Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Is the bench already set in stone?

USA Today Sports Images
Tyler Moore likely will be the top right-handed bat off the Nationals' bench.
It's one thing for a ballclub's lineup or rotation to be set one month before pitchers and catchers even report for spring training. It's quite another for a ballclub's bench to be all but locked up in mid-January.

But a quick glance at the Nationals' roster confirms it: Davey Johnson almost certainly already knows who will be part of his five-man bench come Opening Day.

Injuries, of course, can always throw the best-laid plans out of whack. But let's assume for the sake of argument the Nationals' stable of position players emerges healthy from spring training. Under that assumption -- plus the assumption Michael Morse is traded at some point -- it's clear which five players will come off the bench:

-- Chad Tracy
-- Steve Lombardozzi
-- Roger Bernadina
-- Tyler Moore
-- Wilson Ramos

There really aren't any question marks related to that group. Tracy is the pinch-hitting specialist, re-signed for another season after leading the majors with 11 pinch-RBI in 2012. Lombardozzi is the utility infielder, fresh off a solid rookie season. Bernadina is the fourth outfielder and designated speedster off the bench. Moore, who also enjoyed a solid rookie year, is the top right-handed bat. And Ramos figures to open the season as Kurt Suzuki's backup catcher, at least until he proves his surgically repaired knee is 100 percent, at which point the two could split the job.

What's not to like? Each projected bench player brings a specific skill-set to the table, whether it's Tracy's calm presence during a key at-bat, Lombardozzi's versatility and fundamentally sound play, Bernadina's sheer athleticism or Moore's serious offensive pop.

And each proved adept at handling a reserve role last season (with the exception of Ramos, who was the everyday catcher until he tore his ACL in May).

Though Tracy got most of the credit for his production off the bench, he was far from alone. Nationals pinch-hitters collectively sported a .288 average (tops in the majors), a .367 on-base percentage (second in the bigs) and .420 slugging percentage (third-best in the league).

Lombardozzi hit .308 with a .379 on-base percentage as a rookie pinch-hitter, Bernadina reached at a healthy .359 clip and Moore's seven pinch-RBI ranked seventh in the majors despite the fact he ranked 33rd in plate appearances.

It's Moore's advanced offensive skills in spite of his lack of experience that helps make the prospect of trading Morse more palatable. Sure, the Nationals would love to have a proven bat like Morse's coming off their bench, but Moore should be able to offer nearly as much production at one-fourteenth the cost ($500,000 vs. $7 million).

The risk, of course, is the possibility of a significant injury to one of the Nationals' everyday players, particularly first baseman Adam LaRoche or corner outfielders Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth. Morse would clearly be a more-proven, long-term replacement for any of those stalwarts than Moore, but that's a risk general manager Mike Rizzo seems willing to take.

With no obvious holes in their lineup and regulars who shouldn't need more than the very occasional day off, the Nationals are less worried about building a bench full of capable starters and more concerned with giving Johnson the best possible options for in-game changes.

In that regard, it's hard to argue with this quintet. It's got power, speed and the ability to get on base. It's got two left-handed hitters, two right-handed hitters and one switch-hitter. It's got veterans and young guns.

And, with the calendar still reading only January 15, it's already been assembled in full.

153 comments:

Faraz Shaikh said...

Exactly the bench I would like going into next season. I think we can argue that all five of these are also above replacement level players so that God forbid, in case of an injury, any of them can fill the role better than any replacement level player we can get right now.

Faraz Shaikh said...

Just to beat dead horse again, pitching depth is the only area where Nats lack right now I believe.

Joe Seamhead said...

If Ramos is healthy, four out of the five guys on Davey's bench could be starters on some other teams. That's pretty impressive, though I'm still not convinced that all of these five will be with the team come opening day.

Dwight Holmes said...

"and regulars who shouldn't need more than the very occasional day off..." - well, I certainly hope that proves to be the case, but when's the last time Z-Man played 150 games? I imagine Lombo will get at least his 300 ABs this year again.

Doc said...

I'd like to see Carlos Rivero compete for Lombo's job in ST. Probably won't get the AB's though. He might be a bit more versatile than Lombo in the field.

He seems to have a better arm than Lombo, and more power in the box. In any case he's a good utility replacement coming up from 'Cuse if someone gets injured.

Hard to beat Lombo's OBP.

sjm308 said...

I am pretty sure Rivero is out of options and could be lost if he doesn't make the 25 man roster. Same for c. Brown

DaveB said...

NatsProspects shows Corey with one option remaining.

Theophilus T. S. said...

As I recall, Lombardozzi's overall OBP isn't much, if any, better than Espinosa's.

Lombardozzi and Bernadina might be "Plan B" starters for a year or so for a few teams that are waiting for young talent to percolate through their farm systems but the implication they "could be starters for other teams" overstates the case. That's why I think the Nats should "sell high" on them -- or at least one of them -- if a package would bring a bona fide front line pitching prospect.

SCNatsFan said...

I still think Bernadina might be the bat moved for pitching depth, although it would be a prospect with an upside who is underperforming. There isn't much on the roster he can do that a cheaper, better Brown can't do.

DaveB said...

As Peric has commented, it does seem like there are several folks bunched up at the top of the minors / AAAA that don't seem to have much value left to the Nats given the Span pickup and how solid the bench looks right now. As sjm notes, the option status is relevant for some of them. It wouldn't be surprising if the Morse trade gets expanded a little bit if any of the folks like Rivero, Komatsu, Marrero, A. Nieto, and maybe even HRod fit into the needs of whoever matches up for Morse.

Faraz Shaikh said...

off-topic: you are taking over a project from someone else. while you are working on this project, another person helped you a lot with technicalities such as formatting, cleaning up, etc. Basically you wouldn't be able to finish this project without this other person. Now the final product leads a report and a manuscript based on the report. This other person wants to be professionally acknowledged. Is there anything more you need to do besides include his name on report and manuscript(manuscript part is not in your hand)? Thank you.

on-topic: GoSM had brought a good point regarding danny's OBP that it is a bit inflated by HBP. Someone needs to start counting OBP only as hits and walks out of all PAs(taking out bunts and hbp). If Rivero is out of options and Lombo isn't, I wouldn't mind a competition between the two but would give Lombo an edge in the beginning because of his ML experience. Rivero may seem to have more pop in minors but their ISO and SLG in minors do not seem significantly different.

I believe trading either Bernie or Lombo is not going to net much.

Gonat said...

Michele, NatsJack, MarkD, and I were discussing this subject on Twitter a few days ago.

Seems like the only unknown at this point is the bullpen.

Gonat said...

Faraz Shaikh said...
Just to beat dead horse again, pitching depth is the only area where Nats lack right now I believe
_________________________

Agreed and Javy Lopez with Zach Duke behind him and at some point maybe Christian Garcia could help.

As we know in the postseason, best 4 go.

SCNatsFan said...

But I think you add a Bernie, Lombo or HRod to Morse and it might net a better return

Theophilus T. S. said...

It's harder to find destinations for some these benchwarmers/AAAA guys than it was in previous years. Teams in obvious need of bats: Minnesota (already tried on Komatsu), Houston, Miami, Mets, maybe Seattle. Colorado and Chicago need pitchers and Nats only have Rodriguez to sell. Bernadina would fit well with the Twins, for now, but what would they give back? Not Myer, I don't think.

Gonat said...

Joe Seamhead said...
If Ramos is healthy, four out of the five guys on Davey's bench could be starters on some other teams. That's pretty impressive, though I'm still not convinced that all of these five will be with the team come opening day.
__________________________________

I think barring Michael Morse staying this is set for Opening Day. June 1st is another story. My main concern is Chad Tracy lost his power after his return from injury.

Like with Nady and even DeRosa, there will be no guarantee that even with Tracy's contract he will get a free pass if he doesn't produce.

JamesFan said...

I also think the Morse deal could be expanded in many ways. The Nats have lots of quality players to move if the deal is right.

No one gets through a season without injuries. Many of the second level players will get tons of playing time this year. In that regard, the Nats seem ok except for pitching depth.

sjm308 said...

Pretty sure its Javy Vazquez since we don't need an old catcher right now

sjm308 said...

Baseball is a crazy game, both in season and out but why would the Twins get rid of both Span and the other guy (Ben ???) and then pick up Bernadina. They actually had two players a little better than Bernadina and let them go. I guess its all about players received in return. I think most on here over value our own and I don't see us getting much for Roger. If we do make a trade, it will probably be a package of several of our AAAA guys.

Hope everyone is pleased that I did not jump in with my cockeyed plan that would make this bench the envy of everyone in baseball. I will stay silent for awhile as I know how bothersome it gets to read the same thing day after day.

Go Nats!! World Series or Bust!! Keep Morse (woops - I just can't help myself)!!

REW said...

So WANT baseball NOW!

Theophilus T. S. said...

sjm --

Why Minnesota would get rid of both Span and Revere is the conundrum. Span, I suppose, because of what they got in return, and Revere because he has serious holes in his game, sort of an experienced Eury Perez. (Add Perez to the Nats' list of sell high tradeables.) Look at what the Twins are left with and both Bernadina and Brown could look like starters. They also need help at short and second. But they have no incentive to acquire Morse, so no package deal seems likely.

Faraz Shaikh said...

as far as I understand, Twins are more than couple of pieces away from contention so they are inclined to build from within by trading pieces that can net them good returns. I am surprised they have still held onto Josh.

fast eddie said...

Theo:
If the Twins could use Bernadina or Brown, throw in Espi to solve their SS/2B problem.
So, do they have AAAA pitching talent to offer (besides Meyer)?

NatsNut said...

More important, what does JayB think?

NatsJack in Florida said...

fast eddie... the Twins have tons of AAAA pitching. It's called their starting rotation.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Faraz Shaikh said...

on-topic: GoSM had brought a good point regarding danny's OBP that it is a bit inflated by HBP. Someone needs to start counting OBP only as hits and walks out of all PAs (taking out bunts and hbp).


Thanks but I don't see them changing the calculation of OBP.

Its also amazing when you consider that Espi is a switch-hitter that most of the HBP are while he is batting lefty that its RHPs coming inside on him and not a curveball that isn't breaking. He is very good at taking his right elbow out near the plate to take those HBPs off of the elbow guard.



Muddy said...

Okay, Mark's post officially stresses me out about the Nats "problem" at corner IF: lots of guys for only two positin and I don't want to lose any of them. At 1B: LAR, Morse, TMo, and Skole. Marrero's star is most definitely in the descent. And Zimmerman's been mentioned as a candidate if someone else moves to 3B. And at
3B: Zimmerman, Rendon, Skole, Rivero, and Morse, too, since he started as a SS and could handle the position, IMO. I guess I'm going to have to give up Morse. But that leaves TMo, Rendon, Skole and Rivero -- oy.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Something maybe interesting on Michael Morse. He told a friend of mine at RZim's wedding that he was planning on being back in Washington in a couple of weeks for the FanFest.

I'm not sure if there is anything to read into that or not. I guess the good news is they have asked him to come and of course that is subject to him being traded before that but it says to me that if he shows up that maybe he is okay with staying and taking a reduced role.

I'm sure his first choice is to play full-time for another team but like I said yesterday that if he didn't get traded quickly probably meant that there was no over-whelming trade offers. I hope if nobody wows Rizzo that he keeps the Beast.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Muddy, you are naming a bunch of guys who haven't had an at-bat or even a full season in the Majors.

Better too much talent than not enough.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

NatsJack in Florida said...
fast eddie... the Twins have tons of AAAA pitching. It's called their starting rotation.

January 15, 2013 10:19 AM


Its as if they threw in the towel and are in re-build mode. It sucks in the short-term but that seems to be the only way to get better if you won't spend the big bucks in FA as you saw with Oakland.

Feel Wood said...

I guess the good news is they have asked him to come and of course that is subject to him being traded before that but it says to me that if he shows up that maybe he is okay with staying and taking a reduced role.

I would assume they have a standing order for any player currently on the 40 man roster to show up at the NatsFest. With it booked into the Convention Center now they certainly cannot field the lineup of scrubs they trotted out back in the day to caravan around to local Safeways and elementary schools. As soon as they make an exception for one big name player, they'd find themselves having to make exceptions for all of them.

Faraz Shaikh said...

GoSM, I agree no one will change OBP definition but inclusion of HBP in first place is a quirky choice.

'Something maybe interesting on Michael Morse. He told a friend of mine at RZim's wedding that he was planning on being back in Washington in a couple of weeks for the FanFest.'
That's very interesting. That tells you how much he enjoyed DC and Nats fans. Jeez, I wonder if he would actually listen to Sjm's offer.

NCNatsie said...

Not that he gets to make the decision, but if I'm Mikey, I'm looking for a National League team where I can start at 1B in a ballpark I can hit in. I don't much care about whether they are contenders.

I want the NL this year because if I can look good -- even just decent -- in the field, my value goes up for the next contract. And if I don't, I haven't really lost much, because people don't expect a lot. I'd be okay playing in the OF, but think my better long-range prospect is at 1B. OTOH, if I go to the AL, I'm likely to wind up as a DH and therefore might be limited to the AL in my next contract, thereby reducing my value, and therefore money.

Whatever, I hope he has a monster year and signs for big bucks. He's one of my favs.

Avar said...

That's a great bench. If we trade Morse, then I feel we must keep Bernie. He is a very strong 4th OF. If Morse stayed who is the odd man out? Has to be Moore, right? Since he hits RH.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Feel Wood said...
I would assume they have a standing order for any player currently on the 40 man roster to show up at the NatsFest. With it booked into the Convention Center now they certainly cannot field the lineup of scrubs they trotted out back in the day to caravan around to local Safeways and elementary schools. As soon as they make an exception for one big name player, they'd find themselves having to make exceptions for all of them.
January 15, 2013 10:52 AM


The Cardinals are the only team I know where all active players show up for the their "Winter Warm-up" and its mandatory. When Yadier Molina called in sick, it was a big deal.

I think the Orioles get all 25 man players except those living abroad and then they have top prospects, and a few retired players, and a few coaches.

Most other teams systematically pick and choose players for their FanFests as teams only have a certain amount of appearances in player contracts for team functions. The Nats for instance do on-going behind the scenes events throughout the year where players make appearances.

My guess is the Nats will have many of the current players and a few retired players and a few minor leaguers. I'm not even sure RZim will be back from his honeymoon in South Africa by then.

peric said...

What I have said DaveB is ,

There's no value in trading the AAA guys (with the exception of HRod which with Rizzo AIN'T HAPPEN'. Power ARM up to 101 mph? )

There is value to be had trading Tyler Moore and Stephen Lombardozzi. Both can and probably should be major league starters. Moore could be a power hitting star but really is wedged at a single position. Its not fair to these players who have worked very hard to get where they are to be stuck in a bench role in as much as it isn't fair to Michael Morse. All three have proven themselves as major league starters.

I'm not so sure the same cannot be said about Roger Bernadina now that he has altered his hitting approach. I'm not so sure he isn't better than Span offensively at this point and younger. But Rizzo made what the call and it will turn out to be a mistake in progress. Rizzo is still learning ... and he's light years better than Kasten and Bowden so ...

The point is given the Nats depth there is no reason they couldn't go with Corey Brown (who has more power than Bernadina and is the better fielder), Carlos Rivero for utility role. They also still have left-handed hitting Erik Komatsu who was good enough to make the Cardinals roster out of ST last season. They can move Zach Walters up in the depth chart AND there's Anthony Rendon who might be ready this season to start getting major league exposure.

The point is the bench looks strong even if they trade Lombo, Moore and Morse. Just because of Rendon.

It would be better to keep Morse for the reasons I have previously outlined ad nauseum. But, everyone seems to think the handwriting is on the wall and Boz deems it unfair to force LaRoche et al to share at bats with MikeyMo. I disagree because I don't have as much faith in LaRoche as Boz does ...

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Avar said...
That's a great bench. If we trade Morse, then I feel we must keep Bernie. He is a very strong 4th OF. If Morse stayed who is the odd man out? Has to be Moore, right? Since he hits RH.

January 15, 2013 11:05 AM


That's the way I see it. I also think it would help Moore to play everyday.

peric said...

Add to my list the names of Chris Marerro for a right handed bench bat, along with the possibility that Brian Goodwin could get some major league exposure and to a lesser extent Matt Skole. But, these final two I deem to be September call-ups and would have to added to the 40-man roster for that to occur. I don't see it happening this season but you never know.

peric said...

That's the way I see it. I also think it would help Moore to play everyday.

Not unless you count pinch hitting Ghost. I see him playing LESS than last year without an injury to LaRoche. If Harper and Werth fill the corners and you've got Span in center? Neither Harper or Werth or going to want to come out. LaRoche? Come out? Not on your life as Giggles used to say. Sans injury.

I see a very reduced role for Moore which really is unfair to him. He probably should be in the AAA lineup everyday. The same with Lombo. But that reduces their trade value!!!

Both of those players should be traded and soon.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Peric said...I'm not so sure the same cannot be said about Roger Bernadina now that he has altered his hitting approach. I'm not so sure he isn't better than Span offensively at this point and younger. But Rizzo made what the call and it will turn out to be a mistake in progress. Rizzo is still learning ... and he's light years better than Kasten and Bowden so ...


Bernadina had a very good year with his new approach at the plate. Two years ago he came into Spring Training all jacked up because he thought he had to hit HRs as a corner outfielder. Now that he is back to hitting line drives and taking the ball oppo and taking his walks, he has raised his BA and OBP and made some very clutch hits in 2012.

I'm just not convinced that he could carry that success over to playing every day. Some players are better at flying under the radar which the bench allows while also giving premium matchups such as the RHP/LH.

Scott Hairston is proof of that. As a starter his OBP was only .291. As a sub/PH, his OBP was .345. The difference was even larger with his OPS .785 vs. .913

peric said...

In any case as Luke Erickson observed Nats player scouting and player development have focused more on developing position players than pitchers. Luke is right they need to get some pitching talent into the system now and start developing it beyond what they already have.

Strasburg could be gone in 2016-2017 time frame. The Nats need to be prepared with more than just Karns and Giolito. No one wants Strasburg to leave but its still a business and one where Scott Boras subscribes to testing the free agent waters. And LA and Stan are out there.

Theophilus T. S. said...

Re: Bernadina's "new approach" to hitting --

The only consistent thing about Bernadina has been his inconsistency. He can be hotter than Katherine Webb for a couple of weeks and then colder'n a mackerel. And throw in a couple of stupid plays for good measure. I'm not sure what constituted his "new approach" -- lighter bat? Swing for the gaps, not the fences? In any event, based on his history, how can you count on him keeping it together for another season?

In any event, it will be harder for him to maintain his "new approach" with fewer ABs than last season (because we expect the starting OFs to be healthy). I'd try to get something good, with him as part of a package, before the Nats start paying more for less.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

peric said...
Not unless you count pinch hitting Ghost. I see him playing LESS than last year without an injury to LaRoche. If Harper and Werth fill the corners and you've got Span in center? Neither Harper or Werth or going to want to come out. LaRoche? Come out? Not on your life as Giggles used to say. Sans injury.

I see a very reduced role for Moore which really is unfair to him. He probably should be in the AAA lineup everyday. The same with Lombo. But that reduces their trade value!!!

Both of those players should be traded and soon.

January 15, 2013 11:20 AM


I would agree with you on Moore as his playing time will be less and not more as it looks now. All 3 lefties (Span, Harp, ALR) hit LHPs well except for those slurvie 3/4 armslot lefties so there isn't that need to sit your lefties against LH starting pitching.

The Nats don't face the Yankees until the World Series so they won't have to face their lefty pitchers until then.

Moore will get his ABs mostly as a pinch-hitter.

I do think Davey could do a better job of resting some of his starters more often. 155 games with 7 rest days a season is like a full-season. I think Werth and LaRoche would both benefit more with regular intervals of rest.

More injuries happen from pushing players. I think that's what happened in the demise of Flores after his hamstring injury.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Theophilus T. S. said...
Re: Bernadina's "new approach" to hitting --

He can be hotter than Katherine Webb for a couple of weeks and then colder'n a mackerel


Post of the day for me so far! Any Katherine Webb reference worked into a baseball analogy works for me. True on Bernie. The guy had some red hot moments and luckily not too many cold streaks.

NatsLady said...

Rumor has it the Nats are interested in This Guy

Thoughts?

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/w/webbbr01.shtml

NatsLady said...

I like the way this is phrased...

The Nats don't face the Yankees until the World Series so they won't have to face their lefty pitchers until then.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

In the world according to Bill Ladson, here's his answer to where Bryce bats in a Q&A:

Q: If Jayson Werth bats in the middle of the order, what right-handed hitter is the best choice for No. 2 after Denard Span?
-- John F., Germantown, Md.

A: First of all, I think Bryce Harper will hit second most of the time. But if a tough left-hander is on the mound, I could see Johnson inserting Danny Espinosa or Ian Desmond as the second-place hitter. Batting second, Desmond has a .288 career batting average and a .321 on-base percentage. While Espinosa's numbers aren't impressive, I see him making improvements hitting second under Johnson

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

NatsLady said...
I like the way this is phrased...

The Nats don't face the Yankees until the World Series so they won't have to face their lefty pitchers until then.

January 15, 2013 11:59 AM


Thanks. I'm trying to keep the positive approach. I'm hoping this is the year especially for Davey!

Theophilus T. S. said...

NatsLady --

Brandon Webb is CMW squared. Extremely enticing upside and almost no reason to believe he'll ever get back to it.

If he by some chance resurrects his career it will be with some team that needs pitching much more than the Nats.

(Having said that, given who's available, Syracuse and Harrisburg could have epically bad pitching this year.)

sjm308 said...

Love that Ghost also is looking at the march to the World Series!!

This is just so new (to me at least) that we honestly have a surplus of talent. I can remember the huge debates about who would actually be coming north. Now, its who will be traded because they won't get enough playing time.

I am going to side with Peric on this one. Moore and Lombo will probably never have a higher value and yes, they both can start for a variety of teams. We also have C. Brown vs. Bernadina this spring so there will be lots going on.

Faraz, this is going to shock you but I don't have the 20 million available to extend Morse right this second. I will put MicheleS in charge of fund raising and see what happens. It still makes more sense to bring Morse to ST and see what injuries develop not just in our camp but in others. The more other teams suffer injuries, the higher his value grows.

Go Nats!! World Series or Bust!! Keep Morse!!

natsfan1a - is there a way I can save that last line and just punch one number or letter? Go Nats!! was ok but its getting more lengthy as we go.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

NatsLady said...
Rumor has it the Nats are interested in This Guy

Thoughts?

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/w/webbbr01.shtml

January 15, 2013 11:57 AM


Brandon Webb was a Rizzo guy at Arizona and luckily the Nats didn't go for him last year since they had Wang in that similar situation and a year ahead of where Webb was in his recovery.

I think Rizzo likes him but I think a lot of that depends on what they do with Vazquez.

If the Nats don't get Vazquez, Webb is still a long-shot to make it back to anywhere near his prior self.

By the way, Webb was never a power pitcher. He's a 4 seam guy with top speed of 90mph and his 2nd pitch was a killer curve. He would mix in a changeup and slider which he doesn't throw much.

Here's the problem. If his curveball isn't working he is only a reliever candidate and wouldn't be too effective with a 85 to 88 fastball.

I would pass on him as his curveball isn't working. I think he's a pickup for a lesser team hoping for a miraculous recovery.

Water23 said...

Theophilus T. S. -

I'm not sure what constituted his "new approach" -- lighter bat?

Yes, yes, he did get a Lighter Bat. He used to use one of Paul Bunyan's axe handles (34 ounces) but now uses a smaller one (31 1/2 ounces).

Theophilus T. S. said...

Re: Ladson ready to sub Desmond for Harper --

Apart from assigning Harper rather than Werth to the number two spot, Ladson must be suffering from some degenerative thinking disease.

NatsLady said...

Nats not on the ESPN Sunday night baseball schedule... (through July 21). NO RESPECT. Ok, we'll just stay under the radar...

NatsLady said...

Theo--having been burned by CMW, who I really supported and thought had a chance to make it back, I'm taking a back seat on Webb. But if he comes in to the Nats system, I'll watch with interest.

Darin H said...

I have to say this, Peric is an idiot.

1. He is a homer who puts way too much value in our minor league players. If Corey Brown was going to be a starter / star it would have happened already.

2. He thinks he knows more than Rizzo and our scounts - WRONG.

3. Tyler Moore and Steve L in NO WAY "Deserve" to be starters somwhere else. It is not wrong to develop your own talent and while they are young and controlable make them ride your bench and provide depth.

That's how team who dont operate like the Yankees work. It happens in baseball and in football. The "next man up" philosophy. And when that "next man" does come up, if they prove they are better than the guy ahead of them on a consistant basis, they move up the depth chart.

Steve L, Rodger and Tyler all had great years last year but it was either their first year in the majors or their first year generating proven results.

You dont know that these guys can produce consistantly. If we were a middling team, you could get rid of the guy ahead of them, start them and wait on potential. However, we are a WS contender, so you start PROVEN players. Let Steve, Tyler and Rodger get more expereince on the bench, you still control them and when your team and depth chart is ready to make the decision, make it then.

Keep them all, let them ride the pine. Win.

Water23 said...

NL,

It has nothing to do with ESPN. It has everything to do with the cost of late night Metro service. :) Cue - Lerners are cheap crowd!!!

Actually, I am a little surprised as they have a number of marquee players but maybe it has to do with not playing the Yanks or BoSox during the season?

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

sjm, I am fully in the Keep Morse camp if they can't get a Top 5 team prospect from a good team. Morse is a game changer and smart money says if someone is hurt that Morse is the type of guy you need.

Remember there are some teams with lousy farm systems where their #5 prospect doesn't even make a Baseball America Top 200. I think Rizzo has to find a Prospect who is a BA Top 100 guy but this is also Rizzo's expertise is knowing the prospects.

Keep in mind that Rizzo could keep Morse and trade him on July 31st also. I think the chances are slightly better today than last week that the team retains Morse. I give it a 10% chance today that Rizzo keeps Morse.

Theophilus T. S. said...

My recollection of Webb is as a sinkerball guy. To be a low ERA, high K guy in Phoenix -- without a big heater -- for all of those years was quite an accomplishment.

I think the Nats were looking at him seriously a couple of years ago and back then it seemed like a good idea. However, he hasn't been able to make it through Spring Training the last couple of years and I don't really believe anything has changed.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Water23 said...
NL,

It has nothing to do with ESPN. It has everything to do with the cost of late night Metro service. :) Cue - Lerners are cheap crowd!!!

Actually, I am a little surprised as they have a number of marquee players but maybe it has to do with not playing the Yanks or BoSox during the season?

January 15, 2013 12:22 PM


I guess you learned nothing from last years discussion that MLB prohibits teams for paying for additional municipal services like mass transit.

NatsLady said...

Water23, it's hard for me to imagine that a team like the Nats, with Harper and Stas, and the best team in MLB last season, wouldn't be "interesting" to ESPN. Maybe they are waiting for a date when Stras pitches, which you can't know this far in advance.

NatsLady said...

Darin H--I am puzzled by Corey Brown. Seems like he would fit in just fine, but doesn't get playing time, isn't on the "bench set in stone." Davey and Rizzo must see something missing there. Rizzo traded for him, so he saw potential--is that potential not being realized, or is it simply a matter of logjam in the outfield?

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

There's also many opportunities with the Nats on the road to showcase them on Sunday Night Baseball.

Personally I think its better especially with Gio that he seems to get more worked up in the national spotlight.

Feel Wood said...

Nats not on the ESPN Sunday night baseball schedule... (through July 21). NO RESPECT.

That's actually a good thing. With or without the issue of late-night Metro, Sunday night games are harder on the fans than the normal Sunday day game. And they are definitely harder on the players, since one or both teams needs to travel after the game, often to play a game the next day. (Remember the Memorial Day game in Miami that followed a Sunday night game in Atlanta.) Even the fans watching at home find reason to complain, because they don't have their home team announcers. Whatever "respect" or "national recognition" a team gets from a Sunday ESPN game, it pales in comparison to the negatives of playing it.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Feelwood, well written but national exposure on TV is a step forward for the franchise.

Section 222 said...

Totally agree with Feel on the ESPN games. Excellent points. I'll be happy to watch the Nats on Sunday night when they're away, but spare us the nationally televised games at home. Much more trouble than they are worth. For national exposure, MLB Network will pick up plenty of Nats games, home and away, at their normal times.

Anyone have an idea when the times of the home games will be announced? We can guess most of them of course, but it would be nice to know. And except for the Royals series in August, nationals.com has all of the away game times published.

Doc said...

RE: Brandon Webb

Rizzo likes his Arizona guys, and if I can recall correctly it was his dad that initially scouted Webb in Kentuck.

Apart from having a old homey metality, Webb is short a few pitches that he used as a Cy Guy. Also, he hasn't pitched in the Bigs for almost 4 years.

Probably time for him find another career.

Faraz Shaikh said...

Correct me if I am wrong, but ESPN sunday night schedule could change, right?

not that I care, I would gladly take afternoon games.

Regarding webb, I wanted Nats to sign him one year ago. Glad they did not because he barely played any professional ball last season. whether he signs with us or not, I wish him the best because he was one of the best NL pitchers for few years and I enjoyed watching his videos.

natsfan1a said...

Not an armchair GM type so I'll leave the bench to Davey and (In Rizzo We) Trust.

Catching up with comments,

sjm: you could probably program a function key for that, but it's not my area of expertise. :-)

In addition to FW's and 222's good points on ESPN: I don't respect that network, so I don't need to have them respect my team. Also, team performance on nationally televised games hasn't always been, er, stellar.

Bonus comment: maybe NL or another stats-head having the time and inclination could update the NIDO how-to section with links to fave beginner stats sites? Just a thought.

Feel Wood said...

Ghost Of Steve M. said...
Feelwood, well written but national exposure on TV is a step forward for the franchise.


I believe there is also a limit to the number of times any particular team can appear on Sunday ESPN during the season, isn't there? By not scheduling the Nats for games early in the season, ESPN may be betting that they are still likely to be in the thick of the race late in the season which would make those games more attractive as national telecasts. That is also a sign of respect for the franchise.

NatsLady said...

The Rangers got three games. The Nats, A's and Reds got none.

Date Game
March 31 Texas Rangers at Houston Astros
April 7 Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers *
April 14 Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees
April 21 St. Louis Cardinals at Philadelphia Phillies
April 28 Atlanta Braves at Detroit Tigers
May 5 Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants
May 12 Los Angeles Angels at Chicago White Sox
May 19 Detroit Tigers at Texas Rangers
May 26 Atlanta Braves at New York Mets
July 14 St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs
July 21 New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox

NatsLady said...

So: ESPN is totally disrespecting the Rangers--expecting them to be out of it by the trade deadline.

peric said...

I have to say this, Peric is an idiot.

1. He is a homer who puts way too much value in our minor league players. If Corey Brown was going to be a starter / star it would have happened already.


Right and Darin L? Where were you when I predicted that Michael Morse would have a break out season if he were brought up to the majors? I did this way before anyone here ... and IN POINT OF FACT everyone here who are here and before here with Harlan Chico on NJ called Morse a AAAA player who wasn't even a major league bench player? I called that the trade the best thing Rizzo could have done given the situation with Bowden.

Then there was my call that Lannan would end up in AAA because he was statistically the worst starter in the major leagues. I look forward to seeing him against the Nats hitters for that reason ...

Some folks think I am over enamored with our AAA guys but when we were wedged in last place with no hope, I really found Riggleman's approach to the game extremely aggravating as many here remember. Play the veterans or else "he would lose them". Respect the game by putting these inferior 2 skill (speed and some fielding) types that he, Riggelman was over enamored with, in instead of trying some of the guys in AAA who were getting Syracuse winning seasons.

Sure, there is a different between AAA and the majors. But as Davey (through Boz) has again said, you are sometimes better finding out what these guys can do by playing them in the majors, finishing their schooling there.

Now, Lombo is a nice player but HE IS MNO Espinosa. Not even in the same galaxy moron. You are a moron if you can't see that. The Nats suffered through all the losing waiting for players like Espy. And you are ready to give up on him after he hit 37 doubles last season and almost broke 20 homers again? Really? Given also that he is gold glove caliber at any position on the infield? Really? And you think that Carlos Rivero who capable of playing all the positions (while really Lombo **IS** not) wouldn't be a good choice for the bench? Or top prospect Anthony Rendon?

And if you actually believe Tyler Moore is as good as Morse? Really? As Ghost said Morse is a game changer. Moore is not as yet.


Section 222 said...

I believe there is also a limit to the number of times any particular team can appear on Sunday ESPN during the season, isn't there?

That may be, but given how many times we seem to see the Yankees vs. the Red Sox, the limit must not be that stringent.

peric said...

Sorry ... I meant to say Chico Harlan ... :)

Section 222 said...

That first game with the Rangers at the Astros is going to get huge numbers. Who wouldn't want to tune in to the Astros' first game in the junior circuit. Oh my!

peric said...

You dont know that these guys can produce consistantly. If we were a middling team, you could get rid of the guy ahead of them, start them and wait on potential. However, we are a WS contender, so you start PROVEN players.

This **IS** the Riggleman mentality that got them mired in last place. Play the so-called "proven" veterans like Willie Harris, Alex Cora, need I list more? This **IS** the wrong approach and it is a losing approach over the long haul. The only reason it works for the Yankees is because they were able to bring in expensive, younger free agents like Texiera to shore things up. The Nats aren't in that position. They aren't in Tampa Bay's spot anymore but they aren't in LA's, Texas's or the Yankees either.

There's no guarantee these players (especially those with Boras as their agent) won't jump ship and end up in LA like not a few high end players have. I don't want that to happen and I am certain ownership will try their best to preclude it but it still could ...

You trade players like Lombo, Moore for starting pitching prospects because the draft is no longer the nice source it was for the Nats. Thanks to the Nats use of over slotting top prospects after drafting them low the rules have changed.

Now you have to trade position players to get pitching. Whereas before you the strategy was to trade pitching to get position players. They must now do the reverse or risk ending right back in the cellar.

NatsLady said...

222, totally not fair! I don't want to buy a new monitor!!! Actually, people might watch out of total desperation--- NEEDING BASEBALL.

Section 222 said...

NL, you're probably right. But I think I can hold out less than 24 hours for our home opener.

Gorse Hackage, still waiting for spring said...

Darin H said...
I have to say this, Peric is an idiot.


No, you don't have to. "I don't agree with him" works just fine.

Steady Eddie said...

What all of those ESPN games have in common is that they all involve at least one team from NY, LA, or that has been in the WS within the past couple of years.

I'm totally with most of y'all on that. Better for players and fans to have Sunday day games.

SCNatsFan said...

I agree Gorse.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

For what its worth: Dominican station reports saying that the Nats have signed closer/setup man Rafael Soriano.
Is this more rumor? Boras?

Gorse Hackage, still waiting for spring said...

I hate this weather. I think I'll go scout out Ft. Myers.

SCNatsFan said...

RE: TV - the one things I noticed last year, being a unfortunate Nats fan out of state, is that on the MLB network the Nats had one of the two HD games more often as the year went on.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SCNatsFan said...

ABout Soriano - just don't see the Nats giving up a pick. That being said they probably just signed him.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

https://twitter.com/Adanlesther/status/291246087015129088

peric said...

For what its worth: Dominican station reports saying that the Nats have signed closer/setup man Rafael Soriano.
Is this more rumor? Boras?


This year's Brad Lidge insurance policy? We know Rizzo is into that. And given that the Morse trade argument doesn't seem to hold as much water as Boz would have us believe.

SCNatsFan said...

eric if its true the 14M a year is an awful expensive Lidge. Would think this meams Clip is on the move.

peric said...

Yes losing that draft pick does not sound like Rizzo and this FO. UNLESS a trade or trades are in the offing to greatly replenish the system beyond what is already there.

Faraz Shaikh said...

Yeah, it does not seem like a Rizzo move. First of all, that's a lot of money for a reliever. Second, that basically means Rizzo moves a cheaper guy to accommodate Soriano.

peric said...

Who is Adan Guzman and why is he a good source?

SCNatsFan said...

If you think Soriano is = or > Clip then if you sign him and move Clip for young talent then that lessens the sting of losing the pick. Would think Morse + Clip would bring some strong young talent back.

peric said...

Would think this meams Clip is on the move.

Or Mattheus. I should think Clip his arm was becoming questionable last season ... whereas Mattheus is still basically fresh. Riggleman overused Clip that we know for sure.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Hector Gomez with a quote from Rafael Soriano: "I thank God for the opportunity to be with the Nationals"

peric said...

Would think Morse + Clip would bring some strong young talent back.

They need to restock the pitching NOW so that Rizzo and the franchise doesn't end up in a situation where they go from riches to famine overnight in 2 years or so. Rizzo is a big one for having contingencies.

This is why trade[s]s may be critical at this juncture ... and it won't be AA/AAA prospects these will be A+ or below prospects with high ceilings that can be developed in that time period.

SCNatsFan said...

True peric, didn't think of that; without checking (I'm lazy) I thought Clip would be the better contract to move

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

I said after the playoffs meltdown that the Nats would look at Boras 2 veteran closing candidates. Madson was off the board quickly. If the Nats did this, its another example of "going for it".

Gorse Hackage, still waiting for spring said...

MLBTR said this: "

Soriano, 33, pitched to a 2.26 ERA, 9.2 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 67 2/3 innings for the Bombers in 2012. He also racked up 42 saves following injuries to Mariano Rivera and David Robertson. The strong season prompted Soriano to opt out of his three-year contract, reportedly in search of a new four-year deal on the free agent market."

UnkyD said...

"Darin H said...
I have to say this, Peric is an idiot.

No, you don't have to. "I don't agree with him" works just fine."
---------------------
Thanks, Gorse.... Tried about a dozen responses to that, but could not attain an acceptably low snark level.... ;-)
Nicely done...

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Nats payroll heading towards $120 million!

Faraz Shaikh said...

this isn't happening?

Gorse Hackage, still waiting for spring said...

Guzman's tweet read: "Rafael Soriano firma con Nacionales de Washington por 28 millones de Dolares, 2 Years y una opcion para el tercero."

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

@JeffPassan saying its a done deal. Person close to the negotiations saying not yet.

Gorse Hackage, still waiting for spring said...

One gets the impression Rizzo is thinking double-barrels: this year or next.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Jim Bowden reporting its a done deal. I'm also being told that it doesn't mean Clippard or Storen are being traded.

Gorse Hackage, still waiting for spring said...

Person close to the negotiations saying not yet.

I hope this leak doesn't blow it up. Rizzo does not like being scooped.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Danny Rouhier saying 2 yrs $28 million "That's closer money".

No, that's beyond closer money. That is Lerner/Rizzo saying we don't ever want to see a closer fidgeting and sweating in a key game.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

MLBTR just posted up! Wow!!!!!

peric said...

One gets the impression Rizzo is thinking double-barrels: this year or next.

There has to be a HUGE trade in the works guys ... and it almost has to be with Tampa Bay, the "fountain of youth" source for starting pitching prospects. Otherwise, Rizzo and Clark would not surrender that draft pick.

Wait for it ... if you have hook ups to Rays tweets starting checking them out from here on out ... and the trade might not even involve Morse! But, we'll see ...

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Is Jon Heyman out of the country? How did he miss a Boras deal? I got it before him?

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2013/01/nationals-to-sign-rafael-soriano.html

Alphabet Soup Erik said...

I think Storen just got bitch-slapped to the set-up role.

Faraz Shaikh said...

'No, that's beyond closer money. That is Lerner/Rizzo saying we don't ever want to see a closer fidgeting and sweating in a key game.'

How do y'all think Storen feels right now?

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Peric, it means nothing of the sort. It means the Lerner's just handed over even more money to Rizzo. The bullpen and a #6 pitcher is all this team has lacked.

You don't turn around and get rid of Clippard or Storen at this point. Henry Rodriguez is a different story IMO.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Jon Heyman just posted up so you know its legit.

Gorse Hackage, still waiting for spring said...

They might also be looking to slip Henry through waivers, and if he doesn't make it, oh well...

Alphabet Soup Erik said...

Clippard must be the new LOOGY!!!

Gorse Hackage, still waiting for spring said...

This may also be attributable to a wintertime Zuckerman Effect: just when Mark posts "nothing doing," something happens.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Faraz Shaikh said...
'No, that's beyond closer money. That is Lerner/Rizzo saying we don't ever want to see a closer fidgeting and sweating in a key game.'

How do y'all think Storen feels right now?

January 15, 2013 2:28 PM


Its a message for sure. No other way to look at it even if Storen starts in the closer role.

The Cardinals weren't imagining smelling blood in the water with Gio and Storen. It was there. I like both these guys but you have to control your nerves and have ice flowing through your veins.

Feel Wood said...

Danny Rouhier saying 2 yrs $28 million "That's closer money".

Definitely a closer contract. Per MLBTR: "The deal includes a 2015 option valued at $14MM that will vest if Soriano finishes 120 games over the course of the next two seasons."

I think Rizzo wasn't saying "Druuuuuuuuuuuuuu" after all.

Gorse Hackage, still waiting for spring said...

Dang. Coke to GoSM. I knew I should have posted that before I went to the bathroom.

Exposremains said...

I've been saying it for while a really good RH reliever is better than an ok LH.

MicheleS said...

Holy FLIPPIN CRAP! Rizzo just suprised us. Soriano? What does this mean for Drew?

peric said...

Peric, it means nothing of the sort. It means the Lerner's just handed over even more money to Rizzo. The bullpen and a #6 pitcher is all this team has lacked.

Strongly disagree Ghost. As Dan Kolko has stated the Nats give up both a very valuable draft pick and bonus pool money to sign draft picks. This may be a case where the Nats are attempting to bypass the clamps put on them by Selig with the new CBA vis-a-vis their now famous over-slot signings such as top prospect Nate Karns (Lerner money there as well and well spent!).

They can accomplish more by trading position players who are ready for high ceiling prospects working their way up from A ball. I expect a blockbuster trade to occur in the near term.

blovy8 said...

No, that's stupid money for an old fart who can't earn it. Soriano isn't better than Storen. You may as well trade him with Morse for prospects now.

peric said...

Holy FLIPPIN CRAP! Rizzo just suprised us. Soriano? What does this mean for Drew?

Nothing. Soriano is 33 years old. He's the Brad Lidge insurance policy albeit a far more expensive one.

Water23 said...

Nice player but terrible deal. 3 yrs 42 Million is way too much for someone that was just out there hanging about. Where is Ryan Madson when you need him?

blovy8 said...

Have to agree with Peric, giving up a pick on top of the overpay is unbelievable.

MicheleS said...

Ted Lerner has been drinking with Boras again. That's all i can think. Boras must slip something into his drinks to get him to sign this stuff

peric said...

kilgore's justification for a Soriano signing on January 6th:

Now that we have that out of the way, there are also plenty of reasons why it does make sense. Davey Johnson loves his ‘A’ and ‘B’ closer system on winning teams, and Soriano’s presence would give him that option. If the Nationals challenge 100 wins next season, both Soriano – who notched 42 saves with a 185 ERA+ and 9.2 K/9 for the Yankees last season – and Storen would get plenty of save chances.
The Nationals don’t need to replace Storen, who was great down the stretch until the final game. But they could augment him. Remember last year, when the Nationals signed Brad Lidge to swing between closing and setting up to take pressure off Clippard and Storen? Soriano would be like a Super Brad Lidge. He’d also be about a dozen times more expensive, but we’ll get to that.
Last year, scouts believed the back of the Nationals’ bullpen wore down significantly in September. Soriano, who has averaged 56 games the past seven seasons, would give them enough depth to prevent that this season. So he’s not a lefty. They could still execute one of the smartest moves in any sport – strengthening a strength.
The Nationals clearly rank in the top third of the league, if not the top five, with their rotation, infield and outfield. By adding Soriano, they would make their bullpen every bit as good, on paper, as the rest of their team. The bullpen is good, potentially very good, as it is. It could be excellent with Soriano.

peric said...

Nice player but terrible deal. 3 yrs 42 Million is way too much for someone that was just out there hanging about. Where is Ryan Madson when you need him?

2 years 28 million is what I'm seeing. Not three years.

Feel Wood said...

Soriano? What does this mean for Drew?

He'll have to start paying attention earlier in the game. And he can quit worrying about what pitch to throw when he has the opposing team down to their last strike.

Faraz Shaikh said...

I don't think I like this move.

peric said...

@NFA_Brian: hopefully this spells dee eff ay for H_rod

Gorse Hackage, still waiting for spring said...

Nevermind that, the guy has his own run-in song!

Water23 said...

New post !

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Ghost Of Steve M. said...
I said after the playoffs meltdown that the Nats would look at Boras 2 veteran closing candidates. Madson was off the board quickly. If the Nats did this, its another example of "going for it".
January 15, 2013 2:17 PM


Peric, when I wrote that in October you told me I was crazy.

Lerner just went crazy!

sm13 said...

SorIano? Wow, mystery team strikes again. my guess is that Tyler is packaged with Morse on a trade

natsfan1a said...

I neither like nor dislike this move, not having all that much info on it, not being an armchair GM type, and not being particularly into knee-jerk reactions. But that's just me. :-)

I can see Charlie and Dave dancing to it now, Gorse.

Gorse Hackage, still waiting for spring said...

Nevermind that, the guy has his own run-in song!
January 15, 2013 2:40 PM

peric said...

Kilgore again ... and we have to wonder about Boras end-running Rizzo for Ted Lerner? Of course Rizzo would be in the loop but I can't see Rizzo agreeing unless he is just finishing the final investigation/medicals/etc. for the prospects he is about to pick up in trade. In other words it has to be a done deal except for the final details.

Here is how Soriano coming to Washington would happen. Boras needs a late-winter landing spot for Soriano. He goes straight to Ted Lerner and convinces him that he has a team set to contend for and maybe win the World Series, but with one hole – the back end of the bullpen that faltered at the worst time last season. He tells him the Nationals will have a finite window to compete for titles, and now is the time to become as strong as possible – with Soriano as the final, missing piece.

peric said...

Peric, when I wrote that in October you told me I was crazy.

Good call by both you and Kilgore!

Have to figure they no longer see the draft as the means to their end goal of producing a perennial winner. The draft now takes a lesser role than it has the past three years under Rizzo and his FO.

Teddy Rochlis said...

its 3/42 if you add the vesting option which you can't so the offical deal is 2/28

Tcostant said...

I mention this before ALR resign as a possible Rizzo move, all here told me I was crazy. With that said, once ALR re-signed, I no longer thought it would happen as I figured if ALR signed elsewhere the draft pick comp would at least be close to the #1 pick lost. I'm a little shocked!

peric said...

@NFA_Brian: Clippard is now arb eligible, wonder if this huge RP salary for Sori means Clippard the guy to move.

peric said...

@AdamKilgoreWP: The sides reached a two-year, $28 million contract with a $14 million option for 2015 that will vest if Soriano finished 120 games combined over the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Owner Ted Lerner, one person familiar with the negotiations said, was heavily involved in bringing Soriano to Washington.

peric said...

The analysis continues:

@NFA_Brian: 2013 draft is weak; Nats bonus pool was small prior to Sori deal; not much change in what they could have accomplished this year.

peric said...

I still think it might signal a deviation in their original franchise building strategy but we'll have to wait and see.

peric said...

@NFA_Brian: deal does put Nats in position to move Storen or Clippard mid-season (a la Morse) if the right guy(s) become available.

@nats_prospects: Despite this, I'm *still* not buying the yapping about a two-time TJer becoming a SP.

@NFA_Brian: nor am I

Remember both Luke and Brian believe that Nate Karns is not a starter. Rizzo MAY also include him in a deal if he agrees with their assessment in order to obtain true starter quality prospects.

blovy8 said...

As has been said, there's no way you can call the Lerners cheap now.

Doc said...

The other shoe about to drop.

JayB said...

As Long as there is NO DeRosa I am happy!

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