Friday, November 12, 2010

From NatsTown to oblivion, revisited

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Elijah Dukes is one of 13 2009 Nats who didn't play in the majors this season.
Way back on February 2, when this site was only two days old and had far fewer visitors than it does today, I wrote about the staggering list of players who after leaving the Nationals never played for another big-league club again.

At the time, I came up with 61 guys who played their final major-league game wearing a Nats uniform between 2005-08. The correct number is actually 59, because I forgot that Paul Lo Duca played a few games for the Marlins in 2008 and Chad Cordero resurfaced with the Mariners this year.

The conclusion I drew back then was that the Nationals, desperate to fill out rosters, were forced to play way too many past-their-prime veterans or unqualified rookies who probably shouldn't have been there in the first place. As the franchise improved over time, the hope would be that fewer of those kind of players are needed.

So, have things gotten better for the Nats in this department? No, not really.

An analysis of the Nationals' 2009 roster reveals 13 more players who didn't appear in a major-league game this season. That's the same number off the Nats' 2007 roster and three more than the 2008 roster.

Here's the updated, year-by-year list from 2005-09...

2009 (13)
Elijah Dukes
Jesus Flores
Pete Orr
Alex Cintron
Jorge Padilla
Shairon Martis
Ron Villone
Julian Tavarez
Logan Kensing
Zack Segovia
Mike Hinckley
Steven Shell
Victor Garate

2008 (10)
Wily Mo Pena
Kory Casto
Dmitri Young
Rob Mackowiak
Johnny Estrada
Odalis Perez
Mike O'Connor
Levale Speigner
Ray King
Chris Schroder

2007 (13)
Nook Logan
Robert Fick
D'Angelo Jimenez
Tony Batista
Michael Restovich
Brandon Watson
Mike Bacsik
Jason Simontacchi
John Patterson
Jerome Williams
Ryan Wagner
Arnie Munoz
Chris Booker

2006 (20)
Damian Jackson
Bernie Castro
Alex Escobar
Brandon Harper
Wiki Gonzalez
Henry Mateo
George Lombard
Mike Vento
Melvin Dorta
Luis Matos
Pedro Astacio
Felix Rodriguez
Zach Day
Beltran Perez
Joey Eischen
Travis Hughes
Ryan Drese
Kevin Gryboski
Brett Campbell
Santiago Ramirez

2005 (16)
Carlos Baerga
Junior Spivey
Tony Blanco
Wil Cordero
Deivi Cruz
Jeffrey Hammonds
J.J. Davis
Rick Short
Kenny Kelly
Keith Osik
Tyrell Godwin
T.J. Tucker
Joe Horgan
Matt White
C.J. Nitkowski
Antonio Osuna
While there was a slight improvement this year — I count 11 members of the 2010 Nats who conceivably may not play in the majors next season: Wil Nieves, Jamie Burke, Willy Taveras, Kevin Mench, Carlos Maldonado, Miguel Batista, Tyler Walker, Jason Bergmann, Matt Chico, Joe Bisenius, Brian Bruney — it's not exactly a major step forward.

How, though, does this compare to other franchises? Is the Nats' list considerably longer than comparable lists from other teams? Well, I looked at two clubs from complete opposite ends of the success spectrum: the Phillies and the Pirates. Not surprisingly, their overall success is mirrored in this department.

Only eight members of the Phillies' 2008 roster didn't play in the big league the following year. Only six members of their 2009 roster didn't play in the big leagues this year.

On the other hand, 11 members of the Pirates' 2008 roster didn't play in the majors the following year. And a staggering 15 members of their 2009 roster were nowhere to be found this year.

So the Nationals aren't alone in their misery when it comes to this subject. A franchise that hasn't had a winning season since 1992 stands right alongside them.

That said, this is just another reflection of how far the Nats still have to go to escape the bottom tier of major-league franchises. Until they get to a point where they aren't relying on so many last-gasp veterans and marginal rookies, they're going to continue to have a difficult time matching up with some of baseball's most successful clubs.


Steve M. said...

I hope Justin Maxwell is on your 2010 list. How did you leave him off.

I would still expect Jesus Flores who is on your list from 2009 to appear at the MLB level again.

I still see a chance for Miguel Batista to play again, and some of the other names clearly were fill-ins like Maldonado, Mench, Bisenius, and Chico so there is much improvement.

Good stuff to look at all the marginal players that have played in Washington.

Mrs. Z. said...

Is it sad that I can't remember ever hearing of half these guys?

NatsJack in Florida said...

Great analysis, Mark. Another way to gauge the Nats would be to list current players counted on making major contributions that would be starters or major contributors on another club.

Short of Zimmerman, the soon to be former Nat Dunn, and possibly Willingham, I do not see any other starters that would be classified as major contributors for another club.

And I'm not sure ANY of our starting staff short of the recovering Strasburg would even remotely be considered as a major contributor for another staff.

dj in Fl. said...

Once again a special thanks to Jeffery Loria for completly gutting a solid franchise. Hopefully our minor league system is regaining its footing, and has real prospects.

Mark L said...

Teams that lose a lot are salvaged many times by 'Fan Favorites'. The kind of player you come to the park to see, even if you think the team will probably lose.
Adam Dunn is that kind of player, no insult intended to Ryan Zimmerman. People have come to watch Adam Dunn all year, in the hope that he will hammer a ptich in to the stratosphere.
Let's hope that the Nats will recover from their 'amateur hour' negotiations and sign the guy. They will look like fools if they don't.
To quote the great Dick Allen -- "You know how you play first base -- you hit!"

greg said...

natjack, i think zimmermann would be welcome on a number of others staffs and would be a contributor.

but, to be fair, he wasn't a major contributor to us last year, just a late-season injury recovery.

Anonymous said...

Sean Burnett, Drew Storen, Ryan Zimmerman, Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Wilson Ramos, Josh Willingham, Ian Desmond, and Ivan Rodriguez would all be sought after by other clubs and hopefully guys like Danny Espinosa and John Lannan could make that list.

When I think of names like Justin Maxwell and Wil Nieves being on the 25 man knowing there isn't 1 other team that would take them, you know you have issues.

Todd Boss said...

Love this analysis Mark, thanks. this list may end up being not quite as bad for 2009, as I think its safe to say Flores is a major leaguer and its far too early to give up on Martis. Its hard to argue with your 2010 list either. Some of those guys I feel we'll re-sign and they'll reappear in 2011 but only time will tell.

Doc said...

@ Mark L.: Thanks Mark L. I love that quote from Dick (Don't call me Richie) Allen--email it to Bill Ladson.

My point exactly. Hey Allen's play is alive and well in the spirit of Ryan (Good hit-Sorta Can Field)Howard!

Its quotes like that, that define the historical personna of baseball.

NatsJack in Florida said...

My point wasn't whether someone would be sought after. It was would they be considered a MAJOR contributor. And besides the three that I named (and I didn't cover the bullpen as I believe it is the strongest part of our organization) I do not see any one else beyond the three that I named.

That doesn't mean we have any talent. It just means that the talent we have hasn't proven itself yet.

JayB said...

Mark what is missing from the discussion here is how many innings these guy played for the Nats. Matt Chico had what one start in 2010...that is a far cry from the 2008 mess.....They are making progress but way too slowly. They could spend more money and have a better bench. They could spend more money and have more sure things...and less Wil N types. It is all about spending money at this point...they could be better and they are......much better!

Doc said...

Interesting stats Mark. As JayB alludes to, the significant variable here is money.

The Nats, too often in the past, have shopped at Dollar Tree, when they should have been checking out items at Trader Jacks'!

Traveler8 said...

I thought Ray King was traded, I think to Minnesota, maybe Milwaukee - late in the season. Did he not appear at all as a reliever for them?

Steve M. said...

I love it! I agree 100% with JayB. He actually said "making progress..." and then threw in "way too slowly" which is negative but true.

I totally agree on the bench. Outside of Alberto Gonzalez, the bench was horrible and probably the worst in baseball.

I think the team has an interesting situation in approving the bench with Jesus Flores. Clearly he isn't needed in 2011 as a catcher but certainly he can compete with Ramos for the starter in 2012 as Pudge will be gone. Can JFlo play any other positions to be more valuable as a role player for 2011?

Further, with Willingham in LF and Morse in RF and Bernadina in CF, Nyjer Morgan can be a bench player which is an improvement over Willie Harris.

Anonymous said...

Somehow I found this article more interesting and insightful than Bill Ladson's piece about the soon-to-be-released Wil Nieves' desire for Carlos Pena to sign with the Nats.

Anonymous said...

Elijah Dukes no doubt wishes he could go from NatsTown to oblivion, since it sadly looks like he'll be going from NatsTown to prison. As bad as oblivion may be, at least there you don't have to think twice before bending down to pick up the soap you drop in the shower.

Steve M. said...

Ray - That article about Nieves playing alongside Carlos Pena in a way is sad if Nieves actually believes it.

I think Nieves should be thinking of coaching as he is a super person. At this point I don't even think Manny Acta would give him a bench seat on the Indians!

Mark Zuckerman said...

Traveler8 said...
I thought Ray King was traded, I think to Minnesota, maybe Milwaukee - late in the season. Did he not appear at all as a reliever for them?

The Nats traded King to the Brewers in Sept. 2007, then re-signed him the next year. He pitched in 12 games for the Nats in 2008, then was released and subsequently retired.

Mark said...

Mark, seriously? Why isn't JMax on your list? Are you drinking the Kool-Aid too?

The bench was so bad last year that JMax, WillieHaHa, and Wil Never Nieves all couldn't hit their own weight.

Adam Kennedy was the star of your bench and he has been cut. This team won't ever get better if they dint exorcise the demons of the past.

Spend the money and get away from the trash heap. Sorry, Justin Maxwell should be the first name on your list Mark.

NatBiscuit said...

I predict that of the 2009 players Flores, Orr, Garate, Segovia, and Martis all play in the majors again although only Flores and Maris will play again for the Nationals. Garate and Segovia are a litte questionable though I think of the two Garate has the better chance. Orr is just too useful not to make a roster at some point. Flores may yet be a starter in the majors. Martis will get his shot - he will never be more than a back of the rotation guy, but he is capable of filling a rotation spot on a reasonably good team and he's only 23 if memory serves.

MikeHarris said...

That list is scary.

I remember being somewhat excited when the Nats got Junior Spivey. How'd that work out? Didn' he bust a wrist in the batting cage?

I saw the one start made by that White kid against the Cardinals. Didn't he become some kind of ba-zillionaire?

Nice to see Bacsik took his moment of fame - Mr. Groove It - and went home.

Anonymous said...

I miss the days of Mike Restovich, Tony Batista, and Jason Simontacchi. I can't believe I sat through a couple dozen games that year.

Mark Zuckerman said...

You guys are correct: I should have included Maxwell on the list of 2010 Nats who may not play in the majors next year. Glossed over that one somehow.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mark! This type of analysis shows the chronic lack of scouting and front office expertise in recognizing real versus imagined talent, which makes you wonder how the heck Rizzo got a promotion!!!

Anonymous said...

Mark, thanks for adding Maxwell to your list!

Lerner, Feffer, and Rizzo need to take a hard look in the mirror as well as the conscience of Bud Selig for the team the Lerner's adopted.

I will say though that with 4 years of ownership, Rizzo had a chance for major strides in 2010 and put together a horrific bench that even Jim Bowden would laugh at.

What a laugher in the trifecta of:
1) Justin Maxwell
2) Wil Nieves
3) Willie Harris

Starting Centerfielder
1) Nyjer Morgan

Opening Day Starter
1) John Lannan

Star Pitcher
1) Livan Hernandez - 45 years old

Evan S said...

I think Batista will be in the majors next year, but not with the nationals. Only way he isn't is if he retires. Bergman, Chico, Bisenus and Walker all could if they land somewhere that really needs them or make a splash in spring training.

JD said...

Evan S

Walker had shoulder or elbow surgery; I don't think he's ever coming back.

P. Cole said...

Does this mean someone actually let Daniel Cabrera pitch for their team?

Anonymous said...

Jorge de la Rosa, really he is a top of the rotation guy!? C'mon Mr. Rizzo go after the real stars, look what Billy Beane did in two days, get David deJesus someone who you should have gone hard after, it did not take much to pry him away and then a great waiver wire pick up of Edwin Encarnacion. How about some movement!? Or are we going to wait around and feed last on the carcass of free agency, trades and the waiver wire???

JD said...

De LA Rosa is absolutely the type of pitcher we should pursue; 113 strike outs in 121 innings; ERA of 4.22 in Colorado; left handed power pitcher; WAR 1.7 in 2010 but 3.7 in 2009 and 2.4 in 2008 and only 26 years old. Close to the top of our rotation I would say.

Edwin Encarnacion a great waiver pick up? whatever.

sec3 said...

One more thing to consider is how much that "Wash." on their resume hurts their employability.

JaneB said...

I'm both abashed and ... I don't know what... At how happy I am just to READ some of these names. Guys I really liked for one reason or another . JayB would be appalled I know... But I send a shout out to Deivi Cruz, my wonderful Junior Spivey, Wiki, Damian, John Patterson, Dmitri, Willy Mo and Jesus Flores. Hope we get Jesus back, or that someone does. But every one of these guys did something that warmed my heart. And, even if none of them were good enough to go on...and I include the guys who played in 2010 who may not, like Justin and Wilie, whom I also loved EVEN THOUGH they weren't great... Here's the bottom line to me. They all played the best they could for us. We may have wished for more, but so did they. And the end of your career is a hard place to be, especially when you've been involved in building it since elementary school. It would be great to have players SO goo that none would retire after playing for us. But I feel bad for these guys, and grateful to have seen so many of 'em on my team.

Doc said...

Billy Beane with money, now that would be one hell've dangerous GM! He'd have a team that everybody else would be chasing.

He's still the prototype for the state-of-the-art GM. I wonder what draft choice(s) he got for Zito?

sec3mysofa said...

@doc: that would be the 2007 draft, 41 & 72 pverall, if I'm reading this right:
Sean R Doolittle, 1b;
Corey A Brown, lf

Sunderland said...

Sean Doolittle, teammate of Ryan Zimmerman at UVA, ACC Player of the Year, saddled with knee injuries and surgeries, yet to sniff the majors but still a well regarded prospect.

Corey Brown, turns 25 this month, outfielder, did well this year at AA, but got promoted to AAA, and hit .193 in 135 AB's.

Player development, part science, part art, part luck.

S3 ms said...

So, 2 guys who may never make the Show, and Beane still comes out good. Next question: what did the A's do with all the money saved? Didn't they sign a free agent?

Anonymous said...

Regarding DeLaRosa, I see him as another in the Wang/Webb school of pitchers that are often hurt. I wouldn't waste my money on him. Bash Livo all you want, but he's taking his turn every fifth day. How many months was DeLaRosa on the DL last year?

Unknown said...

Great stuff, Mark.

The one I remember most fondly is Alex Escobar -- a .300 hitter and a lightning bolt in the outfield, but so brittle he made Nicky J look like the Iron Man.
I join JaneB in saluting these guys who tried hard but fell short of great -- just like most of us.

A Dunn said...

So Huff gets a title shot and what do I get? A one-way ticket to Palookaville. You was my agent, you were supposed to look out for me.

natsfan1a said...

Me three, Zimbo and JaneB.

Confidential to A. Dunn, you coulda been a contender...


I join JaneB in saluting these guys who tried hard but fell short of great -- just like most of us.

JD said...

De La Rosa missed the 1st half last year due to a finger injury; not elbow or shoulder. No reason to call him injury prone. He also allowed 3 runs or less in 13 of his 14 starts last year and went 16 - 9 after starting 0-6 in 2009. He also averages about a strike out an inning which means he has stuff to miss bats unlike Livo who gets by by tricking hitters.

I think a Marquis like contract ( 2 years 15 mil ) for De La Rosa makes a ton of sense.

Anonymous said...

I still have hopes for Wil Nieves, afterall, Pudge can't hang around forever and a tandom of a recovered Nieves and Ramos would seem to secure the backstop for years to come. JTinSC

Rob Dibble's Ghost said...

Pete Orr signed with the Phillies this past week. Who knows, he may be back in the majors this year...

Sunderland said...

Doesn't seem to me there's any way Nieves can stay with the Nats. Our 40 man roster has Nieves, Pudge, Ramos and Flores. If we keep Nieves, that's 4 catchers on the 40 man. Not gonna happen. The only hope for Nieves with the Nats is if we trade or 60 day DL one of those three.

Maybe Nieves can catch on elsewhere, but with a guaranteed major league contract? Doubt it. Perhaps he gets DFA'd, and we sign him to a minor league deal.

BinM said...

@Sunderland & Anon 7:06: Nieves is up for Arbitration again, and looks to be a non-tender candidate. Maybe the Nationals offer a minor-league deal, but not much else, imo.

Another_Sam said...

Who was the guy, when he went to the Orioles a number of years ago, said [in print] "If I can't help this club I don't belong in baseball."? Anyone recall?

Another_Sam said...

Whatever happend to Martis, the guy from Curacao who had a few reasonable starts a couple of years ago? How did he have a couple of effective big league outings and return to oblivion? I liked him because I like Curacao -- the island, I mean.

Anonymous said...

Martis pitched all of the 2010 season in AAA Syracuse. He's still on the Nats 40 man roster and may yet pitch again in the big leagues - either for the Nats or for some other team. He's definitely not in oblivion.

Michael J. Hayde said...

Martis probably will return in 2011... when three (or more) of our starters go down with injuries, as seems to happen every season.

I'm expecting another train wreck next year, but I'll still attend games when I can and watch on TV when I can't. That's what fans do.

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