Johnson, Expos Gone

July 31, 2009

And there you have it, the expected trade was made, with about 180 seconds to go on my clock. The Nationals have finally made a trade deadline move, sending Nick Johnson to the Marlins in exchange for minor league pitcher Aaron Thompson. With his contract expiring, no chance at getting prospects for him when he goes to free agency, and a team going nowhere, trading Johnson was a necessity. It give this team time to test out some of their other players at first base, and hopefully bring Dukes up to play the OF (he’s hitting .288/.397/.545 in AAA, in case you were worried he’d pack it in once he was sent down). Before getting into what they got in exchange for Nick, a moment of silence please, for the Montreal Expos.

That’s right, with the departure of Nick, the last player on the Nats to have played on the 2004 Expos team is gone. The connection isn’t quite severed, as some players were drafted under that regime, but look at that roster. Everyone has left. Maybe the curse of Montreal is over, maybe this team will continue to suck. Maybe this is a symbolic gesture that indicates the team has turned the corner, maybe it means nothing at all. Either way, it’s the end of an era.

The New Guy

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One Trade Made

July 31, 2009

But it wasn’t the one everyone assumed. The Nats traded fairly effective lefty reliever Joe Beimel to the Rockies for 2 minor leaguers. Seems like a pretty decent deal to me, even though I don’t know who they got. That’s because Beimel signed a one year deal, so he’s gone after the offseason. And they aren’t gonna get compensation picks for him, so why not trade him away. Anything that helps the farm system in any way would be good.

Beimel wasn’t anything spectacular, he’s middle relief help on a good team. So for the Nats to move him at all should be considered a win. They should be happy about singing someone in the offseason to a one year deal and flipping him a few months later for some minor leaguers. Still waiting to hear if they trade Nick away, but signs are pointing to the unbelievable conclusion that they aren’t going to move him…


Adam Dunn Continues to Hit

July 30, 2009

A few months ago, I noticed that Adam Dunn was hitting the baseball. Ok, so what I actually noticed was that his batting average was well above .300, a rarity for him, despite it being a month into the season. I took a look at some of his swing and contact rates and realized that he was swinging at less in general, but hitting way more baseballs outside of the strike zone. My theory at the time was that he was possibly becoming more selective on types of pitches, but less selective on balls and strikes. That is to say, if he is looking fastball, in the past if it was 3 inches off the plate, he figuered to let it go. But now he says, “heck, I can still smash this” and does.

I figured it’d be a good idea to update these, so let’s start with the more interesting one from last time, the contact rates:

AD Contact 07-30-09

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Nats Heating Up, Trades Aren’t

July 29, 2009

The Nats have now won four games in a row, which on the season is… their longest win streak. Yikes. So, the losing streaks haven’t exactly been balanced out. They’d need to win about 34 in a row, and even then, they’d still be 2 games under .500. But all that aside, they have played well of late.

Bally’s Back

Collin Balester pitched well, making him the 45th young pitcher to come to the big league club this year and offer up a quality start. While it wasn’t remarkable, 2 ER in 6 IP against the Brewers is pretty impressive. Balester, a 4th round pick in 2004, was their #3 prospect last year. This outing could be something to build on, especially if the team keeps hitting like they do.

Dunn completely smashed a ball out of Miller Park, I am pretty sure it burned up on re-entry into the atmosphere. And Nyjer Morgan hit a home run to start off the game! Guzman is on a power surge, he’s hit 2 HRs, in 5 days. Does anyone need a middle infielder? Minnesota, I’m looking at you, it could be a nice little reunion. Back to Morgan, he’s now hitting .389/.417/.489  since he came to the Nats. That, my friends, is a catalyst. It may not be sustainable, but it’s fun to watch.

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Stresses, and Maybe Some Hope

July 28, 2009

Want to know what is causing me stress? Teams not named Nats making trades. Here are some examples, and my thoughts, with thanks to Rotoworld as I’m stealing their headlines:

Trade 1

Translation: After getting LaRoche and Anderson, Boston probably doesn’t have interest in Johnson or Willingham

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That’ll Help the Trade Value

July 28, 2009

Or at least it’ll make your GM not wanna trade you. Either way, 2 Grand Slams by Willingham go along with 1 by Dunn this weekend reminds everyone who are the most tradable players on the team. Other than the ones like Zimmerman who are not allowed to be traded. But with the power that they’ve displayed, going along with the third baseman, it’s almost a shame to get rid of either of them. The Nats have hit 8 HRs in the 4 games, 3 by Willingham, 3 by Zimmerman, and a grand slam by Dunn.

The thinking around these parts was that Dunn and Willingham aren’t complementary players – too similar. You’d love most of your players to hit like that, but stick each one at a corner outfield spot and you’re in trouble. If only there was a speedy, rangey center fielder to help them out… Oh, the Nats actually have that. I think Morgan does help it make it easier to play those 2 at the same time, as does their constant baseball mashing. There is, as usual, a problem with keeping both of them…

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Wait, A Rumor!

July 27, 2009

Ok, here’s one. It’s one you’ve already heard, but sending a scout adds more teeth to it:

The Giants, still in the market for offense, have been following the Nats around. Word is, they are checking out OF Josh Willingham and 1B Nick Johnson. Either would help the Giants’ anemic attack.

Giants GM Brian Sabean and Nats acting GM Mike Rizzo have a strong rapport, so perhaps something will get done.

I know, I know, it’s just a rumor. I shouldn’t get excited. Well, I’m going to anyway.

Here’s a non-rumor, but some speculation on my part. Brett Gardner is out for as much as a month, and the Yankees have said that they won’t call Austin Jackson up to be a part-timer, and have admitted that he may not be ready to start in 2010. They’re losing Damon and Matsui this offseason, probably re-signing neither. Melky can slide over to CF, but they need LF solutions not just for the immediate future, but for next year as well. Seems to be Willingham would be a good answer for that LF problem. They’ve also shown interest in Joe Beimel. Maybe the Nats could send both over for something nice.


No Nats Trade Rumors

July 27, 2009

The Nationals Trade Meter appears stalled:

nats speedometer

Nothing here yet.

Nada.

Ditto.

It’s not really possible that they reach Friday without some deals… is it?

A Few Bright Spots

The Nats Team ERA dipped below 5.00 today for the first time since probably all year. They’re at 4.99 right now, it may not remain below 5.00, but for one day, it’s there.

Ryan Zimmerman now has 17 Home Runs, on pace for 29 this year. I’m not saying I’m the ONLY person who saw a 30 HR potential in him, I may just be the only one who wrote it down. He may not get there this year, of course. But next year he’ll be 25 years old, wouldn’t you expect more?


Lighten Up Nats, Nobody is Here Anyway

July 24, 2009

I went to the Nats game yesterday. If I was writing for another blog, I might say that the rain delay was a weather FAIL. But I know that wasn’t the Nats fault. I do have a little complaint. I was lucky enough to get Diamond Club seats, the ones right behind home plate.

pres-pnc_seating_chart

Actually I was in the row behind the one behind home plate. You know, the seats that are always empty? Yeah, those gray ones. If you are in those seats, the gray section looks like the gold section. The game was attending by 25,359 fans officially, but way way fewer in actuality. Especially after the skies opened up and the first rain delay lasted an hour and 16 minutes, then the park was really empty. I went back to my gray seat and thought “wow, the section in front of me is about 10% full, I’ll move up there, I won’t be taking anyone’s seat.” WRONG! Security booked down to stop us.

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I Leave You Alone With the Team for a Few Days

July 23, 2009

…and this is what I come back to? I just got back in to DC and it appears that the Nationals are a mess. Well, they always have been, maybe being away made me realize how messy things are. Here’s a quick rundown

  • Jordan Zimmermann went on the DL? What? The pre-savior savior is hurt? Apparently it’s an “ultra-conservative” move for a guy who was gonna hit his innings limit anyway. Yadda, yadda, yadda, I’m still ultra scared that his arm is gonna explode or something.
  • Apparently they aren’t signing Strasburg? At least according to ESPN. But I am less inclined to believe that they don’t understand the gravity of this signing. I think Rizzo and company, even the Lerners, realize that if they don’t sign Strasburg, they lose what little credibility they have as an organization. The Washington Times seems to think that everything is a-ok on that front.
  • Trades are being made, Nats aren’t involved. The Red Sox traded Lugo for an OFer. Maybe they need more, Willingham would fit in well there. But they’re probably tapped. Of course, the Cards might need one now.
  • An overpayed, non-rangey shortstop got traded. And it wasn’t Guzman. Julio Lugo’s contract is worse than Guzman’s, and the Cards still took him. That may have been the only team that’d want Guzman – although if the Reds think they’re still in it, they could use a SS.
  • Scott Olsen is out for the year. Huge huge disappointment, overall, this season. Still, that trade… I’m happy with Willingham for Bonifacio, even leaving Olsen out of the conversation. Bonifacio, by the way, is now hitting a deadly .252/.297/.316, and has stolen 18 bases but has been caught 7 times. Somehow, he’s still starting. Read the rest of this entry »

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