February 7, 2011
This is your last week without baseball until November. In order to get you ready, let’s take a look back at some of this team’s highs and lows. After 6 years in town, the Nats have started to build the semblances of a team. 2011 will probably give us an indication of where they are going. Will the youngsters start stepping up? If so, then once Strasburg returns and Harper arrives, they might have a real chance to win. And they will have built a team, rather than cobbling together a group of free agents.
In the past, they’ve of course had some good players. They never really looked like they were building a real team, but they’ve managed to have a collection of players that occasionally turned in great performances. So who were the best at each position?
C – Brian Schneider, 2005 – Schneider’s 2005 was his career year offensively, hitting .268/.330/.409. That kind of production from a catcher helped make the team relatively successful, but it also probably helped convince the Nats to keep him as a starter for too long – his OPS in 2006 and 2007 was .655. He played a strong defense in that time though, and in 2005 he lead the majors in throwing out baserunners, with an impressive 38%.
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March 22, 2010
An annual tradition here is one that has been done twice, so let’s call this an annual tradition. I’ll do my best to rank each position for each team in the NL East, seeing who has the best pieces to their team. It’s quite simple – there are 5 teams in the division, so if someone has the #1 player at a position, they get 5 points for it. If they have the worst, they get 1 point. At some point I have to make judgments about who is there, and playing time, on top of assessing their abilities. Such is life. Starting with the position players:
1. Braves – Brian McCann
2. Marlins – John Baker/ Ronny Paulino
3. Phillies – Carlos Ruiz
4. Nationals – Ivan Rodriguez/ Jesus Flores
5. Mets – Rod Barajas
Obviously McCann is the class of this group and wins all offensive categories including beardiness, but I actually the potential platoon in Florida. How about this for career splits – Ronny Paulino has an OPS of .877 against lefties, John Baker’s is .814 vs. righties. Neither can hit from the other side, but with the buddy system, they won’t need to. I expect some sort of recovery for Ruiz, who isn’t a terrible hitter. As for the bottom of the group, who knows if and when Flores will hit, but we know he can. If he managed to get in 100 games (not likely) I might rank him as high as second. Barajas may get a slight hitting edge over Pudge, but not a defensive one, and the more Flores plays, the more the Nats catching tandem will beat out what the Mets have.
SCORE: Braves(5), Marlins(4), Phillies(3), Nationals(2), Mets(1) Read the rest of this entry »
March 17, 2010
In the past you might have thought those words would be followed with “on his own recognizance,” but it’s just followed with “by the Washington Nationals.” It was a surprise, I’m sure, for most, as there was no indication that this was going to happen. It leaves a void in the assume starting roster, as Dukes was penciled in to be the right fielder. But he didn’t hit much at all so far this spring, and for whatever reason, they decided to end the relationship today. Time to move on, so the question now is who will be the starting right fielder? A few options:
- Mike Morse – Looked ok in September for the Nats (.250/.291/.481) and has has a strong spring so far (.259/.310/.519)
- Ian Desmond – If he’s the best hitting option, I guess they could put him out there, but I’d really rather see him playing SS in the minors than OF in the majors unless he proves he can’t play infield
- Jermaine Dye – He’s out there, he still can hit, and they need someone. But he’s a terrible fielder towards the end of his career. Read the rest of this entry »
March 15, 2010
Since I’ve been somewhat cynical mentioning the meaninglessness of individual games in spring training, and the overall deceptiveness that stats can give you from this month, I wanted to show that I do think a few things can be learned from the month. It’s more than just a tuneup, it can give managers a very good idea of what to expect. I just believe that a month of games when people don’t care shouldn’t override several years of evidence. Anyway, here are a few things I’ve noticed in the first half of the spring:
- Strasburg has looked very good – his second start wasn’t as well-covered or noticed, but it was just as good as the first. He’s pretty impressive so far
- Elijah Dukes hasn’t looked very good – hitting .174/.263/.294 so far probably won’t make him lose his job, but it will significantly shorten his leash in April. He’s gotta start hitting, although at least he still can walk
- Ian Desmond has alot of good news surrounding him – he’s hitting the hell out of the ball (.455/.580/.815, if you must know – whatever I’m sure that’s real sustainable) but Rizzo has also said he’s definitely NOT coming on the club as a utility man. This was assumed, but there were rumors to the contrary – like when Riggleman went on XM-Sirius last week and said he might be a utility man. He’s gonna start in Washington or Syracuse at SS – my guess is in Syracuse until they figure out whether they could get anything for Guzman
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March 2, 2010
Baseball starts in a few days – in the meantime, we get used to having these personalities back in front of us. Not just the GM and the manager, but the younger guys who actually get to play the game. Some of them are boring, say the “right” thing all the time, and some are a little more interesting.
My favorite guy to listen to on the team right now is Adam Dunn. He’s got an attitude that belies the amount of work he actually puts in, but his humor is pretty infectious. Don’t be mislead – everything I’ve read says that this guy puts in the time and works his butt off. He’s just got a very laid back attitude. The Junkies interviewed him this morning, so go ahead and take a listen. Here are some of my favorite parts:
“I’m not Canseco, man, I’m all nat-u-ral.”
Asked what his best game as a high school QB was:
“You could just pick any Friday night in the fall”
Describing his offseason workouts:
“I did alot of motivational speaking to ‘em… just a bunch of crazy stuff that won’t help you any way shape or form in baseball but will get you in shape.”
To me, the most interesting he said:
“My wrist was jacked up, man, towards the end of the year and I didn’t do anything for about a month, month and a half.” Read the rest of this entry »
February 22, 2010
Pitchers and catchers are in, position players are starting to show up. Meanwhile, some young prospect threw down in Viera this weekend. Teammates were calling him Jesus, people were talking about how he’s the best thing they’ve ever seen, and there was a general feeling of optimism for the future. So let’s get on the train to positivityland and figure out what is the ideal scenario for this team. Not record-wise. If everything goes right they probably won’t be very good. And I’m talking about the big boy team right now, so I’ll avoid talking about development of guys that won’t see the pros this year. I’m talking about what would help set up a winning season in 2011 – a complete list of things that would be good for this team, but trying to keep them all realistic. So, no, I’m not going to say that it would be awesome of Craig Stammen struck out 250 hitters and won a Cy Young, or if Josh Willingham became a gold glove outfielder.
Instead, here’s a list of the good things I’d hope to see, that actually have a chance to happen
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February 10, 2010
It’s almost upon us. Pitcher and catchers report in a matter of days rather weeks, although many are down there now already. Spring training games begin in a few weeks, and the Nats are semi-set at many places to begin the season. But that doesn’t mean there still aren’t many many questions that need to be answered. Here are a few I have going in to the season…
Who are the 5 starters?
That’s kind of a big one, so I put it first. You know, the guys that start the games? We’ve got two for sure! John Lannan is the only guy I have real confidence in as of Feb. Marquis is fine, he’s not great, but you can expect a close-to-league-average ERA and near 30 starts. On this team, that put you at the top. But that’s IT. There is nobody else guaranteed a spot. Three empty rotation spots is a ton, and I’m not sure they’re planning on bring Strasburg up any time soon. 2011 looks promising when you add him and Zimmermann, but until then? Here’s a quick rundown of the candidates: