Since it’s only been one night, we don’t know what we have. Julian Tavares as closer? Closer by committee? Garret Mock as relief ace? We’ll know in a couple of games, assuming they are ahead, what Manny has planned. And if it’s successful. But enough speculation, what do you WANT to see?
With the recent failures of the team’s closer, Joel Hanrahan, the Nationals have decided to go with the notorious closer-by-committee. According to Manny Acta, “Probably most of the duties will be handled by Wells and Tavarez up until Beimel comes back, and then we’ll put him in the mix. Depending on how things go this week, he might end up being the guy.” Of course for fantasy baseball players, this is a disaster. No one player to get the saves means none of those guys are that valuable. But for sabermetrician types, and for baseball in general, this could be a big deal. Especially if Manny decides to simply never name a closer. Read the rest of this entry »
Cristian Guzman and Willie Harris are set to come back this week. Willie Harris should provide some much needed bench help, and the occasional fill-in as a starter. Unfortunately, the Nats seem to be convinced that he is only going to be their 5th OFer, not a 2B at all. While he has some value as a #5 OFer, if he takes ABs away from Willingham (who has shown he can hit every year if given the opportunity) he probably takes runs away from the team. Meanwhile, if he plays some 2B in place of Anderson Hernandez, even once a week, his bat compares favorably.
Thankfully, Anderson probably will no longer be unwisely shoved into the leadoff role simply because he’s fast. Instead, Guzman will be there. Guzman, despite being a light-hitting shortstop, is not fast. Keeping in mind his limited playing time, since he came to DC in 2005, he has stolen 16 bases and been caught 9 times. Not very fast. But what he has been able to do, despite a complete and utter lack of any ability to take walks, is get on base. Since his lasik eye surgery, now the stuff of legends, Guzman has an OBP of .360. His splits are .327/.360/.452, not at all bad for a leadoff hitter. He does need the high batting average, but it appears that he can do that. So now, whenever the leadoff hitter gets up, it’s not necessarily an automatic out. Read the rest of this entry »
Maybe it would be different, they thought. Maybe in the National League, facing pitchers and #8 hitters that are unimpressive compared to those in the AL, Daniel Cabrera could show his stuff. You remember that stuff? It allowed him to have 150 or more Ks 3 years in a row. The kind of stuff that gave him a CG shutout with 10 Ks against Toronto in 2006, or take a no hitter 8 1/3 innings against the Yankees to finish off that same season. But in 2008 he struck out less than 100, despite a full season, and walked just about the same amount. A change of leagues, they thought, would do him good.
With Cristian Guzman on the DL, the Nats are missing their best approximation of something that most baseball teams have – a leadoff hitter. It’s not that he’s particularly fast, or allows the pitcher to throw alot of pitches so the rest of the team can see. What makes him a successful choice as the leadoff hitter is that he actually hits like a major league baseball player. Which is more than the Nats can say about everyone else that has been there. Milledge was the closest approximation, Anderson Hernandez has been a disappointment so far, and Alex Cintron has only really hit well one season, in 2003. He’s been given chances since then, but it has never worked out for him. As a result, the leadoff spot in this lineup has combined for truly laughable numbers.
The 1st spot in the lineup has exactly 0 HRs, 0 extra base hits of any kind, 5 walks, 19 Ks, and 11 hits. As the leadoff spot, it also sports the most PAs, with 67 (#2 and #3 each have 66). This all comes together for splits of .180/.250/.180. Read the rest of this entry »
Starting pitching – for the Nats it has always been something people have scoffed at. Some around here thought this year might be different, but the first week of the season seemed to prove it was more of the same. Last night, and this past week, however, things have started to look up. Let’s start with last night. A 3 run Braves first made it look bad early, but Martis recovered and ended up pitching 6 full without giving up another run. After the Nats took the lead in the 6th, the bullpen looked good again, and the save by Hanrahan was a work of art. I won’t call it a thing of beauty, because it was not that.
If you didn’t get to watch the game, or weren’t one of the dozens of people at the park yesterday, Jordan Zimmermann looked pretty impressive. Unflappable may be a better word. The 2 hour rain delay didn’t seem to be a problem, for him at least. He was solid, and even in the inning where he actually gave up runs, he almost got out of a no-out triple to Chipper. Even after giving up the HR to Diaz, he seemed calm, and settled down to pitch two more great innings. The line looks nice – 6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. How about 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA to start out a career? But that’s not what caught my eye. Read the rest of this entry »
One thing I didn’t mention in my last post was why Sunday at Nats stadium was disappointing to me for a few reasons. Although I did witness Stan Kasten wandering around the stadium on more than one occasion (he’s a phone-holster-in-the-belt guy), I was there to watch baseball and try out some beers. There are still a few on the list that I haven’t tasted and I was really looking forward to the chance. Too bad I couldn’t find any. I started out at the Red Porch, where you had your choice of American big time brews, and then Peroni and Leinenkugel’s Home Run Ale (I know it was a Leiney, I THINK it was the HR Ale). That’s it. I really expected more at the Nationals Park hyped-up bar section. I went with the Leinenkugel and it was good, but I really wanted some of the weird stuff. The bartender there couldn’t be less helpful telling me where I might find it, although he was very nice about trying. We finished our beers from the empty CF standing room only section and watched Hanley Ramirez launch a few into the LF stands during BP, and wandered on. Read the rest of this entry »
In case you missed it this weekend, the Nats lost 3 games in a row. To tack on to all the other games in a row they lost. So that fact that they lost doesn’t seem that significant, except for the way that they lost. In all three games they were up late, and in all three games, the bullpen blew it. On Friday, they were up 2-1 going into the 9th inning. Hanrahan blew the save, then Saul Rivera got the loss in the 10th. On Saturday, they were up 6-3 going in to the 9th inning, and Hanrahan blew it again. This time it was Julian Tavarez who got the loss, in the 11th. Sunday, the game I attended, they once again took a lead into the 9th inning, and once again blew the save. This time, since Hanrahan was tired of blowing daves, Saul Rivera took credit for both the blown save and the loss.
What’s important to remember here is that, despite the bad bullpen, the team played pretty well. Lannan and Olsen gave them very good starts, and Cabrera pitched very well, too. The offense wasn’t great, but it did enough to win all 3 games. These losses rest squarely on the shoulders of the bullpen. What to do? What to do? What’s most amazing is how difficult it actually is to blow 3 saves in a row. That takes a special kind of ineptitude. Read the rest of this entry »
It took 8 games, but the Nationals finally won one. What’s important is the way they did it. They scored lots of runs, which is nice to see – this team can hit. I have no doubt that they won’t finish with anything near those horrendous numbers they had last season. 4 HRs, including one from Willingham that was some important insurance, and one by the old attorney general, really demonstrated that this team is going to have much more power than the 2008 version. And if Gonzalez can ever hit, that guy is a serious asset. He is a great fielder and can really play anywhere in the infield. Nick Johnson was hitting in the 2 hole, which people may find curious. I don’t want to make too much of a deal of the batting order, but he’s a great line drive hitter, not a real power threat like some guys, and gets on base alot. Speed isn’t there, but I think he actually fits well into this role. I’m really impressed with his ability to hit already, considering he’s only had about 100 regular season ABs since the end of 2006.
The Real Story
The more important thing, though, was obviously the pitching. Read the rest of this entry »