Thursday, December 24, 2009

Jolly Ole Saint Rizzo

Are we getting a little carried away with the Rizzo love? I don't think so. He is making every opportunity to build the roster the way he wants.

Let's take a look at the members of the 40 man roster (plus some other notables) he has added since the Winter Meetings:
Matt Capps-9/3/83, R/R
Career Stats: 19-19, 67/89 saves, 3.61 ERA, 3.84 FIP, 6.89 K/9, 1.66 BB/9, 4.16 K/BB
2009 Stats: 4-8, 27/32 saves, 5.80 ERA, 4.90 FIP, 7.62 K/9, 2.82 BB/9, 2.71 K/BB
Things I love about signing Matt Capps: K/BB ratio, team-controllability beyond 2010 and his past closing experience.
Things I don't love about Matt Capps: intense deviation from his career norms in 2009 and how he was overworked in 2006/07.
All-in-all, a great signing.

Eddie Guardado-10/2/70, R/L
Career Stats: 46-61, 187/219 saves, 4.32 ERA, 4.45 FIP, 7.60 K/9, 3.32 BB/9, 2.29 K/BB
2009 Stats: 1-2, 0/0 saves, 4.32 ERA, 6.10 FIP, 4.70 K/9, 3.52 BB/9, 1.33 K/BB
Things I love about Eddie Guardado: The fact that the contract is not guaranteed.
Things that I don't love about Eddie Guardado: his rate stats since 2006.
An "eh" signing, but since it's not guaranteed, I can't disagree completely. Just don't expect any sort of spectacular return to pre-2006 form from Every Day Eddie.

Jason Marquis-8/21/78, R/R
Career Stats: 94-83, 4.48 ERA, 231 GS, 1485 IP, 4.82 FIP, 5.25 K/9, 3.50 BB/9, 1.50 K/BB
2009 Stats: 15-13, 4.04 ERA, 33 GS, 216 IP, 4.10 FIP, 4.79 K/9, 3.33 BB/9, 1.44 K/BB
Things I love about Jason Marquis: His durable-yet-mediocre self (a step-up for the Nats) and his hitting ability.
Things I don't love about Jason Marquis: 2006. A guy like Marquis who doesn't have great rate stats can be susceptible to losing it rather quickly, like Marquis did in '06 with a 6.02 ERA. That scares me.

Brian Bruney-2/17/82, R/R
Career Stats: 16-10, 13/22 saves, 4.27 ERA, 4.68 FIP, 8.86 K/9, 6.22 BB/9, 1.42 K/BB
2009 Stats: 5-0, 0/1 saves, 3.92 ERA, 5.10 FIP, 8.31 K/9, 5.31 BB/9, 1.57 K/BB
Things I love about Brian Bruney: Well, the ERA is shiny, but it is not representative of his true pitching talent. He has pitched for the Yankees and in the World Series, albeit unsuccessfully in both situations. Maybe he can succeed in a less stressful environment?
Things I don't love about Brian Bruney: Walk rate. Yechhhhhhhhhhhh.

Don't forget to think about Jesse English and Doug Slaten, a pair of lefties acquired toward the end of the season/beginning of the offseason that could make their way into the Nats bullpen in 2010.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Two days, two inboxes

This post will be better than the Redskins' game, I promise. On a side note-the parking lot staff at Fed Ex are morons. They led my friends and I about a half mile in the completely wrong direction to get to a Metro Station. That's all I have to say on that subject.

On to the inbox:

How much playing time do you think Ivan Rodriguez will get? I think it would be a waste if he gets only the amount of playing time Wil Nieves had last year. Pudge can still provide some serious offense besides his defensive skills.
-- Alex C., Montreal

He'll get more than that just because Flores is so injury-prone. I have a feeling that Flores' injury might be worse than we think...if that's the case, Nieves might even get as much time this year as he did last year.

How much interest are the Nationals showing in Aroldis Chapman? It looks like his upside could be as high as Stephen Strasburg's and, if signed, would give the club an outstanding top of the rotation for years to come.
--- Jeff O., Victoria, Texas

I'm not expecting them to make a big run for them, and I can't really blame them. Chapman has a lot of talent, but he is nowhere near the polished prospect Strasburg is. A team that doesn't spend a lot of money throwing $15 mil at a guy who isn't a sure thing doesn't pass the smell test to me.

Would Felipe Lopez be a good fit at second base for the Nats?
-- Sean B., Washington

Absolutely not. What a friggin' bum. Whoever signs him is going to be disappointed-his BABIP in 2009 was almost 30 points higher than it had ever been before. He'll come back down to earth and make somebody else's fans miserable in 2010.

What happened to all the John Smoltz buzz? It seems like ages ago that we've heard anything about the Nats trying to acquire a starting pitcher. If you were in Rizzo's shoes, which free-agent pitchers would you sign?
-- Scott W., Onley, Va.

I agree with Ladson that Smoltz and the Nats have mutual interest, but more in terms of a each side having a backup date to prom. I think the Nats might chase Jon Garland but end up with Doug Davis. I'm always wary of both for some reason (I guess I just expect the bottom to fall out sometime soon), but if we could get either on a one-year deal in the $5-7 mil range, I wouldn't be opposed to it.

What are the Nationals' options if Cristian Guzman can`t play second base?
-- Ryan L., Dunn, N.C.

Gonzalez and Harris are the likeliest options, but a dark horse could be Mike Morse. He played 19 games at 2B for Tacoma in 2009. Reasonable FA options include Orlando Hudson, Mark Derosa, Kelly Johnson and even Ronnie Belliard.

What are the chances of bringing Vladimir Guerrero back into the organization?
-- Kelvin A., Rockville, Md.

None unless they trade Willingham or Dunn. Guerrero is not a good fit for an NL team anyways-he only played 16 innings in the field in 2009.

What's the status of Chris Marrero? Can we expect him in the big leagues anytime soon?
-- Colin W., Germantown, Md.

To be honest, I have no clue. Marrero is at the age where he can either catapult through the system and end up in DC in September (fairly likely) or bottom out completely and be done with baseball (highly unlikely). He didn't look very good in 84 PA's at Harrisburg, but that's a very small sample size. We'll know for sure when the ASG rolls around whether or not he can hack it in AA.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Inbox Time

This version of the mailbag is a week late, but your mail this week will probably be just as late, so we'll call it even.

Who do you think will be the Nationals' Opening Day shortstop?
-- Patrick S., Chantilly, Va.

Ian Desmond. I honestly don't think the Nats will make a run at an ML-worthy 2B or SS, leaving them with Desmond at SS and Guzman at 2B.

It seems odd that the Nationals would offer arbitration to right-hander Jason Bergmann. Likeable as he is, he's an average pitcher at best.
-- Mike H., Washington

Average at best, yes, but what else describes the Nats bullpen? I'm surprised they didn't non-tender him and try to bring him back at a cheaper salary, but to be honest, it's not a truly cost-prohibitive decision.

What do you think the rotation and bullpen will look like on Opening Day next year? I expect Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen not to be on the roster until later in 2010.
-- Keith C., Greenbelt, Md.

Rotation: Lannan, Detwiler, Olsen, Garland, Marquis

Bullpen: Bergmann, Balester, Burnett, Clippard, Mock and Bruney as the Closer.

Strasburg and Storen will not be in the Majors until at least a month in, I bet.

If the Nationals are unable to land a "Big Time" starter this offseason, do you see any potential trade packages that could land Blue Jays right-hander Roy Halladay?
-- Michael L., Williamsburg Va.

Well, I obviously missed the boat on this one, but such a deal would cost some sort of a combination of Norris, Storen, Desmond and Marrero (plus maybe some pitchers like Detwiler and Mock), and I don't think the Nats could (or would even want to) match the Phillies' offer.

Will Clippard get a shot in the rotation? He's deadly against left-handed hitters. Just ask Bobby Cox, who would like to have him.
-- Brandon D., Muncie, Ind.

Deadly against lefties, yes, but he still had a .207 BABIP last year. Expect plenty of regression, and further bullpen relegation.

Not too long, it was reported that the Nationals were shopping Josh Willingham and Adam Dunn because they are defensive liabilities. Why? There bats are crucial parts of the lineup, and with Nyjer Morgan, Willie Harris, Roger Bernadina and Justin Maxwell in the mix, the defense is solid.
-- Ben F., Suffolk, Va.

The problem with the defensive whizzes is that only Morgan and Zimmerman are actually starters. The team, in my opinion, has 2 plus fielders in Morgan and Zimmerman, 2 minus fielders in Willingham and Dunn, 2 average fielders in Rodriguez/Flores and Dukes and 2 average fielders with a bigger potential to fall into the lower category than the higher in Desmond and Guzman.

I still like the potential of left-hander Matt Chico. Based on his progress in rehab, what do you think his chances are of being with the team in 2010?
-- Todd B., Smithsburg, Md.

I'm admittedly not a big fan about Chico. He had a below average, yet still lucky, year in 2007. I don't think he'll be back for good, unless he comes back with control and durability.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Five Non-Tenders the Nats Need to Sign

No need for an introduction-it's 5 am and I have been working on a paper for 7 hours.

RHRP Jose Arredondo-Yeah, he's having Tommy John surgery. But at the end of the day, he's still a young flamethrower with closer potential. Those guys don't exactly grow on trees, you know. Whenever you get a chance to sign a great (and controllable!) talent like Arredondo on the cheap, you do it. He'll probably even out to somewhere in between his lights out 2008 season and terrible 2009 season, but he still has a ton of potential after his return from TJ surgery in 2011.

RHSP Chien-Ming Wang-Another high risk, high reward guy, but with different implications. Wang proved in 2006-07 that he can be a huge innings eater in a hostile environment. But also, Wang could be a huge marketing piece. The DC area has a fairly sizable Taiwanese-American demographic, and I know from first-hand experience how much Taiwanese people love Chien-Ming Wang (a friend of mine's family essentially has a miniature shrine to him in their house. No joke.). Opening up the Nats to the Asian market could be a great idea at a fairly small investment (much smaller than, say, signing the next Daisuke Matsuzaka out of Japan); with only a few teams really reaping the benefits of a huge market, there is plenty to gain.

2B/OF Kelly Johnson-Johnson offers the right kind of flexibility for the Nats. If Desmond bombs, they can shift Guzman back to SS and start Johnson at 2B. If Guzman tanks, they can keep starting Desmond at SS and start Johnson at 2B. If they move Dunn or Willingham, Johnson can start in LF. Johnson is a solid hitter who had an unlucky 2009 but should rebound in 2010 and beyond.

RHRP Matt Capps-I don't care so much about the closer experience as I do about the awesome control. 1.66 K/9 for his career! I WANT! There is really a lot to like about the guy-3.61 career ERA and 67 saves for traditionalists, 4.16 career K/BB for people who love K and BB rates and 3.84 career FIP. Capps could have a huge 2010 impact as well as a huge future impact in general-he's only 26!

OF Ryan Church-Why not bring our old friend back? He's surely not spectacular in any facet of the game, but he's at least average in every facet of the game, which can't be said about a lot of players. I'd be a lot more comfortable having Church around given Nyjer's durability question marks, potential trades for Willingham/Dunn and Dukes' inconsistencies.

Rizzo, give these guys a call!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bullet point updates

Please forgive my lack of posting since Thanksgiving. I've been writing my senior thesis (as a junior, for no good reason) and it's taking a huge chunk of my time. Here are my thoughts on a few things that have been going on in the Majors recently:

Pudge signing: Kinda iffy. I don't mind signing the future Hall of Famer, who is still a huge upgrade over our backups from last year (side note-I wanted the Nats to go after him during Spring Training). I don't mind the $3 mil/year average, since it's not my money. I don't think a 2 year deal was necessary, though. I would have even preferred a $4 mil or maybe even $4.5 mil deal for just one year. While it's not an albatross of a contract like Vernon Wells or Alfonso Soriano, it will still be impossible to move if Pudge totally sucks. Hopefully he won't, and I'm actually pretty excited to see him play.

Bruney trade: The more I look, the less I like. Bruney has only sustained a BB/9 rate of 5 or below for a full season once since 2004. Once. I'm not even upset at what we gave up for him-in all honesty, the Nats have been pretty crappy in the Rule 5 draft outside of Flores and there are not a whole lot of interesting names this year anyways. Maybe we went after him because Bruney is worth a positive value in even years while being awful in odd years. I don't know, but I don't want to see him trotting out of the bullpen in the 8th or 9th inning...ever.

Transactions around the league:

Randy Wolf (signs with MIL, 3 years, ~$30 mil): Money sounds about right, but I would have offered no more than 2 years. A better signing than Jeff Suppan was in 2007, that's for sure.

3 way AZ/DET/NYY deal (Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy to AZ, Phil Coke, Daniel Schlereth, Max Scherzer and Austin Jackson to DET and Curtis Granderson to NYY):
Terrible for Arizona, good for Detroit, great for the Yankees.

BAL/TEX deal (Kevin Millwood and $3 mil to BAL, Chris Ray to TEX):
Great move for TEX, allowing them to free up money to sign Rich Harden and still come out ahead financially. Bad move for Baltimore. They will be paying Millwood $9 million when they could have gotten a better pitcher much cheaper.

HOU/FLA deal (Matt Lindstrom to HOU, Robert Bono, Luis Bryan and HOU's Rule 5 pick to FLA):
The prospects heading to Florida aren't really impressive, but are definitely sleepers...and finding a keeper for Lindstrom is a win for them. Not sure why the Astros would want to give up even 2 C prospects plus their rule 5 pick when they could have gotten Bruney for cheaper, though.

Players on my short list for the Nats:
2B Orlando Hudson at 2 years/$14 mil-his value has fluctuated between $9.1 mil and $13.7 mil over the last 4 years. I would go as high as $8.5-9 mil for one year. He doesn't cost a draft pick, so nothing to lose but somebody else's money.
OF Rick Ankiel at 1 year/$2 mil-interesting buy-low candidate. Tons of power and good arm, and another lefty bat in the organization can't hurt.

One of the following SP's at 1 year/$5-$7 mil: Erik Bedard, Justin Duchsherer, Ben Sheets, Jon Garland
One of the following SP's at 1 year/$750k-$3 mil: Livan Hernandez, John Smoltz, Brett Myers,
One of the following SP's at 1 year/$500k-$1 mil: Rich Hill, Shawn Hill, Mark Prior, Noah Lowry

One of the following RP's at 1 year/$4-6 mil: Mike Gonzalez or Kevin Gregg
One of the following RP's at 1 year/$1-2 mil: J.J. Putz, Joe Beimel, Bob Howry, Octavio Dotel
One of the following RP's at 1 year/$500k-$1 mil: Chad Cordero, Eric Gagne