Questions re: Strasburg, Harper and the Nationals

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MStark
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Questions re: Strasburg, Harper and the Nationals

Postby MStark » Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:49 pm

First off, thanks for the nice words about DC in your Harper post, Grey! Of course, the old joke is that there are 3 cities where "Trust me" can be directly translated to "Fuck you": DC, LA, and NYC. So we've got that in common.

But as a budding Nats fan (finally giving up my lifelong affair with the Republicans of baseball... yes... I'm disavowing the Yankees and apologizing to everyone except that special breed of bastards, the Red Sox fans), I'm wondering what we'll see from Harper and Strasburg this year.

Not getting Prince Fielder is key to my thoughts. Since they let him get away, I'm thinking that they aren't serious about making a playoff push. And with that in mind, it makes sense to me that they are probably less inclined to let Harper start the season with the team, and more inclined to limit Strasburg's (and to a lesser extent, Zimmerman's) IP.

Question: I've seen it written that Matt Moore will break camp with the Rays because he signed a long-term contract that takes him past his arbitration years. Harper's contract runs for 5 years. So does Matt Moore's. So why the difference?

The Nats lineup is an interesting blend of potential and veteran talent. Their regular lineup has them fielding Zimmerman, Werth, Morse, Espinosa, Desmond, Ramos, LaRoche, and probably Bernardina. With that line-up, less Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche, they held their own for much of last year, before fading after the break. They even took the season series from Philadelphia!

So...

What happens this year if they find themselves in a similar situation? What if they are contending in July? Does that help or hurt Harper's chances of getting the call-up? If they are in the thick of things in mid-August, are we still looking at IP limits for Strasburg? Do they shorten his outings and extend his season? Move him to the pen for half a season (that seems silly to me - the Nats have outstanding middle relief)? What about Jordan Zimmerman? Will he be capped at 200 IP?

I'm thinking the Strasburg cap is pretty firm. Instead of risking the franchised, if they are contending they'll go get an arm before the deadline. And I don't see how Harper - assuming he's raking at Triple-A - isn't playing full-time before the break.
ESPN 12 team, All MLB Auction $260 budget
Draft 3/18/14

C: Brian McCann (kept 1 yr @ $5)
IB: Eric Hosmer (through 2016, $17)
2B: Anthony Rendon ($5)
3B: Manny Machado (through 2016, $14)
SS: Ian Desmond (kept 1 yr @ $8)
MI: Jean Segura (through 2017, $10)
CI: Edwin Encarcion (kept 1 yr @ $27)
OF: Bryce Harper (through 2015, $14)
OF: Nick Castellanos ($7)
OF: Ben Revere ($5)
OF: Curtis Granderson, ($8)
OF: Brett Gardner ($4)
Util: Billy Butler ($13)
P: Stephen Strasburg (kept 1 yr @ $14)
P: Michael Pineda ($4)
P: Danny Salazar (through 2017, $14)
P: Aroldis Chapman (kept 1 yr @ $21)
P: Zack Wheeler (through 2017, $14)
P: Grant Balfour ($13)
P: Nate Jones ($10)
P: Yordono Ventura ($8)
P: Sonny Gray ($14)
B: Miguel Montero ($4)
B: Gregory Polanco ($3)
B: Denard Span ($1)

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Re: Questions re: Strasburg, Harper and the Nationals

Postby JoeC » Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:52 pm

But as a budding Nats fan (finally giving up my lifelong affair with the Republicans of baseball... yes... I'm disavowing the Yankees and apologizing to everyone except that special breed of bastards, the Red Sox fans), I'm wondering what we'll see from Harper and Strasburg this year.
Well, at least you're on the bandwagon before the team hit .500! :)

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Re: Questions re: Strasburg, Harper and the Nationals

Postby JoeC » Fri Feb 17, 2012 3:01 pm

Not getting Prince Fielder is key to my thoughts. Since they let him get away, I'm thinking that they aren't serious about making a playoff push.
Or it could be that they just didn't want to overpay for a rotund, defensively-challenged first baseman whose 10-year contract could be about 5 years too long.
And with that in mind, it makes sense to me that they are probably less inclined to let Harper start the season with the team, and more inclined to limit Strasburg's (and to a lesser extent, Zimmerman's) IP.
They're limiting Strats' innings because he was hurt last year.
Question: I've seen it written that Matt Moore will break camp with the Rays because he signed a long-term contract that takes him past his arbitration years. Harper's contract runs for 5 years. So does Matt Moore's. So why the difference?
Because Matt Moore has already dominated at Triple A (and for his short stint in the majors last year) while Bryce Harper hasn't even made it past Double A. Why rush your prized prospect?
The Nats lineup is an interesting blend of potential and veteran talent. Their regular lineup has them fielding Zimmerman, Werth, Morse, Espinosa, Desmond, Ramos, LaRoche, and probably Bernardina. With that line-up, less Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche, they held their own for much of last year, before fading after the break. They even took the season series from Philadelphia!

So...

What happens this year if they find themselves in a similar situation? What if they are contending in July? Does that help or hurt Harper's chances of getting the call-up? If they are in the thick of things in mid-August, are we still looking at IP limits for Strasburg? Do they shorten his outings and extend his season? Move him to the pen for half a season (that seems silly to me - the Nats have outstanding middle relief)? What about Jordan Zimmerman? Will he be capped at 200 IP?

I'm thinking the Strasburg cap is pretty firm. Instead of risking the franchised, if they are contending they'll go get an arm before the deadline. And I don't see how Harper - assuming he's raking at Triple-A - isn't playing full-time before the break.
I will personally be shocked if Harper is up before rookie call-ups in September. Unless he's just absolutely MASHING in the Minors.

I don't know if Zimmerman will be capped, but I think Strats' cap will be firmly adhered to.

I wouldn't look for the Nats to seriously contend this year. Next year though, with the Phillies one more year older and Harper perhaps part of the outfield, it might just happen.

MStark
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Re: Questions re: Strasburg, Harper and the Nationals

Postby MStark » Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:15 pm

Not getting Prince Fielder is key to my thoughts. Since they let him get away, I'm thinking that they aren't serious about making a playoff push.
Or it could be that they just didn't want to overpay for a rotund, defensively-challenged first baseman whose 10-year contract could be about 5 years too long.
No doubt a factor. But they could have offered more money for shorter duration if they really wanted to push. And with the other considerations percolating in the background (youth of team, Stras IP limit, etc.) it makes some sense to me that they'd be less eager to go all-in for a playoff push this year).
And with that in mind, it makes sense to me that they are probably less inclined to let Harper start the season with the team, and more inclined to limit Strasburg's (and to a lesser extent, Zimmerman's) IP.
They're limiting Strats' innings because he was hurt last year.
Of course that's the reason. But despite all evidence (and precedent - see JZim) to the contrary, some folks seem to think they'll let the reins a little looser for Stras. The only way that could ever make sense to me is if they found themselves late-season contenders.
Question: I've seen it written that Matt Moore will break camp with the Rays because he signed a long-term contract that takes him past his arbitration years. Harper's contract runs for 5 years. So does Matt Moore's. So why the difference?
Because Matt Moore has already dominated at Triple A (and for his short stint in the majors last year) while Bryce Harper hasn't even made it past Double A. Why rush your prized prospect?
You missed the point of my question, which is empirical, not subjective. Why won't Harper's 5 year contract take him past his arb.-eligible years, similar to the way Moore's contract does. This question has nothing to do with ability; it's a question about contracts and status.
The Nats lineup is an interesting blend of potential and veteran talent. Their regular lineup has them fielding Zimmerman, Werth, Morse, Espinosa, Desmond, Ramos, LaRoche, and probably Bernardina. With that line-up, less Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche, they held their own for much of last year, before fading after the break. They even took the season series from Philadelphia!

So...

What happens this year if they find themselves in a similar situation? What if they are contending in July? Does that help or hurt Harper's chances of getting the call-up? If they are in the thick of things in mid-August, are we still looking at IP limits for Strasburg? Do they shorten his outings and extend his season? Move him to the pen for half a season (that seems silly to me - the Nats have outstanding middle relief)? What about Jordan Zimmerman? Will he be capped at 200 IP?

I'm thinking the Strasburg cap is pretty firm. Instead of risking the franchised, if they are contending they'll go get an arm before the deadline. And I don't see how Harper - assuming he's raking at Triple-A - isn't playing full-time before the break.
I will personally be shocked if Harper is up before rookie call-ups in September. Unless he's just absolutely MASHING in the Minors.

I don't know if Zimmerman will be capped, but I think Strats' cap will be firmly adhered to.

I wouldn't look for the Nats to seriously contend this year. Next year though, with the Phillies one more year older and Harper perhaps part of the outfield, it might just happen.
I can't see any reason they wouldn't bring him up in June, unless he's just awful at Triple-A. He's got a manager that wants him, and once June hits, from what I've read, the Nats won't be hurt in the pocketbook. Why not maximize his Big League experience? It'll only make the team that much stronger for next year's push.
ESPN 12 team, All MLB Auction $260 budget
Draft 3/18/14

C: Brian McCann (kept 1 yr @ $5)
IB: Eric Hosmer (through 2016, $17)
2B: Anthony Rendon ($5)
3B: Manny Machado (through 2016, $14)
SS: Ian Desmond (kept 1 yr @ $8)
MI: Jean Segura (through 2017, $10)
CI: Edwin Encarcion (kept 1 yr @ $27)
OF: Bryce Harper (through 2015, $14)
OF: Nick Castellanos ($7)
OF: Ben Revere ($5)
OF: Curtis Granderson, ($8)
OF: Brett Gardner ($4)
Util: Billy Butler ($13)
P: Stephen Strasburg (kept 1 yr @ $14)
P: Michael Pineda ($4)
P: Danny Salazar (through 2017, $14)
P: Aroldis Chapman (kept 1 yr @ $21)
P: Zack Wheeler (through 2017, $14)
P: Grant Balfour ($13)
P: Nate Jones ($10)
P: Yordono Ventura ($8)
P: Sonny Gray ($14)
B: Miguel Montero ($4)
B: Gregory Polanco ($3)
B: Denard Span ($1)

JoeC
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Re: Questions re: Strasburg, Harper and the Nationals

Postby JoeC » Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:29 pm

No doubt a factor. But they could have offered more money for shorter duration if they really wanted to push. And with the other considerations percolating in the background (youth of team, Stras IP limit, etc.) it makes some sense to me that they'd be less eager to go all-in for a playoff push this year).
My guess would be that Fielder wanted security more than money, per se. I read from the beginning of his free agency dance that he was looking for a long-term deal. No reason to take a guy who will likely be a liability for the latter half of his contract. You should take risks to "win now", but not if they're going to cripple your payroll and flexibility 5 years in the future.

Of course that's the reason. But despite all evidence (and precedent - see JZim) to the contrary, some folks seem to think they'll let the reins a little looser for Stras. The only way that could ever make sense to me is if they found themselves late-season contenders.
Here's the problem: if they are in contention and they decide to exceed Strasburg's innings limit in order to possibly grab a playoff spot, if Strasburg gets hurt again during that time, the fanbase will have a collective coronary.

I don't think they'll risk their future success (which, as you say, is more likely to be next season than this season) in order to qualify for the playoffs today.

You missed the point of my question, which is empirical, not subjective. Why won't Harper's 5 year contract take him past his arb.-eligible years, similar to the way Moore's contract does. This question has nothing to do with ability; it's a question about contracts and status.
If he doesn't play in the majors this year (at least 86 games), then his arbitration clock won't start until the 2013 season. Which means his contract will end before he becomes arbitration-eligible, right?

Maybe I'm still not understanding what you're saying. :)

I can't see any reason they wouldn't bring him up in June, unless he's just awful at Triple-A. He's got a manager that wants him, and once June hits, from what I've read, the Nats won't be hurt in the pocketbook. Why not maximize his Big League experience? It'll only make the team that much stronger for next year's push.
For the same reason you don't push any developing player too fast: they might get up to the big leagues and suck eggs, destroying their confidence. I think it's easier to bring along elite pitchers quickly than it is hitters. Hitting major league pitching is a much more difficult skill to develop.

I think they go slow with Harper and let him get a full year of seasoning in Triple A, bring him up in September to get a taste of the Majors and then plan on him being a starter in 2013, when they'll have a full season of Strasburg.


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