Friday, July 23, 2010

Nationals Production Chart - Week 5

After a week off due to the all-star game I'm back with the weekly production chart.
Tons of movement in the Top 5 this week. Livo adding a ton of value and Stammen and Strasburg make their debuts.

Week 5 Production Chart

Top 5 players in terms of value
1. Ryan Zimmerman 9,650,000
2. Livan Hernandez 8,600,000 (This all depends on Livo's contract. I'm assuming vet min.)
3. Josh Willingham 7,400,000
4. Stephen Strasburg 5,225,000
5. Craig Stammen 3,498,000

Top 5 in negative value (i.e. what they'd owe the team)
1. Jason Marquis -8,600,000
2. Cristian Guzman -5,300,000*
3. Miguel Batista -3,300,000
4. Wil Nieves -3,000,000
5. Brian Bruney -2,300,000

* - Guzman hasn't played that terribly this year, its just the fact that he has a massive contract that really brings his value down.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Worried about Derek Norris? Don't be (yet).

Where has Derek Norris's power gone?

The catcher, regarded as one of the top hitting prospects in the Nationals organization has been having his struggles this year in Class A Potomac. Some are worried that his budding star has dimmed slightly with his struggles. I'm here to tell you that there's no reason to worry just yet.

Norris, who underwent surgery on the hamate bone in his left hand in October of 2009 is off to a slow start this year thanks in part to recovery on his hand as well as a myriad of other injuries that have slowed his progress.

On the year, Norris is hitting .229/.413/.366/.779 with only 5 HR's in 153 AB's. To the casual observer, Norris appears to be struggling. After all, someone that is hitting .229 and slugging less than his OBP certainly isn't having a banner year. But look closer and you might see that Norris really isn't struggling all that much; and when he is, it’s mostly due to the loss of power that is associated with recovery of a broken hamate bone.

In 2009, Norris's big breakout season, Derek posted an OBP of .416, and that's with a batting average of .289. Flash forward a year and Norris has an OBP of .413 while only hitting .229. Obviously, Norris has greatly improved his batting eye. In 2009, Norris walked a respectable 16.4% of the time, in 2010, he's at an outstanding 22%.

On the other end of the spectrum, Norris struck out 26.5% of the time in 2009, and is striking out 27.7% in 2010... not that big of a difference.

Higher walk percentage with a similar strikeout percentage? Nice!

What's killing Norris is the lack of power he's showing. This can be directly attributed to the recovery from the broken hamate bone.

Taking a look at the fly balls Norris has hit the past two years, there's a noticeable difference in what he was doing in 2009, and what he was doing in 2010.

Norris's ISO on fly balls in 2009 - .504

Norris's ISO on fly balls in 2010 - .295

Pretty obvious that his power has been temporarily (hopefully) sapped due to the surgery and recovery.

Norris has also increased his fly ball % this year to 64.3% (44.2% in 2009). When you increase your fly ball % but lower you ISO on the fly balls, you're going to have problems, and not surprisingly, Norris is struggling in the power department. Next year will be the real test for Norris, I fully expect him to come back healthy and for him to continue on his track as Nationals catcher of the future. I'm not worried about his power being gone for good as this article from Baseball America explains just how long it takes for the player to return to his former self.

So, to summarize, don't worry about Derek Norris. He's becoming more selective at the plate and hitting the ball in the air at a high clip... thus, more fly balls = more homeruns. The only thing holding him back is a full recovery from his broken hamate bone.

I'm not much of a betting man, but I'd certainly put my money on Norris coming back in 2011 with a breakout year in AA, and possibly even a cup of coffee with the Nats that September.

Photo courtesy of BeGreen90

Friday, July 9, 2010

Nationals Production Chart - Week 4

Weekly update... Nationals added over 9 million dollars in team 'value' this week. Zimmerman has jumped in front of Willingham as the leader in 'value' provided to the Nationals. Ian Desmond makes an apperance in the Top 5 after a decent week with the bat.

Week 4 Production Chart

Top 5 players in term of value
1. Ryan Zimmerman 8,250,000
2. Josh Willingham 7,800,000
3. Livan Hernandez 5,700,000
4. Tyler Clippard 3,899,000
5. Ian Desmond 2,800,000

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Nationals sign 7th round pick Kevin Keyes

The Washington Nationals have come to terms with Texas OF'er Kevin Keyes, their 7th round pick in the 2010 draft.

No terms of the deal were given, but Keyes is now an official member of the Vermont Lake Monsters, the Washington Nationals Short Season A Ball team.

Dustin McComas of confirmed the signing on his twitter page while also speculating that Keyes signing bonus was worth 125,000 dollars.

Spoke with a source that informed me Kevin Keyes signed with the #Nationals, and will begin his pro career soon. Congrats to Kevin. #UT

Keyes reportedly signed for a bonus of around 125,000 dollars, which is above slot for his spot. #UT #Horns

You can find Keyes's Vermont player profile here.

Keyes's roster page from the University of Texas can be found here.

Photo courtesy of

Bill Ladson doesn't get it

Bill Ladson infuriates me.

Maybe it's the fact that he makes a typo every third word, or maybe it's the fact that he often is only good for pointing out the obvious. Whatever the case, I've never been a fan of Ladson's work.

So, it comes as no surprise that when I read his most recent 'mailbag' I was sent into a tizzy.

One of Ladson's favorite pastimes is openly opining for the removal of Adam Dunn from the Nationals roster. Despite the fact that it would cripple an already weak Nationals offense, Ladson has it in his head that Dunn is the key cog in what ails the Nats.

Overcome with anger/rage/what have you, I have decided to break down Bill's answer to a question posed by a user named Tracy D., who wrote...

Should the Nationals trade Adam Dunn?

-- Tracy D., Washington, D.C.

What follows is Ladson's response; my thoughts are intertwined between the quotes.

I have mixed feelings about Dunn. Considering the Nationals are having problems on defense, I would say they would have to make a move. While Dunn has improved at first base, I think Washington can do better. Granted, Dunn is better hitter than I thought. But when I look at the defense at shortstop, second and first base, something must change.

Naturally, Bill hopes for it to be Adam Dunn. And really, why should it be Dunn? Adam is not the problem defensively. Infact, he's having a very solid year there.

2010 stats

Fielding percentage for 1B: Dunn 7th in the NL at .994 (4 errors)

UZR for 1B: -0.6 (16/30 MLB rank)

On top of his stats, Dunn currently has a better UZR than former Gold Glove winners Mark Teixeira (-3.6), Albert Pujols (-1.1) and Carlos Pena (-0.9).

So, Bill, tell me again what Dunn has done to deserve your ire? Obviously it wasn't his defense.

Defense is the No. 1 reason the Nationals have a record under .500 entering Tuesday's action.

Really Bill?

It has nothing to do with the fact that the offense has only scored 337 runs, good for fourth worst in the NL? Or maybe the fact that the pitching staff has given up 338 ER's , good for fifth worst in the NL. ER, that stands for earned runs, Bill. Earned runs are runs that were earned by the pitching staff, not a result of error filled defense. I'd say hitting and pitching is much more responsible for the Nationals being under .500 than the team's defense.

I often think back to what the White Sox did after the 2004 season. They traded Carlos Lee to the Brewers and let Magglio Ordonez become a free agent. Both were power hitters, but were not the best on defense. What happened in 2005? The White Sox improved their defense and won the World Series. Ask Willie Harris, who was on that championship squad.

You're joking right? Do you mean the Chicago White Sox that gave up MORE ER's (782) in 2004 than RUNS SCORED (642) in 2005? That team? What made the White Sox better was 100 percent a result of a bolstered starting staff. In 2004 the White Sox starters ERA was 5.17 (once again, ERA stands for earned runs allowed). In 2005? 3.75.

That's right, a drop of 1.42 runs a game.

To put things even more in perspective, here is the name of every pitcher that started one game for the White Sox in 2004, the number next to their name is the number of games they started in 2004.

Mark Buehrle - 34

Jon Garland - 33

Esteban Loaiza - 21

Scott Schoeneweiss - 19

Freddy Garcia - 16

Jose Contreras - 13

Jason Grilli - 8

Felix Diaz - 7

Dan Wright - 4

Jon Rauch - 2

Josh Stewart - 2

Neal Cotts - 1

Arnie Munoz - 1

Of the 13 pitchers that started at least one game in 2004 for the White Sox, six never started another major league game (Munoz, Cotts, Stewart, Wright, Diaz, Schoeneweiss); three pitchers never threw another big league pitch (Stewart, Wright, Diaz).

2004 was a historically bad year for the White Sox pitching staff. To say their 2005 turnaround was because of defense is dishonest at best.


Bill Ladson has a vendetta against Adam Dunn. His response to Tracy's question was not the first time Ladson has openly campaigned for Dunn to be traded. I'm sure it also won't be his last.

As often as Ladson makes grammatical mistakes in his articles, he makes just as many mistakes in evaluating anything baseball related. Adam Dunn is a player that brings the fans to the game. His bat is positively deadly and his defense has improved dramatically. Ladson, of course, will never be mistaken for someone that knows baseball (later on in his column, Ladson proposes the Nationals start Willie Harris and his .254 OBP at 2B and bat him leadoff). It's time we add the writing off of Adam Dunn as just another mistake in Ladson's ever growing blooper file.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Matt Capps named to the NL All-Star Team

Matt Capps has been named to the 2010 MLB All-Star game as the lone representative for the Washington Nationals.

Capps, second in the NL in saves (22) is enjoying a rebound year in Washington just months after being non-tendered by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

For the year, Capps is 2-3 with a 3.19 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP.

The announcement of the NL and AL All-Star teams can be found here.

Photo courtesy of afagen

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Forever the optimist

The Washington Nationals are currently down 2-0 in the third inning on Fox Baseball's Saturday game of the week.

Stephen Strasburg is struggling with his command, over 65 pitches through three.

On the other side, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey is dominating the Nats with a bevy of offspeed pitches that have befuddled the team.

Yet, I'm optimistic. Sure, maybe the Nats don't win today (I'm not giving up hope... I'm just saying "if") but I feel a good vibe around the team.

Call me optimistic, but I'm happy with the direction of the team. Zimm, Dunn, Hammer provide a credible 3-4-5 and Strasburg teamed with Zimmermann gives the team a 1-2 tandem at the top of the rotation.

I'm optimistic... I think everyone else should be as well.

Weekly Nationals Production chart - Week 3

Here's my weekly update for the Nationals Production Chart.

Three weeks in and things are looking good for the Nats as they've finally broken through and are now "profitable".

Weekly update... Nationals have broken through and are now making money!

Top 5 players in term of value
1. Josh Willingham 6,600,000
2. Ryan Zimmerman 5,230,000
3. Livan Hernandez 4,800,000
4. Tyler Clippard 3,399,000
5. Craig Stammen 2,998,000