Free agent catchers and the #Nats options for 2019

Photo by Marlene Koenig for TalkNats

With Matt Wieters headed to free agency, the Washington Nationals depth chart of catchers consists of Spencer Kieboom, Pedro Severino, and Raudy Read. While those pickings seem slim, the Nationals through attrition dug deep in their farm system and plucked Spencer Kieboom, and he finished strong for the Nats batting .375 after September 10th with a 1.108 OPS and a +0.6 WAR on the season.  You can expect Mike Rizzo to upgrade the catcher position through a trade or free agency, and this is a good market for free agent catchers this year. Previously, the Nationals were tied firmly in trade rumors to Miami’s All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto and nothing ever seemed close to getting done as the rumored asking price was too much. Continue reading

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The report card for the 2018 #Nats…

Photo by Marlene Koenig for TalkNats

I don’t think I will shock anyone when I say the Washington Nationals didn’t have a great season. The team struggled to an 82-80 record and didn’t make the playoffs despite high expectations. But a team is only as good as the men who wear its uniform, and some Nats exceeded expectations, some met them, and some did neither.

Here is the report card for the 2018 Nats. Please note that these grades are being made on a curve, so a B for an ace pitcher or a superstar slugger means something very different than it does for a journeyman who signed on a minor league deal or a rookie who was called up for an emergency. These grades are relative to expectations and whether these players were adequate, exemplary, or abysmal at the role they were assigned to perform.

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Another look at the Washington Nationals tax cap situation for 2019 (updated for Kyle Barraclough trade)

Today the fine analysts at MLB Trade Rumors prepared their estimates for arbitration eligible players as well as Super Two players. It is clear who six of the Washington Nationals arbitration eligible players are this off-season, but there is a player who could receive 4 years of arbitration if he receives Super Two designation — and that player is Trea Turner. While Turner has 2.135 years of service time, players have not been informed if they have reached Super Two, but consider 2.120-2.150 is the range generally. MLBTR is estimating a hefty raise for Turner to $5.3 million if he receives Super Two status which would be a nice wedding present for the Turner’s. To qualify for the Super Two designation, players must rank in the top 22% in terms of service time among those MLB players who have accumulated at least two years of service time and less than three years.  Continue reading

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2019 Preview – The Manager and coaches #Nats

Photo by Andrew Lang for TalkNats

Going into 2018, Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo and team ownership took a major plunge by installing a rookie manager, Dave Martinez, on a team primed to contend for a title. Industry consensus was that the non-renewal of Dusty Baker was at  worst foolish and some framed it as being unjustified after Baker led the Nationals to two mid-90 win seasons and maneuvered around some serious injuries to get there. On the flip side, both of Dusty’s Nationals teams failed to advance past the NLDS and most Nats observers agreed that Dusty was out-managed in both instances. Ownership and Rizzo felt that an investment of $200 mil was not made to just make the playoffs, and it was decided that a drastic change was needed to ‘get over the hump’. Continue reading

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Astros/Indians, Dodgers/Braves, Red Sox/Yankees, Redskins/Saints are your games today!

The postseason continues this afternoon and into the evening as MLB will once again compete with the NFL and Monday Night Football for audience viewership. For Washington Redskins fans, they are the team du jour tonight against the New Orleans Saints for their football game at 8:15PM. For baseball fans, these division-series games have had a lack of offense in three of the series or you can look at it the other way that it is great pitching dominating.

The Cleveland Indians have a team batting average of .100 so far through 2 games, the Braves are batting .144 through 3 games, and the Rockies who were swept by the Brewers only hit .146.  It’s hard to believe for three very good offenses that they have struggled so much, and it was the Braves who were shutout for 19 2/3 innings before a bases loaded walk scored their first run of the NLDS.  Continue reading

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Sunday afternoon and evening has the third games of the NLDS series

While the American League teams are traveling today, the National League teams are playing their third games in their respective NLDS series. Each game is an elimination game for the home teams who trail 2-0 in the best-of-five series. The Brewers-Rockies game is the afternoon game followed by the Dodgers-Braves.  Continue reading

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A busy day of baseball with the 2 ALDS games and the 2 NLDS games!

There are four division series overlapping at different points today. The day opened with the defending champion, Houston Astros, going up against the Indians. It was a heavyweight bout featuring Corey Kluber and Justin Verlander on the mound for their respective teams. Kluber got knocked out early and the Astros are in attack mode. The Brewers are hosting the Rockies in Game #2 of their NLDS series where the Brewers walked-off in dramatic fashion in the 10th inning last night. The Redsox and Yankees get the primetime spot, of course, and the Dodgers and Braves have the late night finish in Los Angeles. Continue reading

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2019 preview – Starting pitching #Nats

Photo by Marlene Koenig for TalkNats

When looking at the 2018 season in the rearview mirror, my contention is that with all the issues documented daily, all the whining about this and that — the single biggest issue and the main reason the 2018 season was a failure due to the shocking under-performance of the starting rotation — almost everything else is pretty much noise. Continue reading

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The two NLDS series begin today! Some familiar ex-Nats on the rosters!

At 5:00 pm, the NLDS gets started with the Milwaukee Brewers against the Colorado Rockies and at 8:30 pm, the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers get going. The Braves have a predictable line-up and they are starting Mike Foltynewicz, but for the Dodgers, they will start lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu and not Clayton Kershaw who will start tomorrow on extra rest as he last pitched on Saturday. This could be a very well thought out strategy by the analytics group with the Dodgers or a move that could be highly criticized if it does not work-out. Continue reading

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Code Breaking and Baseball

Hands on hips, Jackie Robinson stares incredulously as the Giants celebrate. October 3, 1951

The Divisional tie-breaker game between the Colorado Rockies and the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday, October 1 turned on a dime.  With none out in the bottom of the fourth inning Pitcher German Marquez struck out Dodgers’ First Baseman Max Muncy on a high fastball.  Unfortunately, for Colorado, Catcher Tony Wolters failed to secure the ball. It popped into the air and back to the screen.  Muncy was safe at first.  Two batters later, Cody Bellinger homered.  Up by two runs the Dodgers never looked back.  This innocent little strikeout-that-wasn’t turned into a big deal.  If one digs a bit deeper it possibly reveals something much larger. Continue reading

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