Nationals Baseball: January 2018

Monday, January 29, 2018

Monday Quickie

Of course there isn't much to talk about - it's the 2017-2018 MLB Offseason but I did want to note something about the age stuff I talked about Friday. I noted that being old doesn't mean being bad but I didn't exactly look for examples to prove that. Well looking at 2012, 2013 and 2014* I found examples that would be both heartening and discouraging.

The oldest team, and the most discouraging one, during that stretch is easily the Phillies. They went from 102 game winning champs in 2011 to .500 in 2012 to 73 wins in 2013 and saddled with and old squad.  They'd have to sell-off beginning at this point and if things go well they will be back playing competitive baseball in 2019.

The second oldest team was the SF Giants. They would win 94 games in 2012 - then only get to 88 once since then. But they were able to stay competitive through 2016 and in 2014 a rather average season ended with a World Series Championship. They are making one more go at it now. We'll see if it's ill-fated or enough to put the Giants back in contention for a couple years.

Another old team was the Dodgers. The Dodgers would go on to win more games than anyone over the course of the next few seasons. The Dodgers would also spend a ton of money. Those things are related. Money can solve a lot of problems.

A surprise team to show up among the oldies was the 2014 Milwaukee Brewers. They didn't really do much to get there - just added a couple 30 year olds and watched the rest of the team age in place.  They would, like the Phillies, immediately collapse into a fodder team. But by 2017 they were able to turn things around and they should be a WC / Division contender in 2018.

These four teams kind of capture what can happen to the Nats over the next few years.

They can become non-competitive and decide to trade it all away with hopes of a quick rebuild. After getting old in 2014 the Brewers gave it half a year then packed it in. They would trade Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Gomez, John Broxton, Gerardo Parra, Neal Cotts, Frankie Rodriguez, Adam Lind, Jean Segura, and Khris Davis away between the middle of the 2015 season and the start of the 2016 season** 

They can become non-competitive but try to hold on and end up with a mess to dig out of. The Phillies got old actually way back in 2008 and would dominate the division through 2011. But the '08 team was deceptive. The team was grouped tightly around 30 and the key guys were still on the 20s side, if just. The 2011 was truly old with the best players being early 30s at least***. Still old got them success and they wouldn't begin trading until after 2014 was over. By then it was too late. The returns were small and the team couldn't quickly fix the problems they now faced.

They can stay competitive and hope that by staying in the race they can get lucky one year. The Giants did this but the key was the best players were still young even if the team wasn't. Posey, Bumgarner, Belt, Crawford, Sandoval. They were able to just keep putting older pieces around that core, win in the high 80s, and get in the playoffs two more times.

They can just throw money at the situation to stay competitive, keeping your best and bringing in enough expensive pieces to work around the young guys that actually develop. The Dodgers didn't keep everyone (Greinke) but they kept Kershaw, Jansen, Justin Turner when they lucked into his Daniel Murphy esque improvement. They signed a million arms to work around Kershaw, Ryu, Maeda, Hill most recently, and paid money into the amateur free agent market for guys like Puig. They still needed a couple young bats to come through, but they did.

I don't think the Nats are quite at Phillies 2011 level yet so I don't think they have to sell BUT I think if they don't get an injection of youth this year (I'm looking at you Robles. Also Soto, MAT, Turner, Difo any damn pitcher) it would be time for a serious talk after 2018 because they'd be at the fork in the road and have these four paths ahead.

*Can't really look much beyond because I wanted to catch long term trends if any 

** What did they get for all those deals? Mostly relief arms and 4th OFs. However they did pick up a couple mid-rotation arms (Anderson and Davies - currently posing as top of the rotation guys until the Brewers bother to pick a real one up) and a good enough catcher (Jorge Castillo's Manny Pineapple).  Arguably their biggest pick-up would come in a 2016 trade getting Travis Shaw for Tyler Thornburg. Thornburg is good and cheap relief arm but Shaw blossomed back into a starting 3B with pop. 

***What are the Nats? Somewhere in between. Key bats are mix of young and old. Key pitchers are mostly older but not quite the 2011 Phillies age yet.

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Nats have a problem

Back a couple years ago I went through a series of posts about how the Nats 2012 - ~2016 came together. About how it wasn't just about general managerial skill but a healthy dose of luck as well. These pieces of good fortune included:
  • The hitting of their pre-window nadir coinciding with the availability of two generational players in the draft. In more iffy years you may have a first pick that's more Luke Hochevar or Tim Beckham 
  • The timing of the development and free agency of players - a couple guys come a year earlier, a couple a year later and the composition of the window is completely different
  • The NL East collapsing - the most the Nats would have to face in divisional competition was one team and some years arguably even that
And another thing we'll talk about in a moment.

The end results of all that and, let's not diminish it, some great organizational work, left the Nats with a team in August of 2012 that you could see competing with little change through at least August 2015 and the reality that they did so with relative ease*.  That relative ease meant the Nats could look to set-up continued success rather than be forced to put in more resources for the now at the expense of the later.

Well things after Year 1 of Window 2** : Window Harder don't line up the same way
  • The success meant lower draft picks that were promptly given up to sign Soriano, Scherzer, and Murphy. The only 1st rounder the Nats did pick was Erick Fedde, who is staring down 25 trying to be successful in AAA.The core of this window isn't wrapped around generational talent.
  • The timing is off as the Nats are slated to lose numerous key components, Werth this year,  Byrce, Murphy, Gio, Madson next year, Rendon, Roark Kintzler after 2019
  • The NL East? Well who knows. It seems like the Phillies are going to be competitive starting next year and the Mets are content to hang around with a .500 team and hope something good happens. So maybe this is no worse than before, but it'll probably be a little tougher... starting next year.
And that other thing

The end result of all that is that the Nats of August 2017 are almost certainly not in general the Nats you will see on the field in August 2020. What that means for the Nats being competitive relies a lot more on how Rizzo (or whoever) put things together than the last window. And it may very well mean that to stay competitive in 2019 and 2020 the Nats may have to plan to rebuild a little in 2021 and beyond.

But let's get to that other thing. It's age. When the Nats window opened in 2012 they were incredibly young

2012 : Batting Age 27.2 - 2nd youngest in the NL; Pitching Age 27.0 - youngest in the NL

But as time has gone on the core aged, and then there were few young players to replace them. Instead the Nats made savvy trades and FA deals. That's great but it's less of a long term solution because the guys you trade for and sign are older

2013: 27.7 (2nd), 27.7 (5th)
2014: 28.7 (11th), 28.3 (8th)
2015: 28.4 (9th), 28.6 (10th)
2016: 28.8 (10th), 29.1 (13th)
2017: 29.2 (14th), 30.1 (14th)

The loss of Werth will help here but the core remains the same and a year older. Wieters, Zimm, Murphy, Kendrick will all be squarely mid 30s. Gio, Max, Tanner, Doolittle, Madson, Kintzler all early 30s. Outside of Robles, the replacements we are looking at are young but not very young. Dfio will be 26, MAT 27, Enny 27, Solis 29.

This is not to say the Nats are going to fall apart in 2018. Not at all. Players in their early-mid 30s may be more likely to see injury and drop off issues, but they are also pretty likely to in general remain productive. But in 2-3 years that group moves into their mid-late 30s and that is not good. If there were a strong young core you might feel better but there isn't. The 2012 team had a big handful of guys 26 and younger that could support the team. The 2017 team had Trea Turner and maybe MAT and Koda Glover? Maaaaybe Joe Ross?

On one hand this is just another bullet point noting that this window is different than the last one, that 2020 won't look at all like 2017, and there is more general manager work to be done to keep the team competitive than at the start of the last window. The age issue though - puts a little more of a sword of Damocles feel to it. The end could come more suddenly than we think.

*we're talking compete here not win. 

** I consider 2016 a transition year, and 2017 the first real year of the "new window"

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Rendon or Bryce

So in the comments the guys are mulling over a question. If forced to sign one or the other, do you sign Rendon or do you sign Bryce?

That may seem like a silly argument but let's take it seriously. Why would we even have this debate? Well the facts are that last year Anthony Rendon was probably more valuable than Bryce Harper. While he didn't hit as well (Bryce .319 / .413 / .595, Rendon .301 / .403 / .533) he still was very good at the plate. At the same time Rendon is a much better fielder and played 36 more games. That playing time and defense difference more than makes up for Bryce's advantage at the plate and Rendon was probably somewhere between a little and a lot more valuable to the Nats last year.

So on that base level a comparison makes sense. Of course we have to take it further.

Defensively, the is no argument. Bryce is just getting by in the outfield, not shining but not an embarrassment.* Rendon is one of the best 3rd basemen in baseball. This is an advantage that Rendon should hold for as long as weird health issues don't change things (see Zimmerman, Ryan)

Baserunning should be an advantage for Bryce, as recently as 2016 he stole 20+ bases. However, that's been put on the back-burner for Bryce as he only stole 4 bases last year. Neither Bryce or Rendon are extremely efficient either so this ends up being a wash.

Now we get to offense. Bryce is simply a better hitter. Bryce's worst years are above average. Rendon's are not. A healthy Rendon on his game is an All-Star hitter. A healthy Bryce on his game is putting up seasons for the ages. Bryce has shown prodigious power and the ability to hit for high average. We can say that Rendon has developed more as a hitter. Rendon's patience has steadily increased while his K-rate dropped a bunch last year. Bryce on the other hand seems to take what he is given, his walk-rate back down last year while his K-Rate sits about where it historically is. This gets to a big question. Have we seen Rendon's best or can he continue to improve? If you think he can get better - that it's injuries that have held him back - then he probably CAN compete with a typical Bryce  season at the plate like last year. That makes this argument make sense even beyond looking at last year.

But now we get to two things that make us question if Rendon can get better. One is the injury history. Neither guy is known to be healthy. Bryce has missed the 30-50 games in three of his six seasons. Rendon missed half a season in 2015 and suffered multiple major injuies in college and the minor leagues. While Rendon has been healthier in the recent past, I have a hard time assuming he'll be healthier than Bryce going forward. If I can't assume that then I can't assume he can catch Bryce at the plate because while a healthy Rendon may catch 2017 Bryce, a healthy Bryce should blow 2017 Bryce out of the water.

The second thing is Rendon's age. Rendon is almost 2 1/2 years older than Bryce. That matters. Nicks and dings in a lifetime of ball add up. Age takes it's general toll as issues are harder to overcome. You lose reaction time, flexibilty, etc. If Rendon were a year younger you might give him that benefit of the doubt but at over 2 years older why would you put your money on Rendon to improve more than the younger Bryce? The 130 more ML games in Bryce's pocket? I suppose. Me I'll go with age.

Where I end up is thinking Rendon will never be the hitter Bryce is, and if Bryce is healthy, which we have to assume here, he is such a transcendent bat that it makes up for Rendon's defensive advantages. As a player the answer remains - sign Bryce

But that is not the only thing that goes into it. A contract is money, money that ownership won't spend elsewhere. If Bryce goes for 30 million a year and Rendon 15 million does that change things? The key is going to be pegging what these guys want and it's hard without seeing next year in action. However, we can make a fair assumption that Bryce will want a record-breaking type deal so let's put it at more than the 13-325 Stanton got. We'll temper our expectations from half a billion, seeing the deadness of this offseason and just say something more simple 10-350.  That's 35 million a year. Rendon on the other hand has to compare himself with the regular market. He will probably get something more than the 3/60 that Carlos Santana got this year. Let's say 5/125. That's 25 million a year but half the time commitment. If those are the contracts out there does that make a difference to you.

To me I'm still going to sign Bryce if you make me choose. The fact I'm getting 26-35 instead of 30-34 matters to me because I'm getting that 26-29 that I'm not getting from Rendon, where I can have pretty good expectations of health and performance (at least as much as I can get from these guys). When you think 10 year deal you often think of the dead end years but a deal like that for Bryce is different because he'll be so young. If you are just afraid of post 35 years, you don't get any.  If Rendon were going to be a bargain that might change my mind but he likely won't be, and that extra 10 million a year - well that's the going rate for a very good reliever but it shouldn't break your team.

This of course, like I said, assumes health in 2018. It assumes Bryce and Rendon both play 145ish games. Rendon would put up a season like last year. Bryce something between last year and his epic one. If the assumptions don't come true than this whole analysis changes but right now I take Bryce.

*Am I the only one that thinks Bryce could be better if he tried?

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Tuesday Quickie - still nothing

The talk of the off-season is how there is no off-season. After a flurry of middle reliever signings the hot stove went cold and has been that way every since. There has been some work by the Giants to try to fashion together a contender while Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner can still carry the team, but it only has so much impact on the Nats.

Until another team makes a splash there are only 6 teams the Nats have to worry about, the Nats have to look at the Cubs and the Dodgers and the rest of the NL East.

The NL East has made it fairly easy on them. The Marlins have shut things down opting to go all-out instead of all-in, with the hopes of creating an Astros type cheap winner in the future. The Braves are already 3 years down that path very close to wasting Freddie Freeman's prime as neither their starters or offensive players have come together as they hoped and they have no interest in spending. The Phillies are starting to come out of that path but you can see a reluctance to buy in this off-season when they are likely a year away and next year may be full of FA gems.

This leaves the Mets, who only seem to find their way once every five years or so. They did get the magic of having pitching come together at the same time and carry them to the playoffs. But like the 2012-2015 Nats discovered, that's not enough by itself. Guys get injured or just don't dominate every year. You need a very good to great offense too to balance it out if you want every year success. The Mets aren't likely to get that from next year's team unless they do more work or hit on every prospect. So again, they are relying on everyone healthy and great on the staff to compete. It's a gamble unlikely to pay off.

The Cubs lost some big free agents and are attempting to patch the problem. Wade Davis was replaced by Brandon Morrow who is not as good.  Arrieta and Lackey are gone, but Quintana steps in to the rotation full-time. Tyler Chatwood fills the other role and again it's likely not as strong a player as the one who left. All this means is that today the Cubs are not as good as last year. Which is good for the Nats who are stable.

The Dodgers who won 100 games last year are going to be basically the same team. They lose FAs that either didn't matter (Franklin Gutierrez, Chase Utley) or who came by trade (Darvish, Granderson, Watson).  Only the aforementioned Brandon Morrow played a big role all year and it's difficult to see a middle relief pitcher loss derailing this team. They squeaked out enough health from a talented but injury-prone starting staff to survive but expect another trade for a starter mid-season. So the Dodgers may not be better but talent wise they won't be worse either - that's not great for the Nats but given the way things line up it's not likely the Nats will be worrying about that in the DS round.

You can see why the Nats don't feel pressure to move forward even in a buyer friendly market. The division threat level is low predicated on a Mets rotation hitting on all cylinders or a surprise. The playoff threat level is no stronger than last year a year where the Nats took the Cubs to the last few innings of the last game of the NLDS. Perhaps something more is needed for the playoffs, but it's hard to say it's needed today.

So the remaining offseason will likely be determined by long term planning (do you trade for someone assuming Bryce will leave) or by reactions. If Darvish signs with the Cubs, that pushes the Cubs ahead of the Nats. They probably wouldn't react but at least it gives them a threat. Maybe the Mets trade for Josh Harrison or surprise deal for a pitcher. They probably wouldn't react but again - it gives them something to think about.

Until then we sit and wait another 3-4 weeks until we can get excited for a single day as the players head to Florida.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Mike Rizzo, not happy

Back in the old days of 2011 Mike Rizzo said something approximating this when referring to the unhappy Jim Riggleman. "Just shut up and do your job" Well Rizzo has ceased to shut up and do his job.

Now in part, there is no off-season for Rizzo. He can't just wait until the season is over to deal with things like Riggleman could. But still - this isn't the look you want from your GM. He feels underappreciated and (likely) underpaid for the work that he's done. He's probably right.

So should he get paid? Well yes. But it's also hard for me to feel sorry for the guy given that Dusty and Davey were also underappreciated and underpaid and Rizzo in public shrugged his shoulders at that saying nothing. 

Rizzo has helped steward the Nats to six years and presumably at least seven, of competitive baseball. He has made a mistake or two, but they have been outweighed by numerous correct decisions and the Nats have found themselves in the playoffs in four of the past 6 seasons, with 5 in 7 looking likely. He got a certain amount of luck with timing in terms of the original run of success, but was able to extend that beyond when it might have normally turned.
Rizzo has managed this continued success without sacrificing success beyond today. He understands the difference between a top prospect and another guy. He has protected the best guys while being mostly reasonable in his parting with the rest. Again, it hasn't been perfect but here we are going into 2018 looking at another projected 90+ win season.

Rizzo has done this despite the peculiarities of the ownership, with it making spending like squeezing blood from a stone, peppered with high-priced Boras signings.

Another GM could have done all this but it seems more likely another GM would have tripped along the way. Maybe he would have traded Rendon for help back in 2014, or managed not to extend Strasburg after 2016. Another GM probably wouldn't have been that far off Rizzo (ok and may have gotten the nats to a CS or WS) but likely wouldn't have gotten the level of sustained success and that could mean 3 playoffs, not 4, and looking at a declining future not one with a measure of hope. 

Rizzo is worth keeping. I hope the Nats make this work.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Nats sign Kendrick

Here's a tweet

It makes too much sense to be anything but pleased.

The Nats needed someone to play 2nd base for a while if Murphy couldn't open the season.  Howie can do that.

The Nats needed a veteran 4th OF.  Howie can do that

The Nats needed a veteran IF bench player. Howie can do that

The Nats didn't want to spend a lot of money.  Howie didn't get that. 3.5 million a year (or I'm going to guess 3 this year, 4 next) is not a lot.

The Nats wanted someone good. Howie is that.

Now obviously Howie can't fill all those holes at the same time, but the hope is a Difo or Goodwin or someone else can step up and take one of those spots. 

Yes he's a little on the older side now.  He'll be 34/35 this year (birthday in July) so 36 when the contract expires. But if he was younger that his long streak of average to slightly above average offense would have gotten him more than the Nats offered. 

There's no point in repeating exactly what we said about him just last July so go read that. If you want it brief : negatives - not patient, not powerful, has had injuries. positives - great contact, good average, good runner, good fielder, not complete zero in patience/power. Arguably good enough to be your 3rd OF, definitely good enough to be an all-around super sub. Especially at that price.

I suppose a pessimist might think "Well if we got Howie for this cheap couldn't we have gotten X Pitcher/Catcher for cheap first?"   Maybe. We don't know how those markets are progressing. We'll have to wait until the Nats are done, the league is done, before we can address that.

For now, nothing but positives for this move in the moment.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Shut down the offseason! Edwin Jackson is back!

This happened yesterday.

In the grand scheme of things it's not all that important Minor league deals are things teams throw at a lot of veterans to see if any stick. The money involved is usually minimal and that is true in this case. He'd earn under 2 million if he makes the team. Edwin Jackson, who ended the season with the Nats is the perfect candidate for such a deal. He's not a good pitcher so you don't want to be contracted to pay him, but it wouldn't surprise you if he put up a mid 4.00s ERA for most of a year and that has value. So you see in the Spring if that's what he looks like.

The belief floating around is that last year he was a pretty good pitcher for the Nats until those last 5 starts. Actually he had a lot of  "scattered hit" games in his successful time. 5 hits, 2 walks, 1 homer in 6 innings - 1 run. 8 hits and a walk in 7 - 1 run. 6 hits, 3 walks, 1 homer in 6 innings - 2 runs. 6 hits, 4 walks, 1 homer in 6 innings - 2 earned runs. You usually don't find a WHIP of 1.4 leading to a 2.18 ERA unless you are cutting out all homers (he wasn't - about 1 per game) or striking out everyone (he wasn't - about 5.4 per 9).

That's not to say he was pitching poorly. Something more like a high 3.00s would have been expected and perfectly ok! But then those 1 homers became 2 and 3 and that 1.4 WHIP became 1.8 and you can't luck out of that. He really was earned awful those last 5 games.

That's the real question going forward. How much of Edwin Jackson is that guy who can be a 5th starter that we saw for 6-7 games and how much of him is the guy that can't that we saw for the last 5?  A mix of the two isn't good enough. He has to be pretty much all the former to be useful.  

The other thing that bothers one about a deal like this is that it's a late February deal made in early January. This is a last piece kind of thing. "Eh, we're still not completely happy with our starting pitching. Let's throw in a few other vets on minor league deals here just to see if we get lucky" What does it mean to be doing this now?  Are the Nats done with the off-season already pitching wise? Or was this just offered up to them and they couldn't refuse.

I'm not excited or bothered by the deal by itself. It has some worrying connotations, but we'll have to see if those actually play out. The free agent market is moving so slow that those that want movement still can't worry about inaction.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Monday Quickie - continuing all that we have

Harper, what would you do about a 5th starter? Try to make a boffo trade for Chris Archer? Go after a journeyman/wild card like Sean Manaea? Make deals with reclamation projects such as Chris Tillman and others with a Spring Training invitation attached? Or see what A.J. Cole or Eric Fedde can produce and hope Joe Ross can recover in time for the second half of the season? Me, I'd offer Soto, Ross, and Fedde and a pair of decent throw-ins for Archer. 

What would I do? I'd sign Darvish! Or Arrieta! Not my money! 

Given how the NL East hasn't built itself up yet, I'd ignore the journeyman route (unless you can get a bargain on a them late - which is what I think will happen with a Lackey or Garcia). I also wouldn't go the reclamation route. The last thing the Nats need is more injury risk players. So I guess I would in a more "this is baseball today" sense - would go young. Go ahead and try out Fedde again, give Voth a shot, etc. etc. and then trade for someone come July if need be. The Nats have this flexibility so use it. I guess.

But honestly I think they end up with that bargain journeyman at the very least to give Fedde a few months in the minors.

Christian Yelich’ Wikipedia page lists Boston RedSox 2018- under the “Teams” section. Has anyone heard any news on this? Lol

What? Does the WaPo Sports Desk edit Wiki pages now?   No news that I've heard.

Yeah. As you mention, the people who think Yelich (particularly a yelich who has to play CF where he is average to below average) is a comparable return for everybody but Robles/ those who think yelich plus realmuto for every prospect we have including Robles and MAT is fair....are nuts. That’s all I will say. If you want Realmuto, offer Soto and MAT and hand CF to Robles. That will almost certainly get it done. If you want realmuto ANd Yelich, offer Robles and MAT. That also probably does it IMO. And I would support both I think.  

I wish there was a "fan trade database" of sorts where you could enter your in-your-head fair deal to the fan of the other team and watch them rip it apart.

As for your deals - the idea that the Marlins really would want MAT... I guess in a Soto+ deal for Realmuto he could be part of it - but if the Marlins are giving up Realmuto (or Yelich) they want guys they can control and probably a handful of them. I think they'd rather have Soto + Kieboom + a couple #10-#20 Nats prospects. Same with the Realmuto, Yelich deal. Why would they give up two great players with control and in part get back MAT, a worse player with less control? That makes no sense. They may take him to help the Nats make space but not at the expense of getting what they really want.

Harper. One other quick comment/q. Am I the only one that think Lucroy would be a great fit for Nats if they strike out on realmuto? He’s better than Weiters, even the version of him from last year. And I feel like there is a 25-40% chance you get lucky and you sign him at his absolute bottom value and he pops halfway back up to what he was a couple years ago and suddenly you have a moderately priced C who hits .270/.350/.450 and plays ok defense. He’s an ideal guy to grab for a pillow contract of 1-2 years and make Weiters back up and deal severino. 

I doubt you are the only one but convincing the management to see Wieters as a sunk cost is the issue. They probably want to play him out in 2018 at least for a 2-3 months before giving up on him. And you could argue that's not unfair. He was reliably blah before last year. I'm sure this is what Boras is telling them. If you expect to dedicate half a year to seeing if Wieters can play there's no point in signing/trading anyone that isn't a long term replacement. (and I don't think you get Lucroy on a long-term bargain deal)

Friday, January 05, 2018

I'm bored

This off-season is dullsville. AMA

Oh before you ask me something, that meant American Medical Association.  Ok, now go ahead and ask me anything.

Were you happy with The Last Jedi? I guess maybe I should ask if you like Star Wars and if you've seen it but I'm going to assume based on the age demographic I think you're in that you do and you have.

You should have asked. I like Star Wars but the emphasis is on "like". I caught the Force Awakens on a plane on my iPhone last year. So I haven't seen it the new one. Or that other one that a side story.

If I was running the Nats, I would be offering the fish Robles, Soto, MAT, and another 2 lower level prospects for Realmuto & Yelich if they are also willing to take Wieters contract. If they want nothing to do with Wieters 1 year deal, they can have Soto, MAT, & Severino + the lower tier prospects. Do you think this would be enough to entice them... is it enough to outbid other suitors... is it too much and its a good thing I am not running the Nats

YES! YES! 1000x YES! on the Robles one. It would also outbid other teams and be too much. The Soto one is tougher I'd say no but only because MAT has only 3 years before hitting FA but some people like Soto more than others. The Soto deal is probably something like what people are offering now "How about our 2nd best prospect and a good young player for your two almost stars?" so probably not an outbid and probably not too much.

I think you could get Yelich & Realmuto almost for any deal offering Robles. That's his general current status - guaranteed good player, maybe great just starting the clock.

AnonymousCouldn't they pry Sal Perez away from the Royals for a similar package? If the Royals are rebuilding, why not go get the best catcher alive? 

Certainly for a Robles package. Otherwise... I kind of get the feeling he's the guy they are planning on keeping around. I mean if he doesn't nosedive they could get 2 more years of play from him and still ask for a Robles type in return after that.

Harper, what's the FA catcher pool look like for 2019? Anything in your opinion look like worth waiting for?Delete 

About as good as one could hope... so not great. Grandal and Ramos head it up, with possibilities of it being deeper if Flowers keeps hitting and Mesoraco ever recovers. I like Grandal. I like Ramos. I wouldn't wait for either though. 

OK, I have a training wheels question. Please name one or two books good for an intro to looking at baseball from an analytic perspective, but for the beginner (ie, not the "SAS programmer by day" crowd.)Anonymous 

We've had this asked before I think... yes... there we are People seem to like "Baseball Between the Numbers", "The Book:  Playing the Percentages" and I've seen a couple recommened "Understanding Sabermetrics". In the comments sirc recommends Nate Sliver's Signal/Noise book, Brian Kenny's Ahead of the Curve, Bill James' historical abstracts if you can find them, and Moneyball.

I've not read the first set of recommendations but have read all of sirc's. Personal opinions - I didn't like Silver's; No issue with ideas, I didn't find the writing good.  I liked Kenny's more than I thought; looks more at where these ideas could go then where we are.  Bill James can be curmudgeonly but I like reading his stuff. Moneyball is great but obviously more of a GM top-down view. 

I'd like to see more on how the CBA luxury tax is affecting off-season bidding-wars. Buster Olney thinks it's putting a damper on mid-market FAs. My sense is that also crimps the market for big-name FAs, such as Arieta. Could this be the year when the price per WAR flattens out?

Maybe.  But really we should be looking at the price per marginal WAR.  Oh god, that sounds terrible. Ok what I'm saying is that getting a 1 WAR players costs $X, 2 WAR $X+, 3 WAR $X++ but it's not linear. Getting from 1-2 is cheaper than from 5-6. I don't think that has changed. But I think the approach now is to try to get a lot of the "cheap" WARs - ideally as cheaply as possible (re: propsects)  That'll damper the WAR cost some but really they won't be paying alot for those additional WARs and losing that will screw with the average. So how about this - the median cost may drop some but the mean could plummet.

It's not necessarily the luxury tax that is doing this. I mean that matters but it only matters in so much as the owners and management care. What's really driving this is that the owners and managerment are REALLY starting to care about costs. 

Looking to next year, should the Nats get in a bidding war for Bryce with, say, the Dodgers? if we win, what are the implications for the team's ability to build a supporting cast? Are there likely to be better values for the $30MM+ salary that Harper would command?

It's all up to the ownership. It's only a hamper as much as they let it be. You can put together a damn good team for 150-175 million, put 30 million on top of that is not crazy. But owners don't want to spend that much anymore (mainly because ownership is a lot more a set of investors who want a return than crazy rich guys) 

What are the opportunities this year for a salary dump?

For signing Bryce - well Madson, Gio, Murphy, Wieters,  Adams and Kelly are all off the books - that's like 57 million alone. Also another 9 million if they don't pick up Doolittle and Kintzler but that's a whole bullpen rebuild then. There will be money - the ideal situatoin is Difo looks fine replacing Murphy, a young reliever (Glover?) becomes dominant, Severino or Read takes the next step, and they find a good young pitcher (Ross back in form?).  But that's drawing a straight flush on the river.
Another way to look at it - out of the high $ guys for 2019 and beyond  you can't deal Scherzer or Stras or Rendon - you need them. It coud be hard to get rid of Zimm becauase he's costly and of limited value (though maybe he kills it again this year?) Your best bet is probably dealing Roark and his ~10 million in 2019 salary but you'd have to find someone to replace him and Gio. It would take some work from Rizzo.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Happy New Year!

Long break so now I'll catch you up on everything Nationals related you might have missed.




don't forget


And now you're all caught up!

Baseball was almost as quiet. The Brewers signed Chacin and Gallardo taking away a couple back of the rotation possibilites. The Indians finalized their Alonso deal which means almost nothing for the Nats. Same lack of impact for the Nats is the Yankees holding on to CC Sabthia. The Twins signed Zach Duke, who has been a quality reliever for everyone except the Nats since 2011, probably nothing as well now that Kintzler is in hand. They won't be signing a reliever that isn't a tiny deal (well they never pass up a bargain).

Finally in something that did potentially matter in some way is the Rockies signed Wade Davis to like a billion dollars over 100 years. While it was probably a non-impact for the Nats (unless you think they were going to build a super-bullpen) it was a reminder again that the Nats were not signing that "proven closer".  Of course, Wade Davis isn't Jansen or Chapman or the like. After he dominated in the 2015 playoffs, he was less than impressive last year. Though he did get one important set of outs...

If this bothers you - let it go. The Nats were done actively looking at the back end of the bullpen once Kintzler was signed. Doesn't mean they can't end up with someone else - even a Holland, but the price is going to have to work out.  The reality though is it's 5th starter and back-up MI time.