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‘Baseball in the District’ – Bob Nightengale and Matt Skole

Jul 24, 2014, 10:14 AM EDT

Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

On this week’s episode, Tim Murray of ESPN 980 and I brought in two excellent guests in USA Today national baseball writer Bob Nightengale and Harrisburg Senators infielder Matt Skole, one of the Nationals’ top prospects.

Nightengale gave us a preview of the 2014 trade deadline and what he thinks both the Nationals and their rivals will do. He also shared some insight on what the Nats will need to do in August and September to win the NL East. Skole talked about his season and his recovery from Tommy John surgery last year.

Before bringing in our guests, Tim and I discussed whether the Nats are the best team in the National League, what they should do with Steven Souza, Jr. and who needs to step up in their pitching staff during the upcoming pennant race.

Check it out right here:

You can also listen to the show on ESPN 980’s website or download it on iTunes.

  1. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    Here’s my take, the Nats are moving Ryan Zimmerman to 1st base next year and Rendon to 3rd base which will leave an opening at 2nd base long-term. Desi is signed thru 2015.

    If the Nats can find a middle infielder who can also play SS and be more than 2 years under team control, that would be a good bridge.

    Starlin Castro could be that guy if he would suck it up and play 2nd base. He signed to a very team friendly deal that has him under contract and signed thru 2019 with a team option for 2020. His average salary for the next 5 years is just over $8 million.

    Castro has his issues as a SS. He’s been called lazy, stupid, and has had some hustle issues and clubhouse issues. The Cubs have talked about getting rid of him. He had an awful 2013. 2014 is a nice bounce-back. Not sure how he was named an All Star but would he accept a 2nd base assignment?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2014 at 10:48 AM

      BTW, Castro doesn’t hit well in Chicago but he sure does on the road: .283/.342/.466/.807

      • nats128 - Jul 24, 2014 at 10:53 AM

        Would Theo Epstien take back Hairston for Castro.

        I really like that idea. You could actually give Castro a choice of 3rd base or 2nd base.

      • jd - Jul 24, 2014 at 11:37 AM

        What makes this even more intriguing is that the Cubs just acquired several top middle infield prospects from Oakland in the Samardza trade. I don’t think Castro is part of the Cubs future.

        Epstein does drive a hard bargain though. I can see him insisting on major league ready talent like Cole and Souza and I don’t know if I’d do that. I think Cole could very well take JZimm’s spot if we can’t lock him up.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2014 at 12:12 PM

        jd, exactly. I know he’s available on the QT. When they got Addison Russell, it made Starlin Castro available and I bet they’d take Espinosa as part of the deal.

        Yes, AJ Cole and Giolito are off-limits. I would trade Souza for a player like Castro.

      • jd - Jul 24, 2014 at 11:43 AM

        ghost,

        Upon reflection I don’t love the idea mainly because Castro hits right handed. If Zim moves to 1st next year and especially if Span is not retained we can have an every day lineup all hitting right handed with the exception of Harper.

        I really think we need a 2nd baseman who hits left or switch.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2014 at 12:14 PM

        jd, this entire lineup in 2015 could be right-handed except for Bryce. If guys hit, they hit.

        I also think Span is very close to having earned a spot on 2015.

        Also, you get Skole to be RZim’s guy on the bench to spell him some days off.

    • Theophilus T.S. - Jul 24, 2014 at 11:01 AM

      Lazy, stupid, hustle and clubhouse issues . . .. This is what you want?

      Didn’t watch/listen to the program. I hate watching talking heads on the Internet. The subject of Matt Skole is interesting, however (he said, without knowing the content of the discussion). Nats’ decision to keep Skole at 3B this season seems almost prescient. I could speculate that he might be — in his second post-TJ season — able to give them .250 and 14 HR at the ML level, solve the IF problem for at least the short term.

      • Smyrcok - Jul 24, 2014 at 11:13 AM

        Skole or Walters could be used as a bandaid to bridge the gap to Zim’s return if he’s out 2-3 weeks. If Zim is out for a month+, maybe even 2 months, which it sounds like, I think we need to make a move. A division title and everything that comes along with it is on the line. With a trade though you create a serious log jam once Zim returns, on top of the awkward log jam we were already dealing with. We need that offense though.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 24, 2014 at 11:18 AM

        Theo

        It’s a podcast–just audio. So if you click on the player above, you hear the conversation and see a still photo of Nats stadium.

        Or you can download it to the portable device of your choice and listen while you drive, exercise, etc etc. (my preferred choice).

        Haven’t listened this week, and so don’t know what they say about Skole.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2014 at 12:10 PM

        Theo, the Nats have no problem childs except Bryce Harper. Could they absorb a talent like Starlin Castro and make him into a model citizen. I think he’s a better teammate then what BJ Upton was advertised as.

      • nats128 - Jul 24, 2014 at 12:24 PM

        The change of scenery for attitude works. It doesnt work to expect they will get better as a player. BJ Upton actually got worse as a player and just always looks pissed off.

        Ghost, do you think Starlin Castro is on Rizzo’s radar?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2014 at 12:37 PM

        nats128, timing is everything. I threw out the name Chase Headley before and he’s off the market now in a trade to the Yankees. Like you said Castro could maybe play 3rd and leave Rendon at 2nd.

        I think they could absorb him and he becomes a huge insurance policy if Desi walked.

        Utley is nice but the Phoolies want too much and he is old and expensive. Good points brought up about the pros/cons of Aaron Hill. There isn’t much out there in a “sure thing”. Darwin Barney isn’t an upgrade over Espinosa.

  2. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    Starlin Castro kills the NL East except for the Nats and Braves:

    42 PAs Marlins Park
    .357 .357 .524 .881

    68 PAs Citizens Park
    .355 .397 .484 .881

    72 PAs Nats Park
    .290 .306 .464 .769

    41 PAs CitiField
    .300 .317 .400 .717

    57 Turner Field
    .241 .281 .333 .614

    Kills the Phillies in 133 PAs
    .380 .409 .587 .996

    Lifetime vs Atlanta in 119 PAs
    .259 .303 .366 .669

    • natinalsgo - Jul 24, 2014 at 1:00 PM

      Now that’s good stuff and large sample sizes. Here’s Castro’s RISP which is also good: .292/.366/.427/.793

      Castro has a .375 OBP against the Barves this year if you like those numbers.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2014 at 1:09 PM

        Thanks for compiling those stats. I’m really liking this option. I don’t like Prado’s age regression to the high 600’s OPS and his Hi Lev stats aren’t great. I think Nats fans like him because he was a Nat killer. He’s almost 31 and on a 3 year decline.

  3. micksback1 - Jul 24, 2014 at 12:48 PM

    I feel better about the Barrett incident now that I know the full story.

    I get the feeling Rizzo is going to make a huge deal and get a Castro or Prada plus another catcher

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2014 at 1:00 PM

      I don’t think Rizzo makes a deal for another catcher. Lobaton won’t play at all in the post-season. The air must have gotten to him yesterday because he looked real bad. Was no help to his pitchers and their game planning was bad.

  4. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2014 at 1:13 PM

    A’s cut Jim Johnson and just proves that Billy Beane makes costly mistakes.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2014 at 1:14 PM

      He didn’t give up anything but Jemile Weaks for him, but he absorbed a big salary that the A’s will have to eat.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2014 at 1:25 PM

        Jemile Weaks and David Freitas actually.

  5. nats128 - Jul 24, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    Ghost, what do you do when RZ comes back if you have a Castro

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2014 at 1:24 PM

      Remember how we were discussing improving the bench? When RZim comes back the bench just improved as you now have 4 guys for 3 spots which will cause MW to be creative. It’s a good problem to have and next year fixes itself as the RZim moves to 1st.

      • nats128 - Jul 24, 2014 at 1:37 PM

        I listened to Chase’s podcast. They are touting the Chase Headley pickup by the Yanks as a good deal.

        Where are these people pointing out this beforehand.

        Im underwhelmed by Pardo or Hill and not comfortable with a Phoolie like Utley. Theres nobody out there but the Nats could ship Espinosa or Walters as part of a deal to the Cubbies for Castro. Epstien owes Rizzo for that Hairston trade.

      • jd - Jul 24, 2014 at 1:46 PM

        You are not getting Castro just for Souza. He is after all a young but established major league hitter. You aren’t getting a player of that level without giving up someone like Cole or Giolito. I don’t think Epstein will take a package of suspects. I am sure he thinks he can do better.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2014 at 1:51 PM

        jd, agreed but you have to think as a rebuilding team. They traded Samadjia and Hamels for Addison and some lesser prospects. It’s 2 key prospects/players. Maybe it would take Espinosa in the deal with Souza and a pitcher.

        Souza is a top prospect and outfield and pitching is what the Cubs need.

        I disagree that it has to include Cole or Giolito.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 24, 2014 at 1:57 PM

        The Headley deal is getting touted in part bc of how little the Yanks had to give up to get him–something you could only praise after the deal was done (just like with the Fister trade).

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2014 at 1:57 PM

        jd, because of some of the issues with Castro and the ‘tude, many teams won’t pay a lot. He also had a horrible year last year and his July splits aren’t good.

        His payroll is low enough that he’s worth the risk.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2014 at 1:58 PM

        HH, when I mentioned Headley numerous times this year I called it. He was a salary dump. NYY absorbed most of the cash.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 24, 2014 at 2:07 PM

        Ghost

        Yup, I remember you mentioning Headley. But as I recall, that was when Zimm had been stuck in LF and there were questions about him returning to 3B when Harp returned. That talk died down when Zimm showed he could play a tolerable 3B.

        The Yanks finalized their deal for Headley on Tuesday, a few hours before this most recent injury to Zim. If the timing had been different, or if Zim hadn’t been able to cut it at 3B, who knows–maybe the Nats would have gone after him.

        Water under the bridge.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2014 at 2:15 PM

        Yep, sure is. A day late, a dollar short.

  6. Soul Possession, Sec 3, My Sofa - Jul 24, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    For Samardzija and Hammel, the Cubs got shortstop Addison Russell, outfielder Billy McKinney, pitcher Dan Straily, and a player to be named later.

    Russell (11th overall) and McKinney (24th), both first-rounders out of HS, were the top two prospects in Oakland’s system, according to B-A.

    Don’t discount Castro based on rumors, or assume the Cubs share that negative assessment. They say they don’t plan to trade him soon, anyway.

    What I’m not sure about is why, if one doesn’t think he’s a legit starting SS long-term, and aren’t impressed with .281/./322/.408 (not exactly HOF, but not that bad), you’d give up Danny’s glove for his.

    • scmargenau - Jul 25, 2014 at 10:39 AM

      What I’m not sure about is why, if one doesn’t think he’s a legit starting SS long-term, and aren’t impressed with .281/./322/.408 (not exactly HOF, but not that bad), you’d give up Danny’s glove for his.

      Really?

  7. Doc - Jul 24, 2014 at 6:14 PM

    Great discussion on possible trades, NI Sportsfans!

    Looking at how he built Boston into a contender, I don’t think that Epstein is afraid of making a big trade!!

  8. thenatom - Jul 26, 2014 at 2:04 AM

    About a Castro trade–assuming Ryan comes back in early September or so, I can’t imagine Castro being upset being the top bench bat and getting spot starts for the rest of the year. It’s not like he would be having meaningful at-bats that time of year in Chicago anyway. And then he’d start next year with LaRoche gone. Solving our short term and long term issues would be worth Souza and a one month infield logjam.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 89 64 --
ATLANTA 76 77 13.0
MIAMI 74 79 15.0
NEW YORK 74 80 15.5
PHILADELPHIA 70 84 19.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Friday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON 89 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 88 66 1.5
ST. LOUIS 86 68 3.5
-------------------------
SAN FRANCISCO 84 69 5.0 +1.0
PITTSBURGH 83 70 6.0 --
MILWAUKEE 79 75 10.5 4.5
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Friday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
SAT: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
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.
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.

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