Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Few Good Men: 33 - Werth

Jayson Werth - Age 32 - Due $110 Million through 2017

How he became a Nat: Signed a 7 year - $126 Million deal in December of 2010.

The Raw Numbers:
HR - 20
RBI - 58
SB - 19
K - 160 (Career High)
AVG - .232 (Worst in a full season)
UZR - 1.4
WAR - 2.5

Key Stat: .323. This is Werth's wOBA for the past year. This stat is his Weighted On Base Average, it uses a complicated formula that is a much more accurate tool than a players OPS. It is due in part to the fact that Werth left the comforts of Citizen's Bank Ballpark and partly due to the fact that Zimmerman was gone from the lineup for most of the year. Also noting that this was Werth's worst year in a while.

Best Game: May 20th vs the Orioles. Werth exploded in a 17-5 Nats rout of our neighbors to the north. He went 3 for 5 with 2 home runs and 4 runs batted in. It was this point that most in NatsTown believed that Werth was finally going to break out of his (at that point) season-long slump [Ed. Note - it wasn't].

Worst Game: This is toughie - so I'm going to go with his worst performance at the plate (this was especially tough because he had 3 Golden Sombrero's on the year). I would have to say that the worst was on May 12th vs Atlanta. Werth struck out 4 times in 5 ABs in a 6-5 loss to the Braves in extra innings - three of those strikeouts were looking.

CapBall Grade: C-. Werth had a terrible season - especially when you consider his salary. One thing that Werth did do is provide a hard-nosed attitude and some solid defense (Werth was the 11th best defensive OF in the NL according to UZR). One of the reasons why I didn't give him a lower grade is that his 2nd half (.255/.345/.426) was pretty close to his career averages (.264/.360/.464) - much better than his first half. [Ed. Note - difference in slugging is due to his not being in Citizen's Bank].

2012 Nats Status: With $110+ Million still on the books it's pretty safe to assume that we will be seeing Werth in RF come Opening Day in Chicago. The only thing that could be any different is if the Nats fail to get a Center Fielder and Werth has to man CF or if Bryce Harper kills everyone in Spring Training and comes north with the Big Club to play RF - both scenarios very unlikely.

We know that Werth had a terrible season - the question is if he can rebound next year. Answer in the comments!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Few Good Men: 32 - Henry Rodriguez

Henry Rodriguez - Age 24 - MLB Service Time: 1.1 Years

How He Became a Nat: Acquired from the Oakland A's in a trade for Josh Willingham

The Raw Numbers:
IP- 65.2
ERA - 3.56
K- 70
WP - 14 (league leading)

The Key Stat: SO/BB - 1.56 The Nationals want that number to be closer to the 2.56 he put up in limited time with Oakland in 2010. As the Wild Pitch stat shows, he was at times Wild Thing Rick Vaughan-ian. But as the season wore on, we saw flashes of what he can be when he controls the strike zone.

Best Game: September 3rd against the Mets - H-Rod shows how dominant he can be he struck out the side on 13 pitches in the 8th inning of a one run game. If he can be this H-Rod for the majority of next season, the Nats bullpen will be filthy.

Worst Game: Tough choice...when Rodriguez was bad, he was really bad. We will go with July 23rd against the Dodgers. Over the course of 1 inning he walked three, allowed a hit and threw a Wild Pitch en route to blowing his third save of the season.

CapBall Grade - C+ He has lights out stuff. But without the mindset and consistency, it's hard to count on this young fireballer. He seemed to find his groove down the stretch. We are just hopefully it doesn't take half a season to figure it out in 2012.

2012 Nats Status: He's coming north with the team and should be the go to righty in the 7th inning.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Few Good Men: 31 - Severino

Welcome back to the wonderful world of baseball after another fattening Thanksgiving, we certainly are glad to be back to the routine! That being said, we are now onto the home stretch of our journey.

Atahualpa Severino - Age 27 - Extremely limited service time (0.028 years)

How he became a Nat: Signed by the Expos as an amateur free agent.

The Raw Numbers:
Games - 6
Innings Pitched - 4.2
K - 7
BB - 1
WHIP - 1.286
WAR - 0.0

Key Stat: 13.5 K/9. If Severino wants to have any part of a Major League roster he is going to have to keep his K rate in this territory. It should be noted that he had a 10.7 K/9 in AAA this year.

Best Game: September 26 vs the Fishes of Miami. Severino, in his last game of the year, pitched a single inning and utterly dominated. He had 2 strikeouts (Buck and Murphy) and was able to get Peterson to weakly line out to short - to retire the side in order. The Nats were down 4-3, but after this stellar appearance Michael Morse hit a 3 run bomb in the top of the next inning to give the Nats a 6-4 lead they wouldn't relinquish. Severino picked up his first career win.

Worst Game: September 21st vs the Phillies. Severino was pitching on 7 days rest, which is a pain for any reliever. He walked Chase Utley to lead off the inning and then Mayberry followed with a 2 run bomb. Not a great outing.

CapBall Grade: B+. There simply isn't enough evidence to give him a better or worse grade. He was great in limited time.

2012 Nats Status: I think that the bullpen is just too crowded for Severino at this time. I would guess that he starts the season in Syracuse and is called up in case of injury.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Give Thanks

This weekend millions of Americans will be gathered together with family, loved ones, and good friends to give thanks for the blessings that have been bestowed upon them. But really, it's about the food. Here at Capitol Baseball we want to continue a tradition we started last year and share with you what we are thankful for. We would love it if you shared your thoughts in the comments!

- Wilson Ramos playing ball down in VZ.

- The hope of another Spring Training.

- MLB Network.

- Former Nats Greats.

- Michael Morse having a breakout season and finishing 19th in the MVP voting.

- Chien-Ming Wang returning to baseball healthy after two years on the DL.

- The Yankees and Phillies both not winning the World Series.

- An ace to our staff.

- That our uniforms don't look like the Miami Marlins unis.

- Twitter changing the way we gather news (Follow us @CraigMac and @TheMacHenry).

- The new tobacco policy for MLB.

- That Bryce Harper is only 19 years-old.

- That we were able to build through spending money in the draft, before these new and draconian restrictions.

- That more people than just Joe and I listened to our new podcast - Now available on iTunes!

- That we have the opportunity to share our thoughts and have people join us in legit baseball dialogue.

What are you thankful for? Share in the comments!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Few Good Men: 30 - Stammen

Craig Stammen - Age 27 - MLB Service Time - just over 1 year

How He Became A Nat: Taken by the Nationals in the 12th round of the 2005 Draft

The Raw Numbers:
IP - 10
Batters Faced - 38
Batters Retired - 31
WHIP - 0.68
K- 12
WAR - 0.4

Key Stat: 2016 - The year Craig Stammen will become eligible for Free Agency. That's another 4 seasons of club control for a decent young arm who is still learning how to pitch out of the bullpen. He looked very good in a limited sample size in 2011, but 2012 will be a make or break spring training and he could become a legitimate option for the 2012 Nationals middle relief corps.

Best Game: September 26th against the Marlins. Stammen relieved rookie Tom Milone in the 5th inning with 1 out and the bases loaded. He did allow a runner to score on a wild pitch, but escaped without further damage. He then struck out the side in the 6th.

Worst Game: Easily his first game of the year, June 6th against the Giants. He started the 13th inning of a 4-4 game and proceeded to allow 2 hits, a base on balls en route to giving the Giants a walk-off 5-4 win.

Capball Grade: B+ Such a limited sample size is tough to grade. An incomplete might be more appropriate, but that feels like laziness. His stats were fairly good despite his outings being few and far between. He also had a Win Probability Added above 0.000 for all his appearances, save for one, the June 6th game.

2012 Nats Status: He will be right there in Spring Training as a candidate for the middle innings and a spot starter. I guess it all comes down to the question of "will Davey become enamored with him?" Who really knows at this point?

Do you know? Please share!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Washington Nationals Podcast with The Nats Blog Now on iTunes

We're happy to announce that our new Washington Nationals podcast in collaboration with The Nats Blog is now available on iTunes for subscription.

You can subscribe to it here. That way you can enjoy our newest podcasts every time they come out on your iPhone, iPad, or other internet-enabled devices.

It's also available for streaming in the new widget on the top right of the homepage. It will always play the newest episode when you hit play. We hope you all enjoy this as much as we have. We can't wait for more episodes after Thanksgiving, and we hope you can't either.

A Few Good Men: 29 - Zimmerman

We only will be having two parts of this series this week, due to the Thanksgiving break. Wednesday we will be posing our 2nd annual "Thankful" post - we look forward to hearing your thoughts as well! But for now, we continue with part 29 of 44.

Ryan Zimmerman - Age 27 - Signed through 2013

How he became a Nat: Drafted in the 1st Round (4th overall) of the 2005 First Year Player Draft.

The Raw Numbers:
Games - 101
HR - 12
RBI - 49
UZR/150 - 10.6
WAR - 2.5

Key Stat: .798. This is Zimmerman's OPS from the past year and it is over a hundred points lower than his OPS from 2010. I mostly subscribe this to the fact that Zimmerman missed 58 games due to an oblique injury - but it's still a precipitous drop from the past two years. It should be noted that the last time Zimmerman missed significant time due to injury was the last time he had an OPS under .800 - which he followed up with an All-Star campaign the very next year.

Best Game: There are a few Zimmerman walk-off options here, but I'm going to go with one of the Nats top wins of the year - August 19th against the Phillies. By the time Zimmerman rolled up to the plate the Nats had already tied the game at 4 against lights-out closer, Ryan Madson - so they were at least going to extra innings. However, Zimmerman decided that it was time to go home - he hit a grand slam to end the game and give the Nationals an 8-4 victory.

Worst Game: June 25th against the White Sox in interleague action. Zimmerman was just 10 days returned from his trip to the DL - so he was still trying to get his timing back. In a forgettable day at the dish, Zimmerman went 0-4 at the plate while striking out 3 times. Ouch.

CapBall Grade: B. Zimmerman's 2nd half was far better than his injury-filled 1st half - and although the 2nd half was what we've come to expect from Zimmerman, it still wasn't his best year.

2012 Nats Status: Pencil him in the 3 hole in the lineup and at the hot corner come opening day. End of story. The only thing that could possibly change that is injury - or the craziest trade ever.

Friday, November 18, 2011

New Podcast! We partner with The Nats Blog for a Washington Nationals podcast

Hi there, loyal CapBallers. I've returned to post the brand spanking new Washington Nationals podcast partnership between The Nats Blog and Capitol Baseball. Our goal is to do these with some regularity, and perhaps even weekly once the season starts up again. We'd love to have your comments and thoughts, and we're always opened to ideas for topics.

The topics for today's podcast are:
  1. The New Wild Card Round and the Collective Bargaining Agreement
  2. The Free Agent Pitching Market
  3. The Nationals Pitching Rotation
  4. The Center Field Situation
  5. An Early 2012 Prediction
Thanks as always for reading, and let us know what you think!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Few Good Men: 28 - Coffey

That's right...IT'S COFFEY TIME!

Todd Coffey - Age 31 - 6 Years MLB Service

How He Became A Nat: Signed a 1-year deal January 24th.

The Raw Numbers:
IP - 59.2
ERA - 3.62
WHIP - 1.257
WAR - 0.4

Key Stat: HR/9 - 0.6. This was the key to any effectiveness he had in the middle innings. Do not allow the big blow (that's what she said). When a reliever gives up a HR, it is most likely a huge momentum swing, either narrowing his team's lead, or putting his team in a bigger hole. Todd avoided giving up home runs (only 4 on the season) and helped keep the Nats alive or ahead at a consistent rate. And when he did give up runs, he avoided crooked numbers, allowing more than 1 run in an appearance only 5 times in 69 games.

Best Game: May 13 against the Fish. A heartbreaking extra-innings loss. But Coffey managed to shine, retiring 7 of the 8 batter's he faced, while bridging the gap to the back end of the pen after a less than robust start from Tom Gorzelanny. (Special mention: Every other game he pitched in... the sprint to the mound is awesome!)

Worst Game: July 20th against the Astros, his only Loss of the year. Called on to pitch the 11th inning in a 2-2 game Todd gave up 3 hits over the course of 4 batters, allowing the Astros to walk off with a 3-2 win.

CapBall Grade: B-. It's hard to show real value as a middle reliever who doesn't close and rarely pitches in traditional set-up innings, but Todd Coffey provided a quality arm to bridge the gap to Clippard and Storen. He didn't have lights out stuff, but that's why he wasn't asked to close. He did what he was asked, and did it fairly well.

2012 Nats Status: Up in the air. If he languishes on the Free Agent market, I can see him returning on a team friendly 1-year deal. But all things considered, the Nats want to get younger and if a younger, more controllable option appears via trade or free agency, Coffey won't be back.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Few Good Men: 27 - Storen

Drew Storen - Age 24 - MLB Service 1+ year

How he became a Nat: Drafted in the 1st round of the 2009 Draft (10th Overall) - Compensation for not signing Aaron Crow.

The Raw Numbers:
Games - 73
IP - 75.1
ERA - 2.75
WHIP - 1.022
K/9 - 8.84
WAR - 0.9

Key Stat: 43. This is the number of saves that Drew had this past season, 2nd most in Nationals history - behind Chad Cordero's 47 in 2005. What's even more impressive is that at the beginning of the year, Drew Storen wasn't the official closer; Riggs was messing around with Sean Burnett in the 9th. Given each opportunity, we could've seen Drew scratch the 50 save mark.

Best Game: April 7th against Florida. In just the Nats 6th game of the season we saw John Lannan and Josh Johnson battle to a 3-3 tie in the 8th, when Storen entered the game. From there he went two innings of no-hit ball while striking out 3 batters. The team would go on to win the game in the 11th, but it wouldn't have been possible without Storen taking care of business.

Worst Game: September 8th against the Dodgers at Nats Park. It was a tie game in the 9th when Storen entered, things went downhill from there. Drew racked up a hit batsman, two singles, a double, a walk, and 2 steals allowed - giving up 3 runs in the process - only to be taken out in favor of Balester. Drew Storen got the loss, his 3rd of the year.

CapBall Grade: B+. Drew Storen had a terrible Spring Training but he was able to have a lights out regular season. It should be noted that he turned 24 in August, so his skills are only going to be improve. He has the smarts to be in this game for years and years to come - and the only thing holding me back from giving him an A is that his HR/9 ratio went from 0.5 last year to 1.0 this year. Hopefully he can make a slight adjustment to bring that number back down.

2012 Nats Status: Regardless of his Spring Training performance, Drew Storen will enter the year as the Nats closer. Don't buy into the rumors that the Nats are targeting Ryan Madson - it's just not true. It will be HRod, Clip, and Storen next year - bank it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Few Good Men: 26 - Gaudin

Chad Gaudin – Age 28 – Just over 6 Years MLB Service

How He Became a Nat: Signed to a Minor League deal December 17th of last year.

The Raw Numbers:

Games -10

IP – 8.1

ERA – 6.48

WHIP – 2.400

The Key Stat: WAR – (-0.6) It’s kind of crazy to say a player with just 8.1 innings pitched was 60 percent worse than a replacement level player would be. But giving up 10 runs and racking up a 2.400 WHIP will do that to you. Putting nearly two and a half runners on base per inning is a nightmare scenario for a reliever.

Best Game: April 10 against the Mets. One of his only two appearances without allowing a base-runner (the other was his last game as a Nat), he pitched a shut-down 7th, striking out two and keeping the Nats down only 2 in a close game. They battled back and won, thanks in large part to Chad keeping Reyes, Harris and Wright off the base-paths in the 7th.

Worst Game: How about April 3rd against the Braves. His line: 0.1 IP, 4 H, 2R, Inherited Runners 1, Inherited Runners Scored 1. After 6 solid innings from Jordan Zimmermann, the bullpen proceeded to allow 8 runs in 3 innings, with Gaudin and Brian Broderick being the main culprits.

CapBall Grade: F – Gaudin was signed to be a veteran presence in a young bullpen and help stabilize the back end of the bullpen as a long man and effective right-hander, maybe even spot start. Mission failed in every way. He was the wrong kind of anchor for the Nats, and after 10 mostly awful appearances and a nagging injury, the Nats cut ties with him in July. When you look up “place-holder” in the dictionary, Chad Gaudin’s face appears.

His 2012 Nats Status: He doesn’t have one.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Aftermath

Wilson Ramos is safe. If you asked me last week, these are words that I never thought I would get the chance to write - and am thrilled to do so. After a 51 hour ordeal, Ramos was returned, physically unharmed, to his family in Venezuela. In a scene out of a movie, police and military special ops engaged the professional kidnappers in a firefight at a small hideaway in the mountains of VZ.

For Wilson Ramos and the Nationals, life is ready to move on. But just how will the two move on from such a tragedy? Well, in my mind, there are just two ways this could go for the parties involved.

1. The Nationals, still early in the offseason, could go out and get an insurance plan for 2012. Go find a player like Pudge Rodriguez and bring him back on a 1-year deal purely to have a dependable backup in the event that Wilson Ramos is too emotionally scarred to handle the pressures of playing 6 out of every 7 games in the Big Leagues.

2. The kidnapping puts Ramos' life into perspective - things like family and religion take on a whole new meaning as he "lives life to the fullest". In this instance, Ramos would most likely play a looser game and be more comfortable on the field knowing that, in reality, it is just a game - not life or death. We would see a joy on Ramos' face as he soaked in every second of his dream.

(I'm not saying that both couldn't happen to some extent, either.)

It's hard to imagine that Ramos will be playing in the VZ Winter League just 5 days after being held hostage - but he is. Which makes me hopeful that we will see Ramos #2 - a kid playing a game that he loves.

Do you think the Nats should sign a veteran back-up for next year? Or do you think that Ramos will show little to no ill effects on the field?

A Few Good Men: 25 - Ankiel

Rick Ankiel - Age 32 - 8+ Years of MLB Service

How he became a Nat: Signed a 1-year, $1.5 Million contract in December.

The Raw Numbers:
AVG - .239
OPS - .659
HR - 9
RBI - 37
WAR - 1.4

Key Stat: 17 Total Zone Runs. What this stat essentially breaks down is exactly how many runs above an average OF that Rick Ankiel was worth, based on the number of plays made. 17 is a fantastic number and it placed Ank as the 4th best of all NL Outfielders.

Best Game: Going out on a limb here and saying August 28th vs the Reds. Against type, we picked a game that the Nationals lost - but it would've happened much earlier had Rick Ankiel not done this. You may remember seeing this throw, but here is a little background. Tie game in the bottom of the 9th with 1 out, Dave Sappelt hits a rocket off the wall but gets gunned out a third from the track on a 1-hopper at 3rd by Ankiel. One of the most amazing throws I have ever seen. The Nats ended up losing on a 14th inning walk-off by Joey Votto, but Ankiel did his part with 3 hits and this amazing outfield assist.

Worst Game: August 19th against Philly. Once again going against type, the Nationals ended up winning this game 8-4 - despite Rick Ankiel's performance. You may remember this game as the Zimmerman walk-off against Madson, but you might have forgotten that Ankiel was up right before Zimmerman in the 9th - only to strike out. That strikeout was his 4th strikeout of the day. Ouch.

CapBall Grade: C. Ankiel was signed to be a power hitting outfielder - making up for his deficiencies in the field with his power at the plate. What happened was exactly the opposite. 37 RBIs for a full-time "power bat" is not great by any stretch of the imagination. However, Rick Ankiel's defense was nothing short of stellar - providing some consistency in center, which is something the Nats (still) aren't very accustomed to.

2012 Nats Status: I would say that the only chance that Rick Ankiel returns to the Nationals is if he signs a similar contract (around $1-1.5 million) to return to the club as a 4th outfielder/defensive replacement. He simply can't hit well enough to have a starting job in DC. If he wants to start, he will most likely sign with a non-contending team. With Boras as his agent, one would think that he will take the money and run.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Wilson Ramos: Home

Wilson Ramos is rounding third and headed for home. The 50+ hour nightmare is over. Here at CapBall, the sense of relief is not calculable. Just a few observations and thoughts about this ordeal:

-Whatever anyone says about Nats fans, the ones that exist are amazing. I don’t know any Nationals fan that didn’t fall asleep or wake up thinking about Wilson Ramos. The candlelight vigil was touching and the fact that beverages were conveniently left outside the centerfield gate is a heart-warming gesture that shows the Nats’ brass was right there with us the past 51 hours.

-Twitter is a phenomenal tool for news. Rafael Rojas Cremonesi from vivacolorado, the Denver Post’s Spanish language news organization, deserves every single journalism award that exists. Basically every piece of information on this story came from him. He relentlessly reported this story, most likely sleeping just a few hours since Wednesday, and, if his twitter feed is any judge, racking up a gigantic cellphone bill.

-I would be perfectly fine if the Nationals banned their players from going to Venezuela, for winter league, to go home, to visit family, whatever. Innings-limits, pitch-counts, these are all things organizations do to protect players. Yet they are allowed to go to a country where kidnapping is an industry and they, and their families, are in danger. So let’s stop with the Venezuelan Winter League and the trips back home. If Venezuela really loves baseball that much, reform.

-Jesus Flores is a good dude. Ramos has taken his role over. But all he can do is give thanks over the safe rescue of Ramos. There is a similar theme throughout baseball, it’s a family, and while it’s no-holds-barred on the field, off the field they are all brothers. To see the tweets, statements and interviews was inspirational. I have close friends who are fans of the Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Rays and Royals, and their singular concern has been the well-being of Wilson Ramos. Not the Hot Stove League. And not anything going on at Happy Valley, which while sad and an outrage, has been settled for almost the entire time Wilson was in the hands of feckless thugs.

-ESPN is no longer a reliable source of baseball related information. Out of 50+ hours, “the family of networks” probably devoted an hour or two to a violent crime perpetrated on a 24 year old professional baseball player. Of course, news was slow in coming…but a network with an expert for everything and something like 8 networks (The Ocho) dedicated to sports, not nearly enough was done to highlight this story.

-Lastly…how do you come back from a kidnapping? Reading the accounts of his taking, what is going through Wilson’s head? This is a life-altering event. Will he ever be the same? Will he move his family to the US? Dual-citizenship? I’d lock myself in a room for a couple months if this happened to me…but I have no doubt Wilson will be in Viera in early February and on the field April 5th, 2012 at Wriggly Field. Wow.

More thoughts? Thanks? Praises? Comment!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Few Good Men: 24 - Sean Burnett

Sean Burnett: Age 29 - 5 Years MLB Service

How he became a Nat: Acquired June 30, 2009 along with Nyjer Morgan, for Joel Hanrahan and Lastings Milledge.

The Raw Numbers:
ERA - 3.81
K/9 - 5.9
WHIP - 1.361
WAR - 0.5

Key Stat: Right-Handed Batters Average Against - .297. Not good. While lefties hit at a .200 clip against him, righties eat him up with an almost .300 average and an OPS against almost .200 points higher compared to his OPS vs lefties. Hopefully the Nats realize he is eminently more hittable for right-handed batters and he should not be counted on to get a right handed batter out in any situation.

Best Game: He had a few very important games for the Nats this year, but nothing can beat the efficiency of a 1 pitch save. May 6th against the Marlins he relieved Drew Storen in the bottom of the 10th with the Nats up 3-2 but the Fish threatening with 2 on and 2 out. Chris Coghlan swung at the first pitch and flied out to center, ending the threat and giving Sean Burnett a one-pitch save.

Worst Game: April 27th against the Mets. Burnett entered the game at the beginning of the ninth with the Nats up 3-2 and proceeded to give up 4 runs on 4 hits while getting just 2 outs only to be lifted for Drew Storen. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise as this awful performance helped put the closer's job securely in Drew's hands.

Capball Grade: D+. He got some lefties out. Got a few saves. But the Nats asked him to (and frankly needed him to) be a go-to set-up man capable of getting righties and lefties out in the 7th and 8th innings. He blew 7 saves and allowed 44 percent of his inherited runners to score.

2011 Nats Status: He's under contract through 2012 with a mutual option for 2013. He should break camp as the go-to lefty out of the pen, but Tyler Clippard, Henry Rodriguez and possibly Ryan Mattheus should supplant him as straight set-up relievers.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Few Good Men: 23 - Kimball

Before we get into the 2nd half of our series, I just wanted to say that our thoughts and prayers are with the Ramos family in Venezuela today. We hope for a swift and happy ending to this tragedy.

Cole Kimball - Age 26 - Under club control for several more years.

How he became a Nat: Drafted by the Nats in the 12th Round (361st Overall) of the 2006 First Year Player Draft.

The Raw Numbers:
Games - 12
Innings - 14
ERA - 1.93
FIP - 4.03
WHIP - 1.357
WAR - 0.0

Key Stat: 98. This number is the games missed for Cole Kimball after his shoulder injury. Kimball was having a fantastic season up to that point, becoming one of the Nats most reliable relievers. It was going to be extremely difficult for Kimball to keep up the torrid pace, as his xFIP was a whopping 5.82, but while he was pitching he was solid.

Best Game: June 6th vs the Giants. Kimball came into the game in the 10th inning with the score tied at 4. He pitched 2 innings and only gave up a hit and a walk, while striking out 2 - giving the Nats offense a chance to win. They did not, as Craig Stammen picked up the loss in the 13th.

Worst Game: Just 3 days later - June 9th. Cole entered in the 6th inning after Livan and Burnett had loaded the bases. What happened was every pitching coaches nightmare, a walk to the first batter. The next hitter hit a deep sac fly to CF, scoring yet another run. Another Fly ball and the inning was over. Kimball let two of the inherited runners score, one on a walk. Ouch.

CapBall Grade: C+. Although the ERA is really solid, Kimball's health and BB numbers are the only thing keeping him from a higher grade here. 11 walks in 14 innings is just unacceptable going forward.

2012 Nats Status: I am not sure what Kimball's health status is as of right now, but I think it will be an uphill battle for him to make the team out of Spring Training. Although a dominant Spring might put him in the 'pen, I see Kimball as one of the first pitchers up from Syracuse in the event of injury/trade.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ramos Kidnapped

According to multiple online reports, Nationals Catcher and star 2011 rookie Wilson Ramos was kidnapped in front of his home in Venezuela on Wednesday.

Most of the reporting right now is in Spanish language newspapers, but the gist of the story is that Ramos was approached by 4 gunman outside of his home in Santa Ines, Venezuela (about 220 miles east of the Capital city, Caracas). According to these reports, the Ramos family has contacted the police but they have yet to hear from the kidnappers.

Obviously, this is a new and terrifying story - so the details are still emerging. We hope that whoever is responsible for this is brought down and that Ramos is returned to his family without harm.

A Few Good Men: Midterm

We've reached the halfway point on our journey to 44 player reviews. Let's do a quick recap of all the players we have analyzed thus far, with links and grades - remember the list is in completely random order.

1. Michael Morse - A
2. Matt Stairs - F
3. John Lannan - C+
4. Laynce Nix - C+
5. Collin Balester - D+
6. Alex Cora - B-
7. Jordan Zimmermann - A
8. Chien-Ming Wang - B-
9. Livan Hernandez - B
10. Tom Milone - B+
11. Corey Brown - D
12. Wilson Ramos - A
13. Stephen Strasburg - A
14. Adam LaRoche - F
15. Roger Bernadina - C+
16. Jesus Flores - C-
17. Ryan Mattheus - B
18. Jason Marquis - B+
19. Brad Peacock - A
20. Jerry Hairston - C
21. Tom Gorzelanny - C
22. Jonny Gomes - F

Grade Breakdown:
A's - 5
B's - 6
C's - 6
D's - 2
F's - 3

We hope you are enjoying this series so far - use the comments to let us know what you'd like to see in the 2nd half!

As always, you can use the "A Few Good Men" label below this post to search each article as well!

A Few Good Men: 22 - Gomes

Jonny Gomes: Age 30 - 6 years MLB Service

How he became a Nat: Acquired via trade from the Cincinnati Reds for minor-league OF Bill Rhinehart and minor-league pitcher Chris Manno on July 26th.

The Raw Numbers:
AVG - .204
XBH - 8
RBI - 12
K - 31

The key stat: Slugging Percentage - .366, exactly what you want from the player you acquired to be a power bat off the bench. You can't fault Mike Rizzo who thought he was getting the player who slugged .431 last year and .541 the year before - though the trend is quite evident in retrospect.

Best game: August 9th against the Cubs at Wrigley. Gomes showed a flash of what the Nats hoped they were getting by going 2 for 4 with a HR, 2B, and 2 RBI. His 2 run humdinger in the 6th ended up being the difference in a 3-1 Nats' win. The Nats would have loved 10 or 11 more games like this one, unfortunately for the Nats he only had 3 other games with a WPA over .1, and in one of those games his contributions were entirely in the field.

Worst game: The. Very. Next. Game. Jonny went 0 for 4 with three strike-outs in a 4-2 loss to the very same Cubs. August 9th and 10th form a microcosm for his 2011 Nats season. Hope for a power bat followed by offensive ineptitude.

Capball Grade: F. He simply could not get the job done at the plate. The Nats needed a power bat from the right handed side capable of coming off the bench to platoon in left and center. 2 out of three in this instance is bad. His XBH and slugging numbers were dreadful and he did absolutely nothing coming off the bench racking up ZERO pinch hits. He also could have brought the Nats a supplemental pick if he maintained his Type B free agent status, which he did not.

2012 Nats Status: Jonny is arbitration eligible and has said publicly he would "probably take it" But given that he is no longer a Type B free agent, the Nats, in my humble opinion, will simply let him walk and not risk offering him arbitration because there is really no value in either outcome. Either he accepts and we pay him to be a mediocre-at-best 4th or 5th OF, or he declines and we get nothing.

[Ed. Note - When creating the label for this post, we had no Jonny Gomes label, meaning we never felt he made enough significant impact to warrant a mention - a sign of his performance on the 2011 Nats]

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

AFL Update - Position Players

Today we conclude our mid-season look-in on Nats prospects in the baseball oasis that is the Arizona Fall League. Yesterday we dropped in on the 4 Nats pitchers participating in the league, today we will check in on the trio of Nats position players suiting up for the Scottsdale Scorpions.

Derek Norris - Age 22 - Catcher - Selected by the Nats in the 4th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft

His 2011: Derek spent the entire year with the Senators, playing in 104 games, most of them behind the dish. While his batting average was a lowly .210 (hey Adam's Dunn and LaRoche are jealous of it) his OPS was a solid .813.

AFL Stats: He is really showing the Nats what he can be, an on-base machine with decent power. His .339/.443/.482 slash line is impressive, as are the 3 stolen bases and a 12 walks against only 11 Ks. The Nats must be loving what they are seeing, though they would probably like to see a bit more power, as Derek has only 4 XBH. Derek is in an interesting position within the Nats organization who are already set for the foreseeable future at catcher with Wilson Ramos. But the Nats aren't complaining. Good young catchers are valuable; he can remain at catcher in case Ramos gets injured or his production falls off, he can move to 1B or even a corner OF position, or he can be traded if Mike Rizzo is knocked over with an offer. At the end of the season I would have guessed he would be back at Harrisburg for 2012, but his strong AFL performance, coupled with a strong spring could land him in Syracuse.

Zach Walters - Age 22 - Infielder - Acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in return for Jason Marquis

His 2011: Zach split his time between South Bend and Potomac this year, putting up an impressive numbers. A slash line of .300/.367/.457 is great for a switch hitting middle infielder, but his 19 errors are not ideal, nor are 129 Ks in 477 ABs.

AFL Stats: Not good. In 61 ABs he has just 11 hits and 17 Ks. He has just 2 BBs and an OPS under .500. The Nats can't be happy about his offensive woes, but he is going against much more experienced minor-leaguers, many of whom are top prospects. He should break minor-league camp and head for Woodbridge, where I see him getting a whole season to play short and work on his hitting. There is no reason to rush his development at this point, with Ian Desmond still having a ton of potential and Danny Espinosa and Steve Lombardozzi ready to take over if Desmond fails to realize that potential.

Bryce Harper - Age 19 - OF - Selected by the Nationals with the first overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft

His 2011: Surrounded by fanfare and hoards of scouts and reporters, Bryce started his year with low-A Hagerstown. It took him a few weeks to get his footing, but he eventually showed he was ahead of everyone else on the field, posting an OPS close to 1.000 and earning a late season promotion to Harrisburg. Again he struggled at first, but soon found his comfort zone and began to show he was equal to his Double-A competition. At age 18. Freak.

AFL Stats: Billed as one of the main attractions and in his second AFL season, Bryce has not disappointed, to the tune of a .314/.388/.643 slash line in 70 ABs, with only 12 Ks. What's more impressive is the talent level of the pitchers he is feasting on. It's one thing to beat up Sally League pitching, but hitting YouTube worthy HRs against the top pitching prospects in baseball is a sign that he is going to be a very special player. Harper will be in major league camp in Viera with a very outside chance of heading to DC with the big club. More likely he is back in Harrisburg, where he could conceivably stay all season. Mike Rizzo has a plan for Bryce and I doubt it involves seeing him in DC before September of this year.

Let's hand out some grades, because, well, we just can't help ourselves:

Pat Lehman - D
Rafael Martin - C
Matt Purke - D
Sammy Solis - B+ trending towards A
Derek Norris - A
Zach Walters - D-
Bryce Harper - B+

How would you grade them? How much do you think the AFL really impacts these players futures? Share with the group!

A Few Good Men: 21 - Gorzelanny

We are almost to the halfway point of our journey to 44 complete player evaluations, let's carry onward.

Tom Gorzelanny - Age 29 - Arbitration Eligible (3rd time - Super 2)

How he became a Nat: Came over to the Nats from the Cubs in a January trade that sent AJ Morris, Graham Hicks, and Michael Burgess to the North Side.

The Raw Numbers:
Games - 30
Games Started - 15
ERA - 4.03
FIP - 4.19
K/9 - 8.14
WAR - 0.7

Key Stat: 4.46/2.42. This split right here is Gorzelanny's ERA as a starter and as a reliever. Across the board, Gorzelanny was much more dominant in the relief role - posting a better WHIP (1.343/1.075), K/BB (2.78/3.33), and BAA (.267/.222).

Best Game: May 2nd vs Los Gigantes. In just his 5th start of the season, Gorzelanny showed why Mike Rizzo pulled the trigger to bring him to DC. He went 8 innings, gave up no runs, only 3 hits, struck out 4 and walked 0. It was a wonderful outing that lead the way in a Nats 2-0 win against the defending World Champions. The 80 Bill James Game Score was the second highest of his career, behind a 2006 start against the Pirates (83).

Worst Game: July 23rd vs the Dodgers. It wasn't his worst WPA of the season, but IMO it was his worst appearance - start to very quick finish. Gorzelanny lasted just 3 innings against an underachieving club, giving up 8 hits and 5 earned runs. The Nats bullpen gave the Nats a chance but the Curly W's lost 7-6.

CapBall Grade: C. As a starter, Gorzelanny was the definition of inconsistent - 8 shutout innings one night, can't make it out of the 5th the next. A 4.46 ERA as a starter won't cut it in the NL East. Once he was moved to the Pen, into an ill-defined role none-the-less, he was able to concentrate on getting through the order once instead of multiple times. It should be noted that he inherited 9 runners as a reliever and that NONE of them scored.

2012 Nats Status: I don't believe that he will be back next year, but I've been wrong (many times) before. He is still under club control which would make him a cheap starting option, but not for this club and $2.1Mill+ is too much to pay for a 29 year-old starter/reliever/no-real-role. I don't see the team offering him arbitration, which would make him a free agent. He probably will catch on with a team looking for cheap starting pitching.

Monday, November 7, 2011

AFL Update - Pitchers

The end of October and the beginning of November can be a depressing time in the life of any baseball fan. The World Series is over, and for 99 percent of fans, your team isn't the World Champions. The Winter Meetings are still more than a month away, with the magic words ("pitchers and catchers report") still at least 2 months away from being uttered.

But, there is hope. Toiling away in the dessert of Arizona are the cream of the prospect crop. The Nats prospects have teamed up with prospects from the Angles, Giants, Phillies and Red Sox to form the 2011 incarnation of the Scottsdale Scorpions (10-16, last in the AFL East and just 1 game out of dead last in the league). With the Arizona Fall League at its half-way mark, lets see what impact the Nats representatives are making.

Pat Lehman - 25 Years Old - RHP - Taken in the 13th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft

His 2011: In 13 games as the Potomac Nationals closer he had 7 saves, an ERA of 1.72, and a microscopic 0.574 WHIP. He played in 29 games for the Senators, with 6 saves, a still healthy 0.765 WHIP, adding 34 Ks in 34 IP.

AFL Stats: 10.2 IP, 8.44 ERA, 17 H, 10 ER, 2BB, 10 Ks. Not exactly what the Nats were looking for in regards to a reliever they had high hopes for. He will still likely start 2012 in Harrisburg, perhaps moving up to Syracuse to replace relievers who move up to DC during the year, but the Nats would have loved to be wowed and forced to consider him for big league spring training.

Rafael Martin - 27 Years Old - RHP - Signed from the Mexican League in 2010

His 2011: He started the year with Potomac as a middle reliever. Pitching only 8 innings, he struck out 10 and gave up 6 hits and 1 earned run on the way to a 1.12 ERA. He spent most of his year at Harrisburg, pitching in 32 games with a 1.77 ERA and a sub 1.00 WHIP.

AFL Stats: 9 IP, 2.00 ERA, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 Ks. Rafael is a power arm and the Nats would like to see more Ks from a guy who had a 11.1 K/9 this season, but he definitely holding his own against some of the better players in the minors. He will likely start the season at Syracuse as a 7th or 8th inning guy and may see an invite to spring training, depending on the health of several relievers.

Matt Purke - 21 Years Old - LHP - Drafted in the 3rd Round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft and signed to a Major League Contract.

His 2011: He went 5-1 in 11 starts for Texas Christian University. Across 52.2 IP he allowed 10 ER on 36 Hits, striking out 61 and walking 20.

AFL Stats: Welcome to pro ball kid. 4.1 IP, 11 earned runs, 10 hits, 2 BB. His first start he got just 1 out and allowed 7 runs on 5 hits and a walk. To expect him to go from an injury shortened season into a league featuring premiere prospects was a bit foolish, though with the MLB contract the Nats needed to know where he was. He will be invited to big-league camp, but seems bound for Harrisburg, though a poor showing in Viera could punch his ticket for Woodbridge.

Sammy Solis - 23 Years Old - LHP - Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
His 2011: He started the year with Hagerstown, starting 7 games with an ERA of 4.02, but he really hit his stride at Potomac, starting 10 games, giving up 17 ER on 61 hits with 53 Ks.

AFL Stats: He has started 6 games, some good, some not, though he seems to have hit his stride in the last 2, not allowing an earned runs and racking up 14 Ks, 9 in his most recent start. Sammy is progressing nicely and should be headed for Potomac to begin the 2012 campaign, with quick promotions afoot if he excels. But more over, I feel if he continues his recent dominance in the AFL, he can become a valuable trade chip, possibly becoming the centerpiece in a trade for Denard Span or another young centerfielder.

Tomorrow we will check in on Derek Norris, Zach Walters and some kid named Bryce.

Comments? Questions? Declarations? Mad love for Beast Mode's Asian Adventure? Leave it!

A Few Good Men: 20 - Hairston Jr.

Jerry Hairston Jr - Age 35 - 11 years MLB Service

How he became a Nat: Signed a 1 year contract for $2 million dollars this past off-season. He was traded to Milwaukee on July 30th for minor-league OF Eric Komatsu.

The Raw Numbers:
Avg - .268
OPS - .727
WAR - 0.5
SO % - 11.6

Positions played - 5 (CF, LF, 3B, SS, 2B) in addition to pinch-hitting and pinch-running. He gave the Nats (and later the Brew Crew) a ton of versatility and veteran leadership. By filling in for Zim, spelling Espi, and taking semi-platooning in left and centerfield, he proved to be quite valuable to the ballclub.

Best game: April 19th against the team he would be traded to later that year, the Brewers. Jerry went 3 for 3 with a HR, a 2B, 2 runs scored, an RBI and a Walk. He played both third-base and left field that day. Honorable mention to June 17th against the rival O's, flip the HR to a double and he had almost the same performance.

Worst Game: April 13th against the Phillies. He struck out in each of his 3 ABs before being lifted for a PH (Matt Stairs, who also struck out), once with a runner in scoring position. The Nats lost a heartbreaker 3-2 to Roy Halladay and the Phils.

Capball Grade: C: He filled in admirably for Zim and gave the Nats some valuable innings at quite a few positions. But he was decidedly average in almost every facet of the game. Sub-zero dWAR and nothing spectacular at the plate, the Nats were lucky to get a semi-prospect in return for someone who was always going to be a rental player. He has an Alex Cora-esque future, perhaps breaking into coaching sooner rather than later.

2012 Nats Status: How about no. The Nats are getting younger and have a glut of 4th outfielders and three young studs around the infield who will play all the games they can handle in 2012.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Few Good Men: 19 - Peacock

Let's quit the chit-chat and get straight to the stats and analysis.

Brad Peacock - Age 23 - Under club control for another 6ish years

How he became a Nat: Drafted in the 41st Round (!!!) of the 2006 MLB First-Year Players Draft.

The Raw Numbers:
Games - 3
Games Started - 2
FIP - 3.86
Wins - 2
WHIP - 1.083
IP - 12.0
Hits Allowed - 7

Key Stat: 0. This is the number of Runs allowed by Peacock in his two starts. Granted it's only two starts, but one of them came against the best-record-in-the-NL Phillies; the other being the Mets. In those two starts, Peacock went a total of 10.2 innings and allowed just 3 hits - incredible for a rookie. And yes, I know that you can't take too much stock in September performances.

Best Game: A lot of tough choices here... And despite two solid starts, one was better than the other. September 22nd against the Phillies, in a game where the young 23 year-old out-dueled veteran All-Star Roy Oswalt. This win closed out a 4-game sweep in Philadelphia. The young right-hander went 5.2 Innings, allowed just 1 hit, walked 2, and struck out 2 - he could've gone much further as his pitch count was only at 69 when he was lifted.

Worst Game: That would be his first career appearance, a relief effort on September 6th vs the Dodgers. You may remember that this game was also Stephen Strasburg's first post-Tommy John appearance and that immediately after Strasburg would be Peacock - and that Peacock would be not come in mid-inning. Well, Strasburg finished 5 innings and Davey decided to bring in Doug Slaten - floodgates were opened and Peacock had to come in with two runners on to face MVP candidate Matt Kemp. Peacock gave up three runs, two of which were inherited runners. We wrote about this in detail afterwards...

CapBall Grade: A. Brad Peacock has come out of nowhere to become one of the Nats top pitching prospects. This year in just 2 starts he showed the organization why he was the Nats 2011 Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

2012 Nats Status: The rotation for next year is stacked, and at least 4 players have already locked up spots (Zimmermann, Strasburg, Lannan, and Wang) for next year - making Peacock's road the uphill variety. His main competition is going to be Tom Milone and Ross Detwiler (both lefties. If the Nats get a big name pitcher, such as CJ Wilson, the only person vulnerable would be John Lannan. I see him in the rotation because I see the Yankees backing up a Brinks truck for CJ Wilson, leaving Peacock to win an open competition for the 5th starter spot.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Few Good Men: 18 - Marquis

Jason Marquis – Age 33 – MLB Service time 11 Years

How He Became a Nat: Signed a 2-year 15 Million Dollar contract in December of 2009.

The Raw Numbers (as a Nat in 2011):

ERA – 3.95

Innings Pitched – 120.2

H/9 – 9.8

WPA – 0.3

WAR - 1.6

The Key Stat: QS% 65. For every 3 times he was given the ball, he gave the Nats a chance to win (Oh by the way, the Nats’ winning percentage in his starts, .650. Maybe there is something to this QS%). Along with Livo, he was a model to the future 3 or 4 guys in the rotation, John Lannan especially, systematically keeping the Nats in games despite not overpowering any lineup or team.

Best Game: April 29th against the Giants. Complete game 5 hit shut-out. Seven strikeouts, no walks, with only 96 pitches. This was the game Nats fans thought, he’s back. 16 ground balls against 7 fly balls and only 1 line drive adds up to Jason Marquis perceived identity.

Worst Game: July 3rd vs. the Pirates. Jason lasted only 1 1/3 innings, giving up 8 hits and 7 runs (6 earned, because that 7th run in 4 outs was the key to a quality start). This happens to sinkerballers once in a while (who tend to get better as they tire), because the ball will be in play, luck is involved. However, on this day, luck was not on his side... 6 singles, 2 doubles and a ROE, only one of which went much higher than 20 ft. Pitching to contact is a good idea, it's democratic, but it also lends itself to luck, and on this day, it was not with Jason Marquis.

CapBall Grade: Very Solid B+. He kept the Nats in games, he mentored younger players, and eventually brought current AFL prospect Zach Walters into the organization via mid-season trade with Arizona (He suffered a broken leg not long after.) He was not a star, but he made very valuable contributions in every facet of the game, on the field and off.

2012 Nats Status: Jason is a free-agent. He spoke in June about wanting to remain with the Nats, but that was pre-trade and pre-broken leg. The Nats are looking for a game-changing top-of-the-rotation arm, Jason doesn’t fit that bill. Jason Marquis will start for a major-league team in 2012, but it won’t be the Nationals.