Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Kilgore: Strasburg Shutdown to blame for 2013? A few counterpoints

2. Feinstein posits the Nationals shouldn’t have shut down Strasburg because it made them sign Rafael Soriano. You need an entire Boy Scout troop to diagnose the knots in that logic. He is saying the Nationals never would have signed Soriano if Drew Storen never blew a save in Game 5, and the Nationals would have won the NLDS if Storen never blew the save, and that the Nationals would have unquestionably won the NLDS if Strasburg had pitched.

Soriano coughed up some leads, but 42 saves ruined the season? Tyler Clippard feeling bad for his friend in public is why the Nationals scored 3.7 runs per game under Rick Eckstein? It’s empty psychology.

3. Feinstein says the Nationals’ offseason moves were an attempt to improve the team and win a World Series to justify the Strasburg shutdown. I read them as, oh, I don’t know, an attempt to improve and win a World Series. Fault Mike Rizzo if you want for the execution of the shutdown or the very idea of it and what it meant to their 2012 chances. But I’ve constantly been struck by at how at peace with the decision he is. He largely shrugged last year at the withering criticism. Stubbornness can at times be a fault of Rizzo’s, but in terms of not allowing the Strasburg uproar to shape his decision-making, stubbornness served him well.

JE (Jason) Posted: September 24, 2013 at 05:11 PM | 33 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: innings limit, nationals, sportswriters, strasburg

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Jeff Francoeur's OPS Posted: September 24, 2013 at 06:22 PM (#4549616)
Kilgore is a huge Nationals fan. This has got to be really eating at him.
   2. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 24, 2013 at 06:34 PM (#4549622)
Seriously, this is what many of us said last year, that the Strasburg shutdown didn't make sense because you can't guarantee that you'll be in the playoffs every year, let alone with a team of the quality of the 2012 Nationals.

And so far Year 1 has shown exactly that.

They will never be able to have the 2012 playoffs back.
   3. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 24, 2013 at 06:52 PM (#4549627)
The shutdown as silly in so many ways but I don't see how it can be blamed for 2013.
   4. BDC Posted: September 24, 2013 at 06:58 PM (#4549630)
I'll continue to propose that the way to judge the Strasburg shutdown is by what happens to Strasburg. There are about 500 too many other factors in either the 2012 or '13 seasons to go plucking at one pitcher over and over and trying to replay history on whether he'd pitched a certain game or two.

The only way it's really a mistake is if Strasburg had only another few good innings in his arm, and you can argue that the Nats should have extracted them in pursuit of the '12 pennant. The longer and better he pitches, the less of a mistake it was.
   5. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 24, 2013 at 07:04 PM (#4549632)
The shutdown as silly in so many ways but I don't see how it can be blamed for 2013.


Yes, I agree with that. I didn't mean to imply that I agreed with what the idiot Feinstein was saying. Or even that I read what the idiot was saying. When he concedes that his Duke comments half a decade ago were misguided, I'll consider not thinking he's a jackass.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: September 24, 2013 at 08:31 PM (#4549690)
WAR change, 2012 to 2013:

Bernadina -1.4
Desmond +0.8
Espinosa -3.2
Harper -1.5
LaRoche -3.4
Lombardozzi -1.2
Moore -0.9
Ramos +2.1
Span vs. Morse et al +2.7 or so
Suzuki -.7 (Nats 2012 only)
Tracy -1.3
Werth +3.9

Then bench alone is down about 5 WAR ... and the 2013 Nats are 5 WAR (position) behind the 2012 Nats. Not only are benches kinda random but this had been a good bench last year. The main issue Rizzo can be blamed for here was re-signing LaRoche. They probably stuck with Espinosa too long this year but bWAR dislikes Rendon's fielding so much that he's put at replacement level.

Now, pitching:

Clippard +1.3
Detwiler -1.7
Duke -1.3
Gio -2.3 (still a solid year)
Haren v Jackson -2.4
HRod +.6 (from terrible to replacement)
Stammen -1.1 (man he was good last year)
Storen -1.6
Strasburg -0.2
Zimmermann -1

I didn't include Soriano because he should be comped to Clippard but then I've got to chain Clippard down to somebody else, etc. Too much work. Soriano has 0.8 WAR -- not good, not a disaster.

Rizzo can take the heat for Haren (not that resigning Jackson would have been much better). Otherwise, the pen seemed solid enough this year but not as successful as last year's and Gio came back to earth.

This remains a good team -- they're looking at about 86-87 wins -- that got off to a sluggish start but has been solidly above 500 in the 2nd half. The issues here are mainly the fringe stuff -- bench, back end of the pen, 4th starter.
Zimmerman +0.1
   7. McCoy Posted: September 24, 2013 at 08:50 PM (#4549711)
The longer and better he pitches, the less of a mistake it was

Only if shutting him down causes him to pitch longer and better.
   8. OsunaSakata Posted: September 24, 2013 at 09:24 PM (#4549745)
This remains a good team -- they're looking at about 86-87 wins -- that got off to a sluggish start but has been solidly above 500 in the 2nd half. The issues here are mainly the fringe stuff -- bench, back end of the pen, 4th starter.


These are not expensive or hard to find, but they are still important in winning a division title. Davey Johnson was interviewed this evening and blamed the bad year on not having a veteran bench and lacking left-handers in the bullpen. He missed Sean Burnett and Tom Gorzelany.
   9. McCoy Posted: September 24, 2013 at 10:04 PM (#4549783)


For the most part they knew last year the bench wasn't good, that their catcher was going to need a good backup, that there was no way there bullpen was going to be as good as they were in 2012, and that they would need a 5th starter and that their starters as well were going to come back down to Earth at least a bit.

They picked up Haren, picked up Soriano, and kept LaRoche while trading away Morse. They simply crossed their fingers on the bench, Ramos, and hoped the starters would be as good as they were last year. Those three things I think are the main culprit for them not going to at least a wild card game this year.
   10. Publius Publicola Posted: September 24, 2013 at 10:13 PM (#4549800)
I thought Harper having a stagnant sophomore season was also a factor, as was Zimmerman's throwing issues.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: September 24, 2013 at 10:24 PM (#4549828)
These are not expensive or hard to find

Actually they are exceptionally hard to find. There probably aren't more than maybe 30 reliable bench players -- i.e. guys not quite good enough to start for somebody but extremely likely to produce substantially above-replacement in 300-400 PAs. Like I said, last year these (mostly) same bench players did quite well, this year not. Much like relievers who can string together 60 excellent or 60 lousy innings. You don't know which you're going to get.

We need look no further than Scott Hairston. From 2008-12, 1705 PA, 106 OPS+, 7.5 WAR, 2.2 WAA, career 820ish OPS vs LHP ... and in 2013 he's got an 80 OPS+, 770 OPS vs LHP and -.6 WAR (all Cubs, 0 WAR for the Nats). Or Reed Johnson who was a solid bench player for several years but has been replacement or worse for the Braves. Or Schierholtz who was the leftie version of Johnson but is putting up a legit league average season this year as a platoon starter.

Possibly Rizzo didn't recognize that last year's bench production was flukily good and he should have looked to upgrade it. And he did try a small upgrade midseason picking up Hairston ... and DeJesus although that remains a rather odd trade.
   12. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: September 24, 2013 at 10:48 PM (#4549864)
I fail to see why they didn't keep Tom Gorzelanny. It became a point of discussion in the offseason that the Nats had no lefties in the pen. Ultimately, I'm not sure how much difference it might have made when the team wasn't firing on all cylinders anyway, but Rizzo left a good many questions about the construction of the roster beginning the season.

The Strasburg shutdown? "Tastes great/less filling" all over again.
   13. Chris Needham Posted: September 24, 2013 at 11:05 PM (#4549872)
DeJesus although that remains a rather odd trade.

The company line is that they knew the Cubs were basically willing to give him away just so save the salary. They claimed him knowing several other teams would want him, and that they could flip him for something, basically turning the price of a waiver claim into a prospect. Now whether the old a-ball arm they got is a prospect is a different question...

For a reall smart take on some of the problems caused by Rizzo, I really recommend this post.
   14. McCoy Posted: September 24, 2013 at 11:49 PM (#4549895)
Kurt Suzuki is about the best you are going to do for a back-up C.

Geo Soto was available this offseason. Who also happened to have been the guy I said the Nats should have picked up last year instead of Suzuki. George Kottaras was selected off waivers this offseason which means he could have been gotten for practically nothing.

Suzuki is not the kind of guy you want to back up a guy you think will probably miss an extended amount of time in a season.

There was probably a 2 win difference between having Soto as your back up and having Suzuki as your back up.
   15. McCoy Posted: September 25, 2013 at 12:07 AM (#4549902)
Espinosa was always going to be a guy who was going to routinely walk the tightrope and eventually fall off it. He's a perfectly adequate player when he is cheap but you also better have a plan b when he collapses. Now I will say that I never expected him to collapse as hard as he did but even last year I wasn't really impressed with him and felt his numbers weren't going to be good this year. Plugging Rendon into second or really anywhere in the infield was a silly and stupid mistake on Rizzo's part that had virtually no chance of actually working. He simply doesn't have the glove to add value at second or third (SS goes without saying). Rizzo had Lombardozzi on hand but his only value is taking up a roster spot for a GM that loves super utility guys. He's fine as a 24th or 25th man but never should have been the next guy in line at second, third, or left field. Rizzo basically rolled the dice again on Lombardozzi and hoped he'd get something like a 1 WAR player performance out of him again.

Basically after last year I thought that LaRoche, Espinosa, Desmond, Lombardozzi, Bernadina, Suzuki, and Tracy weren't going to be as good as they were in 2012. I though Zimmerman and Werth would stay about the same and Harper would either stay the same or improve. Didn't have high hopes for Ramos and didn't give Moore much thought. Thought the entire pitching staff would not be as good as they were in 2012 either.

In my view Rizzo needed to add something major (as well as find some winning lottery tickets) or the team was likely to drop more than 10 games in the standings.
   16. Chris Needham Posted: September 25, 2013 at 09:02 AM (#4549985)
[15] On Espinosa... he's injured. He tore his rotator cuff last September. His pre- and post- numbers are striking. He didn't get surgery, but tried rehab. Then when he lost all power and ability to make contact (which was tough for him anyway) nobody could figure out why. They insist he's not injured, and that it's all in his head. But that just doesn't make any damn sense.

There's something really fishy that went on there. I don't think we have the whole story. But if he ever does get surgery and gets back to what he was... a top-3 defender with + power at that position, he's a pretty valuable asset.
   17. McCoy Posted: September 25, 2013 at 09:10 AM (#4549992)
But if he ever does get surgery and gets back to what he was... a top-3 defender with + power at that position, he's a pretty valuable asset.

My point was that Espinosa is the type of guy that has to hit 20 homers and get hit by a pitch 20 times a year just to be mediocre with the bat and that he isn't really the type of guy that you can pencil that in every year. He doesn't take a walk all that much and doesn't make very good contact all that often so it won't take much for him to put up some really dreadful offensive numbers. If he puts up a 75 to 80 OPS+ over a season you're looking at a guy with a 1 to 1.5 WAR season as a starter.
   18. Chris Needham Posted: September 25, 2013 at 09:27 AM (#4550005)
But he's also a guy with a three-year track record of being, at worst, an average bat at that position.

Sure, if he collapses, he's useless. But that's something you can say of, oh, about 800 other major leaguers.
   19. McCoy Posted: September 25, 2013 at 09:38 AM (#4550012)
By doing things that aren't sustainable. He had a .239 BA over those 1200 at bats and over a quarter of his at bats ended in a strikeout. He just misses on maybe 10 balls and his offensive numbers would end up cratering. I see no real reason to rely on a guy to routinely hit 20 homers and get hit by a pitch 20 times in a season.
   20. Bug Selig Posted: September 25, 2013 at 09:39 AM (#4550013)
Isn't he asking the wrong question? The shutdown was (if one believes in a simple single-cause model of life) to blame for 2012, not 2013. Supposedly, it helped 2013 (and '14, and '15...) at the cost of 2012.
   21. Bug Selig Posted: September 25, 2013 at 09:49 AM (#4550023)
There was probably a 2 win difference between having Soto as your back up and having Suzuki as your back up.


Now, I'm not a proponent of slavish obedience to a number, but we're talking and a 0.7 WAR player vs. a 0.4 WAR player.
   22. McCoy Posted: September 25, 2013 at 10:17 AM (#4550051)
No we're not.

We're talking a catcher that has proven he can hit but cannot withstand the rigors of a full season vs a guy who has proven he cannot hit.

Soto this year has put up 1 WAR in 180 PA while Suzuki put up -.3 in 281 PA for the Nats this season.
   23. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: September 25, 2013 at 10:49 AM (#4550086)
Rendon has looked perfectly adequate at second to me, particularly for a guy who is still learning the position.

Overall, an 85-86 win season is dissapointing, but certainly no disaster.

All I want for next year is no more Chad Tracy.
   24. McCoy Posted: September 25, 2013 at 11:08 AM (#4550109)
In half a season of play at second he's committed more errors than 4 NL teams have at second all season long. He's tied for 6th most errors at second in the NL despite playing the least amount of time at second by far in the top ten besides Solano. His DRS per season is only better than 3 second basemen that have had more playing time at second than him. If we use total zone per season he is better than 4 second basemen with more playing time at second than him.
   25. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: September 25, 2013 at 11:17 AM (#4550120)
The stats may be bad, but he doesn't look hopeless out there. I've seen him make some nice plays. I'm sure he's struggled overall, but at least to my eye he looks like a guy learning the position who will improve (especially on things like errors).
   26. McCoy Posted: September 25, 2013 at 05:42 PM (#4550538)
He might very well end up being a decent fielder but he wasn't one when they decided to stick him out there. He was a horrible fielder in the minors last year and a horrible fielder everywhere this year.
   27. bfan Posted: September 25, 2013 at 05:50 PM (#4550549)
Rendon was a SS sometimes in college who moved to third, early. 2B was just new to him, and I suspect the right side of the infield just looks very different than what he has been used to all of his life; MLB just isn';t the place to learn on the fly. I think Rendon will play 2B fine (or move to 3B, if Zimmerman moves to 1B), and will be a great MLB hitter.
   28. McCoy Posted: September 25, 2013 at 06:07 PM (#4550562)
Rendon was a SS sometimes in college who moved to third, early.

This is being a little generous for him. He was a SS in high school who started his freshman year as a third baseman and stayed a thirdbaseman until the 4th or 5th game of his senior year when they turned him into a DH for the rest of the season. He started two games late in the season at second for the first time in his career. As far as fielding goes he was considered a good fielding college third baseman. He never played as a SS in college and had something like 15 or so innings of second base under his belt when he got drafted.

He played a grand total of 8 games at second in the minors before he got called up to play in the majors this year.
   29. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: September 25, 2013 at 06:42 PM (#4550581)
I mean, I just don't feel like I need to blame Rizzo for not having an option beyond one of the best 2B in the majors for the last few years, and Lombardozzi, and a top minor leauge hitter with infield versatility.

Now, the LHR stuff clearly hasn't gone well, but the second part of the year has shown there were some options available in the system.

Really, for next year, all I want is some more bench options, ideally including an OF backup with some pop.
   30. McCoy Posted: September 25, 2013 at 07:26 PM (#4550597)
So after 2008 it was perfectly reasonable to think Ryan Theriot would be good enough to be your everyday SS and if he doesn't work we'll just slide Fontenot over and have Baker play second?

Espinosa wasn't a huge problem but I would have sold high on him after last season or at the very least had someone like Rendon down in the minors working on playing second base instead of keeping him at third in the minors.

Like I said at the beginning Espinosa is a nice guy to have when he is cheap and you can sign him to 1 year contracts for a long time.
   31. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: September 25, 2013 at 08:02 PM (#4550632)
I, for one, am glad that the H-Rod experience experiment is over.
   32. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: September 25, 2013 at 09:23 PM (#4550689)
So after 2008 it was perfectly reasonable to think Ryan Theriot would be good enough to be your everyday SS and if he doesn't work we'll just slide Fontenot over and have Baker play second?

Espinosa wasn't a huge problem but I would have sold high on him after last season or at the very least had someone like Rendon down in the minors working on playing second base instead of keeping him at third in the minors.


2B is easier than SS, so that's not really the same, but what would you have done instead?
   33. McCoy Posted: September 25, 2013 at 10:57 PM (#4550777)
Well, I'd have Rendon playing a position other than third base last year in the minors and in the Arizona Fall League. Jeff Baker was also available this offseason and with Lombardozzi being dirt cheap picking up Baker would have been a good option. Baker and Lombardozzi on the bench is a lot better than Lombardozzi and Tracy on the bench.

As I said at the top I didn't think Espinosa was going to collapse this bad but I definitely didn't think he was going to continue to put up numbers that would be good enough to keep him in the lineup everyday for a team trying to contend. Yeah, you probably go with him to start the season but you should definitely be thinking about what you're going to do if he does fail and you should be actively taking steps to soften the blow should it come.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Brian
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogBlue Jays Acquire Mayberry Jr.
(4 - 7:45am, Sep 01)
Last: Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama

NewsblogBob Melvin calls Athletics 'pathetic' after Angels sweep four-game set
(3 - 6:24am, Sep 01)
Last: RMc's desperate, often sordid world

NewsblogOT: The Soccer Thread August, 2014
(944 - 6:08am, Sep 01)
Last: Swedish Chef

NewsblogSherman: How Reds react to second-half swoon will be major factor in offseason
(6 - 6:06am, Sep 01)
Last: Davo Dozier

NewsblogOT: Politics, August 2014: DNC criticizes Christie’s economic record with baseball video
(6297 - 5:07am, Sep 01)
Last: BrianBrianson

NewsblogTigers' Miguel Cabrera appears to re-injure ankle, leaves game
(10 - 3:48am, Sep 01)
Last: Cooper Nielson

NewsblogBackman named PCL’s top manager
(12 - 2:57am, Sep 01)
Last: ReggieThomasLives

NewsblogOT: NBC.news: Valve isn’t making one gaming console, but multiple ‘Steam machines’
(779 - 2:09am, Sep 01)
Last: DJS and the Infinite Sadness

NewsblogJesus Montero gets heckled by Mariners cross checker during rehab stint
(58 - 2:00am, Sep 01)
Last: Weratych

NewsblogAthletics Acquire Adam Dunn
(22 - 1:37am, Sep 01)
Last: 6 - 4 - 3

NewsblogOMNICHATTER 9-1-2014
(1 - 1:13am, Sep 01)
Last: Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq.

NewsblogOT August 2014:  Wrassle Mania I
(90 - 12:53am, Sep 01)
Last: andrewberg

NewsblogOMNICHATTER 8-31-2014
(100 - 12:29am, Sep 01)
Last: Jose Can Still Seabiscuit

NewsblogHigh School Baseball Game In Japan Takes 50 Innings, Four Days
(6 - 11:46pm, Aug 31)
Last: Gamingboy

NewsblogPhoto of the day: Bill Murray, indy league ticket-taker
(42 - 11:33pm, Aug 31)
Last: Robert in Manhattan Beach

Page rendered in 0.4768 seconds
52 querie(s) executed