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Tuesday morning tidbits

Aug 13, 2013, 10:00 AM EST

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Catching up on some things after a couple of days off…

— By almost every measure other than won-loss record, Stephen Strasburg has been better this season than in either of his two previous "full" seasons: 2010 and 2012. (Yes, I know neither of those actually was a full season, but I'm just trying to refer to everything other than his abbreviated 2011, when he made only five starts after returning from Tommy John surgery.)

Strasburg's ERA (2.83), WHIP (1.039) and hits allowed (6.7 per nine innings) all are better this year than in '10 or '12, but perhaps the most significant sign of his progress is this simple one: He's throwing more innings than ever before.

Indeed, Strasburg is average 6.36 innings per start this season. Compare that to his 5.69 mark in 2012 and his 5.67 mark in 2010. And Strasburg's number this year is skewed a bit by a pair of two-inning starts (May 31 when he strained his lat muscle inRead more »

  1. Joe Seamhead - Aug 13, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    Welcome back, Mark, and hope that you had a great birthday!

  2. Unknown - Aug 13, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    Happy belated birthday, Mark!

  3. Joe Seamhead - Aug 13, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    One other Danny Espinosa oddity is that he's had 10 errors at Syracuse, more than he's had in any entire season since 2010.

  4. JayB - Aug 13, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    Drew, Danny both suffer not from lack of physical talent but poor mental make up. Rizzo missed on both from that aspect but recall both are college draftees. They were tops of their teams and they did not future MLB talent day after day in college. Also recall that Drew was the "signable" cheap pick in the post Crow, Strasburg draft year. He should never have been drafted that high. It went to his head and he has never faced the reality that he may never be a closer and might just well be out of baseball soon with his mental make up.

  5. SCNatsFan - Aug 13, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    JayB he has been a closer so to say he may never be a closer is incorrect. He knows he can get back but the oad won't be as easy this time.

  6. bowdenball - Aug 13, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    Re: Espinosa-A third round pick who gives you a 3.4 WAR season and a 32 WAR season and is still a trade-able asset at a minimum is NOT a miss. Only 34% of guys picked in rounds 3-5 even make the majors, and only 10% of them play 450 games at that level (Danny is currently at 390). Even if he were a second rounder, less than 50% of them make the big leagues and only 16% play in 450 games. Here's the numbers, which anyone could find if they bothered to take 30 seconds to look: could retire this afternoon and he would still have given the Nationals an above-average return based on his draft spot. Anyone who says differently has a very limited understanding of how the MLB draft and player development usually work.

  7. Tcostant - Aug 13, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    David Proctor said both of these… MLB Network earlier was pondering the idea of Mike Scoscia to the Nats, if he were to get fired. …Google shows that the Nationals were indeed in on Cespedes. It's not clear how far their interest went, but they brought him in for a workout and seemed to be high on him. I don't remember that all. Me – I've been saying a while that Mike Scoscia is a good fit here. The Angles seem to be sick of him, but not willing to pay all that money to fire him. It might be worth a call by Rizzo at season's end, to see if something can be worked out. Rizzo might have to send only a non-prosect (or even nothing like when the A's let Art Howe go to the Mets), because what the Angles are really getting is getting out of that contract. Do not rule this out.On Cespedes, I remember the Nationals working him out, but deciding the price was to high, similar to Yu Darvish. Interesting the reason that the A's got him, was they were the only one who allowed him to be a free agent after only four years at the end of his contract.

  8. karlkolchak - Aug 13, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    Bringing up Cepedes raises another issue. Where are the international signings? This summer has been an IFA bonanza yet the Nationals, who supposedly have money to spend and whose attendance is way up, have scarcely been mentioned. After giving up their first round pick to sign Soriano, I figured they would be IFA "players" this year. No such luck so far.But hey, at least 27-year-old "Smiley" hit a home run for the GCL-Nats a couple of weeks ago.

  9. Tcostant - Aug 13, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    Well Cuba's best hitter, Jose Dariel Abreu is in play now. If you think Zimmerman canb stay at 3B, then he might be in play.

  10. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 13, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    Abreu is going to cost more than either Cespides or Puig. That will be one tough bidding war.

  11. TexNat - Aug 13, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    Yeah, as much as I want the Nats to upgrade their offense, I'm not sure that Puig is worth the risk. It's the can-you-really-trust-Zim-at-3rd factor that pushes me over the top towards opposing the signing. Zim and Puig cannot play on the same team if Zim is playing first. So you would have to believe that Zim could play third not only next year, but for the entirety of the Puig contract.Adding that on top of the risk of splashing that much cash on a guy who has zero MLB at bats is just not worth it to me.If they are going to make a huge signing, I'd prefer they bite the bullet and sign Cano. Though I recognize than neither are likely.

  12. Muddy - Aug 13, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    Another very good outing last night from Blake Swartz at Potomac. At Hagerstown Blake's ERA and WHIP were 1.26 and 0.91 and now at Potomac they're 2.73 and 1.08, respectively; and he's 10-4. Combine that with Mooneyham and Purke's work at Hagerstown and with Taylor Hill and AJ Cole and Robbie Ray and Karns and Solis, not to mention Taylor Jordan, and the Nats minor league pitching is looking mighty promising. They won't need a $13 million vet of questionable worth in 2014 IMO.

  13. Faraz Shaikh - Aug 13, 2013 at 2:26 PM

    Besides Jordan, i don't think anyone is ready to contribute in 2014. Also Det's health requires us to get a fifth pitcher through FA or trade.

  14. Tcostant - Aug 13, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    Faraz Shaikh said… Besides Jordan, i don't think anyone is ready to contribute in 2014. Also Det's health requires us to get a fifth pitcher through FA or trade. Me: I think Karns will be in play for 2014, he has pitched well since his sup of coffee in the bigs. He has major league stuff.

  15. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 13, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    Yes . Karns is definitely in play for 2014. And let's see what the Big Dorf has in store for us after his next rehab start.

  16. Pilchard - Aug 13, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    Karns seems the most likely candidate for a call-up when Jordan gets shutdown and/or the Nats trade Haren. This will essentially constitute his interview for spots 4 and 5 in the Nats 2014 rotation. Agree the Nats have some promising arms in the system, but other than Karns none look to be ready in 2014. I don't see the Nats heading into next season with Karns, Jordan and Det as the only candidates for the last two spots in the rotation. So, the Nats will pick up a veteran for at least one spot in the rotation.

  17. bowdenball - Aug 13, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    The thoughts on Karns, Jordan and Ohlendorf are good ones, and a useful reminder that there's no reason to worry about rotation depth. Remember how it was seen as a huge weakness of the Nats if any of the 5 guys who started the season in the rotation went down? So much for that. If you've got good scouts, a good coaching staff and a decent defense, you don't need to worry about your #6 and #7 starters. Someone will emerge.

  18. Faraz Shaikh - Aug 13, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    as much as i have enjoyed jordan's performance, I wouldn't be too comfortable handing over 4th and 5th roles to him and karns (considering det is still struggling with injuries). you need depth and they can be exactly that when Nats go after someone from outside the organization.

  19. bowdenball - Aug 13, 2013 at 3:04 PM

    I agree Faraz, but those guys are decent backup plans, right? That was my point- if your organization top to bottom does its job well there will always be viable backup plans emerging, even if you can't name them in March.

  20. Theophilus T. S. - Aug 13, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    Given Rizzo's record with Cubans, and in some respects the record of Cubans generally, I'm not wildly in favor of spending a lot of money on Abreu, espec. after hearing him compared to Ryan Howard. Just raising the subject, however, moves me closer to the ledge of thinking Z'man is not only a fiscal millstone (and not just an albatross) but a roster millstone in that for the foreseeable future Rizzo has to find a position for a $16-$17MM a year player who may be slouching toward obsolescence.I'm going to be grousing about this throughout the offseason, until Z'man shows up at ST in physical and mental condition to play baseball.

  21. JD - Aug 13, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    Muddy,1) Purke and Solis are 23 and 25 years old respectively and are both still struggling with health and with A+ lineups.2)Shwartz is having a nice year but is almost 24 and still at A+.3)Hill and Karns are fringy prospects who may or may not ever succeed in the show.4)Ray is hanging in there at AA and is not quite 22, interesting prospect but he was never considered top of the rotation material.5) Cole has the best pure stuff of the guys you mentioned and has actually pitched better at AA than he did at A+ and he's only 21. He has however been very lucky at AA with a .188 BABIP, that's not happening in the long term.6) Jordan could well slot in at the bottom of our rotation next year but it's still 50/50 if he's the real deal. Remember other pitchers like Martis and Atilano looked real good for quite a while. The trick is how well they do after they face lineups a few times. So I agree with Faraz. We will still need a 1 year rental if we plan to contend next year.

  22. Theophilus T. S. - Aug 13, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    Jordan's last outing further convinces me he is a year if not more away from being a regular rotation member on a contending team. (There is a chicken or egg question about how he is a member of the rotation on this team.) He has a FB and an OK change-up and not much of anything else and runs into not just squalls but severe storms because he can't do it with just those two pitches. His BB record is good but, without swing-and-miss stuff, there is such a thing as throwing too many strikes.At the same time, the Nats have (including Jordan) maybe six pitchers at AAA or AA who could become starters in the major leagues at some point and there is a reasonable statistical probability that one of them is going to show up in ST ready to make a big leap forward. The years of rent-an-arms are coming to an end.

  23. livernonions - Aug 13, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    Can't we just figure out a way to get Shairon Martis back?

  24. Section 222 - Aug 13, 2013 at 3:38 PM

    Rent an arm may be coming to an end, but not next year. Jordan has shown promise, so has Karns to a some extent, but if Rizzo is planning to cobble together #4 and #5 from those two plus 'Dorf and the injury prone Det, I don't think he's serious about a playoff contending rotation.

  25. karlkolchak - Aug 13, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    JD – good summation, but I would add that as a hard thrower Karns looks like he may well eventually be destined for the bullpen.The Nats have a lot of nice young arms in their system, but at this point none of those on that list, including Jordan, should be counted on as long term rotation answers. JD is right that with an under the radar guy like Jordan it could be a case of the league just not having caught up with him yet. If just one of those guys ends up as a long term rotation mainstay, that will represent a success.The ace-apparent in the Nats' system remains Giolito, but he is at least another two years away from coming to DC assuming all continues to go well with his rehab.

  26. Theophilus T. S. - Aug 13, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    If the Nats are really, really lucky, Giolito starts next year @ Hagerstown and works his way to H'burg by the end of the season. Depends on what kind of an innings limit they put on him. More likely he tops out for 2014 at Potomac, then Then a year of H'burg before they can think seriously about bringing him to the ML. In order for it to make sense for the ML club, they need to be confident he can go 150 or so innings in a season. Nobody likes going thru these mid-season shutdowns.

  27. JD - Aug 13, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    karlkolchak, Giolito is more than 2 years away; He just turned 19 and just came back from TJ. If he handles A ball (Hagerstown) next year that will be a big success for him and may put him on a 3 year path to the show but 4 is still more likely. I still think Cole can be good. Sec 222, I agree with Karns as a potential bullpen guy.

  28. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 13, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    I am hopeful that the Nats have the pieces in place internally for the starting rotation and spend the money on a legit corner outfielder as a 4th outfielder and make sure he is RH.MLBTR is also picking up off of Ladson talking about a position switch for RZim. That UZR stat of RZim giving up 15 more runs than an average 3rd baseman over his 100 games at 3rd is awful.

  29. Doc - Aug 13, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    Interesting tidbits, Mark.And happy belated birthday MarkMeister!Like Jack Benny, I don't celebrate birthdays anymore–kinda stuck on 39! Saving on the candles and cake!

  30. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Aug 13, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    Ten errors for Danny at SYR? OMG. That was his one saving grace, his fielding. Prediction: never plays another game for the Nats. Throw-in bait for a trade. Houston, hopefully, as compensation for Bringing Back Bo.

  31. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 13, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    Danny will be back in September. Rizzo has to showcase him.

  32. Faraz Shaikh - Aug 13, 2013 at 5:13 PM

    no way rizzo trades him away for a manager.

  33. waddu eye no - Aug 13, 2013 at 6:10 PM

    let's bring soscia AND frank robinson. and watch 'em fight.gyfng

  34. JayB - Aug 13, 2013 at 10:31 PM

    Danny for Bo is a great trade even if Nats use Bo as a 3rd base coach.

  35. natsfan1a - Aug 14, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    Pine tar rumble? It's on!waddu eye no said… let's bring soscia AND frank robinson. and watch 'em fight. gyfng August 13, 2013 2:10 PM





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