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.

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There is… Another

November 8, 2012

The Nats are possibly without a first baseman, or, if they shift Mike Morse, are missing an outfielder. We’ve looked at the three biggest names that have been bandied about among free agent outfielders: Hamilton, Bourn and Upton. But there is another high end outfielder that is getting significantly less airtime, and that’s Nick Swisher.

Swisher is the next position player on Keith Law’s free agent list after the three named above, sitting at #10. And there is good reason to think Swisher could really help the Nats. First and foremost is his ability to get on base. Swisher has a career .361 OBP, and over the last 4 years it’s been .367. He also has a good amount of power, averaging just over 26 HRs a season over that time. In other words, in comparison to Upton and Bourn, he’s got a better OBP and more power than both of them. He doesn’t have the bat that Hamilton has, but he also hasn’t shown some of the issues Hamilton did at the end of this season, and isn’t near the injury risk he’s played 150 or more games in each of his last 7 seasons, when he only played… 148. Read the rest of this entry »


Nats May Sign a CF, Even if They Already Have One

November 7, 2012

The Nats probably have a center fielder for next season in Bryce Harper. But there is a decent chance that they will need another outfielder, and they may not go after Josh Hamilton. Where does that leave them? Well, there are certainly some other corner outfield options, but if the CF options are better players, better hitters, should they go that way? It wouldn’t be a terrible thing to move Harper to LF and have an even better fielder out in center, as it would make quite a defensive outfield. (The Yankees did this with Granderson and Gardner the last few years and consensus was their defense was excellent out there).

Well wouldn’t you know it, there are 2 players that fit the bill for this conversation. Of course I’m talking about Michael Bourn and BJ Upton. They both play CF, they both can hit pretty well, although they have two very different strengths with the bat. They are also ranked as the #2 and #4 top free agents in the Keith Law Top 50 free agent list.

Michael Bourn

Bourn is a very talented player, and probably profiles better if you were to talk about the Nats “needs”. First and foremost, he is a speedy left handed hitting leadoff hitter. Ok, the leadoff part isn’t actually one of his talents per se, but you figure that’s where he’d play. His OBP, though, isn’t spectacular for that position, as his career line is only .272/.339/.365, although his last 2 seasons have looked better. He also led the league in steals each season from 2009-2011, and although he also lead in caught stealing from 2011-2012, his success rate is very high. A good part of his value is tied to his defense, which is really great.

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Should the Nats Go After Fielder?

January 11, 2012

In case you hadn’t heard, the Nats are totally the leading candidate to sign Prince Fielder. And also there is a 99% chance that they won’t sign him. Welcome, Nats fans, to the world of posturing. Now that Washington showed it would throw money at a guy like Jayson Werth, agents will be calling them a potential candidate with any relevant player. And the Nats might well be guilty, too. It’s negotiations via the media, and it happens every offseason. But I’ve never brought myself to believe any of it.

Here’s what I know – it’s January, and Prince Fielder has about 2 months to find a team. I also know that there aren’t too many teams that might actually be interested – DC, Texas, Seattle, maybe a few others. One thing that might come out of this is a shorter contract for Prince, which would make him alot more attractive to teams that are scared off by his fielding ability, his body, and, in the case of the Nats, the lack of a DH on their team. So now that it’s January, what are your thoughts?


A LHP Who Didn’t Get Lefties Out

December 13, 2011

The Nationals only non-tender last night was Doug Slaten, and it was probably well deserved. Last year, lefties hit an astounding .333/.368/.639 against him. Righties hit .378/.489/.568, which is also pretty bad. But it would be alright if he had gotten lefties out, that’s why there are guys who get paid to come in for one LH batter.

In 2010, he faced 81 LH batters, and they couldn’t touch him. They hit .151/.235/.151 – that’s right, no extra base hits, and throw in 24 Ks. 2009 only had him face 18 lefties, but they hit him well, to the tune of .389/.389/.667 – that’s a tiny sample size, although not a good result. 2008 was another good season. While he wasn’t 2010 great against LH hitters, he faced 63 and they only hit .232/.317/.375.

Meanwhile, righties hit him the whole time. In 2010, their OPS was .844 against him. It 2009, it was .897 and in 2008, it was .866. He’s a lefty specialist, and yet over the years he has been very streaky at getting LH hitters out. The Nationals may yet re-sign him at a discount, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they just let him go, and Adam Kilgore writes that he’ll be looking elsewhere for a team that will give him a “better shot at making the team.”


4 Years Later, I Still Say Sign Him

November 17, 2011

The Nationals have been talking about using Mark Buehrle to fill the “innings eating old guy” need that Rizzo has proclaimed. I’m not saying this is a bad idea, although I’m not positive if its necessary. I won’t quibble with the philosophy though, let’s talk more about what Buehrle brings to the table.

Back in 2007, when I only wrote a post a week, and spent many hours on each post (you can do that when its weekly), I had a big writeup at the ready about how the Nats should sign Buehrle. Instead, mid-season the White Sox locked him up, and since it wasn’t really applicable, I scrapped the post. This is all I ended up writing, shoved onto the end of another post:

The White Sox locked up Mark Buehrle to a four year deal this weekend, and I couldn’t have been more disappointed. Not that the Nationals had much of a chance of signing him, but it would have been nice to see them take a shot. What’s so great about him?

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Maybe the Nats Don’t Want a Type A Right Now

November 15, 2011

Has Mike Rizzo made a conscious decision to not sign a Type A free agent? Maybe the Nationals don’t want to sign Jose Reyes, Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder. The cost, being the first round pick, not the money, may be too high. What about their pursuit of Roy Oswalt, you say? Well, according to CSNPhilly, the Phillies aren’t going to offer him arbitration. So no draft pick will be taken from the team who signs him. And if they sign any Type A that’s been offered arbitration, be it one of those first 3 guys, or Jimmy Rollins, CJ Wilson, Kelly Johnson, Ryan Madsen, Josh Willingham (ok here’s the list), they’ll have to give up their first round pick.

We all knew that, the Nats were TOO GOOD this year, and if they had finished behind one more team, they would have only had to give up a second round pick instead of a first round pick. But they’re always going to be in this situation now, since they’re getting better, right? No. Buster Olney is reporting that the new labor agreement is being negotiated right now, and it was expected to be announced around the World Series.

It hasn’t yet, and the longer it takes, he surmises, the less chance of certain rules being put in effect next season. The big one I’m getting at? Buster writes, “It’s expected that the new labor agreement may well abolish first-round draft pick compensation, which is tied to Type A free agents.”

So there it is. There is no guarantee that any of this will happen ever. But it seems fairly likely that by the 2013 season, the top 15 teams won’t have to give up their first round picks for signing a Type A free agent. And maybe 2012 will get those rules, maybe it won’t. But if you sign Pujols today, you can’t count on having your first round pick this summer.

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