Bob Nightengale Still Doesn’t Get the Nationals and the Strasburg Shutdown

Bob Nightengale, of USAToday was a guest on the Holden and Danny Show Tuesday on 106.7 FM and demonstrated his ignorance towards the Washington Nationals and the Strasburg shutdown last year. He continues to perpetuate two myths that at this point are willful negligence.

Myth #1

Holden: Didn’t Rizzo say they were going to throw him (Strasburg) out there for his next start?

Nightengale: That goes against what they did last year. If you are going to baby him last year, you better keep it up and not take any chances.

There is this belief in the national media that Strasburg was treated differently last year. The truth is, he was treated like every other pitcher in the Nationals system recovering from Tommy John surgery. He pitched the same number of innings as

Continue reading “Bob Nightengale Still Doesn’t Get the Nationals and the Strasburg Shutdown”


Dan Haren might have the worst ERA in baseball, but Edwin Jackson has the second worst

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Yes, Dan Haren has been a disaster.  This is no longer a secret.  After 15 starts, he has the worst ERA in baseball among qualified starters, an embarrassing 6.15.

If only the Nationals hadn’t signed him as a free agent, all of our problems would be solved, right?

Not exactly.

The man Haren replaced has the second worst ERA in baseball among qualified starters, 5.75.

Edwin Jackson, last year’s token veteran one-year contract starter, has given up just as many earned runs as Haren, 56.  He has 10 losses on his first-half scoresheet.  Jackson hasn’t even come close to his performance last year when he gave the Nationals a respectable 4.03 ERA in 189.2 innings.

Haren and Jackson have both been disasters.  But there’s one difference between them: their contracts.

The Nationals gave Haren $13 for one season.  Yeah, he’s a waste of money this year, but next year they owe him nothing.  Jackson, on the other hand, was given $52 million for four years.

It’s important to make good free agent signings.  But it’s even more important to avoid terrible ones.  In the Haren/Jackson trade-off, Mike Rizzo gets half-credit.

Gio Gonzalez eats dessert, dominates Mets

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Mickey Tettleton ate Fruits Loops.  Wade Boggs famously ate chicken before every game.  Gio Gonzalez eats lots of dessert, apparently.

According to his Twitter/Instagram accounts, Gio Gonzalez consumed at least part of the above disgustingly awesome dessert spread last night somewhere in New York City before today’s start against the Mets.

How did Gio do?  Seven scoreless innings.  Seven strikeouts with only five baserunners.  A season high 84 strikes and 17 missed bats.  In other words, his best game of the season.

Diabetes, weight gain, and tooth decay are serious issues.  But we have a division to win.  Eat away, Gio.

Nats Stats (WAR) June 24

as per fangraphs

Name Last Week WAR Change This Week WAR
Ian Desmond 1.9 0.5 2.4
Bryce Harper 1.7 0.1 1.8
Denard Span 0.8 0.2 1
Anthony Rendon 0.9 0 0.9
Ryan Zimmerman 0.5 0.3 0.8
Adam LaRoche -0.2 0.5 0.3
Roger Bernadina 0.1 0 0.1
Jayson Werth 0.3 -0.4 -0.1
Kurt Suzuki 0 -0.1 -0.1
Chad Tracy -0.7 0.1 -0.6
Steve Lombardozzi -0.7 -0.2 -0.9


LaRoche had a very quiet fantastic week .500 OBP.  Only one extra base hit his 2 run triple

Span actually added value despite hitting below average by his well above CF play

Despite a very visible performance in Philly, Werth had a very bad week

The Nats FA Class of 2016: Enjoy the Next 2 Years

Washington Nationals at Baltimore Orioles May ...
Washington Nationals at Baltimore Orioles May 22, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Jordan Zimmermann
Jordan Zimmermann (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Watching the Nats game Thursday night I started to think about the Nats free agent class of 2016.  Both Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond  hit free agency after two more seasons (Detwiler does also, but he is not in the same category).  It will be the first time the Nats need to make the call about salary structure for the team.  Do they resign their players for FA market rates or do they back fill with organizational talent at pre-arbitration rates.  In a lot of ways the type of team, and the type of owner the Lerners are will be understood at that moment.  The MASN arbitration in the hands of MLB will probably have the biggest say.

I have come to a realization that is actually quite liberating:

Stop worrying about the future and enjoy the now.

Continue reading “The Nats FA Class of 2016: Enjoy the Next 2 Years”

Do the Nationals players feel entitled?

Danny Espinosa
Danny Espinosa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the Nationals told Danny Espinosa he was headed back to the minors, the struggling second baseman didn’t have to search hard for his feelings. “I was [ticked] off,” he said. It didn’t take long, though, for him to embrace the team’s decision. He says he knew something was wrong with his swing and suiting up for the Syracuse Chiefs would give him time to figure it out.

“I think this will be the biggest blessing in disguise of my life,” Espinosa said Tuesday.

– Rick Maese, Washington Post

Simple question: Why would a player with a .158 OBP and .272 SLG be [ticked] off to go to the minors?  Danny Espinosa was one of the worst regular players in Major League Baseball this season.  He had a negative 0.9 oWAR.  He had 47 strikeouts and 4 walks in 167 at bats.  Danny Espinosa was painful to watch.  He is one of the major reasons a World Series favorite is struggling to get to .500.

So, I ask again: why is he mad he was sent to the minors?  If anything, he should be mad the Nats didn’t send him sooner.

I get that players are competitive.  And they’re confident in their abilities.  But really dude?  You were awful.

Maybe Danny Espinosa is trying to save face (which is not as fun as eating face).  Maybe he knows he was seriously hurting his team by wildly swinging through average fastballs against mediocre MLB pitchers.  I mean, he couldn’t possibly be that clueless to think that he currently deserves a Major League starting job.

But his quote worries me that the Nationals players feel entitled.  There Continue reading “Do the Nationals players feel entitled?”

The Ultimate Jayson Werth Debate

Jayson Werth
Jayson Werth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The two brothers have been arguing about Jayson Werth since he first signed his name to a Nationals contract.  We finally put our argument into written words.

Justin: Jayson Werth’s contract was universally panned when he signed it over two years ago.  With four years and over $80 million to go after this season, it looks even worse.  Jayson Werth cannot stay on the field for an extended period of time (see his wrist injury last season and hamstring injury this season).  Even when he’s been on the field, he hasn’t really produced.  He has a combined WAR of only 2.2 in three seasons and has actually produced below league average since he’s been in Washington, according to Baseball Reference.  Moreover, Werth is 34 years old.  His production and health will decline further as he ages.  Two and a half years later, can you defend this contract in any way?

Jason: Game 4 NLDS mic drop…… Besides giving the team and their fans the single greatest moment in team history, the contract can be easily defended both at the time and in retrospect.  It takes a little more situational awareness than most people are willing to exert, so get ready to think more about building a team and less about statistics read on the laptop in your mother’s basement.

There are multiple questions to answer:

Did it make sense?

Does it still make sense?

And finally, why is he the most valuable player on the team?  Yes I think he is.

Which one do you want me to answer first?

Justin: Let’s start at the beginning.  Did it make sense?

Jason: The arguments for signing Werth break into 4 categories

No one would give them the time of day.

I went back to press that off season.  The team everyone expected Werth to go to was the Red Sox.  If not them, then the Tigers or the White Sox.  All teams that run large payrolls.  No one saw the Nats signing Werth because no veteran would want to come to such a sad sack franchise.  Not only did the Nats have to compete on price and years with the big budget teams, they had to have a player who could think strategic enough to realize the Nats were close to competing.  Remember Greinke turned down a trade and we have no idea what other veterans didn’t even return phone calls from Rizzo.

The farm system had no one.

The National’s farm system was the worst in baseball when they moved to DC and by 2011 it hadn’t made much ground in developing corner outfield talent.  According to Baseball America the top outfield prospect was Eury Perez, who is a slap hitting AAAA CF three years later.  Tyler Moore, Lombardozzi and Koburnus are examples of players the Nats are trying to convert, again three years later.  Rizzo was going to need to go the Free Agent route, which is always the expensive way to go.  Remember Nick Swisher signed a 4 year 56 million deal and has never had a season close to what Werth did in Philly.

He was a 20 million player.

I want to answer this by quoting from Fangraphs which attempts to put a $ value on a player.  His last three years in Philly were valued at 22.2, 21.4 and 19.7 million.  So, the prior three years he was a 21.1 million average player.

Signing him hurt the Phillies.

This is the most petty reason, because he was probably gone anyway, but the Phillies have not won since he left the team and their outfield has been a mess of replacement players.  There is another reason, but I will withhold that for the time being.

Justin:  All four of your reasons are unconvincing.  There are two questions to consider when signing a free agent: what will he do on the field, and how much do we have to pay him?

You say that Werth was a $20 million player from 2008-10, but baseball players are like stocks: past performance does not Continue reading “The Ultimate Jayson Werth Debate”