and mugs, but I'm a loose leaf tea drinker. (It's actually cheaper than fancy tea bags per cup, but not cheaper than garbage tea so adjust accordingly) I guess I could tell you I also use it for coffee, but admittedly that's only because I had them for tea first. Most people don't like french presses for coffee since it is a messy cleanup and makes a limited amount.

Oh the iGrill! The iGrill is great! Now I won't say you have to get this but getting a wireless thermometer has helped me immensely. I used to nail my meats about 50% of the time (40% of the time pretty close, 10% of the time not good). Now I nail it all the time. For me part of the issue is my wife likes her stuff cooked well so the margin for error there is smaller but I'm still happy I've gotten it. And at this point I realize I'm basically telling you I like all the fancy things I've gotten for myself over the past decade, probably waiting out for sales, and telling you to buy it now. Eh - your problem not mine.

Waiting for a sale reminds me of something less specific I got on sale - I've found having a packable windbreaker very convenient because oddly enough temperatures don't remain constant during the day. You leave around 6:30 and it's cool and you want a jacket. You come back around 5:00 and it's warm and you no longer want a jacket. It's nice to be able to smush that jacket easily in your bag. The one I got is actually a running jacket and not all that attractive but that's why it was on sale.

Ok that's enough stuff. Feel free to add your own suggestions below - for the Nats or other blog readers.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Kintzler Redux

Busy day so a short one.  The Nats brought back Brandon Kintzler.  That's fine. What I said at the time Nats traded for him still holds true. He's not going to blow things up by giving up big homers. He's not going to shut things down by striking out two in a row. He's gonna come in, get someone to hit a groundball somewhere and if the groundball is not too hard and/or at the right person things will work out.

The Nats IF in uniquely split in that a GB to the left side is great news for the Nats and will almost certainly be and out, while a GB to the right side will be a hit maybe more often then a GB hit to the right side of any other team. So Kintzler isn't the perfect reliever. But a GB reliever is someone you need. You need someone who can induce the big DP or keep the ball in the park.

Would a more dominating reliever have been better. Of course. People talked just a few days ago about "Hey Stanton to the Yankees isn't a guarantee of success you can pitch to these guys and strike them out!" but to do that you need guys that strike out anyone. Kintzler is not one of those guys.

The Nats needed someone in the 7th-8th-9th range to fit Doolittle and Madson into general roles*  We preferred a 9th inning type that would set Doolittle and Madson back and make the bullpen back end as strong as it's been for the Nats. We got a 7th inning type that keeps Doolittle and Madson forward which worked fine to end last year. Check one thing off the off-season list.

 *Not advocating strict "Xth inning guy usage" not expecting "can use at anytime" rather aiming for a compromise of having a general feel when you may come in.  I think that'll work.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Are the Phillies sneaking up?

So deals are coming - not fast and furious - but steady and with a mild sense of anger.  The relief arms are getting the most interest. Pat Neshek is back in Philly and are nearing a deal with Tommy Hunter - taking two of the better RH relief arms off the market.   Another one, Bryan Shaw, is headed to the Rockies. The Nats can wait it out and see what falls into their lap at a discounted price, but much like Blanton, there will be an underlying reason why this was the guy leftover.

The Cubs continue their gambles on guys who could be really good or nothing by picking up Drew Smyly who last threw a pitch in the regular season in 2016. He may not even get on the mound in 2018 making this a play for a cheap arm in 2019.

In the last big news the Yankees traded away Chase Headley to the Padres (who will try to flip him for something better than the gave up) and freed up his salary to let them go after one or two more free agents and stay under the luxury penalty cap. Some people see this as linked the the Orioles potentially offering up Machado in a deal, but it's very unlikely the O's would send Manny to a rival in division (and I kind of doubt the Yankees would trade in Jan for a rent a player they probably plan to pursue in 2019 when they are at the start, not the end of a run)

Most of the above are not surprises as you see good teams maneuvering to stay good or get better. This isn't great for the Nats, who'd rather see teams like the Cubs and Rockies do nothing. More interesting is the Phillies move. Most people think the Phillies are (at least) a year away from relevance but they made plays to shore up the pen. Is this for the future?

The Phillies didn't hit or pitch well last year but they are young.  It's possible their oldest starter will be just 28 next year, so there can fairly be an expectation of improvement. And with a star bat in their line-up, which is what Rhys Hoskins was to end last year, the lineup is... ok. They have a handful of pretty good bats and while they have holes their next set up of bats JP Crawford, Jorge Alfaro, and Scott Kingery slide right into these holes. If these guys are any good they will be a tough out.

The pitching though is where things fall apart right now. While they have a super young staff, they only have one legit starter in Aaron Nola. The other four (currently Velasquez, Lively, Eickhoff, and Pivetta) are fighting over who can fill in spots 2-5 but seem to have 4/5 talent. There isn't anyone on the immediate horizon any better, Sixto Sanchez being no earlier than a 2019 talent.

So these relief moves do look like moves for the future. 2018 will be about finding out which of the young players are real and which ones aren't as a lot get extended second chances. 2019 FA will be about filling up by spending money.At least that's what I think. So the Nats don't have to worry... this year.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Monday Quickie - It begins

The Winter Meetings are now in full swing and we are seeing movement, finally, of real players.How do these effect the Nats?

Stanton to the Yankees 
This has been a garbage story from the beginning but we're going to focus on how it effects the Nats which is - it's good! We joke about the NL East basically being the AFC East, where the Patriots are not only good but get to beat up on three bumpkins every year. But it's got a grain of truth. In this case, Miami is now under leadership who can't afford them meaning Stanton had to go. He could have gone to St. Louis or San Fran but he demanded NY, LA, or Houston and his no-trade meant he could. NY made the best deal shipping out Giancarlo from the NL and making the Nats road that much easier. They should win more games in division, making it easier to get HFA situations in the playoffs, if they make it.

This also (possibly) has the effect of taking the Yankees out of the Bryce Harper sweepstakes. However, I'm not entirely sure I buy that. The Yankees will get under the salary threshold this year, resetting their penalties. Sure they could find themselves over in 2019 and 2020, but quite possibly it could reset again in 2021 because some big contracts come off (maybe Stanton's!) and the rookies will still be a season away from FA contracts. Also Headley, Robertson, and Gardner all become FAs after 2018 and none need to come back saving the Yankees over 35 million in salary right there. I think the biggest impediment to the Yankees and Bryce meeting up isn't Stanton, but Machado, who would fit in perfectly at the hole at 3B.  But if Manny goes somewhere else or if the Yankees just want pure starpower, I think it could still happen.

Cubs sign Brandon Morrow

The Cubs are trying to make up for losing Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis by buying pitchers who may surprise. First was Tyler Chatwood, who was the youngest guy out there and pitched very well outside of Coors (though that means mostly in LA, SD, and SF) and now it's Brandon Morrow a guy who was mediocre in an injury filled 2016 and great last year in LA. This should be worrying to the Nats, not because the Cubs know something about these guys you don't. They are fine and should mostly do the job but nothing more. No, it should worry you because it's setting up the Cubs for buying during next year's potential FA bonanza*. It also forces their rivals into an all or nothing situation. Pay a lot for the Arrieta's or scrape buy with the dregs.

In good news though - the Cubs should be less talented. Now does that translate into fewer wins? I'm not sure - depends on the rest of the central. Also I felt the Cubs underperformed a little in 2016. 

Cardinals sign Luke Gregerson 

This is a gamble. Gregerson had been one of the better relievers in baseball since really 2010. Last year though he struggled and at basically 34 next year. You'd think his age is catching up with him. I'd take this to mean that the Cardinals are trying though to piece together a playoff team. The more legitimately competitive NL teams the worse for the Nats. What you want is the NL East to be garbage and the other NL divisions to be filled with mediocrity fighting it out. Let everyone else be 81-81. No 90 win teams who could beat you in the playoffs. No 60 win teams who could feed another squad to 100 wins.

Rockies sign Chris Iannetta

Kind of like the Cardinals thing except gambling on someone decent last year with a less reliable history. Iannetta is at best an average backstop and he's old (35 next year) but the Rockies catching situation before Lucroy was garbage so he's going to be an improvement unless he pulls a Wieters style crash. It's a canny signing at the price they paid, and much like the Cardinals signals a team that is going to try in 2018 (as well they should being a playoff team) 

Mike Fiers to Tigers

This doesn't effect the Nats at all other than I suppose Fiers was a guy they might have picked up to fill out the rotation in February in a panic. He's the dregs I talked about before. Cheap (6 million - 1 year) but young enough that you can shake off last year's badness and be probably sure he'll just do what you think he will - put up a fullish season of 4/5 worthy stuff. Trends in the wrong direction though so its not a signing for a team in contention.

Ok let's see if the Nats do anything. The have holes but they don't have to do anything to maintain favorite status in the NL East. They could be a reactive player making moves only if the Mets seem to jump in on something. I still think we come out of the Winter Meetings with a starter or reliever, though don't be surprised if it's an underwhelming, but reasonable player. Like I said - I'm betting on Lackey, JJ Hardy, and oh I don't know. Pat Neshek.

*How are the Nats set-up? Not as well.  They'll have money coming off the books for sure. Like 75 million! But they are losing guys they need to replace. They need a new Daniel Murphy, they'll need a starter for Gio, a good reliever for Madson, a real catcher, and they'll have to either get back or replace that guy in the FA bonanza, Bryce Harper. Also Stras and Max go from counting 40 million against the cap to 80 million. If the Nats are concerned about that then there's a lot of potential spending money locked in to these two players**

** even though they won't be paid this money until much later.

Thursday, December 07, 2017


So here's my quick take on most of the "classic" Christmas movies. Unfortunately when Santa's elves are putting out literally a couple dozen new made for TV Movies every Christmas, not to mention Christmas episodes of TV shows, Christmas specials and the rest, my made for TV recommedations to end that post are already woefully outdated just 3 years later. So let's revisit.

We'll start with some classics I didn't address


I didn't care much for it at first (I'm mostly miss on Will Farrell) but it's grown on me.  It's kid friendly when surprisingly a lot of the more popular Christmas movies aren't exactly.

Miracle on 34th Street

First one is better but if you have an aversion to B&W the Mara Wilson one is the rare good remake. I don't go out of my way to watch these but if I catch it, it can happen.

Love Actually

I know it's pretty Christmasy but in my head I don't consider it a Christmas movie. So I don't feel any great need to watch it during the holidays. Do I watch it otherwise? Well, I acknowledge it may actually be bad* and we might be fooled by accents but I still enjoy it in parts. So I guess, yes, but it's not like a favorite or anything.

Santa Clause (s) 

Never actually watched one.  I've tried to watch the first one several times and it never keeps my attention.

How the Grinch - Movie

That looks terrible. I'm not watching that.

Jingle all the Way

It is terrible. I am watching that.

White Christmas 

You know - it's also not a real good "Christmas" movie but for some reason I do make time to watch this one every year. I do have an affinity for old movies but there are certainly better ones I could make time to watch. I can't really explain why.

OK now that we're done with the preliminaries what's going on with the schlock! First off I'll recommend a great terrible watch Christmas movie. A lot of people say these movies are bad but really they aren't. You may not like them. They may be sappy and predictable. But that's different. Bad is special. And hitting that sweet spot of being bad but still somehow watchable that you can laugh at the craziness of it is hard. But there are some out there.

#1 on the list is Christmas Belle which will air on ION a couple times. I recommended it before and if the phrase "so much shirtless running" doesn't get you in the Christmas Spirit I don't know what will.  The plot is weirdly slow. Like not time wise but like they had 30 minutes of material but needed to fill two hours. So there's a lot of shots of things not happening. The male lead plays everything very melodramatically. The dialogue is overwrought and at times insane. I can't exactly remember why it's a Christmas movie but I'm sure that's in there somewhere.

Also enjoyably bad for a pop-in is Mariah Carey's Christmas Melody.  The non-Mariah parts are pretty standard but every time she's in a scene she's filmed in a soft-focus close-up that's both jarring and brilliant and worth seeing.

While, like I said this has become a factory product at this point I'm very hopeful for the Tara Reid vehicle A Royal Christmas Ball. to fit the bill. I mean Tara Reid and a budget Christmas movie that involves royalty? The trailer on the site alone involves a terrible photoshop, a terrible attempt at creating a picture on a blank page in a book and neither of the other two leads saying a word! That's very promising. 

For a bigger movie that's garbage yes watch Jingle All the Way. It's horrendous

I'll do some reviews tomorrow barring any actual baseball news.

*Except the Emma Thompson / Alan Rickman parts because they are both awesome. 

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Still nothing

Free agency can be like a set of dominoes. Teams make plays for certain trade commodities and FAs and wait to see how that plays out. FAs wait to see where the top guys end up so they can figure out how to best get paid. There is usually some action early. Low level guys, the 3 million 1 yr or minor league contracts - tend to go whenever. Some teams get itchy triggers and will pay market value and if they match up with a FA who doesn't want to wait out the process you have yourselves an early big signing. But it is limited until the Winter Meetings.

Here are some recent dates
2016 : 12/4 - 12/8
2015 : 12/6 - 12/10
2014 : 12/7 - 12/10
2013 : 12/9 - 12/12
2012 : 12/3 - 12/6

In 2017 it begins on the 9th as well so our best comparison time wise is 2013. I don't see much in November.  Jason Vargas? Dan Haren? Hey! Javy Lopez was still playing!  There was a bunch of low level trades around the 3rd. We also have our first big signing then - Brian McCann, some more on the 4th Kazmir, Joe Nathan. But really the 7th was the start of things the Yankees grabbing Tanaka and (officially) Ellsbury culminating in the Robby Cano signing on the 12th.

So my take to you would be - we should hear a couple things go down in the next couple of days but there should be a run on activity as we hit Mon/Tues next week. If not, well then you can call the silence suspicious.

Reading material

ESPN took a look at the Nats and found the same needs we all see - get the pen piece, get a 5th starter, shore up the bench again, and sign Rendon long term if you are going to do it.

MLB's reporter (which you have to take as somewhat of a mouthpiece) says the Nats are fine with Difo starting if Murphy can't get back quickly. That's not terribly surprising. So don't expect a play for a MI who's really good. Instead expect a cheap MI who can play SS (and therefore could shift elsewhere as needed).  Twist my arm and I'll say JJ Hardy bc he's great in the field, he had a decent year two years ago, and he's played in Baltimore since 2011 and the appeal of staying in the area might mean he stays for cheaper than he might take elsewhere.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Monday Quickie - No-tani

Not that it's a surprise but the Nats are out on Ohtani. It doesn't mean much directly for the Nats. Ohtani has noted that he wants to be on a West Coast team meaning no team in the NL East will get him. However his list does suggest some problematic team. 

If he goes to the AL that's great. Meeting him in the World Series isn't something you worry about it's something you hope for.

The Dodgers or Cubs? Yeah that's no good for anyone. Even though neither of these teams seem like favorites - he said he wanted a West Coast small market team - they are still on the list. That should worry Nats fans because the hierarchy of the NL right now is clearly LA - CHC - WSN with maybe ARI knocking on the door (COL will have to prove they are moving to the next level for me) and anything the first two do to separate from WSN is worrisome. Of course some will say "Just get into the playoffs and blah blah blah"  I wonder how many NLDS losses will it take for them to stop saying that.  Probably like 100!  Nah.  It was just 100 runs of bad luck!

Anyway I digress. It's obvious Ohtani to one of them would be bad. Could Ohtanit to the Padres or Giants be bad in the short run (which is all we can really judge) too? 

The Padres is a big fat no.  Did you know that the Padres Pythag last year had them winning 59 games and they got INCREDIBLY lucky to win 71. Now - they may not have been 60 win bad but they were no better than the Giants, while also showing no particularly strong set of young players. They were the worst in the league in offense and it wasn't particularly close. One player isn't going to change that. They were bad in pitching as well. I don't see how this team competes for anything. I have to think they are more likely to deal some of their better players (like Brad Hand) in the offseason as they try again to reset.

The Giants? Well that's interesting. They did have a bad offense. Second worst in the NL and clearly worse than everyone else except the Padres. If they sign just Ohtani that's probably not enough. If they sign Ohtani AND get Stanton that would radically transform the offense. The pitching staff wasn't terrible last year and that's with only half a year of Bumgarner.  There is potential here for a big jump.  Now of course that matter less for the Nats than the NL West teams but it's another potential NLDS opponent to stand in the Nats way - assuming the Nats make the playoffs. 

Friday, December 01, 2017

Happy December - Nothing is happening

Last year at this time RA Dickey, Bartolo Colon, Charlie Morton, Andrew Cashner, Josh Reddick, John Jay, and Yoenis Cespedes had been signed and another dozen lesser luminaries had been traded or picked up as well.

This year, until yesterday, the biggest name officially signed might have been Rubby De La Rosa.*

It could just be a slow time, pushed by Ohtani. Usually the Winter meetings speed things along. After a couple of  minor things in the first few days of December, during the meetings last year you saw Steve Pearce, Rich Hill, Carlos, Beltran, Mark Melancon, Mitch Moreland, Matt Holliday, and Joaquin Benoit signed. More importantly you saw the trades for  Chris Sale, Tyler Thornburg, Wade Davis, and yes, Adam Eaton go down.

So while things have been slow before we worry about it being a trend we have to at least until... the 14th. Man they are a little later this year. Ok, well the 14th it is.

So what do we talk about until then?  That's up to you. I'll gladly fill these blog posts with talk about the Hallmark movies I'm watching or breaking down Christmas songs or perhaps list my favorite things that you may yourself want (or want to buy for others) for Christmas. Or you could just throw questions at me. That's ok too.

We'll fill these spaces with something every other day or so, don't you worry.

For today I'll revist the "former guys" post just because that interests me.

Tyler Watson (for Kintzler) - nothing beyond what I said at the time.  Some promise looks hittable in A-ball but young.

McKenzie Mills (for Howie) -  Another post column trade. Phillies bumped him up to High A and he was knocked around a bit in 3 games. However control looked good still. In 2016 he showed he can be hard to hit. In 2017 he showed he can control himself. But doing both at a higher level is another thing. He'll have a couple High-A years to try. 

Jesus Luzardo - A's moved him up to low A from rookie to end the year and he looked just as good there. The IP is still small but all you can ask of any prospect is they do well and make you want to see more at a higher level and that's what he's done.

Sheldon Neuse - Ended up hitting really well in High A to end the year. So well they moved him up again to AA and he hit there too (though without the brief power surge seen in High A). They sent him the the Arizona Fall League and he hit there too, named an AFL "Fall Star".  At this point Sheldon is a half-season of AA performance from being a real PROSPECT.

Jeffrey Rosa (for Enny) -  On the flip side you have Rosa who couldn't hack it in rookie ball for the Rays. His first half of 2018 is about showing the Rays there is some reason to keep him before the draftees come in. It doesn't look good.

Dane Dunning - Found a wall in High-A. A mix of good, mediocre, and bad performances. Still there's enough there with the Ks and the performances not being consistently bad that it's hard to believe he's topped out. He may not be a major leaguer but I don't see him as a low minor wash out either. Not sure if the Sox will push him the AA just to do it or leave in High A another year.

Lucas Giolito - Moved to the majors at the end of the year and had really good results. However the fancy stats suggest that it was mostly smoke and mirrors. He didn't strike anyone out, and had a  too low BABIP.  I watched a lot of Giolito at the end of the year though and I saw a guy that had learned how to pitch who wasn't rattled by situation. I think he can be hard to hit, keep the ball in the park, and not walk too many. I do think there was luck involved here with the level of success, but I'd be surprised if he wasn't at least a reliable back-end starter in 2018 (as a 23 yo remember) putting up an ERA ~4.00. And if he can dial things back-up again without losing control... well that's the million (+ 100 of millions) dollar question, isn't it? Trend says no though
Reynaldo Lopez  - Also moved the majors with less successful results but similar pitching to Giolito. The other guy pitched like the other guy. He's still got a year or two before you anoint him AAA talent and he's shown in the minors some tendency to need some time but I don't see anything really getting better. Still again - he's just found it before once.

Max Schrock  (for Rep) - People noted, probably rightfully, that I got over excited about Max's performance. Hitting for high average in AA even at a young age isn't all that special. It probably means he can make the majors, but it doesn't make him a PROSPECT. A lot of career bench guys fit that role. He's still raking singles all over the place (like a .350 average in Aug/Sept) with no pop (4 XBH) so he'll probably get a bump up to AAA to see what he does there. Does the power come with age? Can he learn patience? Can he turn a .330+ average in the minors to .300+ in the majors? At least one of these answers will have to be answered yes for this to be a big loss for the Nats.

Taylor Hearn (other part of Melancon deal) -He got hurt and JUST got back healthy enough in time to throw some at season's end so nothing new to report here. Read last year.

You miss Giolito the most here. You can totally see where he'd fit in with the Nats in 2018 and beyond. But since he hasn't shown himself to be a top of the rotation guy yet you can't say you'd take him over Eaton. Lopez and Schrock today just look like fill-in pieces to a major league team. 5th starter/long man and bench guy.  They could end up being better but could also not even be that. The guy you'd most worry about other than Giolito is Neuse who right now looks like Schrock but with some power and some patience. The floor for him is higher though he needs more time in AA to prove it's not a one-year fluke. Luzardo looks slightly better than Dunning right now but that's all about "upside".

Ten minor leaguers dealt in deals for 8 GOOD major leaguers (well 7 good ones and 1 maybe good one in Enny). Even though some were just rentals, that's months of helpful performances to the Nationals.  You probably lost some ok major league starting pitching but that's all you can say today. Sure it could get worse but history tells you it usually goes on as planned. Really what matters is trading away a star more than anything and right now there isn't one. Giolito could click. Neuse could not slow down. Another guy could surprise or just keep coming up the ladder. But that's hard to do.

This is why you shouldn't balk too much at trading guys, especially guys that aren't like Top Prospects. Being a major leaguer is hard. Very hard. Extrememly hard. Take the guy who is doing it over the guy who may do it down the line if he doesn't get injured and keeps improving over time. 

*Yusmiero Petit's deal was finalized yesterday if you were wondering about him.