Nationals Baseball: January 2022

Friday, January 28, 2022


Does anyone notice how Ortiz is like the only HoF to get appreciably BETTER in his late 30s? I think they do, but with a lot about Ortiz people like to look the other way like they are Sally Jenkins talking about Lance Armstrong. Once you do that well Ortiz is a Hall of Famer, there's no doubt there. In my "Psychology of the Hall of Fame" post Ortiz hits several points. He's not undeniably great or even undeniably great for his position given his time split, or undeniably great at one thing. He DID hit the magic number of 500 homers (541). He was certainly great at the right time as he was basically the face of the curse-breaking Red Sox. If you can twist yourself like a pretzel saying voting for Ortiz is ok and not Clemens or Bonds or A-Rod or Schilling then yes he's easily the best thing left on the ballot. He's remembered for something "great" (the post Marathon speech). It's not close. Again, if you can deny what's in front of you. 

Which apparently a lot of people can. I thought the desire to vote for Ortiz would be so strong it would help pull Bonds and Clemens over the finish line. Clearly you would either land on "no cheater" or "ok cheaters" but apparently that wasn't the case.  You learn something new everyday and this week I learned not to underestimate the power of hypocrisy.*


the negotiations are ... ongoing? The players have made concessions. We're waiting to hear from the owners. There's no sense of when the next counter (by the owners) will come but I'd expect early next week.

*It sounds like I'm mad Ortiz is in but I'm really not. (1) I've said many times HoF who cares and I stand by that. I'm not going to walk in an shake my fist at his plaque or anything and (2) I would have put him in (along with all the other cheats).  I'm mad that people made a big show to try to prove they were not hypocrites when they clearly are. It's like dealing with a little kid. I'm probably going to care more about if you lie to me than if you did something I don't like.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Counter Offer Made

The players have really started the process, sitting down with MLB and making a counter offer. Some things we know :

  • They cut out the age based FA thing.  That never had legs for like a million reasons and while it seems like a concession I (and maybe the owners) take it more as something tossed in there to be pulled out purposely to make it look like they were doing something. 
  • They reduced revenue sharing to 30 million less to the cheap teams rather than 100 million.  That IS a concession and might slip through?  I think it will be some number... we'll talk about it more in a minute. 
  • They nixed two of the owners dumb ideas they threw out there (rewarding teams who start draft pick early with draft picks* and a formula based salary system**)
  • An interesting thing I didn't mention yesterday is the "draft lottery" which in the non-playoff teams all have a shot at the first X picks (think NBA). The owners said Top 3 picks, the players said Top 8. I can't imagine it matters at all and it's the dumbest thing being argued about. Teams aren't tanking to get better nor does a single baseball draft pick have that much impact on a team. These ideas will change nothing. 
  • They still want a raise in minimum salary (will happen), a bump in the luxury tax (will happen). 

Ok well what's the lay of the land?  

The minimum salary and luxury tax are your standard back and forth number arguments that will get worked out one way or another at a compromise number. Depending on how other things work they could favor the owners or the players more but these aren't the sticking points. These are the things they can use to get past the sticking points. 

The sticking points are arbitration and that revenue sharing. 

The revenue sharing is the new version of an old argument. For the players having all the teams be able to spend as much money as possible is good for them. Rich teams and teams going for it spend more, which not only give those players they sign more money directly but raise the market for everyone else. So the more money those team have to spend the better. For the owners... well reverse it. It's not like the owners WANT to have their money shared but it keeps the overall market down, it helps curb their spending influences, and it keeps those one or two rogue teams that will spend anyway under some sort of control. 

That's it in a nutshell - it's a money fight. But both will frame it as competitive balance. The owners will say the teams that receive revenue sharing will have more to spend and will be better - even though that has never actually happened. They just use the money to cover their other costs (and pocket some). The players will make a twisty argument that teams spending more force other teams to spend more because they'd be too bad or something. If anyone really cared there would be a salary floor or a demand all shared revenue go to player salaries, but there isn't. Because like I said it's a money fight - not a competitive balance thing. 

The arbitration is a newer one. For a long time young players got to arbitration in three years. The MLBPA was fine with this because (1) good players could make it up in FA and (2) older players were the ones negotiating. But recently the owners decided that the increase in variance in using younger players was acceptable and so paying market for older (re: like early 30s) FA with similar expectations of production just wasn't necessary. In other words you couldn't make it up in FA anymore. Not as much for as many at least. To counter that - the players are trying to get arbitration started earlier. Arbitration is not market but it's a lot better. Soto is an extreme example but he was getting paid under 600K. Arbitration starting took that to 8.5 million and it'll only go higher. That's a big difference. 

It's such a big difference it could likely be a sticking point for the owners. Their current plan isn't built of paying under market for three years. It's built off paying ridiculously under market to be insulting for three years (and that helping keep the last 3 years of controlled costs down).  This would be a bump in tens of millions in salary that they just pared off. If anything causes us to lose games, it'll be this.  The players need it. The owners really don't want it. There isn't much of a compromise to be had.

*wouldn't matter. A draft pick isn't worth the difference unless it's super high and this won't be super high

**never going to agree on a formula

Monday, January 24, 2022

Counter Intuitive

MLB Players make their first counter today and really negotiations will officially begin again, since the owners opening salvo was really just restating their stance when the lockout was put into place. It'll be interesting to see what the players ask for here, but what they really want is more money spent on players to get back to the usual split- which honestly was in place a couple years ago but has moved away in the past couple of years and it's fair for the players to be worried that it wouldn't shift back without negotiations. 

What would shift it back? And what do I think will happen?

  • Raising the cap is an obvious ones. Expect that to be in there and some compromise to be reached.
  • Shifting free agency earlier would help, since teams are purposely going younger. There are two ways to attack this: earlier FA in general and stopping the "guy called up in early May" service time manipulation. The first one is straightforward but is such a shift that it will be a huge fight to change that if the players really want to make a stand. The latter is more promising, especially if teams bother to look and see it's not sure to matter down the road. Plus the limit it crazy, its being active for 90%+ of the season.  I'd expect some tweak to it adjusting that percentage down to like 75%.  That won't stop service time manipulation. It won't even make a big dent in it, but it'll help a handful of players on contenders get called up.  I Not much but even if you got down to the logical number - 50% that still won't make a huge dent. This is more about fixing an specific obvious unfair situation that 
  •  Getting more teams to want to compete is another goal but this is a vague goal. It mainly boils down to revenue sharing where the players want teams to spend money on players and a lot of cheap teams are pocketing that revenue sharing money. But REALLY the players want good teams to have money to spend on players so they want less revenue sharing in general rather than stricter guidelines to spend this money on players.  The owners as a group don't like that because there will always be a rogue owner or two when given free reign to spend will do so and drive up costs for everyone.  They could probably agree on some sort of forced spending (bc the very rich teams don't like the normal rich teams not spending either), but it'll take a perspective change on this by the players
  • Another way to get teams to compete is to somehow make tanking less appealing but it's pretty much a very minor benefit now once you look at things and that hasn't stopped anyone. The public (media + fans) buy into rebuild narratives for at least a few cycles.

Ultimately I think the deal will raise the cap and will do SOMETHING else but not much.  If you think that is too little I agree, but anything that keeps the lights on.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Still nothing

 Might get a counter proposal soon.  

At least the too early "They are going to miss games! Baseball is doomed!" talk will get more lively. That's good if you like to be annoyed.

Kevin Frandsen is replacing FP in the booth.  We never got a full accounting of what FP did.  It seems like nothing criminal actually took place and rather it was a bunch of questionable carousing and general skeeviness. If you are popular enough you could probably apologize, straighten up a little and survive, but FP was a guy in a booth. He had some fans but for most he was easily replaceable. It's easier just to move on from that guy at your first opportunity, and so MASN did.

Frandsen is an uninspired choice. Former scrappy but not good ballplayers abound in this business* But from all we hear he was pretty good with Philly, so it could be worse. Morse nor Maxwell were ready to step in.

*So you can't be ALL bad and usually get these jobs. You usually have to have a decent season or two and otherwise not be terrible so you hang around for a long enough time to make a name and some friends. Obvious reason it skews toward these types is they need the job more than a great player who are more likely just to pop in a few games a year along with other guys who need work and/or want to stay in the game. I guess also there are a lot more middling players than good ones, but really I'd imagine a network would want a good player for the name recognition so they definitely are enjoying retirement.

Now why these are completely white non-Hispanic guys except for Keith Hernandez... well I'll let you think about that. The pop-in types are a little better representative of the guys who played the game. 

Note :  Mets often go three man enough that both Darling and Hernandez would be primary. Philly splits 50/50 Kruk and Ben Davis, both are here. Pittsburgh rotates 5 guys in and out so none are in here. Matt Capps is one!

Primary TV Color Guys

Not middling pitchers - Jim Palmer, Dennis Eckersley, Mark Gubicza, Orel Hershiser

Middling pitchers - Steve Stone, Dallas Braden (yes yes injury), Brian Anderson, CJ Nitkowski, Jim Deshais, Chris Welsh, Ron Darling**, Mike Krukow, Mike Grant

Not middling players - Kirk Gibson, Justin Morneau, Paul O'Neill, John Kruk, Keith Hernandez, Jim Edmonds

Middling players - Rick Manning, Geoff Blum, Rex Hudler,  Mike Blowers, Pat Tabler, Jeff Franceour, Jeff Huson, Todd Hollandsworth, Bill Schroeder, Ben Davis, Kevin Frandsen

Other - Bob Brenly (middling player - but also a bad but lucky manager)

**In my head he's good but really in my head I stop thinking about him in 1986. He WAS good in 1986 and the couple years before that. He was middling for far longer after that. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Still nothing nationally, a little internationally

 Last week was the international signing period and the Nats did what you want them to. They IDd a top prospect and they paid money to sign him. In fact they paid the most money they ever spent on an international prospect.  So welcome Cristhian Vaquero.

 What does that mean? Well a ton of players come internationally, more than their share drafted.  Of course part of that is the fact baseball drafts a ton times a ton of players. But international players are very important and signing the best ones is usually the best bet. 

That being said one only needs to look at who held the Nats record previously to see how much of a crapshoot this really is. It was held dually by Armando Cruz, who as a 17 year old put up a "talented 17 year old in the Dominican Summer League" season which is to say - not very good in general, but he's super young (in fact his 18th birthday was just a couple days ago) and by Yasel Antuna, who as a 21 year old MI now OF put up a "averagish for a 21 year old in High A" season - which is to say also not very good, but he's still young for his league. If you want to be positive, they've hung on in levels above their ages. If you want to be negative, they haven't done anything outside of Antuna's 17yo rookie league season. If you want to be fair, Antuna is getting toward a make or break time since it was hoped he'd be knocking on the door by now, and it wasn't a good start for Cruz but it's so far off writing him off that you can ignore it other than to say he's probably not a first ballot HoFer to be. 

 I went over international signings a while ago and I felt they were best described as lottery tickets, even more so than draft picks.  Generally if you have a top half first round draft pick you should end up with a ML player. If you didn't you either got bad injury luck or messed up. But the Top 15 international signings? No guarantee. The variance is wild. But you hope that you got the Juan Soto* of the year and not the Yadier Alvarez. 


Juan Soto at 17? Had a fantastic Gulf Coast Rookie season. Juan Soto at 21? That was 2020.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Everything a reboot?

More ramblings as the MLB negotiations opened exactly as I thought they would.  It wasn't a continuation of negotiations, but a restart as the owners basically reiterated their initial demands with a minor tweak or two. We had a 6 week pause where nothing happened and this highlights that. 

We'll continue with the TV theme and as you probably know the Fresh Prince is getting a gritty reboot. Who doesn't love a gritty reboot? ... Huh. Everyone.  I think it isn't a bad idea - they actual set-up of the show isn't necessarily comedic and works well for a drama. But keeping everything the same makes it sillier than it needs to be. He doesn't have to go to Bel-Air, the characters all don't have to have the same names. He probably does have to come from Philly, just because it's Will Smith's show, but other than that play around and change things up so it feels like an inspiration, not a parody. 

Any way everything gets a remake or reunion or restart because it's easy. You have a built-in audience to check it out to start and that's better than most anything new you can put out. The two that seem a bit impervious to this are kid/teen shows and doctor shows. Kid/teen shows generally appeal to kid/teens - so you don't have a built in audience if you simply reboot, you either got to convince adults to watch teen or kids stuff or get new kids. If you want the original audience you have to do like a "20 years later" but then you have to get the original cast to agree, not always easy. Also the "best" ones are generally not well watched and short lived*. Doctor shows are so ubiquitous you can just easily make another and people will watch. 

To prove it I pulled a a random list of the Top 50 TV shows of the 90s (80s might be too old for some of you, we're not quite at the full 00s being able to be rebooted yet - takes about 15/20 years to really cycle through) and we'll see one by one where they went after ending. I'm gonna leave out continuations like the X-Files movies or Saved By the Bell the New Class that happened soon after the originals ended

Friends - all rich now don't have to redo the show but had the reunion

Twin Peaks - limited follow up season in 2014 on Showtime

Seinfeld - also all rich, instead had a fake reunion in a season of Curb Your Enthusiasm

My So-Called Life (ed note- hey I didn't pick the list! I didn't like this show and in fact generally hate "this is real life" dramas but I made my choices apriori here) - Teen show. No real reboot (I don't count a post show novel) Cast got famous.

Fresh Prince - see above

X-Files - Got a revival for a couple new seasons in 2016 and 2018

Freaks and Geeks - Teen show. Cast got famous.

Wonder Years - Reboot is on now and is supposed to be pretty good

Saved by The Bell - Revival is on Peacock

Simpsons - Still on! 

Boy Meets World -  Revival "Girl Meets World" ran from 2014-17 on Disney 

Buffy - several undeveloped spinoffs and a planned revival in 2018 that didn't go anywhere

In Living Color - attempted reboot in 2012 didn't get past pilot episodes

Full House - Revival Fuller House streamed on Netflix for 4 seasons? I don't know and my kid isn't home to ask

Murphy Brown - Forgive yourself if you don't remember the one-season 2018 revival 

Mr. Show - Bob and David got around to putting out 4 new episodes for Netflix in 2015, but it's a two-man show and Odenkirk got pretty busy

Unsolved Mysteries - Revived in 2007 for three years on Spike. Revived again in 2020 on Netflix.  

Kids in the Hall -  the original cast was filming something for Amazon but I don't see if it went anywhere

The Adventures of Pete & Pete - Kids show. Nothing.

Married... With Children - In 2014 the production company asked for pitches for a Bud Bundy show but it didn't go anywhere. 

OK that's 20 - I'll peruse the rest for what I know off the top of my head...  Quantum Leap's reboot was just announced, Daria is having a spin-off, Magic School Bus was redone at least once, Animaniacs came back, Law & Order (original flavor) is coming back I think?, Beavis and Butthead definitely had several revivals, Rugrats came back in new animation, Mad About You did new shows, the was a new Melrose Place at some point I think, 90210 was BH90210's revival, MST3K rebooted, The Nanny is doing a reboot. 

So that's at least 12+15 like 27 out of 50? And I bet it's closer to 40 if I dug down into those other 30.  Maybe later.

Even though it feels like "We have no new ideas" I can't imagine it's all that new.  Pick a classic show. It's gonna have something in the future. There's money on the table and they aren't going to leave it there. The only difference is now there are a bunch of streaming channels along with the usual suspects trying to get programming and that's digging down a little deeper into our memory holes.

*nothing separates a critic from the real world more than their love of a "realistic" teen drama. Real teens want Riverdale.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Thursday Ramblings

Huh - so still no baseball talk. That's odd. Wonder what's going on. 

Look there isn't going to be anything really here baseball wise for a month. And chances are most of what will come about is - "That's a ridiculous offer by the owners" "The players still need to make a couple concessions" "Ok now the owners are serious" type stuff, but that only makes for three posts as you see. If you make me guess I'll say Feb 21st for an agreement date (with ST starting a few days late) so that's still more than a month away.  You guys don't want three posts do you? You need content to fill your lives! 

So what content shall that be. I can definitely ramble. I have the correct thoughts on pretty much everything. You tell me. 

I'm working my way through Posnanski's Baseball 100 - which is sort of his Top 100 players with a few "article in a newspaper" pages on each as opposed to "this is their career" dryness. It's very good.Some thoughts

The first players that make his list started in 1890 which may seem like a long time ago but cuts out probably 20 years of decently viable baseball. The big loser there is Cap Anson who was kind of baseball's first superstar but also a virulent racist so no tears shed - especially considering this is a personal list not trying to be THE objective 100 best players.  Most of the others come from the fact sometimes you threw 500 innings. That's kind of hard to translate to now terms if it was actually any good. If you want to feel bad for someone maybe Roger Connor is the best choice from this group. The guy was the HR king of baseball from the end of his career in 1895 until Ruth took the crown after like his second big season. He was the first one to really HOLD it and was a great hitter. Maybe Dan Brouthers - baseball's first slugger. But still the game was admittedly a bit wonky until you get to the 1890s and the leagues start to gel so I can see denying those 1880s stats.

The guys after 1900 who were kind of snubbed were

Eddie Plank - a rubber armed dead ball pitcher who was good but primarily got his value from never getting hurt and throwing a ton. 

Tom Glavine - you know Glavine. He's sort of the same as Plank but was very good. Honestly the difference between Glavine and a guy like Blyleven (who does make it at #71) is more era than anything. If you are going to adjust for old timers and for now timers you should adjust for the subtle changes in between as well. 

That's probably it honestly.  Once you try to adjust for adding in Negro Leaguers and historically under appreciated catchers you shift everything like 15 spots and a guy in the 70-80 WAR range (which is where we are now) is in 85-95 and if you like someone better at 105 or 115 should we really call that a snub?

He probably overrates the stars of his youth (21 of this list debuted in the 15 years period between 1959 and 1974). Even limiting baseball to 1900-2000 that would be a bit of a stretch. And then again the stars of his early work (another 16 pop up between the decade of 1986-1995).  Did 37% of baseball's greats appear in like 22% of it's years? Maybe I guess. These things aren't going to be exactly distributed.  Most likely though there are one or two here that wouldn't be on others.

Ok so there you go - some baseball talk.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Wednesday ramblings

Talks coming? Well of course they were coming, but the first talks are finally starting up this week. Despite what you might hear the season is not in jeopardy right now, neither is any Spring Training in fact. Pitchers and catchers report around Valentines Day so as long as the deal is struck within a couple days of that date things will be basically normal.  You can probably even go a week+ later and have minimal impact because do pitchers and catchers REALLY need to come early in this day and age where everyone is working out and keeping fit all winter long? No. The answer is no.  The MLBPA still probably strikes a week of ST because they can and the owners don't really care but they don't have to until we actually get TO the ST games. I concede they do need some time to get together and warm up and have eyeballs on players, etc. 

So the timeline as of today is like 5 weeks.  Anything more than that likely causes a disruption. Anything more than like 7 weeks causes major disruption and might cause a delay in the start of the season, mostly because they'll want time to get FA and arbitration sorted out then any actual physical reasons. 

Lester retires. Lester was signed last year with the hopes he could pitch a bit better or get a bit lucky or both and anchor the back of the Nats rotation. That quickly became a moot point as the rest of the rotation fell apart with Stras' injury, Ross and Fedde continuing their "not quite good and healthy enough to stick, not quite bad and old enough to dismiss" dance, and Patrick Corbin suddenly becoming truly terrible. But even though the point was moot we should note he did not pitch better nor did he get lucky.  He was a 5.00+ERA pitcher and basically got those results. That's a passable 5th for most teams but not good enough for a team hoping to compete with other rotation issues 

As it is a passable 5th he might have been able to sneak out another season somewhere, eating up innings, mentoring some young arms and throwing to 5.00 ball but he has succumbed to the late career apathy that takes many stars. Lester has enough money and traveling around the country with a bunch of guys he doesn't know dealing with aches and pains of trying to pitch while aging for no real end goal is not super appealing.

Where does he stand in MLB history? One of the best LHSP of the first post steroid era. Good story recovering from a treatable form of cancer. Not a HoFer.  Somewhere better than a guy like David Price, worse than a guy like Tim Hudson. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Tuesday Ramblings

Hey there isn't baseball news so I'm going to ramble today

Something you learn growing up watching TV is that all the kids you see on TV are probably older than they are playing. Sometimes a year or two, sometimes several, but it's unlikely that that 13 year old is really 13.  Why? Several reasons. Older kids are usually better actors. Older kids can work longer. Older kids have already gone through puberty so you don't have to worry about awkward transitions (see that youngest kid from Home Improvement) But on the flip side they also cast parents far younger than  they should be. Why? This one is simple. Young people are better looking. Old people look old! Yuck!

Getting to the point - when Bob Saget died it led me to look up exactly how old he was when he started Full House. This is what happens when you get older and people who remember as adults in your youth die - you start wondering about your age in comparison. Turns out he was 31.  Which is weird because in theory he had a 10 year old kid and he married his wife after college but such is the TV parent life. If we take your actual age and put it against the supposed age of the kid you have, it rarely makes sense. 

For a service to you here are some parents' ages when they had their first kid based on the actor's birth year and the supposed age of the kid (I worked backward from HS graduation episodes assuming 17 for that to give the parents the biggest benefit of the doubt I could)

Full House - Danny Tanner 21

Family Ties - Steven and Elyse Keaton 19 (Fun fact - Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter share an exact birthday)

Growing Pains - Jason Seaver 23, Maggie Seaver 17 

Who's the Boss - Tony Micelli 22, Angela Bower 27 (this sort of makes sense for a former baseball player and a woman who at least got something going business wise)

Cosby Show - Cliff Huxtable 27, Clair Huxtable 16 (this got really messed up because after the show started Cosby wanted a child already in college and seemingly successful so they added they several year older than Denise, Sondra. The actress that played her was only 10 years older in real life than Phylicia Rashad. But that was nothing special. The actor that played Cosby's Dad was only 11 years older than him)

Family Matters - Carl Winslow 24, Harriet Winslow 26- This works? I mean certainly in comparison with almost everything else here

My Two Dads - Greg Evigan's Dad 22, Paul Reiser's Dad 19.  Don't ask me why this made my list

Boy Meets World - Alan Matthews 32/30,  Amy Matthews 27/25.  This also works but you are probably wondering why the slash. Well the first season they are clearly 11 year olds in sixth grade.  In the second season they are in high school and spend four years there.  It isn't a time jump. It isn't explained. They just age them up 2 years. 

Fresh Prince - Uncle Phil 27, Aunt Viv 1 - 16, Aunt Viv 2 - 24.  Gotta guess here on Hilary because she's already in college and doesn't graduate. I went ahead and did 18 but she could be older and the parents younger. But let's at least keep Uncle Phil in the legal in some states territory.

Home Improvement - Tim Taylor 28, Jill Taylor 30. Times change. I guess. We're no longer in the time where parents had to get married out of HS and pop out a lot of kids because half would die like... the mid 1970s.

 Maybe there will be baseball news tomorrow. 

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Happy January 5th

Yeah look nothing is going on. 

Worse than that - since MLB is probing its deep library for content in the meantime, that means the Nats website is back to showing Expos stuff

There's a bit on minor leaguers (they aren't locked out as they aren't part of the MLBPA).  They talk about who they thought might be the breakout prospect and who was.  They thought Yasel Antuna might be. The 21 year old was bumped up again and responded with the same kind of bad average / bad patience year he had in his last full season (2018), but with some increased power. .227 / .307 / .385. Not a breakout, not a disappointment. If he goes to AA next year, likely the case, and does something similar that's fine. If he stays in High A he'll need to do better.  They admit the real breakout was Cade Cavalli, and yep he was. Obvious choice. Probably will see him at the end of next year. 

The fun thing is out of 30 teams they only correctly picked 4 breakout prospects. That's not to say their picks all were terrible - but still. Prospect evaluation is hard! Everyone has a limit and you don't know what that really is until they get to it. 

They also put out a guess on the prospect most likely to bounce back. For the Nats it was Jackson Rutledge - a good pick too because he was bad! His ERA was a little unfair but he did pitch pretty poorly overall while fighting injuries.  Healthy it's a pretty good bet he'll do better. Will he pitch well? I don't know about that. But better? Sure.