Friday, January 28, 2011

Rizzo's team

Mike Rizzo has officially served as GM of the Nationals for 17 months (22 months if you count the period from March-August 2009 when held an interim title) and it's no secret he's made some significant changes during that time.

There has been an overhaul of his front office. There has been an overhaul of the coaching staff, including at the managerial position. And there has been an overhaul of the roster Rizzo inherited from former GM Jim Bowden.

How much overhaul? A lot.

It's not uncommon for a new GM to make some changes upon taking over a franchise. Usually, his views on roster assemblage differ from the guy he replaced, so no one's surprised when a bunch of new players are acquired to replace a bunch of holdovers.

But the Nationals' roster overhaul in the last 22 months includes far more change than you'd typically see in such a short time frame. Nearly 58 percent of the players on the current 40-man roster were acquired by Rizzo. Yes, 58 percent of the players on the Nationals' current roster were not a part of the organization when Rizzo took over on March 1, 2009.

Let's look at that 40-man roster, broken down by which GM acquired each player...

Rick Ankiel (free agent)
Brian Broderick (Rule 5 draft)
Corey Brown (trade)
Sean Burnett (trade)
Todd Coffey (free agent)
Tom Gorzelanny (trade)
Jerry Hairston (free agent)
Bryce Harper (draft)
Livan Hernandez (free agent)
Adam LaRoche (free agent)
Jason Marquis (free agent)
Yunesky Maya (international free agent)
Nyjer Morgan (trade)
Michael Morse (trade)
Elvin Ramirez (Rule 5 draft)
Wilson Ramos (trade)
Henry Rodriguez (trade)
Ivan Rodriguez (free agent)
Doug Slaten (free agent)
Drew Storen (draft)
Stephen Strasburg (draft)
Chien-Ming Wang (free agent)
Jayson Werth (free agent)

Luis Atilano (trade)
Adam Carr (draft)
Tyler Clippard (trade)
Ross Detwiler (draft)
Cole Kimball (draft)
John Lannan (draft)
Garrett Mock (trade)
Atahualpa Severino (international free agent)
Craig Stammen (draft)
Jordan Zimmermann (draft)
Jesus Flores (Rule 5 draft)
Danny Espinosa (draft)
Alberto Gonzalez (trade)
Chris Marrero (draft)
Ryan Zimmerman (draft)

Collin Balester (draft)
Ian Desmond (draft)

Roger Bernadina (international free agent)

A couple of things worth noting here:

-- There are 41 players listed, because someone still needs to be dropped to make room for Tom Gorzelanny. That player almost certainly will come off the list of players acquired by Bowden.

-- Yes, Roger Bernadina out-dates Omar Minaya. He was signed as a 17-year-old out of Curacao on Nov. 3, 2001, shortly after Larry Beinfest took over as interim GM of the Expos. (Minaya was hired in February 2002 after MLB purchased the club.) This makes Roger the longest-tenured player in the organization by leaps and bounds.

-- While there are still 15 players acquired by Bowden on the roster, I found it interesting that all were acquired either via draft, trade or international signing. No free agents signed by Bowden during his 4 1/2 years as GM remain with the organization. And remember that a lot of those draft picks were acquired during Rizzo's tenure as assistant GM, when one of his top responsibilities was to run the draft war room along with former scouting director Dana Brown.

-- Of the 23 players on Rizzo's list, meanwhile, 17 were acquired via free agency or trade. That's a lot of major-league players to have acquired in only 22 months.

What does this all mean in the grand scheme of things? Well, obviously Rizzo has gone to great lengths in less than two years on the job to mold a roster in his image. The roster he inherited in March 2009 -- one that was coming off a 102-loss season, by the way -- clearly didn't match up with his vision.

Rizzo has made a point to acquire more athletically gifted position players, with an emphasis on defense and speed. He's made a point to stockpile hard-throwing relievers. He's made a concerted effort this winter to bolster his bench with veterans. And he's tried to assemble some depth in a rotation that at the moment lacks any front-line starters.

Is this the roster that will get the Nationals over the hump, out of the NL East basement and above the .500 mark? We'll have to wait and see. But either way, whether this roster succeeds or fails, there's no mistaking who assembled it. Nearly two years after ascending to the GM role, Mike Rizzo has a team of his own.


Anonymous said...

Clearly, the Bowden plan for assembling a winner was not working. It's only rational for Rizzo to go a different way.

JayB said...

Nice summary Mark....the coming roster move is not for Tom G right...Jerry H I think right?

Also....much of Rizzo's FA signings from last year are gone too....that tells me that Rizzo is not as smart an evaluator as many here would like to think.....He spend real money on Kennedy, Brian B, Walker and others that flamed out right? Oh and don't forget Jason M...that was his too.

Mark Zuckerman said...

No, the Gorzelanny trade (though announced by the team) hasn't been processed by MLB headquarters. The three other recent additions (LaRoche, Hairston and Coffey) have all been processed.

JayB does make a good point about free agents acquired by Rizzo in the last two years who are no longer on the roster. He certainly has acquired his share of players who didn't work out.

Anonymous said...

See also Goessling's latest MASN post ("Want an ex-National? There are still plenty available") which speaks to the same point, albeit from a different angle. Too many of the players Rizzo inherited were -- at best -- borderline major leaguers, and many are now having trouble finding jobs.

JayB said...

Ops...thanks Mark...wonder what the hold up is on Tom G. contract is.....All GM's make mistakes but Jimbo made them more than almost any GM ever and Rizzo....well we shall see...if this team does not win soon he too will be looking in from the outside. It is all about winning games...something the Nats have not done since 2005

N. Cognito said...

If there's one thing I've learned the last couple days, it's that I'll never buy anything from Lenovo.

DFL said...

Bowden was mediocre but was also hamstrung by the tightfisted Lerners. His trade for Kearns and Lopez made sense but never worked out. The trades for Clippard and Detwiler were successful. His trade for Willingham and Olson was successful despite Olson being injured much of the time. As an aside, Rizzo's trade of Willingham will be foolish if Corey Brown doesn't cut it. The Dunn signing was excellent while Rizzo's decision not to re-sign Dunn was foolish. Bowden made a few good draft picks which are listed and some who didn't pan out.

As for Rizzo, he was lucky that the niggardly Lerners of 2005-2008 provided the means to a lack of success in 2008 and 2009 which allowed Rizzo the good fortune to make the obvious first picks in the draft- Strasburg and Harper. Even Rizzo could not screw those picks up. Rizzo was also fortunate that the Lerners finally reached for the crowbar in their gold-laden wallets to pay for talent. Strasburg and Harper didn't come cheap and Rizzo overpaid for a rightfielder who was an Major League baseball afterthought until 2008.

So what of the Nats future? For 2011, the starting pitching this season is near the worst in the National League. Despite the addition of Werth, the outfield is one of the worst in the National League. At second is a rookie and at short is a real talent who makes too many errors. Catching and first-base are average. Third-base is where the star is but one who is deeply unhappy that Rizzo didn't choose to keep Dunn and Willingham. My bet is that Ryan Zimmerman flies the coop when his contract is up. As for beyond 2011, if Strasburg comes back from injury as an ordinary pitcher, Jordan Zimmerman proves to be mediocre, Harper proves to be more a later-day Shawn Abner rather than Ken Griffey Jr. and Werth wilts under the pressure of playing for a bad team for a lot of money, Rizzo will be out of a job five years hence.

JayB said...

Even I do not see it as bad as that....but I do think Rizzo will lose his job after 5 years....because as Boz put it in his last chat.....Lerner's waited way to long to start spending....the reputation and losing culture was set in stone between 2007-2010....I hope Rizzo gets lucky and the team wins 85 games this year....if not, as you all know I see really bad things coming next off season...nobody will sign here and DFL is correct Zimm will leave ASAP

NatinBeantown said...

Reinforcing the point: of the likely 25-man active roster:
17 Rizzo (68%)
5 Bowden (20%)
2 Minaya
1 Beinfest

*I gave the last spot in the pen to Ballystar.

Anonymous said...

This breakdown of which GM acquired who is useful. I've had a theory for a while that Rizzo's plan to remake the chemistry in the clubhouse is to get rid of essentially anyone not named Zimmerman(n) that Bowden acquired. The only four players on the Bowden list I see here long term is Espinosa, Clippard, Ryan Z and Jordan Z. I'm not sure how much longer Lannan's gonna be around.

PDowdy83 said...

JayB, I would like to point out a few things about Rizzo's "busts". Brian Bruney was aquired for a rule 5 pick, not signed on the open market and it was prior to the Matt Capps signing so he was attempting to add a hard thrower to the bullpen that was awful the season before. While it busted it wasn't a bad attempt. He only spent $1.5 on him.

Walker was signed for all of $650,000. Fangraphs valued him at .2 WAR and that = $600,000. He was bad for a stretch but was also adequate for another period of time and when he got hurt he had turned a corner. Hard to call that a bust.

Adam Kennedy was a low risk signing to add depth to another weak area of the team. I blame Riggleman for mishandling the playing time at 2nd for that one being as bad as it was. Even then, it was a rather small contract for a guy coming off a really solid season the year before. Kennedy was also worth 1.0 WAR which was valued at $4.0MM last season. That means he was actually worth twice as much as his contract. Again, not a stellar move but hardly a bust.

Marquis took a paycut from the season before when he signed for $7.5MM a season last year. He was coming off a decent season and had no injury history. He was still overpayed but seemed like a decent signing for a terrible rotation. It is harder to predict an injury for a guy with no injury history but I will chalk this one up as a bust.

Overall though, I think he evaluated the market fairly on most of the guys. You also left out the job he did signing Capps last offseason. That was a wonderful job of selling high on a player.

Also don't forget he managed to turn Guzman into 2 pitchers despite his awful contract and not so good play. Seems to me that he is doing what he can with what he had to work with.

SpotsyNats said...

DFL needs to either go back to Philly or New York or from whereever whence he came 'cause he knows not what he speaks.

As for others who are critical of Rizzo's "failed" signings of a prior season, lets give him some benefit of the doubt. It's not like he can go to the local "Free Agents'R Us" and pick one off the shelf all under his own doing. It's a two-way street and he had to deal in an environment of free agents wanting the most money they can get and playing for a winner. When you are a club coming off a 100 loss season suffering from a bad reputation and poor attendance numbers then you take the best player you can get. (Kennedy, Marquis). I am of the opinion that Rizzo has made big strides turning the ship around and still has much to do which he admits. The Nats' rep is on the uptick and his strategy of improving pitching, defense, athleticism, and character is the absolute correct course. I fully expect a club that can be a .500+ IMHO

JayB said...

Oh I agree the money was not a bad signing in any of those cases....the results were the problem in all of them. Rizzo does not have time to slightly improve 2B with a cheap Kennedy signing....He has to vastly improve the record NOW as in Last year....that does not allow little moves like you are pointing to....that is why I see them as such a failure, not because of wasted money....They have lots of money in the bank unspent over the past 5 years.

PDowdy83 said...

Gotcha, I miss interpreted what you were trying to say on that post then. At the time though, Kennedy and Hudson were really the only options for 2nd. Hudson had shown an obvious adversion to playing here since 2 off seasons in a row he didn't come. Granted a trade would have been good but I don't know who woulda been a solid target that was actually obtainable. I took the Kennedy signing as him trying to add to a poor position instead of standing pat.

Capps, Bruney and Walker were brought in to repair a busted bullpen. Again, I don't think signing a reliever long term would have been a good idea so these again aren't bad signings. Walker pitched respectably in his role and finished with an FIP under 4. Bruney flat out sucked, but he was coming off decent seasons in New York, not great but decent.

I think the bigger issue wasn't last season, it was the offseason moving into the new ballpark. There were a couple of guys that would should have been pursued harder. I think you pretty much support the same thing. Last off season just wasn't that good in terms of talent.

blovy8 said...

I think a lot of the 40 man roster shuffling is natural for a team that needed to rebuild it's farm system. You still need major league players until your own farm system produces them, and there's no reason to start some prospect's major league time before they're ready - that would be idiotic, witness the Maxwell example. The Nats have made a big push when they want a plaer - Teixeira is an example too, it's just that Werth DID take the money. I believe that's a sign that the Nats are being taken more seriously by players generally. Just because many would rather stay where they are for a little less, doesn't mean DC is still a pariah. The most important thing they can do is get Zimmerman signed to an extension, really the trend for locking up young stars to contracts makes it much easier to not overpay for free agents in their thirties, be they pitchers or hitters. I don't see how the Nats could outbid NY, Boston, or LA teams consistently for those players unless they are not good fits for those clubs. Even so, you get a guy like Michael Young in a utility role for 16 million for Texas if you mess with your roster too much.

The question is going to be how well Rizzo drafts, more than how the interim free agents perform, if this franchise is to compete. If we don't go crazy getting type A free agents, he can still build a system with more projectable prospects that will keep the 40 man roster improving after guys like LaRoche and Marquis are gone.

PDowdy83 said...

One last point though, if with an awful defense and bad pitching staff they improved 10 games last season I think by suring up the defense and hopefully getting more out of Marquis and Zimmermann this season, not to mention Gorzelanny I can see another 8 or 9 game improvement for the team. If they get to the 78 - 82 win mark I think free agents will take them serious enough.

Anonymous said...

You can point to good and bad in all GM's. Bob Howsam, the architect of the Big Red Machine in the 1970's, traded Tony Perez and Will McEnaney (the Reds closer at the time) for Woodie Fryman and Dale Murray. Howsam is generally considered one of the best GMs ever. One lousy trade or a couple of bad minor free agent signings doesn't mean the GM sucks. Its easy to find the negative in everything -- its also unproductive.

Kennedy was a stopgap and was signed as such. Bruney was acquired for a Rule 5 pick that was returned by the Yankees. Marquis may end up having the year this year that Rizz thought he would have. Overall, the job Rizzo has done to this point has been good. And I say this even given that he let one of my favorite players of all time, Adam Dunn, walk.

N. Cognito said...

The more I learn about the Lerners, the more I believe they aren't cheap, just heavy-handed micro-managers.
I think the problem with Bowden's tenure was he was poor at selling the Lerners on personnel acquisitions. Rizzo is better.
When you combine the above two views with an organizational personnel philosophy of not overpaying for medium and low level talent, the Lerners do look cheap. And Mark's idiotic comments about spending never helped.

A full rebuild of the team and the organization was a calculated effort on the organization's part, and they were well aware that attendance and good will would suffer - they're taking a short term hit for a long term gain.
There have been very few really good free agents available over the last 5 years, and the marginal ones that the Nats could have realistically signed would have increased wins by only a few games per year, certainly enough wins that we wouldn't have Strasburg or Harper.
When and if the team starts winning, and they do want to win, the fans will return. All is not lost.

NatinBeantown said...

Are there any players on the current roster, who are not likely to be on the 2012 roster (Marquis, Pudge, etc) who have any chance to be Type A or Type B FA?

JayB said...

I do not see any Type A's at all maybe but unlikely a type B FA's after 2011....Hairston would have to play a ton....maybe if he took over CF early and played great. Coffey.....maybe but not likely.....on second not a one on this roster.

blovy8 said...

Yeah, a Coffey would be the most likely A, and wouldn't accept arbitration if he had that good a year either. If Guerrier, Frasor or Rhodes can be Type A, who knows? I-Rod may play enough to be a B.

Anonymous8 said...

raymitten said...
I'm not sure how much longer Lannan's gonna be around.

Clearly Rizzo and most Nats fans are tired of watching the soft tossers who have passed through DC. To have Lannan at one time paraded as the #1 on the staff and some annointing him the "Ace" was laughable.

When Lannan appeared in 2008 to be a #3 or #4 pitcher, he started regressing. Now the team is paying big money for him at $2.8 million and more the next 2 years. The team is also on the hook for $2 million to Maya.

Here's Rizzo's problem for next year, most of his Opening Day starting rotation won't be back next year. Marquis and Livan Hernandez are gone most likely and Wang's contract expires.

2012 (I am projecting):

1) Strasburg
2) Zimmermann
3) Gorzelanny
4) Lannan
5) Maya

Sure, it looks a lot better in 2012 with Strasburg and then 2013 is where it gets interesting with Robbie Ray, Solis, AJ Cole.

Then you have Baseball America's 2013 projection:

No. 1 Starter Stephen Strasburg
No. 2 Starter Jordan Zimmermann
No. 3 Starter A.J. Cole
No. 4 Starter Sammy Solis
No. 5 Starter John Lannan

That 2013 home built starting rotation looks real good and Lannan is projected as what he is at best a #5 on a good staff.

Anonymous said...

In the end there really does seem to be very distinct possibility that the Nats DO improve the record to the level JayB indicates. Many of Rizzo's moves seem intended to reduce mistakes and relying on 'random chance' far too much from preceding seasons.

Still needing one more pitcher. If I am him I am not going to rely on Marquis, Maya, Lannan, or Detwiler. There's no guarantees on Zimmermann. With Gorzelanny the top of the rotation should be bolstered. But at least one more pitcher is needed through trade. And that trade will likely hurt.

SonnyG10 said...

I agree with mockcarr about the question being how well Rizzo drafts. With all the FO hires he got to help him evaluate talent, they better be very good if our team is to compete consistently in the future. Where they really need to shine is in the later rounds where its a lot harder to find successful picks. We have to pick better than the other teams.

Anonymous said...

2012 will be a rehab year for Strasburg. Part of which might be spent in the minors. Again, why they either need another pitcher through trade or someone has to finally step up among Mock, Detwiler, JZimmnn, and Maya.

If both things were to happen ...

sjm 308 said...

Did not realize DFL was that close with Zimmerman? Funny thing is, I actually do have a friend who knows Ryan pretty well and while he wanted Dunn to stay, he is not all that unhappy with this off-season, and has never mentioned leaving. Probably nothing can be said to get that 1/2 empty glass 1/2 full for DFL but its hard for me to believe he really thinks our catchers are just average. I realize Pudge has lost a bit but the guys behind him excite the heck out of me, and the fact that we have three prospects makes it even better. Absolutely agree that if all the negatives he lists do play out that Rizzo will lose his job, but so would any GM on any team. I prefer to hope that our honestly weak pitching somehow works out and we continue to improve. I would be happy with 75-78 wins and do think more FA's will be looking at us in the future.

Go Nats!!

JD said...


'the starting pitching this season is near the worst in the National League' - really? based on what?

You are are just throwing your negative opinion out there as gospel.Let's look at some potential positives based on my opinion.

1)Deep, solid bullpen.
2)Starting rotation improved by adding ML quality depth to replace 'replacement level' starters from LY.
3)3rd, SS and 2b potentially the best range of any infield in the MLB; 1st base defense improved by subtracting Dunn.
4)Bench improved.
5)Outfield defense improved by subtraction of Willingham.
6)deep catching rotation (not average) which is an overall advantage over most major league teams

I understand that the team as presently constituted (and without Strasburg) is probably a 75 win team but with a potential upside to around 81 wins; it's not where we want to be but it's progress and with Strasburg, Norris, Harper and Cole on the way there is cause for optimism.

As far as Zim is concerned he has 3 more years left on his contract; let's not try to read too much into the comments he made when his good friend Dunn left via free agency.

Will said...

I believe Coffey was a Type B FA, but wasn't offered arbitration.

It would be pretty shrewd of Rizzo to give Coffey some save opportunities early in the season. The Elias Player Rankings are pretty awful evaluators of talent, and give disproportionate weighting to counting stats like saves (for relievers) and RBIs (for corner IFs). 10 saves might be enough to boost Coffey to a Type A reliever. But then again, there have been several type A relievers whose value has plummeted because they'd require 1st round compensation.

I hope Coffey turns into last years Capps, aka Wilson Ramos. A deadline deal would be a great idea, and open up a spot for someone like Carr or Kimball or another younger reliever in the minors to join the Nats.

Mark'd said...

Anon8 - The projection on your 2012 obviously isn't your optimum rotation given your comments on Lannan.

Since Rizzo didn't get his top of the rotation guy this year I expect him to find him for next year.

If Espi, Desmond and CF work out, Rizzo clearly has his top priority for 2012 - Chris Carpenter!

Mississippi Snopes said...

@DFL said 11:38 a.m.

One minor correction, Ross Detwiler was not acquired by trade. He was the #6 player drafted overall in the 2007 draft.

I also can't agree that the draft of Detwiler has been "successful," at least so far. You expect more out of the #6 pick than Detwiler's career 4.74 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, and 1.30 K/BB ratio, and 5.16 K/9. Sure, there's still lots of hope for Detwiler, given his injury history, but it's premature to call him "successful."

JD said...

Chris Carpenter will be 37 years old when the 12 season rolls around. You want to sink 5 years into that?

Anonymous8 said...


Yes, my projection for 2012 is based on who they have now in the system for Opening Day. I would expect a few callups after Super 2 in June 2012 like Bryce Harper and maybe Solis.

Can we call next off-season, "Hire me a Carpenter" (not Bob Carpenter).

JD said...

Missisipi Snopes,

You are right on that one especially since they could have drafted: Madison Baumgartner, Jason Heyword or Rick Porcello.

Mark'd said...

JD - he had TJ surgery successfully and is a veteran ace. Sign him for 3 years if you can as 5 is too risky.

Anonymous8 said...

Chris Carpenter is a workhorse. He pitched 235 innings last year and is a fiery competitor. This is the type of leader/mentor you want in front of Strasburg and Zimmermann especially since we was a successful graduate of the Tommy John school of hard knocks!

With Pujols about to break the bank in St. Louis, the Nats need to step it up to get him for 2 to 3 years!

Anonymous said...

Where they really need to shine is in the later rounds where its a lot harder to find successful picks. We have to pick better than the other teams.

Both KC and Tampa Bay managed to rebuild their systems. Hopefully Rizzo will be able to do the same job that Dayton Moore and Andrew Friedman did. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

About a month or so after Dayton Moore took over as the Royals' GM, he told me that he was alarmed to find how little pitching inventory he had in his new farm system and that addressing that vacuum would be a major priority for his front office. The phrase "Mission Accomplished" has acquired an ironic connotation of late, but if anyone could use the phrase earnestly to describe his own efforts, it would be Moore, as the Royals have arms coming out of their ears.

However, the Nats and Rizzo did manage to get one of Keith Law's thirty "sleepers".

A.J. Cole fell out of the first round in 2010 after an up-and-down spring and high bonus demands, but the Nationals ponied up and got themselves a big power arm who will show you 97 when he's right with the strong legs that point to a future workhorse body.

RickH said...

Good info. Thanks, Mark!

Anonymous said...

Adam Dunn is a DH. The National League does not use a DH, unless there's been a rule change since the end of last season. People calling not re-signing him a bad move lose all credibility in my mind. How many other NL teams were interested in signing him?

Josh Willingham is an oft injured, unathletic outfielder who's a solid hitter. $6 million National league player, he's not.

I like what Rizzo has done with the roster. The pitching is still ugly, but I don't think there were a lot of available options this winter. Ultimately, his fate is going to lie in guys like Stras, Zimm, Solis, Cole, and hopefully he'll have a few more guys step up and become solid to good Major league starters. If not, the best speed and defense are going to max you out around 80 wins without good pitching.

Anonymous8 said...

Here is Keith Law's and Aaron Fitt's projections of the Nats prospects which is pre-Rookies.

I tend to like Keith Law's Top 10 better but thought the Nats deserved a better Top 100 placement with Ramos higher and the fact he didn't have Espinosa in his Top 100.

1.Bryce Harper, RF
2.Derek Norris, C
3.Wilson Ramos, C
4.A.J. Cole, RHP
5.Danny Espinosa, SS
6.Sammy Solis, LHP
7.Eury Perez, OF
8.Robbie Ray, LHP
9.Chris Marrero, 1B
10.Destin Hood, OF

1. Bryce Harper, of
2. Derek Norris, c
3. Danny Espinosa, ss/2b
4. A.J. Cole, rhp
5. Wilson Ramos, c
6. Sammy Solis, lhp
7. Cole Kimball, rhp
8. Eury Perez, of
9. Chris Marrero, 1b
10. Brad Peacock, rhp

VladiHondo said...

Back to topic a bit, but with it now being Rizzo's team what can we draw from it?

First, its a pity he didn't get the extra time in building a team when the Lerners decided to retain Bowden rather than start fresh. Bowden was always pretty good at building for THIS year, he made an immediate splash by signing Castillo & Guzzie. However, if he had waited he might have signed them AFTER they were not offered Arb and saved us losing the 2nd & 3rd round pick in the DEEP Zimmerman draft. The splash was preferred over thE substance. Bowden made plenty of "good" pickups, but it was always short-term. Some flash in the pans (Loiaza, Guillen, Dunn, Dmitri), here a year or two, then gone. His attempts at anything longterm failed (Milledge/Dukes) while his drafts were pretty bad (2k6 5 picks top 91, zero Major Leaguers). Rizzo at least is taking a long term view.

Second, what does Rizzo like? He now seems more old-scout school than I had hoped. Favors projectibility, size, over results. Projectibility is OK, but aren't these guys supposed to PRODUCE at some point? If I have to hear how tall and big each prospect is again I'll puke. To hit, you need good/great eyesight, not height. There have been plenty of Great short pitchers (Pedro, Lincecum, Maddux). To exclude or diminish a prospect due to physicality is foolish.

Once in A+/AA, they better start producing. Bowden's inane 1st promo of Desmond after Ian hit .244 in Potomac was another "splash" move - saying "look we're developing" by the fact they did a mid-season promo. I want a propect to rake at his level. Not for a month, but let him rip the crap out of a league all year, then look forward to the next step next year. Indications are Rizzo is more this type. But what qualms I have is why do we still have alot of holdovers from Bowdens splash approach? Why is Boone still there, didn't he do the Desmond promotion? Is Spin Williams EVER going to successfully develop a High School Arm? He's been there since Day 1.

It may be Rizzo's team now, but he still needs to make it his organization. Some dead wood still needs to be pruned. Wish him and his staff wouldn't be so old school in their evaluations, but I'm afraid we're stuck with it. Hope he gets lucky here and there.

Anonymous said...

Is Spin Williams EVER going to successfully develop a High School Arm? He's been there since Day 1.

Guess we'll find out with Peacock and Cole both power pitchers and former HS draft picks. Peacock was picked pretty far down. Peacock is almost ready for the majors.

JD said...

Law thinks that Espinosa won't hit; I,m not sure I disagree. Ramos would be higher if he showed some plate discipline; he projects as a good defensive catcher with a + arm and + power but OBP challenged; that's why he is below Norris in every list.

Norris has gotten an unfair rep about his receiving skills; JayB (the hanging judge) dismissed him after seeing him once. While it's true that he needs to improve said skills he is known for an excellent throwing arm and exceptional game calling and he gets on base at a .400 clip; you don't move an asset like that to another position.

Anonymous said...

I read this Grady Sizemore post on MLBTradeRumors originated from none other than the know-it-all Phil Wood of MASN.

Now I guess he is wiping egg on his face as I heard Rizzo denied it and a more vocal denial from Cleveland:

New general manager Chris Antonetti refuted trade rumors involving Sizemore, a three-time All-Star, during a meeting with fans Thursday night in a town hall setting in downtown Cleveland.

"I don't comment on individual players, but in this instance I will say we have had absolutely no discussions with any team regarding Grady," Antonetti said. "His rehab has gone as well as can be expected. He's already in our training camp in Goodyear, [Ariz.], doing baseball-related activities. It is hopeful he will be in spring training games by mid-March."

Anonymous said...

"Josh Willingham is an oft injured, unathletic outfielder who's a solid hitter."

Interestingly, when MLB Network just did their list of the Top 10 Left Fielders Right Now, Josh Willingham did not crack the list. Neither was he included in the five or so other left fielders they mentioned as just missing the top 10. In other words, at best he's the #16 left fielder in MLB. Bottom half.

N. Cognito said...

JD said...
"Law thinks that Espinosa won't hit; I'm not sure I disagree."

Did Law say why he thinks this?

Harper_ROY_2012 said...

Mark - thanks for the run down.

I think a couple of asteriks are in order:

* Livo - he loved being an Expo and a Nat, the fact that Rizzo was last to re-sign him really does not make him a Rizzo guy, he is more of a Minaya guy than anything.

* Mock - Rizzo drafted the guy in Arizona, aso while the Livo trade brought him here under Bowden, he is unlikely to be let go because he is a "Bowdenite"..ditto for Chico although he is no longer on the 40-man.

* Atilano - While Bowden got him in a trade, it was Kasten who liked Atilano as a Brave who got him to DC, so I think he is a Kasten guy, even though he was not GM.

Anonymous said...

This is how bright Phil Wood is in a piece on Nats320 published after the All Star break 2010:

Phil Wood: But I think that J.D. Martin, and to a lesser extent, Craig Stammen, are back end of the rotation types. J.D. Martin at times looks brilliant. At times looks much less than that. And the same can be said for Stammen, who had a great start against The Braves and then stumbled the next couple of times out. There are times when they get two outs rather quickly and then they lose focus, start nibbling (around the plate), or whatever--getting that 3rd out is a real challenge. But this is still a staff that is in flux and in transition. And I believe one year from today, we will be having a very different conversation about it.

JD said...


Law thinks that his swing (Espinosa's) is too long to produce a high average.He could be wrong but in fairness his BA's were never outstanding in the minors either. He has streaky power and is exceptional with the glove so if he keeps his average above water he might still be a useful player.

NatsJack in Florida said...

You are correct, JD.... Rick Eckstein said that very same thing about Espinosa, especially from the left side. Shortening his stroke was all he was working on in Winter ball until the hammate bone thing cropped up.

Wally said...

I am little worried about Espy too, especially this year as he gets over the hamate injury. Still seems like our back up plan should have been better than a prolonged stint for Jerry H.

Anyhow, on the original post re: Rizzo, I think a GM should get graded on his talent acquisition/appraisal skills, and there needs to be a few years of history before we can accurately (or fairly) judge. It doesn't matter where he chooses to apply himself - draft, big ticket FAs, scrap heap FAs, international FAs. He needs to bring in players who produce, and those who don't, get canned. That sounds simplistic, I know, but it really isn't. #1 draft picks don't always work out - think Tim Beckham. The only reason that Friedman gets a pass on not taking Posey is because he has a laundry list of guys who have panned out, or look like they are going to. So success rate matters, I guess. Omar the Infamous got canned in NY because he didn't bring in enough quality guys - O.Perez, for example. Sabean isn't being raked over the coals for Zito and Rowand contracts because he found value in Anres Torres and Huff - he found players to produce, so he isn't being fired over spending money poorly. I think that is how they all get graded, in the end.

So Rizzo should get another year or two before being completely judged, but I think early returns are positive. I agree with an earlier poster that this roster looks better than before, and the farm system also looks better. But it really doesn't matter if it looks better, it has to start being better or he will be deemed to have failed.

JayB said...

Law is correct about his swing....and NC is right about his recent seasons....He plays the game like Pete Rose did.....I think he will make any change needed to stay in the league for 15 years. He can play on my team any day.

N. Cognito said...

Thanks for the info on Espinosa.

sjm 308 said...

Think I learn almost as much about our team from the comments as from Mark's excellent posts. Thanks to you all.

DFL said...

Some reject that the Nats catching is average for 2011. How can the catching be considered anything more? The starter, Ivan Rodriguez, is 39 and declined badly at the plate last season after a strong start. He has little power any longer. Who knows if he collapses this season? The backup, Wilson Ramos, has less than 100 Major League plate appearances and has all of one home run, four doubles and 5 RBIs to his name. Jesus Flores will most likely start in Syracuse. He missed all of last season and missed most of 2009 due to a severe injury. Who knows whether he will come back. Calling the Nats catching average may be stretching the situation.

Anonymous said...

Wilson Ramos, has less than 100 Major League plate appearances and has all of one home run, four doubles and 5 RBIs to his name. Jesus Flores will most likely start in Syracuse. He missed all of last season and missed most of 2009 due to a severe injury.

One could have said the same thing about the SF Giants last year. Buster Posey's very first in the majors I think? Ramos and Flores should provide plenty of depth for IRod as they finish their development. Its part and parcel of the turnover associated with prospects getting promoted to the 25? For that matter catcher shouldn't be any worst than 2nd, or SS? And might end up being better.

Anonymous said...

Then there's switch hitting, former top prospect catcher Matt Wieters:

.249/.319/.695 with 11 homers.

JD said...


Let me put it this way; which organization not named the Twins or Giants would mind having: Ramos, Flores and Norris in the pipeline at the catching position?

You are right about pudge and hopefully he begins to fade into the sunset at least as far as the Nats are concerned.

DFL said...

Posey was a "can't miss" and proved to be a star. Wieters was a "can't miss" and has proved to be only average. Flores has had one year(2008) about as good as Wieters' mediocre year last season. As an aside, looking over Flores' stats I see that he has a plate discipline not much better than Cristian Guzman's. But I like Flores' attitude. If Ramos proves as good as Wieters was last season, I would say it was a successful season with better to come. But it would still be only an average year.

My own hopes for catcher this season is that Rodriguez proves he's too old to start, gets benched and later dropped or traded, and that Ramos and Flores fight it out this season. And Derek Norris takes off in AA and gets the "can't miss" tag and Ramos can be traded to a cash-poor team like the Marlins(can you say Josh Johnson).

Anonymous said...

But it really doesn't matter if it looks better, it has to start being better or he will be deemed to have failed.

Good article about a franchise that actually finished worst than the Nats last year. This franchise just traded their #1 top-of-the-rotation starter because their farm system is now bursting with talented arms. And at other positions as well. Along with the rays this team should be consistently competitive for the next decade or two. This rebuilding process started in 2006. The GM had a lot more to work with than Rizzo did when he started. And what's interesting is that he did not have all that many top draft picks ...

Don't have to be a member to read ...

As JayB says, Rizzo has five years. If Dayton Moore (a Roy Clark disciple) can do it in five, I am betting Rizzo gets it done in 3-4.

Anonymous said...

And Derek Norris takes off in AA and gets the "can't miss" tag and Ramos can be traded to a cash-poor team like the Marlins(can you say Josh Johnson).

Offensively, even fighting through various injuries (including a concussion) plus recovering from the Hamate Norris consistently stayed in .400 OBP land. If he manages to hit those power numbers again his OBP could conceivably rise to .500 in the minors. At that point he will be very hard to keep off of the 25-man. He may actually prove better than Posey offensively ... but he still needs 2 solid years of catching! He hasn't caught an entire year in the minors yet!! Something many who point to his defensive short-comings fail to understand for some odd reason?

Norris needs practice, practice, practice and instruction on some of the finer points. Which I suspect he will get in both Harrisburg and Syracuse this year. There is no reason to rush him given Flores, Ramos and Pudge. So, let's not ...

Anonymous said...

Wieters was a "can't miss" and has proved to be only average.

Its beside the point, which I think you made? ... lots of teams are far, far, far worst than the Nats are catching-wise ... so the Nats catching should be considered slightly above average with potential for a lot more just on the depth and potential.

In any case back to the thread ... Wieters like Espinosa and Lombardozzi is a switch hitter. Takes a bit longer to develop offensively for switch hitters. The Oriole's might have rushed him to the majors a bit too quickly. In any case he may yet develop offensively.

Wally said...

Anon@6:42. Moore is a good example. By all accounts, he has built a great farm system. On the other hand, he has been abysmal at talent acquisition at the major league level. Meche, Guillen, betancourt, our very own Ankiel, all of these were terrible acquisitions (meche actually had a few good years, but otherwise underperformed that contract). So while the farm system is a great start, they don't always pan out they way you think, and if he doesn't demonstrate a better ability to assess and acquire major league talent, they likely won't achieve the level of success they hope for. Even Tampa, the poster child for building through the farm system, wouldn't have made their run without major league acquisitions Pena, Zobrist, akinora, even Jackson (I give them credit for Garza because they got him for Delmon Young)

BinM said...

@Wally: True that. Building the support of a farm system is good, but providing a steady stream of real MLB-ready players can be another thing completely. Tampa has managed to do that so far, but KC, not so much imo.

Washington (under Rizzo) has 'fleshed out' some weak spots in the minor-league system, and added some plus players (Werth, Ramos) to the 40-man via FA / trade. The question remains, can he continue to build on that, or will it collapse like a 'house of cards' in 2011? I'd personally hope for 72-75 wins from the Big Club in 2011, and a minor-league system with 2-3 playoff teams to show additional progress as well.

Drew 8 said...

The exciting thing about 2013 and beyond is that the Nats have the No. 6, No. 23 and No. 34 picks in this year's draft, which reportedly is heavy on top-flight college pitchers.

Get another live arm to go with Strasburg, Zim and Cole, and the Nats might put on a show.

JayB said...

BinM....72 wins would be a major fail for this team...If they are not .500 or above then they can kiss the next 5 years good by. They need CF lead off....LF power hitter and 1B and Pitching and likely a defensive SS and they are not getting them from the Farm....FA are not going to come unless they prove they can WIN at least 1/2 there games this year they are still loser town to the rest of baseball

sunderland said...

VladiHondo, appreciate your post and points.
I think DFL's characterization of our catching in 2011 as average is a perfectly reasonable assessment. While the depth of Ramos, Flores, Norris is certainly an organizational strength, performance from the C position in 2011 will likely be average, or worse. Pudge seems likely to play perhaps 5 out of 8 games, and he'll hit .225 with no power and a high rate of DP's. So this year, looks like we'll get better than average defense and worse than average offense from the C Spot. It only will be better than this if Flores and Ramos thrive and Rizzo has the courage to move Pudge, and this is a series of unlikely events.
I think most of the rest of DFL's assessment is overly pessimistic. The whole notion of Zim as unhappy is silly. I'm looking forward to watching this team in 2011. There will be some disappointments, but some real positive developments as well.

JayB said...

Win and Zimm will be fine.....lose 85 or more games this year and he will blame Rizzo for his moves that cost him his best buds......This is a big year for this team...

Anonymous said...

Whatever the speculation on who will pan out, who won't and why, all I can say is I'm still happy to have a team in DC. I get treated right at the park (eg: easy to exchange my tickets for seats in the shade, or under cover on rainy days); with a couple notable exceptions, the team plays hard when I see them, and you have about a 50/50 chance of seeing them win at home. And then there's that Zimmerman kid - pretty nice to be able to see him play every day. :-)

JayB said...

I agree that is why I keep my tickets.....That Zimm kid will be gone if they can not get this thing turn around soon!

Anonymous said...

BinM....72 wins would be a major fail for this team...If they are not .500 or above then they can kiss the next 5 years good by. They need CF lead off

The way Rizzo has been maneuvering you have to think JayB might have a point. He seems to agree that they have to have .500 as a reachable goal this year.

But c'mon JayB they don't need CF lead off. It looks to me like they could end up with a power forward outfield. Unless Eury Perez makes it and given the reports of his and Destin Hood's lackadaisical approach to the game some have reported ... makes you wonder about who they have teaching them down there ... be interesting to see him Potomac this year.

In any case they have plenty of talent for CF now into the high minors.

Lead off is a different story. Perhaps it ends up being Desmond until Espinosa the switch hitter improves at the plate? A decent #2 shouldn't be hard to find given all the possible choices they have. Yes, you are right its a weakness that does not appear to have been addressed ... yet.

Tim said...

Well they improved by 10 wins last season and it wasn't because they got lucky. The team under achieved their Pythagorean by 3 wins. They had their two most proven starters (going into last season) under perform most of the season before eventually returning to form. Lannan with his control issues and Marquis with an injury. Losing Stras was a big blow emotionally at least it was to me. And they had Nyjer and his myriad issues. And Willingham underperforming int he 2nd half. This was balanced by some bright spots like Morse, and Bernadina emerging as role players, the bullpen and Livo pitching above expectations. But Over all, I think they underperformed their potential from last year.

So yea, I think given the improvements on the rotation, having Zimm for a whole season, Maqruis healthy, Lannan finding his command. Werth in the OF, Desi no longer a rookie, better bench, better defense... I think +10 again is really a possibility. Even given the inevitable let down form a few players.

I agree with JayB that they should net 10+ wins and it would be disappointing to have less than 75.

Traveler8 said...

Late to the party, but I did want to mention my favorite rain delay game, which I don't think has mentioned already - at Yankee Stadium in June 2009. Lannan had won the second of the three game series the night before, and a day game was scheduled - web info said it was on, so we went to the park and it was absolutely pouring. The game was delayed for about six hours. The Yankees and the Nats only had one common off day for the rest of the season, which would have required both teams to come back to Yankee Stadium, and the Yankees particularly wanted to get the game in because they figured to win it. All afternoon we watched games around the leagues up on the big screen, waited in a line to see the Yankees' Museum, etc., then finally it started about 6:30 pm. After the first half inning we were all invited to come down to the ground level seats (not across the moat, however)-in my cynical opinion, to make the sparse crowd look better for television - and we were all given rain checks for a non-premium game for 2009 or 2010. Best of all, Nats won, and Craig Stammen won his first major league game ever, so got his pie in the face at Yankee Stadium!

Anonymous said...

I am a little confused. We added four players.

Coffey, Gorzelanny, Hairston and LaRoche. Didn't that put us at 44?

Mark says we are at 41 now with one to go. But I only see where Martis and Maxwell have been removed. Shouldn't we be at 42 with two more to go off the 40 man?

Traveler8 said...

JD Martin was the third player, one more to go. Not a good time to have a name starting with M.

Anonymous said...

I'm also late to this thread but strongly believe a couple of things:
- .500 is Rizzo's goal this year. The "physics" Boswell points to about it being too hard to improve by more than 10 games/year are undeniable... it just doesn't happen that often. So Rizzo's got to somehow get us to .500. After that, we get within striking distance of the playoffs and with Harper and SS coming we'll be a much more respectable home for other FA's.
- Why should we believe we can get there? Because our offense should mathematically be about the same and our defense and pitching should be much better. Everyone remember when we were 20-15 to start last year??? The thing that makes me so hopeful about this year is (except for SS) the fact that everyone's healthy and so many surgeries are behind us (e.g., JZ, JM, Flores...) instead of being in the "well, we'll wait and see if his shoulder/back/arm/hamate can hold together. For example, why shouldn't Jason Marquis be the guy he was 2 years ago? I just can't remember a year since they've been here that our Nats appear to be uniformly healthy and ready to play with depth at starting pitching in case something does happen to someone.
- Why should we still be pessimistic? Because last year's Nyjer Morgan was a negativity producing, run destructing liability, because even when healthy our rotation doesn't project on paper, and because Riggleman hasn't proven that he can win consistently anywhere.

I can't wait to get started and figure out what these guys have. This team is better than last year's - so the only question is how many of the 12 games they need for .500 can they get???

Let's play ball!


JayB said...


What is the hold up with the Gorzelanny deal? He was introduced publicly by Rizzo in a call long ago was that? Does the issue lie in this Arb case...that seemed to be going on as the deal was made. Is he know saying it is void because he has to pay in DC? Like that sediment has not been a big part of the past few winters.....What are you hearing?

JayB said...

The more I think about this the more I an excited to get to Spring Training. Rizzo is a very proud baseball man. He is working with his father who is like 90.....Rizzo has to be just seething with anger to be told (by the likes of Grenke, Lee, Del a Rosa, Pitcher who went to MIA, 1B who went to Cubs and likely many others we don't know.....) "we do not think you can win now or next year or the year after that Mr. Rizzo. We do not believe you are going to get it done".

This Spring Training for the first time in their short history they are going to feel pressure from the GM. Real pressure to win. If they lay an egg like last year for a whole two months and lead baseball in errors over that stretch....Jim Riggs is toast. If Morgan adds to the already raw nerve of Rizzo's disrespect and is going to be fun to watch....this is the year that is going to make or break this team.

Just think you Rizzo and his father at age 90 sitting back and watching bad baseball yet again this year....someone somewhere on that team is going to get slammed and fast.

Anonymous8 said...

Traveler8 said...
JD Martin was the third player, one more to go. Not a good time to have a name starting with M.


Les in NC said...


I tend to agree with you that the team will feel more pressure from the GM position to win than they ever have to this point. And I like it! Too many years now we have had to be patient and give the organization time to build a competitive franchise. The light at the end of the building tunnel is fast approaching, and we (fans, FO, and players) want to win. Will we win? Yes, IMO, this team (as it is currently constructed) should be able to win 75-80 games this year, and with a little luck will be over .500! Thats my prediction, and my hope. Like you, I think this is gonna be a good year to be a Nats fan, so tell everyone to jump on the bandwagon early while their is still room for them!

Andrew said...

Tim said...
Well they improved by 10 wins last season and it wasn't because they got lucky.

I agree with JayB that they should net 10+ wins and it would be disappointing to have less than 75.

I would expect mid-70's in wins with a remote chance at 81 which is +9 from the 2010 pythagorean.

My hesitation is 18 games against the Phillies and games like Opening Day and Aug 22 2010. Now Halladay, Lee, and Oswalt as the best 1,2,3 in the MLB where Hamels and Blanton are what you hope to face in each of the 6 series to have a good chance of a W.

The Nats went 6 and 12 last year vs. the Philllies with 68 runs scored against 107 given up.

If the Nats can go 6 and 12 against the Phillies this year and improve against the Marlins 5 and 13 that is how they get to 81 wins.

Riggleman has to turn the tables on the Marlins in 2011 for the success needed.

Sec3,TheLoveSeat said...

"Not a good time to have a name starting with M."
Hmmmm. "Sec3HisOwnSofa."
Sec3,ThisSofa ...

BinM, what do you think?

Anonymous said...

"Just think you Rizzo and his father at age 90 sitting back and watching bad baseball yet again this year....someone somewhere on that team is going to get slammed and fast."

Kind of why the pundits made it a point to underline the fact that Riggleman's contract is only for a year ... with an option. He is going to feel real pressure, perhaps unbearable if he starts his shenanigans with the double switches and playing way under performing veterans just because they are veterans ... and that will include Pudge.

At least now you are seeing the real picture JayB. Rizzo isn't going to be patient. And he wasn't not when he was literally ready to "sell the farm" for Grienke. There are those of us who are happy he didn't. If Roy Clark et al are as good as everyone says we should get 3 power pitchers at the top of the draft this year ... and more MI and catchers.

BinM said...

The team has to find a way to at least draw even with the Marlins this year; They've owned the Nationals since 2006. Should they do that, the W-L record will improve by another 4-5 games at least.
The draft is quite a ways off; I'd hope that the FO simply goes after the best player available in each round. Seeing the Lerners' willingness to spend over the last two years, bringing another 25-30 picks into the Nats' system should be possible.

Anonymous said...

* Mock - Rizzo drafted the guy in Arizona,

Let's assume for a moment that Rizzo, Clark, Kline, Minnitti are real baseball men ... not politicians?

Looking at our starters for 2011 in terms of the "velocity" or power pitcher factor:

Fast ball velocities listed to the right


Stephen Strasburg 97.6 [injured in 2011]
Jordan Zimmermann: 92.2 (93.1 in 2009)
Craig Stammen: 90.4 (89.2 in 2009)
Tom Gorzelanny: 90.2 (91.1 in 2009)
Ross Detwiler: 89.8 (93.2 in 2007)
Yuniesky Maya: 89 (Had not pitched in 1.5-2 years. It will rise.)


John Lannan 88.6 (88.1 in 2009)
Luis Atilano 88.6
Garrett Mock: 88.3 (91.3 in 2009) [power pitcher again?]
Jason Marquis 87.2 (90.5 in 2009, 90.1 in 2008)
Livan Hernandez 84.4 (85 in 2009, also 2nd to last in category)
Chien-Ming Wang 00 (92.2 in 2009, 93.7 in 2007)[injured]
*** can he get that velocity back? ****

Fangraphs is your friend so ... based on the criteria that to improve to .500 or above (given all the other improvements) the Nats will need power pitchers at the top of their rotation to perform. THIS IS DEFINITELY
NOT LIvan Hernadez whose velocity continues to diminish.

Will said...

I checked out how many runs improved our defense should be this year as compared to last year.

Conservatively, we're about 3 wins improved, or 30 runs. Optimistically, we're about 5 wins better.

Then factor in any SP improvement this year, and you can get a good idea of how much better we'll be this year. So if Zimmermann emerges, and Marquis makes up for Livan's inevitable regression, we're looking at at least 72-75 wins.

I think our offense and bullpen will be comparable to last season.

BinM said...

I wouldn't be suprised to see Espinosa in the lead-off spot for some games in Viera; He was there for a number of Winter-ball games w/Ponce before he broke his hamate & came back for surgery. If the kid can shorten his stroke a little, singles & doubles into the gaps with a .340OBP will play better than homers & a .277OBP.

Anonymous said...

Just to reinforce how important velocity and "nasty stuff" in for pitchers especially starters, and the players know it makes a difference:

Sue Dinem:
but was hit hard in his first pro season in ’09 as
fatigue set in from trying to pitch at the 91-94 range after throwing 88-92 the year before. Scouts noted the uptick in velocity was at the expense of movement. In 2010, Holder reset the pitch and regained both its sink and his confidence.

Looks from here like its up to one or more of the top five guys listed after Strasburg to make or break the 2011 season. After this season the chafe gets separated from the wheat with a new crop of starting pitchers steadily progressing toward the majors. And they know that as well.

Anonymous said...

If the kid can shorten his stroke a little, singles & doubles into the gaps with a .340OBP will play better than homers & a .277OBP.

Rizzo seemed to think that a part of that was adjustment to major league pitching for a switch hitter. At the time, he said he was willing to accept that 1-2 year growth in exchange for the budding superlative fielder he represents. Like it or not Desmond and Espinosa are there because of defense first. Let's hope the offense develops rapidly.

BinM said...

Anon @1:33pm - If I'm reading your scenario correctly (that the Nationals should play to power arms), your current rotation could have a major flaw = Durability. Of your top-five, only Gorzelanny has ever thrown over over 200IP in a season, and that was what, three years ago?

Any team that strives toward improvement wants (or needs) proven, durable inning-eaters - for the Nationals, Livo, Lannan, and even Marquis serve that purpose. It isn't all about the heat for a starter, it's about what else you've got to go along with it.

Anonymous said...

Of your top-five, only Gorzelanny has ever thrown over over 200IP in a season, and that was what, three years ago?

Gorzelanny pitched almost 140 last year after spending parts of the season in the bullpen with the Cubs. That's about what Lannan did last year for comparison. No one else even came close (except Livo). NONE of the Nats homegrown starters have EVER come close ...YET.

Some in that pack of five top (after Stras) needs to have a breakout year. Just by your criteria alone Gozelanny has to be considered the top starter coming out of ST 2011.

or the Nationals, Livo, Lannan, and even Marquis serve that purpose. It isn't all about the heat for a starter,

Leads to last place finishes or just above as we have seen.
The top of the rotation has to improve and be productive in order for the Nats to have any chance of reaching .500.

Anonymous said...

NONE of the Nats homegrown starters have EVER come close ...YET.

*** Except Lannan again ... in many valiant but nevertheless losing seasons.

Anonymous said...

Just to further illustrate (and perhaps annoy) the strategy Rizzo and company appear to be pursing relative to starting pitching. Let's project the Chief's AAA starting rotation in 2011.

POWER PITCHERS ----------------------

Ryan Tatusko RHSP | 93-94 as high as 97 for H'burg in 2010
helped get them to the playoffs.
Bradley Peacock RHSP | 92-95 [h'burg -> Syracuse] ranked prospect.
Jimmy Barthmaier RHSP | 91.6 in 2009. [coming back from TJ]
Shairon Martis RHSP | 90.2 in 2009.

SOFT TOSSERS ------------------------------

Erik Arneson RHSP | 87-89 ??
Tom Milone LHSP | 87-89 a 'crafty' Lannan type soft tosser.
Matt Chico LHSP | 87.0

Anonymous said...

Finally, the rule 5 guy who went 11-2 for the Cards AA club:
Brian Broderick: 91-92 mph fastball consistently tops out at 94-95.

If we now throw Broderick into the list of Nats power pitching starters on the big club:

Stephen Strasburg 97.6 [injured in 2011]
Jordan Zimmermann: 92.2 (93.1 in 2009)
Brian Broderick: 91-92.
Craig Stammen: 90.4 (89.2 in 2009)
Tom Gorzelanny: 90.2 (91.1 in 2009)
Ross Detwiler: 89.8 (93.2 in 2007)
Yuniesky Maya: 89 (Had not pitched in 1.5-2 years. It will rise.)

If the Nats execute a trade for Broderick and manage to put him in AAA somehow? (Not sure how that would work?)

Ryan Tatusko RHSP | 93-94 as high as 97 for H'burg in 2010
helped get them to the playoffs.
Bradley Peacock RHSP | 92-95 [h'burg -> Syracuse] ranked prospect.
Jimmy Barthmaier RHSP | 91.6 in 2009. [coming back from TJ]
Brian Broderick RHSP | 91-92.
Shairon Martis RHSP | 90.2 in 2009.

BinM said...

For the record, based on total 2010 appearances (majors & minors) for SP staff...

Livan Hernandez - 33GP, 33GS, 211.7IP.
John Lannan - 32GP, 32GS, 184.0IP.
Brian Broderick - 32GP, 32GS, 176.7IP (minors).
^^Shairon Martis - 31GP, 27GS, 157.0IP (minors).
Tom Gorzelanny - 29GP, 22GS?, 136.3IP.
^^Matt Chico - 27GP, 27GS, 146.7IP (minors, -1).
*Steven Strasburg - 23GP, 23GS, 123.3IP.
Luis Atilano - 19GP, 19GS, 99.0IP.
*^^Scott Olsen - 19GP, 15GS, 101.3IP.
**Yuniesky Maya - 18GP, 18GS, 98.3IP (inc'l DWL).
*Jason Marquis - 18GP, 18GS, 79.7IP.
*Jordan Zimmermann - 17GP, 17GS, 70.7IP.
*^^JD Martin - 16GP, 16GS, 89.0IP.
*Ross Detwiler - 18GP, 16GS, 73.3IP.
*Garrett Mock - 7GP, 6GS, 30.3IP.
*Chein-Ming Wang - 0GP.

*=DL for part/all of year.
**=IFA, late signing.
^^=No longer on 40-man roster.

The Nationals will still need 9-10 SP's to get through the 2011 season, at the very least, imo. JZimm will likely be shut down at 150+IP, as will Detwiler, Wang & Mock. Gorzelanny might get 160-170IP, along with Atilano, Chico, & Martis (if they stay).

There will undoubtably be callups from outside the current 40-man roster at some point in 2011, but trying to predict them is foolish at this time, imo.

Anonymous said...

The Nationals will still need 9-10 SP's to get through the 2011 season, at the very least, imo. JZimm will likely be shut down at 150+IP, as will Detwiler, Wang & Mock. Gorzelanny might get 160-170IP, along with Atilano, Chico, & Martis (if they stay).

There will undoubtably be callups from outside the current 40-man roster at some point in 2011, but trying to predict them is foolish at this time, imo.

@BinM, YOU CAN'T HAVE LIVO AT THE TOP OF YOUR STAFF AGAIN and expect to make it EVEN CLSE TO .500. That IMHO is completely and utterly ludicrous and apparently goes against every stat and projection mechanism. Even on fangraphs they speak to having "power pitchers" at the top. This team IS NOT the 2008 Jim Bowden crew? It can and really should do better.

In other words why are you putting Livo up top? Given he has the second slowest fastball of starters in the majors? Last year he was veteran insurance policy and innings eaters. Yes, he was needed. But this year too?

Of course you aren't the only one. Why then does Rizzo put Jordan Zimmermann at the top of his rotation? While you and Riggleman put him at the bottom? Possibly because the guy will be innings limited and has never pitched 200 as you so aptly pointed out, as should Detiwler and Mock. Gorzelanny (he won't be in the bullpen for the Nats that's for damned sure.) I don't care what Bill James says it won't happen. Not with a lefty of his caliber and the Nats needing starting pitching at the top.

After that Lanan? Perhaps Maya but the time has arrived to ease Livo out and back into the innings eater / bullpen emergency start role. Just as they are easing Pudge out, so should they with Livo. Unless a dire emergency again occurs and they must trot him out to the rescue again.

BinM said...

Con't: Sorting the wheat from the chaff is what Spting Training is supposed to accomplish. Outside of a trade, I still think the Nationals go with Livo, Lannan, JZimm, Marquis & one of Gorzelanny/Maya/Detwiler/Broderick to begin 2011.

BinM said...

peric: Don't get so amped up over a single post. Just because I list Livo first in a queue of eight or nine names doesn't mean I (or anyone else, for that matter) have pronounced him as the #1SP for the Nationals in 2011. Again, that's part of what Spring Training is for.

NatBiscuit said...

We all know that Livan can't throw hard and has had some bad years but these two stat lines are from last year. One is Livan...

12-9 GS 28 IP 212 ERA 3.18
10-12 GS 33 IP 211 ERA 3.66

... the other one is Cliff Lee.

I'm not saying Livan is equivalent to Cliff Lee. I'm saying Livan he deserves our respect. He gets more out of his remaining skills than most pitchers do.

C'mon, you know who this is said...

Here's what I learned today. Fangraphs is the one true gospel and Bill James, meh, he can be ignored.
"Even on fangraphs they speak to having "power pitchers" at the top."
"I don't care what Bill James says it won't happen."

I prefer original thought, like when BinM annointed Livo as the Nats Ace for all of 2011 and beyond.

Anonymous said...

biscuit, what I also hear you saying is that Cliff Lee is not worth $25M a season. In his 7 full MLB seasons, he's a averaged 14 wins a year. If he stays on that pace through the season he turns 37, the Phillies will have paid $120M for 70 wins.

NatBiscuit said...

It's true. Cliff Lee is somewhat over valued, over paid, and over hyped. But he will win more games this year in Philly. The thing is, Livan and Cliff would both have won more games last year if they had any support from their teams (remember, Cliff started the year in Seattle). I saw nothing from Livan last year that leads me to believe he can't win 12-14 games with a little defense and offense supporting him.

JayB said...


As you may recall from years past I am always looking in Spring Training for some kind of sign that their is a Nats way of doing things. Some kind so constancy across fields and levels on the fundamentals of baseball. Though for the first time I saw some last year with Foli being charge with this role and some common language across practice fields.....the big problem for me is I spend tops 10 hours a year on those fields in the back. Can you please do some reporting on this aspect of the team.

Player development is as important OR more important than drafting/scouting in my view. As you post shows....Nats have failed to develop their draft picks over the past 6 years. Rizzo should be changing that as we speak but what signs do you see each day in ST and who are the key people who are helping to turn Player D. around?

Oh what ever happened to Foli.....I am sure he was asked to leave after that several months run of MLB leading error rate....did he land a new job anywhere?

Anonymous8 said...

JayB said...Player development is as important OR more important than drafting/scouting in my view. As you post shows....Nats have failed to develop their draft picks over the past 6 years.

Isn't the Minor Leagues all about PLAYER DEVELOPMENT in teaching the finer skills, technique, fundamentals, tweaking, maturation, and teaching the Nationals system?

You start with players that you draft with great raw talent and the Coaches in the lower levels have to be great evaluators and tweakers. It is usually the small things at the lower level that make the difference.

JayB said...

Yes A8........ that is what is supposed to happen....Mark will likely tell you that is not what happened for many years and we are just now starting to see a fully functional player development process...There has not been a Nats way of doing things in the was a free for all and all wrong for the most part if you as me.......Think back to the Jack A's who were working for Jimbo on a shoe string budget....Jose Rijo's and C. Cedeno,Lenny Harris and all the all the other failed ex Reds outfield and base running coaches this team had employed. Every outfielder in the system could no hit a cut off man or take a lead.

Anonymous8 said...

JayB - You aren't backing up your observation well. The 2 worst players I can think of for combined baserunning/outfield fundamentals for the Nats came from other organizations:

Nyjer Morgan - a product of the Pittsburgh Pirates Minor League system

Lastings Milledge - a product of the NY Mets Minor League system

My problem is at the Major League level where Nats coaches seem to allow the same mistakes to occur over and over.

Mark'd said...

A8 - great job again of nailing it. Bernadina and JMax are the 2 home grown OF prospects that come to mind and their OF skills were good and JMax was a good baserunner and Bernadina did suffer an embarrassing pickoff but is a good baserunner if you forget that costly miscue.

My issue is more in developing guys like Leonard Davis and Michael Burgess that never happened. Next up is Eury Perez and Destin Hood as Bryce Harper only needs repitition.

Anonymous8 said...

Mark'd - I think of the saying, garbage in garbage out.

You have to draft well and smart. Not saying Detwiler was garbage but some say that Ross Detwiler who was a pivotal pick by the Nats as the 6th overall pick in Lerner's 1st draft never had a power pitchers frame for a guy coming out of College and that was the problem from the start. Then the Nats pick Josh Smoker and Michael Burgess to complete their 1st round.

The other side of it was the Nats wanted a College pitcher as they wanted a quick line to the Pros and the depth wasn't there in 2007 for College pitchers. The Pirates took Daniel Moskos with the 4th overall pick out of College and he has been a complete dud.

JayB said...

Think back to 2007/2008 and Acta teach and preach days....everyone was "learning" at the MLB level and yes....they did not learn or have any consequence for not learning....Speaking of Lastings (goofing off in Spring Training with his hat on backwards and Cedeno hitting him ball after ball that he let drop without moving 10 feet.....laughing and is that working out now Lastings?

On the Minor League Level examples are many as well....Chris M still can not get his foot work down to take a simple throw at first. Mike Burgess was about the worst at no hitting cut off men when I watched him and Norris can to even get his glove raised and still to receive a pitch....not good and my question to Mark is who is responsible and taking ownership for these types of Player Development Failures at the MLB level and Farm?

Mark'd said...

JayB, part of Rizzo's job is talent evaluator and knowing when there is no hope with players.

Last year he stucks with guys because he had no Plan B. This year he has someone if Nyjer fails.

Then there is Chris Marrero and figuring out if he is a 1st baseman or a future DH in the American League. The same is the determination with guys like Detwiler, Stammen, and Lannan.

PDowdy83 said...

Per MLBtraderumors. We are pursuing Justin Duscherer heavily. That would be a nice pickup.

JaneB said...

Natsbiscuit said:

I'm not saying Livan is equivalent to Cliff Lee. I'm saying Livan he deserves our respect. He gets more out of his remaining skills than most pitchers do.

Right on. Livan DOES deserve our respect. And the opening day ball.

Another_Sam said...

JaneB -- Right on, regarding Livan. I've opined on the Livan matter many times here. One of the very few real major leaguers on this staff.

BinM said...

@Peyton: He's very fragile in terms of injuries, but could be a nice insurance policy if he'd accept a minor-league deal.

jd said...

Justin Duscherer ?

what's the point? we have about 8 pitchers like him.

SonnyG10 said...

JayB, I agree with you that developing our draft picks is just as important as finding them in the first place. I would hope the Nats are willing to put some money in this area to get the best teachers possible and have a unified method to bring them along. I don't know enough about the quality of our people in the minor leagues to be able to judge them. I'm also not sure how to judge our pitching coach, Steve McCatty, yet either, but I do know I like Rick Epstine.

Sunderland said...

Justin Duscherer did close for a bit in 2005 and 2006. If we pick him up, is he competing for a bullpen spot or a rotation spot?
I would think his priorities are, in order:
- Guaranteed contract
- Ability to earn a spot in the rotation
- Playing for a good team
I'm just guessing that we do not get him, that he signs with Baltimore, seeing a better chance to join the rotation.

Anonymous said...

According to fangraphs Justin Duchscherer is a soft tosser, has less velocity than Lannan last year, perhaps eve below Livo. Unless he throws a knuckle ball at age 33 kind of kills my theory. Can't see the Nats signing this guy as a result.

Andrew said...

ESPN reporting the Mets will host the 2013 All Star game so the Nats can hope for 2015 now.

An All Star game in Washington in 2013 would have yielded huge dividends for the team and the region.

Anonymous said...

Right on. Livan DOES deserve our respect. And the opening day ball.

All true, but after that its probably time for a transition to the bullpen for Livo. Its not 2005 and he isn't with the Florida Marlins anymore. If he pitches like an all star again he keeps his slot ... if not he has to know he will be replaced in the rotation. Most projections show him continuing his decline ...

Anonymous said...

Player development is as important OR more important than drafting/scouting in my view.

C'mon JayB you don't think Rizzo knows and BELIEVES this??? Look who Dayton Moore credits as his mentor? Someone working for the Nats right now named Roy Clark ...

This isn't the JimBo Sideshow? We're not on the Simpson's anymore!

From Crasnick's article:
Above all, development has become an organizational mantra under Moore, who broke in as an area scout with Atlanta in 1994 as a disciple of the highly respected Paul Snyder and Roy Clark. When he stresses the importance of the draft and observes that "the most important parts of your organization are the area scouting supervisors and your minor league managers,'' he's not just paying lip service to building from within.

Given how reluctant he usually is to advance anyone until he is certain they are ready? You don't think he knows this? Who got rid of Lastings Millege and look what he got for him? And where is Millege today? Unsigned.

sec3 said...

"Most projections show him continuing his decline."

Which is why Livan is getting hitters out in the best league on the planet, and they are sitting around "projecting" other people's work. Wake me when they learn a curveball. There's a reason they play the games.

Mr. NATural said...

Just a very, very high-quality string of comments. Thank you all. This is my first comment on this thread. I learned a lot. Thank you all.

Scooter said...

Come on, Sec 3, you're better than that. Tom Tango can no more throw a curve than Livan can run a multi-variable regression analysis. (I can't do either, but I can appreciate seeing a good one.) And those inabilities are utterly irrelevant.

Tell you what: I'll wake you when the game is no longer played by humans, who all have different body types, attitudes, workout regimens, and sheer luck. That's the reason they play the games.

(So yes, I agree with what I think you really meant. I just prefer it not be done with that exhausted trope of "they never played the game.")

Anonymous8 said...

Justin Duscherer to the O's and if it is true that they are giving him a MLB contract which is so tough at this time of the season to give up a spot on the 40 man. Add that to the surgery on his hip and elbow issues and the reported depression starts sounding like Olsen.

SCNatsFan said...

No way we igve him a spot on the 40 man with his health issues. Would have liked him on a minor deal but won't lose sleep about him going to the O's.

Steve M. said...

Agreed on Duscherer. It is another 1 year deal for a pitcher that may not be 100%. In the Nats case, would he be better than Zimmermann, Gorzelanny, Marquis, Lannan, or Livan?

If it was a Minor League deal with a Spring Training invite then it is worth it. That is why there was only 1 team willing to chance it.

N. Cognito said...

Still plenty of room on the O's 40-man roster.

JD said...

I think Rizzo took care of the quantity problem by adding Gaudin and Gorzelany; there are now about 7 or 8 pitchers projected as 4th or 5th starters so unless you are adding someone who is better I don't see the point. Hopefully we have enough pitchers who are at least major league competent so we don't have to use AAA pitchers.

Let's start moving some people up in the organization to see if they can handle the jump and make room for last year's draft crop in the lower minors; we don't need to clog the pipeline with someone else's rejects.

J Moyer said...

Just a question- As long as a pitcher gets out, especially starting pitchers, what difference is it that the pitcher is a "soft tosser" or a "flamethrower?"

Steve M. said...

J Moyer - Simply said speed on the pitches takes away reaction time from the batter.

Mark'd said...

The problem with many flamethrowers is they give up movement for speed. You need both speed and movement and of course hit your locations and possess several good pitches as a starting pitcher to excel.

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