Thursday, February 28, 2008

Rountdable #4 - Part 3 : Everything Else

HARPER

Trying to keep the segues moving (not to be confused with trying to keep the segways moving, which is apparently Jimbo's job) I think you put as much thought into Old Dirty Perez as you needed to Basil. He might fill in the back of the rotation, but more likely he's Simontacchi-esque insurance. Patterson, Hill, Chico should be #1-#3 (I'm still with you Johnny!) but who gets the last two slots? Personally I like Redding's at #4, and Lannan in the 5 hole. Redding has been an effective major leaguer when healthy and Lannan is only 23, not like the ancient 27 yr old Jay Bergmann.

CHRIS

I don't think you can really look at a starting rotation like that. As we've seen each of the last few years, what you start out with is never what you end with. All those guys you mention are going to get time this year. It's just a matter of when.

Because of that, some of the players like Lannan are going to have a tough time. Redding's contract means he's a virtual lock to start with the team. Perez' probably has a release trigger if he doesn't make the club (like Colome's did last season), so if he doesn't fall on his face, he's got an inside edge. You start penciling those names in, and there's not nearly as much room for Lannan and Chico and Bergmann. The first two have options. (does Bergmann?) They can be sent to the minors and replenish the team later once Hill and Patterson break.

BASIL

Lannan, Cy Young winner. Chico, Hall of Famer. Mock, greatest pitcher of all time. Detwiler, most excellent sentient in the universe.

Sorry, I was just reading Pravda . . .

Anyway, both of you make good points. Perez isn't really worth much of a mention, and the rotation depth (such as it is) needs to be managed in an orderly and effective manner. At the least, our veteran flotsam is a little better this year, and, unlike last year with the Hanrahans of the world, this year's presumed white knights come from our own organization more or less.

CHRIS

Overall, the pitching staff has a decent chance to be better than last year. Not a lot better. But a bit better. If they manage to allow the same number of runs as last year, that's an improvement. We had 45 starts from pitchers with ERAs over 6. 21 were from stiffs with ERAs over 7.

By 'upgrading' to merely bad, they can knock a few runs of their total.

HARPER

It's odd. When I think of last season I think the Nats got pretty lucky; Hill really pitching very well, Redding coming back into form, Bergmann's first half success, that Levale vs Santana game. But looking back for every success there was a complete failure, Simontacchi, SouthEast Jerome, all those other Levale games. With a few very minor breaks they will have a better rotation - but as you say it may not show with the move to the smaller park.

What concerns me is not who's going to bounce around the back of the rotation (at least until end of the season call-ups) but what happens if the relief breaks down. Look at the team's relief ERAs over the past 5 years: 4.40, 4.00, 3.55, 4.49, 3.81. I bring this up not to show a cyclical pattern to the ERAs but to show there is a big element of randomness here and last year the Nats got nice and lucky. Are the Nats going to have 6 different relievers have ERAs under 4.00 and pitch 40+ innings in 2008? Is Jon Rauch going to get through the season without his arm falling off? I'm sure they'll find some decent pitchers here - they seemed to excel at that - but I think it's going to be a bit rougher this year.

Of course I'd trade a slight increase in starter quality for a slight drop in reliever quality anyday...

CHRIS

I'd agree with that. The sheer workload of the relievers last year is something to be concerned about going forward, but... They're also relatively deep there. They've got too many acceptable arms battling for spots as it is. Someone like Schroder -- who could be a pretty good setup guy for half the teams in the league -- has to get lucky to make the roster out of spring.

BASIL

Trade Rauch!

Just kidding. Well, maybe.

One thing I think the fanbase might be missing is that reliever performance tends to be pretty volatile; we're not talking about really big samples, and the ones who are worked particularly hard often become injury risks. So I think there's this expectation that Rauch, for instance (and in particular), will be a major player on the first big-time Nats contender, whenever that is. Maybe he will be, but I'd say the odds are more likely he won't.

Which isn't to say the Nats won't have good relief pitching by then. They probably will. Many of the good relievers will just come by surprise when we get to that point. As, come to think of it, Rauch and Saul Rivera and Hector Carrasco and Gary Majewski and others were.

HARPER

I think this gets back to a point I've been trying to make in the offseason. The franchise is really moving in the right direction. Compared to this time last year, the minors are obviously better, the hitting is likely to be better, the pitching has a chance to be better, and the team...well it might win fewer games. The improvement is probably going to be minimal in 2008 and a few bad breaks and the Nats could be a 70 win team. I hope the support doesn't suffer if this happens.

CHRIS

Oh, there's definitely reason for optimism. They ARE on the right track, even if I haven't agreed with every intermediary step -- and even if Ted Lerner's accountants did.

But for support to suffer, doesn't there have to be much support in the first place? We've got the diehards, of course. But schmucks like us don't carry a franchise. I'd go into a rant about the Post here, but I'll save that for another time!

HARPER

Support is just a euphamism for attendance, which, no there isn't much in the first place. It's going to go up, sure, but suffering can still happen. You and I (and some others, I hope) think the team is a bit too...uh...frugal now. Imagine how it'll be if they go into a new stadium and don't get the bump they want? A good season + new stadium would help the team not see that, but like I said I'm not enthused about this season having more wins. More interest, more hope? Definitely. But not more wins and I think wins -> casual fan interest -> increase attendance -> $$ -> ??? -> Playoffs.

I'd hate to see the improvement momentum squashed just because the Nats don't catch a few breaks in '08 (and yes, I realize this is a total pessimist argument)

BASIL

Oh, you're just a couple of Plan-Pissers!

Chris has put pen to paper on the runs scored vs. runs allowed thing so much that South America is bereft of trees and the White Bros. are swimming in Olympic-sized swimming pools filled with Texas tea sweetener. And this team checks out pretty decently. A modest improvement over last year, with a fine shot at break-even or so for the home slate, and maybe some progressive improvement as the season wears on. It's not sexy, but it's got teeth.

HARPER

"It's not sexy, but it's got teeth" makes a good slogan for the Nats 2008 season, don't it? (or a low-rent online dating service)

Any thoughts on Nick and Dmitri?

BASIL

My thoughts on Nick and Dmitri are pretty simple:

(1) If Nick's healthy, he's the starter; better defense, OBP and all that stuff.

(2) If Dmitri is such a great team player -- which, by the way, is what he's held up as -- then he accepts a role player assignment, with full knowledge that the organization fished him out of the reject pile and then increased his bank account by $10M in gratitude for his services.

(3) The stuff about clearing a path for Marrero is all speculative until Marrero emerges from the high minors as a stud hitting prospect, which we all hope he will be.

CHRIS

What he said.

I really don't understand the drumbeat to trade either of them.

It's not like that $5 million on the bench would go somewhere else other than Uncle Teddy's pocket. And it's not like the Lerner children are going to be eating watered-down gruel while Dmitri dines on an 8-pound steak.

There's playing time for both. There's money for both. I don't see where the problem is.

BASIL

Football mentality. Quarterback controversy, you can't lose your job due to injury, etc.

Manny's a smart guy. He can make it work. And it can work if the players agree to make it work.

HARPER

Nature abhors a vacuum, and people in sports abhor a platoon. Players feel it dulls them down, fans immediately jump the minute one has a slump or a streak calling for an end to it. It's like no one wants managers to manage.

Yeah, Nick should start. It's a no-brainer from all directions but one, who the fans love more, and that shouldn't be how the team makes decisions anyway.

So after all this the sentiment I'm feeling is whatever we get on Opening Day really doesn't matter, at least this year. There isn't anyone with the potential of being "robbed" of a spot nor anyone unfairly kept in their role by veteran momentum. It's not like starting Guzman is holding down Milledge or anything. With the team in transition, good players will find playing time and bad ones will be shuttled off. And if that doesn't happen we'll complain about it mdiseason.

All true, but it hardly as fun as making Spring and the Opening Day roster overly important.

CHRIS

So you're suggesting that Nihilism is the best approach to being a Nats fan?

Works for me!



THANKS TO CHRIS AND BASIL FOR PLAYING ALONG.

2 comments:

Babes said...

looking for my homie, basil. not the best avenue, i know, but i wanted to figure out how to get his email address.

go nats. go sox.

andrew bogle

frank said...

Hi, I came across your site and wasn’t able to get an email address to contact you about some broken links on your site. Please email me back and I would be happy to point them out to you.

Thanks!

Frank
frank641w@gmail.com