Thursday, July 26, 2012

Nationals Baseball: The Phillies aren't dumb and the Marlins aren't the same old Marlins

Nationals Baseball: The Phillies aren't dumb and the Marlins aren't the same old Marlins:

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I wasn't to keen on either the Phillies or the Marlins going into this season.

Thought the Phillies were aging and not in a good way and that the Marlins has spent money but not very wisely.

Got those two things right.  Missed on the Nats being a .500 team though.

I disagree that either of these teams is really a threat going forward.  Yes the Pillies do have their core locked up through 2015 . . . but that core is all on the wrong side of 30.  Halladay, Lee, Utley, Howard, Rollins are getting worse not better.  Hamels is going to be a fine staff ace for the foreseeable future but who else is likely to maintain?  Can they afford to keep Hunter Pence?  They are already talking abut dealing him.  This is not Carlos Ruiz's true talent level -- he's having a career year and that won't continue.  Who is going to play 3rd for them going forward?  They have to replace Shane Victorino with ??????  They may have decided to retool rather than reload but from where I stand that is a terrible decision and will consign them to years of high payrolls and mediocre performace.

For the Marlins, they were always on the wrong track.  The Bell contract was a joke the moment it was signed and the Buhrle contract wasn't too far behind.  Who knew that Hanley Ramirez, their franchise cornerstone would disintegrate in front of our very eyes.  What's worse for them long term is their burst of activity and their new stadium did very little to increase revenue streams.  They will have a tough time putting together a winner using a spend spend spend formula so they will have to take the long road of prospect development.  And aside from Christian Yelich and Jose Fernandez, there isn't a lot in the cupboard.

Short and long term the Braves and the Mets cause much more concern.  The Braves just have a lot of young talent and have a knack of finding and developing young players.  For god sake Brandon Beachy was UNDRAFTED@!  That means he wasn't considered one of the best 600 amateur players in the country during his draft year.  That's hard to do.  And before his TJ, he was a top 5 pitcher in the NL.

The Mets seem to have found a clue.  We can all hope David Wright decides to move on. That would help.  Getting Zach Wheeler for a 2 month Carlos Beltran rental was big for them.They have some holes to fill but with the New York media market, they can be much bigger players and support a much higher payroll.

I have to say that this past week has made me a believer.  That Friday night collapse at home against he Braves followed by the shutout by Ben Freaking Sheets looked for all the world like the start of a young team feeling the pressure of a division lead for the first time.  Better and more veteran teams have folded (see Atlanta and Boston just last year) and this looked for all the world like a team wide failure.  A gutting of the winning "Natitude"tm that had propelled them beyond what I thought reasonable so far.

But as the old adage goes, you are only as good as your next day's starter.  Five wins later, with outstanding starts from every one in the rotation and even one who isn't (thanks John for one last moment!), and the ship is righted.  I'd also put a fair share of the credit for the turnaround squarely on the shoulders of one Davey Johnson.  Normally, you can't make much of a case for a manager making a difference but in this case I think Davey's response to Friday has a lot to do with the turnaround.

His post game press performance was a clinic in how a manager should handle this kind of situation.  He made it 100% clear using as harsh language as he could muster that it was HIS fault.  He let the team down. He mismanaged the bullpen and he was totally at fault.  That is a manager's job: When you win it's the players and when you lose it's you.  No wonder players love playing for Davey.  And no wonder they could go out and not carry that loss for too long.   This is such a simple lesson and the hallmark of so many successful managers in all sports that I am astounded when managers/coaches fail at this all the time.

Lastly, unless there is a deal where you get something for nothing like the HanRam to the Dodgers deal I see no need to make a move at the deadline at all.  There's been some talk about a starter to soak up innings after Stras is shut down but really how many starts would we be talking about?  And that guy would have to be better than John Lannan to make it worth while.  The Randy Wolf's and Kevin Millwood's of the world don;t meet that standard.  Besides, will there even be meaningful starts in September?  Is it possible that there won't be a "heat of the pennant" race in the NL East?  I do understand that it is reasonable from a cost/benefit analysis to go for the division crown over the wild card now but I'm not sure its worth much prospect wise to make that move.  I'd support a strict money move, if you feel like you need another middle infielder just go buy Jamey Carroll from the Twins. I don't see the need but if you do eh OK.


Friday, July 13, 2012

I never doubted you Mike, Ted, Mark

Nationals go over slot, sign Lucas Giolito for $2.925 million | HardballTalk:

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OK so I did.  But you came through.  Paid the tax, acted like the big market bad boy that you are.  I suppose I should know who else is paying the tax but I don't.  So that must mean it isn't very many teams and the Nats are one of them. GOOD FOR YOU AND ABOUT FREAKING TIME!

Now, all you have to do is take a look at the "where they came from" list of the All Star Game and see that almost half of them were international free agents.  Pry out a few pennies in that direction and you'll be on your way to a (dare I say it) dynasty.

OK that's a bit too much. The system isn't set up for dynasties unless you own and control your own network in one of the top media markets in the country.  So please, give that bastard Angelos absolutely no quarter in the MASN negotiations.  Take as much as you can. A playoff run this year leaves you holding all the cards . . . the longer they hold out the better your deal should be.

One more thing. Fangraphs posted a fake trade where the Nats give Rendon, Espinosa, Meyer and Leon to the Phillies for 2 months of Cole Hamels.  Just don't.  No need at this point to give up much of anything for help at the deadline anymore.  2 month rentals are even worse a deal then before the latest CBA . . . how long will the giants regret Zach Wheeler?  Or more precisely, how long will we regret Zach Wheeler?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Nats Insider: Crowds growing week to week

Nats Insider: Crowds growing week to week:

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Duh, winning.

As if this is somehow strange.

Although it may be that its not just winning but exceeding expectations that is the real key.  These Nats have exceeded expectations of everyone (me included) and this aspect makes the story of the Nats season that much better.  A surprise twist if you will.

Atlanta has shown us how the tyranny of missed expectations can deflate what is by any other standard a highly successful franchise. The Capitals are another example.

In any event, I never bought the crap that Washington "wasn't a baseball town."  A town is what its most successful franchise is.  Maybe St. Louis really is a baseball town (as shown by David Freese's 8 million plus votes. Side note: although there are still all star caliber players who aren't going to KC, Freese should get this dispensation just for what he did last October. ) but that's about it.

The elements are in place for sustained period of good baseball here.  It will be interesting to see what this town would look like with a perennially successful baseball franchise while the other sports teams continue to flounder (I'm looking at you Dan Snyder don't think this is a football town forever, your sustained lack of success isn't going to be turned around by one flashy draft pick.)

As for the Nats, I don't think things could be going any better right now.  The Phillies are this close to running up the white flag (as they should), the Braves rotation is a problem, the Marlins are an overrated mess, and the Mets are well the Mets.  This generation of Mets specializes in caving down the stretch not running down a frontrunner.

Not only this, aside from Gio and Ian is anyone really having a season beyond reasonable expectations?  There aren't any luck factor stats showing this 16 games over .500 to be a fluke.  So far, they are a 94 win team and have played like it.  Maybe that pace is a little much but they only need to play .500 the rest of the way to be a wild card contender.  

edit:  rather than put up a new post, I'll just throw it here since it is sort of relevant.

Playing .500 from here on out would give the Nats 41 wins. Added to the 48 they already have and you are at 89.

So the target for the rest of the division is 90.

Mets  79  GTG Need 45 wins   WP needed  .569
Braves: 80 GTG Need 47 wins  WP needed  .587
Marlins 80 GTG Need 50 wins  WP needed  .625
Phillies 84 GTG Need 53 wins   WP needed  .630