Nationals Baseball: Who do you deal?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Who do you deal?

The Nats may very well have an abundance of pitchers next season. Shocking but if there are no health scares, that is what we are looking at. Strasburg, Zimmermann and Lannan appear to be locks for the rotation based on past performance. Detwiler is making a case for a spot. Peacock and Milone are both showing strongly enough in AAA that you expect them to be given shots to make the rotation next Spring. Let's not forget about Maya. That's 7. If they re-sign Wang (which really why put all that money into him if you aren't going to?) that's 8. (we'll leave out Livan for now, and consider Cole, Solis, Ray, Purke, Meyer 2013 questions at best).

Eight pitchers is obviously too many for a rotation. Normally I'd say just keep them all. Injuries and developmental issues turning this 8 into a 5 would not be a surprise. However this isn't a normal offseason. The Nats are looking to turn a corner into something resembling a playoff caliber team and it would really help them do that if they could get a dependable CF. Teams just don't deal CFs for nothing though and any deal made in the offseason will almost certainly involve a young starter. The question then becomes who do you deal?

Maya and Wang are off the table. No one would consider 30yr old Maya worth trading for and if they want Wang they can go after him in FA. Strasburg and Zimm are off the table too for obvious reasons. That leaves Peacock, Milone, Lannan, and Detwiler.

Lannan and Detwiler have clocks ticking on them, though the clock for Lannan is a lot louder. Lannan is arbitration eligbile and will be a free agent in for the 2014 season. Detwiler is just about to become arb eligible and will be a FA in 2016.

John's also the oldest, but the gap isn't as big as you might think. He'll be an old 27 next year, Detwiler a young 26, Milone 25, Peacock 24.

And to put John even further ahead - he has arguably the worst peripherals in the group. He walks too many and doesn't strike out enough. Detwiler is going to get you more Ks. Scouts argue on whether Milone's stuff can fool major leaguers, but there is no arguing with his pinpoint control. Peacock has the best "stuff", pure and simple. It's a matter of harnessing it.

So you trade the oldest, arguably least talented guy right? Especially since he's the closest to FA, right? Well, here's the thing. John has something the other 3 don't have. He has three things really. 2008, 2009, and 2011 (and parts of 2007 and 2010 if you like). He has repeated major league success. After a year, or maybe two, you could argue that it wouldn't be repeated. It's much harder to do now since he's repeated it again and again. Trading John is trading a known. It's a known #4 type starter, but it's a known. Peacock, Milone, and Detwiler are all various shades of unknown. Detwiler might break down again. Milone's stuff might not be good enough. The batting eye of the major league hitter might make Peacock throw 90 pitches in 3 innings. They aren't guarantees. Going into a time when you want to make strides, don't you need guarantees? Isn't that why you give a set-up man X million a year? Because you feel slightly better on his chances to provide you with the performance you want?

It's a silly exercise because really who knows if the Nats will trade and with whom? And what do they want? But silly doesn't mean it isn't fun. What do I do? I hope Detwiler kills it from here on out and then I deal him. 8 or so starts would be a nice run but it's not even a third of a season.


Donald said...

Who of those options would return the highest value? Regardless of who the Nats would prefer to keep, if a team has a valuable CF to trade, who do they want back? That might depend on how key the pitcher is in the deal -- i.e. is he a throw-in to dealing Desmond or Espinosa or the main trade chip. Assuming the pitcher is a key part of the trade, say with Bernadina as the throw-in, I think I'd order them Detwiler, Peacock, Lannan, Milone based on a mix of potential and prior performance. Detwiler and Peacock have more upside that might outweigh Lannan's history. But Lannan's performance probably out weighs Milone's potential.

If you were selling a CF, who would you ask for first?

Hoo said...

We're on the same page. Det's performance is making him look very tasty on the trade market. I think Det and Peacock will draw the most trade interest.

I'd guess the team resigns Wang only if he gives the team a discount. So Wang can pitch and then become trade fodder if the team is under performing. Also, I'm not sure the team writes off Wang as a sunk cost so maybe he becomes the FA pitcher again? Very disappointing if true.

Maya becomes a spot starter/frequent flyer from 'Cuse maybe with Livo? Or a throw-in or a move to the pen? He just doesn't have much value.

What's confusing the picture is that my feeling is that Mgment has all but promised another strong pursuit of a FA SP stud. And that's in addition to possibly resigning Wang.

But I'd guess Det or Peacock are shipped out for a CF.

Anonymous said...

Why are we leaving Livo out? The most accomplished player on the team is always in the lead to stay. Next year's guarantees are Strasburg and Zimmermann. Anything else is up in the air.

Lannan has a very, very good chance. Livo just has a better chance.

Wang is 50/50 depending on how he finishes the season. Detwiler less so. The AAA talent is simply dependent on the FA market and if the Nats decide to grab any starters there or via trade.

Best guess is Strasburg, Zimmermann, Free Agent/Trade, Lannan, Livan. The AAA talent hasn't impressed enough to replace Livo yet.

Despite all the negative attention he gets from the media, he is still one of the most reliable pitchers in the game. He is the Tim Wakefield of the NL. And while he isn't going to post you a 2.00 ERA, he isn't going to post a 5.00 ERA either. He'll live between 3.50 and 4.50., which is perfect for a 4th or 5th starter. He'll toss 6+ 30 out of 33 starts.

There is a reason why he's still around and still gets attention every trade deadline, he is a very valuable player. Not to mention, still the best hitting pitcher around.

Donald said...

Somebody *might* be interested in Livo as a trade deadline pick to cover a short-term need but no one is going to look at him as a long-term part of their plans, including the Nats. And even that first part is a bit questionable given how little interest there was in him this year. As I recall, an anon GM from another team said that the Nats value Livo way more than the rest of league does. Regardless, no team is going to trade a player like Span for a player like Livo.

Harper said...

Donald - Peacock. Youngest with biggest upside. If he gets his control in line he's a 1/2 type.

Hoo - but who? We mentioned this before but Sabathia and Buerhle seem unlikely which leaves... Oswalt? Maybe there's a sign and trade (shields AND upton?) that we're not privy to.

Anon - signing Livan is like playing hot potato. someone one year is going to be left with the 6.00 ERA guy. Still if you are going to bring him back 2012 is the last year to do it. If he implodes - so what?

Wally said...

I think Peacock has the most trade value too. Probably Detwiler next, but not enough to bring back a CF worth trading for on his own. With Span not being able to come back, I think that they are in the same position of not being able to trade for him. So I think it is just down to Bourjos.

If they do go after a pitcher, I can see Chicago as a shopping center. Either Danks or Floyd, or Dempster would be enticing.

Anonymous said...

YOU say eventually he's going to be a 6.00 ERA guy. People (probably you included) have been saying that for years now. and every year you keep looking like jackasses. He has had one 6 ERA year (AL/Colorado so it doesn't even count) in his career.

The problem with you and every other Livo hater, is that you look at his numbers at the end of the year and try to define him. You can't do that. He has some amazingly awful starts, yes, but that is why his numbers end up looking bad, because those dirty his otherwise stellar numbers.

2006: 4.83 ERA ... 5 games of 6+ER out of 34 starts. Remove those 5 starts, his ERA was 4.09, which is well below the NL average

2007: 4.93 ERA ... 5 games of 6+ER out of 33 starts. Remove those 5 starts, his ERA was 3.77, which is wayyyyyyyy below the NL average.

And to prove to you how amazing he was last season...

2010: 3.66 ERA ... 6 games of 5+ER out of 33 starts. Remove those 6 starts, his ERA in 2010 would have been 2.41. In 27 of his starts he posted a 2.41 ERA. If the Nationals had any kind of offense last season, he would have won 18+ games easy.

So you can keep dismissing his skill, but it's pretty obvious that it is still there.

Hi hater.

Will said...

Anonymous, that is a useless exercise. You could do the same with any player. For example, 2011 Adam Dunn: take out his hitless games this season, and his atrocious .169/.297/.298 split becomes .345/.417/.602- Jose Bautista-like! The fact of the matter is, Livan had 5 or 6 really awful starts each season that caused his team to lose. You can't just write those off.

It's also convenient that you skipped his 2008 and 2009 seasons, where Livan allowed 5+ runs 15(!) and 10 times, respectively. I'll keep hating as long as you keep cherry picking statistics to suit your argument.

Anonymous said...

Like I said, '08 was spent in the AMERICAN LEAGUE & COLORADO. So those statistics are skewed. '09 was a RARE bad season.

My argument is going way over your head. In each season I pointed out, he had 5/6 awful games. With those exceptions he had 27-29 very good starts. That is around 85% of the time he plays. I have a feeling what you did with Dunn doesn't produce the same amount of consistency.

You lose doubly. Once for not disproving my argument. Once again for not understanding it.

Donald said...

I think Harper's point with Livan is that he'll be 37 at the start of next season. Maybe he'll pitch as well next year as this one. Maybe at 38 he'll keep doing as well again. But he's getting older, his velocity is dropping and at some point that's going to catch up to him, like it does to every single person who ever played the game. If he were 32, you might take the chance. At 37, you just go year to year. If he continues to post a 4.00 era into his 40's he'll be beating the odds. Acknowledging that isn't hating and it doesn't mean that anyone on here wants Livo to fail.

JDBrew said...

Anonymous, easy man, nobody is saying that Livo was a bad pitcher. But at opening day next year he is going to be 39 years old. And he was a good starter. And he still has his moments. But they're becoming fewer and farther between than they used to be. Since we're picking individual starts in this discussion let me point out, THIS year, not last year, not 2006, this year Livo has 11 starts where he has given up 4+ earned runs. And usually in those starts leaving the game in the 4th or 5th inning. That's an ERA of around 9. And I use 4+ earned runs because they call 3 runs a quality start for a reason. If you give up 4 then it's not a great start. It's actually extremely average to poor. Let's not examine what Livo did in 2006, and look at what he's doing right now. it's not a terrible decision if they resign him for next year, but why do it? An organization that's building around youth and that has 7+ young good starters doesn't really need to sign a 39 year old vet with diminishing skills. He's beginning to play old, he's not bad yet. But chances are he soon will be.

As for the rest of the discussion, I sure would hate to lose Lannan to trade. He's been an innings eater for a while now. And I would hate to lose those two young guys coming up. Something about a good prospect really can give you hope for the future. And I really think detwiler could be valuable. So that leaves Wang, Gorzellany, and Maya. If I were another club i wouldn't trade for that, not much anyway. So my guess is they stand pat, unless it's a big big package they're not gonna be able to acquire a quality CF. Maybe. But I would doubt it.

Donald said...

So what about Ramos or Flores? Rather than give up a pitcher, would you be willing to trade one of them and if so, what value do you think they'd have? It seems like that's a position that a lot of teams really need and we might not need both of them with options in the minors.

Harper said...

All - to be fair to Anon as much as simply showing his stats with the best games cut out (rather than the worst) is a good example to show how stats can be manipulated isn't exactly answering his thesis. It might be good enough but I think we need to dig a little deeper.

We are being a bit dismissive of what Livan can do for the Nats in 2012 but Donald and JDB have it right it's an age thing. There's a reason there are only 4 starters 37 years or older in the majors right now. Even if you like Livan to be useful in 2012, do you feel the same for 2013? If you don't isn't the team better off using 2012 to help a young guy or FA acquisition get acclimated? That's the question on hand. Maybe Anon likes Livan through 2014. If so then there is no reason not to bring him back.

JDB - I can see your side of the trading but gotta be careful you aren't overestimating your own talent.

Donald - they aren't trading Ramos given his age, control, and defensive ability. Plus Norris has a terrible year in AA. They'd deal Flores but unfortunately this year has been bad so he's actually lost value I think.

Anonymous said...

My point is that there is no reason not to continue bringing him back until he doesn't perform well enough to stay. Everybody else seems to think he doesn't even deserve that chance.

Keep giving him one year deals, like he has received for the last 57 seasons or so that he has pitched, and stop letting him pitch when he isn't good enough to hold down the 5th spot.

If the Nats refuse to resign him, I guarantee his is one of the most sought after FAs in the offseason. Who doesn't want an end of the rotation guy that eats innings and pitches with consistency?

That is all I'm saying.

Hoo said...

Harper: There may be some big name FAs that might not have their option exercised (Like some Cards. Isn't Wainwright, Carpenter possible FA with Pujols? That's a hefty payroll.

I have no problem bringing Livo back on a minor league deal. But at what point does Livo become a block to the future b/c if the Nats keep the pitchers, the team needs to see Znn, Stras, Dett pitch. Peacock/Milone also need to see MLB time next year to prepare them for 2013.

Wally said...

I have no problem bringing Livo back, but I'll have to bulk up on the magazine subscriptions since I can't bear to watch him. But just to be clear, he'll be 71 years old by next opening day, not 39. I have seen his real birth certificate, not the one that he got at Playland in NY. His half brother The Duke is approaching 90. Amazing genes in that family.