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February 9, 2009

Team Health Reports

Washington Nationals

by Will Carroll

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WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Team Audit | DT Cards | PECOTA Cards | Depth Chart

Head Trainer: Lee Kuntz
Player Days Lost: 1,317
Dollars Lost: $19.8 million
Injury Cost: $46.4 million

Trend: Neutral. They couldn't have been much worse, but with a roster full of players like Nick Johnson and Dmitri Young adding injury days in bunches, it's tough for Kuntz and his staff to make much headway. The injury to Ryan Zimmerman is perhaps the most significant cause for concern, but there's little a medical staff can do in a traumatic case like that, and the team's management of the situation does seem positive. The next big worry will be the influx of young players, especially pitchers, that will need to be monitored and managed.

The Shape of the Season:

graph

The Big Question: Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post asks, "Are the Nationals truly willing to count on Nick Johnson to play first base. To put it another way, what is the over/under on games started by Nick Johnson?"

Johnson is a fascinating case for medheads; his problem is that there's no evidence that he can play baseball and stay healthy at the same time. The Nats hedged their bets somewhat by signing Dmitri Young, figuring that at least one of them would be healthy at any given time, but that didn't really work out either. Plan C might be to shift Josh Willingham to first base, taking some of the pressure off of his back and freeing up a slot for the Nats' glut of outfielders. Regardless of what else they might come up with, the Nats are hoping that Johnson can remain healthy long enough to have an impact, and that they'll have adequate options available so that when the inevitable happens, they won't be left wondering what to do next. The over/under? I'm giving him an optimistic 100 games, and wondering if he's ever had the same run of tests Rocco Baldelli had last spring.

Fantasy Tip: There's a temptation to look for some buy-low guys here, but the true value of most of these players is low to begin with. If there's a sleeper to be found, it's Scott Olsen, who has shown better stuff in the past than he did in last year's healthy campaign. Those of you that are going to take a chance and pick Nick Johnson (or Dmitri Young) should go ahead and stock up on Maalox. Fantasy owners have been gambling on Johnson's talent for a while, but the guys that draft him are seldom the same ones that pick up the trophy at the end of the year.

SP Daniel Cabrera: Red light Risk and reward? Cabrera chafed under Leo Mazzone's program, and he has resisted any change to his high-effort delivery. Maybe the elbow sprain that wasn't quite bad enough for surgery will get his attention. Probably not, but his velocity alone is going to get him a lot of looks and have a lot of pitching coaches thinking, "I can fix him."

SP Shawn Hill: Red light It doesn't get much redder than this. Hill ended his season on Jim Andrews' table in Pensacola, as his elbow required shutting him down early for the second consecutive season. Spurs, nerve compression, and a whippy motion all combine to make him a ticking time bomb. The bigger issue is that he hasn't been that great on the few occasions when he's been healthy.

1B Nick Johnson: Red light Someday, we'll have genetic information that will show us why Nick Johnson just couldn't hold it together. His wrist was the breakdown point last year, so expect some loss of power before the next thing breaks. Even with low PECOTA expectations, he's still firmly at the high end of the red range.

LF Josh Willingham: Red light His back is going to act up, but this team has enough depth in the outfield that they should barely notice the 20-30 games that he'll miss. His power fell off after a minor wrist injury in July, so there's some upside there as well. Some time at first base, or moving to the position completely, would help.

SP Scott Olsen: Yellow light Olsen crossed the 200-inning mark for the first time last year after finishing the previous two seasons around 180. He became slightly more efficient, but gave up some strikeouts to do so. He was used somewhat rationally, with lower innings totals as the season wore on, making him a good bet to maintain the performance level. A history of elbow issues seems to be behind him, as do some stupid decisions he made. He's not an ace, but he's not bad and not that risky. PECOTA's low innings expectation offsets some of the risk.

SP Collin Balester: Yellow light His 2008 was split between the majors and Triple-A, and he put up almost identical numbers in each assignment. As long as he doesn't go significantly over 150 innings, he should be OK physically, but his results may not be good enough to hold off some of the Nats' better prospects, making that inning total irrelevant.

3B Ryan Zimmerman: Yellow light His power totals weren't helped by the new park in '08, and the shoulder injury sapped them all that much more. But what if the injury was a bit more chronic, and the park effect was overshadowed by the effect of the injury? Zimmerman denies that this is the case, but I think that he'll come back a bit more than most expect. That Eric Chavez comp does worry me a bit, though.

RF Austin Kearns: Yellow light Kearns is just a placeholder at this point, so the low PA totals keep him from being too risky. The stress fracture that ended his season shouldn't be an issue, but there will be something else soon enough. The funny thing is that losing some playing time could keep him healthy enough in the long run to be more productive.

SP John Lannan Green light

CL Joel Hanrahan Green light

2B Anderson Hernandez Green light

SS Cristian Guzman Green light

C Jesus Flores: Green light He'll be fine after a nasty ankle sprain he suffered courtesy of a play at the plate in early September. He's young enough that an increase in games caught shouldn't be a huge challenge. That makes him one of the few green-rated catchers around.

CF Lastings Milledge Green light

22 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

buddaley

Elijah Dukes?

Feb 09, 2009 09:14 AM
rating: 0
 
One Flap Down

He's Code Orange, as in prison jumpsuit.

Feb 09, 2009 09:44 AM
rating: -2
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

Dukes would be a low yellow, Young a very high red. Those are guesses -- I didn't run them.

Feb 09, 2009 09:56 AM
 
Zabadoey

Why didn't you run one for Dukes? He seems to be an integral part of that outfield who certainly has some question marks about his ability to stay on the field - for health reasons and otherwise.

Feb 09, 2009 10:44 AM
rating: 1
 
SC

Thrilled that you're doing these in reverse alphabetical order. Being a fan of the Nats and Blue Jays makes waiting for the top 11 prospect lists torture.

Feb 09, 2009 09:30 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

I'm not -- it's actually reverse order of finish, so roughly the same as the draft order. I'm hoping we'll get a splash page up with the schedule and a quick link to all of the active THRs.

Tomorrow, Seattle.

Feb 09, 2009 09:55 AM
 
SC

Well, thanks for mixing it up, anyway. I'd love to see a correlation between finish and days lost on a graph or something.

Feb 09, 2009 10:03 AM
rating: 0
 
Moneyball16

What chance of being healthy do the colours mean again? I know there are different shades of green etc, but I am curious about this. Searching some old articles I found that green means a 55% chance of not going on the DL for the whole season, but was wondering about yellow and red.

Feb 09, 2009 10:06 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

That's results. I've never published the actual band parameters.

Feb 09, 2009 10:50 AM
 
Aaron/YYZ

No Elijah Dukes??

Feb 09, 2009 10:27 AM
rating: 0
 
lonechicken

Shawn Hill: "It doesn't get much redder than this."

That's saying a lot when this same page has the name "Nick Johnson" on it.

Feb 09, 2009 10:32 AM
rating: 0
 
comish4lif

Just an FYI on the Zimmerman comment - the new park couldn't help his power in 2007; it didn't open until March 2008.

Feb 09, 2009 11:40 AM
rating: 0
 
newsense

"...there's no evidence that [Nick johson] can play baseball and stay healthy at the same time."

Seriously - how did he manage to become a professional baseball player? How did he acquire his considerable skills if he couldn't play?

Feb 09, 2009 12:39 PM
rating: 0
 
OonBoon

We have evidence that at one time dinosaurs walked the earth, but there is no evidence that dinosaurs are walking the earth today.

Feb 09, 2009 12:57 PM
rating: 0
 
newsense

What killed the dinosaurs?

That's the real question. At one point he could stay healthy enough to become a good player but he can't stay healthy now. What happened?

Feb 09, 2009 13:12 PM
rating: 0
 
comish4lif

I think there's something going on with him. He suffers freak injury after freak injury and takes at least 2X as long to recover. As a pro athlete, he should be able to recover faster.

It makes me wonder what the rest of the story is?

Feb 09, 2009 13:27 PM
rating: 0
 
hessshaun

Just a heads up, on the spreadsheet you have Lannan and Balester flipped.

Feb 09, 2009 12:54 PM
rating: 0
 
sbiel2

I don't understand how Guzman could be a green. He's been on the DL 3 of 4 years, and last year he only avoided the DL because Bowden left him on the 25-man while he was unavailable for 2 weeks.

Feb 09, 2009 15:58 PM
rating: 1
 
nicholj

I note that there is quite a bit of variation (6 players) between colours is this article and the ones in the spreadsheet. Also, Elijah Dukes is included in the spreadsheet, yet you said that you did not run him. Do you intend to update the spreadsheet as you go?

Feb 09, 2009 17:26 PM
rating: 0
 
cfolson

How did Jesus Flores go from red on the spreadsheet to green here?

Feb 09, 2009 18:14 PM
rating: 0
 
Scott D. Simon

Will, I like how you've run the THR from reds to green. Makes the higher injury risks jump out. Keep up the good work.

Feb 09, 2009 19:38 PM
rating: 0
 
Hendo

Thanks, Will. Also noticed that Wily Mo Pena's name doesn't appear. Too little data -- or too little future with the Nats?

Feb 10, 2009 05:32 AM
rating: 0
 
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