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

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


Fries said...

Craig Mish reporting that Realmuto has asked to be traded. PLEASE make it happen Rizzo

blovy8 said...

I kind of think Strasburg can't win answering any question honestly now. Either he's an ingrate for being selected as an all-star and not playing, or he's being selfish for pitching in an exhibition game, risking an injury, and screwing his team and Nats fans for the sake of one inning.

DezoPenguin said...

@blovy8: Yeah, the narrative is out there that Stras is a mentally fragile, malcontented whiner, and thus no matter what he says it will be interpreted through the lens of it being malcontented whining by someone mentally weak.

I mean, seriously, why can't he just have been sick from mold in the playoffs, then when the game rolled around either felt better or convinced Old-School Dusty to let him pitch sick or a combination of both and then had a good game? (I mean, Schilling has the effing Bloody Sock game, so it's not like a sick guy can't pitch well against a good team in the postseason.)

@Fries: Yes and heck yes. This needs to happen.

Harper said...

Fries : Yes - the Nats are in good position too. However, I think the Astros will get him. Just a feeling.

blovy8 - The Strasburg shipped sailed once 1) the Nats failed to beat the Cardinals and 2) he didn't come back with a Cy Young dominating season after the shutdown. That was going to be the only thing that would make the shutdown palatable to the masses. Once it wasn't it was going to stick on him until he led the Nats to a series. And here we are.

Dezo - bc it doesn't make sense that you announce that he's not starting 24 hours before the actual game. That doesn't happen unless you are on death's door (or just phsyically incapacitated). You say - he's sick, it doesn't look good but we're going to evaluate before the game. That's the standard way. Hell - you do the standard way sometimes even WHEN you know he's not starting, just to keep the opponent off guard a little. The other option is you believe some combination of the Nats doing something no one ever does for no reason AND/OR a medical miracle happening.

Anonymous said...

Harper, I agree with this: "it doesn't make sense that you announce that he's not starting 24 hours before the actual game. That doesn't happen unless you are on death's door (or just phsyically incapacitated). You say - he's sick, it doesn't look good but we're going to evaluate before the game. That's the standard way." The question is: why assume STRASBURG is responsible for the decision to announce he wasn't starting G4 the night before? I assume there's a lot we don't know. Maybe Strasburg had begged off or maybe the team created the problem by - for some crazy reason- thinking it had to announce a starter. I don't think it's fair to blame Strasburg for that, particularly given the way he dominated in G4.

Also, Rizzo said Murphy was expected to be ready by opening day.

DezoPenguin said...

Nats apparently sign Matt Adams for 1 year, $4M. He's basically Lind, right down to his platoon splits, with a slightly worse career and...surprisingly decent defense (Jeff Sullivan did an article on Fangraphs about that). He'll cost $1M less than Lind's option and be more or less the same player with (I think) slightly more risk of being awful than Lind carries, thus justifying the slightly lower contract price. Looking at that, I hope that Lind turned down their mutual option, since this is otherwise the most lateral of lateral moves.

In any event, he fills that spot on the bench left by Lind's absence with possibly the most Lind-like non-Lind player out there. Heck, if Zim gets hurt, Rizzo even resigned Ryan Raburn to a minor league contract to be the right-handed half of the 1B platoon. Added to the Kintzler signing, we have a consistent theme here of "Rizzo keeps the band together." (Severino replacing Lobaton, I think, carries that forward, too, a defense-first, bad-bat backup C.)

At this point the only thing the Nats are "missing" is a 5th OF, assuming that Murphy really is ready to start the season. Obviously, I think none of us thinks that certain positions (catcher, 5th starter, the back end of the bullpen) are as good as they could be and hope there's more tinkering to do, but at the least it now seems that the Nationals will go into 2018 with more or less what they ended 2017 with.

Fries said...

I think Rizzo's playing the long game, which is smart. The team, by and large, is strong. Not perfect, but strong enough to handle the NL East without much trouble. Rizzo's gonna make moves come May/June once he sees what this team turns out to be. Is MAT handling CF effectively? Is Cole/Fedde/Milone handling the 5th slot? Is another bench bat needed? Has there been an injury that needs addressing? etc.

Rizzo doesn't NEED to make moves, and given the Milone and Adams signings, I think that's Rizzo's plan. As a WIN NOW fan, I don't love it, but I respect it

von_bluff said...

Agreed. Acquiring a strong #3 SP to round out the playoff rotation will most likely be cheaper mid-season.

However I hope they at least kicked tires on Realmuto and didn't let the $10M owed to Wieters deter them from improving the giant suck hole at C.

JW said...

I doubt Milone is intended to be the answer in the #5 spot. I view that more like the Jacob Turner move from last year.

I like the Matt Adams move a lot. Younger and cheaper than Lind for likely similar performance levels (similar at least to what would likely be expected for Lind this year as he regresses a bit from last year's performance). That extra million can hopefully go into the bullpen or rotation somewhere.

I'd really like them to bring back Kendrick, but he's probably looking for more PT. Although everyone thought the same thing on Drew last year and he ended up coming back (although that move didn't work out so well...).

Anonymous said...

From Fangraphs
Adams does not have a very good defensive reputation. He was briefly tried in the outfield, but the less said about that, the better. He’s never won a Gold Glove, and he has a 37 overall rating in the historical Fan Scouting Reports. That rating is tied for 27th-best, or 12th-worst. The fans think that Adams has been below average. He definitely lacks Hosmer’s general athleticism.

And yet! If you sort by DRS over a common denominator, Adams ranks eighth, and Hosmer ranks 30th. If you sort by UZR over a common denominator, Adams ranks 10th, and Hosmer ranks 33rd. If you blend the two, then Adams ranks 10th, and Hosmer ranks 32nd. According to the advanced defensive numbers, there’s a significant difference between Matt Adams and Eric Hosmer, in Adams’ favor. He rates as the better defensive first baseman. Against what I assume would be all odds.