Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ex-Nats of Note

Last week I checked in on Steven Shell and found that he'd been demoted to Class AA West Tennessee. That got me wondering about some other former Nationals:
  • Jake Smolinski (traded with P.J. Dean and Emilio Bonifacio for Josh Willingham and Scott Olsen)
A second round pick in the 2007 draft, the 20-year-old Smolinski was an often-overlooked key piece of the Willingham-Olsen trade. Smolinski ranked as the Baseball America #25 prospect in the Marlins deep system and his ceiling is as a solid starting middle infielder with decent pop. This year, coming off reconstructive knee surgery, he's tearing up A-ball pitching to the tune of .274 / .384 / .484. His walk rate is up, his strikeouts are down, and his ISO power his jumped from .141 to .210. Long-term you figure his bat would play better at second, but the Marlins have had him splitting time between second and third. He has a long way to go, but the Marlins couldn't be happier about how his first year with them is going.
  • Jhonny Nunez (traded to the Yankees for Alberto Gonzalez)
The live-armed right-handed reliever was flipped by the Yanks to the White Sox as part of the Nick Swisher trade. The 23-year-old Nunez has a 2.34 ERA in his first full year in AA pitching for the Birmingham Barons. His whiffing a whopping 11.27 per 9, though his walks are a bit high at 4.25 per 9.
  • Armando Galarraga (traded to the Rangers with Brad Wilkerson and Terrmel Sledge for Alfonso Soriano)
After a 2008 in which Galarraga's ERA bested his fielding-independent ERA by more than a run, the fastball-slider righty has seen the luck dry-up in 2009. He's compiled a 5.65 ERA this year, as his walks are up and his strikeouts are down. He's been rumored to be on the verge of losing his rotation spot for a while.
  • Juan Rivera (traded with Maicer Izturis for Jose Gullen)
Healthy and getting regular playing time for the first time since 2006, Rivera is having a great first half, hitting .306 / .351 / .504. He's also a very good fielder in LF, putting up a +25.1 UZR/150.
  • Alfonso Soriano (signed with Cubs as free agent)
Soriano is off to his worst season as a major leaguer, hitting a miserable .227 / .291 / .426. He's never been a great on-base guy, but he's become a veritable out-machine. He has the fourth-worst wOBA of any LF in baseball 200 ABs, trailing the likes of Marlon Byrd and Randy Winn. And with his glove, he's giving the Cubs not even replacement-level value.

Just think, at 33 he's only in the third year of an eight-year back-loaded deal. They're on the hook for $18 million a year till 2014. If the Cubs had won the World Series with Soriano, the deal might have been worth it, but they may have already reached the albatross phase of their ASor experience.
  • Bill Bray (traded with Royce Clayton, Daryl Thompson, Gary Majewski, and Brendan Harris for Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez)
After a break-out 2008 when the lefty former #1 pick threw 47 innings with a 2.87 ERA and a K-rate over 10 per 9, Bray's fallen victim to arm problems and underwent Tommy John surgery last month.
  • Daryl Thompson
Considered a dark-horse for the Reds rotation this year, Thompson didn't make the cut and then really struggled at AAA Louisville with a 6.57 ERA (though his fielding-independent ERA was just 4.70). He's on the DL with shoulder inflammation, which given a long history of injuries is a worry. (Some have said that Bowden knowingly concealed arm Thompson's problems from the Reds before the trade.)
  • Luis Ayala (traded to the Mets for Anderson Hernandez)
Ayala signed with Minnesota in the off-season and was DFA-ed last week. Apparently he had demanded to be moved into the eighth inning role, despite the fact that his 4.18 ERA is the second-worst in the Twins' bullpen. He griped about his role here too. He'll get a job. Pittsburgh is said to be interested.
  • Scott Downs (released November 2004)
Downs has continued his remarkable breakthrough as one of the very best lefty relievers in baseball. This year, given the chance to close, he's 8 for 9 in save opportunities with a 1.98 ERA. Credit the Blue Jays for seeing something in him that the Nationals didn't.
  • Jonathan Albaladejo (traded to the Yankees for Tyler Clippard)
Albaladejo has pitched well in AAA but gotten hit hard in limited time in the majors. We'll finally see if Clippard's story is any different.
  • Mike Hinckley (released April 2009)
In 23 innings at AAA Oklahoma City (Texas), Hinckley has a 4.93 fielding independent ERA (2.66 'real' ERA). If Texas, with their terrible bullpen, isn't using him, then that says something.


Anonymous said...

Even better with Soriano - aren't those two draft picks Zimmerman and Detweiler? We all gave Bowden crap for not trading him, but the end result looks pretty good.

Ben said...

Well, we don't know what we could have received in a trade. But certainly we don't seem to have come out noticeably worse in any of those trades.

Of course, most of them are trades of scraps for scraps.

John O'Connor said...

The two draft picks are Zimmermann and Josh Smoker.

Souldrummer said...

That Soriano trade is the gift that keeps on giving. Much as you may hate Bowden, I have to give him kudos for that move. Soriano was the hit attraction during his year here, and now Zimmermann is looking like the real deal. I remember disagreeing with my uncle all year about how it was wise to let him walk rather than trade him.

On the other hand, I'm not so sure about the Olsen/Willingham deal. Smolinski could be solid, and it's yet to be seen what we'll do with Willingham. He's playing now, but at the potential expense of Dukes' development.

I agree with you that Olsen is dubious at best.

That was the one deal where we took on some salary and it hasn't been a slam dunk.

Steven said...

For me, the right way to evaluate the Soriano non-deal is not to compare the value of Zimmermann and Smoker now to Soriano or what else we would have gotten. The fact that we happened to hit on the Zimmermann pick doesn't mean that it's good to trade a player of soriano's caliber for 2 draft picks. The average value of a 2nd round pick is just not very good. In fact, it's quite bad, compared even to the value of half a season of Soriano in his prime.

It's a coincidence of fate that one of the draft picks that the Nationals made that seems at this point to be a real hit was that compensation pick.

Keep in mind too that Burgess was a higher pick than Zimmermann. They could have traded Soriano and gotten Zimmermann with the Burgess pick. Now maybe you're a huge Michael Burgess fan, but would you be saying Soriano for Michael Burgess is a good deal?

Anyway, as a fan, I'm super-psyched this is working out. But the odds of success on a deal like this were very low. So I think the right way to think of it is that the team did a dumb thing but it worked out--the blind squirrel found a nut.

Anonymous said...

you forgot brendan harris.

Deez Nats said...

What about Shawn Hill? 12 IP, 7 ER, 1 Tommy John surgery. Guess it turns out that the Nats need not regret releasing him.