I keep track of wRC+ or (weighted runs created) on a week to week basis. This is a stat that measures a players offensive contribution compared to the league average. In this case Jayson Werth is 60% better than the league average and Steve Lombardozzi is 37% worse. This is different than WAR because it only measures hitting, it is not cumulative and it does not take into account player position.
Scott Boras just made things interesting. Before he showed up at Nats park no one had ever uttered the phrase 12 year contract. So lets break this down a little bit, because the idea does have merit.
Questions to consider:
Would it really be a 12 year contract? No, not really. It would be a seven-year contract added to the end of the five years Harper is under team control.
Why 12 years? Because 12 years puts Harper at 32, in line for another big payday. Trust me, Boras knows exactly when the contract would end. There is a reason ARod had an opt out at age 32.
Is there any comparable? Nope, there are a few guys that come close. Evan Longoria signed a 15 year contact for 144.5 mil that will expire when he is 37 and Joey Votto signed a 13 year 236 million contract that will expire when he is 40. The difference between these contracts and a potential one with Harper is his young age. A Nats contract will have all off his “peak years” and none of the downward slide due to age every player goes through eventually.
What is in it for the Nats? Security and commitment to the fan base. It removes the obnoxious taunts from trolling New York fans. It also locks in the biggest contract in team and maybe baseball. With that knowledge, the team can put the pieces around him. Zimm, Desmond and Strasburg all come to free agency before Harper would. By locking in a 12 year contract, Rizzo and the Lerners know exactly how much money the team can afford to resign these players. Harper is the centerpiece of this team and he gets to go first.
Why would Harper want this? Money, but besides that, he has mentioned in the past that he greatly admires players like Cal Ripken, who played for one team their entire career. Also, his stock is very high right now. He has followed up his rookie of the year with a very strong season, if for some reason he slumps next year it changes the dynamic. Other than the DL stint this year, there is really nothing that would scare the Nationals about his future.
What is the risk? Boras points out that the injury risk can be mitigated by insurance. I think we all know his work ethic. He isn’t a pitcher that could have his season snapped with a tear.
Is it going to happen? I say not until the TV rights with MASN are worked out.
How much? 12 years, 241 million. Remember the 2 years he has before he is arbitration eligible are only a little over 2 million per and his arbitration numbers will not be anywhere near FA numbers. So, we are talking about a 7 year 30 million per year contact. Is that fair? I think so. Is that what the Nats and Boras have in mind? I have no clue.
Is Harper going be worth it? That is a lot of money.
You know how you feel right now. That feeling you felt when you first heard that Matt Harvey tore his UCL and would probably need Tommy John Surgery. Well, Nationals fans know exactly how you feel. Exactly three years ago we watched Stephen Strasburg leave a game early due to forearm pain. The next day, we heard reports that Stephen was getting an MRI and then word leaked out that he needed Tommy John surgery. At first we were stunned, buy naively we held out hope that once the team made their statement it would somehow be better. It wasn’t better.
You see before Matt Harvey, Stephen Strasburg was the biggest thing in pitching. The Nationals were not a very good team. They were a pretty embarrassing team, but on every fifth day they had a rock star taking the mound. Every fifth day opposing teams would sell his jersey. Every fifth day fans would come out in droves. Does this sound familiar? It should; it is the story of the 2013 New York Mets. That type of magic was crushed for us then, as it is for you now.
I bring this up because the Nationals have taken a lot of criticism for the way they handled his recovery last year. The “national media” went crazy with stories about the teams plan to cap his innings pitched at around 160 for the year following his surgery. This was the same plan the team had used a year earlier with with Jordan Zimmermann and the one it has used with multiple pitchers since. The “national media” couldn’t believe that a team which was cruising towards the best record in baseball and hopefully a shot a the World Series would shutdown their “Ace” pitcher. Notice, I keep using the phrase “national media”, because the local media and the Nationals fans didn’t have the same reaction.
I have spent all year trying to figure out why we felt different than those outside DC. I finally figured it out, reading tweets from your fellow Mets fans trying to put into words how crushing this day is for you. It is that pain fans feel having such a promising player get snatched from them. It is the type of pain that you don’t want to feel again, and you will do what you can to avoid it. In the Nationals and Strasburg’s case it was sticking to a regimented non-emotional recovery plan. Many people in the media proposed plans to have him skip starts and take extra days off. The Nats were not messing around, they didn’t get cute, they made a plan an stuck to it. I know the Mets had plans for Harvey to pitch every sixth day to stretch out his season. You don’t have to worry about those plans anymore. He didn’t make it to the end of the year; if you are lucky he will make a few starts next September.
On this blog this year, we took on five national pundits over what I consider their uninformed and downright wrong opinions about the Nationals recovery plan for Stephen Strasburg last year. Take note of the one directed at the broadcast crew for your very own Mets, who got just about every fact wrong. An injury like a UCL tear to your star player like Harvey and Strasburg changes the way you think about injury and recovery. I hope you get it now. Maybe you have to go through it to get it, I don’t know.
Nats Fans know how you feel, we have been through it too. I wish I could tell you everything will work out, but I can’t. All we really know is pitchers come back strong from this surgery every year, and there is no reason Harvey can’t be another success story. I can only hope MLB will find it appropriate to set up Opening Day 2015. Live from CitiField Matt Harvey vs. Stephen Strasburg on National TV.
Sunday afternoon’s game between the Nationals and Royals was a pretty good game. It’s really too bad Adam LaRoche and Ryan Zimmerman decided to stand around and watch it rather than play in it.
LaRoche and Zimmerman both made epic defensive mental mistakes that probably cost the Nationals a chance to pick up a game in the Wild Card standings.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, with a runner on first and two outs, Billy Butler hit a rocket to Adam LaRoche, which he did not field cleanly. LaRoche recovered the ball relatively quickly with–as the evidence shows below–plenty of time to make the out at first. Instead, LaRoche stood flat footed and didn’t move.
To be fair, Craig Stammen should have been covering first base. But if LaRoche had been hustling, it would not have mattered.
Buster Olney discusses the possible free agent destinations for Robinson Cano in his column this morning. The other 3 teams discussed by Olney are the Tigers, Phillies, and Giants.
I’ll post his full comments below, but his main theme is this: The Lerners have a ton of money and 2013 was a disaster. Not a bad argument.
Now, Olney is just speculating at this point. There’s no actual news here. Olney is getting ahead of the story since Robinson Cano’s free agency is likely the biggest story of the offseason (assuming Mike Trout doesn’t test positive for steroids).
How likely is this? Probably more likely than you think. My assumption is any play for Cano will be ownership driven. Considering the money and years it would take to sign Cano, I doubt Rizzo will think he’s worth it. But if the Lerners want to win, and now, I could see this happening.
Signing Cano would probably shift Rendon to third and Zimmerman to first. LaRoche would probably be traded. Whether this is an actual upgrade to the lineup is another discussion for another day.
Entering the bottom of the 9th inning with a 7-2 lead on Saturday night against the Royals, the Nationals had a 99.3% chance of winning the game, according to Fangraphs. Why, then, did Davey Johnson think it was necessary to use his best reliever, Tyler Clippard?
The odds of any reliever giving up 5 runs in one inning is very low. Indeed, if there are any relievers in the current Nationals bullpen incapable of preserving a 7-2 lead in the 9th inning, we have a serious problem.
Tyler Clippard has been the Nationals most effective relief pitcher this year. In 58 appearances prior to Saturday night, Clippard only allowed 13 earned runs and 48 base runners. He struck out 59 batters. Quite simply, a team’s best relievers should be used in the most important situations. Clippard is the Nationals best reliever, and he should be saved for high-leverage situations. Using Clippard in a game where a victory is 99.3% certain is bad bullpen management.
Additionally, Clippard had pitched in 3 of the 4 previous games prior to Saturday night. Wasting him in the 9th inning of a 7-2 victory may have serious consequences. Now that he’s pitched 4 times in 5 days, he may not be available for the final game against the Royals on Sunday. Considering the Nationals inability to score runs this season, a close game is a pretty likely possibility. Now, the team’s best reliever may be unavailable.
Davey Johnson is misusing his bullpen. I’m hoping it doesn’t cost the Nationals in the win column.