WE’VE MOVED

March 20, 2013

The Nationals Review has moved! While you can still find the archived posts here, there is a new site. You can find it here:

http://thenationalsreview.com

Hope you like the new look.

Thanks for the support, and I’ll see you over at the new site.


Rendon’s Spring Success

March 6, 2013

Anthony Rendon is doing just what he wanted to do in Spring Training – get noticed. Of course, ranking 17th on Keith Law’s prospect list and 35th on Baseball Prospectus’ list, its safe to say he had already been noticed. But you get my point. He’s hit .400/.428/1.000, with 3 HRs and 3 doubles in 21 PAs after Wednesday’s game, which is, needless to say, a good start.

We know that spring stats are to be taken very lightly. RendonAnd even if they were more valuable, the sample size is so small that his numbers seem much less impressive. It’s a great week, not much more. But because he is only 22, and because he has less than 200 pro PAs, this is still very encouraging to see. It’s clear he can hold his own against high end pro pitching, even if he isn’t facing aces all the time.

No matter how well he hits in the spring, though, there should be no question where he belongs to start the season. He has less than half a season of pro baseball under his belt, and there isn’t a hole in the lineup waiting for him. So he’d be resigned to the bench, which is probably the worst place for a hitter with his experience. He needs to hit every day if possible, because he still needs to learn every day. But that isn’t the end of the conversation with him. Read the rest of this entry »


Espinosa’s Shoulder Injury, the Numbers

January 28, 2013

Danny Espinosa revealed that he played the end of last season with a torn rotator cuff, and that if he had known how bad he was hurt, he probably wouldn’t have played. A few questions come to mind, the most important one is probably why he is electing to not have surgery. He could, after all, have surgery today and probably be back by late May.

Espi on 2nd

We’ll tackle that one later. Another question that comes to mind centers around his performance. How much was he affected? Did he hurt the Nats chances, will he be all better this year, etc etc.

He said he was hurt in early September, and got a cortisone shot on Sept 17, but that didn’t really help. The injury seems to have been made public on Sept 17, it had hurt for “the past week” and he only played 3 games in that week, due to leaving for his grandmother’s funeral after Sept 11. So using Sept 11 as a cutoff point, we can see what he did

Pre-injury: .255/.321/.416, K/PA:.276
Post-injury (reg. season): .183/.258/.283, K/PA: .364
Playoffs: .059/.176/.059, K/PA: .368

The playoffs looked even worse, but that’s not surprising as the injury had more time to hurt, the pitching was tougher, and the sample size was small enough that anything can happen. The K/PA didn’t change much, but, again, sample sizes. Now combining the last few PAs of the season, adding the playoffs stats to the post-injury regular season, it looks like this:

Pre-injury: .255/.321/.416, K/PA: .276
Post-injury: .156/.241/.234, K/PA: .365

One more exercise – if you’ve read this blog at all you know I love to get rid of April with Espinosa’s numbers. Not because April doesn’t count, but just because he was so bad in April, that whether he was hurt, mentally lost, heartbroken, or his contacts were in the wrong eyes there was something different about him. Well, let’s not just eliminate it, let’s line it up with the other pieces of his season:

April 5 – May 3: .182/.277/.239, K/PA: .313
May 3 – Sept 11: .269/.330/.451, K/PA: .271
Sept 11 – Oct 12: .156/.241/.234, K/PA: .365

Alright, so I didn’t expect some sort of statistical revelation from this, just interesting to look at that. It’s hard to imagine he had this injury in April, but he looked like a completely different hitter for 490 PAs from early May to mid Sept than he did before or after. And other than a few more singles in April, he was basically an identical hitter in April and September, which is interesting.

As for the injury we KNOW about in September, that one clearly affected him. He hit is OPS high water mark on Sept 5 (.746) and stayed around there all week, including his last day before leaving, Sept 11 when he went 1 for 4 with a double (.737). While I’m not sure when he actually got hurt, it was possible in those last 3 games before the time off, he was, as he did go just 1 for 10 with that double. Of course, that is only 3 games, and while we’re dealing with small sample sizes here, lets not go down to that ridiculous level.

It was pretty much a downhill skid from there, and if he hadn’t gotten hurt, it was likely he’d finish the season on the same path he had been going since May 3. His .781 OPS in that period wouldn’t have been reached, because we can’t take the season out to infinity. But getting above .750 looked like it was in the cards, and if he had an OPS above .753, that would have been good for third best among all NL 2Bs. Remember, that’s including his April skid.

The point of all of this? Well, it shows that the numbers certainly reflect multiple Espinosas, and the one from May 3 – Sept 11 last year is the one we want for 2013. The timing of the shoulder injury certainly lines up perfectly with the injury, and the reports from the time. So maybe we can dismiss the horrible NLDS and late Sept performance to a player who was really too hurt to hit. And for whatever reason, that exact same player showed up in April as well.

It further convinces me that whatever was happening in April was more than just a typical slump, although we may never know what was happening. It also makes me believe that if something was indeed up in April, then a healthy Espinosa is a very good second baseman, perhaps one of the best in the NL, and can be a huge asset to this team.

The question remains though, is he healthy now? And will he be healthy a month or two from now? Or should he be sent to get his surgery right away so he’s healthy for the majority of the season? I’ll get to that next time…


Mike Morse’s Great Story

January 16, 2013

I don’t blame the Nats for trading somebody, and with the way contracts and defense worked out, Mike Morse made the most sense. I would have done the same thing if I was Rizzo, but he will definitely be missed. He is an exciting player to watch, and he has one of the best stories I can remember from any National.

In a little bit of a cheapy here, I just want to reprint what I wrote last week when LaRoche was signed and it was clear Morse might be on the way out. Here’s his story, from a scouting and performance perspective:

Because of this contract, it seemingly relegates Morse to the bench. It likely means that management will trade him, which makes sense in terms of building the best team. It is unfortunate to feel the need to trade such a good player who is a fan favorite, and count me as one of those fans who enjoys watching his enthusiastic play. His emergence as a true power hitter was more surprising than you may recall.

In one of the more lopsided trades this team has made (in hindsight), they gave up Ryan Langerhans to get Morse. Langerhans looked like the better player at the time – although he hadn’t had much success hitting, he was at least a lefty, had shown some power in the minors, and was a good fielder. Morse, on the other hand, hadn’t yet shown power in the majors, or the minors for that matter. He was also a converted infielder who couldn’t seem to field anywhere that well. Here is what Baseball Prospectus said about him before the 2008 season:

As utilitymen go, Michael Morse is a tweener-he doesn’t have the defensive skill to back up the middle infield positions or the power to hold down even the short-side of a platoon at one of the corners. What that leaves, particularly on a team that already has Willie Bloomquist, is not much

Read the rest of this entry »


Nats Needs in 2013 – Starting Pitching Depth

January 15, 2013

The Nats currently have what may well be the best rotation in the entire Major Leagues. Nobody is going to rank them any worst than 3rd or 4th in MLB, and even that might be considered low by everyone. However, if there is one knock on the group, it’s the lack of depth. They have 3 studs in Strasburg, Gio and JZimm, but there are questions after that.

It would be great if Detwiler is as good in 2013 as he was in 2012, but in reality all he has to do is be good enough to be a #4 or #5 guy and start most of the year. We don’t really know if he can do that, although I suspect he will be that and more. As for Haren, that move is exciting for the potential to have a top flight guy at the bottom of the rotation. But it is also a little scary due to injury history and a poor 2012.

Regardless of the health of the rotation in general, and even if Haren starts 30 games, it is highly unlikely that they will only use 5 starters the whole year. John Lannan was their first backup plan, but now that he’s gone, who do they have?

The first choice might be Zack Duke, who started 26 games in AAA last year and has been a starter all of his career. Unless he ends up being their only reliable lefty relief man, in which case he’s going to be needed elsewhere. Christian Garcia is another option – a converted reliever who was successful in a limited 2012, but hasn’t recorded a start in 2 seasons. Of course, there’s Yunkesy Maya, who had a decent 2012 in AAA, but was nothing special there. Almost all of his MLB appearances have been pretty rough. Jeff Mandel started some games and did well in AAA, so could get a shot as well. That’s about all I see from the obvious choices. Another route would be to go after a free agent.

Read the rest of this entry »


LaRoche Brings D, Likely Best Possible Lineup

January 8, 2013

The Nats re-signed Adam LaRoche today, getting him on a two year deal. Comparing LaRoche to the other first base options, Michael Morse and Tyler Moore, I think this is the scenario most likely to be the most successful.

The defense gets a boost with LaRoche over the other guys. On offense, it allows them to have a better lefty-righty mix, and is the most probable candidate for best lineup. Morse has the potential to hit better than either of the other guys, but he also has the potential to turn in a .320 or lower OPS, and even with more power than LaRoche, this is a hindrance to his value. Moore is still unproven as a full timer, and while I’m excited to see what he can do, I doubt its the .840 OPS he showed this year.

I’ve heard that 2012 was a career year for LaRoche, but it really wasn’t. I wrote about it at length here in October, but suffice to say it wasn’t so much better than his 2006, and slightly better than 2008 and 2009. He’ll probably end up with another strong but non-spectacular offensive 1B season. Rizzo went with best probable lineup rather than best potential lineup, and I can’t blame him for that. All that coupled with strong defense made him the best choice for this team.

The Morse Surprise

Because of this contract, it seemingly relegates Morse to the bench. It likely means that management will trade him, which makes sense in terms of building the best team. It is unfortunate to feel the need to trade such a good player who is a fan favorite, and count me as one of those fans who enjoys watching his enthusiastic play. His emergence as a true power hitter was more surprising than you may recall.

Read the rest of this entry »


While You’re Wearing Out the Carpet

October 9, 2012

If you’re pacing back and forth, worrying about yesterday’s game, take heart, you’re not the only one. In actuality, both teams come into Washington with some reason to be excited. St Louis should be happy to have a win after losing game 1, as game 2 was semi-must win for them. As a corollary they have to be happy they survived the Nats two “best” starters.

The Nationals should be very happy with their situation, as well. They went on the road and won a game, which means they only have to win a home series, 2 out of 3. And unlike a week ago, they now have a bunch of guys who have playoff experience, and hopefully any jitters are out of their systems.

But rather than go into some sort of big analysis of two games of baseball which would no doubt be based on extremely limited sample size and wildly exaggerated observations, I figured I’d just give you some links to help you enjoy the off day. And you should enjoy it, because even though they lost yesterday, the Nats get to play in the postseason again tomorrow.

Read the rest of this entry »


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.