Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spring Training Answers

The Opening Day roster is set, with few surprises. Everyone we assumed would make it made it. Injuries give us Flores and take away Hill, and Hanrahan's dominance has been a bit of a surprise, but if you scan the 25 names today, they're probably not all that different than the 25 names you would've picked four weeks ago.

Five weeks ago, I listed the ten questions that I thought would be key to the spring. Well, now that spring essentially has sprung, let's see what we found out.

1) How is Patterson's Curve?
I wrote about how his curve would be the bellwether of his success. Shows what I know! The curve was ok, the fastball stunk, and Patterson found himself on waivers.

I heard Bowden on the radio today saying that the consensus was that even if they gave him thirty starts this season, he wouldn't improve one bit. We'll certainly find out by August whether his lost fastball is a sign of an arm gone bad, or one that just needs some work.

2) How are Hill's breaking pitches?
Same situation here. With Hill's arm problems, it's his breaking pitches that really take their bite out of his arm -- not that the fastball's been a picnic for him either.

Regardless, he's starting the year on the DL, and given how he's still throwing with pain, I'd bet a pretty large sum of money that it won't be his last stint, even if he gnaws on a musket ball through each start.

3) Will FLop be able to dislodge the boot from his butt?
By all accounts, he's worked hard, and had a good attitude. He just hasn't hit that well, even if the bat's picked up over the last two weeks or so. He'll likely start on the bench, but should see plenty of time, especially with Guzman's injury history (and regression to his typical level of suckiness).

4) Can Guzman repeat?
Incomplete, but I'm still verrrry skeptical. Guzman hasn't walked this spring, and though he started out hot, he's cooled off, dropping his average quite a bit.

I don't think we'll see 2005 Guzman. But I'd bet a plate of chili nachos that we won't see '06 either. As I said in the preview post, I won't surprised if he's not the regular SS at the end of the year.

5) What's the rotation going to look like (at first)?
In the preview, I pointed out that barring spectacular failure, we could basically fill out the rotation then. My guess: Hill, Patterson, Perez, Redding and one of Chico/Bergmann/Lannan. Patterson qualifies under the 'spectacular failure' corollary, and Bergmann slides in his place, along with Chico. Lannan is poised on the fringes if Hill can't go. Talk of Mock and Detwiler was mostly a pipe dream, and it would've taken an amazing performance (and some big-league chokejobs in front of them) to make the roster.

There was more talk of competition than actual competition.

6) Can Dukes be a model citizen?
So far so good. But ya never know!

7) Who's on first?
This was another question that was answered even before spring given everything that Manny Acta has ever talked about, barring that darn corollary again! NJ showed up, hit, fielded, threw, and slid. DY showed up, grunted, strained, and ate.

Although it would not shock me if NJ gets traded once he shows he's healthy, that constant drumbeat early in the spring about how the Nats have to trade one of them sure seems silly now.

8) Detwiler to the pen?
Seemed stupid when it was first raised. Seemed even stupider when he was one of the first demotions.

9) Who rides the pine?
The Nats backed themselves into a few tough roster decisions with all the contracts they handed out. Pena's injury gives them a little leeway, but once he comes back around May, Willie Harris or Rob Mackowiak should look over their shoulders -- assuming Jimbo can't get the Dodgers to bite on Harris or Belliard.

10) Do the stats matter?
I said not much, and in the end, not much. Can you point to any decision that was made on the basis of spring training stats? Hanrahan, perhaps, although he was always a likely contender for MR because of his option status. Pete Orr hit well, and what did that get him? Willie Harris barely hit .200 and he makes it. Jason Dubois hit over .500 and that's probably only the second time you've heard his name. Odalis Perez had the highest ERA of any pitcher with more than 7 innings pitched, and he gets the opening day start. Tyler Clippard had a 3.38 ERA nobody talked about him after that first week.

The performances matter, and the in-person evaluations matter. Options and contract status matter.

But the stats? Eh. Not so much.


  • Seriously, what's the difference between what you're doing here, saying "stats don't count, except when they do," and just cherrypicking your data to support a preselected conclusion?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/26/2008 9:59 PM  

  • The point I'm making is that spring training stats rarely make any decisions. None of the decisions this spring were made because of the stats. Had they been a determining factor, we'd have seen Orr, Clippard or Dubois instead of Harris, Perez or Mackowiak.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/26/2008 10:04 PM  

  • ok, maybe stats don't matter too much, but, sheesh, over .500? can you give us more insight into Dubois?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/26/2008 10:14 PM  

  • Jason Dubois -- See also: Cepicky, Matt; Davis, JJ; Restovich, Michael; Vento, Mike

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/26/2008 10:22 PM  

  • This spring training, Jason Dubois went 5-for-11 w/ a double & a dinger. (Very small sample size, obviously.) Lifetime, the 29 year-old birthday boy (born 3/26/79) has hit 233/286/443 in 210 major league ABs.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/27/2008 12:10 AM  

  • Sorry, he went 6-for-11. Duh.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/27/2008 12:33 PM  

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