Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Nationals Offseason in Review-Part 1: Additions

If you look around, most blogs do some sort of "offseason in review" entry, usually for a blog of another team (for perspective purposes). These reviews are good and all, but are nowhere near complete, because they don't need to be. But here at DCSportsPlus, we try to be as complete and comprehensive as possible, so we'll go over every single addition and subtraction in the entire 2008-09 offseason, starting in September. I know this is not the usual start of offseasons, but that is when the beginning of personnel changes for the following season do begin, whether we admit it or not.

Let me clarify that my definition of "addition" is loose. This is for players who were signed, traded for, re-signed, had options exercised or were added in the Rule 5 draft. As you will see, there are a few little "surprises" thrown in there.

MLC means minor league contract. All other contracts should be assumed to be Major League.
NRI means Non-Roster Invitation to Spring Training
Split minor league contracts (for example Alex Cintron's $600k/$90k deal) means if he makes the ML roster, he makes $600k and if he stays in the minors he makes $90k.
If terms are not posted, that means I couldn't find them.
Please post in the comments if you have any corrections or if I missed someone.

Additions (in alphabetical order):

RHP Matt Avery (trade-CHC)
Avery is probably at best going to be organizational fodder, as a 25 year old without any experience above AA. If the walk rates come down in 2009 as drastically as they went up in 2008, he might end up being a 6th/7th man out of the bullpen.

Bobby Brownlie (resigned to MLC, NRI)
Brownlie is also organizational fodder at this point. The former Cubs top prospect did well at AA last year (as a 26/27 year old), but has never solved AAA. He's not an option IMO.

UTIL Freddie Bynum (signed to MLC-2008 org BAL, NRI)
Fast, decent defender, terrible hitter. Sound like a he-who-will-never-be-named-again (HWWNBNA) signing to you? At least he can play every position but C and 1B.

Daniel Cabrera (signed to 1 year, $2.6 mil contract-2008 org BAL)
My first impression of this deal looked like something along the lines of Macaulay Culkin's scream-face in Home Alone, but the deal has grown on me a little. Still, be skeptical, so you won't be disappointed if (and semi-likely, when) he fails to meet expectations. Three good articles on Cabrera you should read: FJB, Baseball Insider and Baseball Prospectus.
B-R Page, my original post, confirmation

2B/3B Jose Castillo (signed to MLC-2008 orgs SF and HOU, NRI)
He hasn't ever really been good at any level. Two .800 OPS seasons in the low minors were the best he ever did. Since he's not a good hitter, he must be a good fielder, right? Wrong. I don't really know how this guy made his rise to the majors, but at least he's relatively young and has been at least 75% of an average ML batter in his career (as opposed to Anderson Hernandez, who is about 50% of an average ML batter). Although we might want to consider calling him up during the month of May, where he's a career .320/.363/.495 hitter in 415 PA. All things considered, we'll probably see him playing a little bit of second base this year when Hernandez proves to be a huge bust.

LHP Gustavo Chacin (signed to 1 year MLC, worth $600k if he makes the Nats-2008 org TOR, NRI)
The soft-tossing lefty had an awesome rookie year in 2005, with a 13-9 record and a 3.72 ERA (and 119 ERA+). Here's what Wikipedia has to say: He can't grow hair due to AA (no, not Alcoholics Anonymous, although he should join that, as he got a DUI on my birthday in 2007). He always wears sunglasses during days he starts. The Blue Jays had a cologne promotion in 2006 in his honor. And he was supposedly treated unfairly by the Blue Jays. Waaaaaaaay too much drama for me when we're talking about a guy with injury issues who didn't pitch in the majors last year and hasn't pitched effectively since 2005.

IF Alex Cintron (signed to 1 year, $600k/$90k MLC-2008 org BAL, NRI)
With Cintron, you'll start to notice two trends-guys who spent 2008 with Baltimore (Bynum, Cabrera) and guys who had 1 excellent season in the majors and nothing else (see Chacin, Patterson). He's consistently below-average-to-average with the bat, but once again, he's closer to replacement value offensively than Hernandez.

RHP Jesus Colome (resigned to MLC, NRI)
We know him, we (don't) love him, but we will definitely see him in DC in April. He's a great pitcher for probably 8 of every 10 games, then absolutely atrocious in the other 2 out of 10. For example, he gave up earned runs in 17 of 61 games last year. In 9 of those 17 games, he gave up at least 2. In 2 games, he gave up at least 5. When he's on, he's on. When he's off, he sparks anger that trumps his actual value in my mind.

1B/OF Adam Dunn (signed to 2 year, $20 mil contract-2008 orgs CIN and AZ)
Despite the lack of defensive value and high strikeout total, we have ourselves a gamechanger, finally. And he gets on base more than enough for the likes of Dukes, Flores, Johnson, Willingham, etc. to knock him in. And at only a 2 year commitment, the deal is a steal.

1B Brad Eldred (signed to MLC-2008 org CHW, NRI)
He'll never see DC this year. Signed at the wrong time, to be honest. He's buried behind Johnson, Dunn, Young (and probably even Belliard, Rhinehart, Casto in the eventual line of succession). If we get all the way to that point, we're beyond screwed to the point where it doesn't even matter. But he's basically Adam Dunn without the walks-low batting average, tons of K's, tons of power.

RHP Gary Glover (signed to MLC-2008 orgs TB and DET)
Glover's not a bad guy to have around in case of a ton of injury, but he's not somebody you want to pencil into your bullpen. Career 5.03 ERA, only 1 season with higher than a 100 ERA+ (but, like I said, his career ERA+ of 89 is passable in case of apocalyptic injury). Solid guy to have around. Nats Journal commenter JohnInMpls said it best: "Before this signing, the Nats needed some bullpen help. After this signing, the Nats will still need bullpen help."

RHP Ben Grezlovski (signed to MLC-2008 org Long Island-Atlantic League)
Nothing to see here, just organizational fodder.

3B Joel Guzman (signed to MLC-2008 org TB, NRI)
I like the signing, and NFA agreed, saying "Whether a new organization finally kick starts him is an enormous question. A nice gamble for a team that can afford to give it a shot. FJB took a different stance, however, saying "He just hasn't projected into the guy people saw when he was a sleek 20-year-old athlete, and it's been two years since everyone else figured out that Guzman is a bust. Twenty-nine other GMs collectively rolled their eyes at this JimBo special." I don't think it can hurt signing someone with decent potential, especially when he's not really blocking anyone.
UTIL Willie Harris (resigned to 2 year, $3 mil contract)
I'm surprised that Wee Willie's breakout 2008 was actually below league average, with a 98 OPS+. Paying for defense is very smart in this case, because Willie is an awesome defender. $1.5 mil per year over 2 years is about as low risk as it comes, anyways. And, I'll hop on the soapbox and say that Willie should be our permanent starting 2B.

C Javi Herrera (resigned to MLC, NRI)
He's a dime-a-dozen catcher, one who hits .250/.330/.360ish with okayish defense. He'll be one of the first cuts in Spring Training and will back up Luke Montz and Javier Valentin in Syracuse this year.

1B Nick Johnson (missed last 122 games in 2008 due to injury)
Getting back Nick the Stick (along with his glove, "the Slick") is just like signing an awesome free agent...for about 40 games, at least. I think the Dunn signing and the Willingham trade will be best for Johnson's longevity, as he'll be able to take a lot of days off when he needs them.

LHP Justin Jones (resigned to MLC, NRI)
I've always been a fan of Jones, probably because he was brought up originally with the Cubs. He's hittable, but doesn't walk too many batters, strikes out a decent number and gives up almost no HR's.

OF Ryan Langerhans (resigned to MLC, NRI)
Langherhans is the 5th OF you WANT to have, not Wily Mo Pena. He's an excellent fielder, has a decent eye and some pop. He has contact issues, though, but that's why he's a 5th OF. I'm pushing for the Nats to drop Wily Mo and keep Langerhans on the radar for the 25th roster spot. Very unlikely, but at least we have him in reserve for when we need him.

RHP Preston Larrison (signed to MLC-2008 orgs CLE and DET, NRI)
Called "Chris Schroder deluxe" by Beyond the Box Score. He'll get at least 25-30 innings with the Nats this year. Tons of ground balls, tons of double plays...sounds like a good guy to have.

RHP Dan Leatherman (resigned to MLC) 
Leatherman's had great numbers to this point. So great that his agent compared him to Cole Hamels and Dave Bush. Well, he strikes out a ton of batters, walked very few in 2008, gives up almost no homers, and even allows a fairly low number of hits. What's not to like?
LHP Wil Ledezma (signed to 1 year, $750k MLC-2008 orgs SD and AZ, NRI)
He's consistently inconsistent, which is kinda expected out of a LHP. Maybe Randy can turn him into an effective LOOGY. If not, no real loss either.  

RHP J.D. Martin (signed to MLC-2008 org CLE, NRI)
A command specialist who throws strikes? Sign me up! He'll compete for a swingman/spot starter role.

LHP Jack McGeary (will forgo further education to play full-time)
Having him around all year is a huge, huge deal. Hopefully he'll turn his awesome K/BB and HR allowed numbers into awesome all-around numbers in 2009.

C Gustavo Molina (signed to MLC-2008 org NYM, NRI)
Not a good hitter by any standards, but did throw out 41% of attempted base-stealers last year in AAA. Not related to the other Molinas, either.

OF Ricardo Nanita (Rule 5 pick-AAA portion-2008 org CHW)
Nanita isn't much more than organizational fodder at this point, but he was the top CHW prospect in terms of strike zone discipline in 2006!

LHP Scott Olsen (trade-Marlins-signed to 1 year, $2.8 mil contract)
OK...I know Olsen has been in a statistical freefall over the last 2 years (just ask FJB), but he's still only going to be 25 years old this year...I'd like to think there's room for improvement. If he pitches anything like he did in 2006 at 22 years old, we have ourselves a steal. Just look at his top 10 comparables by age at Baseball-Reference...Lots of good names (Viola, Perez, Sheets, Brett, Glavine) and 2 bad ones (Weaver and Milton).
IF Pete Orr (resigned to MLC, NRI)
I went so far as to say in a post last year "I'd rather see Failipe Lopez start than Peterson T. Orr" That's the truth, the whole truth and nothin' but the truth! Orr is a AAAA player who will never hit well enough to play in the majors. His glove and speed are nice to have in the system, but I'd go so far as to say I'd rather start Anderson Hernandez than Orr.
OF Jorge Padilla (resigned to MLC, NRI)
Classic AAAA guy...does everything well enough to keep getting resigned to minor league deals but nothing well enough to get more than a few days' look during Spring Training. He'll get buried behind all of our OF this year, maybe even dealt for another AAAA player.

OF Corey Patterson (signed to 1 year, $800k MLC-2008 org CIN, NRI)
Ugh, I think I just threw up in my mouth a little. If only Corey Patterson had plate discipline...he's actually put up decent power and speed numbers in his career while being regarded as a decent fielder. But, seriously, a 169 to 768 BB to K ratio?

OF Wily Mo Pena (1 year, $2 mil player option exercised)
Well, the good news is that Wily Mo will improve. There's nowhere to go but up! Wily Mo's OPS of .510 last year was worse than Odalis Perez' OPS of .619 in a 3 month span from April 15 to July 13. To be honest, though, I think it was the injuries keeping him from giving any sort of usefullness last year. Maybe he'll revert to the .255/.310/.490 guy we traded for in 2007. Maybe he'll improve over that (he's still only 27). Maybe he'll be terrible again. He'll get a chance to prove his case in Spring Training.

RHP Chris Rivera (signed to MLC-2008 org Washington-Frontier League)
Seriously, he's low level organizational fodder. Nothing worth looking at here. Got cut from an independent league team last summer FWIW. Richmond native.

RHP Steve Schmoll (resigned to MLC)
After 3 years in AAA, we stuck him in AA last year (as a 28-year-old). Has decent minor league numbers, maybe he'll get a shot, but he didn't get an invite to ST. UMD grad.

RHP Zach Segovia (resigned to MLC)
Segovia pitched on 6 different teams last year (GCL Nats, Hagerstown, Potomac, Clearwater, Harrisburg and Reading) for the Phillies and Nats. He was listed as the Phillies #7 prospect in 2007 by but has always been plagued by arm issues. He's a bounceback candidate, but only if he gets his fastball velocity back.

RHP Jorge Sosa (signed to 1 year, $850k MLC-2008 orgs NYM and HOU, NRI)
We have the owner of probably the luckiest season of all time. In 2005, he went 13-3 with a 2.55 ERA, 64 walks, 85 K's, 1.388 WHIP and a 166 ERA+. He's barely touched a 4.55 ERA since then, let alone 3.55 or 2.55. A pointless signing in my book, as he's gonna be 32 years old and has been effective in one season out of 7 in his career.

3B/OF Jemel Spearman (resigned to MLC)
Organizational fodder...decent speed, ok eye, no power. In a corner infielder/outfielder, that's no good (although in his defense, he's played a little 2B as well).
B-R Page, my original post, confirmation

RHP Josh Towers (signed to MLC-2008 org COL, NRI)
He's got the hot head of Scott Olsen, just without the upside. Has allowed exactly the same amount of BB and HR in his career, which speaks volumes to his control and ability to serve up meatballs.

C Javier Valentin (signed to 1 year, $850k/$90k MLC with $350k in possible incentives-2008 org CIN, NRI)
The more I look at it, the more I think Valentin will be on the Opening Day roster. He's put up solid but unspectacular numbers for the last 4 years (OPS+'s all above 82, which is fine for a backup catcher...although that's a little better than Flores' numbers in the last 2 years). I have no idea what happened to his arm in 2007 (5 for 40 catching would-be basestealers), but hopefully he'll revert to the ~33% numbers he had in the beginning of his career.
OF Mike Vento (signed to MLC-2008 org TOR)
AAAA bat making his second stint with the Nats organization (2006 was the first). Not enough power for a AAAA bat, either.

RHP Ryan Wagner (resigned to MLC, NRI)
Hopefully Wags can resurrect his career this year. Note-Hanrahan is his #3 comparable on B-R. Here's what I had to say about Wagner in November: "I've always thought in the back of my mind that Wagner would become a force again. I doubt it more and more every day, but it's a good career move for him to resign with an organization so weak in ML-ready relievers."

1B/3B Matt Whitney (signed to MLC-2008 org CLE, 2007 Nats Rule 5 pick, NRI)
Scary loss of power last year, but the improvement in both BB's and K's almost makes up for it. He'll probably start in Harrisburg and hopefully be pushed up to Syracuse at some point. 3rd former Indians top prospect to sign with the Nats this offseason (Larrison and Martin were the others).

LHP Dave Williams (signed to MLC-2008 org Yokohama-Japan)
Yawn. Was once a good young LHP, fell off inexplicably after the 2005 season, had a semi-resurgence in 2007, but did nothing special last year in Japan.

1B/OF Josh Willingham (trade-Marlins-signed 1 year, $2.95 mil contract with $100k in possible incentives)
Josh is a solid addition. He's a good hitter with injury problems. Hopefully we can convert him to 1B and platoon him with Nick Johnson (with some OF starts at times for Willingham as well). What I like about him is his consistency-his career OPS's in the 1st and 2nd halves of seasons are only .002 apart. He'll help out the ML squad for sure.

IF Marcos Yepez (resigned to MLC)
The Montreal holdover has speed and nothing else above average. At 27 years old, his future in this organization doesn't really exist beyond AA backup.

RHP Terrell Young (Rule 5 pick-ML portion-2008 org CIN)
An interesting pick. Bowden went the no-experience-above-A+-ball route again with Young. Here's a good scouting report on him. At least we didn't flip him for Willy Taveras.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave your questions and/or comments here and I'll get back to you ASAP!