Nationals Baseball: 2022

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Not news, but notes

I guess the Nats have done SOME things in the past week. In case you missed it

Signed Ronald Herrera (an arm), Matt Adams, Travis Blankenhorn (26ish moderate power hitting IF/OF), and Anthony Castro (27 wild arm with a tendency to leave meatballs out there) . Thes are all guys with at least a cup of coffee in the majors who will now be AAAA depth for a woeful top level minors) 

Signed Tommy Romero.  Romero was with the Nats last year and didn't show well, but has a decent amount to like and is at the tail end of age relevance as opposed to over it.  Worth looking at another year.  Yes, that is the same Matt Adams the Nats had previously. As you can imagine time has not been kind.

Brought back Erasmo Ramirez. A perfectly competent reliever last year who could be stretched out to long relief (HINT HINT)  Might have been able to squeeze a few more dollars out of someone else but found a comfort level here last year after 4 years of wandering in the desert so probably was fine coming back. The pen is solid. Not great, but solid. 

Watched Seth Lugo sign elsewhere.  Not a surprise at all but the Nats were hoping for another Trevor Williams situation by probably offering Lugo a rotation role if he wanted it. Lugo though is a little older and probably a little more keyed in to "might be out of the game in 3-5 years" so went after maybe a worse position but on a much better team. 

Saw Erick Fedde off the Korea.  Sadly we won't be able to watch Fedde fail to meet expectations for the 7th year in a row. Erick who at his best looked possibly like a decent back of the rotation starter, was the first 1st round gambles that didn't work out for the Nats after a run that did. Even excluding Stras and Bryce you had

Drew Storen - he DID immediately relieve and relieve well in the majors, but paraphrasing had a million dollar arm and a 10 cent psyche. 

Rendon - you know Rendon

Brian Goodwin - VERY late first round pick (supplemental actually) got a half decade of average performance out

Alex Meyer - A top notch prospect shifted off the the death mounds of Minnesota* who showed a flash of rotation ability before his arm broke for good. 

Lucas Giolito - A guy the Nats couldn't develop that the White Sox could and has been between a very good and ok starter.

So a solid run of useful to good players. Undeniably major league talented. Then came the doldrums :

Erick Fedde, Carter Kieboom, Dane Dunning (who ok is major league talented), Seth Romero, Mason Denaburg (who ok is still a question given injury)

The Nats had used a lot of the first group to get talent to stay in the hunt for a championship so they needed the second group, once they decided they didn't want to trade them and pump up the payroll to Dodger/Yankee levels, to be talented players who developed into good to useful players. They haven't. Fedde was the start of that. Maybe tomorrow will be an all Fedde post


*I talked about this before - Minnesota was probably the WORST at developing major league pitching for a decade plus. Worse than the Nats of the time. Meyer got there at the tail end of that and unsurprisingly did not get developed even with the injury. He almost made it after getting to the Angels of all places but alas the arm couldn't stay together.  Honestly I think this was a guy with top rotation talent that had the worst of breaks.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Hmmm Huh Wha?

There's a lot of exciting things going on in baseball as the money teams double down on winning. 

The Nats are not a money team right now. 

There is nothing exciting going on with the Nats. 

This isn't a surprise

A week and a half ago Fangraphs did their ZiPS projections. It's just one projection system of many but it gives you an idea of what the Nats are like. 

The answer is an offense with boring production. It's pretty easy to get to average production at a position cheaply and the Nats have basically done it across the board.  That doesn't exactly equate with an average offense, stars matter. But it should be watchable most nights. What is boring?  It's Robles hitting .255 with little patience or pop but pretty solid CF defense. It's Joey Meneses hitting 25+ homers, but seeing his average fall to around .245 and not walking much. It's Luis Garcia hitting .265 with maybe 20 homers while never walking and playing subpar D.  In short it's a bunch of guys hitting about .250 and doing something else right, while doing everything else a little wrong.

I guess I could say there isn't anything GOOD exciting because the starting pitching could be BAD exciting. There are boring numbers out there for Gray and Gore and Cavalli.  Throwing either 150 IP of 4.50 ball (Gray) or 100+IP or 4.00 ball (Gore and Cavalli) and there's some variation here. They could be better, or they could be much worse. But unlike with the offense what I haven't mentioned isn't ok. It's bad. It's a bunch of guys forced to throw 50-100 innings of over 5.00 ball. So if these three hit the middling expectations it will be bad. If they can't do that... it could be exciting bad! 

There isn't much to do now but grab another low level starter and then see what falls. 

Low Level Starters left 

Wade Miley - hurt last year and 36 but pretty decent in 2021

Zack Greinke - Mr. I want to go somewhere where they can win doesn't have that choice anymore. I'd say he could teach the kids things but he's Greinke. Who knows what he will or won't do. But I'm sure he'll eat up innings if you let him and the Nats need that. 

Jordan Lyles - He was in Baltimore last year so he wouldn't even have to move far. That's a selling point! Given his age he could be another 2 year deal guy where if he's surprisingly ok this year he might get something back. Though less than Williams bc Lyles has no history of being very good, merely average. 

Dylan Bundy / Michael Pineda / Carlos Martinez - if you are going to throw a deal at someone just for depth might as well be someone everyone really liked at some point, even if it was years ago. 

Guys who could drop 

Jose Iglesias - Can't hit but the guy can still field and that's not something you can really say about any of the Nats IFs. Would make a good off the bench guy or a good SS if Candelario fails and Abrams shifts to 3B. 

Gary Sanchez - It's sort of fun to have a guy swing out of his shoes every AB. And he's not old.  Look, good players don't fall. 

Andrew McCutchen - I like Cutch. Sign Cutch.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Trevor Williams Will Start

He said so. 

The base truth is the Nats need help. They need help starting and they need help relieving the starters who will start. Anywhere you can put a decent pitcher will help the team. Trevor Williams was a good pitcher last year. 

In his career Williams started out as a nice rotation guy, not a 1 or 2 but a guy you could throw in at 3 or 4.  He never struck out enough, but he didn't walk too many and kept the ball down, meaning fewer homers and hits.  But that skill set went away in 2019 and it didn't come back until the Mets made him a reliever in 2021. 

But Williams doesn't want to relieve he wants to start and a team like the Nats - who are not looking to win right now and are completely ok with letting a guy work out kinks for a couple months - is an ideal landing spot for him. If they promise he will start (barring being terrible) they can get him and they did!

I don't think this is ideal. I think having a good reliever that can go multiple innings several times a week will be crucial to team whose rotation might not have anyone average 5 innings a start next year. 

BUT saying that a good pitcher pitching anywhere is helpful and one thing Williams can do being under a 2 year cheap deal.  If he can pitch well as a starter he can be traded for something. Not something great - that's not how things work anymore for a journeyman starter. But something more than nothing. Something interesting as opposed to fake interesting. 

The Nats also grabbed AJ Alexy from the Rangers and let DFA'd Lucius "vomited on the field" Fox.  AJ Alexy strikes out a bunch of guys but is wild as anyone. That's wild in terms of throwing balls in the strike zone and wild in not just leaving meatballs down the middle. In 30 IP in the majors he's given up 5 homers  and 27 in 110 IP in AAA. At 25 he's a guy you just throw out there in the minors and see if you get lucky.  Fox... he's never been good so goodbye. Glad you got your cup of coffee. 

Friday, December 09, 2022

You're going to make me argue CHEEEP again? Plus - Rule V stuff!

I'm starting to get a little angry here because you guys (ok well TWO guys in the comments) were arguing a point I didn't make which was "the Lerners are generally CHEEEEP and that cheapness got them to this point"  First off somewhere in the 2015/6 range it became clear that the Lerners would spend money to maintain a title contending team. Fears of thriftiness dominating the teams future, which were legitimate given that was most of what we saw before then, were dismissed. The Lerners were not unilaterally cheap.  Second, we don't really know if the Lerners dislike of spending money led to here. Yes they like to offer lower-market deals with deferred money. But lower-market deals with deferred money are still market deals and some guys take them. Strasburg did. Corbin did. The question we'll never know is if Stras and Corbin looked like a 1-2 going into the end of 2021 - how would that have affected the future. Do they keep Trea around? Do they sign Soto long term? We don't know. But the fact was the huge outlay of money they put into two pitchers was giving them very close to actually nothing and even with the good players they had it was tough to keep them in contention. They would either have to spend like the Yankees/Dodgers/WhateverTeamsAreCurrentlySpendingATon* or they would have to rebuild. While I lie squarely on the "SPEND MONEY ON YOUR HOBBY YOU ARE INCREDIBLY RICH AND THE VALUE OF THE TEAM IS INSANE" side I'm not going to deny the Lerners, by not doing that, are no different than at least 25 other owners. 

What I WAS saying is that the Lerners, when the team IS BAD, have shown themselves to be CHEEEEP. It was true 2005-2010. It's been true the past few years.  It seems a fair thing to believe as long as the team is bad they will not spend money. You can hope that that means they are just planning to spend later when the young players develop but you are assuming these young players will develop to a similar point where the Nats were post 2010 and when they began to take on bigger contracts for the first time. That's a big question mark. And if they DON'T develop into a Stras/Bryce/Zimm+ core... do you still think the Lerners will spend? I would bet no, but we've never seen them face that "rebuild 1 didn't work" scenario so maybe I'm wrong. 

Of course this is all complicated by the sale which it's reasonable to think that the team, if it can't be good, wants as little useless money on the books as possible. 

So wrapping up

  • Lerners have shown themselves (twice is a pattern) to be selectively cheap
  • We don't know how this would play out for an extended down period
  • The slightly better guess is they'd continue not to spend and the impending sale of the team also suggests little money coming in for now. 

In conclusion

DOOOM (for the next year or two if you want a team that can pretend to compete)


The Nats drafted Thad Ward in the Rule V draft and later traded for Rule V pick Francisco Tostado.   Thad has to stay on the 40 man all year but Frankie is a AAA Rule V guy so he does not. Are these guys any good? 

Thad Ward - former 5th round pick who looked good at 22 in A ball but after the COVID year the Red Sox moved him up to AA and he flailed and got hurt. They restarted him this year and he ended up in AA and looked pretty decent but again didn't pitch as much as he could do to injuries. As far as pitching goes his problem is control as he has hard to hit, swing and miss stuff that stays in the park. Walking 4-5 guys per 9 in the minors usually is a bad sign. But really the problem is those injuries. He's thrown a total of 59 innings since 2019. Can someone like that at 26 stay on a major league roster even if he manages some control? It's not a bad Rule V pick - this is what the best of them look like. Legit talent, big questions.

Francisco Tostado - a 19th round draft pick with overall ok stats. Moderate power, ok average, doesn't strike out too much, could walk a bit more. He was both hurt and in the lower offense AA side and he's a fan favorite for some reason. So there's worse bats to stick in AAA for a year. Frankly the Nats have so little he's really blocking nothing and could hit terribly and it still be fine. 


Nats to sign Trevor Williams! -  He's better than Ryan Yarborough but that lead to a potential issue. The Nats need that long reliever but they might be tempted to start Williams. In fact, Williams might only agree to come to DC IF he can start. That's not terrible for the Nats but it's not optimal for a team that is putting out 5 guys who may not go 5. They NEED a middle reliever. So if Williams is starting, well they still need to go out and get a long reliever. Or two or three. But as signings go this is perfectly fine and acceptable any way it goes. He was good last year showing a bit better control while not owing to a lot of luck. Kept guys more off-balance. Maybe he learned something he needed to and if you can turn anything into a real prospect it's a pitcher under contract for another year.

*Mets, Phillies, and Padres for now

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

For the kids out there

There are kids, well not even kids, who have never known THIS type of Nats team. If you were say 5-6-7 when the Nats run started to take shape you can't really remember the before times. The years before 2011 when the Nats were a perfectly good team that people in baseball were eyeing as an up-and-comer, or even before 2010 when a watchable Nats team were looking toward at least an interesting future with rookie Stephen Strasburg and the pick of Bryce Harper coming. These young adults anywhere from 16-19 have no idea what they are in for.  Let me explain. 

From 2006-2009/10 the Lerners were known primarily for one thing - being cheap. Or as we liked to say at the time CHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP.  There was talk behind the scenes about how Lerner would make sure outgoing mail was scrutinized to see if it HAD to go out Fed Ex. It was well known the minors were kept together as cheaply as possible, and the payrolls were grim. 20th in 2006, 28th in 2007, 26th in 2008, 27th in 2009. 

The team was looking for every way to save a buck and that meant things like inviting 36 pitchers to Spring Training in 2007 looking for the needle in the haystack rather than signing a couple decent arms. If you want to be technical it did work. It made the teams starting pitching merely very bad instead of the horrible it was in 2006 and 2008. But that hardly mattered to fans who stayed away in droves, even when the new park opened. 

Of course things eventually changed. Supplementing the lone bright spot, Ryan Zimmerman, the Nats drafted Strasburg and Bryce and then signed Werth. They had some Bowden guys develop to be surprisingly good or at least ok in Espinosa, Desmond, and Zimmerman. Rizzo fleeced the Twins in one deal for Ramos and made a savvy shift of a bunch of decent talent to the A's for Gio in another. It all came together at once and when it was apparent something was happening the money commitment came. But not before two generational talents landed and you could fairly piece out the Nationals C, 2B, SS, 3B, RF, 2SP and closer for the next 5 years or so.  Sure something or two here wouldn't work at all but chances are you find something usuably average to take their place.  You were building around All-Star Zimm and projected All-Stars Strasburg and Bryce. 

Now where are the Nats? They don't have their All-Star Soto signed long-term because they didn't have their All-Star Stras and Bryce to make keeping him worthwhile in their mind. Instead they have... I don't know.  If the Nats are lucky Garcia (or I guess Abrams) becomes Zimm. Hassell or Wood becomes Bryce. Gore or Cavalli become Strasburg.  Then maybe you can look around and see if those other pieces are there. If Ruiz and Gray can really be relied on for a few years. If you have a couple more bats and a reliever you like. But Zimm, Stras and Bryce after 2010 - each one was a very good bet to keep doing something good years out. As good as you maybe could do as long as you felt TJ for Stras would go well. The names I listed now... they aren't as good bets. They aren't bad ones as far as baseball goes but they aren't the "surprise if they aren't good"  bets that the Nats three was in 2010. 

 So the question is what do the Lerners do here? And what do the Lerners do here if they are still trying to sell. Their inclination in bad years is to do as little as possible. If you are going to go that route and you are trying to sell... well you are going to go all the way. No money spent. Bad team after bad team. 

This is a bad time for Nats fans and right now the only way it gets brighter is amazing luck.  Either nearly every young prospect pans out to a major league player with some stars and suddenly the Nats find themselves in 2010 redux where going after a Werth makes sense OR you get a new owner soon and they are fine throwing money around.  Any other outcome and this dark age could be darker and longer than the 2006-2009 run. This is what history tells us. Sorry kids.

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Offseason Position Discussion - Relief Pitching

 What's it mean to be a bright spot on a team that won 55 games? Sometimes you are the lone All-Star, a singular talent raging against the trash world you've been fated on.  On the other end of the spectrum, at times you are a position where a collection of cast-offs, second chances, and wannabes happen to click enough to be completely average. In 2022 the Nats pen was the latter. 

It didn't seem like it because there weren't many leads to hold and the number of sheer innings thrown by the pen meant a lot of bad innings were seen as well. But look at the stats and they don't lie. Tanner Rainey, around injury, was ok.  Erasmo Ramirez, completely usable. Kyle Finnegan, a good team would put him out there. Carl Edwards Jr. decent reliable veteran arm near the back of a pen.  Paolo Espino, solid work as a reliever. Andres Machado, you can find a place for him. Victor Arano, anyone's last pen arm. Mason Thompson, young guy with stuff who can also get the job mostly done. 

None of these guys were great. It's hard to say that any of these guys were even good. But none were terrible and being able to go to the pen, pull any arm and have it be a major league arm.  That has some value. In fact it has completely average value as the stats will tell you. 

That's not to say there wasn't a bright spot. No not Doolittle who was good until hurt but that was like 5 innings. My boy Hunter Harvey.  Former first round pick (love guys with "credentials"), son of a very good closer (love guys with "genes") who struck out a ton, didn't walk many and was hard to hit (above all love guys that actually pitch great).  

There were also dim spots Sam Clay, Patrick Murphy; but these guys are so fungible it didn't matter. All in all the pen was ok.  Take your small victories. 

Presumed Plan : The Nats add one or two veteran arms on minor league contracts just to see. Rainey remains closer with some combo of Thompson and Harvey being the back end. 

Reasons for Presumed Plan : They like Rainey and even injured he didn't pitch poorly enough to flat out lose the job although you could argue Harvey won it. They like Thompson as well and he flashed some decent signs while being ok so there's your three. 

As for the signings - the pen is devoid of top end talents so signing a guy that used to be good two years ago for nothing to see if you can catch lightning in a bottle makes sense. But I'll be shocked if it's anyone good for more than a year. 

My thoughts : Pens bounce around because of those small numbers of innings pitched. So normally I wouldn't be on the pen being ok again but nothing here was extraordinary.  It was a bunch of guys with 4.00-4.50 ERA arms who threw to that. So I think they can repeat being ok. Low bar I know. 

I think Harvey should get to close because while I think Rainey is a keeper, he's not good. Now of course this goes against optimal use of Harvey, but really who cares when the Nats are looking at a 6- win ceiling. Make the best arm your closer, and let the fans be happy to see him get called to the mound. Play some wacky song. Something! 

I don't think it matters if the Nats don't sign a good relief arm given what I expect them to do everywhere else. If any position is a "throw young guys at it and see what happens" it's this one so even though they only have garbage young guys - whatever. However given how bad the rotation expects to be and how Espino didn't handle the longer relief role, I thinking signing a "true" long reliever would be a good idea. A 5.00 ERA pitcher, or better yet a 4.50 ERA guy who can't stay healthy starting to throw 100 innings behind the lousy staff. Ryan Yarborough. There you go Rizzo, did your job for you. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Jeimer Candelario - Maikel Franco 2.0?

 The Nats brought in Jeimer Candelario yesterday spending 5+ million on a player to play third base giving the Nats a desperately needed "Not Carter Kieboom" option. But who is Jeimer Candelario and is he any good? I've heard two knee jerk reactions. 

1) NO! Just look at last year! He turned 28 (early - he's already 29) and he got worse across the board becoming a poor fielder and bad hitter.

2) YES! Just look at the last three years! He was a guy with decent average and solid doubles power and was a perfectly acceptable third baseman for a major league team. 

This proves you can adjust the time frame accordingly to tell you almost anything. Even something crazy like "I like Kieboom's chances this year" 

Jeimer is an American (USA! USA!) who moved to the Dominican so his father could set up a baseball academy. Smart Dad. He was internationally signed then by the Cubs and moved up their system at a fairly standard pace but at a decently young age. He even broke into the Top 100 prospects (at the very bottom. of one. one time).  He did play in 2016 making him a World Champion in his first season. With few signs he'd be a good major leaguer for a long time the Cubs sent him over to Detroit in a package to get reliever Justin Wilson and back-up C Alex Avila.  

With Detroit, he looked good in AAA he looked bad in the majors until 2020 where in the brief season something clicked and he began to hit. Of course the 2020 season was a weird one so you couldn't be sure about it. 2021 would tell the story and it told one of a found above average major leaguer. Then just as quickly as that story was told, 2022 told a story of a flash in the pan. 

Defensively Jeimer is fine. He's very consistent with moderate range and a reliable glove. That's part of the reason the Nats could get him. There's no secret underlying great defender here, or even someone that ever WAS a great defender. As for the bat that's the question. As his fielding was always OK and the man can't run, his value came from the idea he could hit like you saw in 2020 and 2021 - high .200s average, 20HR ish doubles power, decent eye for the strike zone.  What happened last year (and in all those earlier attempts?)

Well his K-rate got and stayed surprisingly high for a guy that was much more moderate in the minors even as an impetuous youth. At this point you have to say K wise there's definitely a AAAA thing going on here that limited his potential, meaning AAA pitchers can't strike him out but major league guys can*.  Last year he just hit worse. Fewer hard hit balls, fewer line drives, fewer pulled balls, dropping HR/FB rate. I kind of find this troublesome and it speaks not to a guy struggling and trying to overcompensate. Usually those guys swing harder, get worse pull ground balls. Jeimer seems like a slow bat speed issue. Let's look at the fancy stats and yep - the EV is down, hard hit is down the drop is mostly against the fastball...  He didn't hit it a lot worse just a fraction of a second later because his bat speed was a tiny bit slower. There probably WAS a bit of chase issues that ended up making things worse.  His walk rate was well down and I don't believe he lost his eye that quickly especially given no real jump in K rate. I think he wasn't hitting the ball as well, got frustrated and tried to hit his way out of it. The fall off was on both sides of the plate 

My gut says this is just a guy getting old. Anyone in their late 20s can tell you that's kind of when things start to feel different. You don't bounce right back as you might have at 24 and definitely did at 21.  But I do think there could still be value here. If you can convince Jeimer he isn't going to be that .280 guy but instead a .230 guy he can stop trying to swing out of it and use his patience to gain enough extra value to be a positive offensive presence. It wouldn't be anything to write home about but an average bat and average glove at 3B would be an ASTRONOMICAL improvement over last year. 

But the key is convincing him. If you can't... well he's not getting younger and he's likely to get worse if he keeps trying it.

*This is different than say Donovan KKKKKasey who can be struck out by everyone and was never going to make it in the majors.

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. 


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. 


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.  


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. 


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. 


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


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.  


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


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.


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. 



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.