Nationals Baseball: 2020

Monday, December 28, 2020

Josh Bell - Middle of the Order Bat?

Welcome back from my Holiday break. Yes all December is a holiday.  How does one expect to watch Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies if I'm bothering typing out posts?

The positional review will continue but first the Nats made a big move. Well maybe not a big move but a move that will be important for the 2021 season.  The Nats traded for Josh Bell to play first base.

The Nats have not had a great first base situation in a long while working around the perennially injured and rapidly petrifying Ryan Zimmerman.  Last year they had the possibly the worst situation in baseball with Zimm out, Eric Thames playing his way out of the league, and As Cab out of position having an off year. This year offered little hope of improvement from what was on the roster currently, especially after Kendrick decided to retire. Maybe you can work around a subpar 1B situation when you have an All-Star 3B but with Rendon now on the West Coast letting 1B stay fallow seemed like a luxury that the team could no longer afford.

Josh Bell is an interesting pick-up. Going though the general thoughts about him, the first thing is that he's cheap. He's still under team control for the next couple of years meaning a couple of team friendly contracts await in 2021 and 2022. That gives the Nats flexibility if they want to make a big money move. He's neither old nor young, He'll be 28 going on 29 next season. That's past the time you expect to find something new about a player but before the time you expect significant drop off. So most likely he is who he is. 

What exactly is that? 

Well if you look at 2016-2018 he's a guy who hits ok, has a good eye and doesn't strike out too much, but could use a little more pop. He doesn't offer much in the way of speed or defense. Overall, not a liability but not much of a help either. At another position this would be a plus, but he's a stop gap first baseman to cover the position for a couple years until you come up with a better plan. 

If you look at 2019 - he's got that pop and he's a good addition to the team. 

If you look at 2020 -  he's lost a lot of his eye at the plate, leaving him with far fewer walks, far more strikeouts, and not the guy you want to have at first. 

Which is the most real?  You hate to judge anything based on last years weird season, but the past two years have been a wild ride. In 2019 he suddenly started hitting everything in the air, very hard, and getting around on the ball. In 2020 the angle was suddenly reversed and he was pounding everything into the ground. It was still kind of hard and he was kind of getting around on it but the extreme change was enough to kill his offense completely. 

When you see such a change you look first to see if the pitches he's seen has changed. They have! He's gotten a few more off-speed pitches and a few fewer fastballs but that doesn't look to simply be it because the FB% dropped and off-speed% went up in 2019 when he hit much better. But that begs the question - maybe 2019 was split? A fast start followed by an adjustment by the league? 

And yep that's what you see.

First 61 games : .338 / .398 / .692

Last  games : .229 / .344 / .471

Certainly seems like the league either figured something out or something went wrong here, and whatever they figured out or went wrong continued into 2020.  

We could take this further and look at monthly pitch  percentages to be more sure that the pitches changed and yep they did, steadily fewer fastballs and more junk. But we see something similar in 2020, the league starting back up with a lot more hard stuff*

To put the nail in the coffin here we'd see a faster start for Josh in 2020 and we DON'T see that - but July was only 7 games so we kind of have to throw that out. What's more interesting is despite the decrease in fastballs and increase in breaking stuff September October was better than August. Of course those final stats were a lot more like his 2016-2018 stats, than anything else. The Ks were back down, the walks back up.

If you want to tell yourself a narrative, Josh Bell was what I described - a usable but unimpressive stop gap first baseman with not enough going for him to get that big contract when getting to FA. He tried to adjust his batting to create more power and more value and it worked great, but the league quickly figured him out making things worse than before. Before the season after the change was through Josh had resigned to hitting as he had before.

What this means for the Nats is someone not likely to be the big bat or much or a protector for Juan Soto behind him in the lineup.  However, if the Nats employ him AHEAD of Soto they might see something. They could try pitching to Bell giving him pitches to hit and he might be able to get back some of the 2019 power increase, or maybe they pitch around him and he can work a walk getting on base for Soto. This is a move that can make the Nats better than last year with some proper thought (and some luck of course). However it's not a guarantee of a better offense and in a division that's been tough and looks to stay that way the Nats need more. 

 What did the Nats give up? Wil Crowe and Eddy Yean.  Eddy is a lottery ticket. A 19 year old who keeps the ball in the park with a solid 2019 but lacking swing and miss stuff.  Wil Crowe is the key piece but that's sad because all Wil Crowe likely is is a 5th starter if the Pirates are lucky.  He's a guy with four pitches but no killer pitch. He likes his slider and his fastball has some speed but he doesn't do anything particularly well (control, Ks, GB rate) so he will put people on base and some of them will score. The hope the Pirates have is he develops that one great pitch allowing him to use everything else as a set up for that but it's getting close to the end of the time where that might happen. The Nats didn't lose anything they need here.

*Why do they do this? Throwing fastballs is easier. We've talked about this before but you try to beat players with the easiest stuff for you to throw. Can they hit major league fastballs in the zone? If they can't you've expended no effort and gotten the outcome you wanted. Most players can so you move on to different pitches and moving the ball around. 

Monday, November 23, 2020

Offseason Position Discussion : Shortstop

 Last Year's Discussion

Trea Turner is the Nats shortstop until he gets hurt, traded, or leaves in free agency.  He's good. He's cheap. After a perfectly decent 2019 there were no questions other than could he stay healthy as he missed another 40 games in 2019 keeping 2018 as his only full season. 

In 2020 Turner was healthy the whole way and had his best season ever.  Some of that is a high BABIP but it's certainly not too high. Walk rate is good. K-rate is down. Most importantly he showed a lot more power than he had in the past.  There was a little glimpse of that last year as he went from 27 2B, 6 3B and 19 HR in 162 games in 2018 to 37 2B, 5 3B, and 19 HR in 122 games.  He kept improving hitting 15 2B, 4 3B, and 12 HR in last years limited season which would translate to like 40 doubles, 10 triples, and 31 homers in a full season.  31! That's big boy numbers!

Trea's defense was about how it always has been. So the loss of Rendon didn't particularly do anything.

Presumed Plan : Turner starts at SS.  His back-up is any number of guys but Kieboom is probably most likely unless they sign a FA.

Reasoning on Presumed Plan : Turner last year was one of the best offensive shortstops in baseball.  Even if that's a fluke of the short season he's been improving and you'd expect him to be at least better than average. And really you are hoping it's not a fluke because Soto could really use another star bat in the line-up to help him out. Seeing that power go up while the peripherals go down is very encouraging. It means it's not an swing for the fences approach that's giving him his power.

His defense has been passable for the Nats and the fans think he's pretty good. 

Money wise he's still underpaid

Good, cheap, and can play the spot? This is an easy call. 

Problems with Presumed Plan : Nats fans have always overrated Trea's defense. From the early years when he was good and fans believed he was great, to now where he's not good and fans believe he is. He's aging out of the role. 

Hitting wise we might get be getting a little ahead of ourselves if we're thinking Trea's a star.  He could be - the trends are good, he's shown flashes before - but it could also be that fluke and he could merely be a decent bat. That's a problem not for him starting but for building around him in a cornerstone of the line-up sort of way. 

He does get injured pretty frequently with only ~1.5 (counting 2020) full seasons. 

My take :  There's no surprise here. You start Trea, but you don't quite plan around him being anything beyond a good player who can hold down SS for 140 games.  You hope he's great at the plate and good in the field. Worst case he's good at the plate and below average in the field. Likely he's somewhere inbetween but even if he hits the worst case, it's not enough to make him not worth his money or not a good player.  

Back-up doesn't particularly matter because since Trea is good he's going to play as much as possible. Yes, we do have to worry about injury but for the most part he's been healthy enough across the past three years so I don't think you have to take that into account. If he misses a month - oh well.  If he misses more - that's not a surprise but it's also one of those things that you just have to accept. Like Max going down at anytime given his age.  You can't bring in a full-time good SS to sit behind Trea.  Better is making that re-sign of AsCab and then if things happen to Trea and other guys hold their ground he fills in there. 

This is not a problem position. 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Offseason Position Discussion : Second Base

 Last Year's Discussion

My thinking was Kieboom was going to get his play - and probably at 2nd - with a solid back-up while Asdrubal manned 3rd.  But they signed probably the best "back-up" in Castro and flipped the script putting Castro as a full-time starter and Kieboom splitting time with AsCab.  Part of this might have been the Nats excitement over Luis Garcia. 

That excitement got to be tested early as Castro would go down in mid August. September was a glimpse of the future with Kieboom and Garcia both in the lineup.  How'd it go? Ehhhh...

Luis Garcia was not good. But that's ok! Luis Garcia wasn't terrible for a barely 20 year old having his first cup of coffee. In terms of getting base hits he was pretty decent. It's just everything else that failed him showing limited power and little patience. But he didn't strike out too much so the expectation is that he'll grow into the role. All last year showed is he's not Juan Soto (which did disappoint some hoping he was going to be like a 90% Soto) 

Kieboom on the other hand WAS terrible even considering he was barely 23. You lose a lot of leeway in those three years and hasn't shown anything at the major league level.  Ok that isn't true. Last year Kieboom was proficient at taking walks and got himself an OBP that was ok. But nothing else worked - he didn't hit, when he did hit it went nowhere (1 XBH), strike outs were better but still too high, and his fielding wasn't stellar though he was learning a new position.  It was so bad the Nats did "send him down" to get his head on straight. He was brought back (bye bye Difo!) and played until a bruised hand benched him for the last week.  Maaaaybe he was marginally better.

Presumed Plan: Luis Garcia keeps playing second.  Castro shifts to play a mix of first and third depending on who they sign and how they feel about Kieboom.

Reasoning on Presumed Plan: Garcia was better than Kieboom and while not good, he was good enough at 20, to see what he'd do at 20/21 in 2021 (HEY! LOOK AT THAT! THE 2000 BABIES ARE HERE!). You could probably make up some reason to keep him down at the start of next year that wouldn't be too crazy but the Nats have never been that type of team. Once guys are up they are up and get their chances (see: too many 5th starters that could have been cycled through faster). Castro is too good not to play and he obviously won't play SS, so that leaves 3B and 1B.  If the Nats want to give Kieboom a full year you stick Castro at 1B. If not, or if you want to be pragmatic about both Kieboom and Garcia's chances of sticking, you keep Castro at 3B at least splitting time.

Problems with Presumed Plan: Simply put - Garcia and Kieboom could both suck. They were bad and terrible at the plate last year respectively, and there's no reason to expect a huge turn around. It could happen, yes. But neither of these guys were undeniable minor league stars (and even those types sometimes don't click).  Most likely they improve slightly which makes Garcia a second Robles in 2021 and Kieboom barely hanging on to a spot. That isn't great.

If they both suck and you've committed to both of them (with Castro at 1B) the Nats are likely sunk.  A three batter hole (if not more) at the end of the line-up is hard to overcome.  If they both suck and you've kept Castro in a floating role then you can shift him in as needed but you'd still have one guy in the line-up that shouldn't be there. I know Harrison has signed but he's past his prime and isn't a full time guy

My take:  Committing to seeing what you have with two youngsters in sort of overlapping positions is hard for the reasons I state above.  A lot of building teams find themselves caught in these traps.  But what are the Nats going to do. These are the two hitting prospects the Nats are counting on to fill gaps. They have really nothing else in a minor league system that is both kind of weak and pitching heavy. The sooner they figure out what these guys are the sooner they can plan out the "Soto is Cheap" future of the next few years.  This is far from ideal but it's necessary.  

If the Nats really want to be sure they can sign a 1B (see those ideas a few posts ago). They have Castro here. They brought back Harrison. The back-ups are in place. Commit to a 1B solution that isn't Castro/Harrison and that's probably the best the Nats can do.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Off-Season Position Discussion : First Base

 Last year discussion

First base was going to be a mix of players. A good bye year for Zimm. Marcus Thames filling the Adam Lind Memorial role. Howie Kendrick when not playing another position. Some Asdrubal if you felt you needed some better fielding. Maybe a call-up like Yadiel Hernandez. There wasn't a specific plan as much as an idea. It would be a catch-all position that the Nats would probably go with the hot hand. 

However, COVID made Zimm delay his victory lap. Howie, who was already mostly DHing to limit injury potential, got hurt for the season. Thames was terrible. The Nats ended up with one of the worst first base situations in baseball. Plus - as Howie, AsCab, Thames, and Zimm are all FAs - no plan for the future!

Presumed Plan : A free agent signing is pretty much given. Whether it's all new FAs, a mix of someone old and someone new, or just returning people we don't know.

Reasoning on Presumed Plan : What's left here is Jake Noll and Hernandez.* The Nats were terribly thin in the minors to begin with and a year with no evaluation does not help. There is no possible way the Nats are going to go with what they currently have UNLESS they listen to me and move Soto to first and no one is going to listen to me. So they need to either sign or bring back someone.  There isn't a choice here really.

Both Howie and Zimm feel like they would come back if they want to play and if offered a reasonable deal so the Nats have the inside track on two guys. 

The FA class is pretty full with FA first baseman, FA guys who can play first, and guys who became FAs when their options weren't picked up in the past two weeks. That glut means value and the Nats being able to make a choice, not be backed into something.

Problems with Presumed Plan : Both Howie and Zimm could choose to retire rather than play next year. If you want them, the longer it takes them to decide the longer other teams have to sweep in and take the best of what's out there.

The free agent class is pretty weak currently CJ Cron, Jake Lamb...yuck.  It heated up with some options not picked up but it's a bunch of guys who hit previously who didn't hit last year and you'd be taking a gamble on them.  Mitch Moreland, Carlos Santana...There are some better bets than others but all in all you aren't dealing with great choices or even good ones. You have reasonable bets and unreasonable ones. 

The Nats already like going cheap at first base and now are looking at a position in a fire sale. How cheap can they go? Really cheap! So they might give in to their worst impulses and take whoever they can get at basically a minor league deal. 

My take : If Zimm wants to be back, let him come back.  Zimm has always hit when healthy and the possibility of a Zimm with a year off interests me greatly.  Besides I want Zimm to have that last year. Plus he came back for 2 million last year. Maybe he'd take a million for 2021? Either way there should be flexibility to sign him and someone else. 

Who else?  Ugh... If you want a bat I might take a flier on a Daniel Murphy reunion. The guy didn't hit in Coors but Coors can mess some guys up. He's old but so is everyone.  A quick rundown of guys available

Encarnacion - 38 and bad trends

Frazier - Nothing in past 5 years makes you think he's better than average. Not really worth the gamble

Gyorko - Might be best bet out there, age wise, hitting, fielding, which means someone will give him something which prices him out of the Nats' plan 

Moreland - an intersting choice, possibly the best fielder out there. Not anything special, mind you but Zimm will be terrible, also a lefty bat that compliments that.

Santana - One off year but didn't adapt to NL in short stint with Phillies. Maybe needs the occasional DH start? Walks a ton which might be of interest to a team that finished 11th in the NL despite teams pitching around Soto. 

AsCab - he's Asdrubal!  We like him! But he's probably too valuable with his ability to split positions to get back dirt cheap

Dietrich - Age is fine but now just a swing for the fences guy who will hit .200 if lucky.  Pass.  \

Brad Miller - SUPERSTAR.  Has decent all around plate skills but doesn't stand out in any.  Not at all a bad back-up choice for some team but I don't see him as a platoon or starter.

Logan Morrison - see Dietrich but worse. 

Sandoval - Big Panda is fun. He also was complete trash for the Red Sox which makes me like him even more. But at his age/shape when he goes he's going to go fast.  I wouldn't gamble

Neil Walker - An AsCab like who probably fields better but hasn't hit well since 2017.  No reason to gamble on. 

Cron -see Dietrich but better? The guy is going to hit homers.  An interesting bench piece for some team as you can see him come off it and mash some game tying shots but for regular play?  You need to be a pretty decent offensive team to let him just grip and rip and I don't quite know if the Nats are there.

Gurriel - Age and post cheating performance creates a lot of doubt. Who wants a cheater? Not me.

Lamb - Someone is going to look at his two weeks and Oakland and give him a shot. Hope it's not the Nats. As he hasn't been good for years

Smoak - Also like these guys - becoming a pure walk and homer guy. He's interesting to me because he's a switch hitter who's become a "really should only bat left" guy as he's gotten older.  I think he'd make a good platoon with a RHB like Zimm

I guess I've talked myself into trying to do a Zimm/Moreland platoon in 2021, or maybe even a Zimm/Smoak one Santana would also make an interesting choice if you are willing to put him ahead of Soto and see if he can get on base and get knocked in. 

*remember the week of "we should have kept Marmelejos!"  He finished his trial hitting .036 in his last two weeks. He isn't major league. 

Monday, November 09, 2020

Off-Season Position Discussion : Catcher

Last year discussion

By the time I got around to doing catcher last year, Gomes had been released and re-signed to break his contract and get him at a lower cost.  Anything in a 60 game season is going to be suspect but he was decent and Suzuki had an average year. Both were healthy all year too so no one else had to play the position. So catcher, for once, wasn't an issue at all.

Presumed Plan : Gomes and a back-up, unless.... they sign Realmuto.  I think they will give that a decent run.

Reasoning on Presumed Plan : Suzuki might have another year in him but at 37 and with a championship in hand, I'm not sure there's a point to have him here, even at one year.  Gomes was perfectly decent, has a deal for 2021, and was always the idea of a long-term (read 3-4 year) solution when he was brought here.Year one didn't work out but year two did so stick to the plan.  As for the back up, it'll probably be Raudy Read, a guy they liked a couple years ago but has mostly fallen off track. He'll have next year to show something while guys like Tres Barrera and Israel Pineda develop and hopefully one becomes a solid choice to start getting playing time in 2022.

JT Realmuto is really good and if you want the best long term solution he's the choice.  There's certainly an argument not to waste cheap Juan Soto years not trying 

Problems with Presumed Plan  : Gomes has gone from great to terrible to good to bad to good again. There isn't a strong reason to buy that he'll be good next year and there's a better chance he'll be terrible than very good. Raudy Read also should be pretty bad so the chances of a terrible Nats catcher situation is pretty decent. Any time you are waiting for minor leaguers that aren't the top prospects (and neither of these catcher guys are) you are probably waiting for nothing.

If you want Realmuto... that's going to cost you.  Catchers are hard to find and not EVERY team is tanking.  If you expect anyone to get money this offseason it's JT. 

My take

How strong the Nats are on Realmuto will show you right away how they are looking at next year.  Are they waiting out what might be a shortened season or otherwise atypical year looking to go back big in 2022 or even later? Or are they going to try to keep winning every year? That was the plan in 2020 and that didn't work and while it was a shortened year it makes you wonder if it makes more sense to sit a year, shake off some more contracts, and come back strong. 

I think it's worthwhile to use 2021 as an evaluation year.  It's rare that as a team you have leeway with fans to do so, but a championship and a pandemic year will give you that.  You are going to be "post-Max" soon (probably) and have a lot of potential holes to fill, - 1B, 3B, OF, RP, SP, maybe 2B if they get unlucky, probably C, so being able to take a year to see exactly what you have before planning the next run is a good idea. 

That being said - if you want to have a next run soon and don't like your catchers - and since I noted "probably C' as being a hole you can tell I don't like their catchers - Realmuto makes a lot of sense. And for the Nats I think it makes too much sense to pass up (as well as keeping him from the Phillies and Mets) 

I don't think the Nats will actually do this. I think their focus will be on signing/trading for the pitcher that starts now and covers the post-Max years, especially given Strasburg's arm issues. But i want to maximize my success when I can build around Soto both in the "best hitter in baseball" sense and in the "way underpaid" sense. The Nats got about 3 years of that (his last years of arb are going to either be very expensive or hopefully bought out in a long term deal). Make it happen.


Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Election Day !

Are you a Doolittle or a Suzuki (and Zimm and Corbin and...) 

Here's a quick guide on how to watch tonight's elections if you care to

Simple :

It can be argued you only need to care about Florida at first.  It's a big electoral state. It swings to both parties. It should call relatively quickly even if it's only a couple percentage points apart*. 

If it's called for Biden it's likely over. Florida is a bit of it's own thing but it's hard to see Trump winning the Midwest state given the polling and the closeness of those states in the 2016 election if he's losing ground in a state he won back then. 

If it's called for Trump then hang around and wait for the next likely battleground results in AZ and NC. Biden still has several paths to victory. If these go for Biden, it's over. If they are called for Trump, now we're in a dogfight. Essentially Trump has held his ground on his 2016 states outside the Midwest and we gotta wait out Wisconsin, who will try to call it tonight at some point even if "tonight" is after 6AM, Pennsylvania, who have resigned themselves to call it later in the week if it's close, and Michigan which is in between.  Trump barely won these so even a slight turn back toward the Democrats would give Biden the wins and winning all three still gives him the electoral count he needs. But unless something crazy happens (Biden wins Texas! Trump turns Nevada!) this means a hell week.  Let's not hope for this. 


Complex :  

When the polls close at 7:00 the speed on how fast they call states will give us an idea of how the night will go.  A lot of these states are so NOT close that they'll be called extremely quickly regardless, but Indiana and Virginia might give us ideas of how long this will take. Those are both pretty partisan states this election but not overwhelmingly so and would probably normally be called within... I'd say 60-90 minutes this time. (Typical for Indiana, faster for Virginia which is progressively getting very blue)

It does matter if the reasons these are not called are because it's "too close" or "too early". What's the difference? Think of "too early" as "everything going as we think it will but we don't have enough votes to get to the confidence to call" and "too close" as, well, too close. Both of these should fall into the "too early" category, and if that's the case and they are taking a long time that's bad news for an early night.  That means counting all these other votes, even in states with relatively low counts or good processes, will add significant time to the call times.  If they are "too close" that tells you something else. Indiana too close - good for Biden. Virginia too close - good for Trump.  But I don't expect either of these.

Assuming we don't have those delayed calls when the counts do start, Trump will take a very small early lead then Biden will blow past around 8:00 as the NorthEast comes in and those call. They'll trade some other states with Biden expanding his lead. 
Early bellweathers at this point will be Maine and South Carolina. Neither are expected to be close but are in a range where a few percentage points can change that. If one side is making an unexpectedly good or bad showing (I guess that goes hand in hand) we'll likely see it as these states make their counts. 

Around now (9:00 ish) you can go back to the simple analysis above.  We see when Florida calls and to who Florida calls. It's big. Still, it's not enough to win the game for anyone. You can also look at some other close ones. Nebraska-2 could be telling. Same with New Hampshire.  (If you are wondering Maine-2 tends to take a while in any election) 

The midwest will be closed by now but because the closest ones, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, decided to barely (or not at all) process before election day it'll be hours for them to call unless it's a landslide, maybe even then. So that means the next "toss-up" will be Texas, who also counts quickly. Of course I only see this being notable in a very strong night for Biden and you probably will know by the time Texas is likely to call if that's a possibility. 

The West Coast will call next around closing (11PM) and if things have fallen as expected, Biden will have a strong lead over Trump but won't be at 270 outside of a crush and with most left in play being battlegrounds.  We start playing a waiting game looking at Arizona, North Carolina, maybe Minnesota, Ohio, maybe Iowa, Georgia, and the aforementioned Wisconsin and see if anything gets Biden over the top or if it's a string of Trump holds that keeps him in the game. If it's the latter then it'll be up to MI and PA to decide it, likely over the next couple days.

Outside of timing issues, anything outside of this above would be a surprisingly result. I'm not talking about a state or two flipping in a different direction (that's possible). I'm talking about the general flow
  • Very small, early Trump lead
  • Big Biden push over Trump
  • Some back and forth with Biden's lead expanding
  • The Texas call to close a lot of the gap for Trump
  • The West Coast call to open it back up and get Biden within a couple states
  • The wait and see what happens.
and in all that does Florida fall for Trump and make it tense, or does it go for Biden and make it a fait accompli? 

I set the over/under for Biden at 305, expecting a Biden win but with a lot of close losses that mitigate talk of a blue wave. Last time I said (in private) I thought Hillary would win but Trump had a chance. Now I'd say I think Biden wins but Trump has a prayer.

*Note here : A "close" election that delays calling a state is REALLY close. Like under a 2% win.  Even as low as a 0.50% win - these guys can call it right with limited delay - a couple hours.  (They've only missed one in all these years and that one was RIDICULOUSLY close). Of course absentee ballots will change things but in general a lot of these states can and will be called quicker than you may think**

 ** unless I'm wrong about these absentee things and in that case just go to sleep because we're likely looking at the middle of the night at the earliest.  

Thursday, October 29, 2020

The Purge

The Nationals are moving on.  Yesterday they declined the options for five veterans of the World Series team; Eaton, Kendrick, Sanchez, and new acquisition Eric Thames. The Nats also didn't come to early deals with Zimm, Doolittle, or Suzuki, as well as Brock Holt and Asdrubal.  

Eaton and Sanchez were no-brainers as their performances didn't warrant their options of 10.5 million and 12.5 million respectively.  Thames also was not likely to deserve his raise to 4 million for 2021. Kendrick if healthy should be worth his number (6.5) but given his injuries this year and his age the Nats didn't feel like betting on it. 

What's the most likely scenarios here? 

Zimm -  If Zimm wants to come back at some super low rate (last year he was essentially paid 4 million - 2 million for a buyout and 2 million more in contract), I'd imagine the Nats would take him back. But we're likely looking at 1-2 million. My guess is he takes that or failing that - signs a minimum contract just to wave to fans for a few games in April. I can't see him going anywhere as an inability to play a full season more than one time since 2013 (2013!), a middling 2019 at the plate and no defense, and not playing in 2020 means no one is going to offer him anything. 

Kendrick - Howie likes it here by all accounts and the Nats like Howie. But I think Howie is going to get his money if it's out there and I think an AL team would be smart to give him 5 million a year to DH, something I can't see the Nats doing. I imagine the Nats are looking in the 3-4 million range in total so that'd be no more than a contract for 2 million given the 2.25 million dollar buy out. (or else you'd just keep him).  This depends on the market

Doolittle - Doolittle is another one that loves it here but how much the team wants him back is a question. They need reliable pen arms and Sean can't be considered that right now. Relievers are a little too highly valued now so I'm going to guess someone out there will give him something like 3+3 and that'll be enough to pull him away from the Nats who will be more like 1+4 with a lot of performance options on the 1. 

Suzuki - the Nats appear to be moving on and Suzuki is a place holder starter.  The Nats appear to want to go with Gomes and see what else they got (or maybe go for a Realmuto?) not have another year of sort of platoon.  Suzuki has become a vagabond in the second half of his career and catchers are always needed so someone is going to give him 6-8 for two years and there he will go. 

Sanchez - Anibal is a tough one. The Nats could really use him just to eat up innings given the lack of confidence in their 5th starter options and questionable health of Strasburg. I imagine they offer him something like 3 million for a year (with the 2 million buyout). The question is whether a better market is out there for him given the poor 2020 showing. My guess is not given that ATL got him for 1 million at three years younger. (Although it was after 3 subpar years - not one).  I think he comes back on the cheap

Thames - gone. The Nats don't linger on these types. He might not be in MLB next year at all. (and honestly with the virus likely to still be around would probably be better off heading back to Korea) 

Holt - I don't like Holt, the type of mediocre scrappy white player who has more fans than hits, which gives me an unreasonable fear he could be back. But given he likely signed for something around 100K and they didn't work hard to keep him, I do have hope.

Asdrubal - Asdrubal is extremely useful, and doesn't seem to overvalue himself but he, like Suzuki, goes where he can get paid and play and I think some other team will give him more than the Nats, who are likely to give long tryouts to Kieboom and Garcia.  Harrison is already back as their acceptable part-time back-up. AsCab would be overkill. 

Eaton : The Nats aren't going to go just with Stevenson full time. But I'm not sure if they go for a big upgrade, veteran presence with Stevenson getting some time, or Stevenson first as part of a bigger rebuild.  None of these plans though include Eaton.

In the end my projections 

Back : Sanchez

Back if he wants to come back : Zimm

Back if the market isn't too high (and I don't think it will be) : Kendrick 

Gone : Everyone else, though the should really think about keeping AsCab. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

Josh Harrison is back! Woo?

 Josh Harrison was re-signed by the Nats. One year, one-million, which is essentially the entry level "you are better than a minor league contract" contract.

Harrison was perfectly fine as a back-up 2B/3B/1B/Corner OF? wha? type.  His defense is decent enough that he can replace someone that is bad and be an upgrade (Zimm at first? I'd say Soto but why the hell would you ever be pulling Soto for defense. I don't care if he is a statue - like goes out into the outfield dressed in a Tanooki Suit, presses down and B and literally turns into one - he's too good at the plate. Are you insane?) And his bat was average (.278 / .352 / .418) which for a back-up 2B man is good! 

Is any of this sustainable? He probably won't hit that well but the terrible 2019 year does look like an aberration.  Expect like an 85-95 OPS+ type year (that's like below average but not enough to drive you crazy if the player has a limited role. The fielding seems more likely to continue which is a nice thing to have given that the Nats are likely to press Luis Garcia into a larger role and he was shaky on defense this year* Also given he played a decent corner OF maybe that gives the Nats a little leeway to let Eaton go and replace him with a lummox who can hit (or to take out Eaton late in games) 

Fine move. Doesn't move any needles though.

The Nats are also cleaning the house in some ways with staff. The let Chip Hale and Paul Menhart go so Davey could add some handpicked guys. Seems like we was given that leeway when he got extended. We'll see how that works. More curious is Kevin Long being let go, then brought back.  It looks like he wanted another job that didn't come free for him.

*Overall Garcia's minor league evaluations read a little like "this guy should be good on defense" with no more discussion. Given that a struggle at the major league level isn't surprising. But I also wouldn't write him off as a good defender yet.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Wednesday Night World Series Post

 I'm for the Dodgers. Pretty simple

1) The Rays beat the Yankees and there fore deserve to get beaten into a bloody pulp. I don't buy into the "at least we lost to the guys that won" stuff. They beat me. They are bad. They should lose. 

2) I have a friend that's a Dodgers fan and it's been 32 years since they won.  That's a long time

3) Yes I know the Rays never have won. They've also been around 10 fewer years than the Dodgers have been without a title. 

4) Rays have that stupid giant logo hat

5) Rays efficiency baseball has made the game less fun for me to watch.  Not having starters? Shifting ruining the classic lefty bat as well as making me unable to know off the bat whether something is a hit or not when watching on TV? Not paying these guys any real money? No thank you.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Monday Quickie - Who ya got?

 OK, ok. I've been slack.  We're just going to have to deal with this as the new reality for a while because time is not kind. (not like I'm getting old, though I am - slower than you, but still - but in the not a lot of time when you are watching kids in school time). I'll try to figure out something that fits better - even if it' sjust one long post over the weekend or stream of conciousness stuff. 

Anyway, the Championship Series are here and it's hard for me to give a damn. I guess I'm rooting for the Dodgers because I don't really have anything against them unlike the still using a racist chant owned by a mega-corp Braves, destroying the game by trying to squeeze out every win regardless of the enjoyability of the method Rays, and the cheating cheaters Astros. 

Your mileage may vary. 

As far as former Nats out there pickings are slim

  • The Dodgers have Blake Treinen (and unofficial Nat Joe "why am I still on the mound" Kelly) 
  • The Braves have brief Nat Mark Melancon. They had Matt Adams but he sucked and was released. They had Tommy Milone and he sucked and was released
  • The Rays have no one I don't think 
  • The Astros have Dusty. Brad Peacock was also there but got hurt.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Former Defending Champs, but not yet former Champs

The Nats were eliminated last night - getting blown out by a desperate Phillies team and finished off by a Giants win.  The season, for what it was, is over.  What happened? 

Well in my opinion 2019 happened. The Nats went all-in at the end of 2019 to win and that meant committing to a basically a 6 man pitching staff, using Max, Stras, and Corbin heavily in relief. They all logged a ton of innings, along with their two man pen and the results were self-evident. Doolittle hurt. Strasburg hurt. Corbin wasn't good.  Hudson wasn't good. And even Max, the rock of Major League pitching, wasn't Max.

 The Nats put up an ERA that currently sits at 13th in the league, the typical chewing gum and bailing wire fixes elsewhere doing mostly as you would expect. Would things have been better with Joe Ross? Probably. But unless he was going to blossom into an ace the Nats would still likely have been on the outside looking in, just lasting a few more games. 

With this pitching the offense almost doesn't matter, but after years of bouncing around between great and very good the Nats were merely ok. Juan Soto lost time to an early false positive but otherwise was MVP worthy. Trea Turner might have blossomed, or might have just caught a hot streak*, but either way he was nearly as good as Juan. The rest of the team was disappointing. Robles regressed. Kieboom stunk and Garcia wasn't special (though fine for an intro season at this age). Eaton and Howie both didn't hit then got hurt. Thames didn't take up the "good for a year" 1B mantle. No one became a surprise savior like 40 game AsCab in 2019 (He was just ok in 2020).  Turns out you keep losing star level bats and eventually it'll matter.

This wasn't the vagaries of the short season. Those pitching woes were real and would have been even more difficult to overcome in 162. But that was the choice the Nats made and the rings on the fingers say it was worth it.

*Let's face it - in a 60 game season every statement here comes with the caveat it could be just an extended good/bad streak.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Monday - Just math now

The Nats are mere hours from elimination.  Maybe... 2 now.  Maybe 7. Maybe 24, hell  maybe 48, but eventually the numbers will turn against them.  

Then what? 

Well we can go over it then! We'll review the season stats, as they are when that's over. But here's a quick rundown of the contract situations for the Nats because we'll talk about that immediately.  Tomorrow even. 

Options -

Anibal 18 million

Eaton 10.5 million

Holt 5 million

Thames 3 million (mutual) 

Off the Top of my Head - I'm going to assume non get picked up 

Free Agents -

Doolittle, Suzuki, Kendrick, Zimmerman, Harrison, Castillo

Off the Top of my Head - Oooh I don't know. I'll think about it 

Freed $

Not all that much I don't think.  The numbers, especially for the Nats, get complicated, but they aren't losing anyone making a ton, are losing a bunch of guys that are relative bargains so to refill positions likely means spending all the money right up to the cap on guys that are just ok.  But...

Thinking ahead

In 2021 they lose more guys including Max who could bring them a bunch of free money. So if you don't plan to keep him you could double down on this year going over to go back just under next year. Of course by that time Turner is in the expensive arbitration area and Soto hits arbitration. So it's not all well and good. 

Look the good times weren't going to last forever. They had that 2012 young team advantage and parlayed that huge advantage into a second window from 2016-2019.  Now... now requires some really fancy footwork (or cash).

Monday, September 14, 2020

Monday Quickie - nope season over

Less than two weeks left to play and 5 games out of the WC with 4 teams in between?  That's too big a task for a team that's not 100%. At this point I suppose you "let the kids play" though in reality that means a lot of Kieboom and Garcia and most other guys you probably feel pretty good about knowing what you got there. It's a shame too because Soto would quite likely get a fair number of MVP votes on a good team. He's likely to finish the season on top of the SLG charts and could easily be on there for OBP as well.  But given that this team took a big step back and there are plenty of reasonable candidates out there (Betts, Tatis, Machado) he's going to be well out of it. And this means Trea Turner - who might deserve it just as much because he isn't a statue in the field, will probably get close to zero consideration.  Maybe if they let him run wild on the basepaths to end the year.

 This will also be the year Max breaks his streak of Top 5 Cy Young finishes. He may not even get a vote thanks to slow pull Davey who left him out to hang again yesterday.  Yes, I know he is intimidating but in THIS season you don't need to let him get his way. You need him to stay healthy. Take the ball. Manage the damn team. 

There is nothing much interesting.  No one is anywhere close to .400. Soto probably can't get enough HRs or RBIs to win the Triple Crown.

What needs to happen from here on out is someone needs to keep Davey from riding the young arms that have looked ok this year into the ground. He probably can't - it's only two more weeks, but who knows what this guy will do. Probably warm everyone up every night from the 5th on or something. Shut it down, reset and figure out what to do with that fact you are under the cap. A relief pitcher or a real bat is paramount. Given how Harris turned out in the pen, I think they go after a bat for 1B. Of course my thoughts have long been move Soto to first and next year even makes more sense with the dearth of 1B options in FA but no one ever listens to me.

Friday, September 11, 2020

It gets late immediately out here

The last games of the season are just over two weeks away.  The Nats have played 42 games meaning, if all goes well, they could manage 18 more games.  They have to make up 5.5 games on the last team in the playoffs so a 13-5 run to get to one game under .500 would mean that team, currently the Marlins or Giants, would have to go 9-12 and 6-9 respectively.  

Neither of these is crazy but the 13-5 for the Nats probably is. But the thing is, as you get into more reasonable territory, say 11-7, the other numbers get a little harder to imagine : 7-14, 4-11.  Along with the fact that the Rockies, Brewers, Mets and Reds all can't do equal or better than the 11-7 record.  

It's not over just yet but we're staring at it being beyond even the most optimistic scenario.  Lose all 3 this weekend and you'd have to finish 13-2 to have a shot? Yeah no.  

Really the Nats need to sweep the remaining games, but in this crazy season I'll take a 2-1 and look around to see if things have changed. The big thing sitting out there is a 5 game set against the Marlins followed by a 5 gamer against the Phillies. All we can ask for is they get to those series with a chance to catch either of those teams, however remote that chance may be (bc it's probably take a sweep). 

Someone is going to run off something like 14-4 to end the year. Someone is going to tank with a 4-14. More than likely that'll be an Indians and Tigers but why not the Nats and a team they are chasing?  The cards lined up last year. If we were 140 games in I'd say pack it in. But we want to squeeze all the enjoyment out of this tiny season as possible so hang in there. Let's not call it optimism about the Nats' chances, but realism that the minute the season is over you'll be ready for the next one, a real 162 one, to start.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Monday Quickie : Season not over?!

Nah over. Probably. 

Nice to win a few but as they were the rare interleague games they only help the Nats with wins and not with giving someone else losses. Same for tonight. This week the Nats take on the Braves which also isn't much help given that the Braves are 8.5 games ahead of the Nats.  They aren't going to catch them. 

But win your games and hope some other things go your way.  This week the Phillies are playing the Marlins so the Nats, if they win, will gain ground on someone they can catch.  

It was nice to see Max be Max AND not be pushed hard. Streaky Suzuki is having a hot streak now and Brock Holt is doing what he does (win the hearts of short white people who love "real" baseball and imagined scrappy gritty players with a lot of singles then suck but keep their hearts). Luis Garcia and Robles are also hitting better so that's a good sign for now and later.  Kieboom however... 

Ok quickie for real

Friday, September 04, 2020

I remember the season being not over

 The Phillies swept the Nationals and the season is over. 

OK that's obviously not technically true, there is a month or so left. And it's not true as it would be in a normal year.  This year with 8 teams in .500 will get you a spot and in the NL where the top teams are shaping up to be more dominant, a couple games under could also work. Currently the last playoff spot would be held by one game under Colorado at 18-19.  

But still it's 5 games out with a month to go - which would be bad with a team you like. The Nats don't just have a bad record, they have one of the worst records in baseball. With only 25 games to go to get to .500 the Nats would have to go 18-7.  That's equal to their best months from last year. 

 If you want to be a brightsider - it is still possible, even some mediocre teams pull off a month like this. And honestly the Nationals aren't 12-23 bad as a team.  Pythag has them at 16-19 which feels more right. So it's not AS crazy for them to pull off a great month. 

But while last year you had your top 3 and the health of a line-up to point to as changes, this year you have nothing. Strasburg is out. The line-up is as healthy as it's going to be. The trade deadline passed and the Nats did nothing. This team, roughly a 16-19 squad, is what you have going forward and something like 12-13 over the last 25 is probably the most likely scenario.  24-36?  Bleh

What is there to watch then? 

  • Can Trea Turner stay hot? Is Trea finally going to break out? If not, say the homers fall, can he hold on to the batting average crown?
  • Where will Juan Soto end up? MVP level so far with no reason to think that won't hold up.  
  • Is Kieboom any good? He'll get a second chance pretty soon and the Nats are kind of depending on him
  • How does the new bullpen hold up down the stretch? 2021 will look brighter if Rainey and Finnegan keep performing through the end of the year. 
  • Can the Nats play spoiler to anyone else? 

That's what I got. 

Monday, August 31, 2020

Monday Quickie - SELL SELL SELL

The Nats lost 2 of 3 this weekend to the moribund Red Sox.  Yesterday was a particularly bad day as once again the Nats 5th (4th?) starter Austin Voth looked like he didn't belong starting at all but the Nats don't have much choice but to keep rolling him out. The offense was a little better but it was still heavily dependent on Turner, possibly the hottest hitter in baseball, and Soto. Most of the rest of the guys aren't hitting and while they should eventually start to here and there, there isn't like 2-3 great hitters that definitely should start raking.  Kendrick? He's old and gets hurt.  Suzuki? He's old and a catcher. It's kind of an old team. 

Who should be traded? 

Suzuki - catchers are always needed and Suzuki has had enough good years to make someone dealing for him think he could have a hot last month.  Gomes is ready to fill-in and not be terrible like last year (I think). Frankly that's the plan anyway so what's a month to you.

Harrison - He's hitting ok and you have Garcia (not to mention Castro). Why waste that set of circumstances? Plus Brock Holt becomes the next Harrison

Eaton - I know this may be tough for some. He's was a key last year and is a "spark plug" but his contract is sort of up next year - certainly in a way the Nats aren't going to pick up. And with his history you might get something not terrible for him

Maybe - 

Howie and Doolittle - both of these guys should be a lot better if healthy so you are selling really low. But their contracts are up after this year.  Sell for pennies on the dollar or keep and take a chance at getting nothing because you also might get a one-year budget deal for 2021? 

Thames - Trade if you can but I mean, who wants a guy who can't hit and field?

Not - 

Asdrubal - A deal that would fetch back something I'm sure, but the Nats kind of need him? He can play three... hell five if we count 1B and DH, positions, still hits above average, if slightly.  If the Nats are going to rotate between bad options at 1B 2B and 3B they are going to need someone ok so it doesn't feel like they are completely giving up.  There is a psychological component to the game and not 100% giving up on 2021 can carry into next year IMO.  Plus have you seen the "hauls" back teams are getting? Might as well keep AsCab if you are getting back an A-ball never was a prospect type. 

Sanchez - With Max in a questionable spot and Stras out the Nats need guys to eat innings to keep their pen arms from being ground to dust.  Sanchez might get you back something for a team looking for a third arm but I think he's more valuable eating up innings here. 

Friday, August 28, 2020

The world stops baseball again

So the Nats / Phillies series ends prematurely and it ends up being a 2-0 Phillies sweep of sorts. Technically the Nats are only 2 games out of the last playoff spot. More realistically they have a big hill to climb with a lot of teams in front of them between here and there. 

Luckily for the Nats they go interleague now to take on one of the few teams who can legitimitely say their season is probably over*. The Red Sox sit at 10-21 and would need a 15-4 finish just to get to the Harper magical .500. They will likely sell. They will likely give young players a little more room to breathe. So the Nats, if they have any hope of climbing back into this thing, need to basically win them all this weekend. It's Max, Anibal and ?.  

But let's be honest again. The playoffs would be an added distraction for a couple more weeks. The Nats have a World Series in hand. So if they don't make it - it's ok.  Really I'm more concerned with Davey letting Max throw 110 pitches over 6+ for no good reason than I am with the Nats winning here. For Nats fans the bigger negative of the Phillies series is not finishing the Phillies season and instead putting them back into contention, however weak that word is defined this year. The bigger news from the series is since it sets the Nats up as non-contenders do they start trading off useful cheap pieces; Asdrubal, Josh Harrison, or young guys they might have soured on (Kieboom?). A glut of SP in the minors to throw down there and see if anything comes up would be very useful in the next couple years. You probably get a lot of Nick Pivetta types but maybe you get lucky. Even an 4.50 inning eater is worth it for the cheap fill of that #5 spot.

 OK so enjoy whatever baseball will take place this weekend (I'm sure there will be baseball) and we'll meet back on Monday to see if the Nats have stayed in it or should pack it in and if they traded anyone.

*The others being Pittsburgh and the Angels.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Tuesday Quickie - the pitching

Pitching - because of the limited outings, is harder to read than hitting and more held to the 50/60 game mark for evaluation for me. But here's what we see so far just because we have to. 


Tanner Rainey has been very good. It's not terribly sustainable (.053 BABIP!) but he's gone from super wild to acceptably so in a couple seasons so he should be able to stick around in the pen and if he can keep making improvements be an important piece.


Kyle Finnegan hasn't been as lucky so he hasn't been as good as Rainey. But unlike Rainey he lacks the swing and miss stuff. So while Rainey might develop into something nice Finnegan is likely a mediocre guy having a fluky good start. At least someone is. 

Wander Suero and Javy Guerra have been basically who they are with Guerra probably getting a little luck and Suero not. 

Ok, Now the ample bad news

Less Bad

The Nats really need Corbin to step into the A1 role but he's merely been good. Still a top level pitcher but not the type you think at any minute is going to run off a 5-0 month with a 1.50 ERA and stop all losing streaks cold. 

Max hasn't quite been MAX. Maybe the workload of last year, the weird start, or just age but he's not hitting his spots and is more hittable, more homerable, and walking more.  He's still got swing and miss stuff though. I think he'd be effective if Davey could just corral him.  Say it's just for the year. You are going out and giving the best 5 and then out. If he's doing awesome and is at 60 pitches - sure let him go but early hooks this season might be the best bet. 

Will Harris has not pitched well but has caught some breaks. He's sort of like Rainey EXCEPT the Nats are paying him a lot with the expectation he'd be an 8-9 guy for a while and he's 35. Things catch up to Rainey - oh well, maybe you have a back of the pen arm for a couple more years. Things catch up to Harris and you've screwed up.

More bad

Sanchez had a good outing last time but otherwise has looked exceedingly hittable. He's not missing bats but he is missing zones.  But again maybe a slow start. 

Hudson isn't pitching terrible but given the three things you can do - K, not walk, not give up homers - the last is arguably the most important, especially for a reliever and that's been a bugaboo for him this year.  Like Sanchez there's a chance this clears up. 

Ryne Harper looks like another Nats pen arm which means maybe innings eating usable but not dependable.

Most bad

Doo is hurt and Stras is hurt 

Replacing Stras Voth and Fedde both seem like the AAAA starters that they are. Wil Crowe wasn't good either. This is a three man rotation right now - one of those guys isn't doing well, one should be limited with eyes on 2021 so... yikes. 

More like Dakota BADcus, am I right? And he's the guy they chose to put in! This is the best they got in reserve! And you saw Romero. It's true. The pen is thin too

Monday, August 24, 2020

Monday Quickie - A month in of sorts

The Nats have played 25 games now which is generally about the number they'd be at at the end of April and when we'd first really look into stats with the caveat that Memorial Day is the true time to dig in.  Of course the equivalent to Memorial Day is the last week of the season this year so there's little point in doing that so let's dig in now, unfair in some sense, but completely reasonable in a 60 game season that's now over 40% over. We'll do offense today


Soto is a beast a might win the MVP.  Despite missing a week he leads the team in homers,. He also leads them in BA, OBP, SLG and tied for the lead in walks. He's second in RBI (to Asdrubal), 3rd in doubles, 3rd in hits. 

He's unlikely to win a Triple Crown which is something I wondered about. Part of that is the vagaries of short season batting average - he'd be 2nd now in the NL but Blackmon is hitting .405 and any number of guys having a hot September could end up with a crazy high final average.  The other issue is the gap already between him and some leaders. Tatis has 12 homers and 29 RBI. Betts 11 and 24. Can Soto at 7 and 16 pass them? Given the rest of the team that RBI number might be particularly hard. 

In fact if he doesn't pass Tatis or Betts - that's probably going to be where the MVP ends up. Leader of best team in baseball, or leader of upstart playoff team, sounds better than leader of disappointing defending champion.

Turner has had a nice little bit of hitting the past week and is being a nice compliment to Soto and it seems real enough. It'd be great if he could solidfy that step up.

AsCab is doing as 2nd half of career AsCab does and Yan Gomes has provided a nice pick me up here and there which is nice as someone has to be the catcher in future years. 

That's the good news 

Luis Garcia has had a nice early start but has a unsustainable BABIP, a super low BB-rate, and no pop.  The first one will change meaning one of the latter two will have to as well to keep him looking good. 

 Josh Harrison has pretty much been what the Nats would have expected. One of those reliable, if not exciting, vet bats they seem to pick up every year. 

That's the neutral news.  Hmm a lot of players left to talk about. 

Suzuki - well catchers are hard because they really have more limited time at the plate, but he's looked as bad and Gomes has looked good. He's 36 and put a lot of work on those legs last year. He might be done and that's ok. 36 for a catcher is a good age to reach

Thames - hoped for 2018 Matt Adams, got 2019 Matt Adams

Kieboom - still working out the kinks, one hopes. Walks a bunch which is good, but K's a ton too.and no XBH! He didn't have impressive power in the minors but you wouldn't expect him to be a slap hitter. 

Speaking of striking out of ton - Hey Victor. It's almost to the point where if he didn't hit by pitches we'd have nothing to give.  Oh he's fast but the team is way off on stealing this year. Below 50% 

Eaton is done, I think. He flirted with it last year at time but he's generating no force and he can't leg out grounders any more.  

MAT... oh MAT.  We do love you though. 

Where did Howie's power go? Did AsCab steal it? 


Overall it's a team with more going wrong than right. Who has a very strong MVP candidate but an offense around him that isn't good overall. Early indications are mixed for the future. Robles doesn't look to be improving and Kieboom isn't getting it, but Turner may have another level at the plate and should maintain decent play, and Garcia could be another find.  Still that's a lot of slots to fill with hitters and only so many times you get lucky with your vet pick-ups. 

This year looks rough - a lot going forward will depend on Howie getting good and guys like Eaton and Robles getting not bad.  The other spots - Kieboom/Garcia/Harrison,  Gomes/Suzuki, whatever happens at 1B, you just take what you get.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Now the Mets

 Goddammit - everything I wrote got erased.  I'm not doing it again.  Bullet time

  • Mets have Covid
  • Gonna be a weird final standings. Dodgers played 27 games so far, Cardinals 14.
  • Marlins coming back to Earth (2-8 in last 10) 
  • Hitting not young and not good, though there are several bats that should hit better. Still don't worry
  • Brian Anderson - pretty unappreciated for being solid
  • Starting Pitching is where it's been at for them (and this is with good arms out or not yet up)
  • Nats get Castano first - he's not good. Only keeps ball in park
  • Then Hernandez - he's been good but doesn't have great stuff. Still low walks, high Ks, no homers
  • Then Lopez - ditto above with the caveat as an extreme GB pitcher I think he has more chance to keep it up

Nats key is to have Corbin go deep. Win g1 easy. Set-up bullpen for following games if they need it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Unwritten Rule : The Nats pen will be a shambles

 In the standings the Nats went from 2 down to 4 down in the blink of eye as Daniel Hudson imploded in the 9th. That's not a terribly big deal but they also went from 2 under .500 to 4 under .500 which matters more if you want to see Washington playing in October. My feeling is you do, but if they don't make it you'll say you don't care. It won't be true but it will be more true than any other year if that makes sense. 

Even with Soto hitting like an MVP immediately the Nats aren't able to generate a ton of offense. The starters are not carrying the team, and as we noted the bullpen is a mess.  Doolittle and Hudson were ridden hard at the end of last year as the only arms to be trusted and they are showing some of that wear now. Will Harris - also ridden hard but for abother team, has the same issue. It leaves the Nats with a real hole at the back end of games which is familiar in a way you don't want it to be.  

The Nats have played about 3 weeks worth of games so you can't definitively say anything, but there's a lot of early indications the battle will be uphill.  Last year the Nats had Rendon and a trade deadline where they were contenders to help them out. No Rendon. Likely no trades (and I think everyone is ok with that). So this season may be a punt sooner than we think. In fact this Braves series could be a huge setback if there's a sweep against the Nats. 

What happens then?  Well maybe as early as after Labor Day the Nats pack it in.  Sit anyone with minor injuries. Give young guys a lot of ABs to see what they got.  It's a different type of season and at the end you could see them saying bye to a ton of older talent Sanchez, Eaton who have options, Doolittle, Kendrick, Suzuki, AsCab who are FAs. That doesn't actually save them a ton of money either given these are all relatively bargain vets. The Nats don't have middle sized contracts. They peak out with Eaton at 9.5 before getting the the 20+ millions for their starters. So this doesn't mean a big signing could be coming (unless you want to contemplate not re-signing Max after 2021) 

Anyway a lot of rambling to say - don't get swept here. Let's keep the season going.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Monday Quickie - Soto Ascendant

 Juan Soto isn't leading the league in anything right now, but that seems to be only because he hasn't played enough games thanks to what seems to be an aberrant positive test.  Otherwise the kid is hitting like you'd hope he would - a continuation of last years performance where power, patience, and batting eye all come together.*

I'm not going to scale his stats up because that'd be silly. But for a team that looks to be in the need of a new image going forward he is putting up superstar numbers and should be it. Why a new image? Well the team was a starting pitching team first, but perennially injured Stras is as expected injured this perennial, Max is finally, maybe, showing his age getting hit a bit, homered a lot, and more wild. And Corbin is a 1A type reliant on a slider to be dominant or merely good and at 30 is unlikely to change. Within a year or two this will be a Soto team first and foremost. The question is if there is enough of a lineup around him.  Turner and Robles have both hit better recently. Kieboom and newly brought up 2B Garcia have not yet (but plenty of time).  Are these guys keys that keep the Nats from needing to sign a big bat or just pieces that save them money to maybe sign the big bat they need? A bright spot this year at the plate seems to be some decent skills getting on base Kieboom walking, Turner legging things out, and Robles getting plunked. So offensively some guys Soto can knock home at least.

The Nats are currently benefitting from ONCE A GODDAMN GAIN being in potentially the worst division in baseball, the NL East unless you love the Marlins. The Nats are in range to finish first ahead of a good, but not great Braves team; a pitching plagued Phillies team, and a Mets team where the sum is lesser than the parts. Nothing about this will change unless the Braves youngsters come together.  Hell let's do a quick review

ATL - The Braves did build a great pen, Ozuna is doing what they want, and other vets more so but their fate is tied to their youth and right now nearly all are hurt or underperforming. Acuna is hurt. Albies is hurt. Riley is struggling terribly. Dansby appears to be what he is. Soroka is hurt. Toussaint is probably better than this. Wright may not be. So who is healthy and doing well? Max Fried might be the list. That's not going to keep the Braves up in the standings.

PHI - DYK Bryce leads the NL in OBP? Realmuto is one off the NL lead in homers? Gregorious is good. Segura is hitting like Segura should. McCuthen may be showing signs of life.  Seems like freed of Kapler guys are doing what they should. OK Kingery looks DOA as a prospect**, but everyone else is doing well and they are 3rd in R/G.The starters are all ok... Wheeler isn't an ace but he does what he's supposed to. Problem is Girardi hasn't been able to piece a back of the pen together yet and the front end guys keep giving up the big hit. If he can there's a team here to challenge but there's no guarantee the pieces are here.

NYM - deGrom and the other guys continues. Wacha hurt himself. Porcello is ok but with some bad luck. Matz is just bad. Stroman opted out. Add it together and a possibly really good rotation becomes garbage. The hitting is ok, Cano has new life is especially important and the relief pitching has come back a bunch from their 2019 nightmare but without the starting pitching it's not enough. The offense isn't team carrying.

*Defense - not so much. I keep telling you this. You keep ignoring me. I guess that's just how it's going to be for a couple years. 

** Hey hows that SS doing... Crawford.... meh on Seattle. Not great but an average bat is something. But can he keep it up.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Baseball Still Lives!

 The Marlins are a taxi squad. The Cardinals are down and making up their games will be hard.  Players are still not getting it (see Plesac and Cleavinger in Cleveland) but for one more week baseball survives. 

 How are the Nats doing? Meh. With Soto grounded by a false positive the Nats offense floundered. They were 13th in runs scored in the NL and that's including last night.  The Nats pitching is better (6th) but are dealing with some worrisome injuries.  Strasburg just pitched for the first time and struggled not to deep into the game.  Scherzer has had some issues going only one inning last game. Doolittle, key 8th inning set-up guy looks injured as his FB speed is way down.  Will Harris is on the DL, Hudson and Sanchez are off to slow starts...

Ok that all sounds terrible but this is a championship caliber squad so even with all these issues they are at 5-7, two games off of my .500 needed record.  Work it out and the Nats are basically one game off the last spot in the playoffs. 

Pitching is a bit limited for stat perusing but what about hitting? The most concerning thing for the Nats is that Turner and Robles aren't hitting. These are the guys to set-up around Soto (who no one doubts) and neither seems to be the player the Nats expect them to be at the plate. Kieboom, arguably the last band member here, is slumping after an ok start and has 11Ks in only 26 PAs.  Maybe Rizzo can always piece together offenses around Soto. Right now AsCab and Castro are doing well and Howie seems still like Howie to me. But that's a lot to ask on a budget and if the pitching slips a little the hitting needs to be better than average.  Right now the pitching has slipped, the hitting is below average and the Nats aren't even in the expanded playoffs. 

But again - early! End of August will be the first real marker in the road for this short season.The big thing right now is Scherzer's start tonight.  Would love to see a standard Max start. 

The rest of the NL East... The Mets are struggling thanks to some very impt opt outs. The Phillies are hitting and not pitching as kind of expected. The Braves are good but not so good you think they can't fall back. The Marlins are a fluke - though in a short season flukes matter. It's not a bad spot for the Nats. I'd hazard to say every other division would be tougher.  Man the NL East dogfight of good team I expected before last year just really fell flat 

 Beat the Mets - keep them down and get you up and then take it from there. 

Wednesday, August 05, 2020


Stop the season! Right now the Nats are .500 and would they make the playoffs? They would!

 then San Diego .583 then...the Nats!

See! And in the AL the last teams in would be Cleveland and Detroit - each at .500!

It's not a guarantee but it's going to be darn close. and honestly I'd more expect someone UNDER .500 to make it than someone .500 or better to be left out.

Juan Soto is back tonight so that means either 2 HRs and the story for baseball for a night (I mean if they can avoid any corona virus news) or 0-5 with 2K and the reverse lock blowout Mets win. 

Ok that's it for now.

Monday, August 03, 2020

Monday Quickie - Scratchin and Survivin

Thanks to the Merry Marlins and however they admit to having gotten Corona Virus the Nats have a long weekend off. They'll get back to playing tomorrow. So no stats for you. I won't do it before 10 games. 

In the meantime the two other active NL East teams have moved on and the Braves are handling the Mets and opening up a solid lead in the division.  Again really all you should care about* is the Nats getting to .500.  This is a crazy year so just get in seems like a decent strategy.

The NL has Atlanta, Chicago, and the Rockies on top. The Rockies are a bit of a surprise but they were in the WC hunt most of last year and the Dodgers are just a game behind them.  The worst team in baseball record wise is the Pirates at 2-7. But the Mets and the D-backs are also floundering. If those teams are really this bad .500 for the Nats is a cake walk.

In the AL there haven't been surprises at the very top. The Yankees, Twins, Astros/A's all leading their respective divisions. The one surprise at all is the Baltimore Orioles sitting at 5-3, but all that is is two games over .500. No team is worse than 3-7

What do we want this week?  Same thing as every week, keep playing. Baseball was ready to at least pause if one more team had a mass virus event after the Casino-loving Cardinals became number 2, but that hasn't materialized yet. More importantly, the Phillies, who were the Marlins on-field opponent before getting pulled, have not seen an outbreak of their own. That suggests, what we mostly thought, the game itself shouldn't be a spreading event. Now there's still time for positives to show up but that is an important piece of news for ALL sports, because if baseball spreads every sport is going to. That it hasn't means there's a chance for other sports.

So baseball NEEDS the Phillies series to go off without a hitch. It'd be fantastic if there were no more outbreaks though another team screwing up toward the end of the week is probably work around able. Three teams out seems to be the max disruption the league can handle. There's too much interplay to deal with more.

*beyond the season even finishing

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Nats win, offense still sputters

The Nats don't have Anthony Rendon anymore. They don't have Juan Soto anymore as DC health officials clear him for playing. They don't have Ryan Zimmerman.  In effect they have an offense a lot like the beginning of last May.  If you don't remember a mix of injuries and a day off for Howie led to this lineup being trotted out byt the eventual world champs for a day:

Robles Difo Eaton Suzuki Dozier Stevenson Kieboom Noll

Things aren't that bad but they are pretty down. It's arguably to the point where any decent pitcher has a shot at shutting this team down. But whatcha gonna do? The Nats decided to let Rendon go, center the offense around the younger, better hitter in Soto and focus on keeping the SP as good as it can be.  Other teams have won with that kind of plan (see one of those Giants WS teams) so it's not terrible. It just relies on pitcher health which is totally up in the air in a normal year. This isn't even that. 

But still - championship in pocket.  Weirdo season.  Just roll with it. 

As far as the rest of the NL East is going, the Marlins are possibly dead, the Phillies are frozen, the Mets and Braves are .500.  Again just roll with it. Remember what I said. Wait did I say it here? Anyway if I didn't, .500 is basically going to get you in the playoffs this year with the new structure.  That's the low hanging fruit the Nats need to go after.  No pushing players, no crazy deals.  Just try to get to .500 with what you have and see if you can recapture that post-season magic.

We'll get to some real analysis when there are more games in pocket.  Maybe next Monday.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Nats lose, MLB also loses

The Marlins have changed the game.

Well, not really. Really they have upped the time table. In a "no bubble" scenario it was always likely that some players would get COVID. And in a lenient rule situation, eventually one of these would pass it on to a number of teammates. You get enough teammates and you get a postponed game situation. The hope was people would take it seriously enough at the start to make this a mid-season situation, but here we are.

What's the end result? I don't know and I'm pretty sure baseball, which doesn't seem to be able to plan out a rain delay doesn't know either.  The easy answer is... well there are no easy answers... but the simplest answer is a bubble. Players can't go home, can't see family, and either are stuck in hotels from city to city or stuck in hotels in one specific city.  It seemed to work for the NWSL, and the NBA and NHL have had training starts that were more promising than MLB's "police yourself" summer camp.

But what it comes down to is what players want to do, and few want to be trapped in a hotel for months even for millions.  So I don't know what's to come. Twist my arm and I think baseball keeps the Marlins out for a while, suspends the Phillies/Yanks for like another game and hopes everything works out.  I don't think it will work.

In actual baseball news the Nats lose but as I type this there is only one team even 3-1 in the NL so it's barely a blip on their chances to make whatever post-season there may be.  Onward we go

Monday Quickie - First weekend done

The season is 1/20th over!

You can't read anything from three games, performance wise, so we won't go into any of that other than to talk about starting pitching work. Max? Ok, pretty typical "bad" Max, where a couple pitches get away from him, he loses control for a batter (maybe two) and things work out in a way that matters.  Erick Fedde looked good early but almost fell apart in the 4th and I think this is sort of the best you are going to get from Fedde. Patrick Corbin looked great and this is why you go three aces deep.  Max is going to get old one day. Stras is his usual mecurial, oft-dinged, self. Corbin though can step in and be that number 1.

The pen failed to hold the Yankees in game 3, which is always a worry, but they did fine in game 2. The runs scored were a little low. Would they be better with Soto? Of course! Let's get that test back! If these are problems we'll see it throughout the next couple of series. Right now you just think about it.

Baseball as a whole sort of made it through weekend one.  An audience desperate for sport gave the Opening Day it's best ratings in a decade. I'm sure the weekend games also did much stronger than normal. I bet NBA and NHL both see similar bumps if not as extreme (you'd rather be first out of the box than third). So far... so getting by.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

When is 3 = 8 but not = 8?

Just a note.  There's been some talk around that a team starting the season 0-3 is like starting the season 0-8 and that's true but also not.

You see 0-3 is like 0-8 in the impact for the season.  A shortened season means each game is more important and the impact of these shorter runs is as much as a greater one would be in a long season.


You see 0-3 is not like 0-8 for how rare it may be.  It doesn't matter how short a season is, an 0-3 run doesn't become as unlikely as an 0-8 run.  Every game still breaks in roughly the same way.  Every team will still have an 0-3 run.  Every team will probably have several 0-3 runs. Few teams will have 0-8 runs. Almost none will have multiple 0-8 runs.

An 0-3 run isn't a death sentence because a good team can make that back quickly fairly easily.  An 0-8 run though is hard to make up quickly. 

So don't get caught up in doom and gloom if the Nats get off to a slow start.  That doesn't matter as much.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Went 0-1 yesterday

So my take is - as a celebratory event sports in times of pandemic doesn't work. At least their starts. The curiousity of whether or not is going to work overshadows anything off the field that usually draws interest. The protests/demonstrations, the "We're back!" commercials, the visit from the commissioner in the booth. It was all secondary to "Juan Soto tested positive! What does that mean!?", "Are those guys getting too close?" and "Hey it's raining, shouldn't they cancel this right away? How are they distancing?"

However, as a "thing going on in the background that you can focus on" which is what baseball is from the day after Opening Day until the stretch run, it works just fine. The baseball was baseball. The lack of fans is a little weird but more so because the pumped in crowd noise can't exactly match up with what's going on.  Cut outs worked a little better but it's not like we've never seen the rich seats empty behind the plate. I think once we get to the weekend and we're looking at it as the every day foreground noise and not as the big thing to focus on it'll feel pretty normal.

The game itself was a dud (as was the Dodger / Giant game after that - but that was expected).  Max both was and wasn't sharp. At points he struck out 3 and 4 guys in a row. At others he gave up meatballs or 4 pitch walks. You can piece together yesterday in a way that has him giving up 1 run instead of 4 so I'm not too worried other than the end.  But pitchers away from the game for 7+ months getting tired a bit earlier is probably going to be a thing we see a lot for a few weeks.

Cole wasn't as dominant as the line would have you believe. There were a number of decently hard hit balls that went at 'em. But he didn't lose control like Max did and that ended up being the difference. Cole's one hit, the Eaton smash, was a solo job, and there was never anyone else on for him to worry about. 

No Nats (or Yankees) game today because even in a shortened pandemic season MLB can't help but have dumb scheduling. Plenty of other games though Mets Braves is probably the most compelling.  Also Giolito is pitching Opening Day. See you on Monday

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Baseball, baseball tonight. Baseball Tonight!

A game that matters.  The first one since the Nats wrapped up the World Series, the longest we've gone without a game... ever?

We know the big question hanging over everything is the virus. Can the season last once travel begins? Is it ok that these players are being made to do these particular things for entertainment? Is it ok we are diverting some resources to this? It's up to you how you want to view these things and how it effects your season. Here we'll move past it for the time being until the sport forces it back into question (hoepfully not)

What does a 60 game season mean?  It DOES mean more variabilty. It DOESN'T mean it's likely a great team misses out of the playoffs or a terrible team makes it in. Could it happen? Sure, especially given injury/illness. But those are few and far between.  Remember the Nats run last year was historic, not typical. More likely a WC team might be knocked out in favor of another potential WC team that would have faded over 162.

The Nats I think are helped by this. They are mostly an older team and they pushed their starting pitching incredibly hard last year. A less demanding season is a help.

I personally will think of the team that comes out of it (assuming the season goes ahead without much of a hitch) as a champion. Maybe not JUST like every other season but a champion nonetheless. All that matters is the W as they say.

NL East moves - in case you forgot

Braves - Braves lost Josh Donaldson and let Dallas Keuchel walk. They signed Will Smith and Chris Martin for the pen, Ozuna, and Hamels. American hero Nick Markakis has opted out

Phillies - finally gave up on Maikel Franco, let traded for Corey Dickerson walk. Questionably brought in Zach Wheeler to be the ace. Didi Gregorious as a one year improvement on Franco. Will have McCutchen for a full year. Possibly most importantly though swapped Gabe Kapler for Joe Girardi.

Mets - Lost Wheeler and the never clicked there Todd Frazier. Brought in Betances, Rick Porcello, Michael Wacha, Marisnick

Marlins - lost Castro to the Nats. brought in Dickerson, Kintzler, Cervelli, Villar.

None of the NL teams are definitely worse. Atlanta probably has the biggest worry about sliding as Donaldson was great, but their season was always going to hinge on their ample youth. Mets and Phillies basically tread water in talent which isn't necessarily bad but most likely to end them up back where they were.  The Mets are hoping for that healthy SP season that never seems to come.  The Phillies are hoping the across the board stats depression from last year was a luck and Kapler combo more than talent settling. The Marlins are better but competitive would be surprising even over 60.

I think the Nats are slightly worse (hard to lose Rendon and not be) but I think the moves of the division work in their favor so let's toss some nonsense out there

WSN 35-25
PHI 33-27
METS 32-38
ATL 31-29
MIA 25-35

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The opt-outs

The Nats right now have three opt outs and given it's about 48 hours until Opening Day that's probably going to be it.  How do these opt-outs effect the team

Ryan Zimmerman

Zimm was going to be in the DH/1B mix during his victory lap. Now Zimm's ABs will be eaten up by a mix of players. Eric Thames, who was going to be the lefty balance bat like Lind and Adams will probably have more of a chance to play if he does well. Howie is also listed in the depth charts but will spend most time at DH I imagine. If Carter Kieboom is truly the third baseman then Asdrubal could also get in some time. It's my contention we should give Soto a game or two there because that's where I see him long term but that's me. The first two games they flipped Howie and Thames DH/1B but that hardly makes sense as a plan for the season.

My guess is this plan does hurt the Nats a little because a good Zimm is an effective bat - better than AsCab, better than Thames. Plus it could force Howie into the field more than they were expecting.  But all in all it's just a little different because it's hard to project out a healthy Zimm hitting well at this point in his career.

Joe Ross 

The 5th starter spot was his to lose before walking away. Now Erick Fedde has got first crack. More "next in line" than "next big thing", Erick was passable last year in a limited role, getting better results than his stats might have suggested.  There's nothing here to suggest he'll be any good. He is still wild, still gives up too many hits and homers. There was no drop in hard hit balls last year or big changes in his GB/FB numbers. He just got a little lucky with when and where the hits came and that kept him from being terrible.

His one saving grace is basically - he's not the other guys.  Austin Voth deserves a look but there's a reason he keeps getting passed over. Kyle McGowin? Come on. Now there are guys further down that are interesting but are they ready? And if they are do you want to throw them out there in this season? With a championship in hand? Seems unlikely.

So Ross' departure hurts a lot. Not necessarily for the 5th spot, which was going to be a mess - or possibly more fairly - the same trouble spot it is for nearly every team, but in case of injury (or sickness) in another spot in the rotation. The depth is not here at all and if they need to go more than a pitcher deep into starters things get bleak quick.

Wellington Castillo

3rd catcher depth.  I think in part he was here to cover for potential trades of Gomes or Suzuki if things went in that way.  Now with him gone it's over to the guys they don't really like, Raudy Read, Tres Barrera.

Like Zimm it won't be a big deal but like Ross it cuts into the depth they have at a position that is particularly weak (again to be fair - for most teams)

So the departures set up the Nats but in a way similar to last year. A mix of the older and the guys with injury history hoping that Soto and the rotation carries them. Last year they made it through and then got the breaks they needed.  But last year they also had one more big bat in Rendon. This year the margin started even thinner and these departures cut it as thin as can be. But if you are scary thin, the season to be like that is the season that is only 60 games long.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Monday Quickie

T-minus 3 days until sort-of good enough baseball

To recap on what has happened for the Nats the past couple of months:
  • They had their shortened draft and signed their guys and that's about all you need to know about that.
  • The Nats released some names that might be familiar with you : Drew Ward, JB Shuck, Dante Bichette "Jr", 
  • Adrian Sanchez was effectively lost for the year. 
  • Joe Ross, Wellington Castillo, and Ryan Zimmerman chose not to play 
  • Wander Suero and Roenis Elais got Covid and presumably got over it

And before that
  • Rendon left for LA
  • Parra left for Japan
  • Koda Glover retired
  • They didn't re-sign Dozier or Adams
  • They did re-sign Stras and Howie (and Gomes and AsCab)
  • They brought in Will Harris and traded for Ryne Harper to help the pen
  • They signed Starlin Castro to play 2B and Eric Thames to play the memorial Adam Lind / Matt Adams spot 
And before that

They won the World Series

More tomorrow! But probably in this later in the day time frame if you are wondering.

Friday, July 17, 2020


It's gonna happen people.  Barring some terrible case explosion we are going to get at least some mostly real baseball in just one week. 

God bless our love of money

The MLB and NBA experiments are the canaries in the coal mines for team sports.  MLB - with it being an outside sport that relies on very little close contact and the NBA - with it's hardcore bubble plan - are trying to see if you can actually make it work. If these fail then other team sports - hockey, soccer, football - can't succeed.  So far - it's working.

How long will it last?  Well there are several thoughts on the matter. It might last as long as there are players willing to play. The owners and leagues want it to continue so even if it ends up a glorified AAA game they may still play it.  Or it may last until enough players get sick on a few teams to throw the whole thing out.  You quarantine 30 players a piece on 6 teams basically suspending their play for 2 weeks and the schedule falls apart.  Or it may last until a player gets extremely sick or dies.  While I'm surely liability waivers cover the leagues for this, they can't make up for the bad publicity.  If leagues push on against the wishes of most involved because players will play for the money and it happens again? That's the kind of thing that gets you a Player's Basketball Association in 2023.

We'll see.  Personally I ran the numbers and think the chance of a death/serious illness is slim for MLB/NBA.  NHL with a little less stringent bubble and bigger rosters than the NBA playing an indoor sport might be a little more likely but still I think the problem really comes when football camps start. I think with THAT many players and the different "in-shape" requirements for them you are going to get some bad results.  That may not only tip the NFL to not start but could have ramifications into other leagues.

But I'm being a downer now.  Baseball in one week. I'll take it.