Noah Frank joins our show to talk about where the Nats are right now and how they look for 2015. On the show: the 25 man roster, the rash of injuries suffered by the team, how good is the Nationals rotation, is this bullpen sustainable, Strasburg, Harper, a little Matt Williams, an NL East preview, a rest of the MLB preview, and plenty more. Enjoy!
-or, lightly running, as the case may be. But too bad, I wrote all of this out before I saw this tweet, so I’m going to continue with my “how ugly could this get?” post.
The worst news first: Anthony Rendon went from sitting out for a few days to having no timetable. That’s really scary. CL strains (of any kind) can get ugly quick, even if they are mild. As HarperGordeck from Natsbaseball blog points out, the prospect of Kevin Frandsen at third for a month, or longer, is laughably scary.
There’s been a little over a week of spring training games, and here are some of my reactions to the headlines from this last week.
The Big Picture is that most things look fine right now. Apart from what I’ll discuss below, most players seem to be doing very well. Pitcher be pitchin’, hitters be hittin’, fielders be fieldin’. Except as outlined below, no alarms, no surprises. Of course, it could be a dumpster fire of performance and I still wouldn’t be concerned. It’s spring, for cryin’ out loud! The one thing you don’t want to happen is to have…
Every year, we put together player profiles for the Nationals players likely to make the 25 man roster. This way you’ll have a better idea of just who is taking the field. Except for a few notable exceptions, the Washington Nationals of 2015 will be the same team you’ve been watching for a few years. So we’re going to forego lengthy profiles of stuff you already know, and focus on capsules for a few players at a time. A quicker, more forward focused view for the savvy fan.
You can read our outfielder preview here, and our starting pitcher preview here.
On a team when every infielder has a story going into 2015, Desmond’s demands the most attention. Lo beware the shortstop who can hit, for they shall be in demand and cost lots and lots of money: And Desmond can hit. The list of shortstop with three 20 HR / 20 SB seasons is very short: Alex Rodriguez, Hanley Ramierez and Ian Desmond. (Seriously, buy Baseball Prospectus).
The Nationals will feature four position players not playing the position they primarily played last year. In his Monday chat, T. Boswell (oh Lord save me I am linking to a BOZ CHAT) remarked that the Nats shaky 2014 defense (which is a suspect sentiment given he’s employing fielding percentage, and Fangraphs ranked the Nats 7th overall) would now feature Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and the newly added Yunel Escobar all playing different positions on the field.
If I put aside the general grating against my brain every time I read something Boz writes, he’s right that this is a pretty big question. How will these guys fare in their different spots? We’ve touched on this already in our outfielder post (positing that Harper ought to flourish in right, while Werth may be able to handle left a bit better than he handled right). Shortstops tend to do well at second, and I’m not sure anyone has assumed anything other than Ryan Zimmerman can do a passable job at 1B, where his throwing (typically considered his weak spot) ought not come into play nearly at all.
Now with this post: I could postulate, what-if, speculate or pretend I can give you some direct, informative answer on how these guys will do in their new position. Or, I could fear-cast, telling you this will all end poorly based on nothing . I don’t want to do either of those things mostly because neither really answers the question. Frankly, nothing short of spring training and, ultimately, the 2015 season will tell us how they will fare.
Even though we can’t know what will happen, we can take a look at the reasons behind some of these moves. When faced with a question without a certain answer, we can only do the best we can with the information we have. So, instead, (in 101 style) let’s ask why these moves are being made at all, and look at some evidence for why.
As far as I can figure, the 2015 Nationals will head into Spring Training with at least 23 of their 25 slots filled and ready to go. A luxury to be sure, and not one that will repeat itself anytime soon. Over the next few seasons, at least a handful of free agents will be leaving each year, many from key positions. For example, the 2016 Nationals could be starting the season without Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, Ian Desmond and Denard Span: And that’s just me thinking of starters off the top of my head. Each year after next, similar names may be on the way out the door, each requiring a spring training for new players to become acquainted with the team, young players trying to play their way on, and a parade of healthy competition for starting spots.
But the future is the future, and today is today: And today, the Nats won’t have to think too hard about a lot of the spots on the team. Each MLB club is allotted a 25 man roster to play day-to-day with, and an expanded 40 man roster where the additional 15 players are in the minor leagues, but available for call up at a moment’s notice.
Seriously, I just went through the roster and I’m not sure there is anywhere for anyone to break into the top 25. There, legitimately, may be no camp battles in 2015. So let’s count them up.
Anthony Rendon called up on Sunday is now 2-15 with 5 strikeouts.
No Review-Preview this time around gang I’m not sure I can bring myself to do one. Okay, the Nats got swept by the Cardinals, but strangely looked better (on the pitching and defense anyway) doing it. The Cards have great pitchers and great bats. The Reds are coming into town and they have good pitching and great bats. The Nats could have all, or none, of any of those at any given time because it’s only April and no one knows what the heck is going on.
Okay that’s your review-preview. On to the Cliff Notes:
Dave Huzzard knows a ton about baseball. When he writes up stuff for MASN as a guest blogger, it’s top notch stuff. This week he put in crystal clear terms why you the Espinosa/Lombardozzi debate at second base isn’t even a debate. Basically, I’m with Dave the right thinking people can’t honestly compare the two. (Also, I need to figure out how to get one of these guest blogging gigs).
Matt’s Bats watched BP from the field, and basically everyone you’d want to come say hi came and said hi. I do not wear my jealousy well, particularly when it is directed at an 8 year old.
From the Sports Bog: Henry Rodriguez throws a ball into the President’s Club. To be fair it took the long way round, and he’s actually been a much better pitcher so far this year. Also “Full Monkey-Tilt” might be the early candidate for this year’s “Clown Question Bro.”
Lastly, Nationals Prospects is a blog I’ve been reading more of lately. This weekend they ran a story about the call up of Anthony Rendon which included some skepticism regarding the timing of the call-up. Being a high level top prospect is a tough job on a call up, especially when a chunk of the fan base expects you to fix things as soon as you get to the show. Couple that with the fact he’s following two “once in a decade” type of players like Harper and Strasburg, and well…expectations can be outsized very quickly. (and yeah, lying to reporters-while part of the gig-is still cruddy).