Tony Two-bags Returns!

Anthony Rendon is starting to get the timing and flow of hitting back!  Today and yesterday he had great at-bats, he was grinding them out, seeing a lot of pitches!  He did the same today, patiently looking for a good pitch to hit and not swinging at bad ones.

Jason Werth and Willy Ramos are getting more good at bats now too.  The homer Ramos hit today was mammoth!

I’m puzzled however over why the team called up Trea Turner and they haven’t put him in the starting lineup at least once!  That is not good managing; the kid has been starting in the minors for most of the year and now he is in the Nats dugout, but only getting an at-bat here or there.  If that is all there are going to let him do, they should send him back to Syracuse where he can play every day and stay sharp.  Matt Williams ought to know better.

I hope Rendon stays at 3B.  He is way better there than Escobar.  Put him at 2B.

 

First Walk-off of 2015!

When I first heard the Nats had traded for Yunel Escobar I did a little research and was not very impressed with what I found.  But after the first two weeks of the season, I can see what a tough out he is in the batter’s box:).  He is what we call a “contact hitter, ” or someone who rarely swings and misses.  Manager Matt had Yunel batting leadoff for about the first 10 games for exactly that reason.  It is possible that watching Escober hit is rubbing off on his team-mates, like Bryce Harper.  Thus far Harper is working pitchers for more walks than usual (for him).  Last night Escobar pounced on a fastball in the 10th inning and stroked a home-run to win the game!

Over the most recent 8 games the Nats are hitting over .300 with runners in scoring position.

The Nats are close to having Anthony Rendon play in some minor-league games.  That means he might be back in the Nats lineup within a coule of weeks.

Here is the Opening Day Lineup

Uggla starts at 2B, T-Mo in LF, Taylor in CF.  I’m really holding my nose on Taylor since he can’t hit ML pitching.

The bench on opening day is: Lobaton, Espi, Dekker, Johnson, Robinson.

The above are just my guesses; the team has not announced these.

I am very disappointed about this, but it’s just the opening day lineup.  Werth could be in the lineup very soon after that.  Rendon and Span will take weeks if not months.  I am almost shocked that Ian Stewart has apparently not made the cut, judging by his name not having been mentioned in print for at least 2 weeks:)

So both the offense and defense will be weak, and the bull-pen will be close to a total F_______-up.

You saw it HERE!!!

The Marlins?

As MLK once said, “I have a dream.”  Well, I had one last night and it wasn’t pretty:)

The Marlins ended up winning the NL East!  By only 2 games, mind you, but what a shock.  Actually I’ve had the thought in the back of my head for a couple of weeks, but refused to acknowledge it.  What happened?  The Nats offense and bull-pen ended up being the problems I predicted. Take a look at the BP’s collective ERA today, March 30.  Look at how the offense has been performing.  Yes, It’s only spring training, I know.

I think I know where Bryce Harper’s ring will be, come October:)

BTW—Tom Boswell’s article in the POST today is another gem.

Color Me Concerned

As we get closer to opening day, The Nats are now without their 4 best hitters from last year.  Span, Rendon, and Werth will not be able to play in the opener.  Laroach has been traded.  So their already suspect offense, could slide to “mediocre” at least for part of April.

Rendon worries me most, because knee ligaments can be very hard to rehabilitate.  I suspect the team may be withholding the full story on Anthony’s injury.

Further, I would put Tony Gwynn in CF until Span returns.  Michael Taylor is just not ready for major league pitching.  Ian Stewart and Clint (?) Robinson have really impressed me in Spring Training.

I am still spending huge amounts of time with moving to Gaithersburg, so have been unable to say much since the start of ST.

Post-Season Thoughts

The 2012 Nats playoff performance was way better than that of the 2014 Nats!  The players who performed up to their ability this time were few: Harper, Rendon, Strass, JZimm, Fister, Cabrera, Blevins and —are you ready—-Soriano.  8 out of 25.  Maybe we should bring Davey Johnson back.  The Giants didn’t play much better than the Nats either.

Matt Williams cost them game 2, by removing JZimm when he was one out away from a victory!  And bad defence played a major role in the losses of games 1 and 4.  But the biggest problem was the near lack of any offense.. And most of the Nats played with little EMOTION!  They often looked like robots.  Maybe that is partly a reflection of William’s managerial style; he rarely shows ANY emotion.  He tried explaining why he took JZimm out in the 9th inning of game 2 by saying that was his game plan he put together before the game even started!  One wonders if he has any “feel” for how the game is flowing or how his players are feeling.  JZimm had thrown 8 and 2/3 innings of a three-hit shutout and was looking strongly in control of what he was doing!

Nope, the Nats/Giants playoffs were not fun to watch.  I find myself looking forward to watching the Orioles/Royals playoff series.  Both teams are playing exciting baseball as if they really want to get to the World Series.

Now that They Have Won the Division………..

First, a brief mea culpa:  I haven’t posted anything for two weeks because I had a tournament to play in (yes, Baseball!)—— in “baseball heaven”—-Cooperstown, NY.  Nine games in five days; we came in second, same as last year.

And the Nats are still winning and having a great September.  The whole yeam seems to be peaking at just the right time.  Rendon would appear to be the 2014 team MVP and is fourth in the entire National League in WAR (wins above replacement).  Four Nats have more than 80 RBIs. Drew Storen, the new “closer,” has reeled off 8 straight saves.  Span is having a career year and should win a gold glove for his incredible play in center field.  Ryan Zimmerman may be back in the lineup tonight.  And the starting pitchers,………..now ALL FIVE are pitching like they need to do for the team to get to the World Series (WS).

On the air waves and the internet an increasing number of people are including the Nats in the discussions of who has a good chance of getting to the “Fall Classic.”  Here is a link to a good article picking the Nats and Angels to get there.  If the link doesn’t work, just google “Nats and Angels by Phil Rogers” dated Sept. 18.  Also, Tom Boswell did a Sept. 17 article on how good the Nats prospects are.

Now Matt Williams has the team pushing to gain the home field advantage for the playoffs by finishing the season with the best record in the National League. At this moment they are ahead of the LA Dodgers by 1.5 games for that prize!

Nats Infield Ranked Best in Baseball

Today MLB radio (‘Inside Pitch’ moderated by Jim Bowden and Casey Stern) ranked the Nats infield of LaRoche, Cabrera, Desmond and Rendon the game’s best.  Some might remember Bowden used to be the Nats GM a few years ago.   The Dodgers, Braves and Cardinals infields were also in the conversation.

Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees pitcher, is flying back to New York today after the team said he had “general arm discomfort.”   This could signal serious problems,  since Tanaka has been shut down for several weeks with an elbow injury that usually ends up with Tommy John surgery.  He began doing some throwing recently so presummably that is what has caused the team to take this action.

This Blog is not about The Danny (not much)

A lot of Gnats fans are wondering how the competition to fill the fifth starting pitcher slot is likely to be resolved.  Well, here is my humble opinion.  And I’ll preface it (as an experienced gamer) by saying such competition is very healthy and the Nats are extremely lucky to have so much talent in Spring Training Camp!

Ross “Det” Detwiler:  I think this is his to lose, and I say this for several reasons.  First, he has the most quality major league experience.  Second, he is out of options (he can’t be sent back to the minor leagues–there is a rule limiting the number of times a player can be sent down to the minor leagues).  Third, he was VERY EFFECTIVE early last season, until he got injured.

Roark pitching last season. Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Roark pitching last season. Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Tanner Roark:  Many will argue he should get the nod, as he was arguably the Nats best pitcher over the last 6 weeks of the season last Fall.  I too was impressed with his success last year.  And this will likely mean that if Det is the fifth starter, Tanner Roark will be the “long man” in the bullpen.  So the team wins either way!

Taylor Jordan:  With the least amount of major league experience, unless Jordan really lights up the scene in Florida, the best thing for his development would be to start the season with the Nats’ AAA team in Syracuse , pitch a lot and be ready if someone gets hurt on the parent team.  This is a talented kid with beaucoup upside potential who may actually be ready for THE SHOW if the team had a space!

On to the “Danny Watch.”  Whoopee, he got his first hit yesterday.  It’s only Spring Training, and the new manager has to give Danny Espinosa a chance, but I think the hand-writing is out there.  After 2+ seasons in the bigs, Danny just cannot hit big-league pitching.  Meanwhile, among the infielders in camp, Zach Walters can, Anthony Rendon and Jamey Carroll can, and some of the other “kids” are looking good too.  I recommend Mike Rizzo call Bo Porter (Houston manager and former Nats’ third-base coach) and work something out to ship Danny to Houston.  They need lots of new blood in Houston!

Breaking News: Washington Nationals’ 2014 Roster

In the past week, there has been a minor flurry of meaningful activity that will bolster the Washington Nationals’ propects for success in 2014. While Anthony Rendon will be the likely starting second baseman, every team needs backup players. Former Nat, Jamey Carroll, was signed to a minor league contract. I predict this master utility infielder will make the major league roster. Besides having all the tools to really help the Nats, the team is far from confident infielder Danny Espinosa will make the roster; he cannot hit big league pitching.

Meanwhile a former teammate of Ryan Zimmerman at University of Virginia, slugger Mark Reynolds, was rumored to be a possible Nationals’ addition. That would have been a mistake (but an understandable one since Nats General Manager, Mike Rizzo, had signed Reynolds for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2004). Reynolds has proven to be a human strikeout machine, setting several all-time major league records in that department! Luckily for the Nats, Reynolds signed Friday with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Also on Friday, January 17, the team reached agreement on two-year contract extensions with Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmerman. Desmond will also get another $500K bonus if he wins the National League MVP award (he was considered for the award last year). Both players had been negotiating for longer-term deals, but ran out of time as the arbitration deadline loomed. Four others were also signed by the deadline to one-year deals: Drew Storen, Ross Detwiler, Wilson Ramos and new relief pitcher Jerry Blevins.

Apparently General Manager Mike Rizzo agrees with me that the bullpen needs more. He is talking with Grant Balfour, who is expected to decide any day now which team he will play for this season. Balfour was the closer for Oakland in 2013 and saved 38 games. If the Nats grab him, the move may presage a trade of Drew Storen.