Don: Been a while so it seems to me that it is time for a Point-Counterpoint. I am fine with either Paul Skenes or Dylan Crews as the Nats draft pick . But I have to admit that I lean towards Skenes over Crews.
Steve: I was in for drafting Crews for months then switched to Skenes because I think he’s a legit ace. But as we approach the draft, I’m now getting conservative. Pitchers that throw that hard have a higher injury history, but if you were guaranteed the first 7 years of what Stephen Strasburg did, I think we would all sign up for that. You have to score big with a first pick when you are picking Top-3. Honestly, whether it is Skenes or Crews, I will support Rizzo’s choice.
Last year, I wasn’t happy as I thought it was a time to go safer with Brooks Lee. I’m fairly certainly Rizzo is going to choose Skenes or Crews. The only thing that would #### me off is if Rizzo bows down to Boras and goes over $9.7 million to either player. Neither are walking from that type of money and Rizzo needs to be able to say “no” to Boras.
Don I agree that Crews might be a safer choice. But safe is not necessarily the best. So let the debate begin. The Nats need both quality bats and starters, IMO it seems like the likelihood/ability to sign a quality bat vs. a quality starter is higher. What say you?
Steve: Absolutely. Easier to get bats. That favors drafting Skenes. Again, I think Rizzo will take Skenes if available.
Don: It also seems to me that the kids in minors who are outfielders are looking good. A 2025 outfield of Hassell, Wood and (maybe) Lane Thomas looks good to me. If they work out, seems to me that Skenes adds more value. If they don’t, adding Crews helps with the offense. But you still need pitching. See Mike Trout in his early years with the Angels. One playoff appearance, no wins, because they had no pitching.
Steve: That’s the way I see it Don if Rizzo drafts Skenes your 2025 outfield is James Wood LF, Robert Hassell III CF, and Lane Thomas RF. If you don’t draft Skenes, then Rizzo has to spend big in free agency.
Don: Skenes has said he wants to be a two way player. Since you don’t want him throwing in a short 2023 minors season, do you have him DH somewhere to see what his bat is like?
Steve: LSU wouldn’t even allow it, but I never thought of this as a way to engage Skenes. The Nats will shut him down like they did with Jake Bennett last year after his college season. So Skenes could go to the Florida Complex League and DH for them.
Don: Agreed on not doing both in his lone (?) season at LSU. But is it worth even seeing if he can hit? He could be like Joe Ross – occasional PHer. The balance of the 2023 season is perhaps the only time to see if he can hit. Buys brownie points to let him try. Is there any risk to letting him try this season when he is not pitching?
Steve: Could Skenes be a Shohei Ohtani unicorn and do both pitching and DH? I don’t think Rizzo would allow it. While fun to try, maybe if he can really crank ’em, he could be a pinch-hitter like you said with Ross. But with a universal DH, there’s so little need to pinch-hit any more.
Don: Nothing to lose by trying that. But we are still in the position that the Pirates make the Nats decision simple. I am still not convinced they don’t try to go under-slot with Langford or Clark.
Don: Let me throw another wrinkle at you. On the assumption that Davey is gone at the end of this season, and the Nats will be even younger, what do you think of the idea of hiring a college manager? Like maybe the LSU coach.
Steve: You have some of the most creative ideas. I would have wanted Johnson’s pitching coach Johnson (yes two Johnsons) but he took the head coaching job at another school, and he was the Twins pitching coach previously — so I’m sure he wouldn’t want to go back to being a MLB pitching coach. I am perfectly fine with Tim Bogar getting a shot as the manager if Davey doesn’t return and get him a more analytical coaching staff. Maybe you offer LSU’s coach Johnson a bench coach position? My guess is he wouldn’t take the pay cut.
Don: I try 😀. On that topic, I wonder when a team will name co-managers. One a glue guy (Davey is a perfect example of that) and the other a tactician (Maddon as an example). Of course, I am not advocating that the Nats bring Maddon on board. But it is an idea that I wish someone would try. And, for the record, I would be fine with giving Tim Bogar a shot.
Now your turn to weigh in.