Bad News in Nats Town

December 30, 2009

Apparently, the Washington Times sports section is going away. This was, in fact, the only part of the Washington Times that I really read.  And on the occasion that I read any other section, it was the only part of the Washington Times that I trusted to be accurate. We will be losing some great Nats coverage – maybe better than the coverage at the Post. Two guys, Mark Zuckerman and Ben Goessling (two!) gave full, involved, and downright intelligent coverage of the team.

The assumption now is that the whole sports department will be gone. But there are always other possibilities. Maybe someone will stay in some capacity to provide some sort of coverage. I am not betting that happens, but I am certainly hoping it does. It was good competition for the Post, it probably made them do better work. But I’m not positive if the Times’ Nats’ coverage, wasn’t better overall anyway. Doubling the amount of people covering the team would probably help do that.

So to Zuckerman and Goessling, as well as Loverro, I wanted to say thank you for writing interesting and intelligent articles on the Nats all these years. Thank you to Bob Cohn for writing about me and the other bloggers. Thank you also to Ryan O’Hallaran for your Skins coverage and Tim Lemke for sports business coverage. And thank you to everyone else there for putting together the best part of the paper. Hopefully there will be room for some of them at another local paper. Maybe it’s time for someone else to start covering sports way more in-depth? Washington Examiner?


I Was Almost a Genuis

December 27, 2009

Or really lucky. In a rare non-baseball related post, I’d like to relay to you my frustrations on Sunday’s Saints loss. The Saints, if you didn’t know, needed a win to clinch home field throughout the playoffs. So you figure that even though they are guaranteed to have a bye (I think, who knows how these things work), they’d still whup up on the terrible TB Bucs. Instead, despite coming out to a 17-0 lead in the first half, despite being up 17-10 with 3:00 to go, they still lost. They allowed a punt return TD to let the Bucs tie it up, then drove down the field and miss a 37 yard FG to end it. In OT, they simply sucked, allowed the Bucs to march down the field and kick 47 yarder. Which is apparently easier than a 37 yarder.

Why is this important? Because of the Washington Post survivor pool! If you don’t know how a survivor pool works, it’s pretty simple. Every week you pick a team to win. If they win, you move on to the next week. If they lose, you are out of the game. The only other rule is once you use a team once, you can never use them again. So you have to pick a different team each week. Simple enough, but tough to pull off – you get one wrong and you are out. I’m not sure the numbers, but over 700 people were still in it after the first week. I am not much of a football guru (not much of a baseball guru either judging by my annual picks, but that’s not the point) so I didn’t expect much. Yet week after week, I managed to win. Down to 500 people, 200 people, under 100, under 50.

Then this week came along, with few good teams left in my repertoire and only TWELVE contestants left in the whole game. Including me. So as you already know, I picked the sure-fire 13-1 team against the pitiful 2-12 Bucs. You know, the same Bucs team that even lost to the Redskins? Yeah, it all ended in disappointment. And to think, I was going to post this week asking the Nats fans to help me make my final pick. Instead, I write to give you a word of advice. Something that people have known for decades, yet I only just figured out: Never, EVER bet on the Saints.

And of course, from 12 to 10 remaining teams, but I don’t get to move on. From the teams that I had left, all I needed to do was pick Pittsburgh (easy to say now), or the Jets, or… New England. I knew saving NE and NO would be useful, I guess I just mixed up the weeks. Damn you New Orleans, you were so much fun for my bachelor party, but you betrayed my trust today!


Marquis de Blah

December 22, 2009

The Nationals signed Jason Marquis yesterday, and while I am not going to completely rip the signing, I don’t think it’s much to get excited about. He’s not great at much, other than showing up every day. But there is great value in this, and maybe he can teach the youngsters a thing or two about starting 30 games a year. They needed someone to start 1/5 of their games, and while there were better options out there, he certainly isn’t the worst. So let’s start with what he’s good at:

The Good

He eats innings like few pitchers do, starting at least 28 games every year from 2004. He’s averaged 32 games started in those 6 seasons. He’s also a groundball pitcher, meaning he doesn’t give up a ton of home runs. Well, at least he hasn’t in the last three seasons. The three seasons prior were a different story. His groundball rates went up last year, and it may be kinda flukey, but it is important. If he can keep those up, and the ball down, he is a much better pitcher. Of course, he was able to have rates like that back on the Cardinals, so they aren’t out of the question. As it is, he’s can be a decent 4th starter if he plays like he did last year. On this team, that makes him one of the best out of the gate.

Read the rest of this entry »


A Quick Review

December 21, 2009

I was gone for the last two weeks and I came back to a few things happening on the Nats homefront. I’m not gonna spend too much time on most of it, just a few comments on each things, then hope for some actual news to talk about. So here’s my review of some news that is old:

Pudge

Since they needed a catcher, they decided to go out and sign a Hall of Famer. Ivan Rodriguez used to be great, and easily one of the best catchers all time. He brings some cache and perhaps can tutor Jesus Flores. Other than that, I see why people were shocked at the signing. At $3M per year for 2 years, he’s the 4th highest paid player on the team per season. For what? He used to be a great defensive catcher and a great hitter. He can still defend, although his arm isn’t what it used to be, and he didn’t hit at all last year, in two friendly parks. Yet, I kinda like this move.

Read the rest of this entry »


A Little Plug for The Hardball Times

December 5, 2009

I got this message from Chris Jaffe at The Hardball Times. Since they’re one of the baseball sites I really like, I figure I’d pass it along:

I’m Chris Jaffe, a writer for Hardball Times who wrote a book called “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers” which is coming out later this month that I’m trying to promote. Along those lines, I thought you might be interested to know I have a book excerpt up today that deals with one of the most famous managers in the history of the Expos/Nationals franchise: Gene Mauch.

If you or your readers might be interested, here’s the link (which is up at a Phillies blog called Crashburn Alley):
http://crashburnalley.com/?p=600


What Will I Miss at the Winter Meetings?

December 4, 2009

I have the good fortune of getting the heck out of the DC area for 2 weeks and going somewhere warm and sunny. I am getting married and going on my honeymoon, and I am not forced to return until Dec 19th. Not that I don’t love it here, I just prefer sitting on the beach guzzling sipping alcoholic beverages. Anyway, as I am out of pocket (I don’t know, everyone used to say that when I worked in defense consulting) for the entirety of the Winter Meetings (Dec 7 – 10), I wonder if I’ll miss anything. Here are a few predictions for what MAY happen, and my thoughts on the likelihood.

Trades

The Winter Meetings are the biggest gathering of baseball execs every year, so trades are usually in high gear. Guys go down there and spend hours in war rooms and . You can see it described here, which also mentions my former grad school classmate Shiraz Rehman, now a semi-big shot with the D-Backs. Trades happen before, during and after the meetings. But the most trades occur two times in the year – the week leading up to the deadline, and the Winter Meetings. Read the rest of this entry »


So You’re Saying I’m Right

December 3, 2009

I asked Keith Law (not personally, just over his chat) about Ian Desmond today. He didn’t answer directly about Desmond, just more generally about guys improving on defense:

Charlie (Bethesda, MD): Do you think a guy like Ian Desmond, who seems to be able to hit in the majors (albeit in a small sample) and has the range and ability to start on defense but misses some of the “easy” plays could use time in AAA? Or is learning to concentrate better on defense and not boot stuff just as easy/hard in the majors as in the minors?

Klaw (1:40 PM) Defense is one area that can improve substantially in the majors – in fact, there’s a good chance your team’s best defensive coach is in the majors. I would hold a guy back for the bat, but not for the glove unless it was a new position or he was just unplayable.

So there you have it, he completely agrees with me! Alright, so he didn’t actually answer my question directly, but he did answer something. Actually he probably EXACTLY answered my question, but didn’t answer the implied part. I’m pretty sure he did that on purpose. Anyway, for those of you that believe Desmond is ready to hit in the majors, and has the range to play SS, and just needs to fix his defense, this is your answer. He should be playing on the major league club, working with perhaps the best defensive coach in the organization. Remember that not only is Law a snarky stathead, he also was actually a scout on a major league team, so he’s probably not making this stuff up.


Ian vs. the Other Options

December 1, 2009

The Nats have a chance to play the most exciting player they’ve brought up since the spring of 2009, Ian Desmond, as their starting SS in 2010. I put him as the most exciting since Jordan Zimmermann, but will soon lose that title to a certain starting pitcher whenever he arrives. Anyway, the point is that they have some options here, but I want to assume that one of those options is switched off. I am going to put Guzman at 2B, as the team and the coach have both explicity said that will happen. So at SS it’s either Desmond or an outside interloper.  Let’s start with the first option, playing Desmond.

Ian In

If he starts, one thing the Nats have is the chance to see a guy who has the potential to be a core member of this team for years to come. At 23 years old this year, he still has some work to do and some time to do it. He could go back to the minors to tighten up his game a bit, as it were. What is there left for him to do in the minors? Well in terms of hitting, maybe not much. In his short time in the majors, he hit .280/.318/.561, which looks great (ok the OBP is a tad low) but that power is based on 4 homers in 82 ABs. He had other extra base hits as well, 7 doubles and 2 triples, but in terms of keeping those numbers, he’d have to be a 25+ homer a year guy. That may not be realistic, so let’s take THOSE numbers with a grain of salt. His AA and AAA numbers should tell us more. In 2008, he spend most of his time in AA, and did alright, nothing special, hitting .251/.318/.406 over the course of the season.

Then all of a sudden he broke out in 2009, first hitting .306/.372/.494 in 189 PAs in AA, then smashing AAA, hitting .354/.428/.461 in 205 PAs. There may be nothing left to learn for him there, in terms of hitting, other than incremental help. He may get sent down to prove to the franchise that 2009 wasn’t a fluke, but if it was, it was quite a long fluke. Read the rest of this entry »


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.