Put On Your GM Shoes

June 21, 2010

The Nationals have continued to slide this week and over the weekend. For most of the year, other than the heart of the order, the rest of the team has struggled to hit, and now even Ryan Zimmerman is in a slump. Besides Stephen Strasburg and 3 of 4 very good starts from J.D. Martin, the starting pitching isn’t doing much to help. There is about 5 weeks until the trade deadline, but rumor has it the market is about to pick up really quick.

They could, start trading away just about anyone that’s not gonna be here in a few years. This could include Willingham, possibly Dunn as well, although let’s not get too much into specifics. Another option is to try to trade those guys that definitely won’t be here in the longrun – Guzman, Kennedy, maybe even Livo. Or, maybe the real problem is not enough of something – they could use another starter, imagine throwing Oswalt or Lee back to back with Strasburg. Or maybe some bats to fill out second base or right field. Alternatively, they could give it another two weeks and see where they stand before making any moves. What should their priority be right now?


Time to Start Believing What You See

June 1, 2010

It’s June 1, it’s the day after Memorial Day, and it’s 2 months into the season. The Nats have played 26% of their season, over one quarter of their games. It’s time to start believing what you’re seeing. Whatever they’ve done up to this point is probably pretty indicative of the type of team they are. Here are a few observations on what we’ve seen:

Thanks to an offensive outburst yesterday, the team is no longer being outscored by a massive amount. They’ve allowed only 10 more runs than they’ve scored, so with a record of 26-26, they are only considered “lucky” by one game. Their pythagorean W-L record is 25-27, still impressive considering where this team has come from. It’s been my opinion that a team with an effective bullpen is likely to play better than their Runs Scored/Runs Allowed would indicate – and that seems to be what is happening with the Nats. They’ve lost a few blowouts that got out of control, but other than that, their bullpen has kept them in it, and they’ve won (and lost) their share of very close games.

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2010 NL East Rankings Part 2: The Pitchers

March 23, 2010

Yesterday, I went over the the starting lineups for each team, and I was happy to give out 5 points for each position winner, 1 point for the bottom guys, and the logical points for those in between. Here’s the score as it stands before looking at the pitching staffs:

SCORE: Phillies (30), Mets (24), Braves (22), Marlins (22), Nationals (22)

So if we used the ol’ permanent pitcher for both teams methodology, I’d be picking the Phillies. But clearly there’s more to baseball than just hitting and fielding, there’s a whole slew of hurlers. Less clear is what starter is in what position. Normally it wouldn’t matter, but when we’re comparing each pitcher in an individual part of the rotation, it does. I used my best judgement here, and tried to go with rotations according to BP and other sources. Forgive me if you disagree:

#1 Starter

1. Phillies – Roy Halladay
2. Mets – Johan Santana
3. Marlins – Josh Johnson
4. Braves – Jair Jurrjens
5. Nationals – John Lannan

Halladay has been arguably the best pitcher in baseball the last few years, and that was playing in the AL, facing the Boston and New York juggernauts there on the regular. Throw in the league change and Santana’s recent injury, I’m giving him the top spot. Josh Johnson stayed healthy all last year and continued to look great, and Jurrjens may regress a bit, but is still a very effective young pitcher. The unfortunately thing is that with Lannan the apparent opening day starter, I have to put him here, at the bottom of the list…

SCORE: Phillies (35), Mets (28), Marlins (25), Braves (24), Nationals (23) Read the rest of this entry »


10 Things That 10 Games of Spring Training Have Shown

March 15, 2010

Since I’ve been somewhat cynical mentioning the meaninglessness of individual games in spring training, and the overall deceptiveness that stats can give you from this month, I wanted to show that I do think a few things can be learned from the month. It’s more than just a tuneup, it can give managers a very good idea of what to expect. I just believe that a month of games when people don’t care shouldn’t override several years of evidence. Anyway, here are a few things I’ve noticed in the first half of the spring:

  1. Strasburg has looked very good – his second start wasn’t as well-covered or noticed, but it was just as good as the first. He’s pretty impressive so far
  2. Elijah Dukes hasn’t looked very good – hitting .174/.263/.294 so far probably won’t make him lose his job, but it will significantly shorten his leash in April. He’s gotta start hitting, although at least he still can walk
  3. Ian Desmond has alot of good news surrounding him – he’s hitting the hell out of the ball (.455/.580/.815, if you must know – whatever I’m sure that’s real sustainable) but Rizzo has also said he’s definitely NOT coming on the club as a utility man. This was assumed, but there were rumors to the contrary – like when Riggleman went on XM-Sirius last week and said he might be a utility man. He’s gonna start in Washington or Syracuse at SS – my guess is in Syracuse until they figure out whether they could get anything for Guzman
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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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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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Questions Going into Spring Training 2010

February 10, 2010

It’s almost upon us. Pitcher and catchers report in a matter of days rather weeks, although many are down there now already. Spring training games begin in a few weeks, and the Nats are semi-set at many places to begin the season. But that doesn’t mean there still aren’t many many questions that need to be answered. Here are a few I have going in to the season…

Who are the 5 starters?

That’s kind of a big one, so I put it first. You know, the guys that start the games? We’ve got two for sure! John Lannan is the only guy I have real confidence in as of Feb. Marquis is fine, he’s not great, but you can expect a close-to-league-average ERA and near 30 starts. On this team, that put you at the top. But that’s IT. There is nobody else guaranteed a spot. Three empty rotation spots is a ton, and I’m not sure they’re planning on bring Strasburg up any time soon. 2011 looks promising when you add him and Zimmermann, but until then? Here’s a quick rundown of the candidates:

  • Scott Olsen – Was once pretty good, once threw in the mid-90s. He’s coming back from shoulder surgery, so he’s very risky BUT, if that heat is there, he’s gonna be decent. The problem is that it hasn’t been there for years.
  • Garrett Mock – Lots of Ks but too many walks. Good stuff, but hasn’t put it together and is now 27.
  • J.D. Martin – Had some success last year, but doesn’t miss many bats. Also turning 27.
  • Read the rest of this entry »