Friday, March 9, 2012

The best setup man wants to be even better

US Presswire photo
Tyler Clippard earned his first All-Star selection last summer.
Rare is the setup man who can boast an ERA under 2.00, a spot on the All-Star team, a double-digit win total, a triple-digit strikeout total and a workload that would make most pitchers' arms drop dead.

Even rarer is the setup man who can sustain that kind of dominance over multiple seasons. Which is precisely why Tyler Clippard wants to be able to put himself in that loftiest of echelons among relief pitchers.

"It's nice," the Nationals right-hander said of the track record he's established over the last two seasons. "It was a goal of mine, to have this kind of success at the big-league level. But I still think it's a small sample size of what I want to do. I mean, I want to be around for a long time. I'm still young -- I'm only 27 -- and I don't even have three years of service time yet. If you really look at the nuts and bolts of it ... yeah, I've done some good things, but there's still a long way to go."

There's arguably no reliever in baseball who can match Clippard's remarkable combination of dominance and endurance the last two years. No one has pitched more than his 179 1/3 innings. Only Cubs closer Carlos Marmol has recorded more than Clippard's 216 strikeouts.

And no one has made more bullpen appearances of at least two innings than Clippard, who has done that 27 times the last two seasons. His ERA in those 27 long-relief appearances: a microscopic 0.33. His strikeout-to-walk ratio: a ridiculous 77-to-8.

That level of dominance over multiple innings makes Clippard one of the most-valuable relievers in the sport. It certainly makes him the most-valuable member of the Nationals' bullpen, even if he doesn't hold the more prestigious closer role.

"He's so invaluable to use at times for two innings, and he was so dominant against right- and left-handed batters," manager Davey Johnson said earlier this spring. "The starter gives you six [innings], and he can get you to the closer? That's almost irreplaceable. That's almost more important than the closer. Drew Storen did a great job last year closing, but you almost need two guys to replace what Clip can do."

The Nationals rely so heavily on Clippard to pitch them out of late-inning jams and protect slim leads, they shudder to think what might happen if he got hurt or suddenly lost his touch.

Unfortunately, the lifespan for most relievers is minimal. So many can't sustain their success over a full career, and so many can't keep their arms intact over the long haul.

Clippard and the Nationals are well aware of the history, and they know they're going to have to take steps to try to diminish the odds of injury or flat-out collapse. That's one major reason general manager Mike Rizzo signed veteran right-hander Brad Lidge to a one-year contract over the winter. Lidge, once the Phillies' All-Star closer, will serve as another seasoned setup man in Washington.

That should take some of the workload and pressure off Clippard, who admittedly believes he's more effective the more he pitches but understands the need for help.

"I realize that if I go out there and throw 90-100 innings out of the bullpen every year, my career's not going to be that long," he said. "So yeah, I want to be out there, and there's times when the more reps I've gotten, the better I've gotten. But at the same time, I've realized that it's not a standard that's really going to equal out to longevity. So in that sense, I'm OK with not pitching as much."

The addition of Lidge, and the emergence late last season of flamethrower Henry Rodriguez, should help keep Clippard's arm fresh. But what can he do to ensure his stuff remains effective as ever?

He doesn't feel the need to alter an arsenal that already features four different pitches: four-seam fastball, changeup, cutter and slider (though he throws either the fastball or changeup 85 percent of the time). He would, however, like to alter his approach from at-bat to at-bat.

"I don't really need to change my repertoire as much as staying on top of patterns I get into sometimes," he said. 'The league knows what I have now, so I think it's up to me to kind of keep them on their toes as much as possible. Change my timing. Change the look of what they expect to see from me. And I think I've done a good job of that."

If Clippard can keep this up and continue his run of dominance another season, two or more, he might be tempted to wonder if he can land a closing job somewhere else. It's a common path for relievers: Establish yourself in a setup role for a couple of years, then hit the big payday as a closer.

The Nationals, though, are happily committed to Storen as their ninth-inning guy for years to come and don't really consider Clippard a closer-in-waiting. Truth be told, if something happened and Storen wasn't available to close at some point this season, Johnson is more likely to use Lidge or even Rodriguez in the ninth than Clippard.

Not that the organization doesn't understand Clippard's importance to the greater goal, and isn't willing to reward him for his work. He saw his salary jump to $1.65 million from $443,000 over the winter, and he's sure to receive more raises over the next three years through baseball's arbitration process.

That may seem like a lot for a setup man. But as Clippard knows, sometimes the guy who pitches the eighth inning is more important than the guy who pitches the ninth.

And the Nationals may just have the best eighth-inning guy in baseball.

"We're fortunate here. We've got a lot of guys here who could close," Johnson said. "Not many could do what Clip does."

119 comments:

NatsLady said...

Here is Livo talking about his start yesterday.

Livo

MicheleS said...

I am really glad they have plans in place to keep him fresh. Lets hope Lidge and MPHRod can assist in keeping the holds in place.

and Somewhere NatsLady is smiling.. ;-)

Joe S. said...

Is the save the stupidest stat in baseball? A pitcher who comes in with men on second and third and one out has a far more difficult task than somebody asked to pitch the ninth inning with a lead of three runs or less.

Clip shows that the Nationals have mostly outgrown this silly stat. (However, they still seem to view Clippard as a "setup man", rather than a "jam extractor.") I wonder it the rest of MLB is coming along?

Rabbit said...

It does amaze me. I'm back to salary again. Millions to play 90-100 innings a year. That is 9-10 full games...a year...out of 162 games! Don't hurt yourselves guys. GO NATIONALS!!!

Unkyd said...

Will somebody please refresh me, as to how we wound up with Clip? He was in the Yankee org, right? What did he cost us? I forward a few of these posts per week to my Yankee fan nephew, and whole he's actually excited for us, I figger there's no harm in rubbing it in, a little ;-) He's a nice boy, really...

SpashCity said...

The Nats got Clippard from the Yankees in December 2007 for Jonathan Albaladejo.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/wire?section=mlb&id=3143069

Albaladejo pitched in the Yankees organization until 2010, when he pitched a grand total 11.1 innings with the big league club, according to Baseball-Reference.

Last season he pitched for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan.

This trade really turned out to be one of the few bright spots in the Jim Bowden era.

bdrube said...

@Unkyd - Clippard was acquired in an offseason trade with the Yankees for reliver Jonathan Albaladejo. It was about the only "home run" trade Bowden had during his time as GM.

NatsLady said...

(smiling) Actually, the whole pitching staff makes me smile. Actually, the whole team makes me smile.

Unkyd said...

Thanks for the help, guys!!! Watta Deal, huh?!

MicheleS said...

So I was reading the Nats Enquirer this morning. And apparantly Chad Dukes from 106.7 (the Nats Flagship station) went on a Philly station, insulted Nats fans, and called Bryce a d-bag. This would be the reason that I listen to ESPN980. They may not know baseball over there, but if they were the flagship station, I am betting they would at least promote the team.

I am an accountant (so I count beans) and have no marketing skills at all. I know we have some EXTREMELY creative people on this blog. Is there anything we can do to a.) actually have a flag ship station for our team and b.) shut those jerks up 106.7

Gonat said...

Joe S. said...
Is the save the stupidest stat in baseball? A pitcher who comes in with men on second and third and one out has a far more difficult task than somebody asked to pitch the ninth inning with a lead of three runs or less.

Clip shows that the Nationals have mostly outgrown this silly stat. (However, they still seem to view Clippard as a "setup man", rather than a "jam extractor.") I wonder it the rest of MLB is coming along?

March 09, 2012 7:20 AM


The save isn't the stupidest stat in the world. It is now well defined what it means and when you consider the 9th inning save when the other team is bringing in pinch-hitters and making its last stand it is what defines the closer.

The 7th and 8th inning set-up guys don't get enough credit is where I think the problem is, if there is a problem. NatsTown knows they have a gem in Tyler Clippard.

Positively Half St. said...

I skimmed the sportspyder compilation of Orioles articles to see if Nick Johnson is mentioned in any of them. He wasn't. I would love to see Nick make it back, with the realization that it would be a bad sign for the Orioles if he were able to make the team. He played AAA ball poorly last year, and appears to bee broken down and done.

Still, I can't think of another player I would rather see be able to make a comeback. It would be even better than seeing Jamie Moyer turn 50 this year as a member of the Rockies' staff.

+1/2St.

Gonat said...

MicheleS, thanks for the post. All they want is ratings. Chad Dukes is a hack. Don't listen to their show. Boycott their station except Nats games.

JD said...

I actually followed Clip over from the Yankees. I remember his first start (pitched well and hit a double against the Mets), left the country and baseball for a few years, came back saw he was on the Nats, so I became a Nat fan :)

MicheleS said...

+1/2st.

I think Nick is playing today. I heard that on MLB radio yesterday. Bowden was being a big supporter for him. He genuinely wants Nick to make the team (as would we all - even if it is the O's)

Positively Half St. said...

MicheleS-

I don't know what to do about 106.7 other than ignore it in between games. It seems to me that someone like Dukes would make that kind of comment in an attempt to rile people up and try to get them to pay attention to him and his show. It's got to be hard to put a show together every single day when all you have to work with is the Redskins.

Interesting how people named Dukes are not good for the Nationals franchise.

106.7 will do whatever it takes to get more listeners, and as many have already said, they will talk nothing but Redskins until they feel they have a following that wants to hear something else. It isn't limited to radio hosts, either. You might wonder why Jonathan Papelbon would go on the radio to insult Red Sox fans in comparison to Phillies fans. Just making interesting radio, trying to invent some controversy to get attetion.

+1/2St.

MicheleS said...

Gonat..I actually don't listen to any of their shows other than Nats games. I just find it odd that the flagship station for the Nats is doing it's best to drive off potential fans and not actually helping build a fan base. You would think that building a fan base would help their ratings. Seems counter intuitive.

Traveler8 said...

Based on the picture it looks like Clip has gained some weight, although all muscle. Can any of you in Viera confirm this?

A DC Wonk said...

I tend to agree with Joe S. The save is a fairly worthless stat.

See, the problem is that once we define a stat, suddenly it becomes important. Until the world starts to realize that actual benefit of that stat. (It took a century to realize that "wins" were not a great measure for a pitcher)

Joe is right, that the "jam-extractor" role is, for sure, the most important position in relief pitching. Stat-heads are starting to define stats for it (by defining "high leverage situations", creating a number for it, and then how a pitcher changes the probability of the game by putting out (or not) the fire. So to speak).

As Davey was into computer baseball stats even before "sabermetrics" was invented, I'm sure he's all over this. He must be aware that of what today's sabermaticians already know, that the best use of a bullpen staff is to put your best relief pitcher into the game at the highest leverage spot.

And, so, to extend what Joe was saying:

Suppose your team is winning 3-2; the opposing team is at bat, there's one out in the 7th and guys on first and third, and their #3 hitter is coming up.

Who do you put in?

Most managers (at least until recently) slavishly adhere to: "save the best reliever until the 9th inning" strategy.

The Nats, thankfully, have a different answer: in the scenario above, put the best guy in to put out the fire so that you can _get_ to the nine with the lead, and then have your second best reliever pitch a clean ninth inning.

The point: there are often "pivotal" at bats; sometimes the entire game rests on a crucial at bat, and it doesn't always come in the 9th inning. You want your best pitcher during that pivotal, or "high leverage" at bat. Clipp is the best "jam extractor", the toughest reliever, we have.

(soapbox mode=off ;-) )

Sunderland said...

Traveler8, ask Gonat, I think he was was the one checking out all the ..... aw I can't do that to Gonat.

baseballswami said...

Clippard - it's how you spell "relief", aaaaaaaah. 106.7 "The (obnoxious) Fan" -- stinks big time.Just despise it. Positively 1/2 st -- I was actually watching the Mid - Atlantic ( snooze fest) Sports Report yesterday and the birds talking heads are pulling for Nick the Stick and think he will make the team. Trav8 - if Clip has put on some weight he needs to start working out with RossD or eating with him. I am positively giddy about all of our pitching right now - and the team of course. STAY HEALTHY -- ALL OF YOU -- please? GYFNG!!!

FS said...

on topic: I hope all of baseball realizes that Clippard has been best at what he does in the whole league. I really dislike Braves fans putting up Venters and Yanks fans bringing Robertson in the discussion.

off-topic: "Since list of ill-wish was made earlier, I made my own list of ten non-Nats I would love to see do great in the coming season.

1. Ichiro - Last season was forgettable. Not sure how he would handle being #3 hitter, but I hope great things happen for him. Another 200 hit season and driving in a lot of runs would be great.

2. Dunn - His status as a slugger took a serious hit. I liked him as a Nats and hate to see him struggle like he did. I hope he bounces back in a big way and proves Ozzie wrong about his swing.

3. Posey - After winning ROY and WS in his first season, I was really looking forward to his second season, cut short by injury. Hoping more of 2010 this time around.

4. Morneau - Hate to see a really good player's career stalled by injuries. JM was in MVP discussion consistently for 2-3 years and then injuries caught up to him.

5. Beane - Not a player, but been a fan for some time.

6. Bixler - ex-Nats who gives it all on the field. I hope he figures it out for Astros.

7. Kemp - Guy was robbed of his MVP trophy last season. I hope he repeats his performance and wins it this time.

8. Felix - One of my favorite pitchers. Hoping for a bounce back season.

9. Moore - My AL ROY pick.

10. MCab - Hope he continues to be the best hitter in both leagues."

natsfan1a said...

Re. weight gain questions, three words: chocolate chip cookies. On topic, I like that Clip may get his pitching load lightened a bit. Don't want to burn him out.

Re. sports talk radio, I don't listen to it, whether it's 106.7 or 980, but isn't trying to be edgy/obnoxious par for the course no matter which station it is? Why do we care what they think? Well, maybe we do a little bit seeing as how it's supposed to be the flagship station. I'm not big on that term, either, generally speaking.

Re. Nick, I'm pulling for him, even if he is an O.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Strictly speaking, I thought a "flagship" station was the lead station in a network, as the "flagship" in a fleet is the one with the CO, usually an admiral I suppose, and thus flying his flag. Do the Nationals even have a radio network?

Section 222 said...

The idea that Clippard could actually be better than last year boggles the mind. He's just outrageously good. I have a vague recollection that two years ago he had some problems with inherited runners as compared to coming in at the beginning of an inning. That difficultly evaporated last year. He's a jam extractor and also virtually unhittable when he pitches the full 8th.

For your viewing pleasure, here's one of the many amazing Clippard highlights from last year -- six Ks in 22 pitches against the Marlins in early May. Four of the six batters were lefties. All the Ks were swinging, on high fastballs ranging from 92-95 mph according to the MASN gun. Unbelievable.

joemktg said...

And Clip is committed to his role, conversely, he's not pining/wining about being a closer. That's huge.

Sidebars:
-Chad Dukes has his opinions, and I have mine: what a dopey thing for him to say. Maybe it was taken out of context?
-The MidAtlantic (snoozefest) Sports Report: low budget, dull, unimaginative. It's an answer to the question: what's the lowest cost way to fill an hour while promoting two MLB teams?

Anonymous said...

Davey said it well. Lots of guys can close. Which is why they should trade Storen in a NY minute if it helps them get the CF they want. Guys who have closer's stuff are relatively plentiful, top CFs are not.

Anonymous said...

Of course Clip wnats to close. Closers get paid much, much more money than set-up men get and they get the glory too. Chicks dig the last 3 outs.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

One thing about closing: the last out may not be the hardest to get, it may not be the pivotal point in the game, but ultimately, the last out is the one that sticks.

NatsLady said...

Clip was awfully thin when he did the first interview a couple of weeks ago (the one with Storen where he had the shades on). So if he's put on a few, that's probably for the good.

There is a stat called WPA (win probability added). Clip added 5.01 WPA to the team, only Verlander was higher.

WPA for 2011

Also, someone can check me on this, but I believe Clipp never left an inherited runner for another pitcher. He did give up too many HR's, but he didn't walk a lot of people in front of the HR's.

Theophilus said...

Wonk --

I don't think the process is nearly as intellectual as you suggest. The Nats are fortunate enough to be endowed w/ two excellent relief pitchers, who do somewhat different things and whose motions and repertoire are sufficiently different that you can pitch Clippard for up to two innings and Storen for one without letting hitters get comfortable and making them adjust.

Both Clippard and Storen are best starting the inning with a clean set of bases. I don't think Clippard is necessarily the best "jam extractor." (His large no. of Ws suggests some "vulture" in his DNA.) Depending on the situation, the Nats best jam extractor might be Burnett (LOOGY) or some sinker-baller. (Clippard isn't a ground ball guy: his GO/AO ratio is less than half the league average.) Having said that, Clippard is an extremely valuable, durable reliever and has a skill set (featuring his change up) that could extend his career beyond what is typical for relievers (think Trevor Hoffman).

NatsLady said...

In another interview Clipp did say someday he wanted to close or start. However, I think he said that because he's supposed to say that--those are the high-paying "status" jobs.

Just call him Superman, that'll be fine.

NatsLady said...

Theo--Clipp cleaned up the vulture wins in 2011 by cleaning up the inherited runner problem. You are right, he is not a ground-ball pitcher. He gets 'em with the strikeouts and the high flies, which is why we need good outfielders. But he is good at getting the team out of jams, because he's not afraid to come in with the bases loaded, strike out a couple of batters and then stay in for another inning.

HHover said...

FS

Not sure why you're so peeved about Clipp being compared to Robertson or Venters. Frankly, you can make good arguments in favor of any of the three, and to grump too much among them misses the point--for Clipp to be put in that company shows what an elite category he belongs in.

Section 222 said...

@Theo -- Interesting points, but Clippard is our best reliever and jam extractor because of his ability to get strikeouts. GDPs are great, but there's also a chance the grounder gets through the infield. Ks are a tried and true way to end a rally, and Clippard had 216 of them in 179 innings over the past 2 seasons. His WHIP last year was 0.838. That's off the charts good.

Also, I remember him being better when he started an inning 2 years ago, but I don't have that impression from last year at all. Quantifying that, however, is beyond my meager SABRE abilities. Anyone?

NatsLady said...

Fangraphs ranked the Nats rotation 16th, with this qualification:

I was relatively conservative with the innings projections for Strasburg and Zimmerman, so if you think both can stay healthy and pitch something close to a full season, you could bump the Nationals up quite a bit here. Even just giving both of those guys an addition 30 innings would push Washington’s rotation into the top 10, so don’t get too upset over the placement here. There’s obviously a lot of potential here – how well their rotation performs basically depends on how many innings they can get from their young ace, and how quickly they can dump Lannan on someone else.

Apparently the word is out on Lannan.

power-rankings-starting-pitchers-16-30

HHover said...

NatsLady

That fanpgraphs piece is interesting re: Lannan--they include that line about dumping him, but also project him for 120 IP, vs 75 each for Ross and CMW.

MicheleS said...

NatsLady, thanks for the Fan Graphs info. At least they qualified it by being conservative.

NatsLady said...

On another topic, Fangraphs doesn't think Bourgeois is an upgrade over Ankiel and only marginally better than the Shark.

Fangraphs:jason-bourgeois-and-incremental-upgrades

Interesting that the Nats are getting analyzed by Fangraphs--and nice, I guess.

NatsLady said...

HH, yes, and they only gave RZ 150 innings and Stras 120. Also only 75 for CMW. That is really conservative, would mean only 12-15 starts for CMW.

NatsNut said...

I loved Detwiler's quote over at the Post referring to our hot starters and awesome bullpen: “Being a long reliever on this team,” Detwiler said with a laugh, “is not going to be very fun.”

Rabbit said...

Responding to the comments about our "flag-ship" station....I hardly ever listen to it because the signal comes in so weak. In the car, the signal is always fading in and out. At least at home we have MLB to watch and listen to the games.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

HH, yes, and they only gave RZ 150 innings and Stras 120

NatsLady, you mean Jordan Zimmermann instead of "RZ" there, right?

The Fox said...

If Dave Cameron can't take the time to check on the spelling of our pitchers names I find his in-depth analysis a little lacking.

The added depth alone should put the Nationals in the top 10. Of the 15 teams he puts ahead of the Nationals half of them will have an injured pitcher with a negative WAR as a replacement.

jcj5y said...

On Clippard, those stats for his 2+ inning stints are incredible. Small sample size, I know, but he has been utterly dominant in those situations.

Also interesting to hear him comment on mixing things up. I tend to think that he's one of the best at that. Even though he's 85% fastball-change, he does a better job than almost anyone at changing the batter's eye level by locating up in the zone. So those two pitches are essentially four--fastball up, fastball down, change up and change down.

I would like to see that Nats use Clippard more creatively this season, given that they have Lidge and Rodriguez. If they are close or ahead late more frequently than they have been in the past, Clippard won't be available to pitch in every win.

I'd like to see him pitch the 6th and 7th in key games where the score is 6-5 and the starter needs to come out after 5, even if that means Lidge pitches the 8th in a 3-2 game the next night. (I also think that for this reason, Mattheus is going to see a lot of time in the 'pen, and Gorzy is going to go away at some point last in ST or early in the season.)

ehay2k said...

How important is the middle reliever in terms of wins/losses? I am not sure, and I'm not a stats guy, but perhaps the best way to illustrate how important Clippard is when the game is on the line is to use a well-known (to Nats fans) comparison: Slaten.

We all knew when Slaten was coming in, especially at the end of last season, that no lead was safe. That one guy cost us at least 3 games. If he didn't let inherited runners score, he'd load the bases for the next guy, which was sometimes the unfortunate MPHRod.

Having a guy as reliable as Clip is a game changer. Without him, we have not even a miniscule shot at the playoffs, IMO.

Arlington BigFish said...

I'm a big Clip fan, but I'll always have rumbling around in the back of my mind a Yanks/Red Sox game a few years ago, when he (as a rookie, I think) gave up dingers to 4 (or was it 5?) consecutive Sox batters.

Avar said...

fwiw I also hate the save stat and the high value put on closing in general. I have had trouble re-creaating this claim but I read once that all MLB teams win something like 90% of the games they lead in the 9th.

Even dumber is the blown save which you can get even without qualifying for a save!

Even Riggleman last year used to sometimes talk about how the save can come in the 7th or 8th inning. I didn't like how he managed or pitched his little fit w/ Rizzo but I liked that he said that.

As for rotation ranking, I have them in top 10 easy. JZimm can be expected to approach 200 IP and Stras is just about a lock for 160 barring a new injury. Wang is a much bigger question mark but he did 100+ IP at 80-90% of his peak performance, we are really hard to face.

NatsLady said...

Sec 3, yes. Typed too fast.

MicheleS said...

FS.. I like your take on a good things happening list: So here is mine:

#10. That Adam Dunn wins comeback player of the year in the AL. I liked the Big Donkey and hope he has a great year. I want the AL Central to be competive and not have everyone just hand it to Detroit.

#9 A new prospect is discovered in Nats Town. Brian Zuckerman. He is being groomed as a CF or Hard Throwing Lefty Flame Thrower. Showing Great Promise at a young age.

#8 Nick Johnson is healthy and productive for the O's

#7 That Brian Bixler becomes this years Sam Fuld for the Astros.

#6 That Chad Cordero gets a long standing O when he throws out the first Pitch at Nat's Park. (someone remind me of the Day!)

#5 The Nats Sweep the Phillies at Take back the Park both in May and then again in October. Nuff Said on that topic

#4 that Livan Hernandez wins 15 games for the Stros (all against the Mets/Phillies/ Braves/ Marlins/Brewers/Dodgers/DBacks/and any other team in the hunt - well except the Mets, they won't be in the hunt)

#3 that Jamey Carroll wins a gold glove for the Twins ans Jason Marquis puts up respectable numbers for the twins as well.

#2 that Bobby V and Ozzie's heads explode at least 4 or 5 times. Because who doesn't love watching that happen.

#1 This is easy and long.

JZNN wins the Cy Young with 18 wins (I dont' want to be greedy and go higher) with a sub 3 ERA.
Ramos and ESPI have solid seasons and improve on last years preformance.
Desi quiets all the critics and becomes Speedy McLeadoff and has an OBP of .375 and scores 100 runs.
Beast Mode - repeat of last year.
LaRoche - Gold Glove 1b and plays 150 games and only gets days off for general rest.
Our Starting Rotation becomes know as the Assasins slaying all that come before them.
Our bullpen leads the league in every stat and manages to change the Lottery numbers in every park.
Werth of 2010 at NatsPark in 2012.
Harper ROY.
Stras puts up great numbers (and really makes a case to pitch in the Post Season)

RZim wins NL MVP with 33 HRs 137 RBI's and at least 10 Walk Offs.

And finally, In Late October, The Nats defeat the Yankees in 7 With RZim having his last walk off of the Season

I will put down the Kool Aid now.

Arlington BigFish said...

Oops!! I was wrong about the Sox homers. They were off Chase Wright. I should have pre-Googled.

JamesFan said...

106.7 has a strong signal so it is good for Nats games. Otherwise, sports talk is a wasteland. It is at the level of teenage gossip and marketing hype for the Skins. Baseball talk is shallow and minimal. There is no reason for a serious Nats fan to listen to sports talk on the radio. That will probably change if the Nats become a winner.

Steve M. said...

NatsLady, thanks for the Fangraphs on Bourgeois. I don't like trades for the sake of looking like you are doing something. Not an upgrade except in the cool name category.

HHover said...

I'm not in favor of a trade just to make a trade, but that fangraphs piece re: Bourgeois is a bit deceptive.

Bourgeois had far fewer plate appearances than Ankiel or Bernadina--take that into account, and he's clearly an upgrade over either. As a righty, tho, he's not a great fit for the Nats.

bdrube said...

@JamesFan - "That will probably change if the Nats become a winner."

Agreed. You know what else will change? You'll be able to go into a local sports bar anywhere in the area on game days and the Nats game will actually be on the teevee instead of a fishing tournament on ESPN or something (which has happened to me more than once).

Steve M. said...

MicheleS said...
FS.. I like your take on a good things happening list: So here is mine:

#6 That Chad Cordero gets a long standing O when he throws out the first Pitch at Nat's Park. (someone remind me of the Day!)


#1 This is easy and long.

JZNN wins the Cy Young with 18 wins (I dont' want to be greedy and go higher) with a sub 3 ERA.
Ramos and ESPI have solid seasons and improve on last years preformance.
Desi quiets all the critics and becomes Speedy McLeadoff and has an OBP of .375 and scores 100 runs.
Beast Mode - repeat of last year.
LaRoche - Gold Glove 1b and plays 150 games and only gets days off for general rest.
Our Starting Rotation becomes know as the Assasins slaying all that come before them.
Our bullpen leads the league in every stat and manages to change the Lottery numbers in every park.
Werth of 2010 at NatsPark in 2012.
Harper ROY.
Stras puts up great numbers (and really makes a case to pitch in the Post Season)

RZim wins NL MVP with 33 HRs 137 RBI's and at least 10 Walk Offs.

And finally, In Late October, The Nats defeat the Yankees in 7 With RZim having his last walk off of the Season

I will put down the Kool Aid now.

March 09, 2012 10:01 AM


Nice list. I was thinking some of those predictions above would be very nice.

On your #6, I have July 20th Friday night on my calendar as Chad "The Chief" Cordero night!

I also hope Opening Day gets Wilson Ramos when he is introduced in the lineup and again when he gets his 1st at-bat a wonderful standing ovation.

I like your Assasins moniker for the starting rotation. Its probably my best description for the great pitchers. No more Mr. Nice Guy when they step on the mound. The "art of intimidation". Strasburg and JZim certainly fit into that category and what I heard about Gio on the mound is he is very intense.

I used to say that about Joel Hanrahan when he pitched here is that he lacked that killer instinct, and it seems like he may have gotten it in Pittsburgh.

There is Nyjer type of emotion which is counter productive and then there is Michael Morse type of emotion that should fire everyone up. I wonder if the Jayson Werth punching bag will be back in the tunnel this year?

SayNoToClint said...

Dukes is the poster child for the problem with "mainstream" sports coverage in this town. It's all Redskins all the time, with minimal attention paid to another sport only if they happen to be winning (e.g. Capitals over the last 5 years).

Steve M. said...

HHover, I hear what you are saying and would I take Bourgeois for Cutter Dykstra? Sure. The new regime in Houston isn't like the past one. Bourgeois would cost prospects.

Is that worth it? The guy is 30 years old and doesn't take walks and has very little MLB experience. I actually like the fact he is a RH as he could be the RH platoon with Ankiel/Bernadina.

I just think he will come with a high asking price.

NatsLady said...

Avar, you are quite correct about the probabilities. I can't find the table right now, but if you watch Fangraphs during a game, the probability of a win for the team that is ahead in the later innings is amazing, especially for the home team. Even for the visiting team, it's pretty dramatic.

Here is an example to show the difference between one run in the first inning vs. one run in the last inning.

On Sept 7, 2011, the Orioles (visitors) played the Yankees.

The Orioles scored one run in the first inning, so their WE (Win Expectancy) was 55%.

In the 11th inning the Orioles scored a run, and their WE went from 50% (tie game) to 78%. That means the home team had a 22% chance to win the game. (They didn't.)

Fangraphs play log

jeeves said...

Sixteenth? That is absolutely ridiculous. The Nats starters should be ranked much higher. On the other side of the coin, a credible fantasy site has three Nat's starters in the top thirty. (both leagues) Only three other teams had that many--Angels, Phillies, and Giants. They were one of two teams with four in the top sixty. Whoops, fogot Tampa Bay.

PAY TO PLAY said...

SteveM, come on man. This Bourgeois is your Lorenzo Cain but better. He stinks against RH pitching (.241 OBP) and kills LH pitching .396/.430/.495/.925 So yes, he is a 2 day a week platoon player clearly. Can't give up a lot for a guy who you have to pinch hit for but this is exactly what you said the Nats needed.

If you platooned Bourgeois and Bernadina as the killer B's in the 2 hole in the way they can play there, you have good OBP and plenty of speed!

NatsLady said...

Have to issue this caution: the probabilities used by Fangraphs don't consider the quality or record of late-inning pitchers (or batters/pinch-hitters). They just run models of all teams all games.

Steve M. said...

P2P, I like Lorenzo Cain for all the reasons you mentioned about Bourgeois and Cain is 4 years younger. Cain is also bigger and I think has more athletic upside.

For RH platoon players, you just can't give up a lot for starting 45 to 55 games a year.

Again, get either and consider your price you have to pay.

natsfan1a said...

Loved it, MicheleS, particularly because it's (mostly) about the Nats and I'm an all Nats, all the time kind of gal. :-)

I like Assassins (Natssassins?), too. Not sure about the previously used jam extractor term, which to me sounds like something one would use at tea time (with scones and bon-bons, natch).

MicheleS said...

FS.. I like your take on a good things happening list: So here is mine:

Steve M. said...

From Kilgore (interesting about Dickey):

Danny Espinosa will travel to Lakeland and play shortstop. Manager Davey Johnson had mentioned earlier this spring that Espinosa would see time at short, but only so he could reacquaint himself with the position in case Ian Desmond gets hurt this year. Espinosa played shortstop at Long Beach State and all the way up through the minors. (Also, Espinosa has a strong aversion to facing Mets starter R.A. Dickey, a knuckleballer who has a knack for throwing off his timing for days.)

natsfan1a said...

I also liked SteveM's Ramos add-on (as previously envisioned by whatsanattau). I suppose there wouldn't be a dry eye in the house (the male fans having gotten a mote of dust in their eyes or some such :-)).

Steve M. said...

Heading to Arizona to see some Cactus baseball there. Talk to you all on Monday!

natsfan1a said...

Have fun and report back later, SteveM.

jd said...

Sorry to be the voice of caution here but last year when opponents put the ball in play against Clippard they hit .197 against Mariano Rivera .275.

What I,m saying is that Clip may pitch as well or better than last year but come up with worse results if he is somewhat less lucky than he was last year.

NatsLady said...

I have a question about BAPIP, which is what jd is referring to. Is it just a matter of "luck" that Clipp got outs on his "balls-in-play" or is the quality of the fielders factored in? Not implying here that the Yanks have bad (in)fielders, I mean, who would claim that???

Tcostant said...

National media talking about the the Nationals, always like to share this stuff:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/joe_lemire/03/08/bryce.harper.nationals/index.html?sct=mlb_t11_a0

jd said...

NatsLady,

Clearly it's not 100% luck because some pitchers who fool hitters induce weak hits which are more likely to be outs but there is a high element of luck involved as well. A pitcher can make a great pitch and have it blooped for a hit or he can make an awful pitch and have it tatooed into someone's glove.

Rivera's .275 BABIP is exceptionally good and if you watch him regularly you will see that he induces tons of weak ground balls. .197 is not sustainable and it implies that Clip was over the top lucky with ball hit into play last year.

This is not intended as a criticism of Clip who I think is one of the best in the business but just a reminder that it will be very hard to duplicate last year's results.

BTW all the points about high leverage situations vs. saves are dead on unfortunately saves make pitchers lots of money and holds don't and that's unfortunate.

Unkyd said...

Oooohh..... Natssasins!!!

Ms 1A... We have a winner!!!:)

NatsLady said...

Jd, I think that's a problem with the hold vs. save stat. Saves are well-defined and always, always end in a win. Holds can happen in relatively low leverage situations, and multiple times in a game. That's why, to me, the WPA (win probability added) and "clutch" stats are much better for a middle reliever.

Also, "setup man" is more descriptive for a situation where the starter goes 6 or 7 and the 7th 8th inning guys come in with clean bases to "set up" for the closer. That happened frequently with Clip but that was not his key value.

There was talk of introducing a category of "super reliever" for guys like Clip, but it's like art, you can't always quantify it but you'll know it when you see it.

sm13 said...

When it comes to reliever stats, the one that makes no sense is when someone gets tagged with a "blown save" in the 5th, 6th or 7th inning. That should be a "blown hold", not a save or maybe just nothing at all. Recent example is Matt Purke recorded as having a blown save vs. the Cards earlier this week when he pitched the 4th & 5th inning.

jd said...

NatsLady,

Well put. The hold stat is essentially useless and the save stat is very flawed because not all saves are of equal value and of the same level of difficulty to obtain.

Not that the game needs any new stats but I think that the save stat would be of more value if the pitcher earning it would have to face the tying run and also if he didn't create the situation causing him to face the tying run.

Cease the Opportunity said...

Just a word from one of your admirers. You guys are really insightful and knowledgeable and are really beginning to scare me, since I don't have many intelligible comments to ever add. Keep it up. I'm learning. Now back to my booze...

NatsLady said...

jd, you made me smile because the "not all the same level of difficulty" applies to a LOT of stats.

Also, I'd have to check, but I believe the closer wouldn't get a save if he created a situation with the tying run on. He'd get a blown save and possibly a win. That was the knock on Clipp, that he kept getting "vulture wins." If the closer (or any relief pitcher) faces a situation with the tying run on board, his "reward" is the win--assuming his teammates get it for him.

The problem with saves/holds/wins, etc., is they are used in arbitration and real money--or the loss of it--ensues.

Cease--keep posting, you are one of the fun ones! Love the humor on this board.

natsfan1a said...

Thank you, thank you. I couldn't have done it without MicheleS. :-)

Unkyd said...

Oooohh..... Natssasins!!!

Ms 1A... We have a winner!!!:)
March 09, 2012 11:29 AM

NatStat said...

A D C Wonk:

Nice summary of the issues on set-up man vs. closer. Nothing wrong with having guys good at both, but from a stats/sabermetric standpoint, the set-up guy should be considered the more important.

Two problems with acceptance of the value of the set-up guy: 1)The closer's role has been over-hyped; 2) most teams do not put dominent quality guys like Clip in the set-up role; and, 3) the set-up role is diffuse, and rarely given to one person.

I think that Davey, given his sabermetric background, well-understands the role of set-up man.

Hope Cip has a long and great career!!

Gooooooooooooooooooooo Nats!!!!

natsfan1a said...

That's okay. We unintelligible posters have our place, too. I'm just going to keep grinding, and if I can help the ball club, so much the better. :-)

Cease the Opportunity said...

Just a word from one of your admirers. You guys are really insightful and knowledgeable and are really beginning to scare me, since I don't have many intelligible comments to ever add. Keep it up. I'm learning. Now back to my booze...
March 09, 2012 11:51 AM

Theophilus said...

Exhibit A for the uber-hyping of closing would have been Don Stanhouse, who probably was the worst pitcher/closer ever selected to the All-Star game.

However, the quality of a closer affects the game in subtle ways. First, it speeds up the game for the other team. If you know Mariano Rivera is in the BP, you know you have to catch up by the sixth or seventh because Rivera will be lights out in the ninth. (Yes, I know this applies to set-up men as well. But if you don't have somebody who can close, the set-up guy is of no special value.) So the trailing manager burns pinch-hitters and pitchers earlier and by the ninth has run out of chips to throw on the table. Second, a lousy closer (e.g., Armando Benitez, Jorge Julio) who can't get the job done materially diminishes the team's chances of winning in extra innings because, at this point, they're into the dregs of the pitching staff and some guy with a 5+ ERA is supposed to hold the fort for a couple of innings or more until his team can scratch out the winning run.

In other words, you need both. The Nats are very fortunate.

Aa said...

Natslady wrote:

There is a stat called WPA (win probability added). Clip added 5.01 WPA to the team, only Verlander was higher.

Thanks, NatsLady. Yes, that's what I was referring to (in terms of "high leverage situations"-related stats for pitchers).

I'm a bit out of practice since I often use the winter to "get a life" -- and thus only read the article portion of NI during the winter.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Everyone has a role to play, even if it's only to serve as a cautionary example.

Scooter said...

Speaking of cautionary examples ...

Since we're talking about fun stats for relievers, I'll mention one (well, two) that Fangraphs keeps: shutdowns and meltdowns. Basically, if a reliever greatly increases his team's chance of winning (comes into a close game and extracts jam), he gets a shutdown. If a reliever really hurts his team, he gets a meltdown.

Clippard and Storen each recorded 40 shutdowns and 10 meltdowns last year. I think that puts them solidly in the range of very, very good.

NatsLady said...

AA, agree, sometimes an entire winter day goes by when I don't post. Not only trying to get a life, but I don't have much to contribute to the when-will-Desi-learn-to-field-and-hit and when-are-we-trading-Lannan discussions. Usually I try to hunt around for something to link to or a stat, and that takes time, and then my crops on Farmville wither. OK, so my other life isn't much of a life...

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Which reminds me of one of my favorite closers of all time, Mel Famey.

NatsLady said...

Was I asleep? They renamed Yankee Stadium for Steinbrenner? How'd that go over in Da Bronx?

#4 said...

With fear of having stones thrown at me... let me say one nice thing about 106.7. While I find both Mike Wise and Levar Arrington unlistenable, I recommend highly the evening program. Danny Rouhier is knowledgeable and knows baseball. He was a very good player himself at GW and is well-informed... when his producers let him talk about baseball. I hope he gets some air time during Nats pre and post game.

Sunderland said...

The Yankees spring training site, was named Legends Field, was renamed Steinbrenner Field.

Anonymous said...

Danny Rouhier is pretty good and he's getting better.

That tandem they have on 106.7 in the evenings/weekends sometimes with the Amos and Andy white versus black stereotype discussion every 10 minutes and every day is about as horrible as anything on electronic media. Rocky's the black guy. He's an abomination and his enabler co-host might actually be worse.

Anonymous said...

Clip had a no-hitter with Trenton in the Yankees farm system. Don't recall what year.

The guys who drill down into stats have broken saves into easy, hard, routine.

Oldguy said...

Off to Florida tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing our guys in action.

NatsLady said...

Thanks, Sunderland. Forgot it was spring training. :)

MicheleS said...

Old Guy.. jealous....

Anon 1:41 or anyone.. what is the difference between easy and routine save?

Anonymous said...

Mark, how much you want to bet the Johnson goes to Mattheus if Storen get hurt? Most particularly if Mattheus is closing in Syracuse as the hot spare. No way they will go with either Lidge or Rodriguez. It'll be Mattheus that's for damned sure. Sorry Mark, but ...

Bold Anon

baseballswami said...

Can I add this to the wish list -- TEDDY will win a race!!!!!

MicheleS said...

Swami - Thanks for that I completely forgot Teddy!!!!

Anonymous said...

I am going to guess Routine save is up by 1 no one on and you come in and pitch the 9th for the save. Easy save is up by more than 1 run and you get the save. Hard is tying run on base less than 2 outs and you get the save. Close?

Who cares. Saves, schmaves - with all of the Complete Games are guys are gona throw? Who cares! ;-)

Best 25 go North!

dfh21

Cease the Opportunity said...

NatsLady said...

Gets some new friends to fill you life. I did. Allow me to introduce them: Al, Co, and Hol...

MicheleS said...

Now, Cease.. We are still in spring training, we can't be bringing Al, Co, and Hol in just yet. Most of us are drinking Koolaid right now

natsfan1a said...

True that, MicheleS, even if the best 25 are going north. After all, it's a marathon, not a sprint, and we want to be in the best shape of our lives when the bell rings. :-)

Scooter said...

thud

MicheleS said...

Someone pick Scooter up.. I think he has been into the Bourbon and Maalox already

natsfan1a said...

hehe

Anonymous said...

1:35 pm Anon -- that terrible radio duo you referencee is the weekend afternoon Kevin and the Rock, and you were easy on them. It would be OK for them to just be terrible, but they are offensive and arrogant to boot. They think that their black guy/white guy vibe is something electric, cutting edge, they tell it like it IS, etc. It's tired. They just soft core race-bait for hours at a time. AND they know jack about baseball.

dfh21

Unkyd said...

GulpGulpGulp... BangBangBang!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I am so excited for 2012 baseball. :-)

MicheleS and Unkyd, beers are on me at the Bullpen when the time comers.

dfh21

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

The crawl on the Yankees-Braves game said Nelson Reimold got a pitch in the face--he's at the ER. No word on how bad, but they said he got into the cart on his own.

MicheleS said...

Sec 3. Saw that on Twitter, good thing was no blood, but not sure about anything else.

FS said...

HHover, trying to prove Robertson and Venters are better than Clippard does not sit well with me because I think Clippard has done this for longer than either of them and succeeded at it. Besides Clippard's setup role has been more difficult given that he had to clean up other relievers' mess before turning it over to Drew.

MicheleS, I am picking up that Kool Aid.

1. Morse will hit his 100th career home run this season.

2. Strasburg will win more than twenty games.

3. RZ hits at least five walk-off home runs and wins NL MVP, while takes over the all time leader of walk-off home runs record.

4. Clippard strikes out more than 100 batters despite less load.

5. Nats regular infielders will have the most double plays turned.

6. Ramos nails more than 50% would be runners.

7. Espinosa hits at least five home runs off of Cliff Lee. By the end of season, Lee starts practicing right-handed pitching.

8. Desmond succeeds at lead-off.

9. Harper and Rendon are named minor league player of the year by many.

10. Nationals win World Series walk-off style in game 7.

Bonus: Yanks, Phillies, and Red Sox miss playoffs.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the Redskins fans are now getting involved looking at the latest #FUPhilly post reported by National's Enquirer. If anyone isn't going to patient with the so-called "baby Nats" its Deadskins fans. Hoo boy.

Patience people. The Nats offense is not going to scare anyone this year. If they can get to league average that would be close to accomplishing a 20 game improvement in 2 years. Which they've done.

They aren't rebuilding so much ... except the minors ... again, after emptying the cupboards quite a bit in the offseason. The baby Nats are still developing whereas Philly is a rapidly aging finished product.

Baby steps people, baby steps.

JamesFan said...

Drinking Nats spring training coolaid from a fire hose and loving it.

I'm thinking our top 5 starters will win more games than the Phil's top five starters.

Anonymous said...

dfh21: Those are the guys on 106.7. Last weekend the Rocky guy interrupted a caller mid sentence to ask if he was a "brother" when the guy said yes (and why?) Rocky responded "You talk well for a brother." There was nothing in the topic of conversation that had anything to do with race, or racial perceptions, the guy was talking Skins quarterbacks. Those guys are the worst kind of ridiculous.

MicheleS said...

New Post!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 3:18 Why don't you take some baby steps right on down the road. Your talking to DC Sports fans on this blog. Many of us Nats fans are also Redskins, Caps and Wizards fans.

Nolan Muntz said...

"The crawl on the Yankees-Braves game said Nelson Reimold got a pitch in the face--he's at the ER"

HA HA!

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Many of us Nats fans are also Redskins, Caps and Wizards fans.


A lot fewer than you might think, akshully.

natsfan1a said...

All Nats, all the time here (and I don't wish a pitch in the face on anyone).

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Many of us Nats fans are also Redskins, Caps and Wizards fans.


A lot fewer than you might think, akshully.
March 09, 2012 4:25 PM

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