Thursday, October 22, 2009

Inbox spectacular

Here's your inbox:

Right-hander Drew Storen has been touted as a closer. If he makes the big league team, how about starting him off as a setup man, and then working him into the closer role by midseason?
-- Shane B., Vancouver, Canada

Sounds good to me. Who else is going to close? If the team keeps MacDougal around, they're insane...wayyy too expensive for a guy who is probably going to implode at some point. I think it's funny that Hanrahan is five times better than MacDougal and got run out of town while MacDougal should be a guaranteed non-tender and everyone wants to hold on to his lucky 2009 ERA.

I don't think it's necessary to trade Adam Dunn. Look at first basemen such as Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder and Carlos Delgado. They don't have the defensive skills at first base, but each had brought their teams into the playoffs.
-- Yu-Hung S., Chiayi, Taiwan

They didn't singlehandedly bring their teams to the takes a whole team of talent to matter. I hope the Nats do the right thing and move either Dunn or Willingham for a great young starting pitcher before the season.

What is the status of left-hander Jack McGeary? Is he a Major League talent? Will he get a look at next year's Spring Training?
-- Larry L., Spring Springs, Md.

I like what Spin Williams said in this article: “Some of Jack’s numbers aren’t what you would like to see but he has competed. We really feel good about his progress. He’s really still a first-year player.’’ He wasn't so impressive this year, but what can you really expect from a guy going from 63 and 2/3 innings to 112 innings? The fact that he made it through the season is impressive. The walk rates are frightening, but he has plenty of time to straighten them out...he's only 20 for goodness sake.

Do you see the Nats going after right-hander Pedro Martinez if he becomes a free agent?
-- Isaac R., Baltimore

I doubt it. They didn't go hard after him this season and he's only going to be more expensive and a year older next year.

I would love to see the Nationals add someone like Mark De Rosa to their lineup. He could be a huge upgrade.

-- Travis A., Cornelius, N.C.

I like DeRosa, but he only had a .319 OBP this year...while it will probably stabilize to the .340s or .350s, he'll be 35 next year coming off of a poor year. If he comes cheap, I'll take him, but not at more than $1.5 million.

The Nationals played better when Ian Desmond and Justin Maxwell were in the lineup. Why is it that the fans always seem to "wait" with our prospects when it's clear they have the ability to play at this level? The atmosphere at the ballpark was completely different when these kids took the field. Your thoughts?

-- Mick F., Springfield, Md.

There is no question that Maxwell and Desmond are incredibly talented, but Desmond hadn't broken a .800 OPS in the minors since 2004 and Maxwell was pretty awful in AAA even this year. Don't overlook sample size with early ML results.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

First wave of minor league free agents

Last week, Baseball America released the names of the first wave of minor league free agents this year. Amongst the names I think the Nats should check out:

LHP R.J. Swindle-has always put up ridiculous minor league stats, but has only 11 and 1/3 innings of Major League experience to show for it.

2B Craig Stansberry-who wouldn't want to have the first Saudi Arabian-born ML player on their team? His minor league numbers are pretty good for a second baseman, showing both a little bit of pop and a little bit of speed. I have no clue whether or not his glove is up to par, but he could be worth a shot.

RHP Chris Schroder-remember me? The guy who put up a 3.18 ERA and 3.04 FIP in 45 and 1/3 innings for the Nats in 2007? Well, I was a little more lucky than good in 2009, but tell me I am not a better option than Mike MacDougal.

1B Chris Shelton-the AAAA label has been thrown at him lately, but a .347 wOBA in over 1000 career ML plate appearances is nothing to sneeze at. I don't see any harm to adding him to the bench.

LHP Royce Ring-lefthanded relief pitcher? Warm body? Sign him up.

RHP Joe Nelson-more lucky than good over his ML career, but I'm willing to sign him in hopes that his luck continues in 2010.

LHP Javier Lopez-track record of stability and relative success was blown up in 2009, but it was only in 11 and 2/3 innings.

LHP Geoff Geary-track record of stability and relative success was blown up in 2009, but it was only in 20 innings.

RHP Philip Humber-the key prospect in the Johan Santana trade. Arm seems to have fallen apart, but so did J.D. Martin's back in the day. Worth a glance at least.

RHP Bryan Bullington-rate stats looked really good in AAA this year, could be at least average out of the Bulling-pen.

RHP Vinnie Chulk-average at best, but wouldn't it have been nice to even call the 2009 bullpen average at best?

Catching Up

If it seems to you like all of my posts these days are about "catching up" and inboxes, you are correct. As much as I'd like to implement a blog-first, school-second priority scale, I can't. But what I can do is give you this week's inbox and some other goodies!

Do you see the Nationals bringing in another bat this offseason? And who might be the fit at the position?
-- Justin L., Washington

I doubt it. The only field positions I really see the Nats adding players at are middle infield and catcher, and I expect them to pick up defensive-minded players at both positions.

If you think the Nationals are one or two years away from having a winning season, you are a fool. Who do they have in the Minor Leagues that could step up and play in the Majors?
-- Nguyen B., Washington

Here's a list of 7 rookies who can potentially make a big impression in the Majors this year:

1-Stephen Strasburg, RHP

2-Drew Storen, RHP

3-Ian Desmond, SS

4-Justin Maxwell, OF

5-Bradley Meyers, RHP

6-Clint Everts, RHP

7-Chris Marrero-1B (only if he sets the world on fire during spring training, and even so he would likely not be up until at least the All Star Break).

Which players are guaranteed to start for the Nationals next year?
-- Rich R., Slingerlands, N.Y.

Dunn, Morgan, Willingham and Zimmerman are the only 4 I can see being guaranteed spots.

Do you think the Nationals should pursue Mets catcher Brian Schneider?
-- Gloria L., Washington

Absolutely. The Nats haven't had a consistently good defensive catcher since he left.

Monday, October 5, 2009

DC-IBWA Awards and analysis

As you have probably seen by now, the DC Internet Baseball Writers Association has released its awards for the 2009 season. Below you will find the winners along with my picks and analysis:


Goose Goslin Most Valuable Player
Player most valuable to the success of the Washington Nationals:

1st: Ryan Zimmerman (92 points, 16 first place votes)

2nd: Adam Dunn (41 points, one first place vote)

3rd: Nyjer Morgan (25 points, three first place votes)

Others: John Lannan (19), Josh Willingham (3)

My top 3 were Zimmerman, Lannan, Morgan. Dunn was just too below-average defensively for me to vote for him above 3, but it was a toss-up between him and Morgan. Morgan's D put him over the top.

Walter Johnson Starting Pitcher of the Year
Excellent performance as a starting pitcher

1st: John Lannan (96 points, 18 first place votes)

2nd: Jordan Zimmermann (42 points, two first place votes)

3rd: Craig Stammen (22 points)

Others: J.D. Martin (6), Garrett Mock (4), Livan Hernandez (3), Ross Detwiler (2)

I had Lannan followed by Zimmermann followed by Detwiler. I felt like Detwiler pitched better than Stammen and Martin but was unlucky (as was Mock). I am surprised Martis didn't even get one third place vote, given the lack of a frontrunner amongst the guys behind Lannan and Zimmermann.

Frederick "Firpo" Marberry Relief Pitcher of the Year
Excellent performance as a relief pitcher

1st: Tyler Clippard (80 points, 13 first place votes)

2nd: Mike MacDougal (55 points, six first place votes)

3rd: Sean Burnett (29 points, one first place vote)

Others: Jason Bergmann (6), Joe Beimel (5), Ron Villone (3),Saul Rivera (1)

I had Clippard, Burnett and Beimel. MacDougal was just too miserable to watch at some points for me to even think about voting for him. He was the closer, but that doesn't mean he was a particularly good reliever. I guess since he was 20/21 in saves I should have given him a little more props....but I'll stick stick with the legend of Joe Beimel.

Sam Rice Hitter of the Year
Excellence in all-around hitting, situational hitting and baserunning

1st: Ryan Zimmerman (81 points, 14 first place votes)

2nd: Adam Dunn (39 points, two first place votes)

3rd: Nyjer Morgan (26 points, three first place votes)

Others: Josh Willingham (14), Nick Johnson (9, one first place vote), Cristian Guzman (6)

I picked Zimmerman, Willingham and Morgan. Again, it was a toss-up between Dunn and Morgan, but I feel that Morgan was a more complete offensive player than Dunn. It was tough given Dunn's toying with a semi-high batting average, but I settled on Morgan in the end.

Frank Howard Slugger of the Year
Excellence in power hitting

1st: Adam Dunn (100 points, 20 first place votes)

2nd: Ryan Zimmerman (46 points)

3rd: Josh Willingham (27 points)

Dunn, Zimmerman, Willingham. No debate from me here...and it looks like this one was completely unanimous?

Joe Judge Defensive Player of the Year
Excellence in fielding

1st: Ryan Zimmerman (88 points, 14 first place votes)

2nd: Nyjer Morgan (69 points, six first place votes)

3rd: Willie Harris (12 points)

Others: Alberto Gonzalez, Elijah Dukes, Nick Johnson (3), Wil Nieves (1)

I picked these guys in this order as well. There was a large drop-off between Zimmerman/Morgan and the rest, but I feel that Willie did an excellent job playing a bunch of positions, excelling in some and being average in others, but being stable.

Mickey Vernon Comeback Player of the Year
Player who overcame biggest obstacle in the preceding season to contribute on the field

1st: Nick Johnson (50 points, 10 first place votes)

2nd: Mike MacDougal (20 points, one first place vote)

3rd: Ryan Zimmerman (18 points, three first place votes)

Others: Jason Bergmann (16), Josh Bard (9), Ron Villone (8), Josh Willingham (7), Mike Morse (7), Justin Maxwell (5), J.D. Martin (4), Nyjer Morgan, Livan Hernandez, Ross Detwiler, Elijah Dukes (3),
Adam Dunn, Ian Desmond, Jorge Padilla, Sean Burnett, Garrett Mock (1)

It looks like just about the whole team got at least one vote here! I voted for Zimmerman, Willingham, Martin. Zim had a rough 2008 (not awful, but not great), Willingham came back from a lot of early season adversity and Martin survived six seasons in Cleveland and a bunch of surgeries to finally reach the majors. Johnson is a feel-good pick, but he's not a Nat anymore so I felt that I should recognize current Nats who deserve it just as much.

Josh Gibson Humanitarian Player of the Year
Player who meritoriously gave of himself to the community

1st: John Lannan (72 points, 12 first place votes)

2nd: Ryan Zimmerman (44 points, four first place votes)

3rd: Wil Nieves (21 points, three first place votes)

Others: Josh Willingham (9), Nyjer Morgan, Willie Harris, Elijah Dukes (3), Tyler Clippard (1)

I only voted for Zimmerman here because I simply did not know of any other player's community/humanitarian involvements.

Minor League Player of the Year
Minor league player most destined for big league success

1st: Derek Norris (54 points, nine first place votes)

2nd: Ian Desmond (53 points, nine first place votes)

3rd: Drew Storen (41 points, two first place votes)

Others: Bradley Meyers (16), Chris Marrero (7), Mike Morse (4), Daniel Espinosa (2), Ross Detwiler, Jorge Padilla (1).

I went Norris, Meyers, Storen. Norris and Meyers both saw their values skyrocket in 2009 and Storen proved to be worth more than Aaron Stinkin' Crow.

Inbox and links

Don't have a lot of time, so I'll jump right into things!

Why should the Nats consider Jim Riggleman for the permanent job as manager?
-- Billy T., Washington

They shouldn't.

All you do is praise the Nats and the front office! Be honest for once!
-- Scott H., Centreville, Va.

I don't think anyone can accuse Ladson of being consistent.

Your thoughts on Nyjer Morgan?
-- Mike A., Dallas

Excellent fielder and excellent speed. Any offense from Nyjer is a plus given his fielding skillz. He will come back to earth in 2010, but with his glove in CF, he could hit .260/.300/.330 and still be worth starting in CF.

How will the Nats' bullpen be restocked in the offseason, so it'll be more efficient next season?
-- Baheti R., Great Falls, Mont.

It's a great mystery. There will be some free agent signings, but I'm guessing they will be similar to those in 2009 (Tavarez, Wells, Beimel, MacDougal, Villone, etc.): a combination of decent middle relief guys and scrap-heap guys. Next year's closer will almost positively be a current member of the organization, I'd say.

I have been watching some footage of Stephen Strasburg. I don't think I have ever seen the ball move around so well for a hard-throwing pitcher. Do you think the guy could be our generation's Walter Johnson?
-- James W., Warrenton Va.

I'd totally be down for 417 wins and 531 complete games. The less bullpen, the better.

Ian Desmond has made some great plays at short. At the plate, however, he seems to have tapered off. Who will work with him to fix his problems with the bat?
-- John B., Fairfax, Va.

He ended at .280/.318/.561. I'd be down with that line in 2010.


Rizzo has no idea how many people he's going to look at for the manager role and answers a lot of other questions [Nats Journal]

The Nats couldn't avoid 100 losses because their 7 game winning streak to end the year started after loss number 103 []

Now introducing your starting 2009 Defensive Master, Ryan Zimmerman [Nats Inquisition]

The Nats have a lot of holes to fill this offseason []

If you're looking to be depressed, here is a list of the Nats hitters in 2009 by WAR [Federal Baseball]

2009 Nats Epitaph...pretty funny! [Nats Enquirer]

News flash-Nats pitchers throw mostly junk! [FJB]

Thank the MLB for changing their draft rules after 2004-otherwise, the Nats wouldn't have gotten Strasburg [Baseball America]

Nats Non-Tender Candidates: Kensing and Olsen. Ex-Nats: Bray, Cabrera, Church, Hill, Redding, Towers [MLBTR]

Ryan Zimmerman is the best player in baseball [MASN via BBTF]