Manfred has some changes in mind especially for the NL; What do you think?

The commissioner of baseball works for the thirty owners of the Major Leagues. Pressure is on him to improve the game. Rob Manfred was named commissioner in 2015, and he has only witnessed the popularity of baseball decline with the youth. Manfred wants to make changes to the game, and one of the changes is eliminating the pitchers batting in the National League while adopting the  designated hitter rule.

Time to have some fun with a couple of polls along the lines of Change is Good vs. Get Off My Field.

Conversations between MLB and the Players Association appear to be getting serious about about implementing some rule changes. Some perhaps for the 2019 season. Assuming you had a say in which rule changes you would implement, what are your top 3 independent of whether they happen this year, next year, or any year thereafter.

Since the likelihood that none of these ever happen is about as likely as Bryce signing with the Marlins for the major league minimum, the poll does not offer a None of the Above choice.

Please vote using the poll at right.

One of the rule changes would bring the DH to the National League. Does the likelihood of that becoming a reality change your opinion on the Nationals re-signing Bryce Harper.

In addition to the Yes vs. No answer, we’ve added a third choice – that you would like the Nationals to re-sign him regardless.

Again, vote in the poll at right.

And check out our TalkNats post from November, 2015 which included a poll on the DH: Time for MLB to get rid of the DH. That poll is closed – but the sentiment back then was no to the DH.

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February and Baseball

Baseball and snow are the oddest of couples

Old Man Winter is a malicious soul.  He arrives to great fanfare in the midst of any number of celebrations.  The Winter Solstice sits near the peak of the holiday season.  Punctuated with gatherings, family, and rituals the period is one of high energy and excitement.  Every day comes with anticipation and tasks.  We travel.  We eat (too much).  And, we have high levels of social interaction.  Usually, but not always, the weather isn’t too awful.  The atmosphere takes time to react to the reduced photo-period brought about by the combination of planetary orbit and polar tilt.  January comes at first as a welcome reprieve from all the energy before it settles into the long grind of cold and sloppy climatology.  By the dawn of February the thrill is long gone.  Right then is when the old man really bares his knuckles.

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Mike Rizzo brings back Jeremy Hellickson as the 5th starter

Photo by Marlene Koenig for TalkNats

The Washington Nationals have agreed in principle with Jeremy Hellickson on a new one-year deal for the 2019 season. It is an incentive-laden deal with a $1.3 million base guaranteed. The former Rookie of the Year received a major league deal and will be the 25-man roster once the contract is made official pending a physical. If he makes at least 24 starts this season, Hellickson”s salary plus incentives would total not less than $3.1 million for the season. The full incentives package totals $4 million if he makes at least 30 starts which would then give him a $5.3 million total compensation for 2019. This new deal is $700,000 lower than the package the Nats gave him in 2018 when he finished with a +1.2 WAR for the season.

Last year, Hellickson proved to be a case study in analytics as the Nationals plan was to allow him to face the opposing batting order twice then put a tight leash on him as the batters saw him for a third time. On the first time through the batter order, opposing batters only hit Hellickson at a .192 batting average while the second time through the order it rose slightly to .214, and the third to through the order that number almost doubled to .419. The plan worked well although he only averaged 4.81 innings per start last year which is part of the give and take with Hellickson, but the team received a very strong 3.45 ERA. If you want to look at that ERA more optimistically, Hellickson gave up 8-runs in one start, and if you removed that one start, he actually pitched to a 2.78 ERA in his other 18 starts. While averaging 4.81 innings per start is not optimal, this is how baseball has evolved for starters in the back of the rotation.  Continue reading

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The “Best 25 go north” as the 2019 roster is almost complete for the #Nats, Hellickson in the rumor mill!

The Washington Nationals roster could be complete, but it seems like the roster is missing a couple of pieces. No, this is not referring to Bryce Harper, rather this is referring to back of the roster pieces. Last year, Jeremy Hellickson was acquired near the end of Spring Training on March 18th, and one of our sources has told us that Rizzo wants another low-cost deal for a starter to compete for the 5th starter spot and that acquisition could happen at any time. Is there a reunion for Hellickson and the Nats? Continue reading

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Counting down to 9-days before #Nats Spring Training camp opens!

Photo by Sol Tucker for TalkNats

The countdown has started to the Washington Nationals official opening for Spring Training on February 14th, and we are just nine days away. We know most of the players who will be on the Major League side of the complex at The FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches which will include the healthy players on the 40-man roster and a few non-roster invitees like Carter Kieboom, Matt Reynolds, Henderson Alvarez, Vidal Nuno, and J.J. Hoover. The rest of the non-roster invitee list is a closely guarded secret. It appears that all teams except the Nationals have disclosed a preliminary list of their non-roster invitees who are players not on the 40-man roster who will practice side-by-side with the Major League players with high-hopes of making the Opening Day roster. Given the depth of the roster, the odds are low for a non-roster player to make the Opening Day roster and if it happened it would seem the only chances would be for the 5th starter spot in the rotation and a bullpen slot. Continue reading

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#Nats Season Ticket Plans to Share | Join in!

The Washington Nationals used to offer a season ticket partnership site to find other ticket partners, and with that not available for this season, we decided to create a feature for season ticket holders to meet potential ticket partners. Joining a Nats season ticket plan group is the best way to lock in great seats at low prices for the season, and for many buying blocks of 42 or 82 seats is a few too many to fit our budgets and/or busy schedules.

So this year Talk Nats is here to help with a list of plan holders who are looking to share some games. The great part about buying a piece of an established ticket plan versus opening a new plan is that the existing plans typically have the best seats within the pricing sections, so for the same cost per ticket (or less) you can be in the front few rows instead of over a section and back a ways.

The other great reason to buy into a Nats season ticket plan is the perks, check the flyer below for the full list of benefits. Plan holders get the opportunity to save up Red Carpet Reward (RCR) points for prizes. Discounts on food and drinks. Express lines to get into the ballpark and up to the concessions stands. Even playoff priority. NOTE: Not all ticket groups offer all ticket plan benefits, check the details with the individual plan holder. 

Another reason to look into joining an existing plan is to get great seats for a few games in different parts of the ballpark. It’s a cool thing to check out the Diamond Club, the Red Porch, or down by the dugouts. Based on the plans available it could be possible to try out a few games in each of these spots.

Disclaimer: Talk Nats is not a direct party to any deals made based on connections via this blog post. This is a service to help out plan holders and fans, all exchanges are at the own risk of the sellers and buyers. We will certainly allow feedback in case there are issues.

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The Nationals had a Top-10 Bullpen in 2018; What will it look like in 2019?

Photo by Marlene Koenig for Talknats

Measuring a bullpen statistically is tricky business because looks stats can be deceiving.  ERA is generally a stat that does not tell the full story as relievers will tell you as one awful outing will skew the stat plus inherited runners go against the starting pitcher’s ERA.  The Nationals had the 2nd best save % at 74.07% and the 9th best WHIP at 1.27 and the 15th best bullpen ERA at 4.05. So they were near the tops of all bullpens in the Major Leagues if saves and WHIP are your thing. Continue reading

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Mike Rizzo reveals the 90-win goal leading into Spring Training

In all of my years of writing about the Washington Nationals, there is no recollection of Mike Rizzo ever stating that having a 90-win team on paper going into Spring Training is a goal. In the past week, Mike Rizzo has mentioned this 90-win goal more than once. It must be mission accomplished because Fangraphs is projecting the Nats at 92-70 for the 2019 season, and the Nationals have been projected to win 90-games every season since 2012. Sometimes you win over 90 and sometimes it is below 90 because in real baseball — stuff happens — good and not so good.

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Who can afford Bryce Harper?

Photo by Mitchell Layton for the Nationals

With another team entering the Bryce Harper auction, it is time to discuss the intricacies involved in signing a contract for a player like Harper. Any signing of Harper will require a ratification from the principal owner of any team. Be it Ron Fowler of the Padres, Jerry Reinsdorf of the White Sox, John Middleton aka “Stupid Money” or Ted Lerner of the Washington Nationals, the owners will make the ultimate call before pen is put to paper.  Continue reading

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Highlights and Quotes from the #Nats “Hot Stove” Event

The Washington Nationals “Hot Stove” event is held annually for full-season ticket holders which makes this an exclusive event. Typically the stage includes general manager Mike Rizzo, the team’s current manager (Dave Martinez), and the President of “Business Operation” (Vacant) and a member of MASN to moderate the event and tell a few jokes. Continue reading

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