Your Backup Middle Infielders

July 31, 2012

With no move by the Nationals at the trade deadline to find some middle infield help, they are left with Danny Espinosa at SS and Steve Lombardozzi at 2B. They can back each other up if one gets hurt, with Mark DeRosa playing 2B in that case. But Ian Desmond’s oblique injury is expected to sideline him until the end of August, although it’s one of those things that wouldn’t surprise me if it lasted longer (not knowing much about it, of course). But DeRosa hasn’t played much 2B recently, and I’m not sure how comfortable the Nats would really be with him penciled in that spot for more than a day or two. So who in the minors might fill in if they need someone longer term?

In Syracuse

Jim Negrych (2B, 27 years old) is small and, according to Baseball Prospectus, unathletic. But he’s lead the AAA Chiefs in time served at 2B, and in that time he’s hit pretty well. In fact, he’s known as a hitter more than a fielder – that is to say, he’s not a great 2B, but his bat wouldn’t sustain him at an easier position. Still, his .271/.353/.413 at Syracuse seems good enough, although at 27 anything less than that would probably cause major red flags. He’s certainly an option, if they’re willing to sacrifice defense, and don’t need a SS.

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The Nationals Review Podcast Episode 7

June 6, 2012

This episode,  Nationals Review Episode 7, Charlie & Colm talk:

  • Draft – Luc Giolito and the rest
  • Tuesday night’s win – Desmond and Harper
  • Harper’s hot hitting
  • Nats in the All Star Game (Harper?)
  • Return of Morse
  • Espinosa’s last month

Friday Morning Links

April 27, 2012

Yesterday’s SI article on the greatness of the Nats pitching. In it, Rizzo basically admits a philosophy I’ve been espousing all along – there’s no point in going out and signing some free agents to try to approach mediocrity (or, what I call, Orioles baseball 1998-2010) when you can just stink, get the best players in the draft, and enable a future.

Rob Neyer then gives his take on the SI article, asking How Believable is Unbelievable Nationals’ Pitching?

The Nats gave a long term contract last season to Jayson Werth, and he didn’t play very well. This year, he’s certainly lived up to it so far, but it’s very early. The other outfielder that signed a big time long term contract at the time, and the Nats other big option, though, wasn’t as good as Werth in 2011, and things just got way worse.

Hardball Times’ Frank Jackson has a cool history of the Eastern Shore League that was on the Eastern Shore you’re thinking of. Did you know that Mickey Cochrane played for Dover and Jimmy Foxx played for Easton?


The great gif Braden Holtby’s non-reaction to a fake slash from Peverley, a reaction that would have made a stoic Roman Republican era Senator, or dare I say, a honey badger, proud

Trying to Stream Nats Games Locally

April 5, 2012

As I sit in my office knowing I won’t be able to watch the Nats game despite having an subscription, thanks to being, you know, in the area of the home team (like most people), I wonder if there’s something that can be done about it. Well, the Baseball Prospectus guys are having an Opening Day (or at I call it, Strassover) Round Table right now and I posed the question to them about what can be done. They took it up, so here’s what was said:

Comment From Charlie
Do you guys think will ever be blackout free? I, like most people, would love to watch my home teams games online at work, on on my iPad, or anywhere else. It’s not about NOT paying for cable or anything, it’s about viewing options! I assume this isn’t MLB’s call, but they’d probably have many many more subscriptions if people could watch the home team…

Colin Wyers: Ever? Probably. I wouldn’t want to bet on the timeline or what other changes would take place between now and then.

Larry Granillo: Charlie, as I saw someone say on Twitter yesterday, with the amounts of money networks are paying for rights now, I doubt it… at least not any time soon.

Jason Collette: The existing TV contracts teams have in place really make it unlikely to change any time soon. I don’t think offering a double secret premium version of it at an inflated price would fix the issue

Colin Wyers: What’s already starting to happen is partnerships with cable companies. Where if you have the channel on your cable, you can watch without blackouts. It’s very limited now, though.

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2012 Season Predictions

April 4, 2012

It’s that time again… time for the predictions of playoffs and awards. I’ve put predictions from me and Colm, both members of the Nats Review podcast team. If you don’t know who Colm is, you really need to listen to the podcast. At least listen to the one that we’ll put out there next week, where we’ll discuss these predictions and our reasoning behind them, as well as other topics that arise in the first weekend of the season.

The Nationals Review Podcast Episode 2

March 26, 2012

This week Charlie and Colm talk:

Nationals Review Episode 2 (click to download podcast)

  • Baseball Prospectus visit
  • Baseball Prospectus topics
    • Best rotations in the league
    • Strasburg best ERA
    • Lannan stinks?
  • Goings on in spring training
    • Zimmerman on fire
    • Gio looked great
    • Lombardozzi
    • Other players #s
  • Andy Pettitte signing
    • Should the Nats go after Phil Hughes?
  • Upcoming topics

Is Strasburg Really the Best Pitcher in the League?

March 15, 2012

According to PECOTA, Baseball Prospectus’ prediction system, Stephen Strasburg will have the lowest ERA of any starting pitcher in the league. He isn’t the most valuable starter because they only have him starting 23 games, not the 31-33 that a full season would bring. So because of limited playing time, he ranks behind Verlander, Halladay, Sabathia, Lincecum and Lee with WARP, but with ERA, he’s the leader.

Here are the predictions for starting pitchers in the league

As you can see, Saint Stephen leads the pack of pretty impressive guys. And if you’re wondering how he stacks up against AL pitchers, he’s a half a run ahead of his closest competition. What does this all mean? Is he really the unequivocally best pitcher in baseball right now?

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A Team that Stays Together

February 28, 2012

This team is going to stay together for a long time now, thanks to that Ryan Zimmerman deal. Because besides locking up a great player long term, this contract did something else for the Nationals. It tipped the balance of position players with long term contracts.

Now, more than half of their starting position players are locked up through 2016 or beyond. Between Wilson Ramos, Danny Espinosa, Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper and now Zimmerman, 5 of the 8 starting position players are in place for the next half decade or more. That, of course, counts Harper as a starter, which is an assumption I’ll make even if it doesn’t come true for 3 or 4 months. Additionally, if Ian Desmond ends up working out, he’s locked up through 2015. But that’s not all.

Their top 3 starting pitchers, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, and Gio Gonzalez, and their closer, Drew Storen, are also here long term. Zimmermann is the one who they lose control of the soonest – and that’s not til the end of 2015. The Nationals have control of the other guys for longer term that that.

But if we just look through 2015, in other words the next four seasons, look at their lineup and what they have locked up:

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You Can Go Buy a Ryan Zimmerman Jersey Now

February 27, 2012

The end of February tends to be a slow time in baseball, with teams starting to gather but no actual spring training games. When there are no games, people tend to inflate stories to try to find news. Because all the reporters are down at spring training, they’re desperate for something to write about. This year, though, the Nationals gave us something real, and that is the Ryan Zimmerman extension. It’s a 6 year extension, beyond his current contract that ends after 2013. It also includes a team option for a 7th, meaning they control him through 2019, or 2020 if they choose. 2020 will be his age 35 season, which puts them through the vast majority if not all of his career.

In terms of his ability – he is clearly a top flight 3B. According to Fangraphs, Zimmerman has been the second best over the last three years (17.1 WAR). He’s behind only Longoria (21.3 WAR).

WAR at Fangraphs is calculated slightly differently than the analogous WARP at Baseball Prospectus. But if you think just his fielding is makes him so good, check out this line from RJ Anderson at Baseball Prospectus:

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Why You Shouldn’t Want Harper to Make the Team

February 22, 2012

Spring Training will be when Bryce Harper gets to prove that he belongs with the major league squad, right? And by golly, he’s good enough that he’ll kill it in the spring, and all the CF problems will be solved because he’ll play RF and Werth will move to center. Well, if you believe that the Nationals are legitimate World Series contenders this year, flags fly forever and therefore if Harper is the best option, he should play. But if you doubt they could actually take down the Phillies, Braves, Brewers, Cardinals, Diamondbacks or Giants, let alone Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Angels or Rangers in a 7 game series – WITHOUT Stephen Strasburg who will be shut down by then – well, hold on a moment.

The talk about Harper being held back only because management wants to save some money is ridiculous. This is in the best interest of the FANS, not of management. When Harper does become a free agent, the team should already have been good for quite a while by then, and butts will be in the seats at Nats Park. But in the interest of short term finances (rather than a contract negotiation over a half a decade away) and in the interest of keeping their jobs now not down the road, management could really help fill the stadium by calling Harper up right away and having him play. The fans, on the other hand, should want Harper to start off in the minors.

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