2014 Spring Training Thoughts

For the third straight spring, I think we’re looking at a spring training with not much drama for the minor-leaguers.

This, of course, is a good thing in the bigger picture of the organization. Contenders don’t come into camp raving about how their kids are going to make this season a championship run. It also feels good to use the word “contender” without a hint of snark or sarcasm.

No, we’re looking at the mundane vernal ritual of seeing if one of “our guys” can snag a spot on the bench, challenge for the #5 starter’s job, or wedge their way into the bullpen.

Where could I potentially be very wrong*? . One rather obvious “X” factor is new manager Matt Williams, who has reportedly mapped out every day of Spring Training. This implies that Williams will be more of a taskmaster than his predecessor, and would seem to make sense as teams often change manager’s style if they don’t clean out the clubhouse, so to speak.
* That’s rhetorical question; besides, I’ve been married for more than 18 years and can get that answer without asking at any time.

On paper, that might mean a better chance for the younger players, particularly (especially?) if any veterans come into camp in less than stellar form or start slow. But we’re not going to “know” for at least a couple more weeks (and even then, it’ll be filtered through the lens of the beat writers).

What can be potentially more interesting for us is what might happen if there are any position battles that might result in a trade. Danny Espinosa showing he’s healthy and in second-half 2012 form… Sandy Leon continuing to hit the way he did in the VWL… Eury Perez outplaying Nate McLouth and/or Scott Hairston for a backup outfielder’s spot.

Unfortunately, almost any pitcher scenario seems to involve guys with multiple options left (with the notable exception of Ryan Mattheus), though it’s possible for GM Mike Rizzo to do a Perry-for-Balester trade in reverse. Still, that doesn’t jibe with his obsession with preference for options and flexibility.

As in years past, I’ll post about Nationals Spring Training from the minors perspective for as long as feasible and/or reasonable — probably until mid-March — before stepping back and doing semi-daily posts for the rest of March until the minors rosters are announced and the games begin in early April.

Author: Luke Erickson

Since 2009, Luke Erickson has been chief writer, editor, and bottle-washer of NationalsProspects.com. Potomac is his home base as a season-ticket holder, but he has visited every affiliate north of Florida at least once, with multiple trips to Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

13 thoughts on “2014 Spring Training Thoughts”

  1. “Still, that doesnโ€™t jibe with his obsession with preference for options and flexibility.” Insurance. The guy loves having lots of insurance.

    Rizzo is as bad as me ensuring I get AppleCare warranties with every Mac / iPhone and even the less helpful warranties from Dell. Always bought the one for my cars and always came out way ahead โ€ฆ well except with the Honda Prelude. ๐Ÿ˜‰ He’s obsessed with it.

    Which is why I agree that Boras likely went around him to ownership for Soriano and even Werth. When you do that it restricts his ability to acquire players and you have to assume due to contract more than payroll considerations in the end. Getting rid of Gorzelanny may have been a huge mistake last season. Still a viable left-handed arm in the bullpen or in the rotation.

    Rizzo still hasn’t managed to replace him unless of course they sign Burnett and move Detwiler to the bullpen. Then perhaps yes. And then would Solis be his understudy? Relying on Cedeno or Blevins in the role of Sean Burnett / Michael Gonzalez seems problematic. Rizzo would have been better off paying more for lefty Sean Doolittle who was their most effective reliever period last season. There doesn’t seem to be anything in the minors beyond Solis on the left-handed side? Matt Purke isn’t the same pitcher as before the shoulder surgery but perhaps like Nate Karns that will come around. But, it may take some time. I don’t really see any left-handed insurance? Does anyone else?

    1. If you are just talking about insurance, don’t forget about Danny Rosenbaum. He finished last season well, and we haven’t really seen how he could do as a reliever (although, I guess his Colo tryout didn’t go particularly well).
      I think Rizzo is quite comfortable with a single lefty (Blevins) starting the season in the BP, so Cedeno / Detwiler could both be considered depth / insurance in various scenarios. However, I think I have seen quotes from Williams saying he would prefer 2 lefties, and if Rizzo defers to him on that, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one more pickup (perhaps from the waiver wire when teams need to get down to the 25 man). I think he would love to get Oliver Perez to come to camp on a minor league invite, but I don’t think he wants to DFA Mattheus or Garcia or whoever would be the first to be dropped from the 40 man, and Oliver will probably get a ML offer somewhere.

  2. what I hope evolves this spring is establishing Syracuse as a legitimate stop for prospects. Taylor Jordan, Brian Goodwin, Steven Souza, Nate Karns on Opening Day. A J Cole maybe Sammy Solis by mid-season.

  3. Given my previous admissions as being a Rosenbaum fan, I was waiting for someone else to reference him before suggesting him as a relief candidate. Unfortunately, one of the reasons he’s not in the LHP column of this year’s watchlist is that it seems pretty obvious that the organization views him mostly as an innings-eater.

      1. Had to look it up, but he’s pitched a total of 11 innings the last 2 years. Sure wish the F.O. wasn’t ‘t so secret about what he’s going through. Hope he can make it back.

  4. Besides the progress on the bevy of LH starters
    To watch out for … I wonder if Bluxom and Lippencott
    Will waste no time in April raking their way to a quick
    Promotion .

  5. Karns for a catcher who throws out 13 pct
    Runners is nuts as Mark Clark once said !
    Rizzo keeps tossing these chips around he Wil find
    A guy 15 years in league who comes back to haunt him!

    1. Nats were a winning team with poor throwing out ratios in 2012. They can win with one poor throwing catcher in 2014. Rizzo’s looking at the whole package, and the whole package is an upgrade over the untested Onion/Leon position battle that was looming.

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