Annual Day Off of Sports

July 14, 2010

Today is the only day of the year, I do believe, where there isn’t an MLB, NBA, NFL or NHL game being played. Of course, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a ton of sports coverage going on, but the major sports don’t play tonight.

Last nights All Star game was interesting in that it was low scoring, AL hitting didn’t demolish NL pitching, and the NL finally won. I don’t doubt that losing every game since 1996 was more coincidence than a proof of AL domination. Even the worst teams in baseball win over 35% of the time, so that drought was as much luck and coincidence than anything else, although the NL being worse probably did add something to it. It was fitting to see Matt Capps get the win, after only facing one batter. Not because he’s having a great season, but because a Nationals bullpen guy often gets the W when they’re victorious. It may have only been more fitting if Tyler Clippard was in there. He leads the team in wins, with Capps coming in tied for 4th with Stephen Strasburg.

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A Week Gone By, No Deals Made

July 12, 2010

After a week of vacation, I have returned to find the Nats in a similar situation as when I’d left. They’re still in last place, and haven’t yet hammered out any trades. It looks the Rizzo and company are hell bent on keeping Dunn and Willingham, which brings mixed emotions. Re-signing Dunn wouldn’t upset me, they don’t have many other options at first and I think he’s one of the best hitters in the NL. Not bad holding on to someone you can apply that label to. Willingham, on the other hand, is more than likely gone after next year. But the gaping hole he’d leave in the lineup probably scares the team a bit. Who knows what they’ve been offered for these guys, but fear of losing games shouldn’t prohibit any trades – the team is losing games anyway.

As for the other piece of trade bait, Cristian Guzman, he’s stayed put. There has been no talk from Rizzo of holding on to him, yet there hasn’t been much talk of trading him or Adam Kennedy. Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi reported there were “inquiries.. but little progress toward deals.” Ok, let’s get em moving. It probably doesn’t help that Guzman’s hit .248/.331/.308 since June 1. When I said back then that they’d better trade him before he gets into a typical Guzman slump, I fully expected to write that previous sentence around this time. Except for the high OBP – it’s amazing but he’s actually walked twice in a game two times in the last week and a half. The last time he walked twice in a game before that was April 18, 2008. Anyway, as his bat disappeared, his value probably does too. Still there are a bunch of teams out there that could use some middle infielders – TB, Boston, Detroit, the White Sox, the Mets, San Diego… here’s a more complete list.

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What to Do With This Lineup?

June 25, 2010

MASN’s Ben Goessling had a great post yesterday, laying out a potential change to the lineup. I don’t get to say this often about many people, but I’m in 100% agreement with him. His basic premise is to move Bernadina and Desmond up in the lineup, put Morse in, move Guzman down, get Morgan outta there. It pains me to say it, but Morgan maybe isn’t the player some of us thought he could be. Currently, he’s an albatross at the top of the lineup, and his near-.300 OBP is a joke to even play, let alone lead off.

Goessling’s lineup looks like this:

Bernadina – CF
Desmond – SS
Zimmerman – 3B
Dunn – 1B
Willingham – LF
Morse – RF
Rodriguez – C
Guzman/Kennedy – 2B

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Spring Training Highlights

April 2, 2010

On this, the last weekday before the season begins, I wanted to link back to some of the Spring Training articles that are more a preview of the season than a rundown of the days or weeks events. If you haven’t read them yet, this should get you all fired up for Monday. If you have, well, thanks for reading them originally!

Guzman vs. Kennedy – A look at the difference in offensive value between the two.

2010 NL East Rankings: Position Players – Counting up the worth of each position player

2010 NL East Rankings: Pitchers – Doing the same for the pitchers

Quick Preview – AL – My impressions, and predictions

Quick Preview – NL – More of the same, plus my World Series winner

Anyone Need a Shortstop? – Seeing if I can come up with teams that might want a used Guzman

Enjoy the weekend, it’s supposed to be sunny and 80 locally – sounds like the perfect time to start baseball season!


Get Ready for Your Short Term Team

March 29, 2010

You expect changes with a young team. You expect changes with a bad team. You expect changes with a team that has a talented, ready for prime time prospect in the minors. So the Nats, who are all of those teams, should see some changes real soon. But just how many changes? Well some of them are obvious, like the rotation, but there is still possibilities for changes throughout the lineup, and of the course the bullpen is a work in progress. Changes are afoot, so if you don’t like the way this team looks right now, you’ll be happy to know it won’t look the same in short order.

I listed the team’s alleged lineup going in to the season, and then put out some possibilities that may be coming by the end of the year. This isn’t necessarily my prediction for April’s team and September’s team, just more a demonstration of a possibility. Now that all that caveating is out of the way…

Rotation

Firstly, the rotation has the potential to change big time by as soon as June or July.
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2010 NL East Rankings: Position Players

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:

CATCHER

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 »


Guzman vs. Kennedy

March 16, 2010

Middle infield rumors have been flying around since way back in September and October. First Ian Desmond was going to take over at shortstop and Cristian Guzman was gonna move to second base. Then the Nats went searching for a second baseman, and most thought that Desmond was being pushed aside. Then they went out and signed Adam Kennedy, and Desmond was indeed pushed aside. Then he went out and hit .385/.448/.692 in his first 11 games of spring training and pushed himself back into the picture.

So now there is a rumor that Ian Desmond will be the starting shortstop for the Nats going in to the 2010 season. While I don’t believe 11 spring training games are enough to establish a resume (Adam Dunn has 0 home runs, but nobody is worried he won’t hit any this year), I have all along lobbied that Desmond should be the starter. His bat seemed ready and I thought his defense was good with the occasional hiccup, and figured that what better group to learn concentration and discipline from than the major league coaching staff? Of the three players, Desmond is the only one with the potential that comes with youth, and he could eventually wind up a very good player. The other two guys are closer to retiring than being called someone with potential, so let’s assume here that if Desmond has role his role, he deserves it.

The thought is then if Desmond starts, Guzman would move to second and Kennedy would play utility man. But is that the way to go? Let’s take a look at the two that might be fighting for the role of starting second baseman:

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I’m OK Without Desmond

February 24, 2010

Seriously, I am. I’ll get by. Ian Desmond is, in my opinion, the best position prospect this team is going to have this year. He looked good in the fall and he had a great year in the minors. Meanwhile, they have a shortstop on his way out the door in Cristian Guzman. So it made the most sense to me when they said they were gonna put Desmond at SS and move Guzman to 2B. Desmond hit great everywhere he went, and his defense has been criticized but not because he can’t field. In fact, he has very good range and very good hands and a cannon for an arm. The problem, to refresh your memory, is that he tends to bobble easy stuff or throw the ball away… you know, he has the yips, as they say. Not sure who says that, but apparently now I do. So I figured, Desmond could work on his concentration and not rushing up at the major league level, where the team presumably has their best coaches.

Of course, things didn’t work out that way, and the Nats hired a second baseman named Adam Kennedy to start.

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Jumping on the Optimism Bandwagon

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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Questions Going into Spring Training 2010

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:

  • Scott Olsen – Was once pretty good, once threw in the mid-90s. He’s coming back from shoulder surgery, so he’s very risky BUT, if that heat is there, he’s gonna be decent. The problem is that it hasn’t been there for years.
  • Garrett Mock – Lots of Ks but too many walks. Good stuff, but hasn’t put it together and is now 27.
  • J.D. Martin – Had some success last year, but doesn’t miss many bats. Also turning 27.
  • Read the rest of this entry »


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