First Real 2009 Trade in the Books

June 30, 2009

I’m not sure I like this book so far. The Nats have traded perennial complainer and potential star Lastings Milledge away, along with ace closer Joel Hanrahan. In exchange they get Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett from the Pirates.

What They Get

Well, the big piece that everyone is probably excited about it Nyjer Jamid Morgan. I am mostly excited about his name. And he can play the outfield, which is nice. Other than that… He is fast, too, but he isn’t exactly a good baserunner. His 18 SB go with 10 CS, leading the league in that dubious category.

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Vote Milledge? How ’bout Vote Zimmerman?

May 21, 2009

As you may have read last week, there are people out there who really want to vote Lastings Milledge in to the All Star game. Regardless of the reason – embarrassing the Nats, thinking it would hamper the NL in the game, just because it’s funny, I’m not gonna judge. If people want to do it, go right ahead. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t work anyway. But I’m more concerned with getting in the guys who deserve to go. It’s a great personal accomplishment to get voted to the All Star game. Not only is it something that players are proud of, it helps them negotiate their salaries later on, and when they retire and are considered for the Hall of Fame, “number of All Star appearances” is always part of the application. So here are a few players who, in my opinion, genuinely deserve a vote, or at least consideration for it. I’m not going with alot of prose here, just the facts, and stats (up to yesterday: 5/20) compared to the competition – other players in the NL vying for the same spot.

Ryan Zimmerman – 0 All Star Appearances

.358/.416/.624, 10 HRryanzim
59 Hits  – 1st in the NL
34 Runs – Tied for 1st in the NL
.358 AVG – 5th in the NL
.624 SLG – 3rd in the NL
1.040 OPS – 4th in the NL

Rankings Among NL Third Basemen:
R – 1st (34)
H – 1st (59)
2B – 1st (14)
HR – 1st (10)
RBI – 1st (31)

AVG – 2nd (.358)
OBP – 3rd (.416)
SLG – 1st (.624)
OPS – 1st (1.040)

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Lastings and the Bottleneck

April 14, 2009

The one thing everyone in that Operations Management class I took in grad school remembers is the word “bottleneck.” It’s from a book, The Goal, about the theory of constraints. It’s not important the details, only that bottlenecks are, as the name suggests, the constraints to your business improving. The Nats have had a bottleneck in the outfield, and their immediate solution to that was to send Lastings Milledge down to AAA Syracuse.

While I am disappointed because I believe that Lastings has a bright future, I believe this move made alot of sense. Right now, there is little evidence that he can play CF full time for a contending team. His routes have been terrible, and for all his athleticism, he’s not there yet. The main reason that Bonifacio hit an inside the park HR and a tirple was that he hit it towards Milledge. With other CFer, those are flyouts. Meanwhile, thanks to the bottlenecks, he isn’t able to get ABs every game, and his offense isn’t looking great either. He needs daily ABs, and not only will this improve his production, it will allow the organization see if he has the bat to be a corner outfielder. While he is down there, I suspect he will get to working on defense as well.

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A Respite, and What’s Happened After a Week

April 14, 2009

The Nationals get a much-needed break today, no game. Perhaps they can use this day to put the last week of baseball behind them. More likely, many of them will sit and wonder how they have managed to go winless in 7 games. Adam Dunn’s attitude is something I agree with whole-heartedly. Every team slumps during the season, this one just happens to be at the beginning of the season. But there is still cause for concern. Here’s my take on the performances so far.

Starting Pitching

This has been awful. Daniel Cabrera has made the best start so far, the closest to an actual quality start, although he didn’t get there, going 5 innings yesterday, giving up 1 ER (and 3 more unearned) with 2K and 2 BB. Not great, but certainly serviceable. And when DCab has been your best starter, you worry. Lannan and Olsen have been awful so far. The only reason I’m not running around like my head is on fire is that I know that neither of those pitchers are awful. They may not be staff aces, but they combined for 38 quality starts last year. This level of dropoff doesn’t happen. It’s a bad spell for them, my only question is, when will they come out of it? At least the Double N is scheduled to pitch on Sunday! Read the rest of this entry »

Sprinters Hoping for Marathon Runs in 2009 (Arbitrary Endpoints Part 2)

March 4, 2009

Yesterday I looked at three players who started out 2008 slow, but finished with a bang. From the point that I picked at random until their final game of the season, three potential future stars on the Nat’s had the following numbers:

That is all well and good, but if you paid attention in the first half of the season, the stories were revolving around the emergence of two players. Both came out of nowhere to grab starting roles, both performed exceptionally well early on, and both faded as the year went on. There are different stories behind their fade, but with both, there is hope that the endurance will build upon last season and those strong first halves will translate to strong totals in 2009.

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Arbitrary Endpoints, Or Why I’m So Optimistic

March 3, 2009

A baseball season is a baseball season. 81 games are not necessarily 162 games divided by 2.  What I’m getting at here is that just because a guy has one bad half and one great half, to combine for a decent season, you can’t expect him to be great the next year. You can’t expect him to be bad either, you expect him to be nothing other than decent. Some guys hit well later in the season after they have a bunch of ABs behind them, some guys tire halfway through the season and decline. There are other factors, too. If someone wants to trade you a Texas Ranger hitter in a fantasy league because they didn’t play well in April and May, you should seriously consider it. Because in Texas, the ball takes off in the heat of the summer. All kinds of things factor into streakiness, or even several good months of play. Anyway, when you isolate July 14th through September 3rd and say someone has gone 6-0 with a 2.42 ERA or whatever, you have to remember this doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

Now that we’ve got all of the caveats out of the way –  with young players, there is more of a glimmer of hope than just external factors. As they get older they get better. A full season, or a few full seasons in the majors leads to improvement. That improvement may be visible in March, it may be visible in May, or it may be visible in September. And some of these youngsters may have figured it out, but had tired legs in August and September. So using some arbitrary endpoints (a term I believe I first heard from Keith Law), here are some of them with a few players you may have heard of.

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