Showing posts with label Washington Nationals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Washington Nationals. Show all posts

Saturday, February 01, 2014

2014 Quick Hits: Doug Fister, Washington Nationals

I think Fister has been underrated the last few years. He did seem to come out of nowhere and excelled with the Detroit Tigers under less than ideal circumstances for a control pitcher. Pitching in front of a defense that at its best did very little to assist the pitching staff, Fister excelled. But he can be even better. His strikeout numbers are no great shakes but the move to the National League should provide a small boost.

Pitching in the National League in front of a far superior defensive team, Fister should see his WHIP drop like a rock. If you still have your doubts about Fister consider this: Of starters with at least 75 innings pitched, Fister's 2.04 ERA is the lowest of any active starter against National League teams according to the Washington Post. I think He's a top 25 starter this season, easy.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Anthony Rendon Living Up to the Hype

As fantasy leaguers we often find ourselves looking at the minor leaguers that could make an impact. No matter how long or short the list - the vast majority fail to make that impact. Anthony Rendon was on a lot of lists due to his outstanding talent but there was doubt around him due to his difficulty staying healthy and on the field. I do not mean to jinx him but there has been little to worry about since his call-up. Through his first 107 plate appearances the rookie is batting an astounding .354/.402/.485 with 12 runs, one homer, one stolen base and six RBI batting near the front of the lineup. He should be near the top of the second base ranks at the end of the year if he keeps it up.

A great piece on Rendon his owners will enjoy reading:

"He's swung the bat like a veteran," manager Davey Johnson said. "He's hit every pitch that's thrown up there at him. He's got a quick bat. And he's aggressive. He hits all types of pitches. Just a good-looking young hitter."

There really isn't much to find fault with Rendon's offensive game. Still 23, with only 105 games of professional experience (26 in the majors) under his belt, he displays the kind of maturity and advanced hitting approach you'd expect from a 10-year vet.

Rendon drives the ball to center and right fields with regularity, has the bat control to be able to foul off a tough pitch and isn't afraid to hit when behind in the count.

"Since we drafted him, and since we've heard about him and watched him play in the minors, you can kind of tell when a guy is going to be able to hit," Zimmerman said. "He was one of those guys. It's fun to watch him go up there. He stays with his plan. He's very disciplined for a young hitter. It's pretty impressive."

So impressive that Johnson may have no choice to keep Rendon near the top of his lineup on a permanent basis, placing him right before Bryce Harper after the latter returns from the DL in the next few days.

The Washington Nationals continue to build a very interesting team with an amazing core of young but top tier talent. Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Tyler Moore, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman are players that could find a place on any team in the league.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bryce Harper Signs with the Nationals

Even if you aren't a fan of the Washington Nationals, you have to appreciate the stellar performance of General Manager Mike Rizzo. Over the past year, Rizzo and the Nationals management have been adding some of the very best baseball people in the game. Together they have turned the Washington Nationals from the joke they were as the Montreal Expos into a team destined to be a power in the sport.

Late last night, Mike Rizzo and the Nationals did what Jim Bowden never could, for the second year in a row. They signed the first overall pick in the draft, a Scott Boras client, to a record setting contract. Again, It was the second year in a row. Now it may not seem like a good thing that an organization was so bad that they received the prize reserved for the very worse. But it is when you consider the depths that the Nationals have risen from.

The Expos had been stripped of all resources. The prospects had been traded off in a last ditch effort to win. The staff and all its scouting reports and equipment was all taken to Florida when the Jeff Loria ownership group with the approval of MLB screwed them. The went years without a real budget. They did everything on a shoestring until the new ownership finally took over. Meanwhile Jim Bowden had failed to make good use of the resources he did have. Instead, he did the same thing he always did, he collected toolsy but skill less outfielders, and did his best to reassemble the Reds team he once failed to turn into a winner.

Now the Nats have a farm system loaded with young but advancing talent. They have a small but strong core of young players in the majors. And they have a front office that can deliver the goods and an ownership group ready to do what it takes to build a winner. They proved that when they approved a $9.9 million deal to bring the talented 17-year old Bryce Harper into the organization.

Bryce Harper has been called baseball's LeBron [James]. Though that is not quite the compliment it used to be after the Event. He has been the star of his high school, summer tournaments, and most recently at the College of Southern Nevada. He has graced the cover of Sports Illustrated twice and I'm predicting a third appearance next week.

He has a rocket for a throwing arm and apparently would have been a fine defensive catcher eventually, depending on whose word you trust most. However in an effort to get Harper into the middle of the Nationals lineup as soon as possible, he will be moved to the outfield.

What's next for Bryce Harper and how soon until he joins Stephen Strasburg in the majors?

The Nationals believe that Harper is a middle-of-the-lineup hitter of the highest potential. His power is at the top of the scale and he has ever tool you could hope to see in a baseball prospect. But this isn't just a good prospect. Harper is one of the special ones. The opinions on him are nearly unanimous that he will hit and hit for power. He has worked at it for his entire life. It is only a slight exaggeration (if it is at all) to say that it would be more surprising to see him fail than to become a productive major league player.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Yankees Trade Brian Bruney to Nationals

From the Washington Times:

The Washington Nationals made the first trade of the 2009 MLB winter meetings Monday, acquiring right-handed reliever Brian Bruney from the New York Yankees for a player to be named and making an early, if marginal, move to improve a bullpen that often struggled to protect leads last season.
Brian Bruney is a solid bullpen arm that the Yankees always seemed to like. The rumor is that the Yankees have traded Bruney for the Nationals' number one selection in the upcoming Rule V Draft. The Nationals have the first overall pick. The Yankees must really like someone who will be available to make a move like this. The Yankees just don't need the typical Rule V pick hanging around on their roster. This should be fun.

Bruney should be an asset to the Nationals' bullpen. He has good stuff and has been called a possible closer in the past. But the results have not been very exciting so far and he probably is not a massive improvement over Saul Rivera who was released as a consequence. Bruney has solid strikeout rates and poor walk rates. He is not particularly fantasy worthy but the Yankees' interest in this trade makes it interesting.

Friday, October 23, 2009

More on Aroldis Chapman

More on Aroldis Chapman, a hat tip to Drunken Jays Fans for posting this video for me to steal. Aroldis is in New York waiting to meet with the Yankees Brass. As much as I'd love to see him on the Yanks I think it would be even cooler to see him sign with the Washington Nationals. They could sign El Duque to a minor league contract and try to acquire Jose Contreras and they'd be nice filler as the team waited for its prospects to develop. It would also give the Nats two of the best pitching prospects in the sport.

Albertin Aroldis Chapman de la Cruz
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Height: 6' 4"
Weight: 185 lb.
Born: February, 28, 1988 in Cayo Mambí, Frank País, Holguín, Cuba

* Has a wife and young daughter as well as parents and two sisters still living in Cuba
* Holds the Cuban National Series record for fastest pitch thrown in a game at 102 mph.
* Has a fastball (two seam or four seam), sinking fastball, curveball, slider, changeup and a forkball
* Led the Cuban National Series twice in strikeouts in 2006-2007 and 2008-2009.
* Was recognized as the top left handed pitcher in Baseball World Cup in 2007.
* Defected from the Cuban National Team on July 1, 2009 while participating in the World Port Tournament in Rotterdam, Netherlands
* Signed a representation agreement with Athletes Premier International (API) for contract negotiation and marketing on July 13, 2009
* Obtained provisional passive residency status in the country of Andorra on September 21, 2009
* On September 25, 2009 was declared a free agent by Major League Baseball following their investigation and the United States Department of the Treasury licensed Chapman as an unblocked National of Cuba

Cuban National Series - Holguín
2005-06 15 15 0 0 3 5 .375 0 0 54 200 263 48 .240 33 26 4.33 56 54 1 7 0 5 5 3
2006-07 23 12 0 11 4 3 .571 0 7 81.1 285 350 59 .207 26 25 2.77 100 50 0 8 1 4 9 5
2007-08 16 16 2 0 6 7 .462 1 0 74 275 324 55 .200 36 32 3.89 79 37 2 10 3 3 8 1
2008-09 22 20 1 2 11 4 .733 0 0 118.1 433 515 109 .252 56 53 4.03 130 62 2 16 0 7 9 14
2009 P’OFFS 2 2 1 0 0 2 .000 0 0 14 51 60 12 .235 6 5 3.21 14 7 1 2 0 1 1 0
TOTALS 78 65 4 13 24 21 .533 1 7 341.2 1244 1512 283 .227 157 141 3.72 379 210 6 43 4 20 32 23

International Competition

2007 Pan American Games - Gold Medalist
1 2

2007 Baseball World Cup - Silver Medalist
VS. SO KOREA 1 0 7 2 2 6 9 1 0 0
VS. JAPAN 1 0 8 1 1 3 11 2 0 1
TOTALS 2 15 3 3 9 20 3 0 1

2009 World Baseball Classic
2 2 0 0 1 0 0 6.1 6 4 4 5.68 0 0 4 8 1.58 0 0

Read more:

AFL Update: Stephen Strasburg

The Nationals Rotation Ace of the Future, Stephen Strasburg made his second appearance in the Arizona Fall League yesterday. It did not go uite as well as the first one. Actually it was a lot different in that he allowed eight runs (seven earned) over 2 and 2/3 innings. But in the AFL this should not be taken too seriously. This is definitely a hitters league. Every team is essentially a minor league All-Star team. Plus, pitchers are often working on things like developing a change-up or learning to work around the zone.

Harry Pavlidis of Beyond the Box Score has done some great work analyzing Strasburg's pitches. That you should definitely read to get some insight into the pitcher that everyone is talking about. Here is a small sample:
Beyond the speed gap of 7 or 8 mph (very nice), Strasburg's change "sank" about six inches relative to the fastball, which is brutal. If he's hiding that thing at all, yikes. If today was any indication, he was. He kept it out of the zone (30%), but every one he threw for a strike yielded a swing. Two of the seven balls were chased. Of the five total swings, three found nothing but air. Two made contact, on the ground, which still didn't work out well. Both were singles.
You can check out the details of the outing including who did what damage by reading Barry M. Bloom's report on Nationals (dot) com.
Strasburg allowed eight earned runs and seven hits, including three homers (one a grand slam), in a 9-6 loss to the Peoria Javelinas. It was his first look at that kind of disaster. Take note that he gave up only 16 earned runs in 15 college starts this season for San Diego State, for which he was 13-1 with a 1.32 ERA during his junior year.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Strasburg Wins in AFL Debut

Despite all the cautions you'll hear about the dangers of drafting rookie pitchers, Stephen Strasburg is likely to be a much discussed talent from now until April. Strasburg made his AFL debut on Friday to much fanfare. Here is a round-up of writing on the results:

Strasburg wins his professional debut(Barry M. Bloom /
Strasburg, taken first in June's First-Year Player Draft by the Nationals, threw 50 pitches -- 32 of them strikes -- for the Phoenix Desert Dogs. He faced 11 Scottsdale Scorpions hitters, walked one, struck out two, allowed a pair of singles and earned the win in his club's 7-4 victory. The two strikeouts came with one out in the first inning and were of the swinging variety.

Strasburg sparkles in AFL debut (Jason Grey /ESPN)
The first pitch was 99 miles per hour. That was how Washington Nationals prospect Stephen Strasburg announced his presence at the Arizona Fall League...As expected, Strasburg busted out the 88-91 mph changeup he rarely used as an amateur. Not only was it impressive, he used it as an out pitch in the first inning, getting both his strikeouts on changes with good tumble. He showed off a heavy two-seam fastball at 90-94 mph to go with the four-seamer, and his 82-84 mph slider was a solid 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale on this night, though I've seen it even better...It would shock me if he were not in the Nationals' opening day rotation.

Strasburg’s AFL Debut (Conor Glassey/Baseball America's Prospects Blog)

From a mechanical standpoint, the scout stated that Strasburg “gets a little forward with his arm and hand in his delivery. Also, his elbow gets closed up on top. I’m a little worried about his ability to drive downward all the time. He throws so hard and gets such ride and carry on his fastball, he can throw it up in the zone and get away with it. There are a few little red flags and he needs to clean up his delivery a bit. But the positives outweigh the negatives.”

I think the consensus says that Stephen Strasburg is going to be a force for the Washington Nationals and soon. I would not go out of my way to add a rookie pitcher to my roster but if he came easily and naturally enough (and at a rookie pitcher price) I would gladly accept his presence on my fantasy rosters in 2010.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Around Baseball: News, Links, and Observations

Want a job working for a Major League Baseball team? Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus shares an attempt by a major League team to tap into the knowledge of baseball fans. You can win your chance by sending your answer to the following question (send it by November 9th, 2009) to just don't expect an answer unless you are in the running.
If you had access to all of the information available to a major league team - both public and proprietary data, such as scouting reports, training reports, video, etc - what question(s) would you attempt to answer with that data? How would you go about that process? What potential problems do you foresee?
David O'Brien runs the excellent Atlanta Journal Constitution, Atlanta Braves Blog. This is one of the better sources for information on the Braves and the thinking of their management team. In the post linked above, O'Brien discusses the Braves' priorities for the 2010 season. They have placed a right-handed power hitter at the top of their list of needs. Closely followed by re-signing Adam LaRoche (or another power-hitting first baseman). Interestingly, O'Brien seems to think the Braves could pry outfielder (and right-handed power hitter) Nelson Cruz away from the Texas Rangers and I think he may be right.
But anyway, Cruz is right-handed and hit .260 with 33 homers, 20 stolen bases and an .856 OPS in 128 games, and while his .931 OPS at hitter-friendly Arlington was a lot higher than his .778 on the road, he hit almot as many homers (15) on the road than at home (18) in virtually the same number of at-bats.
Nelson Cruz had a fantastic season in 2009 but found himself on the bench frequently in the second half. This is partly due to minor injuries and a few slumps but manager Ron Washington seemed to like his other options much better. The Rangers are very deep in the outfield. They have rookie Julio Borbon (who looked a lot like a junior version of Carl Crawford) projected as the 2010 center fielder. Josh Hamilton is moving to right field (he's still a stud in case you were wondering). That leaves left field open for one of Nelson Cruz; Marlon Byrd, who hit 20 home runs and who the Rangers want to re-sign; 0r lesser possibilities like David Murphy, Brandon Boggs, and Greg Golson.

The Nationals Farm Authority is repeating a rumor first tweeted by ESPN’s Jose Arangure which suggests that Jeff Zona, currently a Nats Cross Checker could be promoted to Director of International Scouting. Zona was a scout for the Boston Red Sox in 2004 when they finally broke The Curse. I have a good feeling about the direction of the Nationals. Since Mike Rizzo took over they've almost exactly what I would have wanted them to do. The Nats have a powerful lineup that should be even better in 2010. Their bullpen is beginning to look like a potential strength with Sean Burnett, Tyler Clippard, Garrett Mock and Mike MacDougal forming the heart of it. They are quickly building a formidable farm system featuring players with true star potential such as Stephen Strasburg, Derek Norris, and Michael Burgess. I suggest that Fantasy Owners look very deeply at Mike Rizzo's moves this off-season.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks completed the Jon Garland trade when the D'Backs accepted infielder Tony Abreu as the player to be named later. There has been some controversy over Abreu's service time but apparently not enough to force the Dodgers to change the compensation. Abreu is a strong contact hitter who does not draw many walks. He has good pop for a middle infielder and decent speed, but does not steal many bases. I think of Abreu as a Howie Kendrick-lite who could have some value in NL-only leagues in 2010, if he wins the starting job at second base. He will definitely be in the mix.

If you have ever found yourself bitching about the price of tickets to the best sporting events you needs to read Seats of Gold. Hell, even if you haven't the insanity that is the Legends Suite at the New Yankee Stadium is worth reading about. I'm pretty certain I won't ever be going to Yankee Stadium ever again. I want to, but I don't think I'll ever be able to do it.

In the downstairs half of the suite, there are all the same food stations -- plus dessert. Ice cream served in little blue Yankees helmets. Or maybe an entire pint for your seat. Pan-sautéed whoopie pies. I get three or four of those and take them to the bar, where I order a $60 glass of Johnnie Walker Blue Label (food's free, booze isn't). A house ad airs on the television in front of me. Apparently, I can buy Kobe beef to take home from the stadium. Yes, there's a butcher here. And an art gallery. I can get sushi and lobster rolls and Scottish salmon in another nearby lounge, along with duck pasta. On the first- and third-base side of the room, hidden from common view behind home plate, sit gigantic tables covered with every snack imaginable. There's Cracker Jack and peanuts, Twizzlers and Twix, Skittles and Starburst, plus five or six other kinds of sugar-coated goodness.

I watch a kid, maybe 8 years old, stand in front of the spread. He's paralyzed. His dad is trying not to laugh, and the boy can't figure out what to take. He's never seen anything like this.

The dad finally laughs. "It's all included," he tells his son. "It's like Willy Wonka."

Welcome to the new America, kid. Too bad you can't save a bag of Skittles in your wallet for 50 years. Luckily, you'll never know what you're missing.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hot Prospect: Matt Young PLUS Some Other Stuff...

Sometimes really smart people do stupid things. They do things like dismiss a prospect entirely based on his age or his height. That's dumb. Yes, your age at a given level is an indication of a player's talent and skill level but it isn't everything. And at least in baseball, size doesn't matter. Matt Young is 26-years old and short. He is a very good prospect.

Young was a fantastic High School Player for Plano East High School where he made the All-Texas Team. At the University of New Mexico he was a Freshman All-American. He led the Mid-West Conference in walks and On-Base Percentage. His sophomore year he led the conference in walks and steals. His junior year he hit .381 and led the MWC in triples. He went undrafted but signed as a free agent with the Braves.

With the Rome Braves in 2005 he hit .312/.412/.409 with 85 runs and he had a .992 fielding percentage in center field. He led the Braves organization in OBP and runs scored. In 2006 with Myrtle Beach he hit .281/.389/.375 with 30 doubles and 71 walks, while playing excellent defense and stealing 21 bases. In 2007 he missed time due to injuries but still had a .381 on-base percentage for the Pelicans. He was promoted to double-A and struggled for the first time in his life batting .242/.308/.305 in 33 games. In 2008 repeating double-A he hit .289/.384/.385 with 30 stolen bases.

Last fall the Braves sent Young to the Arizona Fall League, a prospect showcase and he sparkled hitting .367/.426/.571. But for some reason the Braves sent him back to double-A Mississippi where he is presently hitting .281/.409/.393 with 33 stolen bases in 427 at-bats. Young looks like another Nyjer Morgan (maybe not quite as good the base stealer --more on him later). Remember last weekk when we discussed the way teams are going to change? Young is a perfect example of the type of player that will be receiving more chances in the majors than in past years. The Braves haven't shown many signs of including him in their plans (I believe he'll be Rule V eligible) but he should be on the radar of fantasy owners as a potential steal source.

Some Other Stuff...

Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated is suggesting that Major League Baseball is almost certain to have a slotting system for Amateur Draft picks in place by the 2012 draft. This is a great idea. MLB should model their plan after the NBA's and eliminate arbitration altogether. It seems to me that the problem with baseball's present system is not so much that the Free Agents demand so much money. The true problem is that the arbitration eligible players demand so much and and often are not worth it. But under the present rules teams are screwed if they don't offer arbitration.

Should the Twins have to pay Delmon Young $3-4 million dollars next year to keep him around? No, but they will because it would be far worse to let him go for nothing before they even managed to squeeze a good season out of him. This is why the NBA's restricted free agent process is so much better. The player can still get a huge payday if he's worth it (as Tim Lincecum absolutely is) but guys like Young (and the dozens just like him) get the raise without the ridiculous demands attached.


Tyler Hissey of MVN's Around the Majors blog has put together some rankings of this winter's class of free agent pitchers. He has three different lists but here's the FIP rankings. Check out the Around the Majors blog for the others.

Free Agent Pitchers By Fielding Independent Pitching:

Joel Pineiro: 3.04
Erik Bedard: 3.54
John Lackey: 3.79
Jose Contreras: 3.96
Randy Wolf: 3.98
Jason Marquis: 4.00
Andy Pettitte: 4.12
Tim Wakefield: 4.19
Carl Pavano: 4.26
Rich Harden: 4.46
Kevin Millwood: 4.56
Brad Penny: 4.57
Doug Davis: 4.59
Jon Garland: 4.64
Vicente Padilla: 4.83
Jarrod Washburn: 4.86

Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle is daydreaming about an unlimited budget for free agents to boost the Houston Astros back into contention. He suggests that the dream lineup for 2010 would look like this:

C--Jason Castro.
1b--Lance Berkman.
2b--Felipe Lopez.
3b--Miguel Tejada.
SS--Tommy Manzella.
LF--Carlos Lee.
CF--Michael Bourn.
RF--Hunter Pence.

SP--Roy Oswalt.
SP--Wandy Rodriguez.
SP--Bud Norris.
SP--Justin Duchscherer.
SP--John Lackey.

Plus some undefined changes to the bullpen...Is this the best he can do? I bet everyone reading this can do better without adding more than $30 million to their $102 million dollar payroll. Use Cot's Baseball Contracts if you'd like to show me how much better you can do...(yes, hint, hint).


The Chicago Cubs have finally been sold. After years of rumors and at least two years of negotiations the Cubs (or 95 percent of them) are now the property of the Ricketts family for a cool $845 million. Hopefully, this will free the Cubs to do whatever it takes to finally return to the World Series and even to win one. The Cubs were severely hampered by this process in Spring Training when they attempted to acquire Jake Peavy or another top starter. The Cubs should make big moves this fall.


Who says the Mets don't have any prospects? He came into the spotlight this week when he made Baseball America's Prospect Hot Sheet, but Kirk Nieuwenhuis is not just the flavor of the week. He was a third round pick in 2008 and just had his 22nd birthday. He'll be moving quickly through the Mets organization if this keeps up. This week's hot sheet also includes my second favorite prospect ( after Michael Stanton), Brett Wallace. Check out the write ups on the whole list which is not behind the subscriber wall.


Early this season I was a doubter when it came to Nyjer Morgan. I was not discounting his ability to play good defense and steal bases. I just did not think the Pittsburgh Pirates were the type of team to allow an older player like Morgan a full-time opportunity. I thought they would lean on their younger players even if it hurt a little. I should have known better. But I am now as big a Nyjer Morgan fan as there is. I love to see that guys like Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post are also on the bandwagon.

The Washington Nationals are quickly becoming my second favorite team. Now that Mike Rizzo is the GM I'm confident that they will continue to make all the right moves. They are closer than you think to being a contender. They have the key parts of a quality offense. If you can't find a way to score runs with a speedster with on-base skills like Nyjer Morgan, an on-base machine like Nick Johnson (I know he's gone but still...) and middle of the order bats like Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn (who should be moving to first base next season), and Josh Willingham you should be fired. Just ask Manny Acta.

Rizzo will keep building up the farm system. This time next season Stephen Strasburg should be the best pitching prospect in the country (if he isn't already) and about to join the Nationals' rotation (if he isn't already there). I enjoyed reading how the Nationals led by Mike Rizzo out-maneuvered super agent Scott Boras. The stories are probably overblown but Strasburg apparently always intended to sign provided he received a fair offer. So when the Nats discovered this and stuck to their record breaking (but far from the 25-50 million Boras was supposedly looking for) offer, and given his client's wishes, Boras had to accept it.

Strasburg is far from flawless but he is deserving of the attention he is receiving. Despite the hype you can count on the Nationals doing the right thing. They'll keep Strasburg in the minors where he belongs until he proves himself. Do not expect to see him in the majors before mid-June, if even that soon.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Moving Up: Nyjer Morgan OF Washington Nationals

Outfielder Nyjer Morgan is not a player destined to be a long term fantasy star he is 29 years old and in his first season as a fulltime regular. But he does have his uses in NL-only leagues and should see a nice boost to his fantasy value after yesterday's trade that sent him from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Washington Nationals. If you own Morgan you should be very happy right now.

Morgan is batting .277/.351/.356 with two homeruns and 18 stolen bases. The Nationals plan to have Morgan play centerfield and leadoff everyday. He will be in front of a much better offense and should see a boost in his runs scored and even his RBI totals. Manny Acta tends to allow his players to run like mad which should see Morgan approach 40-50 stolen bases this season. Make no mistake, Morgan is not a efficient base stealer but unless your league penalizes for caught stealings (or you are a Nats fan), it really isn't your problem.

Morgan has the skills to take advantage of his speed. He is an excellent contact hitter. He doesn't walk much but enough to know that a pitcher has to throw around the plate to get him out. He isn't a free swinger, he waits for his pitch. He has amazing speed and may be one of the ten fastest players in MLB. He doesn't have much power and hits most pitches on the ground. But is more likely to smack the occassional homerun than a player like Juan Pierre. Just not much more likely. He is an excellent defensive outfielder which means the Nats will be ,motivated to keep him in the lineup even during mini-slumps. He is not a great player but there is also little not to like.

Morgan should be owned in all NL-only and deep leagues and in all but the shallowest of mixed leagues. Although I like his value this season, Morgan is not a very long term keeper candidate. If an owner in your league is desperate for steals I would strongly consider making an offer. Treat Morgan as you would any speed-centric player.

I am still answering the e-mails that accumulated during my computerless weekend. If you are waiting for an answer you should see it in the next day or so.

Apple iTunes

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Nationals' Search for a Closer...

The Washington Nationals are not the first team to struggle to find an acceptable closer. They have a bullpen full of cast-offs, youngsters, and specialists placed in unfavorable roles. Much of the blame can also be placed on manager Manny Acta who is not a very good manager of the bullpen and a little too protective of his starters. Joel Hanrahan and Garrett Mock could both probably grow into the role given time. Joe Beimel and Jesus Colome could do the job if used correctly. Even Julian Tavarez...okay, maybe not Tavarez. But the point is that an effective closer is created not born and Manny Acta needs a reliever to come almost fully formed before he'll be able to spot the closer in the stone.

Although Mike MacDougal has not yet blown the opportunity to cement himself as the latest Washington closer I have my doubts they he can hold on to the job. This is mostly because of things like his 1.87 WHIP, 7.80 BB9 , and mediocre 5.40 K9. The good news is I believe a very good candidate for the role has just presented himself. His name is Tyler Clippard.

Clippard was well on his way to becoming a mediocre, end-of-the-rotation starter. I do not mean that to be insulting. There are thousands of people that would do almost anything short of murder to be an end-of-the-rotation starter on a major league baseball team. But being a starter is no longer the plan for Clippard. This season the Nationals moved him into the bullpen at Triple-A Syracuse with extremely good results. Clippard's already good stuff suddenly looks great as has often happened when starters move to the bullpen. In 37.2 innings, Clippard has 41 strikeouts to just 15 walks. That is not stellar control but it is a huge improvement over MacDougal. His 2009 era is just 0.96 with a WHIP of 0.93. Now a lot of that is good fortune, he will not maintain .216 BABIP forever. He is an an extreme fly ball pitcher but has always managed to limit the damage from the minors anyway. A lot of those flyballs are of the infield variety which is a pitcher skill that is not mentioned often.

In most leagues you will be able to pick up Clippard easily or FAAB him for a buck or so. I believe that it will prove to be a very wise choice for those on the hunt for saves. At the very least I think Clippard will be a fine relief pitcher, of value to NL-only teams whether he closes or not.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lastings Milledge Optioned to Minors

This is ridiculous. Less than ten games into the season you send your starting center fielder to the minors? Obviously he was not off to the greatest of starts but again, less than ten days into the season. This will not do good things for Lasting Milledge's supposedly questionable attitude.

Via USA Today
WASHINGTON (AP) — Nationals center fielder Lastings Milledge has been optioned to Triple-A Syracuse.

Milledge is batting .167 with no extra-base hits, one RBI, one walk and 10 strikeouts this season. He has been hitting in the leadoff spot.

Washington is 0-7, the only team in the major leagues without a victory.

The Nationals did not immediately announce who will replace Milledge on the active roster. They were off Tuesday and scheduled to host Philadelphia on Wednesday.

UPDATE: Some of the reasoning according to Bill Ladson of

Milledge, 24, is off to a slow start, batting .167 (4-for-24) with one RBI. Milledge was the leadoff hitter, and the front office didn't like the fact that he didn't take enough pitches to draw walks.

It was an adventure for Milledge in center field so far this season. On Opening Day against the Marlins on April 6, Emilio Bonifacio hit a ball that went over Milledge's head for an inside-the-park home run in the fifth inning. The next day, Bonifacio hit a triple that went over Milledge's glove. In both cases, some people in the organization believe Milledge should have caught the ball. Not Milledge. He followed the scouting report, which said to play shallow.

The team had warned Milledge about a possible demotion since Opening Day. Members of the organization were upset that Milledge was late for a meeting held by manager Manny Acta the day before, and they wanted Milledge to sit out for Opening Day. Acta refused, however, so the team fined Milledge instead.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Potential Breakout: Lastings Milledge

Lastings Milledge will turn 24-years old on opening day. Although it appears that he broke out in 2008, I believe there is quite a bit more fantasy baseball goodness coming in 2009. Milledge was moved around a injury (and talent lacking) lineup often last year. He also appears to have been a little unlucky with his BABIP judging by his line drive and ground ball rates and very good speed.

Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta recently announced more good news for Milledge owners. Milledge will act as the Nationals leadoff hitter this season with the manager's blessing to steal bases. An improved on-base percentage and a stable place in the batting order should significantly increase his stolen base opportunities. The Nationals have an all-star cast of former center fielders and leadoff hitters (Marquis Grissom and Devon White among them) in camp working with Milledge on improving his defense and his base stealing techniques and early reports have been very positive.

The Nationals' healthier (and more talented) 2009 lineup should also allow Milledge to score more runs and provide more RBI opportunities. Adam Dunn, a momentarily healthy Nick Johnson, Josh Willingham, a fulltime contribution from Elijah Dukes, and a healthy Ryan Zimmerman should transform a weak lineup into a potential powerhouse.

2009 UPSIDE: 600 at-bats, .280/.340/.440 with 20 HR, 50 RBI, 90 Runs, 40 SB

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Hot Prospect: Stephen Strasburg

Usually, when a pitcher is able to throw his fastball with triple-digit velocity you can be almost certain that he'll also have trouble controlling it. This is not the case with San Diego State's Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg regularly blows up radar guns and he does it with a minuscule walk rate.

Strasburg is almost guaranteed to be the first pick of the 2009 Amateur Draft and become the property of the Washington Nationals. The Nationals cannot afford to screw up another first round pick and that is exactly what they would be doing by selecting anyone else. Scouts and analysts are rating him higher than even the very best picks of recent years. Only freaks like Doc Gooden and pitchers of that rare ability even come close.

Pitching Statistics

2007 18 NCAA 1 3 2.43 25 0 0 7 37 4.4 0 3.6 11 0.89
2008 19 NCAA 8 3 1.57 13 13 4 0 97 5.6 0.1 1.5 12 0.79

San Diego State Aztecs Profile Page

Jason Churchill's Prospect Insider - Stephen Strasburg

Strasburg's WikiPedia Page

The Washington Post collects gushy quotes about Strasburg