Friday, July 30, 2010

Buzzword to this trade: Value

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Matt Capps' All-Star season may have landed the Nats a long-term catching answer.
Matt Capps was immensely valuable to the Nationals this season. With help from Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen and Sean Burnett, he turned what had been the organization's weakest link into its biggest strength.

Capps' value to the Nats, though, made his trade value even higher, which is why Mike Rizzo had no choice but to pull the trigger tonight when the Twins offered up Wilson Ramos and Joe Testa in exchange for his closer (plus $500,000 in cash).

Think about it this way: Seven months ago, Capps wasn't valued enough by the Pirates to be tendered a contract. Tonight, Minnesota GM Bill Smith valued Capps so much, he was willing to give up one of the top-rated young catchers in baseball.

Now, it should be noted Ramos' value with the Twins was minimal, considering they already own the best catcher in baseball. He was never going to crack the lineup at Target Field, not with Joe Mauer entrenched there for the next eight years.

But it should also be noted that Ramos was coveted by plenty of other clubs around the sport. When the Twins made a serious run at acquiring Cliff Lee earlier this month, Ramos was part of the proposed deal. He's not some throw-in or low-level minor-leaguer. He's the guy who most likely will supplant Ivan Rodriguez as the Nationals' everyday catcher, perhaps sometime next season.

Ramos, who turns 23 next month, is regarded as a strong defensive catcher who has also flashed a potent bat in the minors (he hit .317 last year at Class AA, though his average at Class AAA this year is only .241). He'll report to Syracuse for now, but the hunch here is that Ramos comes to D.C. as a September call-up. Next season, he splits the job with Pudge, eventually taking over as the starter.

In other words, Ramos is Jesus Flores circa 2008. (And by the way, if this deal doesn't confirm the Nationals have no faith Flores will ever return from his shoulder injury, nothing will.)

Isn't it worth giving up Matt Capps for that? You better believe it.

Capps will forever hold a special place in Nationals lore, both for the manner he performed on the field and for the manner in which he conducted himself off it. If there's a more genuine player in baseball, I haven't met him. Matt endured through a horrific 2009, punctuated by his father's death in October, and you can tell family is always first and foremost on his mind.

That he could recover emotionally from both the loss of his best friend and the sting of getting dumped by the only organization he had ever pitched for, then resurrect his career and earn his first All-Star berth speaks volumes about his character.

It takes a special breed to close in the big leagues. You have to have the stuff to get the game's best hitters out, but you also have to have nerves of steel to do it with the game on the line. Some simply don't have what it takes (see: Hanrahan, Joel). Whatever it is, Capps has it.

So why trade away a valuable commodity like that? Because contending clubs value closers even more this time of the year, and because the Nationals have the bullpen depth to overcome Capps' departure.

The Twins desperately needed a reliable closer for the rest of the season. Joe Nathan blew out his elbow in spring training. Jon Rauch (remember him?) tried his best to hold down the fort in Nathan's absence but has struggled in recent weeks with a role he's never quite been made for.

Thus, Minnesota's desperation played right into Rizzo's hand. Rizzo has insisted all month the asking price would be high for his three most-coveted players: Capps, Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham. He wasn't lying. He stuck to his guns and got a significant return for Capps.

And the Nationals still have a deep and talented bullpen, led by Storen, who will be this team's closer ... someday soon, but not yet. Jim Riggleman said tonight he plans to spread around save opportunities to several relievers, including Storen, Clippard, Burnett and Joel Peralta, playing the "hot hand" the rest of the way.

Nothing wrong with that. No sense thrusting Storen into the fire right away when there's no immediate need to do that. Let him ease his way into the job, perhaps taking over full-time ninth-inning duties next April.

There could come a day in the not-too-distant future when Storen is on the mound in the ninth-inning of a one-run game in the middle of a pennant race. Ramos could be behind the plate calling pitches. Stephen Strasburg could be in the dugout, rooting for Storen to secure the win after pitching eight innings himself.

When that day comes, take a quick moment to remember Matt Capps. If not for the job he did this season, it might not have been possible.

Capps won't be a member of the Nationals when they do find themselves in a pennant race, but he will have played a vital role in the franchise's transition from afterthought to contender.

In the end, that was his true value to the Nationals. And you can't thank him enough for it.

90 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jackpot!

Bas said...

Nicely written and I agree

meixler said...

Beautiful dude.

Anonymous said...

Capps will forever be a favorite of mine. After taking my friend's son to his first ballgame, I went to the dugout to ask for a ball from any passing player for the boy I had on display.

Matt Capps was empty handed at first but being the class act he is, went into the clubhouse and came out with a ball for the 5 year old.

This may seem like a small gesture for most or one Capps and others do often but it meant an awful lot to me and the little guy.

Besides, it wrestled the young man's fanhood from that scrub franchise up north and has been sporting a curly W hat ever since.

Sec3MyAnonymous said...

So, saving that All-Star game may yet come back to bite Capps. No good deed goes unpunished.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Mark. I was going to post to ask what this says about Flores. [I thought I knew.]

Anonymous said...

Agreed. Thanks Matty and best of luck!

Mr. Doggett said...

Well written, Mark. Someone needs to send this to Matt Capps and make sure he reads it.

Mr. Doggett said...

Oh and I guess those of you who have "Clip and Save" t-shirts don't have to get rid of them.

Richard said...

I can't believe all this raving about a guy who is hitting .240 with a .280 OBP and slugging .345. Unbelieveable. Kilgore wrote about his potential "power bat"! B.S. For this the Nats lose their all-star closer, a guy who brought a lot to the clubhouse, too, but Rizzo and the Nats management has never valued that. Every July it's the same thing, more A ball acquisitions in exchange for the few productive vets on the team. And the next year, more awful play. Oh yeah, they got an A ball reliever, too, who was just demoted by the Twins. Great. Rizzo ought to be wearing his clown outfit after this one. The guy is a real circus act.

Anonymous said...

Well written, Mark.

Before yesterday, Twins had 2 prospects on Baseball America's list of 50 Best Prospects, Nats zero. Now, 1 apiece.

Tegwar said...

Nicely written, I hope Matt helps the Twins to the playoffs.

Anonymous said...

I nice piece, Mark, and I know that a vast majority of readers agree with your assessment. I understand the argument, and Lord knows we need help up the middle.

But there is another side. We still traded an All Star closer (after having no decent closers for two years) for a guy hitting .240 in AAA ball. And unloaded payroll, because Capps was due a nice raise in arbitration, right?

I'm in 'wait and see' mode. I know conventional wisdom thinks this was the best thing since sliced bread, but I'm not gonna go that far.

Positively Half St. said...

Major-league ready catchers are hard to come by, and closers seem to be more fleeting in value (see Chad Cordero). I hope Capps continues to succeed, but he wasn't nearly as good even one season ago. Rizzo scouted well and signed Capps at a cut rate, getting full value for his work. Free agents can be purchased for money alone. Top young prospects can only come in drafts or trades. The Nats and Twins both win with this trade.

pauloyd said...

Outstanding as always Mark. Right on target.

Joe Seamhead said...

Richard, sorry you see it that way. I think most baseball people see it as a "win-win'win" situation. The Twins get a closer in the midst of a pennant race, Capps goes from a last place team to a contender, and the Nats get a serious potential answer to their catching woes.Fantastic move by Rizzo, imho. As to Testa, he's basically a throw in.Let's face it, Pudge is on borrowed time. We really didn't have a plan "B" if he went down. Maybe you had some better ideas to solve our catching woes?

Feel Wood said...

"Jim Riggleman said tonight he plans to spread around save opportunities to several relievers, including Storen, Clippard, Burnett and Joel Peralta, playing the "hot hand" the rest of the way."

If there's one thing Jim Riggleman is totally incapable of doing (oh, who am I kidding, there's WAY more than one thing) it is "playing the hot hand" successfully. See: Michael Morse. Tyler Clippard. Pudge Rodriguez. Christian Guzman. Willie Harris.

Riggleman is either (a) totally incapable of recognizing a player who actually is hot (Morse) or (b) accidentally stumbles on one who is hot for a while and then keeps running him out there long after his hot streak is over (Pudge, Guzman, Clippard) or (c) keeps putting a terribly slumping player out there over and over again because he's absolutely certain he's going to break out of it and go on a tear any day now (Harris). Riggleman's "play the hot hand" approach with the closer, aka "closer by committee" has never worked for anyone. Riggleman needs to just name a new closer and go with him until he shows he can't handle the job. My vote would be for Peralta. Storen is closer material, but he's not ready yet. Next year. Clippard is definitely not closer material. Just look at how he failed to bounce back after his meltdown in Baltimore. And Burnett? You must be kidding.

If Riggleman really does try to "play the hot hand" with the closer job, it will just be further evidence that he's NOT a good manager.

LoveDaNats said...

Great article, Mark! I had a feeling I was watching Matt's last Nats save last night. But good job, Rizzo for picking up a highly thought of catcher. But stop now. Re-sign Dunn!

SpashCity said...

@Richard -

I have to agree with Joe Seamhead on this one. The Nats filled a glaring hole in the system by dealing from a position of strength and depth. Capps will get a huge raise through arbitration next year, and Storen has proven that he was absolutely worth the #10 overall pick last year and deserves a shot to be the closer in 2011.

By all accounts Ramos is a stud defensive catcher with "power potential." As Mark's article says, he hit .317 at AA last year, so maybe he has had some trouble adjusting to AAA pitching. That doesn't mean he will never figure it out and turn into a productive major league hitter. Reports are that the Mariners were asking for Ramos when the Twins asked for Cliff Lee. Several other teams wanted this guy because everybody recognizes his value.

Except you.

I think Nyjer's recent hot streak continues to prove that Rizzo won the Morgan/Burnett for Milledge/Hanrahan trade. He was right that Capps would bounce back from his down year in 2009, signed Strasburg, drafted Storen, drafted Harper. I think Rizzo has proven that he knows a player's value as well as anybody and knows how evaluate talent.

He has a little more than 24 hours to figure out what to do with Dunn. Please let it be something better than trading for Edwin Jackson (8-walk no-hitter notwithstanding).

Ernie said...

I agree with Feel Wood about the "hot hand" comment. Wasn't it just last month that the bullpen was talking about how happy they were that everyone had a defined role? The "hot hand" approach would seem to throw that all under the bus. This reminds me of the comment about batting Desmond second more often - it's true for about 3-4 hours then we all go to sleep and the big principled statement about how Riggs will run the team is forgotten or changed or ignored. We've had a lot of pronouncements from team leadership about how things work, but when you look back over the season, they're just making it all up as they go along.

Sometimes you've got to just do what works and change plans--I can deal with that. It just bugs me when they act like they have a master plan and it's just talk.

I like the deal though. Capps was fine but he still seems like a fluke to me. And the memories of our adventures in catching on that West Coast/Houston trip when Pudge was hurt are still with me as well. On this team a back-up catcher who can hit around .250 is better than any other bench player we've got.

sjm105 said...

Mark:

You don't need people gushing about your writing and style but I get tired of reading negative comments and just wanted to thank you for an excellent piece. We are lucky to have so many dedicated writers covering our team. This explained the trade better than anyone so far and I appreciate it. Will try not to read all comments about why it won't work, and just enjoy thinking about what might happen here in a couple years.

go Nats!!

alm100 said...

Thanks Mark, well written and analyzed.

Hate to see Capps go, he was a great guy and a rock in the ninth. You could always see him signing at the dug out before games. True class act, good luck to him and the Twins.

But we sold high and got someone who should be playing for us next year. Great job Rizzo.

Now sign Dunn!

JayB said...

I am very happy with Rizzo on this one for the results. It is a classic Win Win trade. Capps was a good move this past winter and balances off several poor moves this winter by Rizzo. This also closes the book on Flores finally...really as I have said repeatedly....that book should have been closed last winter win a move like this to get a young full time catcher....better late than never. Finally, "hot hand" comments are right on....Riggs has no skill in that area at all....not a clue and I hope he pays the price sooner than later with his walking papers. Hope Rizzo recognizes his mistake with Riggs faster than his mistake with Flores and Kennedy and Harris.

Tegwar said...

In other interesting news the ChiSox are on the verge of landing Edwin Jackson according to Ken Rosenthal
http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/white-sox-trade-deadling-starting-pitching-072910

Could this be packaged together with Jordan Danks for Dunn? If Dunn does not have a contract in 2 day I say Rizzo pulls the trigger. If this happens Rizzo will have picked up a starting pitcher, center fielder and catcher at the trade deadline. I know Jackson is not a favorite but he is more of a known than Dan Hudson who has been reported as part of a trade for Dunn.

HHover said...

For those criticizing this trade, I'm not sure what your standard for a good deal *is*. Ramos is a very good prospect and addresses a real hole in the Nats roster; he's young, he's cheap, and he's under team control for a while. He's closer to major-league ready than the Nats other catching prospects.

Is he a sure thing or a steal? No, but those don't come along very often and require a very desperate or a very stupid party on the other side of the deal (see Haren for Saunders).

If you want to know what a bad deal looks like, I'd point to the much discussed possibility of a 3-way deal that would bring Edwin Jackson here from AZ and ship Dunn to Chicago. Jackson is young, but not so young that we don't already have a solid sense of how he's going to turn out--a #3-#4 starter, tops. So the trade creates a hole at 1B that the Nats can't easily fill (as they can the closer spot) while adding to a staff that's already loaded up with bottom of the rotation guys (Jackson's only advantage is that you can *count* on him to be a bottom of the rotation guy). On top of all that, Jackson is expensive ($8M+ next year) and wild, which will put a lot of pressure on a defense that really doesn't need more stress.

That's what a bad deal looks like, and I hope it's just a bunch of BS rumors or falls thru.

Tegwar said...

HHover

I'm not a big fan of Edwin Jackson and I would like to see the Nats resign Dunn. However if the choice is a starting pitcher and a top prospect CF against 2 draft picks I have to make the trade. If this is the trade and its too early to tell moving Morgan to left and Willingham to first is at least a viable option. Hopefully they resign Dunn but Dunn has little to lose at this point in testing FA.

JayB said...

Dunn is not going to like FA any better than two years ago. He has no better options than Nats for 3 years, given he really wants to play 1B and Not DH. I think he signs soon and this is all about driving his price down.

JayB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
greg said...

of course, moving willingham to 1B and moving morgan to LF creates a glaring hole in LF, where you expect a power bat or at least average. it's an offensive power position which would be filled by a player who's offense has no power (and, for much of the season, little offense of any kind).

so you're really not closing up the hole created by dunn leaving.

to richard and the one other poster bashing this deal because ramos hasn't lit AAA on fire... he's still considered one of the top catching prospects in baseball. if he had "lit up" AAA pitching and was ready to get promoted and be buster posey, capps alone would not have fetched him in a trade.

Anonymous said...

Great article, Mark. You really outclass the other Nats beat reporters.

And this deal makes a lot of sense. One of the major gaps for the Nats system has been catcher. No one can see around the corner but Ramos looks very promising for filling the need for a young, front line catcher.

N. Cognito said...

A reliever of Capps ability is easily replaced in the offseason.
As for the Nats, without Capps, we might win maybe one or two less games - no big deal when we'll be hard pressed to win 70.

JaneB said...

Thanks for writing this great piece about Capps. As people were leaving yesterday as he took the mound, I kept telling them to stay -- this might be his last day as a Nat. "But we'll win now," they said. "We're outta here." And so was Matt. So glad I stayed. And so glad we got to have him as long as we did. I sure hope I see Dunn standing out in front of me on first base on Sunday. He is far and away the best thing for us.

Pete said...

Brilliant piece, Mark. Its too bad that the Nats have to trade people like Capps, although I think this is a good trade. The injury bug has really hurt this team. If Flores weren't hurt this wouldn't have been necessary.

Tegwar said...

greg

Moving Morgan to LF which is his best defensive position and having a true CF change the team to a low scoring play for a run defensive team, something I think Rizzo and Riggleman like. Dunn will get at least a 2 year deal next year from someone. The Nationals have to offer at least 3 and Dunn has recently hinted that he would settle for 3 and would like to stay in Washington. Not signing Dunn also frees up a lot of money that then could be spent on a 1B or OF player. Its fun to guess what might happen all I'm saying is draft picks are not acceptable and if the offer is a true starting pitcher and a center fielder I'll be surprised if Rizzo doesn't take it.

Nats fan in NJ said...

I really like this trade. As several other folks have mentioned, Ramos is as close to a "sure-thing" as possible. Burnett's strong season and Peralta's solide outings enabled the Nats to make this trade without losing too much in the bullpen. Ramos is 22-23 and a young, solid position player at a weak area in our farm system (at the AA/AAA level).

Now, please, sign Dunn. Give him 3-years and $44M. There is a true power hitter and we don't need more #3/#4 pitchers.

NatsJack in Florida said...

The next 36 hours are going to be interesting. We don't have to worry about Rizzo blinking during the final negotiations in a Dunn trade or contract extension. he pretty much holds all the cards.

Edwin Jackson AND Jordan Danks would be an absolute coup! Morse can go to 1st base, Danks to CF, Bernandina in right, and Morgan... well Morgan can go play hockey if he wants..

Willingham has displayed a greatly improved left field play and should remain there (unless Tampa Bay knocks our socks off with an offer).

I will miss Capps. When I attended a Nats Marlins game in late May in Miami, I sat right next to the bullpen on a hot Sunday afternoon.

Just prior to the first pitch I noticed Capps spray shining everyones shoes. He even shined the shoes of the ball boy and the security guard stationed next to the bullpen.

As he walked by my seats I said "hey Matt, did you lose a bet or something?" and he said "Nope, its just a typical Shoeshine Sunday".

Sure enough when I attended a Sunday game in Washington against the Reds in June, there he was, just before first pitch, shining everybodys shoes again.

He brought that tradition to the club and I am sure it will continue here and start up in Minnesota.

Anonymous said...

Great job Rizzo; you can't do better than this. You pick up a Pirates castoff and convert him to someone who could be your catcher for the next 10 years. Kudos to Capps for making himself so valuable; he will clean up in arbitration this winter.

Jayb; you must be fun to be around repeating the same dribble over and over again. I think we know that you don't like Riggleman, Kennedy, Harris. Try saying something original for a change.

Anonymous said...

JayB is fun to be around. You've gotta love his multiple identities. The names change, but the message is always the same.

ChicagoNatsGirl said...

Mark--this was a GREAT piece. You are an outstanding writer. Thank you and thanks to Matt Capps. I'll miss him.

Anonymous said...

Has baseball talent deteriorated to such a low point that a catcher prospect hitting .241 with 5 home runs in Triple A is consider "much coveted"?

Anonymous said...

No doubt, this will be a 1-0 game.

>>There could come a day in the not-too-distant future when Storen is on the mound in the ninth-inning of a one-run game in the middle of a pennant race. Ramos could be behind the plate calling pitches. Stephen Strasburg could be in the dugout, rooting for Storen to secure the win after pitching eight innings himself.

JayB said...

Fact are facts people the only thing that has changed over time this season is the number of loses and failed opportunities Kennedy, Harris and Riggs have logged. When Rizzo finally faces these facts and makes changes then there will be progress...until they produce or leave I will continue to point out the issues that have us heading to 95-100 loses yet again.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the Nats have given up on hot shot Derek Norris, along with Flores. He is hitting .231 at single A Potomac. Does that make him "coveted"?

Anonymous8 said...

Mark Zuckerman said...Thus, Minnesota's desperation played right into Rizzo's hand. Rizzo has insisted all month the asking price would be high for his three most-coveted players: Capps, Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham. He wasn't lying. He stuck to his guns and got a significant return for Capps.


Well put Mark. With Dunn, worst case if you keep him is a Type A draft pick so that will be a "win win" too.

Its interesting if I can compare Dunn and Soriano as both made a position move in their last season prior to Free Agency which positively added value in both cases. Soriano could have been traded by 7/31/06 and was retained and the Nats got great Type A compensation in JZimmermann. I think Dunn with the change to 1B is more valuable then 2 years ago as he isn't the LF liability that he once was. I think his value is $12 mill to $15 mill and believe the Nats need to get the deal done.

Rizzo should not hand over his last 2 bargaining chips and sticking to his demands with the Twins fills a major hole for the Nats. Win-Win.

PS - Loved Von Bluff's story above as this is how fanbases are built with random acts of kindness. I have witnessed Matt Capps from afar being one of the team's best ambassadors and hopefully some of the players read this along with management to realize that the small things go a long way. Matt, hope to see you back here in 2012!

hleeo3 said...

-Anon 10:14
Check out his other numbers... Not to mention, he is 22 (going on 23 soon) and in AAA. I looked him up on the Rochester AAA team and I believe he started out slow, because his last 10 games he is hitting .351/.368/.486.

Also to further add... April and May he was below the Mendoza line but in June and July is .274/.303/.356 and .309/.356/.395 respectively. This indicates he is "getting it" finally in AAA the only problem seems to be his lack of patience but that is something he will learn with time.

NatsJack in Florida said...

I don't think JayB likes baseball in Washington. I wonder what he complained about prior to 2005?

Anonymous said...

For those bad mouthing Jayb, you can criticize him all you want but what he says is true. The truth is the truth even if no one believes it. A lie is a lie, even if everyone believes it.

Anonymous said...

Here's a guy you don't want to mess with. Riggleman will find out soon enough that he's the one with the hot hand around here.

http://keitholbermann.mlblogs.com/1983Rizzo.jpg

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me said...

I'm going to miss Mrs. Matt Capps!

Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem with what JayB says. It's how he says it. I don't think people come here to be criticized.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Still doesn't answer what JayB complained about prior 2005.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:34

If you don't like any criticism, go over to the Nats 320 blog where no criticism is allowed. Only Bobby Carpenter and Debbie Taylor cheerleader types are allowed over there.

Anonymous said...

Minneapolis Star-Tribune poll has Twin fans liking this deal a lot. 22% thought the Twins gave up too much.

HHover said...

Danks would sweeten a sour deal for Edwin Jackson, but even if that deal happens, folks are getting way ahead of themselves in penciling him in as the starting CF in 2011. If as Mark says, Ramos is Jesus Flores circa 2008, Danks could just as easily be Justin Maxwell circa 2009. Even if he's better, that still leaves defensive and offensive holes to be plugged if Dunn leaves.

And the bottom line for me is that a deal structured primarily around Edwin Jackson still stinks. He's owed $8M+ in 2011 and will be a FA after that. So he's not part of a long-term solution for the Nats, and his salary would eat up a good chunk of what they'd save by moving Dunn.

Anonymous said...

Prior to 2005, JayB complained about JaneB always having a headache. Of course he still hasn't caught on that he's the one giving her a headache.

NatsJack in Florida said...

I actually enjoy complaints.... I just prefer that they be sprinkled with acknowledgement of the positive steps being taken to upgrade the entire organization.

It also would help if solutions be proposed. Simply firing someone doesn't solve a problem...Who would one propose as a replacement?

Anonymous said...

Nationals fans are the most sad, domestic, docile, automatons who whine in their milk when someone criticizes the lousy team, the GM, or the owners. I can't believe there is satisfaction in DC to watch .300 winning % teams. Is it because there hasn't been a real pennant race in the Balt/DC region since 1997? Geeze, fans root AND complain. And they want their teams to be better. They don't accept sub-mediocrity. Oh, pardon me. It's a tradition in DC; I forgot about the Redskins and Bullets / Wizards. The Nationals fit perfectly in that bunch.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Mark has posted John Lannan as Sundays starter!!!

What has he done in his rehab assignments that indicates he's ML ready????

Anonymous said...

Just another Capps story - i was down by the dugout on Tuesday right before the game, and even after the usher told the autographs seekers to go away, there was Capps, still signing things long after other players had retreated to the dugout.

Beautiful piece Mark, really well written. brought a tear to my eye.

JayB said...

@NatsJack.....STOP BEING SO NEGATIVE! Data does not matter....a real fan would welcome John L just because he is John L and that is what a "REAL" fan does.

Anonymous said...

Personal attacks don't win arguments. You're right--fans root and complain. I'm with you on that. But in this space, criticism rightly goes to the manager, FO, or players, not the people who post here. This is a clearinghouse for a variety of opinions that will only be proven right or wrong over time. The best posts are the ones that appeal to facts and statistics. Make your case without barfing up a dictionary as a way of leveling a blanket criticism at people you don't know.

NatsJack in Florida said...

I'm not looking for data unless it is reduced pitch counts per inning, is his sinker back and spotted better? Can he approach his normal 88 - 89 or is he still topping out at 85?

greg said...

//David said...
Moving Morgan to LF which is his best defensive position and having a true CF change the team to a low scoring play for a run defensive team, something I think Rizzo and Riggleman like. //

morgan is barely a capable offensive CF. moving him to LF puts his offense so far below the position requirements that his defense (which isn't necessarily as much a positive, even in LF, as people make it out to be) can't make up for it.

morgan in LF would be a net negative and would be a sign that the nats have taken another step backward, not forward.

Anonymous said...

Agree with FeelWood. I'm really glad I don't have to say it as much. Rizzo's glowing accolades for Riggleman (without any real commitment) speak to his caustic comments about the team earlier on ... have to maintain morale. I suspect and hope Riggleman will retire soon ... very, very soon.

Meanwhile, @Richard. Clearly you haven't been looking at the bare cupboard of a minor league system the Nats have. Rizzo stuck to his guns and got a great defensive catcher with offensive potential. I would have preferred Jason Castro because of the left-handed bat ... he is not as good offensively as Ramos. Their two best offensive catching prospects would be Derrick Norris (now hitting under .240 in A+ Potomac and coming off of Hamate surgery) and David Freitas hovering around .400 down in A- short-season Vermont. The future is still in A ball mostly learning the defensive ropes. Even if Freitas leaps past Norris (which could happen because he is old enough and a college draftee) he would still be 2-3 years out.

That's way too long to wait.

Nieves is pathetic at the plate (speaking of bad hitting) and Pudge is 39 is showing fatigue as the second half of this season unfolds. He has become an excellent double-play machine where as in the first half he was one of the best hitters in baseball for awhile. His priority is defense and so you have to live with that.

I am of the opinion that Ramos' hitting will come around ... quickly ... once he realizes he isn't blocked by an annual potential MVP in Mauer.

Anonymous said...

My gut feeling is that Willingham is next ... Dunn stays and gets a new contract. Hard to find a good left-handed bat like his ... I would still stipulate in the new contract that he spend winters in Viera working on his defense until it is up to snuff. The hunting and fishing can wait. He could bring his family with him just like Mrs. Bergmann who dutifully follows between DC and Syracuse. We're talking millions of dollars ... well worth spending the time to work on a very weak part of one's game.

Anonymous said...

He brought that tradition to the club and I am sure it will continue here and start up in Minnesota.

Uhhhm I think Batista brought that tradition to the club. Burnett brought the one where you bring water to the guys warming up and the bullpen coaches watching them. Capps seems to revel in those sorts of rituals though and has a great deal of enthusiasm practicing them. I wonder if he tracks down snipes for Scott Olsen? ;)

Anonymous said...

KW is a blustering buffoon in Chicago ... he won't get Dunn ... now the Tampa Bay Rays? That's a horse of a different color. There's also the Tigers who keep wandering back in.

A DC Wonk said...

Hey, is this the right blog? I was looking for the NatsInsider blog where most people write negatively about Rizzo . . . . hmm, must be somewhere else . . .

Anonymous said...

NatsJack in Florida said...
Edwin Jackson AND Jordan Danks would be an absolute coup! Morse can go to 1st base, Danks to CF, Bernandina in right, and Morgan... well Morgan can go play hockey if he wants..

How is getting a pitcher who makes 8 million dollars a year with an ERA over 5 runs a game and a minor leaguer in exchange for a 40 HR per year guy in your major league lineup a 'coup'? Its a nightmare to me.

Why do the Nats need another mediocre starter with an ERA over 5? They already have Lannan, Martin, Stammen, Atilano, et. al to fill those roles. I'd rather Miss Iowa pitch than Edwin Jackson -- let alone trading Dunn for him!!

I am holding my breath the next day and a half. I have a feeling I'm not going to be too happy.

The one thing in all the analysis here that always gets lost is that people have committed thousands of dollars a year in seeing major league games in season tickets. This includes games in August and September -- that leap of financial faith in a team is often lost when they make these 'prospects' trades. Not everyone is only looking to 2012. I'm not saying Rizzo did that with the Capps trade. But with others on the horizon...I worry.

Richard said...

Baseball America, like a blogger above, says Ramos is a notoriously slow starter with the stick. He has "above average raw power and arm strength." (But his statistics don't reflect "raw power.") While his defense apparently excites the scouts, conditioning apparently has been a problem. He's apparently heavier than reported. The guy's a tank. I'm thinkin' maybe Bengie Molina. Anyway, I will repeat after you: Rizzo knows what he's doing, Rizzo knows what he's doing ...

Richard said...

BTW, THANK YOU RAYMITTEN! You said it best at 12:42.

Bote Man said...

And so after 50 years D.C. baseball players continue to head towards Minneapolis.

I like this trade.

Steve M. said...

People, the real satisfaction with a trade comes after you can evaluate the end result.

If Ramos can step in and contribute and be a good player then this will probably be a good trade.

Matt Capps is a good young man. Strangely he looks a lot older than he is. I also didn't know him but got to see him doing the little things on and off the field that made him a good pickup.

When I went through last month the Rizzo scorecard for Rizzo's tenure, I think Matt Capps was his best Free Agent deal. Last year, the Nyjer, Burnett, Hanrahan, Milledge was his best trade. Strasburg his best signing.

On the bad side of the ledger, Marquis, Bruney and Adam Kennedy are all disasters while OHudson was there for the taking and leaving the team with Justin Maxwell as the RF solution cost this team until Bernadina was properly promoted.

As Riggleman's boss, Rizzo has failed to correct this Lannan, Willie Harris, Kennedy, and JMax situation and the team has suffered. The bench was weak with AGonzo and Morse as the only decent bench players.

I will also point out like I did in March that Ivan Rodriguez was a great pickup but like Willingham can't be overused. With no suitable backup and relying on JFlores to make it back, the catcher position has suffered and Pudge's stats have plummeted. I think Ramos solves that problem but again too late to help in 2010.

So Rizzo is doing a good job but not a great job. I will feel better when Adam Dunn is signed to a decent 3 year deal that will still leave money to get the 2nd baseman this team has needed and maybe they sign a good RH outfielder in Free Agency.

Matt said...

Buy low, sell high. Well done Rizzo.

Tegwar said...

greg,

I don't think we disagree. Some people post as if they were the owners or GM, I generally don't. I'm trying to read what I think Rizzo will do. Morgan is Rizzo's first big trade and and like it or not he will be given every opportunity to fail,(yea I know he already has). Morgan does have his limitations and as I have posted before if the Nationals intend to use him as a lead-off hitter and center fielder they will be sadly disappointed. Rizzo looks at teams like the Padres and Reds and sees teams with limited payrolls that have turned around quickly on pitching and defense. I have seen it reported and actually heard Rizzo say that it is very important for the Nationals to increase their number of wins and improve both their defense and pitching. Many people believe that Riggleman is deciding the exact amount of playing time each player gets without input from Rizzo this is just not the case. Everybody works for somebody and everyone need to keep their boss happy especially if they are new on the job. I have not agreed on every move Rizzo has made but at least the moves he has made shows that he can identify the problem areas. I also don't know the limitation that have been placed on him. Teams are built in the off-season and tweaked thereafter. I know the Nationals are a frustrating team to watch being a season ticket holder, but most of the players are actually performing to their given talent its just that their not that talented.

NatsJack in Florida nice story on Capps and well played on Morgan playing hockey.

Anonymous said...

Great move, Mike Rizzo! Please keep Dunn and Willingham, maybe concentrate on getting a solid second baseman for 2011. Harper will be signed and in THE SHOW by 2012, giving the Nats a power-hitting rightfielder. In a couple of years, Nationals Park will be really rockin'

Anonymous said...

Does anyone think Riggleman tends to overmanage? Maybe Bobby Valentine is available, or how about Alan Trammel?

alexva said...

"Does anyone tend to think Riggleman tends to overmanage?"

Is Ed "Too Tall" Jones really too tall?

Steve M. said...

I think the fanbase probably 5 to 1 dig the longball which equates to those that also want Dunn here for a few more years----but I could be wrong.

Maybe a poll is in order to see what the NatsInsider readers want with Adam.

Anonymous said...

Given that Willingham will be under team control next year ... Raymitten, Richard? I suspect that you will see him and not Dunn going to the WhiteSox. Rizzo has already told them he would not trade Dunn unless Beckham was involved. Remember? Yes Mr. RayMitten, Gordon Beckham a superb young middle infielder would be the right rate of exchange for one Adam Dunn. Mr. Beckham also has power and an upside that Adam Dunn cannot be given because of his age. He is also a superlative fielder which Adam Dunn is not. If you think Rizzo would trade Dunn 1 for 1 for Beckham? NO. He wants a potential top-of-the-rotation power pitcher. You see he is making a collection of them.

Again @raymitten, you make these amazing ludicrous assertions????? What in the world are you thinking? What games are you watching from those ST seats you often speak of? Are you watching the weather channel instead of the game?

They already have Lannan, Martin, Stammen, Atilano, et. al to fill those roles. I'd rather Miss Iowa pitch than Edwin Jackson -- let alone trading Dunn for him!!

Dude, Jackson has a fast ball that goes well over 95 and he is only 26 years old. All of the guys you listed are close to the same age. Only Lannan can throw a fast ball in the low nineties. And I am a JD Martin fan.

Last year Jackson pitched for Detroit (remember he is about the same age as the pitchers you listed) in his 3rd year in an MLB starting rotation. Jackson finished 13-9 with an ERA of 3.62 over 214 innings. He had 70 walks against 161 strikeouts. Name one pitcher you listed above who has pitched that well once in their major league career? Lannan, their defacto ace in the beginning of 2010 hasn't even gotten there yet? Yes he has had "mixed" results but he consistently walks way fewer batters than he strikes out. That shows promise and potential. And he can throw with Stras and Jordan Zimmermann.

Anonymous said...

Only Lannan can throw a fast ball in the low nineties.

OOOOOOpppps my bad meant to say Stammen can throw a fast ball in the
low nineties.

Anonymous said...

Oh and @Raymitten, @Richard? Jackson also did something none of your sample of pitchers ever did and perhaps never will. He was an All Star.

Anonymous said...

John Sickels scouting report. Find one pitcher @Raymitten named above that ever got this kind of report?

Edwin Jackson was drafted in the sixth round in 2001, out of high school in Columbus, Ga., where he was better known as a position player. But the Dodgers liked his arm strength, and felt his athleticism would help him develop consistent mechanics. So far, the decision to make Jackson a full-time pitcher looks inspired. He has one of the best fastballs in the system, hitting 95 mph at times, with movement. He also has a very good slider. His curveball and changeup are inconsistent, but both have promise. Jackson's command is excellent. He throws strikes with regularity, and his mechanics are both clean and consistent, which helps keep his command in gear. He has a good feel for pitching, needing only additional experience to round out his package of skills. He sometimes struggles to find his rhythm in the first inning, a common problem for young pitchers, and one that should ease with seasoning. Jackson's athleticism helps him on defense, and in time he has a chance to be less helpless as a hitter than most pitchers.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the prescription for periculum's meds has expired again.

Anonymous8 said...

Agree with Steve M. @12:56. Rizzo has been good. Great GMs have to make the playoffs as winning consistently is the objective.

Anonymous said...

Here is a sample of how the trade is viewed outside nats nation:

James (Minnesota)


Is Matt Capps all we could get for Wilson Ramos? I know Matt was an all star, but relief pitchers are so volatile. Earlier this year we were talking about getting Lee or Haren for a package centered around Ramos.
Jayson Stark
(1:15 PM)


People I've talked to today are shocked the Twins gave up Ramos for Capps. Shaky bullpens make teams do crazy things this time of year. And while I usually have tremendous faith in the Twins' judgment, I don't understand this one. Ramos projects as a No. 5 type hitter, possibly lower in a great lineup, who can lead a staff and plays with great energy. I'd have a tough, tough time giving up a player like that for any bullpen arm -- but especially somebody who got nontendered just last winter!

Anonymous said...

http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/4585/twins-make-classic-error-overpay-for-saves

Anonymous said...

Why the complaints about Ramos? He was 8 for 27 with 3 doubles and an RBI while filling in for the best catcher in the game Joe Mauer, that is pretty darn good, he only struck out 3 times during his short stinit in the majors. In his minor league career, keep in mind he didnt start playing in the US until he was 18: 1400 AB, 36 HR, 211 RBI, .284 BA, .758 OPS, not shabby for a 23 year old. His fielding is supurb, throwing out 45% of runner for his career and 50% this year. He has only made 22 errors in 2220 chances. He also has played some 1B and although the sample set is small he only made 1 error in 99 chances. Let's give the kid a chance and welcome him with open arms when he makes his debut in September at Nats Park.

HHover said...

Anon @ 3:15 - re: Jackson-

he consistently walks way fewer batters than he strikes out

Um, most MLB pitchers walk fewer batters than they strike out, and so the question is, what's the ratio. For Jackson, over his career, it's 1.6 K/BB; this year, he's slightly better, about 1.7. Stammen, Livo, and Olsen all have as good or better career ratios.

Since he's supposed to excel as a hard throwing strikeout pitcher who gets a lot of Ks--and he does--that means he gives up a *lot* of BBs. Only 3 pitchers in all of MLB have more this season.

His career WHIP is not the impressive-1.51, which is higher than Livo, Olsen, Lannan, and Craig Stammen.

Jackson also has more starts (131) than all of them but Livo, and he'll be a FA in 2012. In other words, he's not a newbie with tons left to figure out. Might he get substantially better? Sure. But he's had plenty of time to improve, and if he hasn't yet, expecting big changes at this point is a low odds bet.

HHover said...

Oops - that was directed at Anon @ 2:08.

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