Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday Inbox, various notes

To start out, here's the inbox:

With Guzman struggling defensively at shortstop, is there any chance he could be the Nationals' second baseman next year? The guy is a hitting machine, and I would love to keep his bat in the lineup.
-- Rich R., Slingerlands, N.Y.

I could see it happening, but there is no way for us to see how Guz could make the transition unless we actually tried it out. I'd say the chances of this happening are low (mainly because I think they'll deal him at the deadline), but wouldn't be shocked if it happened.

Is Dunn in the team's long-term plans?
-- Yu-Hung Su, Chiayi, Taiwan

Ladson says no, but I have a feeling he is. The Nats need a more interesting icon than Zimmerman (unfortunately, he is very boring) and it appears that Nats fans are more accepting of his shortcomings because he is worth so much offensively. No matter what the team may say about wanting to be better defensively, he is in the long-term plan until he is dealt in my eyes.

Is there any timetable for the return of Lastings Milledge and Roger Bernadina?
-- Ray U., Washington

From Ladson: "Milledge is playing in the Gulf Coast League after breaking his right hand more than a month ago. However, I don't see him playing in the big leagues for the Nationals, because many in the organization believe he is not an impact player.

As far as Bernadina goes, he still is recovering from a left ankle injury, and the Nationals are hoping he will be playing in Major Leagues by September."

I disagree with Ladson-I bet Milledge will be up soon after he returns because that will be a chance for them to deal Willingham while his value is high.

Can the Nationals do something about Austin Kearns and Ronnie Belliard when it comes to the low batting averages?
-- Shelton A., Silver Spring, Md.

Besides being patient, I don't really think so. Like Ladson said, Eckstein will work on it with them, but there's no guarantee it will work.

Do you think the Nats should re-sign Nick Johnson? He arguably is the most consistent player on the team.
-- Ted P., Alexandria, Va.

The Nats should trade Johnson at the deadline and then sign him in the offseason, as he will be no higher than a type B free agent (since he didn't play enough last year).

I'm a big Elijah Dukes fan, but I want to know how the Nationals feel about him?

-- Eric S., Washington

He's not a center fielder and his baseball IQ is not all there yet, but he will be a stud in RF for years to come if he can continue to behave.

Would you say Pedro Martinez is a good fit for this rotation? Someone with his kind of resume could help out a lot.
-- Philip G., Brandywine, Md.

I campaigned hard for the Nats to sign him a while ago, but every day he sits in free agency he makes less and less sense. They've found some nice young pitchers that need time in the majors. Maybe it could happen if he wants to take an offer to build up his value over the offseason in late August or early September when the young guns need to be shut down for innings totals but not now.

Some other thoughts:

J.D. Martin does deserve a shot. He'll hopefully get one when the Nats start to shut down the rookies toward the end of the year.

Craig Stammen will stay in the rotation while Shairon Martis will be sent to AAA. It's the correct move in my opinion, with age being the deciding factor. Let Martis learn to make adjustments in AAA and let Stammen pitch for his future in the majors.

I'm torn on the Langerhans-for-Morse (or as Ladson says, "Mores") swap. Morse makes more sense for the Nats, but Langerhans was one of my favorites and could have been our Nyjer Morgan defensively without us having to move Milledge. But since the organization obviously wasn't doing anything with Langerhans (heck, they called up Corey Patterson before him!), it's good to get a guy who is still young-ish, has had moderate offensive success in the majors, and can be a passable shortstop if they decide to move Guzman. But for the record, I wish they didn't have to deal Langerhans.

Buster Olney reports (via MLBTR, since I don't have insider) that the Nats are trying to get rid of their "dysfunctional players" such as Milledge. Not a bad idea at an appropriate time, but I don't support moving him when his value is at it's lowest.

Stan Kasten on C-SPAN

Kasten spoke for about an hour to the National Press Club on the state of the Nationals and the process of building the club.

Here is the link. Thanks to my buddy Marcus for the heads up.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Strange things are afoot at the Circle K... reported two odd Nats rumors/speculations today. And by odd, I mean they would be stupid and I applaud Rizzo for not making moves like these.

First up, they just relayed a MASN blog post by Pete McElroy saying the Nats should give up on Joel Hanrahan. Ummmmm, no. I stand by what I said on Monday-Hanrahan is an incredibly unlucky pitcher this year. Put a real defense behind him to give him some confidence back and he'll be fine. You don't give up a young-ish reliever who throws in the high 90s for nothing when you're in last place. I'm sorry he gives up a lot of runs sometimes, but

They also noted that reporter Ed Price said (via his Twitter) that the Nats shot down a potential Lastings Milledge-for-Nyjer Morgan deal because the Pirates also asked for Craig Stammen. Kudos for Rizzo for not accepting the deal...while Morgan is a great defender, he is crap with the bat and is not much of an overall improvement over Roger Bernadina...why sell low on Milledge for a guy you won't even need in a month or two (or how ever long it takes the rehabbing Roger to be back)?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Inbox, Link Parade

Here's Ladson's finest, followed by the best of the blogosphere:

Do you feel Willie Harris should play every day in center field for the Nationals?
-- David P., Washington, D.C.

FJB had excellent timing with his post on Harris today. I don't think Willie needs to be penned in as the every day center fielder, but should play SOMEWHERE at least 3 out of every 4 days, whether it's LF, CF or 2B occasionally.

I consider Alberto Gonzalez as an everyday player. He has made great progress since he came from the Yankees. What do you think?
-- Yu-Hung Su, Chiayi, Taiwan

I'm not going to lie-I have a huge mancrush on 'To-Gonzo right now. I mean, the guy has 3 K's in 90 PA-we're just not used to that in DC. With a good glove, solid speed and great contact, he can be at the very worst a league-average SS. Ladson says the Nats shouldn't deal Guzman just to clear PT for Gonzo. I think they'd be just fine starting Gonzo now, but the lack of organizational depth at SS would be the reason not to trade Guz (unless you want to shift Anderson Hernandez over and split time between Harris and Belliard at 2B).

What is the status of Dmitri Young? What plans do the Nationals have for him?
-- Ed W., Dodge City, Kans.

Ladson-"I don't see where he fits in the Major League roster. The Nationals don't want to add any more veteran position players on the roster. If Nick Johnson is traded, for example, Adam Dunn most likely will play first base."

I understand that Dunn would take over at 1B, but I don't see how that would keep the Nats from bringing up Da Meat Hook if Johnson were dealt. Although Young is terrible in the field, he's still a bench bat who knows how to play 1B (Dunn can't play every day at 1B, and who else could fill in? Willingham's never played there, Belliard is a terrible 1B, etc.). If the time periods fit with Johnson being dealt and Young's timetable to be called up, I bet the Nats bring back Da Meat Hook.

I don't understand why the Nationals sent Jason Bergmann back to the Minors. Before being hit hard in his last game, Bergmann had a 3.77 ERA and getting the job done. Why is Joel Hanrahan still here after blowing so many games and losing his closer job twice?
-- Alex C., Montreal

As Ladson said, Bergmann is the only one with options. I know Hanrahan has killed us this year, but anyone who wants to DFA him is out of their mind. He is exactly the pitcher you want on a team like this-who cares if he blows games? This team is obviously not winning the World Series this year. I'm getting sick of everyone trying to run him out of town-dude's got a 3.64 FIP! This team sucks and if they want to have any chance of being good in the future, they HAVE to continue to give guys with unlucky performance but good rate stats second chances rather than crappy never-was'es like Tavarez and Wells.

His rate stats are a million times better than his performance-K/9 numbers are consistent with 2008 while BB/9 and HR/9 numbers are way down. Problem is a .431 BABIP and 66.3% strand rate, both WAYYYY off of his career numbers, even when he sucked as a starter (.341 career BABIP, 71.8% career strand rate). Hanrahan WILL improve, that's one thing I will swear by. Wells and Tavarez should be sent away before they even spend a second thinking about DFAing Hanrahan.

But back to Bergy-he should have never been sent down. I'm getting sick of the Nats treating him like a rag doll like they did with Chris Schroder in the past.


In a previous Inbox, you said coaches aren't to blame for Washington's defensive woes. If a team does not field, it is the coaching staff's fault. If manager Manny Acta isn't to blame, who is? You never seem to blame team president Stan Kasten.
-- Frank B., Washington, D.C.

This is one thing I honestly cannot comment on, as I really don't understand the SABR defensive stats. Might ask FJB to answer this one-have the Nats fielders gotten worse than their past performances at their respective positions in 2009? If so, I'd say it's on the coaching staff...if not, it's on the players like Ladson said.

How long do you think it will take for the Nationals to recover from all the bad trades and signings former general manager Jim Bowden made?
-- Mike E., Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Pretty self-explanatory question. Most of the guys are already gone. Young, Belliard and Kearns are gone after this year and Guzman (if you still count him as a Bowden mistake) next year. The only long-term mistake here is Scott Olsen. I think the biggest problem during Bowden's years was stagnation-he never really dealt the farm away. We're where we were in 2005, but not in terribly worse shape.

Why isn't the team quick to call up right-hander Tyler Clippard from Triple-A Syracuse? He seems to have the stats to support a promotion.
-- Drew K. Wilmington, N.C.


Link parade:
-Some Nats bloggers got to roll with the big boys. I got to do this at VT as a senior in high school...hopefully I can sneak in next time as well!
-Nick Piecoro (the Diamondbacks' Chico Harlan wannabe) thinks the Snakes can challenge the Nats in the Bryce Harper derby.
-The Mets started to dump their "party like it's 2003" campaign and released Wily Mo Pena (and Javier Valentin).
-Acta's still around, and Ken Rosenthal should be made fun of, says the DCist.
-Canadian fans like the Nats, Nats fans like Canadian fake umpires.
-Corey Patterson O's jersey sighting at Straight Cash Homey!
-Caps Toy Shop...definitely begged my uncle for the Jim Carey action figure when I was about 10 years old!
-Last but not least, FREE CLIPPARD!!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Excellent night

Kudos to John Lannan for an excellent start tonight. While he didn't get the no-hittter, shutout or complete game, he still pitched 8+ innings of solid ball, holding a deadly lineup (in a deadly ballpark) to 5 baserunners. I don't want to jinx him or anything, but Lannan is showing signs of being more than just a future #3 pitcher.

Generally speaking, I am not a huge fan of Manny Acta's in-game management, but he did a good job tonight. I will never advocate starting Corey Patterson at all (don't even get me started...Endy Chavez has a better eye), but if he does, he is to be the CF and Elijah Dukes is to be the RF. Manny made the right move starting Lannan in the 9th and the right move taking him out when he did.

Well done, boys. Play tomorrow like you did tonight and Manny may survive for a while longer.

Tweet Tweet

I'm not sure how I got the inspiration for this post, but here goes-each National (and selected minor leaguers) in a sentence (I would do it in full Twitter style with the @ and the # but I don't really know what they mean).

Joe Beimel-Improving, almost to the point where he lives up to Legend status again.
Jesus Colome-3 earned runs in his last 4 innings actually brought his ERA down a run. Funny how this time last month I was begging for him to be back already.
Ross Detwiler-Exhibit A on why 2 years is too early to give up on a top 10 draft pick.
Joel Hanrahan-Carlos Marmol clone? Can't handle the pressure of closing, so leave him as a solid set-up guy. Couldn't be unluckier this year.
John Lannan-Old nickname: "Lucky Lannan." New nickname: "Old Faithful."
Mike MacDougal-Excellent through 7 games. Guest starring in T.I.'s next remix of "Whatever you like," rapping the line "If you've got me, you don't need Joe Beimel."
Shairon Martis-The 2003 Tigers didn't have someone with a .833 winning percentage!
Craig Stammen-Rushed to the Majors too fast. Look at his AAA numbers this year-shiny ERA, but 3.15 K/9. Should have let him get into a further groove. 1st on my list to go down for seasoning when Olsen returns.
Julian Tavarez-Performing about as expected by most projections, except with no suspensions to date. Expect that to change soon.
Ron Villone-Should have traded him while his ERA was still 0...
Kip Wells-Shouldn't have been signed in the first place, shouldn't have been brought up to ML in the first place, shouldn't have forced Bergmann back to AAA, shouldn't be a Major League Baseball player anymore.
Jordan Zimmermann-Excellent K/9 and BB/9 ratios prove that the extra "n" really does stand for knowledge.

Josh Bard-2009 version of Matt LeCroy/Robert Fick in the arm department, sans Frank Robinson tears.
Wil Nieves-2009 version of Gary Bennett in the bat department, sans steroids.
Ronnie Belliard-The last time he was hitting this bad, his team won the WS, so don't give up on the season yet! Get Rizzo to throw that line out during trade negotiations and we could fetch some top prospects.
Adam Dunn-Still listed as an infielder on the roster page. Shouldn't he be listed as the DH? And throw your theories on the improved batting average out the window, it's back to its projected level.
Alberto Gonzalez-Not gonna lie, Bert is my new favorite middle infielder. If he keeps hitting like this off the bench, he's 2005 Rick Short with a glove and speed.
Cristian Guzman-DH'ed tonight. Props to whoever wants to come up with 5 worse DH's the Nats have started since they came about...shouldn't be too hard. Did Fick ever DH? J.J. Davis?
Anderson Hernandez-The reverse Sampson, as he cut his hair and found awe-striking power.
Nick Johnson-Can be found singing "where is the glove?" FJB, I have the solution-a lack of lightning bolts shaved into his hair.
Ryan Zimmerman-I am glad we found the missing piece from the 2005 Nats 4 seasons later. SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DRAFT FOR NEED? YOU END UP ON PACE FOR 110 LOSSES!

Elijah Dukes-According to Dibs, the only peaceful thing in his life is the "statue-like" way he stands when the pitcher is in his windup.
Willie Harris-He's hoping Sosa doesn't rat him out, even though he laid off the roids this season after a stunning 13 HR year in 2008.
Austin Kearns-The subject of a lot of scorn around the Natmosphere right now, which is the reason Mike Rizzo is the acting GM and not any of us. Walks are up (and even though strikeouts are up as well, his BB/K ratio has improved), isolated power has improved and defense is still there. A slump is a slump, it's just too bad it coincided with Willingham's absence.
Corey Patterson-You have no idea how much it hurts me to see him on the active roster. I am a Cubs fan too, you know. I still haven't taken the Mark Prior autograph off of my mantle, but I have long denounced the walkless wonder.

DL/40 Man
Collin Balester-Looking better in AAA now, should be in the rotation rather than Stammen.
Jason Bergmann-I hope for the sake of Bergmannia's sanity that they trade or release him soon. He's a good pitcher, but has been thrown around worse than Chris Schroder. He's better than Colome, Wells and Tavarez, yet the FO continues to shove him to Syracuse.
Tyler Clippard-Should be in the Majors as well. Seriously, what's keeping them from calling him up? He's given up 4 earned runs in 36 and 2/3 innings in AAA! FREE TYLER CLIPPARD!!!!
Marco Estrada-Gut call, but I doubt we see him in the Majors ever again. Wasn't impressed last year, not impressed this year, just a gut call though.
Garrett Mock-I think his future lies as a reliever even though they're trying to stretch him out. Regardless, he'll get a chance to start in August/September when the rookies start hitting their innings limits.
Saul Rivera-ERA in AAA looks good, but he's given up almost as many unearned runs (8) as earned runs (9) in only 22 and 2/3 innings. I still don't think he should have been sent down in the first place (3 HR in 11 and 2/3 innings out of a guy who gave up 8 HR in 237 and 1/3 innings in his ML career beforehand).
Terrell Young-Hey, at least we didn't waste $25k yet!
Jesus Flores-I don't know that we've ever needed Jesus more than right now...
Luke Montz-Like Estrada, my gut says he's not a future Major Leaguer. His 2009 stats are backing that theory up right now.
Ian Desmond-Not the second coming of Derek Jeter unless he also has an STD.
Dmitri Young-With the addition of Adam Dunn, at least there's a secondary answer when you he asks "does my Ass look fat?"
Justin Maxwell-Prospect window is closing. Hopefully Michael Burgess is not the second coming of Justin Maxwell.
Lastings Milledge-Why can't you just learn how to play center field? Whyyyyyyy? That would simplify things so well!
Josh Willingham-Play yourself onto a contender, Hammer! Funny how we could probably flip him now for more than we gave up in that trade...

Prospects/Draft Picks
Drew Storen-every day I like Storen better, especially when he says stuff like this: "It’s not all about get up there and throw it as hard as you can. That’s not pitching. It doesn’t matter how hard you throw."
A.J. Morris-Real Baseball Intelligence, which claims to be "60% more accurate at ranking than the average MLB team," is high on the kid, at 19th overall. So am I, although maybe not at 19th overall levels.
Derek Norris-Hard to criticize our biggest breakout prospect, but he really needs to cut down on the K's. Plus, he's going to need to perfect his game now, before Bryce Harper gets here.
Chris Marrero-Seriously has a 1 speed rating on The Baseball Cube.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ignorant Inbox

That's the best title I could come up with...without further awkwardness, here's your Inbox:

Are the Nationals interested in Martinez or Glavine? They would do well as starters or relievers. They also can be mentors to young pitchers such as Jordan Zimmermann, Ross Detwiler and Shairon Martis.
-- Yu-Hung,Su, Chiayi,Taiwan

Ladson says neither are coming. Glavine is just not worth having on a team anymore as a player-he's not half of who he used to be. If he were willing to be a player-coach, I could see them signing him in the last month or two of the season when the youngsters start to hit their innings maximums, but I do not see him lasting as a FA that long without retiring.

Martinez is still an intriguing option in my opinion, but if he's still on the market, he probably isn't worth having around.

Do you like Wil Nieves or Josh Bard in the lineup while Jesus Flores is on the disabled list?
-- Brandon A., Vienna, Va.

"I like Nieves because he can play defense and is a better hitter. In the long term, Nieves is a backup and will be that way when Flores recovers from his right shoulder injury."-Ladson

Huh? Nieves is a better hitter? His career .225/.267/.290 line is obviously other-wordly, as Bard sits far below him at .264/.331/.394. Ladson, you've said some strange things before, but are you really going to try and tell us that Wil Nieves is a better hitter than Josh Bard? I mean, even Bard's .239/.301/.373 line from this year is better than Nieves' .259/.299/.296, and that's without considering Nieves' .080 advantage in BABIP that will spread the gap even more throughout the year.

When Willingham plays, it seems like good things happen for both him and the team. Do you see him becoming an everyday player at some point this season?
-- Douglas, H., Huntsville, Ala.

I'm guessing he'll start every 3 of 4 games when he comes back from the bereavement list. This next week or so is Kearns' last chance to break into the rotation for a while.

Do you think Lastings Milledge should have been sent to the Minors?
-- Daniel R., Philadelphia


With the bullpen problems, why have the Nationals not gone after Chad Cordero?
-- Rafael B., Miami, Fla.

Because he's not a free agent?

The Nats have the most errors in baseball. That, to me, reflects heavily on the coaching staff. Has Manny Acta taken any steps to address this?
-- Terry C., Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Nope. Zimmerman and Johnson need to step it up, but it's not like we can really expect more out of Willingham, Dunn, Belliard, Guz, etc.

The Nationals are keeping Kearns because he works hard and never complains. Why does that matter at all if he can't hit?
-- Scott N., Bethesda, Md.

Incorrect. They're keeping Kearns because they have no other options (Maxwell simply has not been doing well this year and Milledge/Bernadina are hurt). He's a good fielder and his bat will come around. Be patient because he's not going anywhere soon.

Don't you now think after two-plus months of everyday playing, Orlando Hudson should have been signed? He doesn't appear to be injured at all and is hitting extremely well.
-- Peter G., Vancouver, BC, Canada

He's looked great after two months, yes, but I am going to take Ladson's word for it that he failed his physical with the team. Hindsight is 20-20, but I think it would be irresponsible for the Nats to sign a guy who failed his physical. That being said, I'm not sure what caused him to fail a physical-perhaps he refused to get his wrist checked out and that was a deal-breaker. I can't fault the Nats here without knowing everything about his physical, but there is another side to the story as well I'm sure.

Before I misplace the link, check out The Hardball Times' interview with Rich Gale, the newly promoted Syracuse pitching coach.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Holder signs, Patterson up, Acta out?

The overwhelming negativity of the rest of this post has nothing to do with the Nats signing their 3rd round pick, Georgia RHSP Trevor Holder (for $200k, I might add...a 60% discount over what similar picks got last year). It starts with the sad story of Josh Willingham losing his younger brother to a car accident. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Willingham family. Willingham is to be replaced by Corey Patterson while Josh on the bereavement list. Patterson is a terrible, awful, no-good baseball player and I am very upset the club is wasting a 40-man spot on him (cleared by moving Terrell Young to the 60-day DL, something they are apparently reluctant to do with Da Meat Hook). Did I mention Patterson is the worst baseball player ever?

Ken Rosenthal is reporting that Manny's out as the manager and will be replaced by Jim Riggleman as soon as Monday. It's truthiness has yet to be confirmed, but it wouldn't be a huge surprise. Acta does not stick up for his players, rarely goes out to argue (or even ask for an explanation by the umpire) and is a poor in-game manager. His encouragement is valuable, but the Nats need a good manager rather than Matt Foley. Manny's a great guy and someone I would probably trust my nonexistant kids with (of course, a lot easier to say since I don't have any), but he's just not a Major League manager at this point, even after two and a half seasons.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Draft thoughts, Hershey thoughts

I'll start with my draft first impressions:

1st round 1st overall-Stephen Strasburg, RHSP, San Diego St. (Jr.)
Obvious choice, and I'm glad they didn't do anything stupid to screw it up. A

1st round, 10th overall-Drew Storen, RHRP, Georgia (So.)
I like this pick more than most. As much as I would have loved to take a Matzek or Purke here, this pick had to be signable, whether the team admits it or not. And that is the right decision here-I would have preferred Grant Green or Alex White, but the Nats made a decision here that was more smart than safe, going with a college pitcher who is supposedly close to the majors. All I needed to see, though is this: 42 and 2/3 innings, 66 K and 8 BB.

From an interview at Baseball Analysts: (What statistics do you look at to measure success?) Drew: Strikeout-to-walk ratio...not necessarily because of K’s, but I try to minimize walks. If you’re walking guys, you’re giving up free baserunners. I’d rather have them earn it. But I don’t really look at stats. I usually go off of feel. That's what tells me how I'm pitching." Sign me up. B

2nd round, 50th overall-Jeffrey Kobernus, 2B, Cal-Berkeley (Jr.)
Like the Storen pick, I like it more than most. Kobernus isn't a knock-your-socks-off type of player, but instead the type of guy I love to have on my team. "Well-rounded" and "projectable" are two things I definitely want to hear out of my 2nd round pick, especially at 2B. I think a big problem with some peoples' opinions on baseball is that they leave well-roundedness out of the equation. Cal baseball spectators seem to adore him for being a model of consistency, flexibility, adaptability and maturity (lots of ity's) and that's something the Nats really lack throughout the system, from top to bottom. B

I'd also like to point out that Storen and Kobernus are both supposedly high-character guys, ones who will not cause clubhouse problems. Considering the state of the Nats right now, I think they could use a few more of these guys. Obviously not a sticking point, but it never hurts.

3rd round, 81st overall-Trevor Holder, RHSP Georgia (Sr.)
This is where they lost me. While not everyone would agree with me that Storen and Kobernus were both solid picks, I doubt I'll find many people who find Holder at 81st overall a good pick outside of his immediate family. It's not Holder that's the problem-he's a solid pitcher who will run through the organization quick, but spending a 3rd round pick on a guy with little upside at a position we're deep in is just silly. Like it or not, you always draft for need in the back of your mind, and we did not need a RHSP with control problems and only 1 pitch projected to be above average. A high school pitcher would have made more sense here, at least to get someone with some potential. I don't know why Holder is screaming Adrian Alaniz to me (because they don't have really similar stuff), but I do think Holder would have been around in the 4th or 5th round. Bad pick by the Nats, they get an F for Holder. Trevor, if you're reading this, please prove me wrong!

Now that we have all of that figured out, I'll talk daaaaaabears. I was up in Hershey for the Bears-Moose game tonight...never knew a referee could swallow a whistle for 45 minutes (only making a bad coincedental minor call) and then call 11 penalties in the last 15 (most of which were because he let the game get out of hand). The Bears outplayed the Moose everywhere tonight but the scoreboard and in goal-Cory Schneider was very good in between whines to the referee. Hershey has two more shots at the Calder Cup...just wish they could have gotten it at home for the first time since the '60s.

And one side-note: John Carlson is the real deal. I'm going to fearlessly say that he will play more games for the Caps next year than Alzner, and do better. That may be because I'm comparing Carlson to Alzner while Karl plays through a concussion, but I really do believe Carlson is a special player now and is ready for the NHL.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Let's make a deal: Villone and Beimel

It would seem a little redundant to me to go through Josh Willingham and Nick Johnson/Austin Kearns in consecutive days so I'll mix it up a little bit with two lefty relievers I think have a high chance of being traded: Ron Villone and Joe Beimel. While regression by Villone can be expected (and hopefully progression with Beimel), there is still no doubt in my mind that a contender could use either.

LHP Ron Villone-0.00 ERA, 14 and 2/3 IP, 8 H, 6 BB/5 K, 3.69 FIP, 0.2 WAR
LHP Joe Beimel-4.87 ERA, 20 and 1/3 IP, 26 H, 8 BB/11 K, 4.67 FIP, 0.0 WAR

Who might be interested (in order of potential interest)?
Angels-The worst contender in terms of OPS by opposing lefty batters, a highly surprising stat considering their depth of lefties (Joe Saunders in the rotation and Brian Fuentes and Darren Oliver in the pen). Even so, guys like Jason Bulger and Rafael Rodriguez are wasting space and the Angels could use bullpen help more than anyone in baseball. If any team is going to give Joe Beimel a shot (and the Nats something for him), it's gonna be the Angels. Trade possibility: I would love to pair Beimel with someone like Marvin Lowrance or Leonard Davis and snag 2B Sean Rodriguez, but he's been tearing up AAA this year so I don't know if the Angels would trade him (scouting). Some other possibilities include LHP Robert Fish, RHP Manuarys Correa or 2B Ryan Mount.
Cubs-Nobody on their current roster (Cotts or Waddell) can get lefties out. While Beimel has a reputation as an equally tough pitcher on lefties and righties, Villone usually puts up pretty good platoon stats. Trade possibility: Nobody of true consequence really, all we can expect is a C prospect in A-ball or lower (see Martis, Shairon). Think we could swing control specialist RHP Hung-Wen Chen from them?
Yankees-I can see the Yankees having huge interest in Beimel because he keeps the ball in the yard (0.7 HR/9 career, 3 total HR allowed from 07-present, 2 of them this year). Their only lefty out of the pen is Phil Coke, who has given up 5 gopherballs this year, 4 to lefties (only one of Beimel's was against a lefty), so they could stand to add another. OF Eduardo Sosa, RHP Kanekoa Texeira and even a reacquisition of RHP Jon Abaladejo (for Villone rather than Beimel) could be possibilities.

Because pretty much every team in baseball could use help out of the pen, I'm going to cap it at these three. I do expect both Beimel and Villone to be dealt before the deadline, and Villone probably sooner rather than later.

What do you guys think-am I asking for too much or too little or just enough? Right positions? Right ages? Comment away, and I'll come up with my next on the list soon! Follow the "Let's make a deal" series here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Let's make a deal: Josh Willingham

Okay, I know that official deadline trademongering doesn't happen until after the draft, but I figured I'd get ahead of the curve with some Nats candidates. First off is Josh Willingham, the current Nat who I think has the biggest chance of leaving. (Side note-he thinks 85% of American men have crapped their pants at some point in their life. Nice.)

OF/1B Josh Willingham-.252/.376/.550, 6 2B, 9 HR, 12 RBI, 18 R, 0.7 WAR
Who might be interested (in order of potential interest)?
Giants-Fred Lewis and Randy Winn are both nice players to have, but for a power-starved team, you can't afford to be starting two guys with sub-.420 SLG's in the outfield corners. Or, if they prefer, they can have Pablo Sandoval play 3B and Willingham at 1st, ridding the lineup of Juan Uribe. The Giants have the most holes in the lineup, but it all depends on whether or not they really think they want to compete this year. Trade possibility: LHP Clayton Tanner and SS Brian Bocock for Willingham. Tanner is in the 10-15 range of Giants prospects and has generally performed better than his stuff would otherwise indicate (scouting report). Bocock is a semi-local product (Harrisonburg, VA native) with a good glove and a no bat who could provide depth if Guzman is dealt or is hurt for a long period of time. To make things better, Deadspin is a fan of Bocock.

Braves-The Nate McLouth deal is a good step for solving their outfield woes, but it certainly doesn't fix them completely. Garrett Anderson, Jeff Francoeur and Jordan Schafer have all been pretty bad in the outfield this year, and I still think a Willingham to the Braves deal has a good shot of happening. Trade possibility: RHP Kris Medlen for Willingham. Asking for too much? Medlen's a good prospect (scouting report), and ML-ready, but the Braves also have Tommy Hanson coming up now. RHP James Parr could be worth a look as well, but the Nats would probably want another low-level prospect on top of that.

Mets-Let's face it-the Mets are simply not going to win the division starting any combination of Sheffield, Murphy, Tatis and Martinez. Sure, they're all nice in their own ways. Martinez is a future stud, but he has already proved to be not ML ready. Tatis and Murphy are nice bench players, but neither are hitting right now, especially at the level you'd want a corner infielder or outfielder to hit at. Sheffield has hit well so far, but he still sucks in the field and will not be able to keep up anywhere near his current pace all year. And when Church comes back, you can always count on him to get hurt again, so the Mets could really use Willingham. Gotta move quick with the Mets, though, as Carlos Delgado could be available around the All-Star Break. Trade possibility: the names RHP Bobby Parnell, RHP Eddie Kunz, LHP Jon Niese and LHP Michael Antonini have been thrown around, mainly because they're the Mets' only pitching prospects. I say shoot for Niese and prepare to settle for Kunz or Antonini. Kinda reluctant on Kunz-a lot of Mets fans seem to be pretty low on him (can't blame them, he's been ridiculously inconsistent, although brilliant at times). Parnell looks close to a lock to stay...maybe we can tilt the scales with Ron Villone! Scouting reports on Kunz, Parnell and Niese here.

Blue Jays-Between Lind, Wells, Rios and Overbay, they have 4 good hitters for 5 positions. Adding Willingham could give them a boost in LF or at DH to replace the likes of Kevin Millar, Jose Bautista and Joe Inglett. Top prospect Travis Snider couldn't quite cut it yet in his first 32 games, so look for Toronto to look elsewhere so he can get a full year in at AAA. Trade possibility: Not sure there's a whole lot of matching up that can be done. The Blue Jays have some top-flight talent and some low-level talent, but not any of the B/B- range guys the Nats would want for Willingham. Maybe LHP Brad Mills would do-he looks like John Lannan part 2 (scouting report...and no, I'm not targeting LHP on purpose).

Tigers-Jeff Larish bounced from ML to AAA to ML and hit fairly well when called up, but has struggled since, going .226/.375/.290 since May 14 (40 PA). The Tigers have a lot of OF's (Clete Thomas, Josh Anderson, etc.) but none are particularly good. They could use The Hammer. Trade possibility: SS Cale Iorg seems like too much to ask for, but he's the kind of guy the Nats should target. Most likely possibility would be to piece together a few C+ pitching prospects like RHP Casey Fien or RHP Chris Lambert.

Red Sox-Doubtful IMO, as the Sox would probably rather take their lumps with Big Papi. Willingham's relatively low salary (compared to, say, Dunn) might make him a little bit attractive to the Sox, but I don't think they'll come up with the best offer if they make one at all. Trade possibility: RHP Stolmy Pimentel and SS Oscar Tejeda strike my fancy. Problem with the Sox is that, while they have a nice system, most of the guys in our talent range were 2008 draftees. And that all of their fans will propose trades like Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn and the rights to Stephen Strasburg for Takashi Saito and Brad Penny.

Royals-With Coco Crisp on the Bereavement list and a starting outfield of Dejesus-Maier-Guillen, now is the time to make a deal with the Royals. They have a strange amount of shifting that can be done with their players (mainly becuase Mark Teahen can play everything), but nobody in their outfield is particularly good, or at least not in 2009. Since they're only 5.5 games out, I can see them making a move. Trade possibility: RHP Blake Wood would be nice, but I doubt the Royals would part with more than a pair of C/C+ prospects like Smolinski and Dean were. OF Adrian Ortiz, maybe?

Reds-They've got two nice OF right now in Nix and Bruce, but a combination of Dickerson and Taveras is pretty bad. Add on the recent Votto DL addition and you have a current need. I don't think the Reds are anywhere near the top of the need list, but Willingham could bring stability to their lineup and bench when the inevitable injuries occur. Trade possibility: Same deal as the Royals-we'd be more likely to get a handful of low level prospects rather than one decent one...OF Dan Dorn intrigues me, as does LHP Matt Maloney.

White Sox-Only if Carlos Quentin's injury takes a turn for the worse. Since Ozzie Guillen seems to think he'll be ready within a week or so, don't count on it. Trade possibility: It would have to be a really low-ceiling guy like RHP Jeff Marquez for the White Sox to want to bite.

There are my ideas for the Hammer. What do you guys think-am I asking for too much or too little or just enough? Right positions? Right ages? Comment away, and I'll come up with my next on the list soon! Follow the "Let's make a deal" series here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Farewell, Randy

I'm not going to lie, I didn't want the Nats to fire Randy. The more I looked at what he did with little talent over the last 4+ years, the better it looked. But then I realized that I was looking at the stats with the intention of taking his side in the neverending Nationals pitching saga (forget Moneyball, they should make a movie about a Nationals relief pitcher. Oh wait, they are).

The Nats' ERA's since 2000:
2000: 5.14 (Olympic Stadium)
2001: 4.69 (Olympic Stadium)
2002: 3.98 (Olympic Stadium)
2003: 4.01 (St. Claire's first year, Olympic Stadium and Hiram Bithorn Stadium)
2004:  4.33 (Olympic Stadium and Hiram Bithorn Stadium)
2005: 3.87 (RFK Stadium)
2006: 5.03 (RFK Stadium)
2007: 4.58 (RFK Stadium)
2008: 4.66 (Nationals Park)
2009: 5.69 (Nationals Park)

The first 3 years for St. Claire were impressive, with an average ERA a little over 4. He struck gold with guys like Esteban Loaiza and Hector Carrasco, revitalizing their careers by teaching them change-ups. But the thing is-that was in RFK, where the park really supressed runs as it was. As impressive as it was that St. Claire turned these guys' careers around, he did his job-making adjustments to make the team better. But since Loaiza/Carrasco, who has he really transformed from a mediocre pitcher to a good one?

I liked Randy, but looking back, he was never really that impressive. The team needed a change and maybe this will spark them. The key to a firing is that you shake things up without hurting yourself, and I don't think the Nats hurt themselves here. Firing Manny mid-season I think would be counter-productive, as there are simply too many fragile youngsters in the locker room. Let the season end and let Manny walk and promote Tim Foli or something.

Quick edit: Terrible break (no pun intended) for Flores and the Nats. We wish Jesus a speedy recovery from his stress fractured shoulder and hope the Nats don't do something stupid by rushing him back. Guess it's more Bard/Nieves...meh.