Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Arbitration, trade rumor, etc.

Go figure, MLB reports that we did not offer arbitration to two people whom we have already replaced.

I was working on an analysis of the proposed Alexis Rios / Nick Johnson swap that Gammons reported on, but I hit the wrong key and I'll be damned if my browser reloaded the page and ate my post. I'll just summarize my argument. Chris at Capitol Punishment has a good perspective on it, but I don't necessarily agree with the logic, because he thinks that Rios would send Chavez to the bench. I think Chavez will be battling Sledge for playing time, and unless Angelos really is playing puppeteer, Chavez will end up on the bench. Wilkerson just moves from the OF to 1B... your lineup only changes based on the swap, and Johnson has a better OBP and SLG.

Johnson does walk a lot, but overall he has underperformed offensively. There's a good chance that this was due to injury, and he'll break out. But there's just as good a chance he'll not live up to his potential again. Meanwhile, Rios is less likely to break out next year, but is probably more likely to improve on his 2004, and beyond. But, Rios doesn't know how to walk (he did it only once every 15 PAs or so in 2004), and that bugs me. The scouting report on Rios does say he is a plus glove in CF, meaning the defense will get a bit better.

All in all, I agree at the end of the day that it'd be a good swap. Johnson's odds of breaking out are a bit higher, but Rios seems like less of a risk, since Johnson has been so hampered by injuries. Plus, Rios is two years younger, and has more of a long-term upside from the power perspective. Realistically, if Johnson has a breakout year, that's great, but I'd rather mitigate the risk of embarrassing ourselves next year and put pieces in place in an attempt to be competitive a few years out. They've both got a decent chance of being key contributors in that time frame, but I see Rios as less risky. Maybe when PECOTA projections come out, statistics will prove me wrong, though.

I wonder if the Jays are looking for something other than an even swap. I would be if I were them, considering the risk involved with Johnson. Yet, as the Nats, we need to keep any other scraps of talent we have, and we've got a tight budget for 2005... I would only really be interested in an even swap.

In other on-the-field news, we still may sign Larkin, and if we do, he may actually end up a coach instead of an occasional shortstop and "team leader". I'd far rather have Guzman be the most expensive backup shortstop in the majors... even though he's ancient by baseball standards, Larkin's .289/.352/.419 in 2004 put Guzman's .274/.309/.384 to shame.

I'll skip the off-field news. I'm not too interested in weighing in on Steroids, Angelos, Cropp, etc. etc. etc.

6 Comments:

At 9:57 AM, Blogger Chris Needham said...

I was working under the assumption that the Chavez to Philly rumors could come true. If they can dump him, on top of getting Rios, great!

The funny thing is, that my initial reaction was reaaaallly negative. I didn't like it at all. (I'm a huge NJ fan.) But the more I thought about it, the more I liked it.

I had read someplace--might have just been a rumor on someone's site?--that they would throw in Armas as well and get another player back too. That might change the calculus a little bit, but I have also heard that they might non-tender Armas--so they wouldn't be giving up anything of value anyway.

We'll see. We're hyperventilating over a Gammons rumor. What are the actual odds that this is one of the 2% that actually sticks to the wall anyway?

 
At 10:44 AM, Blogger SuperNoVa said...

Guzman is going to be ugly, ugly, ugly at RFK.

I, too, would rather have Larkin's stick at the plate with Guzman as a back-up. But chances are that Bowden's committed to Guzman now (4 years of commitment) and he's not going to back down from Guzman as SS. Ugh.

 
At 11:09 AM, Blogger John said...

It's the middle of winter, we need *something* to analyze, even if it is Gammons :-) I think we easily can do w/o Armas if he's still hurt (I might even convert T.J. Tucker to starter), but Armas is still is worth a shot. I will be disappointed if he's non-tendered or thrown into a deal for Rios.

 
At 7:30 PM, Blogger tmk67 said...

It is an interesting trade idea. Last year, PECOTA placed a huge advantage of NJ over Rios last year, with NJ's 25th percentile performance outVORPing Rios's 80th percentile performance. A second year of wrist problems will no doubt narrow that gap, but I expect it will still show a large advantage for NJ over the next five years, perhaps 2 wins a year.

That said, it may be a gamble worth taking. For this to make sense, you have to have some level of confidence that Rios will (a) fill-out his 6'5" frame, and (b) learn some level of plate discipline mid-career, like Sosa did (Sosa has subsequently forgotten!). Both of those are somewhat intangible and have to do with Rios's will to improve -- something that can be projected by PECOTA but can better be determined simply by talking to the guy. Will he work to be a star or will he coast? The fact that Riccardi is interested in trading him is a warning sign.

Interestingly, if Bowden had not signed an offensive Black Hole on the left side of the infield, I would probably be firmly against a Rios/NJ deal, because I think this could have been a decent team in the NL East next year with decent OBP at 3B and SS and a healthy Vidro and NJ, with Sledge playing every day, Church coming off the bench.

 
At 8:28 PM, Blogger SuperNoVa said...

John,

I did the expected run value calculation discussed on our blog and I think you'd be interested in our results. If you send an email to me at natsblog@gmail.com, I'll send you the results. Thanks for your thoughts, they helped my process along.

Basically, the resulting equation is 9*(.29K-.33BB-1.39HR)/IP gives you a runs saved per 9 by the three true outcomes. TMK67 also discussed this on a comment as well.

 
At 6:34 AM, Blogger John said...

TMK,

I have read that Rios worked really hard on walking in the minors and showed promise, but didn't make any progress with Toronto. This is a concern, because I don't trust that we really have anyone good to work with him. I've seen evidence that he wants to work hard on it, there is just the indication that it might not help.

All in all, I'd be shocked if Bowden makes this trade, not simply because I think the Jays will continue to want more than just the DL risk Johnson for their top offensive prospect, but also because Johnson has some name recognition, and I think that's going to be valued by the organization as a way of keeping the interest level high until there's a new stadium. Note that Johnson's the first guy with his name on Nats clothing... even beating out Wilkerson in that regard.

 

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