Happy Holidays to everyone! While us Nats fans may not have gotten the big Christmas Eve splash from Mike Rizzo and company this year like Josh Bell or Daniel Murphy in year’s past, there is an even better gift the Nationals could give us this holiday season. It’s not a hippopotamus or a hula hoop. It’s not even a winning season (although I would gladly take that). The best gift the Nationals could give us this year is an improved player development and analytics team that produces results.
Now I know some of you will say, “ThEy aLreAdy DiD thAt THiS oFfSEasOn.”
I know they did.
They added the ingredients, now it’s time for them to put it all together and make something amazing.
Winning is incredibly difficult, we know this. Player development is also difficult. There is no such thing as a sure thing when it comes to prospects. But player development is easier or more attainable/sustainable when you add to the department both with staff and resources, like analytics.
The Nationals have a long road ahead of them, but they now find themselves with some of the best prospects in baseball. They should be doing everything in their power to support those prospects in order to help them reach their full potential. They got off to a great start, but I do hope you can teach an old dog new tricks as this is a mindset and strategy that needs to fully be embraced by the front office and coaching staff. I am not saying they should go as far as scripting games like the Rays do or anything like that, but analytics have proven to be incredibly helpful and the days of the eye test being the sole evaluator are over.
Last year, the Nationals called up Donovan Casey, a player received in the Scherzer/Turner trade in 2021, for his MLB debut, had him sit on the bench for 5 games, and sent him back down. He then struggled, later citing the mental toll that move had on him, and was then DFA’d by the team. The Nationals also just DFA’d Gerardo Carrillo, another player acquired in that trade, last week.
The point I want to make is that calling up a young player that you just acquired, only to have him ride the bench and hinder his progress in AAA does no one any good. You can do that with a veteran player, but not one of your prospects. That is the kind of thing I hope never happens again with this new revamped player development staff.
The best gift the Nationals could give fans is a sustainable player development system that produces results, like the Dodgers or the Astros. Players leave in free agency – it happens. But it is nice to know that you have a system in place that gets the most out of your young guys and prepares them for the big leagues. That is what has kept those teams so competitive for so long and what can help the Nationals reach competitiveness again soon. We need them to do everything to support Josiah Gray, Keibert Ruiz, Cade Cavalli, CJ Abrams, Luis Garcia, etc. this year and for the guys of the future, like Robert Hassell III, James Wood, Elijah Green and others. They went all in on prospects, so now go all in on supporting them and give us the best gift that keeps on giving.