Joba and the Nats

October 29, 2010

There has been no young pitcher in the last few years that has had a higher “attention paid to on field success ratio” than Joba Chamberlain. There is some good reason for this – he has some very good stuff and pitched, over a stretch of time, lights out. In limited time in 2007 and 2008, he amassed 152 Ks and only 45 BBs in only 124 1/3 IP, with a 2.17 ERA. Most of this was in relief, only 12 starts, but you still can’t deny the 11.0 K/9 to go along with the 3.38 K/BB.

Since then he hasn’t been great. He was a slightly worse than league average starter in 2009 (97 ERA+), starting 31 games, and this past season he spent the entire year in the bullpen, finishing with an unimpressive 4.40 ERA. But the 77 K to only 22 BB in 71 2/3 IP still look pretty good, so many it was just a stretch of bad luck. In fact, that is exactly what Jay Jaffe wrote in the Pinstriped Bible:

Even the most cursory look at his peripherals will tell you it’s not a true indication that he pitched poorly. He struck out well over a batter per inning (9.7 per nine), walked less than three batters per nine (2.8) and yielded less than one homer per nine (0.8). Read the rest of this entry »

How About Waiting a Year

October 27, 2010

I have put together a few arguments, which I’ll call solid since I wrote them, as to why the Nationals should pursue Cliff Lee. They aren’t hard to make, he’s great, the Nats aren’t, and who wouldn’t want a guy like him? Whether there are arguments for Lee to want to play for the Nationals (other than money) is something I won’t delve into. The options other than Lee aren’t great, so with only him out there, maybe the Nats should wait a year to pursue a big time ace.

The premise would be that right now, the Nats are far from good, and far from contending. Rather than trying to sign a big time guy now, wait til everyone matures a bit, wait til their current ace comes off of a year of DL time, THEN go after a big time guy.  It’s not a bad idea, but if that’s their plan, they have to strongly consider doing it now, a year early, and the reason is simple. The list of 2012 pitching free agents. Here is the list of starters (pulled directly from Cot’s):

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BP As Your GM

October 26, 2010

Last week, in the midst of the postseason, Baseball Prospectus ran an article on the Nats. It was Christina Kahrl giving her thoughts on what she would do if she were the GM of the Nats. Here is what she said: “They’re not going to win in 2011. Nothing we do here is going to alter that. The question instead is what they might do to help provide a worthwhile product on the field. Consider this a pragmatic sanction of sorts for what Mike Rizzo is already up to, tailored for a goal that’s more attainable, like 80 wins without sacrificing any of the future. Even that’s not so easy, because the Nationals are already staffed in most of the bigger slots and roles.”

She conveniently has it boiled down to 7 points which make the team better. I’ll give you her ideas (in bold), and then my take on them.

  1. Offer Adam Dunn arbitration. If he accepts you have him for another year, if he doesn’t you get picks. Ok, but then who plays first base? I like the start of this, but I also think they need to re-sign Dunn for the next 2 or 3 years. I really think he’s their best option, and nobody’s lining up to fill his spot until at least mid-2012.
  2. Sit back and let Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa become your middle infield combination of the present. For this one, I agree with her 100%. There aren’t any middle infielders worth pursuing in free agency. Desmond looks like he can hit enough for a SS, and his fielding improved in the 2nd half. Espinosa still has alot to prove, but I’d give him a chance. It may not be perfect, but it’s the best option.
  3. Don’t let it ride in the rotation. What Christina means is go out and get someone. And I agree, although I’m more bullish on John Lannan than she is. According to her, he’s “getting tattooed even more frequently” but in reality he got tattooed until he went down to the minors, after his return he was quite good. Anyway, she recommends looking at Harden or Vazquez among others. Those were on my list, but I think they should at least try to get Lee. After that, I’d look towards Duchsherer and Webb as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Full List of Free Agent Pitchers

October 21, 2010

Last week I went into the “good” pitchers that are going to be available this offseason. I remain convinced that despite holes at first and in the outfield, starting pitching is what needs to be dealt with more than anything else. I think it is interesting to take a list of everyone who is available, just to see what options are out there. I took  this list directly from Cot’s Baseball Contracts, which is a great reference site.

* – player whose current contract includes 2011 option

Bronson Arroyo * (1675 2/3 IP, 1118 K, 509 BB, 4.19 ERA) The Reds have an $11M option,  GM Walt Jocketty said it will be picked up.

Erik Bedard * (822 IP, 801 K, 325  BB, 3.71 ERA) The Mariners have an $8M option which they won’t pick up. He has pitched well whenever he’s been healthy, which has amounted to 30 games over the last 3 years. He’s mounted a few unsuccessful comeback attempts, but a bad shoulder hasn’t gotten better, and there’s no telling whether it will. The M’s may well renegotiate with him anyway, as he’s expressed a desire to stay.

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More Free Agent Pitchers, Darvish

October 19, 2010

Last week I looked at the team and concluded that what they needed more than anything else was a front line starting pitcher. I also ran down a list of free agent starting pitchers to figure out who they should pursue. After the last few days I can add a few things. First of all, Ted Lilly is not longer a free agent, he and the Dodgers agreed to a three year extension. That takes out a top candidate, perhaps the second-best starter on the market. Second of all, CLIFF LEE CLIFF LEE CLIFF LEE CLIFF LEE CLIFF LEE. It’s far fetched, but wouldn’t it be great if he was a National for the next few years? I guess a poor performance in the playoffs aren’t going to drive down his value.

Yu Better Recognize

But one guy I didn’t talk about was the next star from Japanese baseball, Yu Darvish. You may recall Darvish from the World Baseball Classic, where he started 2 games, appearing in 5 total. In 13 IP, he had a 2.08 ERA and had 6 BB and 20 Ks. But that is a pretty small sample size, so let’s look at what the 24 year old has done in Japan.

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Nats Free Agent Choices: 1B and OF

October 14, 2010

Earlier in the week, we took at look at the offseason needs of the team. The biggest is a top of the line starting pitcher, a real ace. Yesterday we looked at options there. After that, they probably need someone to play first base. Another outfielder would be desirable, and with those hitters they could use a power bat as well as a high-OBP leadoff type. A veteran second baseman for a short term deal is possible, maybe not necessary. So let’s go over the bigger names that are out there, at least ones that I find interesting. Today it’s position players, the outfield and first base:

First Base

Adam Dunn – The guy who manned the position last year is available, and his offensive numbers were the same as the always are. He hits close to 40 HRs, strikes out close to 200 times, and has an OPS of around .900. His fielding is suspect, and this year his UZR/150 of -3.3 ranked him 15th among qualified first baseman. It’s not horrible, but it’s below average. He won’t age great, but at only 30, he’s got a few more good years in him.

Carlos Pena – This is the name that has been bouncing around recently, in part because he did have a bad 2010, he might be had at a discount. For the three seasons prior to his 2010 in which hit .196/.325/.407, he had an OPS over .850 each season. His average has dropped around 30 points each season, as has his OBP, and a recovered Pena may still only be the guy that hit .227/.356/.537 last year. In other words, he’s pretty similar to Dunn, only it’s perceived that he’s a better defender. Of course, his UZR/150 of -3.7 last season is actually worse than Dunn’s, and his 2009 was much worse at -6.1. But from 2006-2008 his numbers were positive, putting him as a better than average fielder.

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Nats Free Agent Choices: Starters

October 13, 2010

Earlier in the week, we took at look at the offseason needs of the team. The biggest is a top of the line starting pitcher, a real ace. After that, they probably need someone to play first base. Another outfielder would be desirable, and with those hitters they could use a power bat as well as a high-OBP leadoff type. A veteran second baseman for a short term deal is possible, maybe not necessary. So let’s go over the bigger names that are out there, at least ones that I find interesting. I’ll start with the pitchers:

Cliff Lee – This guy is the top of the class, the best free agent available. He is head and shoulders above the competition, a no doubt number one. As hard as it is to believe, he’s only been a true ace for 3 seasons, back in 2007 he had a 6.29 ERA. Since then, he’s been on 4 teams, pitched 93 games and 667 1/3 innings with 536 Ks, only 95 BBs and a 2.98 ERA. He strikes out a good number, but simply does not walk batters. Another positive for him is how nice it would be to go into Philly with him leading the staff. The biggest negative is his age – he’ll be 32 next season, so more than 4 years might be just plain crazy, but teams will offer it.

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Nationals Needs in the Offseason

October 12, 2010

If you’re looking for work, the Nationals have some open positions going in to next season. Who are they going to get to fill in the spots? Let’s first go down the list and see who’s going to play where

The Infield

At least part of this infield is complete. Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond appear to be locks to start next year, as does some combination of Wilson Ramos and Pudge at catcher. Right now it appears that Danny Espinosa is the starting 2B, but I am not convinced he is enough of a full time hitter to have a strong grip on the job. If there was another second baseman on the market, even for a short term signing, I wouldn’t put it past the team to go after him. As for first base, that is the gaping hole in the infield needs to be addressed.  Nobody is ready to step up from the minors, although Chris Marrero may not be far away, there is little thought that he’d be on the major league squad this summer.

The Outfield

The Nationals have 3 outfielders that will all play next year – Josh Willingham, Roger Bernadina, and Mike Morse. Nyjer Morgan may or may not be on the team next season, and if he’s not, it is assumed Bernadina would be moved to center.

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Desmond the Butcher, Visually

October 8, 2010

Not sure if you heard, but Ian Desmond made a few errors this year. Thankfully, more were at the beginning than at the end of the year, so those who see him as a key player on this team in the future can hold on to that.I’ve spent a good amount of time defending his defense, as it were, but the errors were there. So I thought it might be nice to show what his season, game by game, looked like based on errors. Here’s a few charts:

The first one is the errors over the course of the season, cumulatively

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Nationals of 2014

October 4, 2010

Now that the offseason has started, let the speculation begin. This is the 4th annual “Nationals of the future” lineup, and it’s something I really enjoy thinking about. I have decided to go with Nats 4 seasons ahead instead of 5, just because 5 is so far out, 4 seems more reasonable. Of course, I’m judging prospects and predicting that there are no free agent acquisitions, both ridiculous for me to do. Here’s my team based on the current farm system, and alot of  guessing:

The Position Players

C -Wilson Ramos – Last year, I had Derek Norris here. The year before that, it was Flores in this place. Ramos did pretty well with the major league club this year, and although his lack of patience is worrisome, he is still only 22, so his .250/.283/.364 must be taken with that in mind. He’ll probably have a full season to really prove himself, and a slight improvement on the average and the patience could suddenly make him look like a starting catcher. As it his, he can probably hit better than any of the backups they’ve had in the last few years.

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