Nats Heating Up, Trades Aren’t

The Nats have now won four games in a row, which on the season is… their longest win streak. Yikes. So, the losing streaks haven’t exactly been balanced out. They’d need to win about 34 in a row, and even then, they’d still be 2 games under .500. But all that aside, they have played well of late.

Bally’s Back

Collin Balester pitched well, making him the 45th young pitcher to come to the big league club this year and offer up a quality start. While it wasn’t remarkable, 2 ER in 6 IP against the Brewers is pretty impressive. Balester, a 4th round pick in 2004, was their #3 prospect last year. This outing could be something to build on, especially if the team keeps hitting like they do.

Dunn completely smashed a ball out of Miller Park, I am pretty sure it burned up on re-entry into the atmosphere. And Nyjer Morgan hit a home run to start off the game! Guzman is on a power surge, he’s hit 2 HRs, in 5 days. Does anyone need a middle infielder? Minnesota, I’m looking at you, it could be a nice little reunion. Back to Morgan, he’s now hitting .389/.417/.489  since he came to the Nats. That, my friends, is a catalyst. It may not be sustainable, but it’s fun to watch.

Still No Trade Talk

Haven’t heard much on the Nats making trades, they still seem to be flying under the radar. We just gotta wait and see if they make any moves. But I can’t see any reason why you’d keep Nick Johnson on this team, he’ll be a free agent with probably no compensatory picks in 3 months. Get SOMETHING for him. Unless they think they can win their next 60 in a row. Then, they should keep him.

On an Unrelated Note

One little thing – I really like Rob Dibble and Bob Carpenter. People can say what they want about Dibble, it can be a pain to watch this team at times, and he adds humor to the broadcast. He’s a genuinely funny guy, and while I may not like everything he does, on the whole, I’m a fan. But last night they had one of the most moronic conversations I’ve ever heard. They were talking about how useful Nyjer Morgan is (true), how important defense is (true), and useful speed can be (true), and how sabrmetrician/computer geeks are fools because all the care about is On Base Percentage (FALSE).

Anyone who knows anything about what statistical analysis means understands that there is more to it than looking at OBP and power. One of the biggest developments recently is that people are able to better analyze defense. The reason OBP is harped upon is that when Moneyball was written, nobody was looking at it other than the A’s. It wasn’t that Billy Beane believed that OBP was the one stat to rule them all. He just knew that with his limited budget, he could focus on it and get inexpensive players that were thought of as poor hitters by the rest of the league. That advantage is gone for him, because everyone else realizes it now. No, OBP isn’t the only important thing for computer geeks, it’s just a symbol of what was used to be the thing that a team of geeks looked at when nobody else was.

Someone like Nyjer Morgan is valuable to a team, his speed and his defense help out. In fact, there are several too-nerdy-for-Dibble sabrmetric-based websites that like Morgan and thought his acquisition was a good thing when it happened. It’s not easy to measure, or communicate the value of defense and speed. And much of these sabr-types have been loudly telling everyone about the stats that are easier to understand. But that doesn’t mean they don’t measure other things.

Also, I don’t think anyone believes that stats are the only important thing in a player. Attitude, hard work, leadership – these are all important things. It’s just that stats are, by definition, measurable. If teams ONLY looked at stats, they would have a tough time building a championship. As for whether “newfangled” stats are good, I go back to one of my favorite quotes, from Baseball Prospectus and Pinstriped Bible author Stephen Goldman:

Moses did not come down from the mount with clay tablets showing how to figure batting average and ERA. The statistics were just made up, invented over time. They didn’t think it was worth tracking batter strikeouts at first, so no one bothered. Now we wouldn’t think of doing without batter strikeouts… On-Base Percentage was a relatively recent addition, as were saves. Game-Winning RBIs came and went. If there are new stats now, they don’t imply any more about numbers playing the game than the addition of RBIs did. They don’t diminish our respect for the human effort of a Albert Pujols or Derek Jeter any more than knowing how many times a season Babe Ruth struck out diminished the appreciation fans had for him in his day.

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