Friday, January 19, 2007

I Don't Get It

The Nats made official a slew of moves that've been hinted around for months, while adding some new names to the list of sundry scrubs they've signed to minor league contracts. Yesterday's stroke-inducing Tony Wo [Damn, I can't even type it without that little vein in my temple bulging out] was just one of 12.

--Jesus Colome is a hard-throwing right-handed reliever who was the Oakland "Closer of the Future" back in the 1880s. They traded him to Tampa Bay where, like all people not named Crawford, he stunk. He's been respectable in the minors, but not nearly the dominant pitcher that Chuck LaMar thought he'd be. He could be a darkhorse this year, filling the valuable Jason Bergmann get-shelled-for-30-innings role.

--Anastacio Martinez pitched for New Orleans last year, striking out a ton of batters. Despite the near daily shuffling of players from minors to majors, he never got his chance. Presumably, he's back to be Columbus' fourth starter.

--Luis Martinez doesn't seem to have pitched last year, as TBC only has 2005 Japanese League stats. He pitched a few years in the minors, and from his stat line, he looks like he throws decently hard, but has no control over his pitches. IOW, he's exactly like 42,000 other minor leaguers.

--Arnie Munoz is great if you're looking for a double-A pitcher. Triple-A? Not so much.

--George Lombard, the mediocre former Braves "prospect", returns to delight the fans of Columbus with his once-decent speed. Lombard was passable for NO last year, but absolutely terrible in his brief shot with the Nats. Given how deep ("deep"?) we are at reasonably competent OFers, he won't have much of a chance of making it back up this year.

--OFer Abraham Nunez (no, not that one, the one you haven't heard of) is likely a Mike Rizzo selection because of his AZ pedigree. ("pedigree"?) Low average, low power, excessive strikeouts? What more could you want in a corner outfielder?

--Melvin Dorta, a favorite of certain part-time writers of the NFA blog, gets the chance to thrill the minors with his slap-hitting versatility. Dorta, which is Spanish for "McEwing", can do it all. (Provided you don't need power or on-base ability)

--D'Angelo "Beverly" Jimenez, former Yankee uber-prospect, never developed, in part, because of a severe car accident which broke his neck and nearly killed him. He has a reputation as a bad clubhouse guy, and a poor defensive player (Jose Guillen meets Jose Vidro?) He's never put it together with the bat in the majors, although his career line would be acceptable as a backup. He probably can't handle short anymore, but could be viable at second and third. He's a darkhorse for the backup roster slot. (NO WOMA [dammit, I still can't type that out!]

(I forgot to mention the best part of Jimenez. Check out his pitching line. Maybe he could start?)

--We've talked about the ancient mediocrity that is Jose Macias before. That he's well over 30, hasn't played in the majors in 2 years, and hasn't had a decent season with the bat since Double-A in 1998, are just a few of the many reasons why this is a terrible idea. Since Acta has experience with him, and has praised him, I suspect it was his doing. If so, that's another strike on Acta (A total of three, if you include his public proclamations for Logan in center, and Guzman batting second)

--I remember Jorge Toca with the Mets, a big lumbering first baseman who hit like Pee Wee Reese's vertigo-riddled cousin. I guess Harrisburg needs a bat?

--The 'intriguing' name on the list is Travis Lee, failed prospect with a sweet glove. While I can understand wanting to have a backup plan if Nick isn't healthy, and if Larry Broadway flames out. But, is Travis Lee part of "The PLAN!"?

If Larry Broadway flames out, let him flame out. Give him 100 or so ABs at the beginning of the year to show it. With Lee looming on deck, it puts extra (and unnecessary) pressure on Broadway (How do you think he felt, reading that today? They're basically admitting they think there's a chance he can fail). If Broadway isn't hitting after 30 ABs, don't you think the odds are pretty good that he's going to get the Watson/Chavez treatment, an immediate demotion to the minors? (That's not to say that neither Watson nor Chavez deserved it)

But we're at a different point. Broadway's old for a prospect. He's really not much of a prospect, but there's really not much left for him to do in the minors. If there's an opening in the majors, it should be his chance, not some 30-year old who, despite the great glove, has already proved that he isn't capable of hitting like a major leaguer. (He's worse than Doug Mientkiewicz with the bat!)

If Broadway's hitting .050/ .100/ .075 after 50 ABs, that's fine. The team knows they're not going anywhere (hence the complete lack of interest in non-scrub pitchers), so why are they bringing in veterans at a position where it could block one of their few major-league ready prospects. (Insert your own scare quotes where you think appropriate.)

It's a different situation than with the pitching staff, because there aren't that many MLB-ready arms, and certainly none that carry a 'prospect' label, just a bunch of suspects. If Larry Broadway sucks eggs for 100 ABs, he's not going to blow his arm out in the process.

I know the team is starting to emphasize defense. That's a good thing, and the terrible play of our fielders last year was a constant drumbeat of mine last year. But emphasizing a first-base glove over development or any sort of offense? Can't you just see Brett Myers' eyes lighting up at the prospects of a lineup with Guzman, Logan, Lee, Schneider and Casto?

If Broadway can't cut it, give it to Fick. Give Snelling or Church a first baseman's mitt. Call up Joe Thurston or somebody from Triple-A. First base is easy to fill.

I dunno. I just don't get this one at all.

  • To make room for the officially signed Jerome Williams, they outrighted Tony Blanco to the minors. (Outrighting passes a player through waivers, exposing him to all other teams to claim. If cleared, which he did, he's taken off the 40-man roster)


    • Maybe Travis Lee is part of the Plan. A prospect for Lee this summer when a contender needs an emergency 1st baseman?

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/19/2007 10:01 AM  

    • That's easier said than done, really. If a contender needed a 1B, they could've signed him to a minor-league deal, too. We wanted to trade Ortiz and Armas last year, and weren't able to. You always need a dance partner.

      Possible, I suppose, but when you have to stretch the rationalizations that far, how likely is it?

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 1/19/2007 10:08 AM  

    • Luis Martinez pitched in Japan in 2006 as well. In 2006, he was 6-8 in 21 starts (107.33 IP) with a 4.19ERA, 1.45WHIP, 6.3K/9, and 3.4BB/9.

      By Blogger Brian, at 1/19/2007 10:52 AM  

    • Dorta! :-)

      By Blogger Cathy, at 1/19/2007 11:04 AM  

    • But the Nats DID manage to trade Mike Stanton, Daryl Ward and Marlon Anderson last year.

      Lee makes some sense as a late inning defensive replacement, double switch guy. I wouldn't be unhappy to see Lee come in in the 8th or 9th with a lead (And Broadway aleady having hit 3-4 times) and helping preserve one of our few leads. That's not a bad use of a bench spot. Wish he had a bit more power but what do you expect at the bottom of the barrel.

      I have the same trouble with Wo Woooo Waaa that new scrub. Nats seem to have a fascination with these terrible utility players (Damien Jackson comes to mind). Must be their Veteran Leadership (tm)

      By Blogger traderkirk, at 1/19/2007 11:25 AM  

    • That's true, but Stanton's a LOOGY, Ward was a pure slugger, and Anderson a decent hitter with versatility. A non-hitting first baseman isn't much.

      That would also mean that Lee were on the roster for 4 months. If that happens, then something is screwed up.

      If the team is going to carry 12 pitchers, as they've talked about and likely need, while carrying Flores, a Rule 5 guy, there's not a lot of flexibility on that bench, and a non-hitting first baseman probably isn't the best use of that slot.

      Getting worked up over it, I guess, doesn't make a lot of sense, because it isn't going to affect the bottom line one way or another. It's just a curious move on the offensive side of the ball given how eager they are to try out all these young pitchers and how averse they are to signing Lee-type vets on that side of the ball.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 1/19/2007 11:56 AM  

    • It's just a curious move on the offensive side of the ball given how eager they are to try out all these young pitchers and how averse they are to signing Lee-type vets on that side of the ball

      How many Lee-type vets have signed elsewhere to minor league contracts? I don't know the answer but it appears that a Lee-type veteran pitcher would be a Ramon Ortiz or Pedro Astacio who don't seem to sign those type of deals rather get major league deals.

      By Blogger Brian, at 1/19/2007 1:15 PM  

    • What's the deal? You don't like Tony Womack. Please, if that's the case, give the guy a chance. He has a couple of good seasons left. I'm telling you, give him a chance.

      By Blogger Jeff L. Thigpen, at 1/19/2007 2:44 PM  

    • Hey everybody, it's Tony Womack's agent!

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 1/19/2007 2:49 PM  

    • It's amazing the way that, as the nationals have steadily devolved into a really strong triple-A team, the nats blogosphere has become a kind of extension of Nats Farm Authority. That's something we've got going for us this season: the best minor league coverage in the league. Heck, even the Washington Post is going to be covering our AAAA squad.

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