Dec 062012
 

The Rule 5 Draft is this morning, the anticlimactic denouement to the 2012 Winter Meetings.

As written last month, it’s nearly certain that the Nationals will not be taking anybody in the major-league phase, which is rather typical for first-division/contenders. Instead, there’s a chance that a couple of farmhands may be taken as they were a year ago.

However, there’s a difference between players selected and actually being gone for good. Both picks last year — Brad Meyers and Erik Komatsu — were eventually returned.

Here’s another pass at who might get taken, filtered through the lens of the most common categories of players selected in the MLB phase:

Relievers 4th OF Utility IF
Pat Lehman Destin Hood Jeff Kobernus
Paul Demny    
Pat McCoy    
Rob Wort    

Of this group, only Lehman has AAA experience, which makes him the most likely to get selected, followed by Kobernus. But both are longshots in the big picture. There’s probably a better chance of the Nationals having players taken in the AAA and AA phases (and vice-versa), but as written previously, it’s impossible to even guess who because the protected lists are not publicly released.

Dec 052012
 

The pattern of a (near-)unanimous few then the biases of the many continues with the votes for the Nationals’ Top 10 Pitchers. Thirty different pitchers received votes, but only two appeared on each of the thirteen ballots cast (Lucas Giolito and Nathan Karns) while two more were named on all but one (Sammy Solis and Matt Purke).

1. Lucas Giolito
2. Nathan Karns
3. Matt Purke
4. Sammy Solis
5. Christian Garcia
6. Erik Davis
7. Danny Rosenbaum
8. Aaron Barrett
9. Brett Mooneyham
10. Robbie Ray

Others receiving votes: Rob Wort, Rafael Martin, Neil Holland, Paul Demny, Pedro Encarnacion, Taylor Jordan, Christian Meza, Jeff Mandel, Cole Kimball, Brad Meyers, Wirkin Estevez, Pat McCoy, Ryan Tatusko, Robert Benincasa, Derek Self, Hector Nelo, Josh Smoker, Jack McGeary, Nick Lee

Perhaps more disturbing is that we don’t see a pitcher who hasn’t had shoulder or elbow surgery until the #6 hurler, Erik Davis, who instead has had knee problems, according to MASN’s Byron Kerr.

Close behind is the realization that half of this list is 25 or older. Put another way: just 10 of these 30 pitchers voted for were born after 1990.

As I wrote back in September in discussing the Nationals farm, it’s pretty clear that the organization’s strength has shifted away from developing pitchers to position players. Perhaps more evident: surgery and long periods of rehab seem to be the gamble the Nats are willing to make — regardless of a pitcher’s age or ailment — to get pitching potential. What remains to be seen is whether this approach will pay off frequently enough to warrant the shifting of innings or roles away from healthier and/or lower-ceiling guys.

I hope folks enjoyed this experiment in crowdsourcing. Next up on the minor-league calendar is the Rule 5 draft. The Nats are nearly certain not to be takers in the MLB phase (thus, no preview this year), and may even have a player or two taken, though the odds are extremely short that any player taken will be gone for good.

Dec 032012
 

Let me get me this out there and put a more clear deadline. Like we did for the Nats bats, I’m soliciting votes for the NationalsProspects.com Top 10 Pitchers.

The plan is to do the post on Wed., so send your Top 10 list to enfieldmass-top10arms[at]yahoo[dot]com (link will open your preferred email client) before 3 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday, Dec. 4).

Same methodology… I’ll compile them, weight them in reverse order (#1 = 10 points, #2 = 9 points… #9 = 2 points, #10 = 1 point) and we’ll have fodder for discussion.

The only restriction: You can’t vote for anyone who is not a prospect (defined as having a rookie status, which is less than 130AB, 50IP, or 45 days of service during the 25-man roster limit period). Ordinarily, this isn’t necessary to point out, but with Ryan Perry getting so much press, it needs to be.

This, in conjunction with the better timing, ought to produce more participation, though we’ve long seen that pitchers produce the most passion, emotion, and discussion — here and elsewhere.

UPDATE:
Still taking votes… Also, to preserve what little statistical relevance this exercise has, I have to discard lists of less than ten. Thanks!.

Dec 022012
 

Compiling these was an interesting exercise this time around. The turnout was a little lighter, which is probably my fault for waiting so late on Friday to make a call for submissions, but I think there’s enough here to go on and make a post.

The No. 1 guy was unanimous: Anthony Rendon. Like fans of Gus Johnson, this was a no-brainer.

Our No. 2 was pretty close, too: Brian Goodwin was named on all the submissions and was #2 on all the ballots but one.

After that, things get fuzzy. No. 3 (Matt Skole) was significantly ahead of No. 4 (Eury Perez) in terms of weighting (74-53) but was left off one ballot. Perez was omitted from two. Leon, the No. 5 guy, was omitted from four.

In some ways, it’s a microcosm of the system itself: Most folks can agree on the top few, but after that, it’s a free-for-all. That’s why I decided to post now versus waiting one more day (well, that, and years of research that shows that sometimes you can cut through the noise by taking advantage of how slow it can be on a Sunday).

Without further ado, here’s the list:

1. Anthony Rendon
2. Brian Goodwin
3. Matt Skole
4. Eury Perez
5. Sandy Leon
6. Jason Martinson
7. Zach Walters
8. Chris Marrero
9. Corey Brown
10. Tony Renda

Others receiving votes: Michael Taylor, Estarlin Martinez, Destin Hood, Ricky Hague, Jeff Kobernus, Brandon Miller, Wander Ramos, Erik Komatsu, Steve Souza, Carlos Rivero, Spencer Kieboom, Jhonatan Solano

The list certainly tilts towards the upper minors, with the exception of Renda. A lot folks gave props to players on the verge — Nos. 7-9 in particular, Komatsu, Rivero, and Solano in the “Others” — but injuries were punished severely (Kobernus, Hood) and defense, aside from catcher, didn’t seem to carry much weight (Taylor, Hague).

Unlike last year, there really aren’t any surprises about who missed the cut. Renda gets the benefit of the “new car smell,” while [troll]Taylor suffers from the gap between the offseason hype and the in-season performance, regardless of his age.[/troll]

Next up: The pitchers, which should be especially fun now that the best prospect without a sling in his wardrobe has been traded.

Nov 302012
 

Like last year, I’ve decided to solicit your input to compile the NationalsProspects.com Top 10 Position Players. I use the terms “bats” as shorthand for that, which lends itself much better for formatting and keeps the visual puns PG-rated, so please consider both offense and defense when you vote.

Here’s the dealio: Send your Top 10 list to enfieldmass-top10bats[at]yahoo[dot]com (link will open your preferred email client).

As I did last year, I’ll compile them, weight them in reverse order (#1 = 10 points, #2 = 9 points… #9 = 2 points, #10 = 1 point) and we’ll have fodder for discussion. When I hit a sizable number of submissions, I’ll update this post to let people know we’ve hit a critical mass.

I felt like this went well in 2011, producing a better list than if I were to pick it on my own as it I did in 2010. It’s based on James Surowiecki’s “Wisdom of Crowds” theory that the aggregation of information in groups produces more accurate estimations or decisions than would any one member of the group.

Let’s see how it goes in 2012…

Nov 292012
 

After coming up short in the postseason, the Nationals have traded RHP Alex Meyer to the Minnesota Twins for the long-coveted CF Denard Span.

The deal is being described early as a “win now” move and perhaps an indication that free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche may not be re-signed. Also possible, but less likely: a trade involving Michael Morse (if LaRoche does sign), Brian Goodwin or Eury Perez (Span is signed through 2014 with an option for 2015).

Centerfield, of course, has been craptastic (sorry to use the technical term) for the franchise for more than a decade.

Perhaps more important: Span gives the Nats a more traditional leadoff hitter, which enables the team to drop Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth lower in the lineup and slot them into more traditional run-producing roles. Defensively, Harper will most likely slide over to left field, though it’s possible that Harper will see time in right from time to time.

The 2012 Watchlist, which is technically inactive, has been updated nevertheless to reflect the trade.

Nov 292012
 

The offseason Top 10, 11, 15, 20, 25 or 6 to 4 list season has begun, and it starts with Bullpen Banter’s Washington Nationals Top 15 List:

No. Player Pos.
1. Anthony Rendon 3B
2. Lucas Giolito RHP
3. Brian Goodwin CF
4. Alex Meyer RHP
5. Matt Skole 3B
6. Tony Renda 2B
7. Eury Pérez OF
8. Brett Mooneyham LHP
9. Brandon Miller OF
10. Matt Purke LHP
11. Michael Taylor OF
12. Stephen Perez SS
13. Sandy Leon C
14. Jason Martinson SS/3B
15. Cutter Dykstra IF

I strongly recommend that folks read their commentary (plus there’s scouting video) because it’s important to read the opinions outside the Natmosphere. Not to mention, these guys do good work.

As you’ll see in my comment there, I was glad to see them agree with my assessment that the system isn’t nearly as good as we keep hearing from the local media. Jeff Reese said precisely what I believe was first put out there by Brian Oliver; that the system is five or six strong prospects, and then it drops off with a razor-thin difference between the next 14-15 in a Top 20.

I’m intrigued, of course, by the inclusion of the likes of Stephen Perez and Cutter Dykstra — enough to reconsider their placement on the 2013 Watchlist. I’m not surprised by the exclusion of Nathan Karns, who made Reese’s Top 10 (sadly, the two lists are combined versus broken out as they did previously), as his age is going to be held against him, regardless of the injury/surgery situation.

This, of course, also reminds me that I need to get on the horse about soliciting votes for Top 10 position players (bats) and pitchers (arms), which will most likely be tomorrow’s post.

Nov 282012
 

Picking up where we left off, now you can see how I’ve decided to change things a bit. Obviously, the most disturbing is the long list of pitchers that have been hurt or had surgery. And it’s by no means comprehensive. But right now, it’s impossible to ignore them (the term “Nationals elbow” proffered in the comments would almost work, too) since a great deal of the system’s perceived value is predicated on their recovery to pre-surgery expectations.

Secondly, you can see that I’ve decided to group the DSL guys together. In fairness, I probably ought to do the same with the GCLers for much the same reasons — it’s purely numbers-based on small sample sizes. I’ve also had a spotty track record picking these guys, which reminds me of what the prospect gurus warned about getting too excited about the short-season guys.

Finally, the last two columns are a means of acknowledging the ones that don’t quite merit full-fledged watchlist treatment, but are often discussed or mentioned (e.g. Jhonatan Solano). Perhaps it’s a pre-emptive strike (“Hey, what about __________?”), or maybe it’s a nod to the “fan” compartment of the site. As a former newspaperman, I’d like to think the age-old axiom about names (“good or bad, people like to see names in the paper”) translates online.

Hope folks like the changes. Let me know in the comments.

RHPs LHPs DSL Guys M*A*S*H Notables (Bats) Notables (Arms)
Garcia Rosenbaum O. Abreu B. Meyers Brown Lehman
E. Davis Ray Bautista Selik Komatsu Kimball
Demny Grace Diaz Solis Solano W. Estevez
A. Meyer Meza E. Gomez Applebee Ramsey Schwartz
Karns Lee Novas Purke Nieto Pineyro
Wort Mooneyham Read Jordan Mesa C. Davis
Holland Barrientos Je. Rodriguez McGeary S. Perez I. Heredia
Barrett   Ruiz Anderson Jennings Williams
Rauh   Silvestre M. Rodriguez    
Encarnacion   Valerio Giolito    
Hudgins          
Mendez          
Vasquez          
Nov 272012
 

With the season reviews complete, the Arizona Fall League finished, and the Rule 5 draft upcoming, it’s time to start looking towards the next iteration of the watchlist. I use the word “iteration” because I prefer to see this as something that’s evolving; Last year, I decided to be more exclusive. This year, I decided to change some of the categorizations to balance both workload and utility.

The changes will be much more visible in part two and thus I’ll go into it in more detail then. In the meantime, here are some of the usual caveats…

It’s not a depth chart… Obviously, when you arrange it the way I have — by the highest level played to date — it’s going to look like it at first glance. But when there’s a “tie,” I can either go alphabetical order or (for the most part) list the player that played more games at the position/level.

It’s based on 2012 usage… Yes, there’s one rather big (6’3″, 225) exception at first base, but that’s more of an acknowledgment of the certainty I feel about Keyes’s position switch in instrux vs. Skole’s usage in the AFL (i.e. there’s a better chance of Skole still playing at 3B than Keyes returning to the OF).

It’s preliminary… I like how Sickels takes feedback with his prospect lists, so part of the purpose of these posts is to listen to your comments (the other part is to keep the traffic coming, *wink, wink*).

As I’ve written previously, let’s not forget players and their families (and their agents) are readers here, too. It’s okay to be critical, but let’s keep it as civil as we can and focused on what the players do (or don’t do) on the field.

C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Leon Marrero Kobernus Walters Rivero E. Perez
Kieboom Bloxom Sanchez Hague Rendon Goodwin
Manuel Keyes Renda Martinson Skole Hood
P. Severino Pleffner Foat Difo D. Eusebio Taylor
    Lippincott     Oduber
          Souza
          Burns
          McQuillan
          B. Miller
          E. Martinez
          W. Ramos
          Piwinica-Worms