A Few Links on a Friday

February 26, 2010

Do you know that spring training games start next week? First game is on Thursday. It’s a little less exciting when you’re one of the half a dozen teams that knows it aint making the playoffs. But when you have a legitimately great prospect playing, at least you know what the sportswriters will be talking about.

As the games begin and the team sorts itself out, I will have more to say, analyze and conjecturify. In the meantime, here are a few interesting links to read today:

The Khalil Greene story – it’s not what you might think, and you hope he can figure it all out.

The positive side of Livan – I will still utter multiple harumphs when his name is brought up

Big Donkey know Jui-jitsu – For stamina and flexibility, apparently, although a 6’6″, 275 lb guy who has been trained in martial arts may also be helpful. Apparently he’s working on his fielding, too.

Sabermetrician infiltration outside of baseball – An interesting link on a sabr-type analysis for NCAA basketball. I like what it says about the Terps.

In other local non-baseball news – This better happen. Not for the sake of the bad team, which is cursed for eternity, but for the sake of the good team, which doesn’t need to move homes or change ownership.

—EXTRA BONUS AFTERNOON LINK—

The Rainmaker – Hey, it’s sports related!


Not Livan Us Alone

February 25, 2010

If it was anyone else with his numbers, I’d be surprised the Nats signed him. What do the Nats need from a 35 year old starting pitcher who had a 5.44 ERA last year, a 6.05 ERA the year before? It’s not like he’s a recovery-from-injury project, someone with upside to do something much better. Those numbers are probably around what you’re gonna get from him, so why? Because the person we’re talking about is Livan Hernandez, and he apparently signed a lifetime contract with the Expos that this franchise still can’t get out of. Whenever he’s out of a job, someone here brings him back.

The problem with bringing Livo in to round out the rotation, in every sense of that phrase, is that he’s completely unnecessary. I know that people will say his numbers are a bit deceiving. His 5.28 ERA over the last 4 years doesn’t reflect the number of quality starts he had. The combination of very good games and very bad games inflate his numbers. To them I say, if he had enough good games, it would balance out. Instead, the last few years have been just plain bad:

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I’m OK Without Desmond

February 24, 2010

Seriously, I am. I’ll get by. Ian Desmond is, in my opinion, the best position prospect this team is going to have this year. He looked good in the fall and he had a great year in the minors. Meanwhile, they have a shortstop on his way out the door in Cristian Guzman. So it made the most sense to me when they said they were gonna put Desmond at SS and move Guzman to 2B. Desmond hit great everywhere he went, and his defense has been criticized but not because he can’t field. In fact, he has very good range and very good hands and a cannon for an arm. The problem, to refresh your memory, is that he tends to bobble easy stuff or throw the ball away… you know, he has the yips, as they say. Not sure who says that, but apparently now I do. So I figured, Desmond could work on his concentration and not rushing up at the major league level, where the team presumably has their best coaches.

Of course, things didn’t work out that way, and the Nats hired a second baseman named Adam Kennedy to start.

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What It’s Like to Live Somewhere Besides DC

February 23, 2010

I’m not going to go into a long diatribe about how our neck of the woods never gets any love, that we’re often ignored by national sports media, and the maybe sometimes good reasons for this. Just thought it was interesting to see ESPN.com, the granddaddy of national sports coverage, and their Washington area focus on Monday. This was their front page, not just their MLB page, but the front page, greeting viewers with an article on the Nats:

To add to the fun, here’s the college basketball front page:

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Jumping on the Optimism Bandwagon

February 22, 2010

Pitchers and catchers are in, position players are starting to show up. Meanwhile, some young prospect threw down in Viera this weekend. Teammates were calling him Jesus, people were talking about how he’s the best thing they’ve ever seen, and there was a general feeling of optimism for the future. So let’s get on the train to positivityland and figure out what is the ideal scenario for this team. Not record-wise. If everything goes right they probably won’t be very good. And I’m talking about the big boy team right now, so I’ll avoid talking about development of guys that won’t see the pros this year.  I’m talking about what would help set up a winning season in 2011 – a complete list of things that would be good for this team, but trying to keep them all realistic. So, no, I’m not going to say that it would be awesome of Craig Stammen struck out 250 hitters and won a Cy Young, or if Josh Willingham became a gold glove outfielder.

Instead, here’s a list of the good things I’d hope to see, that actually have a chance to happen

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Detwiler Out, Should Be Back By May

February 18, 2010

Ross Detwiler just had surgery on his hip, which means unfortunately he will miss Spring Training, miss his chance to win a rotation spot, and miss a chance to continue his dominating performance from September. It basically pushed his start time to end of April, which means he’s going to miss at least the first month of the season.

In all, I don’t think this is much to worry about, as long as he recovers. The Nats aren’t going to miss the playoffs just by missing 4 or 5 starts by him, so the team shouldn’t fret too much. As for the player, frankly, as long as he makes 100% recovery, this may be the best thing for him. You may recall his September performance. 5 appearances, 4 starts, an ERA of 1.90 in 23 2/3 innings, just spectacular. Except it wasn’t just spectacular. In those innings he walked 11 batters which was WAY too may, and he struck out only 10, which was way too few.

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What Wang Can Bring

February 17, 2010

Yesterday, the Nationals agreed to terms with pitcher Chien-Ming Wang. Glad to see Mike Rizzo is finally listening to me. Not to go too cheapy here, but I’ve already covered the basics with him. I mentioned his strong overall numbers:

From 2005-2008 he started 95 games, with a 3.79 ERA, 117 ERA+, and went 52-20 (albeit for a very good team). In 628 2/3 IP he only struck out 281, but since he only walked 178, he did well.

And his ability to induce grounders:

…GB/FB ratio according to fangraphs, his career number is 2.70 – very high… His ratios in 2005 and 2006 would have been enough to lead the majors if he had done it in 2009. In 2005 he ranked 4th in the majors, in 2006 he was 3rd, in 2007 and 2008 he ranked 6th.

Enough of the old copy, let’s dive a little deeper into those GB/FB ratios.

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