Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - All might be well

Monday, March 19, 2018

Monday Quickie - All might be well

Eaton played! 

MAT played!

I had been pointing to today as a deadline for Eaton and he made it in under the gun (as much as that ever mattered).  He'll get about 10 games then to get back into the swing which probably isn't ideal, but if you aren't sure, you'd rather he have a week too few that start up a week too early. As the column notes though - the biggest issue probably isn't going to be at the plate but in the field. You can simulate live speed pitching with batting cage work. You can't simulate live speed OF play shagging fly balls and doing drills.

Janes runs down everything pertinent that doesn't include Ryan Zimmerman because that has for some reason become a sore spot between her and Nats fans. I mean sure you can say he's healthy and don't worry, but there is a story here. Especially given that it's Spring and everything is a story. There hasn't even been a column on Zimm this Spring. There have been two on Murphy who everyone is sure will miss Opening Day, just to say "yes, he's probably going to miss Opening Day".

There are extended AJ Cole and Tim Collins (Yay Tim Collins!) articles this weekend as well. These articles can combined teach you about the importance of options and exactly what type of deal you have signed. AJ Cole has no options left. If he doesn't make the team he will have to pass through waivers and he won't pass through waivers. He's an iffy 5th starter for the Nats, a team with a strong 1-4 and World Series hopes. He's a perfectly reasonable 5th starter with a little bit of potential for like half the league. Jeremy Hellickson is ok, maybe an arm you bet on having a better year than Cole, but you don't love the bet. He's on a minor league deal so the sensible thing is to have Cole start in the majors and worry about replacing him when (if? ... when) he fails.

After finally working his way back, Tim Collins signed a minor league with the Nats. So much like Hellickson it makes sense for him to start in the minors while the Nats pen figures itself out. But this doesn't mean he can be stashed there all year. Tim's got a July 1st opt-out, so if for some reason the Nats have held him back and he's doing well in AAA he can jump ship.  Don't expect that to happen though - even if the Nats pen is humming along expect them to either bring up Collins to keep him here or to ship him out. They aren't just going to let him walk if he's any good.

Another thing to note - the bullpen isn't as murky as it might seem. Shawn Kelley, getting paid millions, will get his chance to show he's not hurt. However, expect him to start on the DL. Why? The Nats have three guys for two slots if he's on the team.  Enny Romero is out of options, and was decent last year, so he'll make it.  Also out of options is Matt Grace, which explains why the guy with mediocre results is trying to be forced into a long relief role. Solis has only one option remaining. So it behooves the Nats to start him in major league camp to give them some flexibility down the line rather than waste the option now. They also see him as their best lefty stopper in the pen and don't really want to put him in the minors just to do it. If they can delay this decision on these three, even just by a couple weeks, they'll do it and hope that fate makes decisions for them.  It often does when it comes to pitching arms.


sirc said...

That all makes sense to me.

Remember in 2012, the Nats had Chien-Ming Wang as an established veteran option for that 5th starter role, but he was never very good for them and Ross Detwiler ended up having a good year, and gave the Nats their only good (great?) start in that postseason. Detwiler started that season as the 5th starter, was replaced by Wang, and then reclaimed the role. This AJ Cole v Hellickson situation feels similar to me.

Anyway, just something I've been thinking about in the boring stages of spring training.

Also I'm rooting for Tim Collins. I hadn't realized that he was with the team until I saw his name in a spring box score.

PotomacFan said...

Do the Nats have an incentive to keep Bryan Harper around? Maybe not on the major league roster, but at least in the system, with a call-up no later than September. Do you think that Bryce might be a tad more interested in staying with the Nats if he can play ball with his brother?

Harper said...

sirc - I'll take Detwiler's one-off career for AJ Cole.

PF - I suppose a little. Seems very likely he'll be in the system. I haven't heard otherwise. However, he is recovering from injury so I don't know if we can count on a call-up this year.

Bjd1207 said...

What is this Chelsea Janes fake controversy stuff? You're saying writing columns on Zimm at all has become a sore spot between her and fans? Or the coverage of him this spring?

KW said...

Enny Romero has gotten hit hard this spring. I don't think he's guaranteed anything. Grace is a replacement-level LH reliever, nothing special, easily replaceable. Solis is special when he's healthy, which isn't often, but he does have an option left. Collins has been in the upper 90s this spring and has been very good until his last outing.

I have no faith in Cole and would love to see him traded based on his good spring, as they'll have to DFA him if he crashes and burns. The Hellickson signing really struck me as a vote of no-confidence in Cole.

sirc said...

I don't see anywhere with information about Tim Collins regarding his velocity this spring. I root for the short guys in baseball, but a 5 foot 7 pitcher is like a 5 foot second baseman.

Ole PBN said...

I think the Hellickson signing was more about organizational depth (like bringing E-Jax back) that about a lack of confidence in Cole. Rizzo loves that kid for some reason. I on the other hand, don't see him as anything special. An uninspiring back-of-the-rotation piece at best. But I think that is all he is supposed to be and Rizzo doesn't expect anything more than for him to be 10-10 with a mid-to-high 4 ERA.

Regardless, I wanted a bonafide #3 to push Roark and Gio back. Whether it's Cole, Hellickson, EJax, or Fedde, I don't have much confidence in the rotation come October outside of Max and Stras. That isn't good for a team with WS aspirations.

Bjd1207 said...

Robles optioned. Which I think is actually good news because it speaks to how the organization feels about Eaton/MAT to start the season

Harper said...

BJD - Fans were getting a little bothered by the lack of Zimm news beyond "Team says he's fine" & she got a little snippy about it. But hey article today!

KW - I don't think he's guaranteed a spot long term but no options is no options. Someone will pick him up so the Nats will first try to hold onto him. Grace is the confusing one to me though - I see nothing there worth worrying about getting picked up. Let him go and start with your best pen.

sirc - here's some guy who bothered to get a clip

Ole PBN - agree. You don't bring in Hellickson if you like Cole. Well I don't. Well... I take that back. It's a minor league deal so whatever. Maybe you do.

BJD1207 - I see this as always the call, unless someone got hurt. Eaton was going to get his time. Bryce is not an option. and MAT had a good enough finish to 2017 to let him start. Robles can wait so he does.