Monday, March 1, 2010

Inching toward the Grapefruit League

VIERA, Fla. -- These next few days will probably drag along more than any others this spring, because it's around this time that everyone begins itching to get the exhibition season started.

Unfortunately, the Grapefruit League doesn't commence until Thursday, when the Nats send one split-squad to Kissimmee to face the Astros and another to Jupiter to face the Marlins. Until then, they've got three more days of full-squad workouts to slog their way through.

That means another round of defensive fundamentals today, another round of conditioning and another round of live BP. The guys throwing today include John Lannan, Scott Olsen, Ron Villone, Eddie Guardado, Garrett Mock, J.D. Martin, Matt Capps, Collin Balester, Brian Bruney, Jason Bergmann and Drew Storen. I'll try to catch a glimpse of as many of them as I can and report back with some analysis later.

Meanwhile, we got a couple more confirmations from Jim Riggleman about the upcoming starting rotation. Here's what we now know for sure...

THU at HOU (ss): Mock
THU at FLA (ss): Martin
FRI at ATL: Batista
SAT vs NYM: Lannan
SUN at NYM: Marquis
MON vs FLA: TBA (Olsen would seem a logical choice)
TUE vs DET: Strasburg

If you want to extrapolate the schedule out on a five-day plan, Lannan would be lined up to start Opening Day, though Marquis would need to be bumped one day to pitch Game 2, since there's an off-day between the two.

Other tidbits gleaned so far today ... Josh Willingham should arrive Wednesday or Thursday after dealing with some complications following the birth of his son, Ryder. Riggleman said he'll most likely start playing in games around next Monday. ... Everybody else among the position players (except for Jesus Flores) is good to participate in games from the get-go. ... For those wondering about the eventual makeup of the bullpen, Riggleman said he's not necessarily committed to keeping two left-handers (ie. Sean Burnett and either Eddie Guardado or Ron Villone). But he's also not going to rule out the possibility of keeping all three. This could wind up being one of the toughest roster decisions of the spring.


Nats fan in NJ said...

Mark - What about Chico? I saw you didn't give him that high a percentage to make the starting rotation (good write-up, btw) and he doesn't look like he's in the line-up based on this post. Does that mean he will pitch but just not start in one of those games?

Chico is my surprise pick for the fifth starter spot, especially if Olsen starts the season on IR.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update. Following your rotation post below, what would you say is the current thinking on Batista? 100% that he'll make the 25-man, and just need to figure out if it's SP or BP? Or is his shot at the team lie in cracking the rotation?
Pass NatTown thoughts and congrats on to the Hammer when you see him...

Sunderland said...

Wondering how in the world Riggleman and Rizzo are going to figure out how to give enough innings to the 37 (?) arms they have in camp.

At some point, I would think the Nats will have to start cutting people loose (Estes et al).
Peric noted that pitchers and catcher report March 5 for the Syracuse Chiefs. And I guess that will reduce the number of arms in camp by a few more.

But I'm betting that getting innings to everyone to both get them prepared (Lannan, Marquis, Capps, Bruney et al) and to let them compete (Chico, Batista, Mock et al) is going to be a problem.

Steve M. said...

I was in Viera over the weekend and couldn't access the Net so catching up on some great points from the gallery on the starting rotation.

David said...

My thought is that this team doesn't have an ace, at least not yet. Every team has a #1, but not every team has an ace and a few teams might have two.

Andrew said...

Innings eaters are great but winnings leaders is what this team needs.

I agree with David that this team doesn't have an ace yet. This was discussed one night on MASN last year too. Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann have ace type of stuff although it is way to soon to annoint either one with the ACE title. Based on Lannan's stats last year he would be a #4 or #5 on any of last years playoff teams. That is why Sporting News rated the 2010 Nats rotation with a D rating. Better than an F and probably a lot closer to an average C rating if one of these pitchers steps up.

The mentality with handling the pitchers is better now with McCatty's style I believe. The part that irks me is talking about innings eaters. I understand that you cant constantly press the bullpen though Livan doesnt seem like he could be a #3 in any other rotation in MLB and if that is the case it speaks volumes on this D rated rotation.

Steve M. said...

Here is the Sporting News link which I agree on being 2 pitchers light. I dont agree with them on there assessment of the bullpen.

Pitching: D. Until Wang (shoulder) is healthy, the rotation will be at least two starters thin. But the real issue is the bullpen, which finished with an MLB-worst 5.04 ERA. That ERA, however, still was better than the 5.80 mark Capps posted for Pittsburgh last season.

peric said...

"Stan Kasten's wave", the two pitchers missing would be Aaron Crow and Aroldis Chapman to go with Strasburg.

If by some miracle Rizzo makes a deal for someone of Matt Cain's ilk that would make up for it to some extent.

markfd said...

Steve- Mark was not saying that Livo was going to occupy the number 3 slot in the rotation but instead saying he had the third best chance to make the rotation,

peric said...

It would also seem logical to put the guys most likely to return to AAA up first. Their minor league camp begins at the end of this week. Spring training games not long after ... then off to Syracuse for the opener on April 8th ... brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr ...... although DC appears to be like upstate NY this year.

Steve M. said...

markfd - Thanks for the clarification. I am thinking Livo is a 5- as I think Marquis, Lannan, Olsen (hope), Stammen, Martin.

Everytime I see Aaron Crow's name I puke and then smile because I think of Drew Storen. Maybe Peric can leave that for his posts on WaPo. Fresh start here.

I still see 2010 as a turning point. 2011 is contention time.

Lannan, Marquis, Olsen, Strasburg, Zimmermann

That is a Major League rotation. Marquis may miss the playoffs for his first time in 11 years in 2010 but he will be back in the playoffs in 2011 with the Nats.

greg said...

steve, i don't buy that lannan would be a 4-5 on any playoff team from last year. he's certainly right there with the #3s on a number of teams.

the twins (he might have been a #2 on the twins)? colorado? even philly?

he's not an ace, and your rotation is better off if he's a #3/4 guy, but not every playoff rotation looks like the yankees/red sox/angels.

greg said...

peric, who do you think the giants would take in exchange for cain? not that i think he's even on the market, but if he was, the price would be pretty steep.

Steve M. said...

Steve M. said...

Lannan, Marquis, Olsen, Strasburg, Zimmermann

A buddy saw my Post and asked me where Wang and Detwiler were in "my" 2011 rotation.

Great point. A lot can change between now and then. Wang and Detwiler have to be in the mix along with any of the other young guys with Detwiler.

Avar said...

Whether Livo makes the roster is a great measuring stick. If we have 5 SPs who are better than him, that is progress.

Can't fault giving us a D on the rotation yet. BUT, there is an excellent chance that it will be a C or maybe even better by August. We couldn't ever say that before.

If the rotation 2nd half is Marquis, Lannan, Olsen, Strasburg, Wang - that could actually be a B. But that is only IF they perform at or close to expectations. At least there is a decent chance. Last year, there was zero chance.

Steve M. said...

greg said...
steve, i don't buy that lannan would be a 4-5 on any playoff team from last year. he's certainly right there with the #3s on a number of teams.

You are right. He would be the #2 on last years Rockies and would be a #5 on the Phillies and a #4 on the Cardinals and Dodgers.

John's problem is that he isn't overpowering. With a better defense, he will be a better pitcher.

You saw that I projected him #1 in the rotation for 2011 as he has improved each year. He is a crafty pitcher. He just wont blow anyone away.

greg said...

i dunno about #5 on the phillies. he's as good or better than blanton.

he's obviously not ahead of lee/hamels.

i agree lannan's not overpowering, but a lot of really good pitchers aren't. he's a solid #3 right now, imo.

Steve M. said...

Greg - Not here to argue about it because we are on the same side but a Rookie named J.A.Happ for the Phillies went 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA and a 1.235 WHIP.

I would put Blanton ahead of Lannan as Blanton was 12-8 vs. Lannan who was 9-13.

That is why Lannan would be a #5 on the Phillies and maybe a #4 if you put him ahead of Blanton.

You get my point though that vs. the NL Playoff teams (except the Rockies) Lannan is a middle to the end of the starting rotation.

I think John Lannan will step it up with a better defense behind him which is where a contact pitcher is better suited towards.

peric said...

"but if he [Cain] was, the price would be pretty steep."

Yep, but probably worth Desmond, Espinosa, Marerro, JZimm, Detwiler etc. Short of Strasburg ... and even Storen [Aaron Crow]. They are in a good position to do this right now this year. They have the 1st draft position again. They should be able to [with the new staff] make some fairly good choices to replace what they would lose. Then there's International which one would think they would want to jump on before it becomes a part of the draft.

Aggressive GM's are the guys who take teams from zeroes to heroes. That is what I thought we were getting in Rizzo.

peric said...

Of course an aggressive GM combined with a "Lerners are Cheap" ownership? Probably equates to the hodge podge pitching rotation that is in place now.

greg said...

fair enough, steve. i didn't put him ahead of happ for last year because i agree that happ had a great year. should have mentioned him, but i don't think he's on the lee/hamels level as a pitcher.

as far as the record, put blanton on the nats and lannan on the phillies and watch the records change drastically. W/L records, imo, are one of the worst ways to judge a pitcher. not that they're invalid stats, but to compare the record of a pitcher on the worst team in baseball (103 losses) with the record of the 5th best (93 wins) is almost disingenuous. not accusing you of being disingenuous, of course. just saying it's really an unfair comparison. not to mention the full 2 runs per game more of run support blanton got (7.37 to 5.19). that puts lannan's ERA 2.3 lower than his run support and blanton 4.3 lower than his run support. ginormous difference.

i do get your point, though. and i had lannan as a #4 on the phillies for sure (although if he was there from day 1, i doubt they would have signed pedro).

what i was trying to say is that there were at least a few rotations where he'd be better than a 4.

peric, i'm not exactly sure if you're proposing trading all of those guys or saying they'd all be worthwhile to put on the block for him.

and honestly, when you trade for someone like cain, it's not quantity for quality. teams rarely do that. it happens, they get fleeced. but the only guy on that list that would begin to interest them in a cain deal is zimmermann, and he's coming off TJ surgery. i don't think a single name on that list (even when bunched with a group) would get you a call-back on cain right now.

greg said...

rereading that, let me be more succinct, peric. i agree it would be great if cain were a nationals pitcher. and i see you've made a list of who you think it's worthwhile to give up to get him.

now it's time to look at it from the other perspective.

(a) do the giants want to trade him?
(b) what would it take to make the trade worthwhile to them?

this is the problem with so many trade proposals by fans. as a fan, you decide who you want and then decide who you think the team should give up. but trades need two partners and they both have to be satisfied. you have to look at what the trade partner would want and whether you can fit their needs with equal value.

it vaguely reminds me of all of the fantasy baseball trades that i immediately decline without even dignifying them with responses. some guy wants someone on my team, so he offers me the guys he doesn't need. and usually without bothering to look at what my needs might be. so if, say, i had zimmerman at 3B and a decent backup, i'll get an offer of a 3B for my starting 2B. which makes no sense from my perspective.

ok, that wasn't succinct, but it was more direct. making a trade with the giants for cain: what do they need? what would they get out of it? if you have a top player, you want a top player in return. even moreso if you're trading a cheap, financially under-control, top player. i don't think you've made a compelling case for the giants, just one for the nats.

Steve M. said...

Peric - Your on 5 or 6 different Blogs given the same advice on Cain. Get off of it. It aint going to happen.

With Rizzo, this team is quickly getting on the plan---the new plan.

Greg - I will concede as I would take Lannan over Blanton so we will agree that Lannan would be a #4 on the Phillies.

peric said...

'i don't think you've made a compelling case for the giants, just one for the nats."

And if you happen to sign Jose Julio Ruiz ... perhaps you have already signed Aroldis Chapman? Persistence and aggressiveness often wins the day.

Perhaps I am the "positive one" here? SCNats dude notwithstanding. I believe Rizzo could orchestrate this somehow.

peric said...

Peric - Your on 5 or 6 different Blogs given the same advice on Cain. Get off of it. It aint going to happen.

Sure, when FJB changes its name. That is one tired, lame, and silly excuse for a blog name. Fire JIm Bowden. Just as inane as wondering why we can't get Matt Cain? No, actually more so.

Everyone should get over themselves ... you all take yourselves far too seriously.

Steve M. said...

Add Adam Dunn to the list of potential pitchers. Now they have 38.

Anonymous said...

Does peric/periculum have an off switch? Or at least a dimmer switch? 'Cause reading the same old same old from him on every blog out there is getting rather tiresome...

greg said...

peric, i have no idea why you quoted what i said and then typed what you did afterward. there's really no relationship between "i don't think you've made a compelling case for the giants, just one for the nats" and signing ruiz/chapman as international FAs.

btw, steve is right, cain isn't coming here in any trade right now and constantly wishing for it won't make it happen. even if he changes his blog's name, it still won't happen.

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