Friday, March 30, 2012
In his last 500+ at bats, spanning 2 season, Nady has racked up -14 oRAR (offensive runs above replacement player). Compare that with Roger Bernadina's 6 oRAR in over 700+ ABs the last 2 seasons and you wonder why you would sacrifice those 20 runs and a considerable amount of athleticism for Nady. The same goes with Rick Ankiel, a superb defender with an oRAR of 4 last year and a WAR over 2. With so many options this spring, why, in the last week have the Nats pivoted so hard to Nady?
What is really scary about the ball rolling down the hill so fast on Nady, is that it signals, to me, that Morse and possibly LaRoche and Ankiel are still not healthy and could miss opening day. And as Nats fans know, missing the first week can turn into the first month and then the first half very quickly. This team was paltry on offense last season, and replacing Michael Morse with Xavier Nady is not the solution.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
In this week's episode, The Nats Blog's Joe Drugan and Capitol Baseball's Craig MacHenry talk about John Lannan's rotation spot and players getting hurt a lot. We also talk about the state of the bullpen, and Joe put out a lineup that he wasn't entirely prepared for and is now embarrassed about in the return of the Question Of The Week.
Friday, March 23, 2012
When Syracuse takes the field for the first game of the season, Bryce Harper will be roaming centerfield and anchoring their line-up. The reason for starting Bryce in center is two-fold. Currently having only Eury Perez as an upper level prospect at the position, Mike Rizzo wants to try to make Bryce Harper the long term answer; the underlying reason is that Bryce Harper as the Nats long term centerfielder creates value for both the player and the ballclub. Positions like CF, SS, 2B are premium positions because they are difficult defensively and on most teams offense is sacrificed at at least 1, more often than not 2, of those positions. If Bryce fails to be a suitable CF option, then he is moved to a corner OF spot and is still an offensive force. If he succeeds, he locks up CF, a premium position, for 5-7 years while making prospects Perez, Brian Goodwin, Michael Taylor, and Destin Hood trade bait or fantastic back-up pieces.
Davey Johnson, when speaking about Lombardozzi getting some experience in the outfield, referenced Ben Zobrist. Rays fans and fantasy gurus alike will tell you all you need to know about this super-utility man; he can play anywhere on the field and fit anywhere on a line-up card. In 2009 he played 8 different positions if you include DH, hit nearly .300, and made all of his teammates better through regular off days. Can Lombardozzi be Ben Zobrist? That's not the question that Mike Rizzo and Davey Johnson should be asking (and to their credit they likely won't). The question is can the Nats afford to gamble on this possibility?
What these moves, along with the decision to play Anthony Rendon at SS and 2nd in addition to 3rd, signal is that the Nats have shifted their player development philosophy. By starting a player at a premium position and moving him should he fail, the Nats can create value. Simply put, offense is easy to find at corner OF spots and first base. But by developing players up the middle, having them learn the premium positions, you create more skill, more value, and a more talented organization.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
That being said, Parra will not come cheap. He is still young (24) and under club control for the next 4 years (meaning he costs the team very little money) - they have absolutely no reason to trade him. It would take a solid package for the Nats to acquire his services - I think it would take Lannan, a top 20 prospect (read, Eury Perez or Michael Taylor), and maybe Flores as well.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
In this week's episode, The Nats Blog's Joe Drugan and Capitol Baseball's Craig MacHenry talk about Washington Nationals spring training.
We talk about:
- Bryce Harper's Move to Center Field
- More Injuries
- John Lannan's Struggles
- More Roster Cuts
... and a few other topics. We hope you'll enjoy the show.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Danny Espinosa: Last year he got on-base at a .323 clip, not ideal. But he is speedy, a switch hitter, and perhaps with a lead-off hitters approach and mindset he could train himself to walk more and see more pitches he could see both his OBP and SLG %s rise. I believe he would be the first plan B should Desi fail in the 1 hole.
Jayson Werth: He was signed by the Nats to be a run-producer in the middle of the line-up. But perhaps he will end up having more value as a guy with a lifetime .360 OBP. He is athletic and smart and could adapt to the strategies of the lead-off spot. With Zim, Morse and eventually Bryce, he may not be counted on as much to drive in runs, freeing him up to lead-off.
Rick Ankiel: If we get this far down the Plan B hierarchy...we are in trouble. But I believe in a man named Rick Ankiel. He is an athlete, he knows how pitchers think and can jump start an inning with an extra-base hit. He hit for a .340 OBP back in 2008 and is capable of stealing bases. He strikes out too much, but again, this would definely be a stop-gap solution.
Unnamed Player Traded For: Rizzo wants that long term solution for CF and the lead-off spot. The MLB Trade Rumor heat has died down somewhat on Nats trading for a CF, but that's when it seems Rizzo strikes. It would not shock me in the least if at some point before April 5 Mike swings a deal for a young outfielder with high OBP potential.
On a roster with plenty of talent, the lead-off spot has to worry Davey Johnson and Mike Rizzo. If Ian Desmond proves incapable of holding down the lead-off spot, the cupboard is pretty bare when it comes to OBP and speed. So Nats fans, hold your breath for Ian Desmond and cross your fingers for Mike Rizzo and the CF trade market.
- Round One of Spring Roster Cuts
- The Injury Bug in Camp
- Ryan Zimmerman's Hot Bat
- Gio Gonzalez's great spring
- Brad Lidge's Bold Quote
- More Craig Stammen
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Monday, March 12, 2012
I'll go out on a limb now - the Nats pitching rotation is set. Come April 6 in ChiTown it will be Strassy, NatGio, JZim, EJax, and Wang. Mark it down. My gut tells me that Rizzo will be trading Lannan for pennies on the dollar, while Ross Detwiler bides his time as the Left Handed Long Relief man in the bullpen.
That being said, how is the Nats rotation shaping up through Spring starts 1 and 2?
Strasburg - 5.2 IP. 6 H. 4 R. 4 ER. 1 BB. 5 K. 6.35 ERA. 1.24 WHIP.
- Don't worry too much about this line considering there was a 2-run triple that was ruled legit, then error, then back to being a triple. Take that out of the equation and it comes out to a 3.46 ERA.
Gonzalez - 7 IP. 3 H. 0 R. 0 ER. 1 BB. 4 K. 0.00 ERA. 0.43 WHIP.
- Gio has been more than advertised so far. Granted, this is a time where the pitchers are "ahead" of the hitters, but he is carving up stellar rosters at a maddening pace.
Zimmermann - 3 IP. 0 R. 0 ER. 1 BB. 3 K. 0.00 ERA. 1.33 WHIP.
- Zimmermann will hopefully have a bit more run support this year, because it looks like he is about to be unleashed upon the NL East. Beware East Coast...
Jackson - 6.0 IP. 0 R. 0 ER. 2 BB. 3 K. 0.00 ERA. 0.83 WHIP.
- EJax has been hampered by control issues in the past, but McCatty thinks that he will be able to fix whatever has been ailing the still-young starter. So far this Spring, Jackson has shown that he is worth the $10 Million he is making this year.
Wang - 2 IP. 2 R. 2 ER. 1 BB. 2 K. 9.00 ERA. 2.00 WHIP.
- This tally doesn't take into account the intra-squad game that Wang pitched before this start, so he has had a bit more mound time than these stats shows. Sinkerballers tend to pitch better as they get tired and hopefully the Wang will tire out soon... Too much innuendo?? Anyway, Wang is due $4 Million this year so he will be the Nats 5th starter until he pitches himself out of the spot.
There are those out there that believe that Lannan and Detwiler are still being given a chance, they aren't - trust me. Your starters will start Spring games, not come in in relief like Detwiler has in both of his appearances and I have already stated that I think that Lannan will be traded.
What do you think, CapBallers? Is this your ideal rotation? Does Lannan or Detwiler squeeze out Wang? Are you getting tired of my Wang jokes? Sound off in the comments!
Friday, March 9, 2012
Judging by the projected lineups out there compared with the spots left for bench players, I figure that there is only room for about 5 bench players, one of which will be a backup catcher. Let's look at my predictions based on the early Spring Training results.
Catcher - Jesus Flores
This one is pretty much a given. At one point Jesus Flores was looked at by the organization as the future catcher, but that was before a foul ball broke his shoulder. Now he is trying to build on a solid Venezuelan Winter League performance by putting up solid numbers as a backup in hopes to get traded to a place he can be a starter - he first has to prove his health.
Util - Mark DeRosa
Mark DeRosa is only three years removed from a 4.3 WAR in 2008. Remember that. He has been dogged the past few years by a wrist injury that has sapped his power. However, based on his early spring results (once again, EARLY), DeRosa is 4 for 6 with a HR, his first in a very long time. If he can regain his power stroke (23 HR in 2009), he will be a versatile option at several infield and outfield positions.
Middle-Infield - Stephen Lombardozzi
Lombardozzi is one of the only available players in Spring Training that has the ability to play the middle infield - DeRosa just doesn't have the range. Though he is a young gun, Davey Johnson likes him and has said that he will get the playing time he needs to continue his development. I don't necessarily agree with Lombo making the Opening Day roster, but I think it will happen.
OF - Roger Bernadina
We have seen good Bernie and bad Bernie. But in all honesty, the reason that Roger Bernadina will make the team solely on the fact that he is Left Handed. And starting the 2012 Season, the Nationals only have 2 left handed bats on the roster (LaRoche and Ankiel). Another thing that will set him apart from the other back-up options is his speed. When composing a bench it's wise to have someone in there that has some serious wheels and if Bernie can put some brains behind his wheels he should be able to elevate his game to the next level.
OF - Jason Michaels
He is simply going to bridge the gap to Harper. As opposed to Brett Carroll, Michaels has a few more years under his belt and should provide a bit more leadership to the Nationals young core. His .500 batting average so far in Spring Training sure doesn't hurt his case either.
So, there you have it. My (not-so) expert guesses as to which five players will compose the Opening Day bench.
What are your thoughts? Like my list? Hate it?! COMMENT AWAY!
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
- Ian Desmond sure is struggling - has yet to get a hit in 9 ABs and has recorded 3 E6's in extremely limited time.
- Man, does Bryce Harper hustle or what? He is an extraordinary player to watch, and we haven't even seen his power yet.
- Jhonatan Solano, a 26 year-old catcher in the Nats system, sure has a hell of an arm.
- Mark DeRosa has shown somewhat of a resurgance (once again, only Spring Training) and it could benefit the Nats greatly. He has hit the ball hard and hit his first Home Run at any level in about a year. o
- Tom Gorzelanny is terrible. He currently holds a 63.00 ERA after his 1 inning of work - that's 7 runs allowed to go along with 2 homers and 4 walks. He could very well pitch himself out of a job, as Sean wrote on Monday.
- Jesus Flores has looked a bit shaky behind the plate, allowing 4 steals while catching none of them, but his offense looks to be in mid-season form with two doubles in his four at-bats.
- Eury Perez is fast.
- Jason Michaels and Roger Bernadina are in a battle to make the team as a 4th or 5th outfielder - both are 3 for 5. Keep an eye on this battle for the next few weeks.
- Rick Ankiel has been working on his opposite field stroke and it showed in his opposite field bomb against the Mets on Monday night.
- Zach Walters wearing #11 is weird.
- I don't like hearing "lat strain" when referring to Michael Morse. Especially with the Nats training staff...
- Are we going to see LaRoche anytime soon?
- I'm happy to see Rendon get his first (of many) hit in a Curly W - now that the monkey is off his back he should start to rake.
What are your thoughts after the first few Spring Training games? Are you ready to see some cuts? Who has surprised you?
Monday, March 5, 2012
-Stephen Strasburg was not sharp. His velocity was 92-96 (saw it on the scouts gun myself) with his curve in the mid-70s. He threw far too many first pitch balls, and balls in general. Strasburg's hallmark, along with ridiculous stuff, has been an ability to control the zone and throw first pitch strikes. He fell behind in too many counts and it hurt him on the Snyder air strike...err home run. First start, stuff was there, he will shake off the rust and be fine.
-Tom Gorzelanny may play himself out of a job with more performances like that. He got three outs (though technically one was a sacrifice bunt) walked 4, gave up 3 hits, had a wild pitch, all adding up to 7 runs. His stuff was eminently hittable and that needs to change if he wants a job.
-Mattheus, Lidge, Clip and Storen were all good. Mattheus had a tough time getting out of Gorzelanny's mess, but in his own inning he was lights out. Lidge showed no rust, neither did Storen. Clippard was having trouble getting over his fastball and the speed difference with his change-up was not as wide as it needs to be for him to be successful.
-Many of the Space Coast faithful were happy to see Jeff Fulchino in camp. He is a Titusville native (right up 95 from Viera) and is in his first year with the Nats organization. He spend the previous two years with the Astros. He is a big righty who throws with very little effort. Threw strikes and got outs. Which, after Gorzelanny's performance, was a refreshing change of pace.
-The Nats hitters looked very rusty. Jayson Werth got more than his fair share of meatballs and fouled them off. Ian Desmond looked lost at the plate and in the field - contributing two errors. Of the starters only Zimmerman and DeRosa made meaningful contact.
-Wilson Ramos showed nothing to indicate there will be any lasting effects from his ordeal. He was eager to throw to bases and looked very into the game.
-The kids looked great. Bryce showed a tremendous amount of hustle, beating out an infield single, busting his butt to second base to try to break up a double play (that ended up being in vain because I'm fairly certain the zombie versions of Tinkers, Evers, and Chance could double up Carlos Maldonado). He later fully laid out (again in vain) in an attempt to catch a fly ball down the right field line. This all happened after the Nats were down 9-1. This kid loves to play ball. Oh and bonus points for playing with stirrups.
-Anthony Rendon looked decent at shortstop, he is a work in progress. The glove and the arm are there, but the brain-foot communication needs improvement. Third base is very reactive, shortstop you have some time to think about the situation and mess things up.
-Jason Michaels looked like a valuable player. Brett Carroll played like Jayson Werth sans the bank account. The upper hand has been established in the race to be 25 and Michaels is the Mitt Romney to Carol's Rick Santorum after Game #2.
-Space Coast Stadium is a beautiful venue and I know the train is headed for a Nats relocation, but count me among those that hope they stay.
Well that's the view from the stands for the home opener, see something different on TV? See something different in-person? Why didn't you say hi!? Leave some comments!
Thursday, March 1, 2012
I'll go through the Nats prospects on the list, but that's not what inspired me to write about this list. One of the writers for Baseball America, Jim Callis had the brilliant idea to release the list of all the names that appeared on at least 1 of the Top 150 lists including their peak position. It shows who is on the radar but just missed the cut.
Let's check out all the Nats that were represented.
#1 - Bryce Harper - OF - MLB ETA: 2012
#19 - Anthony Rendon - 3B - MLB ETA: 2013
That's it... But remember, Baseball America rated the Nationals as their #1 system is all of baseball prior to the Gio Gonzalez deal. Let's see where those pieces landed...
#36 - Brad Peacock
#57 - A.J. Cole
That would've been 4 top 60 prospects for the Nationals, including the #1 overall prospect.
Now, we get the to fun part. Let's check out the members of the Nats system that just missed the cut..
Alex Meyer - Named on 7 Ballots - Top Position: #77
Brian Goodwin - Named on all 8 Ballots - Top Position: #80
Sammy Solis - Named on 7 Ballots - Top Position: #88
Matt Purke - Named on 6 Ballots - Top Position: #91
Stephen Lombardozzi - Named on 2 Ballots - Top Position: #113
Alex Meyer is singled out on this list as the #1 player that "could make big moves on the 2013 list" - they say "With a fastball that touches 100 mph and a wicked slider, Meyer had one of the most electric arms in the 2011 draft. If he continues to progress as he did last spring as a Kentucky junior, he'll rush through the minors."
Those now with the A's...
Derek Norris - Named on 5 Ballots - Top Position: #101
So, the Nationals system has taken a huge hit in losing Peacock, Norris, Cole, and Milone to the Athletics but there are several players lurking just outside of the Top 100 with only Solis (Tommy John Surgery) and Lombardozzi (Eligibility) poised to not be on next year's list.
Despite losing several top prospects in a trade, the Nationals system is set to remain among the top farm systems in baseball due to the strength of their 2011 draft class. It should be fun to follow both the MLB and MiLB Nats this coming year!