Friday, July 20, 2012
And one of many Rizzo and Co. are going to have to make in the next few weeks.
There are not one, not two, not three, but four players returning to the Nationals in the next month - nearly all of them will require a corresponding roster move (we will get there):
- Jayson Werth
- Chad Tracy
- Chien-Ming Wang
- Xavier Nady
In a perfect world, only two of these players would be returning to the big-league ballclub but, knowing Nats brass, they all will be returning to the expense of other players.
Let's go down the list, in order of expected arrival:
- Xavier Nady
His rehab stint ends on Friday and the Nationals need to make a decision on his future. In Major League action, Nady hit for a whopping .157/.211/.275 slash-line and so far in 9 games of rehab he has somehow done even worse with a .143/.171/.211*. With the emergence of Roger Bernadina as a quality pinch hitter as well as Tyler Moore's impressive rookie campaign, Nady should be sent his walking papers.
[Ed. Note - I didn't know it was possible to do worse than that...]
- Chad Tracy
Leader of the 2012 Nationals "Goon Squad", Chad Tracy single-handedly won several games during the first month-plus of the year. He is currently tied for 10th in Pinch Hits in MLB with 6 and his 7 RBI are still 1st in baseball. It is a no brainer that he will be sliding back onto the bench as soon as he is healthy.
Prediction: He takes the place of Ryan Mattheus (who has an option) and brings the team back to a normal 7-man bullpen instead of the current 8-man 'pen.
- Jayson Werth
In just 27 games at the start the 2012, Werth was well on the way to erase the bad memories of his 2011 season. He had a higher average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, walk rate, and contact rate coupled with a lower strikeout rate - things were looking up until a diving catch derailed his season. I believe that Werth will be hitting 1st and 2nd in the lineup (depending on handedness of the pitcher), rotating with Bryce Harper.
Prediction: Tyler Moore will be sent back down to the minors to make room for Werth, specifically because of the option game.
- Chien-Ming Wang
The former Cy Young contender just doesn't have it anymore. The Nationals gave him a chance to return to his former glory but a 6.62 ERA, 2.264 WHIP, and .361 BAA just won't cut it for a team that is trying for its first ever postseason appearance. Move him to the 'pen? Nope. If anything, Wang was even worse coming out of the bullpen; posting a 10.50 ERA, 1.833 WHIP, and .423 BAA against in his 6 innings. It was worth the 3-year/$7.2 Million chance that Rizzo and Co. gave to him in attempt to see him return to his former glory, but not every gamble is going to pay off.
Prediction: Wang will be DFA'ed and probably won't pitch in the majors again in 2012 only to sign a minor-league deal in the winter with another club.
The 2012 Nationals team is in a place that this town hasn't seen before. A place where a player with 90 games started one year prior can be shown the door because he couldn't even cut it as the 5th outfielder on the current squad. Sit back and enjoy the ride.
What are your predictions for these upcoming roster moves? Sound off below!
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond know this fact. They live it. Bryce Harper is, in the mind of passive baseball fans, brash and an anathema to the game they know. But to people who really watch the game, he is ideal; a heads up, put it all on the line player who will makes mistakes but also inspire his own team and simultaneously confuse and anger opponents. Ask Cole. Ask Ozzie. The kid is an emotional catalyst.
Ian Desmond seems to be the opposite. No national hype, no Sports Illustrated covers, no one targeting him. But he has become the hallmark of a hungry young team. Shortstop is a tough position (trust me, I play it...in slow-pitch softball), equal parts leader, talent and emotional rock; not a position accustom to rash action or intensity. Desmond does not agree. Being aggressive, at the plate, on the bases or in the field has become his way. Swing, run, charge are his battle cry.
The two are no strangers to crazy expectations. Bryce was on the Sports Illustrated cover at age 16. Ian was heralded as the next Derek Jeter (the later claim was made by a less than unbiased observer and frequently mistaken GM). So what is it that captivated so called "baseball people" when it came to these two?
There in lies the difference between the 2012 Nats and all other incarnations. Aggression. The 2005 Nats, the only other team to even come close to contending, were happy doing just that, contending. The 2012 team is just getting started. Every player on the team is watching Bryce and Ian, and it is changing them. Every player's essence is starting to develop into a championship winning piece.
Winning. Its not easy, especially if you have never done it professionally. Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper will not tolerate anything less. Ryan Zimmerman is the best player on the Nationals. Mike Morse has the most power. Adam LaRoche has the best resume. Steve Strasburg has the most talent. Jayson Werth makes the most money. Bryce and Ian are the most important pieces on this team. Because they are young. Because they are aggressive. But just a little bit passive.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Baseball is different. Baseball requires players. If you have 1 or 2 baseball skills, sorry, that is not good enough. Guys who can run, field and hit are worth millions of dollars a year.
Ben Zobrist is one of my favorite players in the league today. There are guys who play multiple positions in today's game, but few who play both outfield and infield. They are different disciplines, timing a ground ball's hops and making an accurate throw to first and reading a fly ball's slice or cut or knuckle are so different that it is rare for a player to master both at the major league level. Ben can do it. Steve Lombardozzi is on that path.
Ben has played most of the positions on the field over the last decade, but now he mainly occupies second base and right field. In the 2012 season, Steve Lombardozzi has played on both sides of the diamonds, fielding most of his time in left field and second base. The acceptance of this duty is wise for both the Nats, who create value, and Steve, who probably lengthens his career and increases the chances he will end up a coach, or even manager.
Steve Lombardozzi's dad was a major leaguer. He grew up in a baseball family. It's special club.
There are things valued by baseball people that aren't understood by people who don't love or appreciate baseball. They are the hardest things to learn about baseball and mark it's greatest players and appreciators. They are also all too rare in today's game, but there is hope.
Ben Zobrist and Steve Lombardozzi are the future. In the future, all MLB teams will have a guy (or 10 if I was a manager) that can play 3, 4, 5 positions, infield or outfield. A guy like Ben Zobrist or Steve Lombardozzi will be a difference maker for a manger and team. With Steve you can pinch hit for almost anyone in the line-up and expect him to move to a position with extreme competency.
The current Nats have a strategy that, I believe, will be slightly revolutionary. Steve Lombardozzi SS, becomes a LF, SS, 2B, 3B, CF. Tyler Moore becomes a 1B, LF, RF. Michael Morse is a 1B, RF, LF. I believe Ryan Zimmerman could play 7, or even 8 positions on the field (excluding pitcher, as his mechanics and control are always matters of debate). The organization's pieces are exposed to different positions and made to be more complete baseball players.
In Little League, your best player could play anywhere on the field. Why has that changed?
Steve Lombardozzi is in a position to impact the Nationals in a way Ben Zobrist has affected the Tampa Bay Rays. Given his background and training, Lombardozzi is capable of giving the Nats manager a huge degree of latitude in crafting a team, line-up and defensive strategy, while creating no offensive hole. He seems more than willing to play anywhere on the field if it means contributing to a winning major league franchise.
This is the tip of the sword. An organization based on athleticism, baseball knowledge and versatility is the new frontier of baseball. It is an inevitable evolution, from husky first basemen and unathletic catchers of the steroid era, to the quick minded and versatile players of today's game.
Mark it down, today. Steve Lombardozzi will be an important factor in the Nationals success in the future by A. providing an important player for the team and aptly playing many positions or B. being such a valuable trade piece that he returns to the Nats a special player.
Either way, smart, versatile players are on the way in. And it seems Mike Rizzo is smart enough to take advantage of it.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
I was pretty vocal on twitter and the podcast a few weeks ago was Ross Detwiler was unceremoniously removed from the Nats Starting Rotation after just a few mediocre starts. I felt that the hook was too short and that we were simply seeing a pitcher go through a slump - Davey Johnson felt differently.
Let's take a look at Ross's struggles leading up to his demotion - specifically his last three starts:
- May 14th vs San Diego - 5 IP. 7 H. 5 R. 4 ER. 3 K. 1 BB. 37 Game Score.
- May 19th vs Baltimore - 5 IP. 9 H. 6 R. 6 ER. 3 K. 1 BB. 27 Game Score.
- May 25th vs Atlanta - 4.1 IP. 5 H. 3 R. 3 ER. 5 K. 4 BB. 42 Game Score.
Not a great showing, but we should look a bit deeper than that.
- May 14th - 1st run scored on an error. 3rd run scored as Sandy Leon's leg bent in a horrible direction. 4th run scored, after a steal of 3rd on a just-entering-the-game catcher, on a sacrifice.
- May 19th - No excuses. Just not good.
- May 25th - Ross was pulled from the game after retiring 5 of the previous 7 batters. A double and a walk with a 3-run lead was apparently too much for Davey. And it should be noted that the very first pitch from Wang went for a 2-run double - both runs charged to Ross.
Alright - so by no means was Detwiler lights out, but he certainly wasn't as bad as the numbers seem to indicate. It should also be noted that at the time of his departure from the Nats Rotation Detwiler still had a sub-4.00 ERA; 3.88.
Now. On to Wang.
Chien-Ming Wang has now thrown three starts in the 2012 season. Let's take a look at how he has fared:
- May 30th vs Miami - 4 IP. 7 H. 4 R. 4 ER. 4 K. 3 BB. 33 Game Score.
- June 7th vs New York - 5.1 IP. 8 H. 2 R. 2 ER. 1 K. 3 BB. 42 Game Score.
- June 12th vs Toronto - 5 IP. 5 H. 2 R. 2 ER. 5 K. 5 BB. 51 Game Score.
Not very good either. Now, it seems to stand to reason that Wang is improving with each start - but 5 innings really isn't going to cut it. Initial indications are that both pitchers haven't been great as of late but...
Here is where we are really going to see their true colors...
Let's check out their stats for the year (as starters only):
Wang - 5.02 ERA. 6.40 FIP. 2.093 WHIP. .339 BAA. 0.91 SO/BB. -0.4 WAR.
Detwiler - 3.88 ERA. 3.57 FIP. 1.274 WHIP. .254 BAA. 2.40 SO/BB. 0.5 WAR.
Not only does Detwiler have better stats (by far) than Chien-Ming Wang, he is also younger, left-handed, and has a far higher upside than a 32 year-old recovering from major shoulder surgery.
Wang needs to be replaced by Detwiler, it is a no brainer.
Friday, June 1, 2012
Gio Gonzalez - MLB - Nationals
10 Starts. 7-1 Record. 2.04 ERA. 1.94 FIP. 0.94 WHIP. 11.53 K/9. 2.4 WAR.
What more can we say about this guy? Career bests in WHIP, K/9, ERA, BB/9, HR/9, and BAA. He is on pace for a 7.0+ WAR season. All concerns about his control issues have, so far, been unfounded. All concerns about how he is a different pitcher outside of Oakland have, so far, been unfounded. Barring a standard Nats injury, Gio is destined to be one of the Nats (several?) representatives to the All-Star Game.
Tom Milone - MLB - Athletics
10 Starts. 6-4 Record. 3.64 ERA. 4.19 FIP. 1.13 WHIP. 4.90 K/9. 0.7 WAR.
Milone was definitely a more polished pitcher than his colleague, Brad Peacock, but with far less upside. At the time of the trade he was certainly MLB-ready and his control is going to play very well in the Oakland Mausoleum... errr... Coliseum. So far this year he has seen his K-rates decrease and his BB-rates increase, not something you want to see from a pitcher in a pitcher-friendly ballpark in an AL division (see: DH).
Brad Peacock - AAA - Sacramento River Cats
10 Starts. 6-2 Record. 4.91 ERA. 3.15 FIP. 1.45 WHIP. 8.35 K/9.
Peacock has a higher ceiling than Milone, but he was also a bit less polished - having only made 9 AAA starts in his career. As you can see by his FIP, his ERA is quite deceiving as opponents have a .353 BABIP against him. The only thing that is concerning about Peacock's performance is that his WHIP sits at a career high. Peacock will be joining the A's rotation soon.
Derek Norris - AAA - Sacramento River Cats
44 Games. .287/.324/.503. 11 2B. 7 HR. 32 RBI.
In a shocking turn of events, Derek Norris, upon moving to the Billy Beane "Moneyball" A's, has seemingly abandoned his OBP prowess to hit for more power. Not being an insider, I have no idea whether this is an organizational philosophy forced upon him to swing more or a personal decision. That being said, Norris currently possesses the lowest OBP of his career and the highest SLUG since A+ Potomac. I am curious to see how long the A's stick with Kurt Suzuki with his .204/.244/.260 slashline before they call up Norris to play everyday.
A.J. Cole - A+/A - Stockton Ports/Burlington Bees
Combined - 10 Starts. 1-7 Record. 7.16 ERA. 1.82 WHIP. 8.1 K/9
Wow. This has been a two months to forget for the young 20 year-old Floridian. Cole was hit-or-miss for the Hagerstown Suns last year but always seemed to flash the brilliance enough times to be the main piece of this trade (and the piece that Nats fans fear the most). He began the year in A+ Stockton and struggled so much he earned a demotion to A Burlington. Although Cole is very young I think that it is time to start worrying that he won't be able to put it together in the long run - he has a career ERA over 5, career WHIP over 1.4. The only saving grace is that he is still missing bats; 8.1 K/9 this year.
My initial impressions of this trade after a few months of action are that this is going to turn out to be a win-win trade - both teams are going to get exactly what they needed. The Nats got an All-Star pitcher to enhance their chances for success in 4 year window. The A's got some salary relief of an All-Star while stockpiling inexpensive quality players with upside - Cole having the most upside.
It's rare in this day to see a trade that works for both teams, and although it is incredibly early to judge this trade, it appears as though this could be one of those deals. It sure is working for the Nationals so far!
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Monday, May 21, 2012
In this week's podcast, we talk about Bryce Harper's defensive struggles and offensive success. The Nats pitching has still been great, and we talk about that in some detail, and of course, we discuss injuries. We go over the Ross Detwiler vs. Chien-Ming Wang debate, suck up to Steve Lombardozzi a bit more, and talk about how awesome it is that Ian Desmond is batting fifth. There's a lot more fun in this hour plus podcast, so tune in and enjoy.
Monday, May 14, 2012
Michael Morse, Jayson Werth: Undoubtedly, the Nats need Morse and Werth to contend, they are keystone pieces that cannot be replaced. But not only are they missing the production, Bryce Harper's development may well be stunted. Just two weeks into his MLB career, he needs serious protection in the line-up. It took opposing pitchers all of a week to stop pitching to him. He is fed a steady diet of out pitches and has expanded his zone in a press to produce. Not ideal. A line-up that includes Zimmerman, Morse, LaRoche and Werth is a much friendlier place for Harper to develop his approach as a major league player. (Unless he somehow figures out how to devour a steady diet of breaking pitches, in which case he is some sort of Ted Williams/Ken Griffey Jr. cyborg)
Wilson Ramos: Love Wilson Ramos. But over the first month of the season, coupled with Henry Rodriguez fragile psyche, have shown Ramos to be sub-par defensively. His ability to block balls in the dirt is not developed and that is not a calming influence on a young staff. Jesus Flores can play major league baseball. He showed already this weekend he is a better backstop (At one point during Sunday's disaster of a ninth inning Dave Jagler pointed out that one of HRod's 54 foot fastballs would have been at the backstop if Wilson Ramos were catching). I don't believe the offensive drop-off will be that steep, and in fact if you remember Jesus first season as a back stop, he was clutch at the plate, delivering a number of important hits with runners in scoring position.
Chien-Ming Wang: The Wang/Lannan/Detwiler problem has turned out in the best possible way for the Nats development. The talent prospect has realized much of his potential and seized a spot in the rotation. Wang can take his time rehabbing and if he shows he is healthy he may draw interest from other teams in need of a starter and willing to take a flyer based on low salary and the potential return. John Lannan should always occupy a spot in Nats fans' hearts, but he has never had the talent to carry a staff or be a consistent contributor to a major league rotation. Nick Cafardo suggested today that teams may be more interested in Wang than Lannan, and at this point, the potential Wang beats the lackluster Lannan. Plus, I don't know if you heard, but the Nats have a problem with injuries, so a surplus of arms, might not be a bad thing.
Drew Storen, Brad Lidge: It should be clear to almost everyone after Sunday that Henry Rodriguez does not have the mental make-up to be a closer. And to be fair, that is not what anyone had in mind when this team was built. Drew Storen is looking pretty important these days isn't he? And wouldn't it have been nice to give Henry a night off Sunday and throw Brad Lidge out there with a three-run lead. You think Lidge walks anyone with a three run lead? The bullpen right now is a problem. A closer by committee? Open tryouts? Throw darts at a roster? This much is clear: I would be more comfortable with Rick Ankiel closing games than Henry Rodriguez.
Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler will keep this team in games through 6 or 7 innings almost every night. Players are going to ebb and flow offensively. Someone or someones may figure out how to close out a game. The Nats will get through these injuries with a record somewhere close to .500. At that point, imagine what the full team Mike Rizzo has assembled can do...
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Disclaimer: I fully acknowledge Rick Ankiel is not Michael Morse, Ryan Zimmerman or even Jayson Werth.
There is nothing ordinary about Rick Ankiel, his story, his tool set or his current situation. Still developing as an outfielder and hitter, he is in a unique place to help the Nats. Absent serious run producers and not wanting to rush Bryce Harper's development, Ankiel's defense, mixed with his flashes of power give the Nats an out.
I'm sure the Nats thought Rick would be a nice insurance policy when they signed him to a minor league deal this spring. A left-handed bat on the bench, a late inning replacement for Morse or Bernie. There aren't many defensive replacements who can post a slugging percentage over .400 for a career (he is at .426 for the current season). Outside of Adam LaRoche, Ankiel has the highest slugging percentage on the Nats.
The current outfield of Ank, Harper and Werth could very well be the plan for quite a while. As has been detailed here previously, injuries on the Nats tend to persist, so the idea that Michael Morse will be arrive back on time is almost naive. Would this really be a bad thing? Of course we could use Morse's bat, but the combination of power, speed and defense those three provide would be formidable.
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Monday, April 30, 2012
Prior to a 4-game losing streak (1 against the Padres and 3 against the Dodgers), the Nationals were the talk of baseball and one of the best teams in the league.
Things, however, haven't been as rosy since the Nationals were 14-4 just 4 games ago. There is really only one reason for that, though it goes a bit deeper than simply the one issue - of course I am referring to the Nationals seemingly abysmal offense.
The pitching staff can allow 1 or 2 runs over the course of a week's worth of games is fantastic, but when the offense can't scratch together 2 or 3 runs to steal the ballgame is where the Nats are running into trouble. In the last 11 games (in which the Nats are 6-5), the Nationals have scored more than 3 runs only twice and won only one of those games. Their total runs scored over those games? 29 runs - or 2.6 runs/game. Any team would struggle to win ballgames when the offense just can't drive in runs.
We know the offense is bad (and that Rick Eckstein deserves to be fired), but the reason why it has been so bad is because of the sheer volume of injuries. We talked about it last week in this post and it has exacerbated since with Ryan Zimmerman actually going to the DL (when he was day-to-day and was expecting to play two days later) and then Mark DeRosa going to the DL with a mysterious Oblique injury. More injuries to some key players is going to negatively affect the offense all the time but with Morse already down? It's just salt in the wound.
To get a sense of how drastic things have gotten for the Nationals I dug back into the Capitol Baseball archive and found this gem from February of this year which included my prediction of the Nats lineup. It went as follows:
Ian Desmond - 6
Jayson Werth - 9
Ryan Zimmerman - 5
Adam LaRoche - 3 (yep, I was ahead of the curve)
Michael Morse - 7
Rick Ankiel - 8
Danny Espinosa - 4
Wilson Ramos - 2
Now for comparison's sake, let's take a look at yesterday afternoon's lineup:
Ian Desmond - 6 (4 for his last 44)
Stephen Lombardozzi - 5 (1 for his last 17)
Danny Espinosa - 4 (Yes, that is a guy with a .213/.308/.280 slashline hitting 3rd)
Adam LaRoche - 3 (Nats MVP thus far)
Xavier Nady - 9 (The Nats 6 hitter has a .140/.173/.220 slashline and a -0.7 WAR which is the worst in the National League) [Oh, by the way, he didn't have a job before two weeks before the season cause he is so bad but he is now starting every game for the Nationals]
Tyler Moore - 7 (Just called up)
Bryce Harper - 8 (19 years old and has a better eye than probably anyone on the team)
Jesus Flores - 2 (Backup Catcher)
Honestly. I'm not kidding at all when I say this. This is a AAA baseball team with Adam LaRoche rehabbing an injury. Are any of these players good enough or ready to be on a major league roster right now?
The answer is no.
How many players did I get right? 2. With a 3rd that is still in the lineup. Werth - out. Zim - out. Morse - out. Ank - not in the lineup. Ramos - struggling. Espinosa hitting 3rd???
Strasburg can lead the NL in WAR all he wants, but if the Nationals are putting out a AAA lineup it isn't going to matter. He can throw a 10 inning No-Hitter but if he can't get any run support it really isn't going to matter.
Thing's aren't going to get any better until the team gets Morse and Zimmerman back healthy. Then, and only then, can we all witness what the Nationals are truly capable of. But for now, hope that the Nats can scratch out two runs before the other team does.
It will get better. It really will. Keep the faith.
Saturday, April 28, 2012
The game starts at 9:10 pm EDT, and the guys from the podcast Nats Talk On The Go will hop on with you about a half hour before that to start fielding your questions and chat with you about Harper, Strasburg, and everything Nats. Join us for some fun.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
So far this offseason/Spring we have seen a myriad of debilitating injuries that have been completely mis-managed:
- Sammy Solis: According to reports, Solis reported that he was feeling elbow pain near the end of his Arizona Fall League stint but it was decided by doctors that he would be fine with a "special throwing program". Later in the Winter it was announced that he was "doing well" in his recovery from elbow pain. Fast forward to Spring Training, after his first bullpen session it was discovered that he did indeed tear his UCL and needed Tommy John Surgery.
- Michael Morse: In early March Morse strained his Right Lat Muscle and was immediately listed as day-to-day - meaning that he might be ready soon. Not so much. When Morse was finally ready to start playing again, he actually wasn't and immediately re-injured his Lat. Rizzo himself admitted that "we tried to get him ready as quick as we could". Now the slugger and heart of the lineup is in the middle of a six-week no-baseball-activity shutdown.
- Drew Storen: This Spring, Drew Storen was pitching incredibly well until a bout of elbow injury hit him pretty good. Immediately after the soreness Nationals doctors decided that it was simply inflammation and prescribed rest for the closer. Once again, the Nationals training staff thought he was ready so they had him pitch on a mound. Days later, Storen was under the knife to remove bone chips in the fireballer's elbow. How a professional training staff can miss bone chips floating in an elbow baffles my mind.
- Ryan Zimmerman: What is there to say. The Nationals Face of the Franchise was scratched from Saturday's game at the last second (forcing customers to watch Mark DeRosa in the 3-hole) with right shoulder tightness - though this is not the same shoulder that hampered Zimmerman in 2008. The release during the game said that Zimmerman wasn't concerned and that he should be fine to play Tuesday. Well, last night was Tuesday and instead of Nationals fans watching Zimmerman man 3rd until the wee hours of the morning, everyone was waiting for the results of Zimmerman's MRI (while watching DeRosa hit 3rd again).
That's 4 players who went from simply day-to-day style injuries to 3 players missing significant time and 1 player waiting on the results of an MRI.
There have been serious miscalculations with all of these (and more) injuries from the Nationals training staff. Something has got to give.
How long do you think Zimmerman will be out? Sound off in the comments!
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
This week's Nats Talk On The Go episode is full of positive stuff, including lots of wins, a continuously impressive pitching staff, and some surprisingly impressive offensive numbers from a few key players. Unfortunately, we also have to talk about the offensive reality of an inability to drive in runs and the continued effect of injuries on the team. If you can't stream it below, subscribe on iTunes or download it here.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
- Start with 50 points.
- Add 1 point for every out recorded.
- Add 2 points for every inning completed after the 4th.
- Add 1 point for each strikeout.
- Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed.
- Subtract 4 points for every earned run allowed.
- Subtract 2 points for every unearned run allowed.
- Subtract 1 point for every walk.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
This week, we talk about the Washington Nationals' prodigious pitching and their awful offense. Well, maybe it wasn't quite as awful as you may think. We spend a lot of time both praising and criticizing Ian Desmond, and we talk about about Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth, too.
Friday, April 13, 2012
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
In any other MLB city would this have been almost inconsequential. In Washington, maybe it puts the heat on President Obama over Cuba. In Philly they might boo for a few days, but hey, they are going to do that anyway. Maybe in Atlanta he is run out of town for professing love for an 86 year old man. But a suspension? Can Major League Baseball really let teams suspend players or managers who make comments that some of its citizens may disagree with? Will the Nats suspend a player who says he is against statehood?
Now the Marlins argument, that he represents their organization when he acts and speaks, is disingenuous at best, and a cheap ploy to bring in Cuban fans at its worst. You do not go get Ozzie to be your manager and expect him to be a role-model for your city and team. He skipped the White House for Hugo Chavez. He used an offensive slur while describing Jay Mariotti. There is no way the Marlins did not see this sort of thing coming. And to now cry foul, is both naive and hypocritical.
Fidel Castro is 86 years old. Yes, he once stood for the Cuban Missile Crisis and big red (Read: communism) right in our back yard. But his time as a villain has come and gone.
What say you Natstown?
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
With this week's episode, the Washington Nationals regular season is officially underway, and there's quite a bit to talk about. At the top of the ledger is injuries and the issues with Drew Storen's elbow. We talk Michael Morse and Rick Ankiel, and Anthony Rendon's ankle, too. We spent a lot of time talking about Adam LaRoche's crazy start, and if you throw in some pitching talk, some offensive concerns, recaps of the first series, and some series previews, you have a full lid on this week's episode.
Question Of The Week: What were the three biggest surprises of the Nationals Opening Series vs. the Cubs? We read a few listener responses, too.
Friday, April 6, 2012
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Wins: 90 - A first half around .500 will give way to a torrid August and September and lead the Nats into a wild card spot.
Offensive MVP - Ryan Zimmerman. He plays over 150 games and hits close to .300 with over 30 HRs and over 100 RBI.
Pitching MVP - Jordan Zimmerman. Strassy, Gio and even Ejax may have gaudier stats, but Jzimm will make close to 35 starts and have a quality start % in the 70s.
Biggest Offensive Surprise - Ian Desmond. He will hit 20 HRs and score over 100 runs.
Biggest Pitching Surprise - Edwin Jackson. Minimize his starts at Citizen's Bank and he will be golden.
Biggest Offensive Disappointment - Hate to say this, but Michael Morse. He will fall alittle further back to earth. But a healthy Zim, LaRoche and a bounce back year for Werth will help the offense along.
Biggest Pitching Disappointment - Chien Ming Wang. I firmly believe he is made of candy-glass and will never throw any substantial innings again.
Best Moment - I want to say when the Nats clinch a wild card spot. But really it will be the first time Wilson Ramos comes to bat in the home opener. I will not forget the shock and unease I felt during those days in winter.
Nationals All-Stars - Ryan Zimmerman, Steven Strasburg, Drew Storen
Teddy Wins - 0
Player Games lost to the DL - Lots
Prop-Bets - Davey Johnson ejections 2, Zim walkoffs 1, Ian Desmond errors 17, Jayson Werth beard alignments 7, Strassy's last start August 24
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
This move is an important one for the Nationals organization. It signals an important shift in focus, from perennial underdog to consistent contender. Yes, the Nats are at a point in their existence where the personnel decisions are made strictly based on the on-the-field product. Gone are the days of "Mike Bascik, he's such a nice guy, great story, glad he's on our team" and in are the times where the most reliable Nats starter in history is optioned to Syracuse. It's encouraging to future fans of the team and means that the building of a rotation by cattle call is a thing of the past.
But none of that makes this alright with me. John Lannan is a wonderful person and very good pitcher. Let's look at the stats: 751 innings pitched in 128 starts, basically 6 innings per start, an ERA right at 4.00 and has a career WAR over 7 in 5 seasons, all the while costing a total just north of 3.5 million dollars (not a year...for his whole time in a Nats uni). He has been the stalwart of the rotation and endured the humiliation that was the Nats run-support and defense. To demote him to triple-A and tell him in the middle of the last exhibition game is so outside the realm of decent that there are no words.
This was an inevitable step in the progression towards being a keystone franchise. It makes the on-field product better, or at least gives it more potential. And Lannan at Syracuse is a nice insurance policy. That does not excuse this. John Lannan deserved better of the Nationals. Be it through trade or outright release, he is a Major League pitcher and the ignominy of being sent to triple-A is outrageous. The lack of decency and loyalty will not soon be forgotten by Lannan. Or me.
In this week's episode, Joe and Craig have their first guest, Brett Taylor of Bleacher Nation. Brett provides great insight on the state of the Chicago Cubs, who the Washington Nationals are playing on Opening Day, and is an all around cool guy. Besides that, a few other pretty interesting things happened for the Nationals in the past week: John Lannan was demoted, Ross Detwiler was added to the rotation, more injury stuff, the bullpen, and spring training surprises, followed by the official end to spring training.
Monday, April 2, 2012
Today we are jumping right in with a piece on the Former Nats Greats that will be suiting up for the Nationals NL East opponents against your Washington Nationals. Let us venture onward.
Friday, March 30, 2012
In his last 500+ at bats, spanning 2 season, Nady has racked up -14 oRAR (offensive runs above replacement player). Compare that with Roger Bernadina's 6 oRAR in over 700+ ABs the last 2 seasons and you wonder why you would sacrifice those 20 runs and a considerable amount of athleticism for Nady. The same goes with Rick Ankiel, a superb defender with an oRAR of 4 last year and a WAR over 2. With so many options this spring, why, in the last week have the Nats pivoted so hard to Nady?
What is really scary about the ball rolling down the hill so fast on Nady, is that it signals, to me, that Morse and possibly LaRoche and Ankiel are still not healthy and could miss opening day. And as Nats fans know, missing the first week can turn into the first month and then the first half very quickly. This team was paltry on offense last season, and replacing Michael Morse with Xavier Nady is not the solution.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
In this week's episode, The Nats Blog's Joe Drugan and Capitol Baseball's Craig MacHenry talk about John Lannan's rotation spot and players getting hurt a lot. We also talk about the state of the bullpen, and Joe put out a lineup that he wasn't entirely prepared for and is now embarrassed about in the return of the Question Of The Week.
Friday, March 23, 2012
When Syracuse takes the field for the first game of the season, Bryce Harper will be roaming centerfield and anchoring their line-up. The reason for starting Bryce in center is two-fold. Currently having only Eury Perez as an upper level prospect at the position, Mike Rizzo wants to try to make Bryce Harper the long term answer; the underlying reason is that Bryce Harper as the Nats long term centerfielder creates value for both the player and the ballclub. Positions like CF, SS, 2B are premium positions because they are difficult defensively and on most teams offense is sacrificed at at least 1, more often than not 2, of those positions. If Bryce fails to be a suitable CF option, then he is moved to a corner OF spot and is still an offensive force. If he succeeds, he locks up CF, a premium position, for 5-7 years while making prospects Perez, Brian Goodwin, Michael Taylor, and Destin Hood trade bait or fantastic back-up pieces.
Davey Johnson, when speaking about Lombardozzi getting some experience in the outfield, referenced Ben Zobrist. Rays fans and fantasy gurus alike will tell you all you need to know about this super-utility man; he can play anywhere on the field and fit anywhere on a line-up card. In 2009 he played 8 different positions if you include DH, hit nearly .300, and made all of his teammates better through regular off days. Can Lombardozzi be Ben Zobrist? That's not the question that Mike Rizzo and Davey Johnson should be asking (and to their credit they likely won't). The question is can the Nats afford to gamble on this possibility?
What these moves, along with the decision to play Anthony Rendon at SS and 2nd in addition to 3rd, signal is that the Nats have shifted their player development philosophy. By starting a player at a premium position and moving him should he fail, the Nats can create value. Simply put, offense is easy to find at corner OF spots and first base. But by developing players up the middle, having them learn the premium positions, you create more skill, more value, and a more talented organization.