Category Archives: Starting Rotation

Thoughts on the Winter Meetings

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, so I figure I better get something up in November before the month totally passes me by.  Been  recovering from rotator cuff surgery, so typing takes twice as long as usual.  I’m using Chien-Ming Wang as a little bit of inspiration, since my shoulder feels worse right now than it did pre-surgery.  Eventually they say it will be much better, so I have to hope I’ll be 100% again at some point.  Wang came back to pitch in MLB, so I’m optimistic that I can get back to a weekend warrior level.

Many fans are keeping their eye on the winter meetings in Dallas, to see if the Nats come out of there with a piece or two that would enable a playoff push next year.  I’m all for finding the right pieces, but not at the expense of mortgaging the future.  Like many close observers of the Nats, I think 2013 will be the year to make a serious playoff push.  I’m not trying to be pessimistic, just realistic, while playing in the same division as a few other perennial playoff teams.  I would like to see us acquire a front line starter, either as an innings-eater and staff leader, such as Buhrle or possibly Oswalt (with an incentive-laden contract) via free agency, if the price is right.  Or, we could trade for a higher-caliber, entering-their-prime starter, if they are under contract for at least 3 more years.  A center fielder with either leadoff capability or power would be great, and I acknowledge that need along with everyone else.  But I’d like to see a 1-2 year solution there, barring a trade.  In 2 years, we’ll have a glut of outfielders, and not enough room to play them.

As for first base, I’m not sure whether to laugh or be angry at those who suggest we sign some help at first base.  I’d prefer to keep Morse at first, for no other reason that him playing there coincided with him hitting over .300 and 30+ home runs.  But if the front office is intent on playing LaRoche at first, then Morse can shift there when LaRoche needs a day off, which also frees up an outfield spot for a bench player to get a spot start and some ABs.  To use a roster spot on another 1B would be downright silly.

If we enter spring training with no major signings or trades, I’m fine with that too, as long as that means we get a long look this season at Milone, Peacock, Lombardozzi, and others to see if they are going to be long-term pieces of the puzzle.  And my acquiescence to that plan in 2012 would be with the strong assumption that we would be major free agent players for the pieces we need going into 2013.

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Catching Up

I haven’t posted in a while, so I’ll try and keep my comments on several topics brief:

Jim Riggleman, wow. I wonder how long it took him to realize whoa, I just made a huge mistake. No one in baseball has judged his decision as a wise move. Also, he must be doing well with his retirement accounts if he can walk away from $350,000 for the second half of the season. He may have been a “low-paid” manager, but that’s not chump change.

Morse and Espinosa: Keep it up! You guys make the games much more exciting.

Jayson Werth: Guys, it’s time to quit it with the puff-piece comments about what a hard worker this guy is and how he’s due to break out soon. It’s time to sit him down for a while and let a hotter hitter play until Werth can get his head straight. And for all the talk about his defense, I’ve seen a handful of instances recently where he has shied away from potential catches near the wall and the stands. I don’t want anyone to get hurt, but come on. I predicted in the offseason that he’d average .272/22/75 over 3 season before the Nationals looked to move him (which would be very tough), and even those numbers now look to have been too rosy.

Starting pitching: You guys have outdone yourselves. Amazing job this year.

Pitching Woes Continue

The hot start by our Nationals this spring has gradually turned into a 7 game losing streak. Most worrisome, the patchwork of starting pitchers have pretty much all turned in their worst outings of the spring recently. While part of that is due to hitters finding their rhythm later in the spring than pitchers, I can only hope our starting five regain some form and also some confidence. Some offensive outbursts by the team around them would help in the confidence regard as well. I just hope they do not try and pick up Oliver Perez now that he has been released by the Mets. I’d rather give some of our youngsters an opportunity to show what they’ve got instead.

By the way, even though I was in favor of keeping Dunn this past offseason, it certainly looks like we ended up with the better of the 3 first basemen we were targeting over the winter. LaRoche is expected to be his usual consistent self and has hit .343 so far, while Derrek Lee just played in his first spring training game, and concerns linger about thumb, wrist, and potentially foot injuries. Carlos Lee has been fine so far for the Cubs, but looking at the three of them right now, I’m glad we ended up with LaRoche.

16 More Days

Sixteen days until opening day, and the Nats have looked pretty good so far this spring. While Bryce Harper has received much of the press surrounding the team this spring, their steady play and winning record have not garnered as much attention. There is more optimism surrounding this team than any I can recall since their initial spring of 2005.

I do think there are a good number of supporters who drank a lot of the Kool-Aid this year; that is to say they have been impressed with the team’s spring performance so far but seem to have forgotten that the Nats went 0 for 2 this offseason when trying to land a couple of top-flight starters to the mix. I do believe that starting pitching will remain their weakest point this season. Livan and Jordan Zimmermann have looked great so far this spring, but we need to keep in mind that JZimm has all of 4 wins in his major league career and that we can’t expect Livan to duplicate his impressive season from a year ago. I do expect Marquis to bounce back nicely since he appears to be healthy. No one knows which John Lannan will show up this year, but we all hope it’s the one who may be primed for a breakout season. On the offensive side, I love that Morse has had a great spring and seized the LF job. I’ve been impressed by him ever since we acquired him. I really hope Espinosa matures quickly as a major league hitter, and I’m hopeful that Ian Desmond is able to cut down on his errors so that we don’t lose his bat in the lineup. Center field could be a mess for awhile until someone separates themselves. Let’s hope it happens sooner rather than later.  I’m just trying to be optimistic but also realistic.  Go Nats!

Are You Serious?

I cannot believe what I am reading about the Nationals likely trading for a No. 1 starter. I am 100% in favor of signing 2 front-line starters, but a trade is one of the most idiotic moves I can think of. They have spent years at the bottom of the standings, building up their farm system and developing a nice stable of prospects. Now they want to trade them away for a starting pitcher. Trade away some prospects when it’s a for guy who will put you over the top in a pennant race. Otherwise, just sign someone in free agency! If Cliff Lee is the #1 guy this offseason, yes he will command a lot of money. But look at it this way. If you are going to pay a guy $20 million per season vs $15 million for a different frontline starter that you’d trade for, that seems ridiculous. Here’s why. If you trade for a guy, he’ll have maybe 2 seasons left on his contract. So over those 2 years, you’re saving $10 million but will have traded away several top prospects. Is that worth $10 million? To put it conversely, if you went to another team and said, I’ll pay you $10 million cash, just hand over 3 of your top prospects in your farm system, would anyone take that offer? No way. Any that is basically what we’d be doing here. As fans, we’ve tolerated 5 losing seasons in a row while being told it’s in the name of building a winner through rebuilding and restocking our farm system. And now you want to trade those away? We’ll have to see the actual salaries we’re talking about and which prospects it ends up being, but giving away top prospects when you could sign someone through free agency is so ridiculous, I cannot believe people with “baseball minds” are considering this.

Alone in Second Place

It’s a great day to be a Nats Fan…4 games over .500, Bernadina possibly finding his groove, Strasburg pitching a no-hitter through 6.  Gotta love it.  I realized that I hadn’t written a post in while when I read today that Jason Marquis is going to have surgery to repair bone chips in his elbow.  The  I thought, hey, I called that out in my last post 3 weeks ago.  I’m still kind of amazed they let him waste 3 weeks trying to cure it with rest.  As Rizzo was quoted as saying,  “It didn’t work, so it set us back for about three weeks.”  C’mon Mike, you’re better than that.  I’m sure he’s mad at himself for letting Marquis convince him he could work through it.

Back to Strasburg, if they keep him pitching every 5th day, that would potentially have him starting on July 6 at home vs the Reds.  Expect a sellout at the ballpark.

More on the Starting Five

Following up on my post from 4 days ago…since then, my fears about Olsen have been even more realized. Olsen is in for a rough year. While he feels that his arm is getting stronger, an 89 mph fastball is going to get pounded by major league hitters. He can’t pick corners like Lannan can at lower speeds. Mock and Martin just had bad outings. Riggleman is now saying that Stammen is a good bet to be in the rotation. I’m fine with this, per my previous post, but if both Olsen and Mock are in as he has said before, then Livo is the odd man out. After Hernandez’ second strong outing, I’m even more convinced that he needs to be in the rotation to start the season. He may get bumped later, but either Mock or Olsen needs to go to the bullpen. The only realistic scenario though is that Mock could be a long reliever if Livo sneaks into the rotation to start the season. No matter how bad Olsen looks, the Nats are going to give him a handful of starts to see if he can regain his form. I just hope they don’t give him too long of a string if his current trend continues.