Monday, April 2, 2012
Friday, October 7, 2011
Is Morgan insane? Sure. But he has ability. The Nationals would have been a better team with him in 2011. Good managers/coaches get the best out of guys like this. If Phil Jackson could get hall of fame performances from Dennis Rodman, then Jim Riggleman should have been able to keep things from completely spinning out of control with Nyjer Morgan.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
I haven't read a Tom Boswell chat in months, but I clicked on one today and instantly got annoyed. Good to see he hasn't lost that affect on me.
Here's what set me off:
The stat guys, among other things, still don't grasp the inherent advanatages of groundball pitchers. They get far more GIDPs. Lannan's very high in that. Few stats even touch GIDP. Anbd batting average on balls in play is almost always lower for sinkerballers.
So, yes, Lannan is better than his FIP __every year. His biggest liability is that, even pitching vastly better against lefties, he still has big trouble against the Phils and the big RH bats of the Marlins. When you play 72 games inside your division, you have to look at matchups. Lannan got stuck facing the Phils six times this year. Davey loves the idea of three LH starters in '12, if that's how the competition falls out. But Peacock's stuff and Wang's pedigree as a penant-race Yankee certainly put them in the picture.
The value of groundballs has been sabermetric conventional wisdom for decades. Take this 2006 post from U.S.S. Mariner. Or this 2004 Nate Silver piece on Baseball Prospectus. That's just what I found in a couple minutes of Googling.
Saying statistical analysts don't appreciate the value of the groundball is like saying stat guys don't sufficiently despise the bunt. (Come to think of it, it's exactly the same.)
And then he adds embarrassment to insult by claiming that groundball pitchers have lower BABIPs. It's just the opposite, and that's another basic sabermetric observation established long ago. Groundballs become hits more often. But they're better for pitchers because they never become home runs. That's all there is to it.
But what really bugs me isn't so much how Boz is wrong--I got over that a long time ago. It's how smug he his, how completely oblivious to the possibility that he may not have mastered everything there was to know about baseball by 1980.
If he's not going to even try to keep up with the times (as is so painfully obvious), he should at least offer a touch of humility when dismissing the people who are still working hard to advance our understanding of the game.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Saturday, August 27, 2011
First, you gotta have a really premium bat to be an even average MLB first baseman, and Marrero has yet to demonstrate that he can be that kind of hitter. First basemen who hit and throw right-handed have an even steeper mountain to climb. He hasn't appeared in the Baseball America top 100 list since 2007, and he fell all the way to #9 among Nationals prospects coming into this season.
This year he's hitting .300 / .375 / .449 at AAA, which sounds ok, but there's a huge gap between AAA and the majors. A decent rule of thumb is to shave 20% off the top of whatever a guy is doing at AAA (though in fairness the International League is a pretty pitcher-friendly place).
Recently Marrero's been slumping, going 8 for his last 39 with 8 Ks, 3 walks, and just one XBP in his last ten games. He gets to debut in Great American Small Park against RHP Mike Leake.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
Saturday, August 20, 2011
I still believe 100% in the main point I was making, that the draft is an incredible buyer's market, because the price teams pay for talent in the draft is massively suppressed by the collective bargaining agreement. Just look at the $30 million contract that Aroldis Chapman got compared to the $8 million that Garrett Cole got.
But if you look at the Nationals' signings purely in the context of draft dollars, they clearly overpaid. A couple days before the draft, Baseball America's Jim Callis put the "over-under" for the combined cost of signing the Nationals top three picks at $9 million, and the Nationals spent $11 million--and then threw another $4.15 million at Matt Purke. Scoring the negotiations, it was a blowout for Boras on every card.
Let's start with Brian Goodwin. Taken with the 34th overall pick in the supplemental first round, Goodwin got $3 million, the ninth biggest bonus paid to any player in the draft. It tied for the third-highest bonus ever outside of the first round and almost $2 million more than Corey Spangenberg, the only junior college position player taken higher than Goodwin at #10 overall.
I and most other fans I know have (appropriately) focused on the fact that Goodwin was generally considered better than the 34th best talent in the draft, so if you only look at draft order the Nationals got good value. But if you had told anyone in the industry prior to draft that Goodwin would get that kind of money, they would have laughed. Scott Boras scored an incredible deal for his client, probably double what he had any right to expect.
Matt Purke was the real eyebrow-raiser. Everyone knows the story by now. Drafted out of high school, Purke was ready to take a $6 million offer from Texas, but MLB, in control of the Rangers' finances at the time, blocked it. Then, just eight months ago, the TCU lefty was rated alongside Anthony Rendon and Garrett Cole as the potential top pick in a strong draft. But then he had shoulder problems, which some scouts think might be related to his slingy, low-three-quarters arm slot.
If healthy, Purke has potential frontline stuff. But health is a huge factor in how you have to value any pick, especially pitchers. And shoulders aren't like elbows--you don't just give a guy a new ligament and wait 18 monts for him to return to normal.
That's why most folks thought Purke and the Nationals probably wouldn't (shouldn't, even) make a deal. The established market value for a fourth-round pick with at best iffy medicals--even one with Purke's upside--probably isn't much more than a million dollars or so. And Purke, observers figured, could get closer to the $6 million that Texas wanted to pay him if he could just go out next year and show that his shoulder was ok.
But the Nationals made all that moot by simply offering him a contract that basically assumes that his health is not an issue. Which it clearly is.
All this was even more surprising because when the Nationals drafted him, Mike Rizzo (wisely, I thought) said the team would follow his performance in summer leagues and make their decision accordingly. Well, Purke didn't play summer ball. He hasn't pitched a single inning anywhere since the draft. The team says they were convinced by Purke's workouts and bullpen sessions, but scouts will tell you there's a big difference between side sessions and facing live batters.
I'm really nitpicking now, but even the Alex Meyer deal is a bit of an overpay. Now, because Meyer turned down $2 million from the Red Sox out of high school--and Scott Boras doesn't like to give back money--it's long been assumed that Meyer's price tag would begin with a 2. But still, that's still more than the bonuses paid to Tyler Anderson, Matt Barnes, Sonny Gray, or Chris Reed, four college pitchers picked ahead of him.
Don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled by what the Nationals did in the draft. I've been arguing for years that the draft is by far the cheapest source of premium talent, and that with a $68 million payroll in a large, wealthy market, the Nationals have plenty of resources to load up the farm system with high-upside gambles. And besides, it's fun.
But the nagging question in my mind is this: Are the Nationals aggressively exploiting market inefficiencies in a way that will lead to long term success? Or are they just throwing money at anyone who will take it?
It's just so hard for Nationals fans to worry about profligate spending after years of skinflint ownership. Can you even imagine the Nationals failing the way Jim Hendry failed in Chicago, saddling his team with massive contracts for a roster full of replacement level players or worse?
Then again, maybe I'm just an extreme pessimist who doesn't know how to respond to good news. After all, I worked my guts out to get Obama elected, and on election night in 2008, when everyone else was partying, all I could think about what what a nightmare the midterms would be in 2010. Here's hoping the Nationals aren't quite as perennially deflating as those other guys in Washington.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
Thursday, August 4, 2011
I was taken to task in the comments and realized pretty quickly that I was wrong there. As NTP Nate asked, "You don't trade a right-handed reliever for a 27-year old with a .366 career OBP and plus defense in CF who's on a reasonable (5 yr/$16.5M) contract through 2014? Where are these type of guys growing on trees?"
In part, my error was that I hadn't really paid that much attention to Span this year. I remembered his down year in 2010 and assumed he wasn't doing much better this year given how the Twins are doing as a team. But he's actually having a nice bounce-back year, and it's looking like his down 2010 is the aberration.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Friday, July 29, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Over the past eight months, two of the most talented young center fielders in baseball have changed teams. Both are 24 years old. One is under team control for the next three and a half years, and the other for four and a half. And both were traded for at most 60 cents on the dollar.
Still, despite the fact that the Nationals are "feverishly" looking for a long-term answer in center field (and have been for pretty much time immemorial, aside from brief, ill-fated love affair with Nyjer Morgan a couple years ago), neither Colby Rasmus nor Cameron Maybin are on the Washington Nationals.
Why? It can't be said that they didn't have the inventory to make deals. Especially in Maybin's case, anyone could have had him. He went to San Diego in exchange for a couple middle relievers. Maybin's been around for a long time, but he's still at an age that a lot of very good major leaguers are just getting their first taste of the majors. He hadn't put it together yet, but he's full of tools and the Marlins gave up on him way too soon.
Rasmus may have been a little tougher for the Nationals to pull off. Let's face it, Alex Anthopolous is proving himself to be one of the very best GMs in the game, and just being able to sniff out the opportunity to swing the complicated three-way deal that he made is impressive.
But even setting aside that part, do the Nationals have the pieces to make a deal like Anthopolous did? Maybe not. He gave up Zach Stewart, Jason Frasor, Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepczynski, and Corey Patterson. Most teams including the Nationals could match the last four names on the list. Probably it would have cost Tyler Clippard and someone else out of the pen, but that's ok.
Stewart would have been the chip the Nationals would have had a hard time matching--a 24-year-old pitching prospect who some think could be a #2 but others think might end up in the bullpen. The Nationals probably would have had to offer A.J. Cole or Brad Peacock, and it's possible Williams would have preferred Stewart anyway, since he's closer than Cole and has better stuff than Peacock.
Still, everyone and their father knew that Tony LaRussa wanted Rasmus out of St. Louis, and that there was a deal to be made. Bottom line, Anthopolous made the deal, and Rizzo didn't.
- Oh and I almost forgot. Denard Span for Drew Storen? No thanks. Span's a fine player, but you don't trade away cost-controlled assets like Storen for guys like this. You should be able to find them easier ways.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Gomes probably becomes the short-side platoon partner for Laynce Nix, which I guess is fine. Neither guy can hit same-handed pitching, and presumably Davey Johnson will do a good job optimizing. But Gomes is a dreadful fielder and 30 years old. And he's earning $1.75 million, so as pointless moves go, it's not a cheap one, unless the Reds are picking up the contract for some reason.
Kilgore says Gomes is likely to be a type-B free agent, which I haven't checked but seems probably right. That means that this could be an example of the Nationals more or less buying a second or third round draft pick, which would be fine. Then again, they'd have to tender Gomes a contract if they want the pick, and if I was Gomes I'd accept arbitration in a heartbeat. I wouldn't expect him to get what he's getting now as a free agent, and players don't usually take pay cuts from arbitrators.
There's nothing much to fret about in what the Nationals gave up. Bill Rhinehart was a fringey prospect a few years ago, but then he regressed badly and more or less missed his window. He's had a nice season this year at AA, but he's 26 playing against much younger competition. The offensive standards for first basemen are so high that he's really not a guy with any kind of future in MLB anymore.
Christopher Manno is a 22-year-old lefty reliever drafted by the Nationals in the 26th round out of