Monday, March 9, 2009

Nationals Rated the Worst Organization in Baseball

Dave Cameron at Fangraphs unloads a few rounds into the dying carcass of a franchise we call our own:
Today, I’m kicking off a new series - over the next three weeks, we’ll rank all thirty MLB organizations, but rather than doing it just by some portion of their franchise (whether major league talent, minor league talent, front office talent, etc…), we’ll do an all encompassing overview of where each major league club stands. The following list should be viewed as something like organizational health, top to bottom.

Today, we kick off the list with the franchise that has more work to do to get back on track than any other in baseball.

#30: Washington Nationals

Front Office: D-

This was an F before Jim Bowden left. With him out of the picture, there’s a door open for the franchise to start making moves to send the team in the right direction. Unfortunately, Stan Kasten doesn’t seem to be walking through the door. A new general manager could overhaul the organization and establish a new path, but right now, the leadership is in limbo and no one really knows where they’re going to head.

Major League Talent: C-

There’s some good young players in the fold - Ryan Zimmerman, Elijah Dukes, Lastings Milledge, John Lannan, and Joel Hanrahan all showed that they have some major league abilities last year. Adam Dunn and Cristian Guzman are solid veteran role players. But the guys who have star power come with significant risks, and the guys the team can count on have limited upsides. It’s just not a roster that fits well together, either. In a best case scenario, the Nationals could finish .500 this year, and even that’s a longshot.

Minor League Talent: C

There’s some good young arms in Jordan Zimmerman, Collin Balester, and Ross Detwiler on the farm. And, if you give them credit for potentially drafting Stephen Strasburg with the #1 pick this summer, then there’s quite a bit of hope for their future rotation. But the depth of position player prospects is remarkably thin, and the Esmailyn Gonzalez revelation didn’t help at all. For a team that’s been pretty bad for a while, you’d expect a better farm system. This one’s not very good.

Overall: F

Yes, this is kind of kicking a group of men when he’s down, but it’s impossible to find an organization in worse shape than the Nats. They’re coming off a major league worst 102 loss season and their GM just resigned amidst a scandal over significant issues with their Dominican scouting operations. Rather than hiring a new general manager, the team president is just handling business himself while giving Asst. GM Mike Rizzo some increased authority without a promotion.

There are things Nationals fans can cling to in hoping for the future, but 2009 isn’t going to be much fun, and 2010 probably won’t be either.


Dave Nichols said...

woo hoo! we're #30!!!

Positively Half St. said...

What is Fangraphs?

Steven said...

the best stats site anywhere in the tubes.

Will said...

Here's what I posted on fangraphs:

If I take anything away from this, it’s if the Nats make the right move on two things (the next GM and the draft), they could easily vault themselves to the front of the middle of the pack.
Picking a smart GM would instantly improve their grade to a B or A, and successfully signing Stephen “The Best Prospect Ever” Strasburg, pick #10 and the rest of their top 10, would improve their minor league talent to the B or A range as well.

Too bad major league talent is the only thing that really matters in the end…

JayB said...

Even I don't agree with this guy. Oh you say "the best Stats site anywhere"....that says it all doesn't it.....

C L said...

More lazy journalism, IMO. I'm not saying we're top 10, but the perception of the club makes it easy to put them at the bottom of any set of rankings. It's easy to find a negative spin.

Adam Dunn is a role player? He might be a regular player with clear deficiencies, but he's hardly a "role" player.

Steven said...

No, I think Dave's mostly right about Dunn. Let's say there are four classes of players: elite difference-makers, good complimentary guys (role-players), replacement-level, and sub-replacement level.

Given that, Dunn is clearly in the second group. He's a very good bat, but gives back too much of that in the field.

Grover said...

I tend to agree with C L in criticizing Dave. I mean, you had to divide every major leaguer that's above replacement level into only two categories in order to defend his assertion that Dunn is a role player. That's kind of stretching it, no?

Also, he has Balester as being "on the farm." Balester's first MLB start was last summer and he's likely gonna stay with the major league club in some capacity this year. Not a terrible error, but it doesn't say much for his depth of knowledge.

Even Fangraphs makes mistakes, and as great as it is, there's a definite subjectivity in evaluating front office and prospect strength, and they haven't established themselves as experts on that stuff. Good read, though.

Moe Greene said...

So, David Ortiz was a "role-player" before becoming a DH?

Frank Thomas, too?

Wow, I could build an All-Star roster with role-players.

Alex Rodriguez is/was a sub-par glove at third base. Guess I can take him off the elite list...

Moe Greene said...

C - Mike Piazza
1b - David Ortiz
2b - Jeff Kent
SS - Derek Jeter
3b - Alex Rodriguez
OF - Manny Ramirez
OF - Ted Williams
OF - Barry Bonds (Post 2003

No, you're right; Adam Dunn is a role player.

Steven said...

Adam Dunn isn't David Ortiz. Sorry. If that's what you're expecting, you're going to be disappointed.

Steven said...

Moe, with all due respect, you're on crack. Adam Dunn and Barry Bonds? Ted Williams?

Moe Greene said...

What I do with my personal time is none of your business, Steven.


Given that, Dunn is clearly in the second group. He's a very good bat, but gives back too much of that in the field.

My point is that Bonds was giving up just as much, if not more, than Dunn late in his career playing LF. The same could be said for Manny, today.

40 HR with an OBP of .380-.400 is by far that of a role player.

Moe Greene said...

The point is that our definition of "role-player" is different, and that's okay.

James Bjork said...

I think this argument is about semantics- specifically the connotation of "role-player". I think for most of us, role-player means a special-situation or bench player, like a LOOGY or a slugger with a horrible platoon split, who best gets off the pine in certain matchups late in a game.

Maybe there could be a better adjective to describe players like Dunn who have a decent net VORP or win-shares are deserve a regular spot in the lineup because of it, but not in the Pujols-Teixeira stratosphere.


El Rey said...

Sure the Nationals organization is a joke, but at least Nationals Stadium is one of the premiere LEED-certified "Green" buildings in the country although I wonder if Stan's center field "fire pit" will jeopardize the stadium's greenness rating. I fear will might see an Exxon/Mobil Oil Can perched atop the Red Loft before long since the Nats organization has a rather tin ear.

Peyton said...

I like the system. Grades of D-, C-and C gets you an F.

Steven said...

give dave credit for stirring up debate!