Nationals Baseball: 2022

Monday, November 21, 2022

Monday Quickie - Hall Of Fame Ballot Out

 As reported by Ken Rosenthal

For Nats fan this is the first "Werth" ballot. Not that he will or should get in but he's there signifying a certain distance from that era of Nats baseball. 

WORST GUY ON THE BALLOT

Huston Street and it's not particularly close. ROY, Street was a solid closer for a decade before breaking down and seeing his career abruptly end.  Two time All-Star, a couple stray MVP votes... I mean by virtue of being a "closer" and getting saves he gets on here but it's not deserved really. 

BEST GUY NOT ON THE BALLOT

These are never huge losses. Nine out of 10 guys on it aren't getting in, so a mistake that left off the 10th best guy here when 2 might make it... doesn't really matter. But still we go on. For my money give me Ubaldo Jimenez, who put up a 19-8 season with a 2.88 ERA pitching for Colorado. In another world maybe we're remembering the guy as one of the best pitchers of the "around 2010" time frame.  

WHO WILL GET IN

I think they'll get Scott Rolen in. He's been steadily gaining ground and was almost up to 2/3rds last year. He's clearly one of the best 3rd basemen of all-time so if they can get past the weird "I'll judge catchers differently and middle infielders differently and maybe CF differently but not 3B differently" he'll get over the hump this year. If not it'll happen eventually. 

Helton (.316 lifetime hitter with 369 homers), Wagner (probably best closer not in), and Jones (maybe best defensive CF in generations and a decent hitter) all have cases but they all have issues. Helton - Colorado, Wagner - he's still a closer, Jones - spent the last third of his career as a terrible average masher. 

Beltran, who's the biggest new name should get close but will probably go through a couple years of vetting / punishment for the Astros stuff. 

WILL ANYONE NEW HANG ON UNTIL NEXT YEAR?

Beltran for sure. Lackey as a 3 time WS winner with three different teams is a good bet too. After that I don't know. Two or Three "keepers" is about par for course. This being a weak class could help guys like Weaver (underrated solid arm for a long while), Matt Cain (crucial member of 2 SF titles), and maybe even Werth who media types seem to like and lionize a bit to stick around. But maybe not. 

ANY GOOD CLASSES COMING UP?

Next year is ok - Beltre, who should be a lock. Utley who people like, and Mauer who is thought of probably above his worth (but his worth would be like 2nd in this year's class) David Wright and Bartolo, both who won't make it, make it more a fun class for talking about.  2025 you get Ichiro - who is overrated in terms of pure major league contribution but given when he came in and what he did should be a no-brainers and CC Sabathia who is an interesting case. 2026 is a barren wasteland best not talked about except by the names I mentioned already as a place to possibly get in.

 

 

Friday, November 18, 2022

Offseason Position Discussion - Starting Pitching

Ugh.

That's the optimistic take on the 2022 Nationals starting pitching staff. The Nationals didn't just have the worst pitching staff in baseball last year, they had the worst pitching staff by leaps and bounds. Arguably the difference between the Nats and the 29th worst staff was the difference between the 29th worst staff and average. It was a bloodbath where nothing went right. 

Strasburg, whose health was key to any thought of a non-embarrasing season, started one game and was out for the year. Corbin, whose return to at the minimum level of "not terrible" was also key, saw worse results. Josiah Gray, who the Nats were hoping would step into a mid staff role, flashed some solid pitching but for the season would have had a tough time holding onto a job on another team. Joe Ross, the best of the rest who has been decent when healthy, didn't come back this year from last year's UCL tear. 

With the post-season 2021 hopeful Top 4 all having issues, it would take a miracle to have been good. The Miracle did not come. Erick Fedde continued to be bad for the 21st consecutive trial season. Josh Rogers, who some had hope for at the end of last year was bad. Joan Adon, an emergency "best we have" call up early in the year was terrible. Jackson Tetreault, a similar call-up at the end, was no good. Paolo Espino, the decent middle reliever was stretched to fill the role and showed why he is a reliever. Aaron Sanchez was a FA trial bust. Corey Abbott didn't take.

Only Anibal Sanchez provided decent results, starting with low expectations, and even that was a mirage as he pitched much worse than his ERA would indicate.

They might have been helped late in the year by prospects but best arms in the organization had tough years. Cade Cavalli had issues adjusting to AAA and needed more seasoning. Cole Henry broke down.

The Nats started the season in a precarious situation, relying on a couple of long shot health returns, a question mark former good starter, and a young pitcher to make a big step up.  None of those worked out and in fact they all failed in the worst way possible. Behind that (which if you note does include like 20%-25% of the Nats starts) they had no plan and nothing saved them from this lake of foresight. It was a bad strategy and perhaps having it end up as poorly as it did was what the Nats deserved. 

Presumed Plan : Corbin and the Kids. Corbin will be the 1. Followed by Grey, Gore, and Cavalli. They would be wise to sign a FA innings eater after but they could also keep the spot free for whoever in the organization they want to try out. Fedde another one last time? Evan Lee? I'll presume the FA pitcher simply because right now I only have them bringing in 1-2 offensive FAs so there's money to spend even for a bottom basement budget. So let's say Jordan Lyles. He's healthy and inoffensive.

Reason for presumed plan : Strasburg may not pitch ever again. With that understood, you can't count on him pitching next year.  Corbin getting worse really made his contract an albatross. He can't be dealt unless the Nats eat most of it and they aren't going to. Grey is in year 2 of his trial. Gore if healthy and Cavalli in year 1. You'd rather have the two best fighting it out for 4/5 but that's not the position the Nats are in. These guys are your 2/3/4. 

After that - the cupboard is so bare and last year went so poorly that I can't imagine Rizzo won't try to grab someone just for a sense of stability in the rotation where everyone I mentioned so far might not be major league worthy in 2023. Jordan Lyles pitched ok for Baltimore last year and has been healthy since 2019. He's a southern East Coast boy so DC isn't too far out of the way if he still lives near home like most players seem to. There's a fit so overpay him a little for 2-3 years and whatever. Really that could be something like 2yrs/15 million. That's worth it to the Nats if he can be healthy and throw 60 starts over 2 seasons to a 4.50-5.00 ERA. But if not him someone that threw 140+ innings last year. even if it was close to a 5.00 ERA.

My take :  It's hard to imagine it getting worse and it almost can't. Almost. But Corbin could fall apart and Gore could not be healthy and right off the bat your 1/2 is Grey and Cavalli who might not qualify as anyone else's 4/5.   And can you imagine who's throwing 5th in this case? 

The smart play is to sign two guys like I mentioned above. Take the pressure off the kids to all perform as the worst of them can go back to AAA. Save your pen some grief.  Back Corbin with a couple of guys that make it ok when he goes 1 and a third because they went 5 and 6 respectively. It's not asking for much at all. 

If the Nats don't choose to sign two people, I get it. At some point you have to throw these guys in the deep end if you want to see if you'll be good sooner or later. But it leaves open the potential for 2023 to be just as bad.  If they don't choose to sign ANY - that's malpractice and the team should fold. They were the worst pitching staff by far last year and you would commit to a plan that betting odds would say is probably worse. Get out of the GM game Rizzo, ya done.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Off Season Position Discussion - Outfield

Was OF an actual positive for the Nats in 2022? Probably not. I mean yes, it was given they had 2/3rds a season of Juan Soto in RF and Soto is one of the best hitters in the game today even in an off year. You take him out and the Nats OF, which ranked like 4th or 5th best in the NL this year, would be much lower. So it's not a positive. But unlike SP, and 2B, and 3B, AND SS AAANNNNDD DH the Nats wouldn't rank at or near the bottom. It wasn't a negative either. They had a perfectly cromulent year in the OF even without Soto.

Soto of course hit so awesome that it didn't matter than he fielded like crap. Which side note, I've been telling you guys for YEARS Soto couldn't field. That maybe bc he's so young and hit so well, you could suck it up through his FA year but it wouldn't be much after that when you simply HAD to move him. All yooooouuuu guys (pointing at everyone) said "Oh no, he's getting better!" "Oh he's fine!"  He stinks!  I was right!  And a mix of Yadi Hernandez (LF), Lane Thomas (LF/CF), and Victor Robles (CF) manning the other positions. Robles, who got his fielding back could compensate for Soto, and Yadi was hitting a little. It wasn't a winning major league outfield but it was a working major league outfield. Then Soto was dealt and the Nats had to make due. Josh Palacios, Joey Meneses and Alex Call all got tryouts and the latter two sort of stuck. Because of that Robles got squeezed out. But none of these guys can really play CF so it was a compromise in any direction they went. Still it could be worse  

Presumed Plan : Thomas mans CF while Call/Yadi and a FA veteran cover the corners. 

Reasons for Presumed Plan : For CF they have slowly but consistently given up on Robles, who they deem an attitude issue more than a talent one.  If Robles isn't here Thomas likely handles center unless they bring in a D guy, which might happen. But given the general newfound respect for them contract wise (see Taylor, Michael A) I don't think the Nats will win any bidding contests. That leaves them picking up more of a bat/corner OF guy.

Call was good but the audition was very short. Yadi was good to start with the bat, but he's a questionable fielder got hurt and is 35. That's not a good combination to rely on. This could be "eh" again or it could be a dumpster fire. Therefore grabbing a guy to bring in another body which probably won't cost much more than a few million and might be your biggest FA signing makes too much sense for it not to happen.

Does Robles get downgraded to a 4th/5th OF defensive specialist? Or does he get dealt for a similar "2nd chance" player somewhere in the league? I'm not sure. I can't see the Nats spending money on TWO FA OFs but there might be someone who slips through the cracks and can be picked up dirt cheap or a "minor league deal". Robbie Grossman? Tommy Pham? if only D matters in this spot, JBJ? 

My take :

They go into this year with everyone they had at the end of the year back so they could do nothing but one would think they will do something at a place so easily upgradeable for not a lot of money.  

If you are worried about them making a big mistake that's unlikely. The only guy to really build around is Judge and the Nats won't be in on that. Nimmo and Benintendi will get the next biggest deals. After that it gets dicey with a lot of very flawed guys. Hurt guys, guys coming off bad years, guys getting old.  It's a roll the dice situation whereever you look. Wil Myers, who regressed to not a good hitter while remaining an unimpressive fielder, will probably get a decent contract just because he can give you stability. 

The Nats don't need stability. They aren't building anything soon that a 32+ yo old is going to matter for. At least not one at this level. Instead they need a gamble and there is one that fits the Nats perfectly.  Michael Conforto.  Boras wants him on a big deal but after sitting a year with shoulder issues and coming off his least impressive year, Conforto has to prove himself again. A no pressure situation with a heavily incentivized contract and an opt out after this season... I think that could work. The Nats wouldn't want any long deals - the aim here is for the Corbin deal to get off. So a two year deal might be enough.  The money is probably too much of a gamble for a team that wants to win, but for a team that simply wants not to be terrible and have a player that someone could want enough to hand over more than a broken A-ball player? It might be just right. 

I hate what's happened to Robles, but at this point I think he should be dealt. He has more value as a trade piece than here. If he does well elsewhere good for him. And yes, he'd bring back a Fedde type at best - a first rounder who never got it and is this close to being released himself. But they sat on Robles for trade purposes then they sat him on the bench. They have far less now with him than if they dealt him 3+ years ago. Don't make the mistake of holding on until all you can do is release him. And if you don't trade him you have to play him. That's the crux of it. You have to get value one way or another. 

The OF will be a problem, but in the scheme of things it's not the worst problem. It's in holding pattern of mediocrity until the kids like Hassell & Wood move up and a place to put whatever bat that should really be at 1B or DH but those positions are full.  The alternative is you make it interesting.  Go out and sign Albert Amora, Lewis Brinson, Nomar Mazara. Last Chance Party. Ballpark of Misfit Toys.  Hey, it's going to be a LOOOOOONG season. Give us something.

Monday, November 07, 2022

Monday Quickie - HoF "Contemporary" ballot

Honestly I hate these things, but as you know from my general playoffs takes I'm a exclusionary guy.  I want fewer into these phony subjective things, not more. But I'll always lose because more people want more and more importantly more means more money. More guys coming to the inductions and hanging around, more fans doing the same. There isn't a good reason to go my way other than because you want to do it. 

That being said - the ballot is Belle, Bonds, Clemens,. Mattingly, McGriff, Murphy, Palmiero, and Schilling.  Enough has been said about Bonds - maybe best hitter of all time, definitely best of his generation, likely steroid user & wife beater; and Roger Clemens - Top 5ish starting pitcher of all time, likely steroid user and possible statutory rapist  - to make talking about them pointless. Same for Schilling - late but great bloomer who is one of the greatest postseason pitchers of all time, also defrauder of the state of RI and his employees and now professional online right-wing troll. We've all have our thoughts on whether they should be in the Hall of Fame given the totality of their being, but on pure baseball numbers it's Yes, Yes, and Probably So*

On the rest 

Albert Belle - as good as anyone at the plate for a 6 year period : .310 / .389 / .614 with 251 homers. But was strictly a hitter and he fell apart fast with a hip injury. There were some thoughts he was a steroid user but nothing more than that although he did use a corked bat in one of the more wild baseball stories** so pegging him as a cheater isn't out of nowhere. Generally though he's more famous for being a jerk, to media, to opponents, to his teammates, to trick or treaters; and such a jerk that he didn't get near the consideration having one of the greatest 6 year span should probably get you. 

Possibly better choice : Darrell Evans - Evans is like the anti Belle. His value doesn't come from a run of great seasons. He only had two of those and they were a decade apart. Instead his value comes from longevity playing 21 season in baseball and almost 2700 games, 34th all time. During the course of those 21 years he only had three seasons hitting below average. A 12 game rookie year, his 107 game last season (at age 42) and 1976. He knew the value of a walk  (12th all time) which may be appreciated in the game now, but still isn't when looking over stats and in his time was a good fielding 3B then worked and learned 1B.

Don Mattingly - Yankees fans will tell you no one was better in their prime than Donnie Baseball. He was a top notch defender and hit .337 / .381 / .560 while doing it and being the general field captain every team wants. The names around him - Boggs, Henderson, Raines, Ripken, Schmidt, Gwynn. All HoFers. But that prime was an exceptionally short 4 years. He'd begin having back issues and by 1990 was a shell of himself. He'd get his one playoff shot and hit like a madman (.417 with 4 doubles and a homer in 5 games) but the Yankees wouldn't get to the series until the following year after Mattingly retired. 

Possibly better choice : Keith Hernandez - considered by most the best fielding 1B of all time, unlike guys like Ozzie and Mazeroski, Keith could actually hit and put up way more value in 17 years while winning 2 world series

Fred McGriff - Unlike the other guys on this list, McGriff wasn't a flash in the pan. He was a great hitter for 7 seasons, then a good one for another 8.  He was durable playing 144 games or more every year from 1988 to 2002 with the exception of the strike year. Yes he was kind of a stiff at first, but his biggest crime is tailing off during the steroid prime were he could hit .295 with 28 homers and it be an ok year in baseball. Also he didn't walk much. 

Possibly Better Choice - John Olerud never had the concentrated high of McGriff - his best years were spread out across his career but place them in more conventional order and you can see his hitting was just a notch below Fred's. Meanwhile the guy offered patience and was a great fielder, and likely had more overall value in his career than Fred did.

Dale Murphy - Dale is another burst of half a decade excellence. From 1982 to 1987 there might not have been a better bat at the plate. And they guy could steal bases too. But the former catcher was misplaced in centerfield*** and after holding his own to start in 1980 he regressed significantly quickly. That didn't stop the notoriously bad Gold Glove voters from giving him 5 straight awards but the last two were particularly egregious as rather than the best CF in baseball he might have been the worst. Is that his fault though or Atlanta's? Bat wise he pretty much fell off a cliff after 1987 and struggled to hit above average. Honestly the worst guy in this pack.

Possibly Better Choice - just one? If you want a Braves CF that's fine. But the choice is clearly Andruw Jones. His peak wasn't as high as Murphy's but if we're being honest it wasn't that crazy a peak and Jones had some decent years otherwise. And Jones was an other worldly defender.

Rafael Palmiero - A steroid guy because otherwise there's no reason to keep him out. He could hit for average (a .288 average and 3000 hits) and power (569 total homers). In his prime he was a good fielder, though overrating of that led to probably the most embarrassing Golden Glove moment; Palmiero winning the 99 award at first for playing 28 bad games of defense there. If you are past steroids but have moral objections otherwise here's an easy vote for you. If not - well there you go 

Possibly Better Choice - If I want to give a steroid guy with no real other issues a pass to the Hall I'm probably going Manny Ramirez first. Sure he couldn't field but Manny was a special hitter putting up a peak like Albert Belle but for twice as long. And he had a fairly decent start and a decent couple seasons at the end as well. Put these together and it compares favorably with Dale Murphy's best 6 years - although Murphy wins out because he played more. But again this isn't considering the decade of better hitting we're ignoring. This is his worst third. 


All in all it's not the best 8 they could chose. Beyond the roid guys, it's heavy toward the standard hitting stats over everything else. There just isn't the same value given to fielding even from guys that played the game. There's also the sense of being the best for a short time period matters a lot. That's a subjective choice but probably in line with the idea of "Fame" if you are focused on that.  I can hit great in 2023 and 2027 and 2033 but it won't leave the same impact as doing it in 2023 2024 and 2025.  

 I love talking about this stuff. At the same time I think it's very silly. But that's sports isn't it. Things that really don't matter we take way too seriously. 

*I leave Schilling off even on pure numbers but again I run that tight ship. I'm tossing out guys that are already in. Under most people's halls he's in. And hell - your choices don't have to make sense

 ** Here you go, for those that don't know. 

 ***guess what? Former catchers aren't usually good CFers. 

Friday, November 04, 2022

Off Season Position Discussion - Third Base

Since Anthony Rendon left for greener pastures after 2019 the Nats 3B situation has been one of the worst in base ball. The Nats have tried three main pieces there. Carter Kieboom in the shortened 2020 season, Starlin Casto in 2021 and last year Maikel Franco. It doesn't look to get any better in 2023

Last year Maikel Franco was one of the FAs brought in with the idea that you get them in cheap, maybe they surprise, then you can flip them. The problem is in modern day baseball that flip value has decreased incredibly. What would have been an interesting relief arm, has now become some A-ball rando slightly better than you could get off the street. This is especially true for older, middling rentals which is what Franco would have been if he played around average. 

He did not play around average though. After years of teasing baseball with the back and forth good and bad years, it looks like Franco has aged into just bad.  He backed up his terrible 2021, with an almost as bad 2022. His average remained low (.229) and his power remained gone (9 homers in 103 games) this is a far cry from the .260 / 25 you might have been hoping for. He never walked and his defense is subpar meaning you pretty much got nothing from him outside an ability to put the ball in play. That's not going to attract any buyers. 

Still he played pretty much the full first half because Option 1A, a second try out for Carter Kieboom was derailed by terrible stats in 2021 and an injury that would lead to him getting Tommy John surgery.  As the year dragged on and it became clear Franco was a big wash out, more time was given to Adrianza, who'd actually end up being traded, and the commenters of this blog's favorite, Ildemaro Vargas. Vargas started hot and cooled and ended up with average numbers at the plate. And the Nats ended up with another huge hole at 3B to think about.

The presumed plan : You know him, it's very unlikely you love him, but Carter Kieboom will get that last chance he was supposed to have gotten in 2022. He'll likely be backed up by Vargas or someone Vargas like - a cheap FA that the Nats can pick up for peanuts.

Reasons for presumed plan :  The Nats don't have any better options and up until 2019 there wasn't any good reason to think he'd be like this. He was a decent prospect and it seemed perfectly reasonably to think he'd be a usable major leaguer if not the star they might have thought they had at 19.Giving him a full run of chances is probably their best bet. 

After Kieboom in house you have Vargas, who is 31 and with a limited skill set making him unlikely to be your first choice to spend time at 3B.You also have Jake Alu, a non prospect, who nevertheless hit ok enough to get moved up to a spot fitting with his age and then had a run in AAA to end the season. Did everyone miss something? Probably not. But if Kieboom struggles and Alu is still raking in AAA a switch could happen. But you start with the guy who hit in AAA at 21 first not the one that did it at 25.

My take : If Kieboom was just a random prospect getting a shot that might not rankle but Kieboom is not a random prospect at this point.  He's had increasing cups of coffee in the majors with minimal improvement. Yes 2021 was better than 2019, but 2019 was hideous and 2021 (.207 / .301 / .318 in about 40% of a season) was still flat out bad.  Worse than that is that his fielding has been terrible along with his baseball. It's as if he has anti-instincts always knowing the wrong thing to do or place to be. He's been not just overmatched. He's been a bad baseball player in almost every aspect of the game.

We talked about Vargas before and I like the phrase "making the least out of his opportunities" to describe him.  His minor league stats suggested he could be an ok hitter for a while. He never showed it. Last year you can say he did but at 31/32 next year you can reasonably wonder when a guy who's "skill" is "ok hitter for average" stops being usable.

The baseball world is littered with never prospects that caught fire then flamed out. And that's just in the majors. We're talking about a guy who did it in AAA. With no top level skills ultimately it's hard to see how Alu becomes a real good major leaguer. On the other hand in comparison to Kieboom it's nice to hear about a guy who does all the little things right.

So I don't like any of them. It's three bad options. The former prospect who has consistently well undershot his projections across the board. The 31 year old who isn't impressive and is entering the era of his career where age might make him unplayable. And the never was who's skill set and age suggest a topping out at average if he's lucky.The most likely scenario is another round of pain. 

If there were a decent 2B/3B around this would be the place to sign a FA. The Nats need some sort of veteran stability at the plate. A guy that has seen the majors for more than 2 years to balance the rookies and cups of coffee we are going to see.  But I don't know if there is. Maybe Kolten Wong if the Brewers don't pick up his option? 

The Nats could go full no one but can they really sign no one at all?  OF isn't particularly deep either if they are looking there and Voit is filling that DH spot. SS is the deep position, and signing one of them for big bucks would be a Werth like move (but without the Stras and Bryce in the hole). Can the Nats do that?  I don't know. I just know they can easily justify doing nothing anywhere but if they do nothing everywhere this season is going to be so hard, so just do something somewhere and why not 3B where there isn't a good solution coming anytime soon.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Off-Season Position Discussion - Shortstop

What a mess. If there was a position that was the 2022 Nationals in a nutshell it was shortstop. The Nats didn't have a solution to who would play the position after trading away Trea late in 2021. They lucked into a decent 70+ games from Alcides Escobar but no one could consider him a serious solution or even stop gap. Within the system they knew Garcia didn't have the defensive chops for the position and the only true prospect in Brady House was years away, if he would even play the position when he got here. 

So the solution seemed obvious - get a FA to play the position. If the Nats were willing to gamble they could sign a big name, with the idea that they would be good again soon enough for such a FA to matter. If they were not then any decent SS would do, someone to fill the role for a season while other parts of the Nats world worked themselves out. 

But that was not to be. The Nats decided to try several terrible ideas and waste 3/4 of the season on hubris.  Fun! They brought back Alcides Escobar and he failed as anyone would have expected. There was a quick attempt to use an out of position Dee Strange-Gordon.  He did do better than expected, but was still below average with the bat and glove. After that came the "force Garcia to be a SS" trial which again was something everyone knew would not work and didn't. And finally post-Soto trade it landed on an actual SS that made sense to try there., CJ Abrams. 

All in all Abrams did not hit well for the Nats, but he had some stretches that got fans excited. He is a singles hitter primarily and at times would run off 1-2 weeks of hitting .350 or better. However he did not walk or homer (1 and 0 in his time with the Nats respectively.  I'll now pause as you take in the one walk as a Nat...  

 

 

 

).  Defensively he was probably the best pure fielder, but also the most error prone. 11 errors in 366 innings at SS for the Nats, or about one every 3-4 games. If you are wondering yes 35+ errors in a season would be a lot. 

Presumed Plan : Abrams starts the season at SS and plays the full season barring complete hitting or fielding collapse. He is backed up by... ? Vargas? You guys seem very into Vargas. If not than a FA because there's little in house.

Reasons for Presumed Plan : For Abrams, it is full-scale rebuilding time for the Nats and that means playing kids and Abrams is a very high rated prospect that they got back in the Soto deal. Granted he was very highly ranked like 2 seasons ago, but still you don't get that highly ranked for no reason. You could stick him down in AAA to learn fielding but he can hit in the minors and there is little for him to gain by being down there for that. Eventually he will have to field in the majors so why not just try it now? Garcia, although out of position, probably, hopefully, showed them the folly of putting a guy that is more than ready at the plate back in the minors to field. 

As for back up well Escobar is gone. Strange-Gordon is gone. Garcia is at 2nd. Lucius Fox is no good. That doesn't leave many options. Brady House is years away and possibly not a SS. Vargas did play SS a little so if Abrams is your everyday guy then having him play once every 2 weeks isn't going to kill you. However he's more of a 2B/3B guy and it's a deep SS year and maybe you get lucky and a real decent back-up SS is there in February waiting to be picked up.

My take : On the back-up.  You are going to have to sign someone - a MI or CI so why not a SS which usually gives you a built in emergency 2B/3B, unlike the other way around?  Well one reason could be because you want to sign a real 3B rather than let Kieboom take another crack at things.  Ok I'd be for that and we'll talk about that next time. But assuming an "all kids" strategy, a SS just makes more sense than a 2B/3B.  Of course the competition for signing will likely be tough. I really don't like Vargas as the primary back-up here as he has big no-hit no-field potential as a SS. Jose Iglesias would be ideal and maybe seeing if Abrams can play 3B? Eh - won't happen. 

Why? Well the Nats want Abrams at SS and he has the range so if it works out it's great. It's worth giving it a try. I'm not sure if it will. Abrams is in that period where we are going to find out what kind of player he is. What we know is he can put the ball in play and he's pretty fast, that can last actually. But it would be MUCH better if he could supplement that with power or patience. That way he doesn't have to rely on being a good to great fielder (which he isn't yet but probably will be - errors can be corrected, range and instincts, which he has, is much harder to learn). 

 Having a high-contact guy is great but funnily enough the Nats are one team that doesn't necessarily need that change of pace in the line-up. Ruiz is a big contact hitter and Garcia and Yadi both have under 20% K skills, if perhaps they need to be directed to use them in that way.  Long play - Abrams might be better used as a trade chip for a young arms. Not if he develops into a star - you want to keep those, but into a solid SS.  There's a lot of value in a good D, .300 hitting, low K SS but there's more value in a top of the rotation arm... but now I'm going way out there.

It's a good plan Abrams at SS, but it needs a solid backup because we don't know if Abrams can hang full-time in the majors at the plate. Unlike Garcia he hasn't proved it. That makes it more of a gamble and you don't want him to be in the line-up hitting .150 on Memorial Day.  You need to fix that if it happens. Having a real back-up SS give you that ability.

Friday, October 28, 2022

World Series starts today

Who's the best*?!  We start to find out tonight. 

I'm rooting for the Phillies. I like Dusty and would like him to get a managerial WS title to cement his status as HoF manager** It shouldn't be a question now but you hate to leave anyone a reason to not make the vote. But I've always had a soft spot for the Phillies. Well that's not true. I did dislike the early 90s Phillies. But all around that? Good feelings. I also have a Phillie loving friend and I have no Astros friends. Dusty isn't a reason alone to root for the Astros he's a tonic that makes the bad feelings of them losing go down a little easier.

As for how I think the series goes? I think the Astros are better. I think the Astros will win. But if I have to make a prediction I'll do it this way. 

If the Phillies win G1, the Phillies will win in 5. The Astros will get in their own heads about failing to win in the end and it'll snowball. 

If the Astros win G1, the Astros will sweep. The Astros will be charged to be the first team in forever to go through the post-season undefeated, and the first one to do it in the WC era.***

For reference here is how I feel about every team 

NYY - The BEST! They should win every year!

BOS - The Worst! They should lose every game and have to move and we should raze Fenway!

TOR - I like their uniforms and logo but every time I think I might be ok with them I remember the early 90s Blue Jays who I did not like and I can't let it go 

BAL - Extremely hateable when they are good, otherwise ok

TBR - The Next Worst! They should have to move and we should raze the Trop and actually everyone agrees with this

CLE - No real opinion. I wish they'd win once so we can move onto I guess the Tigers

CHW - I like them more than the Cubs. That's about it

MIN - Dislike Minnesota. Don't know why. Always glad Yankees always beat them

DET - I kind of like the Tigers. Snazzy uniforms

KCR - A bit annoying because they seems to hate the Yanks at a level that is disproportionate with how much they should but I harbor no ill will in return

HOU - Liked them, the Ryan/Scott/Cruz version, the Killer Bs version but now I hate them, I'll probably like them again once all these cheaters are gone in a decade

SEA - Dislike. For 95 but also there's a lot of Yankee hate from this place too and they tend to think way too much of themselves in terms of baseball (or more likely they are way over represented in baseball talking head circles)

LAA - Hate the dumb LA in the name but otws no opinion. I'd like to see them in the playoffs. 

TEX - No opinion

OAK - Like the Phillies I really disliked them for a time (that being the Bash Brothers era) but unlike the Phillies no like around them. Just meh. I like their uniforms.


ATL - No like. Maybe if you stop the chop

NYM - Now that I don't live in NY there's definitely kid brother vibes for them. Also my kid brother does like them. Like "I can't hate you. You try so hard and never succeed!" They'd probably be extremely hateable for a long time if they ran off a couple series in a row though.

PHI - Schmidt! Hayes! Juan Samuel! I liked those guys. So here we are

MIA - Eh. Still feel new and underserving to me 

WSN - Very interested in them as a well wisher

STL - I don't dislike them as much as I play along. the 80s cards were fun. good unis. but generally I'm rooting against them. 

MIL - I kind of like the Brewers. Really like the old school logo. Players don't do anything for me though. 

CHC - sort of dislike I guess? They are just another team and not lovable so when people say they are lovable that bothers me. I'm glad they won though. 

CIN - They should be better so I kind of root for that. Not sure where on the dislike-like range that falls. 

PIT - Pirates are fine. I think I should like them MORE because I like pretty much everything around them, colors, uniform, city, but it never gets there. 

LAD - Surprisingly more neutral than you'd think 

SDP - I feel an odd connection to the Padres and San Diego teams in general that I usually like to see them do well. Also my love for Tony Gwynn is real if toned down from the fun I have on line. 

SFG - Eh. 

ARI - Kind of like the Marlins. They shouldn't be good. And it feels sort of right when they are bad but a good D-back teams that doesn't win a pennant or anything is fine. 

COL - All over the place. I could get behind them or totally root against them depending on what's happening.


*best being poorly defined by which teams who were at least good, ran the gauntlet of several short series to end up the last team standing. 

**for those that don't believe - he's 9th all time in wins as a manager. Everyone through 16 is either in the HOF or will be with the exception of Gene Mauch who has a lifetime winning percentage that ranks 223rd and only 2 postseason appearances both losing the only series he managed.  He's 4th in playoff appearances, though that means less now, everyone through 9 is either in or will be. This is his 3rd pennant and out of guys with 3 or more 35 are in the HoF (though a few might be in as players) and a couple will be.

*** The 99 Yanks and 05 White Sox went 11-1,

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Off-Season Position Discussion - Second Base

2022 should have been a very simple year for this position, but it ended up being a problem that of course resolved itself exactly where it should have started. Now 2023 will be that simple year... as long as no one gets hurt

Luis Garcia had been dominant in AAA in 2021 earning his second extended call-up to the majors. Much like the first, he was able to hang despite his young age and it seemed pretty clear that he'd have a full season in 2022 to work out the kinks. But the Nats decided that Garcia should be a SS.  Well maybe they decided that. Maybe they wanted a pretext to put him back into the minors. Regardless the effect was the same. As he was not a good fielder, Garcia was sent down to learn the shortstop ropes in AAA and someone else would play 2nd. 

That someone else was the FA signing Cesar Hernandez, and average MI at a reasonable age the Nats thought they could pick up and with some luck turn around for something small.  But Cesar struggled and failed to produce a season of play anyone would want.  Meanwhile in AAA Garcia was again tearing the cover off the ball. (He'd hit like .305 / .370 / .550 over 21 and 22). Despite not looking terribly good the Nats would move him up to play SS in June, that wouldn't work in the field to no one's surprise, but they'd keep on it until mid August when they'd mercifully shift Garcia to where he should have been to start.  Garcia played the rest of the year at second.  He'd end up hitting a bit better this year than in his previous turns, getting to league average with the bat. 

Presumed Plan : Luis Garcia plays 2B.  A FA signee backs him up along with others. 

Reasons for Presumed Plan : Garcia played second last year and was decent. At 22/23 next year you'd still expect him to improve to some degree. If maybe not become a star, even a tick up makes him a solid major league player. 

As for the back-up, the only young player you like and that is ready for the job is Abrams. He'll likely play SS.  That leaves no one to back up.  There will probably be calls for Jake Alu to be up and he might be, but he's more of a 3B than a MI. Ildermo Vargas had a nice run for the Nats this year, but he also isn't very good and they should pass on that. So a random FA Jose Peraza? Didi Gregorious? Marwin Gonzalez?

My take : They should definitely start Garcia and play him. So we're all in agreement there. Finally. His defense is no great shakes but it improves every year and he's probably an acceptable 2B right now and given his age likely will be for some time then. So worst case you have a completely average 2B in production and D for cheap for years. Best case he gets some measure better and you have a real steal. 

As for back-up... let's hope he doesn't get injured. The likely replacement won't be someone expected to be good or even slightly below average in 2023. It'll be someone expected to be bad with a chance on not being bad. Either a FA like the ones mentioned that seem to no longer be worthy of a major league spot that surprise us OR a minor leaguer that wasn't a prospect and should be bad but who knows because they never played in the majors. 

It'd likely get very bad, very fast if Garcia can't go, so let's all wish him health.


Hmm if you stopped here the Nats wouldn't look so bad. They have a young C and young 2B that seem to be league average with hopes of being better and a trio of 1B bats that they can find the best one from and the best one should be decent. It's the foundation, with a couple stars, of a nice squad. 

Unfortunately these ARE the stars and the foundation under them is very shaky. There isn't much certainty left in the Nats positions for 2023 and that almost always means a lot of problems.  But for now let's leave it with Ruiz, Meneses/Voit/Yadi, and Garcia. Three actual solutions.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Off-Season Position Discussion - First Base

Next year will be a mess for the Nats, but there is a decent chance that first base won't be. I'm not sure that can be said of any other position where the plan B is someone shouting "OMG please don't tell me we're at Plan B!!!" as they stuff whatever they can into a go bag. So enjoy the talk of the first and last truly set position, even if "being set" might still end up as a below average position. 

This year the plan coming in was very clear. Josh Bell, who the Nats took a chance on trading for before 2021, was to be the first baseman. He had a very good 2021 and the hope was he'd do the same in 2022.  He did better. He was All-Star worthy if not an actual selection which made him excellent trade bait for a team going nowhere. Once he got traded, with Cruz unable to be off-loaded and clogging up the DH position, AAA place holder Joey Meneses and trade return Luke Voit passed off the position between each other like 75/25 to Voit. After the waiver deadline passed and the Nats realized playing Cruz served no purpose, the Nats settled into Voit at DH and Joey at 1B.  Joey, already getting attention for his hot month, continued to hit in September and became one of the precious few good things for the Nats at the major league level. He ended the season hitting .324 / .367 / .563 in 240 PA.

Presumed Plan : Joey Meneses gets a shot at first as a reward for an extremely hot finish to 2022.  If he falters, it's likely either Luke Voit and/or Yadi Hernandez (injured at the end of 2022) will get the at bats there

Reason for Presumed Plan : As noted above after Josh Bell left Joey hit. He hit for the whole two months he was playing. He hit in August. He hit in September. He hit the first week. He hit the last week. He hit lefties and righties. He hit home and away. If you are looking for a reason NOT to start him at 1B next year, he didn't give you any in the majors. His fielding wasn't good, but the alternatives wouldn't be any better.

The alternatives are probably first Yadi assuming he's healthy, and if not him, the far worse fielding Voit, but you never know. If Voit is the only one hitting and wants to play 1B, he could play there.  In general, one of these two will get the occasional start.

Why not someone UNDER 30? While 1B is generally an easy place to fill with a cheap young-ish hitter that has nowhere to go, especially if your DH is filled with an older lumbering hitter, the Nats don't have that. Behind Joey, who was doing meh in AAA before getting called up, the only 1B/DH guys hitting were a 23 year old rookie baller and a 28 year old AA player. It's brutal out there.

My Take :  The Nats don't have many good hitters left. Voit is probably the surest thing, Yadi the second, and Meneses the best chance for someone newer to the league to stand out. They all, if they are in the field, should play 1B. LOGJAM!

But not really. Yadi played some OF because Bell had to be at 1B and Voit really should DH so it works itself out. But it really doesn't because of three numbers: 31, 32, and 35. Those are the ages for Joey, Luke, and Yadi next year.  At a time the Nats should be throwing out kids to see what they got they've got three players at ages that make it pretty unlikely they'll be around for the next good Nats team. First base has a solution and the solution is time filler. 

About the players specifically, we'll talk about Yadi and Luke more at other positions but they are consistent above average bats that can't field. Meneses as much as he did this season, is more of a question mark. He should hit... probably. In the minors he generally did. Not anything so great you had to get him to the majors, but good enough to keep him moving slowly up in the minors. Hitting was never the issue, the issue was he got going at too late an age to make playing an ok hitting meh fielding corner OF / 1B make sense for a team looking to win, which is what ATL, PHI and BOS all were. But the Nats aren't that! 

Will he hit this well next year?  The fancy numbers say probably not. His BABIP (.371) is too high for a guy that doesn't run well. His HR/FB rate is higher than he ever had at any minor league stop. But before you get all sad he's not a huge whiff guy, and he did have pretty good power, and if he can keep a mild and more believable increase in LD% up and that soft hit % way down... well he could do something. Not the .320 40 homer season his numbers in 2022 suggest but 280 and 25? Sure, why not? But also a Lane Thomas .240 / 15 season is not out of the question. We just don't know.

Next year is a gamble on Joey filling the position so you don't have to think about it, with the hope that's the case for as long as possible. It will be what little excitement the Nats have to start 2023 depending who makes the OD roster from the minors and the Padres pick-ups. If he stumbles that's ok, no one is pressing him and expectations are pretty low. If he stumbles badly that's ok too because there are clear back-up plans with either Yadi or Voit filling in his role. This is the Nats best position for all that that means.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Off-Season Position Discussion : Catcher

There will be a next year.  

Whether you want it or not, this is a fact and because there will be a next year we must plan accordingly.  Or really the Nats must plan and we must ruminate on the sidelines what those plans will be. The good news is unlike the past couple of years we have real clarity on what the Nats are doing.  The bad news is it's a complete rebuild from the ground up starting from an unimpressive base. Kids will play. We know that. But will the kids be any good? Or conversely will any of the good kids play? If the Nats aren't looking hot, why bring up a Hassell and start that clock? It will likely be a very long, very bad year. Here's to the bright spots.

Catcher this year was not quite on of these but it wasn't a problem either. Keibert Ruiz did end up the starting catcher as we thought and he was fine. At 23+ (He turned 24 around the ASG) that's a decent spot to be for a catcher. Both offensively and defensively he was about average and the combination meant he was a little better than average for a catcher. It's a hard position to fill and guys with one skill tend to fail at the other. It was a combination that fell in line with expectations. 

 He was backed up by a mix of players. Riley Adams first, who is simply an emergency catcher masquerading at the position.  Given terrible defense, he had to hit to hold onto the back up catcher role and he couldn't. Tres Barrera, who lookeddecent in the minors, got the next shot and was worse than Adams at the plate. Israel Pineda was quickly brought up after a solid showing in AA for a little over a month.  And he was even worse than Barrera.

Presumed Plan : 

Ruiz with Barrera to start with Pineda on deck whenever it seems like a good idea to flip the two.

Reasoning behind Presumed Plan : 

Ruiz was a above average major league catcher in his first full season at the position. Just barely above average but still above average. There isn't a good reason not to start him as none of the guys behind him are pushing him at all.  He's got a bunch of years before FA so there's no reason to trade him either. 

Adams seems pretty well done as a catcher, as well he should. Which leaves Barrera and Pineda. They like the younger (22) Pineda better than the older Barrera (28) but Pineda also hasn't seen much playing time over A ball.  Expect him to settle in to AAA to see if they can get his bat up to major league speed.  Meanwhile that leave Barrera to fill in the back-up role. Maybe he clicks this time.

My Take :  

Ruiz is a no-brainer. He can play now so of course he starts. The Nats really want/need him to be better though. Assuming defense remains pretty stable for a while*, Ruiz best chance on becoming a good catcher is to hit better. To do that he very simply needs to hit with more power.  His .109 ISO is low suggesting topping out in homers in the 10-15 range. That's only ok if he hits well over .300 (good luck) or walks more (he's never really done that outside of AAA time in 2021). Power, which oftern develops a little with age, seems like the most likely path forward. 

Unfortunately little in his development so far makes me think that's coming. But worse case scenario is you have an average catcher for 4 years cheap and can worry about something else. We'll keep running into this at other positions, Nats being ok enough maybe, but really if you want to settle for that at a position, it's catcher. 

Back-up is a little tougher. Adams shouldn't catch so the fact they were trying to move him around is great. Everyone seems to like Barrera as a person but he hasn't done anything with major league time and he'll turn 29 late next year. He's filler. Teams do do worse but he's down there. On the plus side he's one of those solid defenders who works hard and that could help rub off on Ruiz perhaps.

Pineda could be a major league catcher, but we need to see what he can do in the upper minors. Plus he does need defensive work.  In all honestly he may need 2-3 years and he may just graduate to back-up major league catcher. But be happy with that. You need those two. 


One thing to think about is if Ruiz could learn from a defense first catcher in the back-up role. There are plenty of terrible bats that were excellent defensive catchers, Christian Vasquez, Roberto Perez, Martin Maldanado, Mike Zunino. Maybe instead of going dirt cheap with Barrera, you throw 1-2 million at one of these guys to help out Ruiz behind the plate.


*People seem to think he's better than he's shown. I'll give it another year of data before saying whether he's good or just average

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Lucky or Unlucky : 2022

 The Nats were bad. 

There is no way around that fact. But even bad teams can be lucky or unlucky and a team that ends with 60 wins might be a 52 win team (as bad as teams usually can get) or they might be a 68 win team (average bad) in disguise.  

The adjusted standings suggest the Nats, a 55 win team, were probably a little unlucky with how the season went. Their record WAS in line with their runs scored and runs allowed, but they probably got a little unlucky in how the runs happened* and their schedule was probably a little tougher than the average team.  In the end they were probably more like a 60 win team.  This really does nothing for this year. Those 55 wins are what happened. But it gives us a starting point for next year. This team with no changes might end up with a few more wins next year especially if the division eases up (see the Mets and their FAs). Of course next years team won't have 4 months of Soto and Bell... 

Let's get to the pieces of the season itself. Now remember ALL teams have lucky things and unlucky things happen. The hope is the lucky outnumbers or outweights the unlucky. Worse players get hurt. The lucky surprise is a star turn. That sort of thing.  

UNLUCKY 

Strasburg is hurt and basically doesn't pitch.  As I said before, you need the second part because Stras getting injured is a given. It happens pretty much every year. Even given that the hope is this year that Strasburg could give them something. A month or two of good pitching, an on-and-off season of mediocrity. Something. He gave them nothing which immediately turned a problem rotation into a disaster.

Corbin got worse Corbin had a poor 2020, then a bad 2021. There was hope he could turn things around but the reality was the Nats were just expecting something between the two performances and a 5.00 ERA guy eating up innings. Instead Corbin put up an ERA well over 6.00 and had one of the worst full seasons of all time. Combined with Strasburg the disaster rotation became one that flirted with the worst of all times.

No FA worked out to be tradeable That Hernandez, Franco, Cruz, and Cishek each failed is not surprising. That they ALL failed is. Think of it this way - there could be an 80% chance each one does poorly enough to not bring back anything in trade. But the chances that they ALL fail like that would be 0.80*0.80*0.80*0.80 or like 41%. So it's more likely that at least one would have done something. Rizzo rolled snake eyes here

Rainey got hurt  Some pen arm was going to go down.  Probably more than one. Rainey was arguably their most important one so having it be him was on the unlucky side if not necessarily unexpected

LUCKY 

Bell was great In 2021 the up and down Bell had an up year but that really didn't tell us much about 2022 as he had up years in the past only to disappoint. Instead Bell hit like an All-Star even if he didn't make the team. This made him a much nicer trade piece and helped bring in the haul from San Diego.

Joey was great The post Soto trade story was Joey Meneses and really only Joey Meneses. But what a story it was .324 and 13 homers in 50+ games would project out to star numbers. Ok that's unlikely in a full season but imagine the limping toward the 50 win finish the season would have been without him.  You want to hear weeks of "In the past few games Abrams didn't look too bad"?

Thomas showed full-time capability  No guarantee after only a half-season of decent play in 2021, Thomas basically kept up his performance over the entire year. Not a big lucky thing but one of the few even small breaks the Nats got

Vargas had his good stretch with the Nats  This is one of those things. Some guys get hot in small stretches, some guys don't. Vargas did for an extended time well above expectations. Take it and run.

Rainey bounces back Rainey is seen as the Nats closer and had been usable in 2019 and good in 2020, but 2021 was a bust. This was a make or break type year for the young man and he was actually ok. Of course he got hurt though. See above.

Pen results better than pen pitching The Nats pen was only fair, with FIPs suggesting a bottom third performance but luck broke for a lot of them and they were decidedly average.  A lot of 4.30 ERA type pitching actually getting 3.40 ERAs.  Small victories, I know. 

Hunter Harvey might be real deal Gotta be excited about something next year and I have chosen Harvey. Pedigree is there. He barely had a chance to get into relief before this year thanks to the pandemic being during his transition from starter year. Got a new pitch (the splitter) going. In 2022 he pitched great actually. He could be the All-Star for the Nats next year.  I'll give you odds.

EXPECTED

Ruiz/Gray/Garcia were all usable rookies - Garcia was ok, good once they stopped trying to force him to be a SS. Ruiz was good for a catcher. Gray wasn't good, but was healthy and available. With large variance always in play these guys didn't do anything wildly outside of what they could have

Hernandez/Franco were bad- There was a decent chance this could be the possibility with Franco never being consistent and Hernandez getting older. Don't try to say this is surprising.

Yadi was good.  The Cuban late-comer immediately hit in the minors to the point where you had to give him a try despite being older. He was good last year. He can hit well enough to be on someone's team

Robles stayed as-is  It's been long enough that this hitting should be expected from Robles. He did field better this year but that's actually more in line with expectations than last year's bad numbers.

Cruz crash Again - always a possibility going in given he was 41. And it happened just as would be expected with a loss of power but not enough to make him unplayable, just untradeable.

Soto was Soto Soto is Soto.  The average was oddly low but didn't matter

Escobar was terrible - The ONLY possibility. He didn't hit years ago and that was before being out of the game for a while. Last year's blip was a "take the money and run" situation. The Nats made it a plan. A terrible plan that ended terribly

Rookies were mostly bad - The Nats farm isn't good and rookies tend to struggles so seeing guys like Adams and Adon and Tetreault do poorly?  Yeah that's what we thought would happen

Sanchez was passable, Fedde was bad, and the rest of the rotation was worse.  This is what these guys are.


Where do we end up? The Nats, one could argue in pure numbers, were more lucky than unlucky. But all those lucky things were pretty minor except Bell's breakout and that didn't matter as much given he got dealt. Harvey is potentially a nice find but happened at the extreme back-end of the season. Meneses sort of the same with the added note that we don't even see him without losing better bats in Soto and Bell. 

But I said "outnumber or outweigh" for a reason and the bad luck with the rotation dominates the minor good breaks. Strasburg being a complete zero and Corbin not even holding on to being his bad 2021 self was something no team could overcome. The Nats needed their #1 and #2 to be #1 and #2 to even be 65+ win competitive. Instead they were effectively gone and even major luck with the bats probably doesn't keep them from being an embarrassment.  Concentrated bad luck at the top of the rotation might be the worst bad luck to have and for a team already in the 60-70 win range? Where the biggest variance between good and bad probably lies at the top of that rotation? Well you see what happens.

Monday, October 10, 2022

Monday quickie - reviewing the rest

The trade people that were in the majors are the last to be reviewed.  And with a bit more depth. 

Keibert Ruiz.  The kid is a starting catcher. He played it all year. People loved his defense though the stats would put it around average. His bat was also around average. The questions of whether or not he'd develop power was answered with "not this year" but he continues to put the ball in play regularly and singles and doubles enough to be ok. The end result - average to maybe slightly above average fielding, average to maybe slightly below average hitting, gives the Nats a plus position at the hard to fill position of catcher. Not a big plus but a plus.

He's a cornerstone then for the next half-decade. However, unless he really steps up on defense, or develops power (or patience but I'll always bet on power first) he's just something not to worry about. Which don't get me wrong is very nice to have. You need guys like this to compliment the better players, and you usually try to find them at positions like C. But the Nats don't have better players so if Ruiz could improve a little and be one of those better players, that would be a big lift for the team going forward.

Josiah Gray - it's was the ok of times, it was the worst of times.  That pretty much sums up Gray's year. He did have one "best of times" stretch - 5 games from the end of May all through June where he put up a 1.24 ERA/ A little lucky sure but it gave you the idea of what can happen for a pitcher pitching well when he gets the breaks. But his other stretches were more just ok, starts 2-5 and a few starts toward the end of August. That would have been ok if his bad times were merely bad. ERAs in the 5.00s maybe a bad luck 6 run, so he evened out for an ERA in the lower to mid 4.00s. A perfectly acceptable first full year and a perfectly usable arm.  But they weren't merely bad. He pitched to deserved ERAs in the 7s and 8s. 

He ended up leading the NL in walks, and leading the majors in home runs, and no one was really close on the latter. If he pitched a full season of 33 starts, he projects to 45 homers, which would put him at 6th all time for a season and that's in 25 to 100 innings fewer than 1st through 5th.  The point is - one of these has to change. He either needs to become very stingy with walks or stop giving up homers. If he can he has the potential to be a very good starter. If he can't he's going to man the back of the Nats rotation. But no one seems to think the Nats coaching staff are the ones to fix him and looking at his stats staying stable from last year to this, that may in fact be right.  Gray, heal thyself.

Lane Thomas - in a rare nice surprise for the Nats Lane Thomas was fine. He doesn't hit for average, but his average isn't bad. He doesn't walk, but it's not like he has NO walks, he doesn't hit for power but it's not like he hits for NO power. His defense isn't great but he can certainly man a corner and can play CF in a pinch. He's an ideal 4th OF for a good team, a stretch 3rd OF for a not good team, and the best OF for the worst team in the majors.*

If this is who he is, and it probably is, then the Nats would be wise to deal him if he ever gets hot. He's likely peaking now and some team is probably going to want a cheap 3rd OF for a playoff stretch in 2023 or 2024 and you can maybe see him bringing back a better lottery ticket than he was in that case. But more likely he keeps playing as is, doesn't present great values in return and stays playing for the Nats until up for FA. And like Ruiz that's fine. Those two could be the bottom of the order for a playoff team. You want to plug holes with these types. The problem is right now all the Nats are doing it plugging holes.

Mason Thompson - a Padre guy got for Daniel Hudson, he looked pretty good this year. He probably didn't pitch as well as his 2.92 ERA would indicate but he was also injured so a fully healthy Mason would be expected to do better. I'm not sure there's a closer or even a set-up man here - he's a GB guy who let's them hit it. But there's a useful bullpen arm here and another piece to what I think could be a fairly decent pen over the next few years. For all the good it will do keeping losses from being big ones. Stay healthy and let's see who Mason is over an extended time but for now. He's something and that's more than can be said of most of the returns from sell-offs before 2022.

Riley Adams - He's a catcher, but really an emergency third catcher, the kind of guy that plays it if necessary or if he hits so well you can't not play him and you have a DH and 1B already.  Riley does not hit that well. He does have some power. If he played all year he might lead this Nats team in homers if Voit had an off year. But he'd also hit under .200 and strike out close to 200 times and by lead the Nats I mean hit like 20 homers not 40. They tried to put him in the minors and teach him first, in part because that's where the space is on the Nats with Ruiz behind the plate, in part because not catching sometimes helps the bat wake up.  It did not. The simple truth is Adams swings and misses too much. Right now he's borderline a major leaguer. He is what he is - maybe the worst player on the bench of the worst team.  I have to think he'll start the year as org filler with Meneses starting at 1st, and Yadi or Voit or whoever else they want to get at bats there when Joey sits.  If he can get red hot or things break in the majors we could see him again, but it's just as likely he sits in Rochester.  A miss. But hey it was for Brad Hand so what did you expect?

Luke Voit - Still not a free agent until after 2024 (he played 100 games before his age 28 season) Voit can serve a very important purpose for the Nats by hitting next year like he did in 2020 and get traded away for something good.  Luke is what a guy like Adams wants to be.  Sure he'll strike out close to 200 times but give him 150 games and he'll probably slug 30+ homers and that is useful. If he gets hot though he can get that average up and challenge 40 homers and that's more than useful that's good. As long as he's here you can expect Luke to probably not hit over .250 but to probably hit some homers inbetween strikeouts from the DH spot. He's unlikely to just Nelson Cruz given he's only 32 but it could happen. That's how it works with guys that strike out this much.

CJ Abrams - finally another real prospect! You probably heard good things about Abrams at the end of the year.  Unfortunately they were mostly cherry picked as he did not play overall well for the Nats. BUT he did have nearly a month where he hit .333.  Did he homer?  No. Did he walk? No.  Seriously ZERO walks - he did get HBP once. So it wasn't a great stretch but it suggests great stretches are possible. Hit .333 with a little patience and a little power as opposed to none and none and you have something very good. 

He also seems like he is an actual shortstop. Garcia, he made errors... when he got to the ball. He can't play short stop. I REPEAT : LUIS GARCIA CANNOT PLAY SHORTSTOP.  Abrams, he'll get to the ball, maybe better than 90% of the other SS in baseball. But he had a lot of errors.  If he can cut those down he'll be a good, maybe great, shortstop.

This makes Abrams a sneaky key for the Nats. He almost certainly in my mind, become the SS of the future, playing the position at a level that is worthwhile. And as it's another tough position to fill if he can hit a little better than puts him with Ruiz and Thomas as perfectly acceptable players. Meaning they have two of the hardest positions SS and C filled. That's great. But also... that's it. The Nats can't have anymore "just ok" players. They need 6 good ones - really like 3 good ones, 2 great ones and a superstar. Thomas is likely who he is. Ruiz seems to be settling. Abrams is the great unknown and as that he is the one that gets the most burden on being much better with the bat in the future. If he is, you can start to see the Nats path back. Garcia being good, Hassell being good. Someone ok at 1B... the offense pieces together.  If he's not better, then the Nats have no leeway. They need everything to work out hitting wise and that usually doesn't happen.


So looking up these guys for the most part worked out, as you would expect since they were in the majors. But there isn't a star among them yet which means everyone else would have to work out that way. That's a tough roll of the dice to bet on. No, the Nats need something to click here. It won't be from Adams - who isn't good, or Voit who is too old and better served as trade bait. Thompson's role is too limited to really matter. It has to be from someone else. Ideally more than just one but one at an absolute minimum from Thomas, Ruiz, Gray, and Abrams has to step up in a big way.  The Nats got value back, they got major leaguers they could pay cheap the next 5 years. That's good and necessary but it isn't winning. Winning requires more.

*If you are wondering why the Cardinals let him go - they have three younger OF who all are as good as Thomas now and might be better. They have two older OFs who probably are better. There's no place for him.

Friday, October 07, 2022

Playoffs and the Nats

 You guys know my rooting status - Yankees Yankees Yankees and twice on Sunday if it's a double header. 

But you guys aren't me and with the Nats out it may be hard to find a reason to root for a team.  So here are Nats on current playoff teams. 

Atlanta - Who can forgive you if you get behind long time Nat Ehire Adrianza? 

Mets - MAX! 

Phillies - Bryce is still there and they finally expanded the playoffs enough to get him back in. But you also like Kyle Schwarber and his couple months of amazing power.

Cardinals - No Nats and good because you don't want to root for the Cardinals

Dodgers - Trea is still there - that's part of why they got him for the extra year. Along with Daniel Hudson and Blake Treinen but both are hurt and won't be in the playoffs. 

Padres - Possibly the final survivor of the 2009 Nats Craig Stammen* and.... I think that's it. Oh wait. How silly of me.  Austin Adams though he's hurt. 

 

AL 

Yankees - As much as Wandy Peralta and Albert Abreu sound like random Nats relievers they aren't. No Nats.  Good. Get your 50 win stink away from my team

Blue Jays - No Nats went north of the border.  THEY ARE AMERICA'S TEAM.

Tampa - No Nats. Obviously the AL East was a bit too competitive for them

Guardians - 21 very important early season PAs for Sandy Leon

Astros - DUSTY! 

Mariners - former Nats prospect Robbie Ray is the big name but the Mariners tie for the overall win with likely the last major league at bats for Steven Souza came this year for Seattle as well as likely the last innings pitched for Tommy Milone and bringing back ring-getter Roenis Elias.

*Both Detwiler and Clippard pitched in 2022 so we'll see. They could all be gone next year and Stammen would win by virtue of making the playoffs.

Thursday, October 06, 2022

Merciful Ending

The Nats season ended with a non competitive loss, the last in a string of beatdowns only mercifully stopped by there being no more games tomorrow. They lost their last 5 games by scores of 8-2, 8-1, 4-2, 8-0 and 9-2.  That feeling of the past week in general and the last game specifically, that the Nats were never in it, best conveys the feeling of the season. It was a season that began with Alcides Escobar starting at SS, had Joan Adon starting Game 3, and ended with 4/9 of the offense manned by guys 27 or older that hadn't been good enough to start the season with a team. 

The season was never going to be a good one. The only question was how bad would it be? If Strasburg could be healthy, if Corbin could be ok, if Bell was for real, if Cruz had one more year in him, if more guys stepped up than stepped back ... it could have been passably bad.  High 60s in wins with most of the attention toward watching Gray, Garcia, and Ruiz and the young pitching hopefully develop and how that would effect re-signing Soto in the offseason. But very few of those things worked out and the season collapsed on itself. They were 6-15 before the end of April, 18-33 on Memorial Day. A looming unexpected sale put a tighter timeline on the Soto decision and with no clear path forward with the limited youngsters on hand, Soto went out the door to bring in a truck load more. The season and the next few, were officially given up on. 

The Nats were this bad. There was no real unluckiness to be found. The numbers pegged them at 56-106. They were blown-out regularly while their wins tended to be squeakers.  They couldn't hit - their best full season hitter was Lance Thomas, a decidely average bat who hit .240 with 17 homers. They couldn't pitch - their best full season starter was Josiah Gray who succumbed to fatigue and fell back into his pattern of giving up multiple homers every game, ending the year with an ERA over 5.  They couldn't field - 2nd in errors, 2nd to last in defensive runs saved. They couldn't run - in the lower third in SB and SB%, #3 in getting picked off, 3rd worst in extra bases taken, tied for 4th most times thrown out at home. They did nothing well. 

This includes being managed as Davey spent the year, his 4th in 5 leading a team to well under the pre-season expectation of wins, shifting blame away from himself and ending it explicitly saying that it's not the always the coaches fault.  And it includes building a roster, as guys brought in by Rizzo to be possible late season trade pieces all performed poorly leaving the Nats with nothing anyone wanted. 

The Nats were a bad team that played worse, whose most important moment of the season was dealing away a likely future Hall of Famer. 

This wasn't a forgettable season. This was a season you don't want to remember.

Monday, October 03, 2022

Monday not Quickie - everyone else in the minors

A couple weeks ago I posted some updates on players from last year's deals who's minor league seasons had ended (this year's deals fell into teams still playing at the time). The news was fairly grim.  In short

Aldo Ramirez - Hurt

Richard Guasch - Bad finish

Drew Millas - Meh

Seth Shuman - Hurt

Jordy Barley - Bad

The AAA season just ended this weekend (Go Bulls! Champs!) It's time to go over the rest of the non-major leaguers. 

Last Year Guys 

Gerardo Carillo 24 - I keep going back and forth whether he or Aldo is more interesting. Carillo is better but at 24 Aldo is much younger than the 21 year old Aldo. Cariilo started poorly then got hurt and missed May and June. He seemed fairly well in control in A+ throwing to a 3.60 ERA (.627 OPS) so he got moved up to AA.  It was a different breed of hitter there so while he was able to dial up the Ks (11 in 5.1 IP) they crushed him to the tune of .292 / .414 / .542 and a 10.13 ERA. He did not pitch in the playoffs from what I can tell. Next year he'll have to do something in AA or he starts to get passed by

Donovan Casey 26 - Good old K-see spent the year in Rochester and put up a .216 / .279 / .623 line, closing down his year when AA prospects came up to finish the season. His issue is his strike outs and he struck out 97 times in 317 PA for a rate of 31%.  That'd be death in the majors and you'd only try him if he showed immense power. While he might have in the past he hit 7 homers this year. Wouldn't be surprised if he was released, but as it's his first AAA year maybe he gets an "acclimation" pass and is back at least for the start of next year.

This Year Guys

Trey Harris 26 - From the BIG deal at the deadline when Ehire Adrianza went back to the Braves and I guess his spirit pushed them to an NL East crown? Double A all year Harris hit .245 / . 294 / .336.  Unless he's an A+ fielder I'd expect him to be released. If you talk about guys that got screwed by the pandemic it'd be someone like Trey who in a normal world might have used a good 2019 to springboard into 2020 and get a terrible cup of coffee in the majors. Still though it's making the majors.  I'm not saying he would have but it's this type of guy. 

Mackenzie Gore 23 - Never got out of rehab.  Just looked tired early in his starts and was getting rocked by what little competition they put out there. Closed down for the year and hopefully he'll be ready in the Spring

James Wood 20 - Wowed fans with a 4-6 night with a homer in his first game as a Nats minor leaguer, but would only hit one more homer the rest of the way. Was sitting at .338 / .403 / 544 in late August before a dreadful .046 finish left him with a .293/ .366 / .463 line and a K-rate for the Nats of 28%.  That's too high and took a little shine off the initial excitement. Still expect to see him in all the Top 100 lists and in High A Wilmington next year.

Jarlin Susana 18 - Wilder than with the Padres but impossible to square up for the Nats, Susana was quickly moved up to A ball. He looked as he should - a tinge worse (gave up a run in each of his short starts) but just a tinge (gave up A run in each of his short starts). At this age I don't see the reason to rush him so he starts in Fredericksburg but don't expect him to stay there. No one can say where his level is but it's higher than A. 

Robert Hassell 21 - played a few games in High A then moved up to AA because... well probably because that's where they want him next year and figure he could get used to things. He looked a little overmatched putting up a .222 / .312 / .296 line but was definitely better in September than August.  The Ks are a high 27%  so we'll watch that but it's to be expected with the move up to AA. The lower rate in High A was fine. That's what you see... a jump.

This batch is much better... well at least the Padres set.  Hassell looks on target, neither blowing up expectations or crashing out of them. He'd be 2024 guy likely right now.  After getting some fans overly excited Wood came back to Earth and that K rate in a low league he was in all year is questionable. That's kind of what kept him from being high on lists going into 2022. But he has time to get it right and has shown he can hit around it. I'd just be worried with a move up it'll go up well over 30% and into places he can't hit past. Jarlin Susana, everything looks great. No flags yet. He could be a very fast riser. 

Expect Hassell in the Top 20ish. Wood who broke into every mid season Top 100, will stay there but with pretty wild variation, maybe a 15 in one place and a 65 in another. Depends how much you deal in hype trying to nail the next superstar (which Wood could be if he controls those Ks), or you deal with the facts in front of you (which say watch out for a kid swinging and missing this much).  Susana... low level pitchers get a little shafted, maybe someone will have the guts to put him in a Top 100 but trust me their eyes will be on him.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Still another one for Joey?

 Hey - what else are we going to talk about here? 

So someone said the comparisons weren't very fair because some of them weren't very good.  Joey is raking. Someone with a 94 OPS+ is not.  The problem is if you expand out from 29+ there are more questions on how comparable that really is. But again - what the hell. 

OPS+ 130 plus, debut year over 25, over 200 PA (Since the war - you know the one).  

That's only 8, including Joey

The previously mentioned Ryan Schimpf is closest in age at 28.  The guy played half a year hit 20 homers in 2016. That's amazing! Tell your grandkids about it Ryan!  Here he is today. Baseball is hard!  

At 27 you have Abreu - not applicable because he only didn't come up before because he was in Cuba. Same with 26 year old Yoenis Cespedes. 

If you must look at 26 year olds - I guess I did put them in there -

Jeff McNeil - Not a high prospect but hit in the minors until derailed by injury for two years. Still hitting years later AT THE AGE OF 30

Josh Hamilton - Huge Prospect drafted 1-1 that had his career derailed by drugs. When did get in the majors was the star people thought he could be until out of the game at 34 for various reasons

Then two guys, Gus Zernial and Ferris Fain, who debuted in the 40s. Both had solid careers until they were 36 and 34 respectively. 

So you can break in, hit surprisingly well, and still be hitting at the ages past 30.  The caveat here is that they broke in much younger.  For the most part 31 ish was their last very good years with usable after that. 

But in my mind Joey's biggest problem is the 200+ PA we've set. That's pretty low about a third of a season. He hit better in August than September (though September is still good) What's the chance another two months even that start out?

Will this end the Joey train? Probably not.  Boz came back just to get a ride on it.  We'll all come into next year hoping he does well and that's about all we can do.  Chances are probably best he has a middling near average year maybe two, then peters out.  Maybe the Nats get lucky and he hits well for another before slowly fading. Maybe they don't and he's just not good next year.  Yes, maybe he IS that one 30 year old that becomes the "Well Joey Meneses did it" standard bearer and he hits for the next 6 years. But no it doesn't HAVE to happen someday. This isn't an infinite number of monkey on an infinite number of typewriters.

Nats take on Philly and if you like the Brewers more than Philly - well the Nats can help take them down and get Milwaukee in. Mets take on Braves.  All this worked in crazy ways around the rain coming in from the Hurricane.  Now that's a wild finish.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Once more for Joey

So what is a Joey Meneses? It's an older player who in his first real chance at playing does well enough to make you hope they are something more.  As the last comment in the previous post said - the reasonable hope is he's around league average for 2-3 year, bridging the gap between good times, costing the team little so maybe they can make a big free agent or international signing with an eye toward the future.*

Have we seen that with other Joey's?  I made a quick attempt yesterday but let's pin it down even closer.  29 year old or more, 200+ AB, "rookies"**, posting OPS+ of at least 90.  What do we got?

In the past 25 years - not a lot. 

Shinjo, Matsui, Taguchi... we know why they didn't make it earlier. 

2004 David Newhan - odd case where he played in 1999, 2000, and 2001 and wasn't very good. Then he got hurt in 2002 and didn't play and played all 2003 in the minors. He was bouncing around teams but Baltimore needed a 3B, he was available, they picked him up and he took off.  Here's a feel good story about him.  But the brief outings before 2004 were more real and he stunk up the joint in the next three years. 

Iguchi, Johjima

2006 Chris Coste - 33 when he debuted (here's the feel good for him) he'd actually be a reasonable back-up catchers for a couple more years (re: not good. but back-up catchers are hard to find) before his age caught up with him. The guy WAS 36 after all 

2008 Edgar Gonzalez - 30.  Adrian's older brother. Got the call up in part deserved, in part because Adrian was on the team and it's a nice story.  Read the feel good here. He did perfectly fine that first year but the next year did bad. He got hit in the head and missed nearly two months with a concussion but actually hit better coming back briefly but never got another shot.

Aoki

2015 Joey Butler - 29. Bounced all around and had a couple small cups of coffee in previous two years before coming up and doing pretty decently (requisite feel gooder). But the Rays are not sentimental and he was DFA'd to make room on the 40. He was picked up by Cleveland, didn't hit in AAA. Then picked up by the Nats! Hey hey! Didn't hit for them in AAA either. But don't worry there's another Nat around the corner...

2015 Clint Robinson 30. (Classic Wags delivering the feels) The Nats were looking for organizational depth and picked up Robinson after the Dodgers let him go. The Nats had just decided to go with Zimm at 1B after letting LaRoche go and Zimm couldn't stay on the field. So Clint played a lot and was basically the only other Nat (Ok Yuney too) to hit in the season Bryce tried and failed to carry the Nats to the playoffs himself. But in 2016 the magic would wear off and he'd be gone. 

Dae-Ho Lee

2017 Manny Pina 30. The Pineapple himself. He did play at 24 & 25 in the majors but only 5 games. (FG here). Possibly the biggest success as he played 4 seasons as a workable back-up catcher.

Gurriel - Cuba

Now we're getting into too recent territory with stories still being written but I'll give you the 2019 guys. 

2019 Jon Berti  - 29 (feel good) He's still playing and currently leads the league in stolen bases.  No, for real. Look it up. And it's a legit percentage. He should be stealing at this rate. Is he any good? Not really. More he's fallen into a team that won't spend money and needs warm bodies. He's not bad though

2019 Austin Nola - 29 (FG) catcher. still playing with Padres. Brings up the question - can Joey catch?

Anyway not even a mixed bag. The catchers have stuck around, which speaks to it being hard to develop catchers and that it's hard to find good back ups. The rest are flashes in the pan. Again Joey is the flashiest flash, hitting better than anyone in this group.  He also has the most limited ABs though.

*Of course you know my feelings on this - THEY CAN DO THIS ANYWAY!!! 

** meets rookie qualifications.

Monday, September 26, 2022

99 losses but last night wasn't one

As I predicted the Nats took one from the Marlins and made it to Monday 55-99.  They do play tonight and I expect them to lose 100 at home which is fitting because they are worse at home than away. The Nats have 4 more games to win one which would give them 10 wins for the month and their first double digit winning month since June. Hoo... ray? 

Basically the only fun thing about the Nats right now is Joey Meneses won't stop, cant' stop, hitting. His line is at .326 / .360 /.583 right now and he's hit himself into a starting role in 2023 just because who else are they going to play? A lot of Nats fans are cautiously optimistic. How often does an older guy come out of nowhere with a second half THIS hot? 

The answer is not often but... 

Like last year I only found 2 guys with high 2nd half OPSs, 27+, and didn't have a lot of previous playing time.  Say hello to Rafael Ortega and Frank Schwindel.  You probably do have to say hello to them because there isn't a good reason to know who they are. Ortega has been middling all year and Schwindel got his chance like Meneses will next year and he is now out of baseball entirely. 

2020 can't be used, but 2019? That looks better. You have Mike Yastrzemski, who went onto have a great 2020 then usable 2021 and 2022. 

In 2018 Joey Wendle might count - played about 40 uninspiring games prior to that season. He's been average since. Before that maybe Ryan Schimpf? Jung Ho Kang?

I could do a more thorough search but I think that's what I'll find going back for the most part. Mostly guys like Schwindel and Schimpf who come in to bad teams late to fill space, do really well, get their chance the year after and show you why they surprised everyone in the first place. But BUT occasionally you'll get a Mike Yaz who is not necessarily a star, but can be a useful player for a few years and likely will be a fan favorite for 2-3-4 years as the team resets. 

Joey, be a Yaz.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Only a little fun

 Judge hit 60 early this week leaving 61 (and presumably 62) there for fans to watch which is good because this week didn't set up much of anything new. 

In the AL East the Yankees rolled, while the Jays and Rays mucked around. The Yanks are pretty firmly in control at this point.  The Rays and Jays AND Seattle all playing middling ball gave the Orioles an opening, but they did nothing with it, unable to use a well-timed Tigers series for anything other than disappointment. They aren't out of it but now need that special run or special crash. 

In the AL Central Cleveland took care of business, beat up on the Twins and the White Sox making them pretty much moot for the division title and since they all are mediocre, the Wild Card too. 

In the NL Central St. Louis was middling but Milwaukee only marginally better.  The same happened with the WC teams of San Diego and Philly.  The effect was the Brewers are in a tiny bit better spot then they were when the week began. This does nothing for the division - so that's pretty much over, but it keeps the WC in play. 

Meanwhile in the East the Mets and Braves matched eachother keeping that of interest which is good because there's a decent chance that's all we'll be looking at in a week. 

Braves @ Phillies remains the series of the weekend as neither team can afford to lose and achieve their goals, though with the Braves in the playoffs in some capacity it's not as exciting as it could be. 

The rest depends on the chasers - Milwaukee and Baltimore. If they win then watching Jays @ Rays, Sea @ KC, and SD @ Col takes on some added intrigue. 


As for the Nats they don't hit except for Meneses and the bullpen does the job of keeping the loses close and giving the Nats the occasional close win. It's a slow bleed out to 100 and a weak Marlins offense probably won't help end the march to 100 any quicker. Figure 55-99 coming back on Monday? That's kind of a fun record.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Saying things - Barry and Jesse edition

Going through the Post's Nats Q&As used to be one of my favorite things. Boz would say something like "Matt Skole, Zack Walters, or Chris Marrero will make an All-Star team" or "Cristian Guzman might not be hitting but the Twins made the playoffs with him" or "Matt Chico started with a 4.50 era. Another lefty with a 4.50 ERA? Sandy Koufax" and I could blast him apart.  No one would notice or care but it made me feel good.  After the team got good and Boz left though there are less chances to do that. There are fewer dumb stretch questions being asked and everyone else covering the team have been mostly more judicious and skeptical, Janes and "Zimm is on another field running fast and free!" excepted. 

But the bad times are back and so are the hopes and dreams and yesterday's Q&A did present a few things, while I won't say are worthy of blasting, are at least worth a look at. 

1) Jesse notes that the leader in the clubhouse for 3B might be Carter Kieboom. 

I suppose this is right. He still is only 25 and he really did show promise once. But man that is disheartening.  He's been so bad everytime he's come up that the idea of watching him play 3B for another 30-80 games is something I don't look forward to.  I'm not sure what the alternative would be. I'd love to see Vargas do well but he is 31 and the history is iffy.  Jake Alu is older than Kieboom and his rise has been a slow march of "pretty good".  Seems like the ideal position to try again with a Hernandez or Franco type.

2) Barry's digs himself a hole by bringing up Max when talking about Gray.  He immediately clarifies Gray is no Max and he just means he should get better like Max got better but he leaves out some tangible points

Max's ERA was 4.12, better than the average at the time and his FIP suggested he was pitching even better at a 3.87. His best feature - his 9.2 K/9 - was much better than league average (7.1)

Gray's ERA is 5.14, worse than the average and his FIP suggests it's even grimmer, 5.96.  His best feature - his 9.8 K/9 - is better than the league average (8.6) but not as much so.

Max's 24 age season had the same weaker 2nd half that Gray's has seen. It has the same increase in homers. But Gray's is much weaker and has much more homers. The optimism for Max came from his pedigree and stats. For Gray it's just the pedigree right now. It's hard to look at the evidence from 2022 and see him better than high 4.00s next year (assuming same environment) which still makes him below average.

3) Barry's says "I'll dig into what I think is the worst Nats team in the next week or so." HEY!  COPYCAT!*

4) Someone asks if the Nats gave up more for Eaton than they got back for Soto.  The answer, as Barry notes, is no. But it's not so far apart that you don't have to at least think about it for a second.  The thing though that makes it a question is the development of Giolito, Lopez, and Dunning after the deal. 

Of course Soto's deal was for Soto and Eaton isn't Soto.  And Soto's deal was also for Bell.  Eaton's was just for Eaton. But Eaton had four very reasonable years in hand.  You get 2+ underpays, but still expensive, deals for Soto and a half-year of Bell.  

It does feel like either they didn't get enough for Soto (unlikely given just the world we live in now) or gave up too much for Eaton (more likely but definitely influenced by results). You can tell I lean toward the latter. 

5) Someone asked if Fedde was a major league starter. Jesse side-stepped a direct answer.  The direct answer is "No".


*Actually it's a pretty standard thing to think about with very bad teams.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Monday Quickie - State of the season

With about two weeks to go (the last games are on Wed Oct 5) we're in crunch time.  Let's assume a 5 game deficit for a team. 

At 30 games, it's in your hands.  They might go say... 17-13 so if you bear down and do great, 22-8 in this case, you can make it up all by yourself. That's a very strong run but good teams make those type of runs once or twice a year. You can do it. The real key is that they aren't likely to make it impossible for you.  The 26-4 run to make that necessary would be the best run of any team in any year.

At 20 games you start to need help.  If the team you are chasing plays as they should they'll be like 11-9 or 12-8.  That means you have to go 16-4 or 17-3 to make up the games. On one hand it's easier to have shorter bursts of great play. On the other hand the ask becomes much bigger. It's about a push in terms of your team making that happen. But the 16-4 that the team your chasing needs to do to make it impossible? Well it's not likely but it isn't crazy - you are just saying your own team has to do that.  You have to hope they don't get hot, and it would be helpful it they stumble a bit.

At 10 games you need help, no doubts about it.  The team you are chasing simply can go 6-4, as they probably should, and end it for you. And that's if you can go 10-0. Even a great finish of 8-2 would need the team you are chasing to fall flat at 3-7 to produce a tie.  It takes two to make up a moderate deficit at this point. 

We're at 15+ games left now so we are moving away from "you can do it yourself" and into "they gotta help you"  For what it's worth I put "We need to be awesome. They need to be terrible" in the "likely over" category. Because it likely is! You remember the once every 5 years that it happens but forget the like 19 other times in that time frame it did not.  Let's see what the contests stand! 

AL East : Yankees up by 5.5 and 6.0 games over Tor and Tampa respectively. 

There's still a chance for a huge finish to do it without the Yankees doing too poorly, especially for Toronto who still has 3 H2H games left, but it could pretty much be over with a good series by the Yanks and bad ones by these two

AL Central : Cleveland up by 3.5 over Chicago, 6 over Minnesota

Fun times as Minnesota finishes their 5 game series with Cleveland tonight (Cleveland up 3-1) and needs a win or you can probably write them off. Chicago faces Cleveland after that and Cleveland could put it away with a sweep or Chicago could set up a furious finish. 

AL West : Houston up 15 on Seattle 

Well that's over. 

AL Wild Card: Toronto +2, Tampa +1.5, Seattle, [Cleveland -1.5], Baltimore -4, White Sox -5. 

Basically runs need to start NOW for Baltimore and Chicago. Seattle and the others just have to hold on. Again it could be over by the weekend with the right breaks for the teams in the lead

NL East : Mets up by 1 over Atlanta

IT AIN'T OVA.  The one sure bet to be interesting this weekend, even under the worst case scenario for the trailing team. 

NL Central : St Louis up 8 over Milaukee. 

That's pretty much over as the Brewers are in need help territory and should be more concerned with the Wild Card

NL West : Dodgers up 21 on San Diego 

Yeah

NL Wild Card : Atlanta +11, San Diego +0.5, Philly, Milwaukee -2 

A good chance this ends up interesting but there's a chance Philly and San Diego could separate enough from Milwaukee to make it uninteresting after this week. Because there are multiple moving parts it seems like it'll end fun but it all depends right now on the Brewers at least being ok.

 

What to Watch this week 

Tonight specifically : 

Twins @ Guardians - Twins NEED this win. Simple as that. 

Mets @ Brewers : Two teams that need to win. 

Early this week : 

Guardians @ White Sox : starts off as the premier series but if Cleveland wins early games makes it less interesting.

Mets @ Brewers (cont'd) : Both teams will still needs these games

Blue Jays @ Phillies: assuming the Orioles are doing the job against the Tigers, no AL team can be completely safe yet. Phillies need to win and hold on

Cardinals @ Padres : Padres need to hold on too, but the Cards would like to finish off the Central as soon as possible.

Pirates @ Yankees : Well the Judge at bats anyway, until he gets to 62

Late this week into Weekend : 

Blue Jays @ Rays : Likely to be a weird position battle where #2 would be ok losing if they can drop past Seattle bc it puts you up against the Central winner.  But if they can't you'd want to win to get home field.  Probably too hard to triangulate at this point so expect both just to try to win. 

Braves @ Phillies : Both could help their cause while hurting a rival. The most fun outside of actually knocking eachother out. 

Cards @ Dodgers : Two good teams who might be playing the last series they really try. You don't want to slow up too early.

Any exciting H2Hs left? 

Probably only the Mets @ Braves going into last weekend of the season. 

 If somehow things break crazily Tampa @ Cleveland, Yankees @ Toronto, Cardinals @ Brewers, White Sox @ Twins early next week; or White Sox @ Padres late next week into weekend could be fun. But it's more likely things are pretty set. Hopefully one of these pans out. 

At the very end of the season Blue Jays @ Orioles and Twins @ White Sox sit there with "loser is out" potential but it'll take work to get there.