Skip to content

Could new CBA delay Harper’s debut?

Nov 23, 2011, 1:25 PM EDT

Associated Press photo
Bud Selig and union chief Michael Weiner at yesterday's CBA press conference.

The formal announcement yesterday of baseball's new collective bargaining agreement spawned all kinds of analysis, drawing praise from some corners, disdain from others and an overall state of awe from plenty who were amazed that owners and players were able not only to ensure labor peace for five more years but agreed to a boatload of significant changes to the sport.

But perhaps one of the seemingly small details that was overlooked could prove vitally important for the Nationals by next summer and could lead to the club delaying Bryce Harper's big-league debut by several weeks.

What am I referring to? The decision to increase the percentage of players who are classified as "Super Two's" in baseball's arbitration system.

You may have some vague recollection of the Super Two rule as it related to Stephen Strasburg's debut in 2010. If you've forgotten howRead more »

  1. Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 23, 2011 at 1:45 PM

    Thanks, Mark. A nice refresher.

  2. MFG - Nov 23, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    Great post Mark! It's this type of analysis that makes you the best!I fully expect Rizzo to try to delay Harper's debut until after he is sure Harper will not be a Super Two player.

  3. Anonymous - Nov 23, 2011 at 1:53 PM

    Bryce Harper is like Greg Kite, you cannot stop him, you can only try to contain him! Bryce transcends any labor agreement! the only way Bryce does not appear a Nats Park in 2012 is if Prince Fielder and Cespedes are both Nats.

  4. Tcostant - Nov 23, 2011 at 2:00 PM

    Ironicly bring up Storen early now looks like the smart move and waiting on Strasburg may turn out to be the wrong one (now he may be a Super 2 guy). You got Storen those weeks early while still pushing his FA status out a year, already knowing he would be a Super 2, but Strasburg may be really close to a Super two now and you could have had a few more money making starts… But since all the GM were assuming the old rules, lots of guys were up before Strasburg, so maybe he'll avoid Super 2 anyway.We really won't know 'til next year.

  5. Will - Nov 23, 2011 at 2:01 PM

    Mike Rizzo hasn't ruled out the possibility of the 19-year-old making the Opening Day roster, though that seems an incredibly unlikely scenario, if for no other reason than it would ensure Harper became a free agent at the end of the 2017 season instead of the end of the 2018 season.How long must Rizzo wait to ensure that Harper becomes a 2018 FA instead of a 2017 FA?

  6. Doc - Nov 23, 2011 at 2:03 PM

    If the Nats are being competitive, and Harper is tearing up AAA, then the call will go out for Prince Oppo Boppo, regardles of Super 2 status dates.

  7. Anonymous - Nov 23, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    Harper is a slow starter at whatever level he plays. That has been his M.O. from the beginning and he will be the first to tell you that. Most recently he went 0-15 in Arizona before going on a tear that lasted the rest of the fall league season.If this history is any guide, it will be May before he starts tearing up AAA and June won't seem like such a long time.

  8. Anonymous - Nov 23, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    the opposite may be true also. may as well bring him up earlier if he's going to be a super two anyway.

  9. Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 23, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 23, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    Since it's part of the new agreement, the new wild card setup (again): I'm wondering how it will affect teams at the trade deadline (which hasn't changed, right?), since far more teams are likely to think they are in the race in late August and looking to add a guy, or at least not looking to unload, both increasing demand and tightening up the supply, which will probably result in fewer, but costlier, trades. Maybe this will help the teams like, say, KC or Pittsburgh, who should get better returns on their rent-a-players. Thoughts?

  11. DCJohn - Nov 23, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    "Prince Oppo Boppo", that's a great nick name, Doc. I hope it sticks. It's as fitting as it is original. I don't think this will be Rizzo's call. I think it will Ted Lerner's. The man saw Babe Ruth play. I would think that he would like to Prince Oppo Boppo in a Nat's uniform as sooon as he's ready. That could be Opening Day. Discussions like this certainly beat the hell of talking about the Skins.

  12. Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 23, 2011 at 2:20 PM

    [Ironically], bring up Storen early now looks like the smart move and waiting on Strasburg may turn out to be the wrong one (now he may be a Super 2 guy). OK, help me out here: I know the now-old Type A and Type B determinations were made by combining 2 years' stats, but I thought Super Twos were based on the stats of the year in question, not cumulative over several seasons, and that the old rules apply to last year. No?

  13. Tcostant - Nov 23, 2011 at 2:23 PM

    BTW – The Nationals really hit the perfect storm when it comes to Strasburg and Harper. Why? Well you may have heard the comment that no team has ever had back to back #1 when Harper was drafted, but I bet most people didn't know that 10 or 15 years earlier baseball use to alternate the top draft pick between the AL and NL, so it was impossible to get back to back #1 picks then. So when that changed it help the Nationals. Plus they had the worst record in baseball, when arguably the best pitcher and hitter of their generation were available to them, plus Harper had to pull his GED / Jr. College bit to move his draft clock up. All these things are a perfect storm.Now let’s look at the new labor rules, if they were in effect when Strasburg was drafted, they likely would have when over their draft pool to sign him (who would risk losing him) and would have forfeited at least the their #1 pick the following year, which was Harper.Talk about the perfect storm!

  14. Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 23, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    Good point, TConstant, with one minor quibble: the fines for going over slot are for the draft overall, not any given pick, so it's probably more likely they just take it out of what they offer somebody else. It's basically the league telling them what their draft budget can't exceed, or else.

  15. Tcostant - Nov 23, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    A couple follow ups:Will – The FA clock is pushed out a year after about three weeks, so Haper could be on the team at the end of April and that would still delay his FA year to 2018.Sofa – The Super 2 statis has nothing to do with stats, only major league time. But those big time prospects are more likely to be delayed because they stand to win more money if they get to arbitration. Also, while teams at the deadline might be more willing to deal, players will expiring contracts will have less value. Before if you traded for a Carlos Beltran and didn't sign him you would at least get two draft picks, now only players who were on the same team the whole year will be eligible for draft pick comp.

  16. Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 23, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    Thanks, TConstant. But is that time calculated over more than one season?

  17. MFG - Nov 23, 2011 at 2:37 PM

    I thought the fines were based on a limit for every 10 rounds. So, rounds 1-10 have a maximum amount, and if the team exceeds that then they get fined. Rounds 11-20 have a separate bonus limit, which the team must stay under for those rounds, and so on for the whole draft (50 rounds). This would have affected the Nats two years ago, when they signed Robbie Ray in the 12th round and gave him a $799,000 bonus.

  18. Tcostant - Nov 23, 2011 at 2:43 PM

    No – Sofa it’s cumulative.Basically all players with at least 3 years of service time are arbitration eligible. Then they take all the players service time between two and three years and rank then based on service time, before the top 17% got arbitration also; but now it’s the top 22% (and if there is a tie at 22% everyone at 22% gets it). So when Jordon Zimmerman was optioned to the minors last year after his rehab time was over, that affects his clock. So when guys come up and down, over these years, it constantly self adjusting, that way you never truly know the date.

  19. Tcostant - Nov 23, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    MFG – The poll is based on the top 10 picks only. Players selected after the 10th round do not count against a Club’s Signing Bonus Pool if they receive bonus up to $100,000. Any amounts paid in excess of $100,000 will count against the Pool.They are basicly saying that guys picked the 11th round or thereafter should get the high a bonus and you get dinged if you do.

  20. William Tasker - Caribou, ME - Nov 23, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    Some of this is mitigated by the contract the Nationals already have signed with Harper. He's getting quite a bit of money either way.

  21. Anonymous - Nov 23, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    As Zuck explains . . . "it would ensure Harper became a free agent at the end of the 2017 season instead of the end of the 2018 season."That is perfectly accurate, but it shows just how short-sighted owners can be sometimes when they take the long view. They are already paying Harper $1.75M per right now to not have him on the big club. IF he's ready in 2012 to play everyday in the Bigs, they should consider taking the extra year of him being MLB-ready now instead of 2018 at this price and hope that the guy plays so well that they'll be considering trying to grab that FA year later on. Same thing with Stras. That guy was the most MLB-ready pitcher drafted in maybe in the last 25 years, but in hindsight they "wasted" 17 starts for him in the minors. The only reason he was in the minors was to avoid Super 2. They could have made a lot of money with that kid toeing the rubber on Half Street (it was worth something like $5M per home start to the Lerners when Stras pitched), generated a bunch of fan interest, sold more season tickets and merchandise, maybe improved the club considrably in the standings, etc. But, they went conservative (as is the standard play, I am not saying that they did something stupid in and of itself). But, I am saying that a guy is ready to play when he's ready and with players of this amount of talent and fan insterest, the impact that they are likely to make in the bigs, both financially and in terms of potential high level performance, can be worth the risk of having them be a FA 5 instead of 6 years from today.dfh21

  22. Joe Seamhead - Nov 23, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    I think these new rules were very much influenced by what the Nats have done in the past three years drafts, but especially this year with how much they spent on their top four picks. Selig was seething over what we spent over the "suggested" slot money by MLB. I think some of the new rules will be referred to as the "National's Rules."-________________________________________________________________Also, DCJohn said…"Prince Oppo Boppo" , that's a great nick name, Doc. I hope it sticks. It's as fitting as it is original. Not to take anything away from Doc, but the nick name started right after he hit his first one over the fence in ST. Bryce said something to the effect that he went "oppo boppo," thus the name started. If he hits a boatload of dingers, I'm sure the name will stick.Okay, you Nat's fans… buy up those Phillies game's tix asap so as to keep the Philthies out of Half Street! GYFNG!!!

  23. PAY TO PLAY - Nov 23, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    William, good point. He is already getting paid a guaranteed contract. Let his progress in the Minors and the needs in Washington dictate when he is called up. Harper is now 19 years old.If the Nats don't get a quality CF then you can see that Werth can move to centerfield and Bryce Harper could take over in RF.The other scenario is if LaRoche isn't healthy and Morse has to move to 1st. My largest concern is making sure when Bryce Harper arrives that he is an impact player. Trout failed last year. Anthony Rizzo failed last year. Brandon Belt failed most of last year.

  24. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 23, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    dfh21…. so you'd rather have an 19 yo learning on the job and forfeit what conceivably could be an MVP campaign at age 25? That's brilliant!

  25. Anonymous - Nov 23, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    also, harper came out early because he and boras had foresight this would happen. so nats are fortunate on a couple levels. if this wasn't going to happen, harper wouldn't have even been available for us to draft.

  26. Bart - Nov 23, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    Can someone please explain to me the "percentage" of players that become Super Twos? A percentage of what?

  27. Steve M. - Nov 23, 2011 at 3:21 PM

    dfh21 – On Strasburg, he held out until the end to sign with the Nats and didn't get much work in for 2009 and that is his fault. If he signed early like Storen and Zim he would have been up earlier IMHO. The team wanted him to get some Minor League experience and also start him in an easy start. Could they have brought him up in mid-May? Probably. Jordan Zimmermann is your case of a rookie who had his Minor League time and won a spot in Spring Training. He was the 5th starter and debuted April 20, 2009.One scout who saw Harper in the AFL said he needs another 500 ABs in the Minors and another said he needs more defensive work. I agree with a previous statement that you want Harper to come in as an impact player and the timing has to be right. Expect him to come up and struggle as that is what he seems to do at every new level. Can the Nats afford him to acclamate and struggle when they are looking at 2012 as a possible push for post-season?I have seen Harper in 3 nationally televised games and he did nothing but over-swing and look bad. That was in the AFL Finals last year, the All Star Futures game this year and most recently in the AFL Rising Stars game. I honestly expect Harper to struggle at first until he matures to the point of playing his game instead of trying to hit the 500 foot home runs.You also don't want to bring him up and have him struggle so much that he loses confidence. As P2P said…"My largest concern is making sure when Bryce Harper arrives that he is an impact player. Trout failed last year. Anthony Rizzo failed last year. Brandon Belt failed most of last year." Rizzo needs to pick the right time. It may end up September 2012.

  28. Suicide Squeeze - Nov 23, 2011 at 3:23 PM

    I've not seen this angle of the new CBA–the bump up to 22% for Super Two status–discussed anywhere else. Another example of why MZ is among the top baseball analysts around. We are truly lucky. I am grateful and thankful, not only for Mark covering the Nats since the begininng and not some other team, but also because he took a chance to create this blog–and it's spawned a great community. I learn a lot here from Mark and the rest of you.Thank you, Mark and the NI community!GYFNG!Happy Thanksgiving,Jeff

  29. Joe S. - Nov 23, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    To add to NatsJack:The Nationals are going to be a good team in 2012, but probably not a playoff-grade team, and certainly not a championship team. If the Nats acquire a decent CF (1-2 WAR), why add another 3-4 victories by calling Harper up early? It might get you into the playoffs, but the Nationals don't yet have the pitching to get past the early rounds.The Nationals are likely to be a very strong team for a very long time. Why sacrifice a potential championship year in the late 'teens for a first-round playoff loss in 2012? And if you think that Harper is going to go to the Yankees when he is set free, you have another year of trade value out of him.And besides, although Harper may already have a good major league bat, his glove and baserunning aren't very good by AA standards, and are certainly deficient by AAA standards. (AA gets talented raw players; AAA gets less talented players who know the game a lot better.) There is also the character issue. Harper is no Elijah Dukes, but seems to be a bit of a jerk who might grow up in a year or so. According to Boswell, Davey Johnson likes arrogance. But Rizzo may see things a bit differently.

  30. Anonymous - Nov 23, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    Bart – It's the top 22 percent of the players that have between 2 and 3 years of major league experience.

  31. Feel Wood - Nov 23, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    Percentage of those players with more than two but less than three years of service time.

  32. UNTERP - Nov 23, 2011 at 3:50 PM

    This whole idea of delaying Harpo's promotion to the Bigs could end up harming his relationship with Nat's management and keeping him long term and making money. For one, Harpo puts people in the seats and will offset his salary. Two, Harpo might take it as disrespect and will be eager to bolt to the Yankees at first chance whether the Nationals are winning WS or not. To me, if he's ready and the Nationals delay bringing him up, it might amount to being penny wise and a pound foolish…

  33. Souldrummer - Nov 23, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    Mark, I could be wrong but isn't Harper signed to a major league deal so that we lose control of him after 5 years regardless of how long he stays in the minors? I thought that a major league deal provided a cap on how long we had him but the arbitration implications may still be the same. How does a major league deal differ in terms of arbitration and free agent issues.

  34. DL in VA - Nov 23, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    Bart – top 22% just means that say 100 rookies come up to the big league in 2012. They don't all come on the same day necessarily, but are promoted over time. On top of that, some come up for good, but some come up and are later sent back down to AAA. This continues in 2013 and 2014. At the end of 2014, they take a look at how much time in the big leagues those 100 rookies have served. The Super Twos are the 22 players who have served the most time. (Now, 100 is a lot of rookies, so adjust that to be 22% of the actual number of rookies that came in.)Someone correct this is it is inaccurate.

  35. PAY TO PLAY - Nov 23, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    I would like to see Harper get work in during Spring Training in innings 1-3 in mid-March when he can face real MLB starting pitchers who can bring their "A" game.Let's see how Bryce handles facing the real starting pitchers like Josh Johnson on March 9th, Justin Verlander on March 10th, and then follow that up with Chris Carpenter on March 11th!If Bryce Harper can hit the best in baseball, then he is ready. Get your popcorn, and as SteveM says, let your eyes tell you when he is ready.

  36. joemktg - Nov 23, 2011 at 3:57 PM

    Yankees will have to wait until 2019.

  37. Feel Wood - Nov 23, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    Mark, I could be wrong but isn't Harper signed to a major league deal so that we lose control of him after 5 years regardless of how long he stays in the minors?You are wrong. The major league deal just means he's on the 40-man roster and gets paid major league money while he's in the minors. Free agency is based on major league service time. That clock doesn't start running until he's called up. However, if his 5 year contract is up before he's FA eligible, then he goes under arbitration for the rest of the time.

  38. Anonymous - Nov 23, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    NatsJack — "dfh21…. so you'd rather have an 19 yo learning on the job and forfeit what conceivably could be an MVP campaign at age 25? That's brilliant!"Listen, if the kid is ready to be a contributor to the big club now and play every day, a la Griffey, Justin Upton, Fernando, Doc Gooden, Edgar Renteria, Frank Robinson, etc., 19 and 20 yr old guys can succeed at this game and this kid is supposed to be a once every generation or so talent, then the club should seriously consider playing the guy in the bigs now. If he is not ready, then fine, keep him on the farm to learn the job more proficiently. But if he's got an OPS of .950 at 'Cuse as they watch the clock on the wall tick until it is time to have the guy play in DC in order to avoid potentially losing him a year earier but still many years down the line (when they are at least somewhat likely to have tied him up before then should he be a smashing success a la Zim), then that might not be the best approach. dfh21

  39. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 23, 2011 at 4:03 PM

    UNTERP….C'mon… The Nats have already made Bryce the highest paid position player draftee AND given him an MLB roster spot.Ask Anthony Rizzo and Mike Trout to describe their initial experience at the ML level and I believe the word would be "humbling".

  40. UNTERP - Nov 23, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said…I hope so. I don't know what the world looks like from their end…

  41. Anonymous - Nov 23, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    This just give Harper more time at Syracuse to work on his fielding, which was quite shoddy in the AFL.

  42. Steve M. - Nov 23, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    dfh21, you just said part of the correct phrase "IF the kid is ready to be a contributor"Take it a step further, IF the kid is ready to contribute at a level where he belongs. Bernadina can probably contribute more so let's call it as it is that Bryce Harper needs to come up and contribute at a level higher than an average player and learn and prosper. Nobody expects him to come in an be an All Star on day 1. He does have to hold his own and show progress.Contrast that with our very own 2011 Rookie Danny Espinosa. Espinosa got some Sept 2010 callup time and was amazing at first then struggled. In 2011, Espinosa did the same thing. He had one of the best 1st halfs ever for a 2nd baseman and a 2nd half to forget.Bryce overall had a great AFL. He was mostly playing in front of crowds of 500 fans. Like I said before, he seems to get that adrenaline rush during the larger crowds and is just 19 years old. Think about it, 19 years old. Give him time to mature at his pace, not Ken Griffey Jr.

  43. souldrummer - Nov 23, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    @FeelWoodI'm going by this particular item in a Huffington Post article that seems to guarantee Harper a set salary for the five years of his contract. http://huff.to/ss8zjkHarper's contract calls for a signing bonus of $6.25 million in five equal payments of $1.25 million: 30 days after approval and each July 1 from 2011 through 2014. He receives salaries of $500,000 each in 2011 and 2012, $750,000 in 2013, $900,000 in 2014 and $1 million in 2015.

  44. Anonymous - Nov 23, 2011 at 4:23 PM

    surround harper with better players than him and he'll get better. he'll learn more about being a major leaguer from major league players than from minor league coaches. if he's willing he's ready. he doesn't need another 500 minor league at bats. at some point he just needs to play every day with the best. he'll make strike out and make errors just like zimmermann and werth and everyone else in the majors. if there's not a spot for him to play everyday fine, but it's not because he's not good enough. move werth to center. when laroche is gone, rearrange the outfield. we need offense.i'd rather this year be his first full year than try breaking him in when the team finally expects to win. let them grow one year together so next year starts without any questions.-longterm

  45. natsfan1a - Nov 23, 2011 at 4:29 PM

    Haven't had time to read posts or comments of late but catching up with at least posts this a.m.I'm okay with Harper coming up whenever the team deems it's time (ducking and covering now).Speaking of updates on prospects, have we seen an updated pic of Nats Insiders own bonus baby of late? His debut and good health are something for which to be thankful. Also, this blog's hosts and commenters!

  46. Anonymous - Nov 23, 2011 at 4:29 PM

    Steve M — why should we consider Griffey's path out of Harper's reach? Is it not possible that Harper could be the ROY at age 19 in 2012? IF, the big if, he's ready, I just don't want to see the club hold Harper back just to save the money in 20whenever down the road when the kid could help the big club win now and electrify the fanbase in the process.dfh21

  47. Feel Wood - Nov 23, 2011 at 4:34 PM

    souldrummer said… @FeelWoodI'm going by this particular item in a Huffington Post article that seems to guarantee Harper a set salary for the five years of his contract. http://huff.to/ss8zjkNo argument there. But he's still under team control at the end of that contract, which is what you were questioning. If he doesn't sign an extension, his salary after that will be determined in arbitration until he hits free agency. Also, his arbitration salary would include a guaranteed raise over his salary in the 5-year contract.

  48. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 23, 2011 at 4:41 PM

    dfh21…..well first off, Griffey, Jr. wasn't making the switch from catcher to CF. Don't get me wrong. If Bryce has somehow advanced his abilities to handle ML pitching on a daily basis and figured out all the nuances of playing the outfield, I'm all for him progressing to the 25 man roster and contributing and the super 2 be damned….. but… like Bob Boone said… Bryce will SHOW US when he's ready and that will take an extremely impressive ST and 2 solid months of either Harrisburg or Syracuse. And for another couple of weeks, I'd prefer to conserve that extra year of control.

  49. UNTERP - Nov 23, 2011 at 4:45 PM

    Let's be real. Why is everyone dancing around the truth? Harpo is ready right now. OJT as someone mentioned above. Who here really believes he's needs more time down under? Really? I mean, really? This is a business. If I was just a casual baseball fan, you mean I wouldn't go out to the ballpark to see Harpo like I've gone out to see Strasburg? Really?

  50. Natslifer - Nov 23, 2011 at 4:48 PM

    Money-wise, the Lerner's don't care about the $1.7M this year – they care about the $100M – $150M they'd have to start paying 1 year earlier 5 years from now. And more importantly, they want him to be guaranteed to play for us for a full extra year in his prime. And then there's that small matter of figuring out how to play the outfield – how many runs did his 5 errors count for in the AFL? (and there is no way this guy's going to come up and platoon unless it's during September call-ups and there's nothing else for him to do – he's either ready or he's not).I'm happy to trade off 3 months of 2012 for a full guaranteed year down the road.

  51. Steve M. - Nov 23, 2011 at 4:52 PM

    Anonymous said… he doesn't need another 500 minor league at bats. we need offense.i'd rather this year be his first full year than try breaking him in when the team finally expects to win. let them grow one year together so next year starts without any questions.-longterm You don't think this team will believe they can win in 2012 especially with 1 upgrade in the starting rotation and 1 in the outfield?Besides Bryce Harper dominating his 1st few months in Hagerstown and doing well in the AFL, why do you believe he is ready right now? Just curious to hear what you have seen to say that.Keep in mind that the MLB is once again a pitcher dominated league. Repeat again as P2P said…"My largest concern is making sure when Bryce Harper arrives that he is an impact player. Trout failed last year. Anthony Rizzo failed last year. Brandon Belt failed most of last year." The Rookies of the Year in both leagues were pitchers. That doesn't happen too often and may repeat again in 2012.

  52. Steve M. - Nov 23, 2011 at 4:57 PM

    UNTERP said… Let's be real. Why is everyone dancing around the truth? Harpo is ready right now. OJT as someone mentioned above. Who here really believes he's needs more time down under? Really? I mean, really? This is a business. If I was just a casual baseball fan, you mean I wouldn't go out to the ballpark to see Harpo like I've gone out to see Strasburg? Really? November 23, 2011 11:45 AM He is ready right now to look as bad as Brian Bixler. Nobody wants him sitting on the bench learning. In his case, he really has to play everyday.Unless he holds his own facing true starters in Spring Training, then maybe he is ready. The problem with the MLB and the scouting. Even Bryce started strong, they will find his weaknesses and exploit him.

  53. UNTERP - Nov 23, 2011 at 5:02 PM

    Steve M. said… This is my observation of Harpo. He is a hitting genius. He is to hitting a baseball what Mozart was to playing the organ, or Louganis was to diving, or Shakespeare was to writing plays. He is a quick study and plays to the level of his competition or down to it. The other baseball stuff will come and the few errors he'd make in the field or on base will be offset by the offensive number he'll produce.If you don't recognize genius when you see then you haven't been paying attention…

  54. UNTERP - Nov 23, 2011 at 5:04 PM

    If you don't recognize genius when you see it then you haven't been paying attention…

  55. Mark'd - Nov 23, 2011 at 5:06 PM

    It took the scouts a few starts to know pitching Anthony Rizzo up and in was his weakness. The kid looked so bad after his debut vs the Nats that the Padres sent him back to AAA.Why can't everyone assess what they see in Spring Training and then debate it. Based on the current 2012 depth chart, he has to beat out Werth, Morse and Bernadina.

  56. Steve M. - Nov 23, 2011 at 5:07 PM

    Unterp,that was genius and love your optimism. Genius takes time. Lets see what he does in Spring Training against real starters and then let's talk on March 15th.

  57. Natslifer - Nov 23, 2011 at 5:11 PM

    Genius or no, the only question is whether 3 extra months of Bryce Harper will make the difference in getting us to the playoffs in '12. If I'm Rizzo and the Lerners, I wouldn't take the chance that those 3 months will make the difference and risk giving up a full year down the road.

  58. UNTERP - Nov 23, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    Natslifer said…I'll learn to work the saxophoneI play just what I feelDrink Scotch whiskey all night longAnd die behind the wheelThey got a name for the winners in the worldAnd I want a name when I loseThey call Alabama the Crimson TideCall me Deacon Blues –Steely Dan–They are no guarantees in life, Natslifer, except one thing…

  59. UNTERP - Nov 23, 2011 at 5:22 PM

    There are no guarantees in life, Natslifer, except one thing… Can't spell…Or see.

  60. Anonymous - Nov 23, 2011 at 5:49 PM

    Three months is half a season. IF Harper can realistically be expected to be able to play every day in the bigs come April, then I hope they give the kid the chance to be ROY and the club a better chance to compete in 2012.dfh21

  61. yankish2 - Nov 23, 2011 at 6:02 PM

    Okay it's the percentage of players with more than 2 but less than 3 years service.What determines whether it is June 2nd or June 22nd when they can get brought up without giving up a year until arbitration?

  62. Wally - Nov 23, 2011 at 6:02 PM

    Steve M. said…Besides Bryce Harper dominating his 1st few months in Hagerstown and doing well in the AFL, why do you believe he is ready right now? …This is where I come out. AFL pitching is not equal to AA pitching, not on balance anyway. Harper hasn't shown excellence at the AA level yet, and that would be a requirement in my mind before concluding that he is ready for the big club. Unless he holds his own facing true starters in Spring Training, then maybe he is ready. Even this wouldn't sway me, since ST can be so variable. Remember Storen exclusively using his fastball last spring, and getting hammered? No correlation to his season. I think that stuff happens all the time in ST, so the data would be suspect, to me. I think that he has to start in AA again. I don't know that I would require a stop at AAA, but he would at least have to excel at AA before I would call him up. And I hope that the Nats won't delay his arrival based on Super Two status, because it is just a few million in a situation where he is playing great and so I am fine with him getting paid. In general, I really dislike the whole Super Two thing, because I think the net effect is that we, the fans, aren't seeing the best players.But I certainly hope that they make sure to time it so that we get another year of control. I do think Bryce is gone when his control years are up, so that extra year is very important.

  63. Feel Wood - Nov 23, 2011 at 6:11 PM

    What determines whether it is June 2nd or June 22nd when they can get brought up without giving up a year until arbitration?That can't be determined in advance. The clubs are just guessing, because it's not until a couple of years after the fact that the Super Two list for a given year is determined. The rule of thumb for having a better chance of guessing correctly is the later, the better.

  64. Gonat - Nov 23, 2011 at 6:30 PM

    Wally said… Steve M. said…Unless he holds his own facing true starters in Spring Training, then maybe he is ready. Even this wouldn't sway me, since ST can be so variable. Remember Storen exclusively using his fastball last spring, and getting hammered? No correlation to his season. I think that stuff happens all the time in ST, so the data would be suspect, to me. November 23, 2011 1:02 PM _________________________________ Wally, if Bryce Harper can hit Josh Johnson, Justin Verlander and Chris Carpenter for quality hits, he is ready. Those guys are veterans not working on new pitches and will challenge Harper with the full arsenal. This is why those innings 1-3 is so important in Spring Training. The latter innings with relievers, and minor leaguers and fringe MLBers isn't a true test.If he can't handle the true MLBers in ST, then it is a moot point and probably a moot point anyway.Wally, many think he will start off in AAA not AA. I agree with the statment to watch ST and go from there.

  65. Anonymous - Nov 23, 2011 at 6:40 PM

    Based on Boswell's recent remarks it could be fairly certain that Davey Johnson wants to finish Harper's education under his tutelage. And not risk him to any further minor league damage. Keeping Harper in AAA or AA for that period might help them in more than one area:1. They could figure out what to do with LaRoche/Morse/etc. to make space for Harper. If a trade hasn't occurred.2. The super-two issue.The question Mark needs to answer at some point, and not dodge the bullet again … is what happens if Davey Johnson decides Harper makes the team out of spring training and tells Rizzo and ownership he needs Harper to win. Not just .500 but beyond? Inquiring minds want to know!

  66. BigCat - Nov 23, 2011 at 6:43 PM

    Here a question. What do you think Werth would hit in the AFL…..or Bernadina? Bet neither would hit over .300. If the kid did well in ST, I would start him opening day.

  67. Anonymous - Nov 23, 2011 at 6:43 PM

    Natslifer said…Genius or no, the only question is whether 3 extra months of Bryce Harper will make the difference in getting us to the playoffs in '12. If I'm Rizzo and the Lerners, I wouldn't take the chance that those 3 months will make the difference and risk giving up a full year down the road.And what happens if Davey Johnson says he makes it and wants to start him and tells Rizzo and ownership he needs him to win. Do you risk the fallout from saying no? "Not on your life" as Riggleman would say.

  68. Anonymous - Nov 23, 2011 at 6:52 PM

    John C said:My objections to Upton, however, stand :)That's because you aren't looking at the big picture; apparently Natsjack has. A deal that brings both Shields and Upton to the Nats is almost tailor-made for the Nats. The only caveat is Upton doesn't have a left-handed bat.Perhaps you are right about Upton? Rizzo doesn't think so, not sure what Davey Johnson thinks be interesting to find out. But, it doesn't matter. Upton would give the team time to develop potential CF prospects from within. Although the new CBA could clearly hamper those efforts as it even extends to International Signings. If the Nats could sign the Cuban and develop 2 – 3 prospects like Michael Taylor … The Nats still need time to develop their farm system especially where good fielding outfielders are concerned. Upton could buy them plenty of time or become a semi-permanent solution.

  69. Wally - Nov 23, 2011 at 7:00 PM

    Gonat- I hear you. There is logic there, but it still isn't persuasive to me. Here are some spring training ERAs for 2011/2010:Josh Johnson – 4.95/5.82Verlander – 0.96/5.48Carpenter – 5.19/5.40Doc – 0.42/4.00My only point is that players use ST for different purposes, so I don't think it is a reliable data set for deciding whether Harper is ready. Maybe a bullpen role, or utility infielder, or occasionally a fight between two guys that are pretty evenly matched. Ok, ST can decide that. But whether the best position prospect in a while is ready for the pro's I think should be decided on his performance at other levels. Harrisburg and the AFL are great, but in his case and given his age, I think seeing him do it at AA or AAA would be necessary (for me). I am also not sure why we would need to rush him.And I am indifferent if he repeats AA or AAA. With the way that AAA has evolved, I see them as roughly comparable.

  70. Anonymous - Nov 23, 2011 at 7:01 PM

    I do think Bryce is gone when his control years are up, so that extra year is very important.If Rizzo, the Lerners, and Boras are still involved I sincerely doubt it. By then he could be one of the leaders on a World Series winning franchise. The first in DC in 4 score and 10 years? You could point at Boston, or even the Cubbies but the difference is they fielded winners they just didn't go all the way. The NL and AL Nats typically fielded pathetic last place teams. Hell, a play was created based on the concept of the Nats perennial losing! Damn Yankees. So, would it be be bigger than Boston and the Cubbies? It just might be a whole lot bigger.

  71. Anonymous - Nov 23, 2011 at 7:15 PM

    As I understand it, this issue of Super 2 status should not affect Bryce Harper at all, because he's already under contract for 2015. Arbitration should only affect a player that does not have a contract for that year — point being that Harper has already agreed to play in 2015 for $1M.

  72. Anonymous - Nov 23, 2011 at 7:17 PM

    As to the question of him becoming a free agent one year earlier if he starts with the club on opening day, this is a factor. However, one would hope that if he lives up to even a good percentage of his hype and potential, that the Nat would sign him to a long-term contract before the end of 2017.

  73. Anonymous - Nov 23, 2011 at 7:18 PM

    Hmmm maybe we should ask how it affects Harper on hangingsliders …

  74. Eugene in Oregon - Nov 23, 2011 at 7:22 PM

    Steve M. @ 11: 18 wrote: "Nobody expects him [Harper] to come in and be an All Star on day 1."Actually, if you read through this thread, a number of knowledgable folks do indeed expect stardom from day one. Words and expressions like 'hitting genius' and 'Rookie of the Year' are being thrown around by folks who follow baseball closely. Imagine the crowd who only know that Harper was on a Sports Illustrated cover boy before he was 18, was drafted number one after lighting up (junior) college pitchers, and hits prodigious home runs that circulated as YouTube must-sees. Many of us will be willing to cut a rookie some slack, but much of baseball fandom — both in DC and throughout the country — will expect all-star-level production from day one.And I think Mr. Rizzo and Mr. Johnston both understand that and will handle things accordingly. Which, in my mind, means calling him up when he (Mr. Harper) is ready to perform at a very high level, not bringing him to Washington from Spring Training just to fill seats or (possibly, no guarantees) win an extra three or four games over the first half of the season. There will be a number of variables in their equation, including how the team is doing as of June 1, what sort of finish seems realistic both with and without Mr. Harper, how Mr. Harper is doing offensively, how Mr. Harper is progressing defensively, how Mr. Harper is maturing, and — of course — the Super Two-related questions of arbitration and free agency eligibility. That will be a very complicated calculation, which I suspect will be much harder to make with Mr. Harper than it was with Mr. Strasburg (particularly the maturity — i.e., is he ready to handle the pressure? — aspect. And I know that lots of folks who follow and post on this blog will be debating all those variables for at least another six months, if not more. Happy Thanksgiving!

  75. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 23, 2011 at 7:35 PM

    I'll say it one more time because I've heard the man say it. Bob Boone – "BRYCE WILL SHOW US WHEN HE IS READY".And, so far, all he's shown is that he needs more work. Mike Rizzo – "WE WANT HIM TO EXPERIENCE SUCCESS AT EACH LEVEL."

  76. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 23, 2011 at 7:38 PM

    And for those who think Davey Johnson will trump Rizzo… forget it. It will be an organizational decision with several more than just those two involved.

  77. Anonymous - Nov 23, 2011 at 7:39 PM

    Eugene in Oregon:And I think Mr. Rizzo and Mr. Johnston both understand that and will handle things accordingly. Kind of patronizing? I don't think anyone expects Harper to be a star immediately. But you appear to not read Tom Boswell's Chat commentaries which appear weekly on Monday. Tom Boswell has known Davey Johnson for a few decades now. How long have you known him?IN any case YES Harper will make a ton of mistakes just like Desmond did (remember?). BUT Johnson wants to be the only manager to further Harper's education at this point. Johnson thinks he is the smartest man in baseball, and he is likely very close that pinnacle if he is not. Johnson firmly believes he is a better at developing top prospects for winning teams.What does that mean? Think about it. Johnson called up all of those players from AAA in September without asking Rizzo. They are going to work together but Johnson is going to determine where Bryce Harper needs to be. Boswell appears to believethat Johnson has already determined that its right near him … in many cases it may be IN THE DUGOUT. Its likely why they have interest in players like Carlos Quentin. Harper might not play a full year starting. Just like AAA except Johnson, Porter, etc. will be the mentors. I personally suspect the same will happen to Anthony Rendon if he proves to be as good as Scott Boras believes he is. Point is: AAA may now be a talent pool of backup players in case of injury. The next level after AA is tutelage with Davey and his coaches in the majors for the better young prospects.

  78. Gonat - Nov 23, 2011 at 7:40 PM

    Eugene, I guess those that expect a meteoric rise to super stardom from Bryce Harper may be disappointed if he isn't a Fred Lynn in his Rookie season and doesn't win more MVPs than Barry Bonds over his career.I am hoping for the words used above, an "impact" player for the Nats. Anything above that is icing on the cake, like a perennial All Star and MVP.

  79. Anonymous - Nov 23, 2011 at 7:45 PM

    And Natsjack? Johnson doesn't "trump" Rizzo. What he does is convince Rizzo that he is better at developing young talent than anyone else in the Nats system. Johnson believes he is better than AAA Syracuse.Are you going to argue with that? Probably.But, I doubt that Rizzo will, I sure as heck wouldn't. Johnson is going to convince Rizzo by telling him that he has done this before. And you know what Natsjack HE HAS. Harper isn't going to be a star … he is going to be a raw rookie-in-training if he succeeds in making the 24-man roster.

  80. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 23, 2011 at 8:00 PM

    No argument from me. The way things were done in 1986 aren't quite the same way they are done in 2012. Even Davey acknowledges that.

  81. Unkyd - Nov 23, 2011 at 8:05 PM

    Here's a point that, I think, has only been addressed obliquely: many of us here, believe that Our Nats are in the hunt for the WC this year, and hope to compete for the Whole Thing, in '13. From that perspective, wouldn't we like to see Harper take as many of his lumps as possible, in '12, the better to hit the ground running, in '13? I'm thinking, whatever tack has Him as ready as possible, opening day '13, is how we should fluff our sails, no? A Sept. callup would barely get his feet wet, and having him up from the git, this coming spring, while prolly painful, for the first couple of months, could yield a Rakin' Baby Boppo, by years end…. The Kid seems to be able to play up to whatever level you put him at…

  82. Gonat - Nov 23, 2011 at 8:13 PM

    Anonymous said… Harper isn't going to be a star … he is going to be a raw rookie-in-training if he succeeds in making the 24-man roster. November 23, 2011 2:45 PM _________________________________Did the new CBA eliminate a player? I thought it was the 25-man roster.

  83. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 23, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    And 26 for double headers.

  84. Eugene in Oregon - Nov 23, 2011 at 9:09 PM

    Anon @ 2:39 p.m.,I do, in fact, read Mr. Boswell's chats, including the one you cite. And I agree with you that Mr. Johnson will have a significant say (perhaps the most significant say) in where Mr. Harper's locker is located come April 2011. Mr. Johnson does, indeed, have much more influence and impact than most field managers are allowed these days by their GMs. But for a player like Mr. Harper, Mr. Johnson won't make the decision by himself.Having read those chats — and lots of other stories, columns, blog posts, quotes, and a fair bit of baseball history over the years — I think that Mr. Johnson and Mr. Rizzo will consider all those various factors I previously mentioned in making a series of decisions (not least whether Mr. Harper starts the season in the majors or the minors). I don't think making that point that is patronizing to anyone, but perhaps I'm mistaken. If so, I humbly apologize to whomever it was that I may have patronized.Where I differ with you is on the question of expectations. Mr. Harper is not Mr. Desmond. Mr. Harper is, in effect, 'the chosen one' and will carry with him huge expectations of performance, even stardom. Some folks will cut him some slack, but many people won't. He will be under much more of a microscope than any recent rookie, including Strasburg. And I think both Mr. Johnson and Mr. Rizzo will factor that into their overall calculation, i.e., how will Mr. Harper handle those expectations, that hype, and the 24/7 attention. To be clear, I'm not suggesting that's the single most important variable they'll consider. And I'm not suggesting that they will necessarily decide he can't handle such constant attention. But I think it's an important element within the broader, multi-variable equation.Finally, to answer your personal question to me: no, I don't know Mr. Johnson personally, although I've been following his career as both a player and a manager since he was with the O's in the late 1960s. I have tremendous respect for him and for the career he's had. And it's precisely because of that respect that I give him the credit for making — along with Mr. Rizzo — a considered decision about Mr. Harper's future.

  85. Gonat - Nov 23, 2011 at 9:32 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… And 26 for double headers. November 23, 2011 3:20 PM _____________________________Good point, "like" the spot pitcher rule!

  86. Feel Wood - Nov 23, 2011 at 10:34 PM

    Hey Eugene, how old are you anyway, that you're calling a 19 year old who can't even grow a decent mustache "Mister"?

  87. Anonymous - Nov 24, 2011 at 1:57 AM

    I'm not suggesting that's the single most important variable they'll consider. And I'm not suggesting that they will necessarily decide he can't handle such constant attention. And like Johnson's bullpen: bullpen A and bullpen B he has a lineup A and lineup B and probably relies on both in critical situations. I think that's what got Davey in trouble with Malone in LA. He likes to use the young raw talent on his "B" squad. Develop them by letting them make mistakes and then coaching them on how to correct them. I know it sounds like the minors as Rizzo made a point of making in 2010. But Boz seems to think Davey believes he is the very best at developing young talent and creating winning rosters. It works well with a professional scout like Rizzo who is undeniable better at finding the talent. But just as important? Player Development. At some point who is better at developing budding superstars like Strasburg, Harper, and soon Anthony Rendon in the final stages of their training? Is it the baseball intellect and former AllStar Johnson? Or the minor league staff the Nationals currently have? If Harper is on the "B" squad and doesn't start or only starts 50% of the time? While learning the fine points of fielding? Does it matter if its in the majors or Syracuse? He's under the microscope in either locale. The only advantage Harrisburg or SYR MIGHT have IMO given your concern might be that Rendon would be there too to take some of that spotlight off the guy's gaffes? Rendon is the more polished player and a superior fielder by all accounts. I think its fine if Davey decides to bring him up to train himself with the help of the coaching staff that he and Rizzo both selected. All (except Porter) Nats organization men. This is Davey. He isn't going to dub Harper Ted Williams bat him third and expect him to lead the team to the playoffs. I think Harper will ride the pine more than enough and be asked to watch, to learn, and then get tested by men who know their stuff. That's why Davey like's big hairy chested guys on the bench next to him. Like Carlos Quentin. He isn't going to allow the whole season rely on Harper if he is busy finishing his development. I think he is too smart for that.

  88. Anonymous - Nov 24, 2011 at 4:58 AM

    Hmmm well so far all the pundits (Mark, Kilgore, Chase Hughes, etc) were all completely wrong about Grady Sizemore.I suspect they are going to be wrong about Harper.And as for lead-off? There still is a guy named Steve Lombardozzi who just won a minor league gold glove. And Davey Johnson is just the sort of manager to try him in that spot … just as he tried a guy named Alex Cora (at shortstop in Dodger Blue land) raising the ire of then GM Frank Milone. Will he raise Rizzo's ire? Seems highly unlikely since Rizzo is very big on manager's who can finish the development of his prized prospects. That was one of the criteria which he mentioned when asked about on his thoughts as far as re-upping Jim Riggleman. So, Rizzo now appears to now have a perfect fit at manager given his thinking and where the club is currently. Sure progress has been made in the farm system … but it is very top heavy with top draft picks … there isn't much in the way of real depth. But, rare exceptions have appeared in the form of Derrek Norris, Bradley Peacock and Steve Lombardozzi. Who better than Johnson to finish their development while working with the 'top-heavy' prospects? Would Johnson put Lombardozzi at the top of the batting order? You bet he would. But he wouldn't be his only option and he might be a part of his "B" squad.So, do the CF AND lead-off spot intersect? Does the CF have to lead off? No. Not with Lombardozzi and perhaps Anthony Rendon in the wings. Plus there's still Desmond.In the end it sure looks to me like Natsjack's suspicions about a pending trade with Tampa Bay might end up being the real story. If the Nats could manage this they might solve almost all of their 2011 lineup issues while opening up critical spots for close-to-the-majors prospects. It sure seems like both teams could benefit from each other and clearly the Nats would have to surrender more than most would like to get what they need … making TB, already the wealthiest franchise prospect-wise, even wealthier. Yet not financially having a very small market philosophy and payroll. Strange twist that?

  89. Anonymous - Nov 24, 2011 at 5:16 AM

    MLBTR projected salaries for 2 potential TB Rays non-tender players:David Price – $7.8MMB.J. Upton – $7.6MMCurrent salary for James Shields:2012 ends a 5 year $17.5 million contract: $3.3 million/yr. As far as Upton Bowden risked a lot more on Austin Kearns.

  90. Anonymous - Nov 24, 2011 at 5:23 AM

    Projected Arbitration salaries for Nats players who might be decent trade bait for TB:John Lannan – $4.9MMMichael Morse – $3.9MMTom Gorzelanny – $2.8MMTyler Clippard – $1.7MMJesus Flores – $800KPlus Ian Desmond: $442KPlus prospects of interest on the 40-man:Derek Norris, Tyler Moore, Brad Peacock, Chris Marerro, Steve Lombardozzi, Jhonatan Solano, Tom Milone, Ross Detwiler.

  91. Slidell - Nov 24, 2011 at 11:53 AM

    On another note:Wilson went 3 for 5 last evening for his Venezuelan squad. I'll bet that will give his confidence a boost.

  92. Natslifer - Nov 24, 2011 at 12:26 PM

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Took the kids bowling yesterday and missed all the fun. Anon – love your music taste but I'll take my investment advice elsewhere. But as I always say, these debates are much more fun to have than whether we'll finish last or 2cnd to last!Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 91 64 --
ATLANTA 76 78 14.5
NEW YORK 75 80 16.0
MIAMI 74 81 17.0
PHILADELPHIA 71 84 20.0
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Sunday's early games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (4) 91 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 88 67 3.0
ST. LOUIS 87 68 4.0
-------------------------
SAN FRANCISCO 84 70 6.5 +0.5
PITTSBURGH 84 71 7.0 --
MILWAUKEE 80 76 11.5 4.5
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Sunday's early games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
MON: OFF
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Marlins at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Marlins at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

Follow us on Twitter