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.
Courtesy of Buck Commander
The Nat’s first baseman, Adam Laroche, is an avid hunter. He is far from the only baseball player who spends much of his off-season tromping around the US outback trying to outsmart some big wild animals. But Adam makes a bigger challenge out of it by utilizing a bow and arrow! What’s more, he founded and co-owns the big-game hunting show “Buck Commander” on the Outdoor Channel. Adam recently described his “dream hunt” this way: “I would hunt grizzly bear with my bow and hopefully have my son (almost 12 year-old Drake) at my side.” One wonders what Drake’s mother as well as the Nats management would have to say about that!
Courtesy of Washington Post
Since Adam Laroche signed with the Nats in 2010, his son Drake has become a part of the team. During batting practice he can be seen flitting around the outfield chasing big-league flyballs and jumping up and down when he snags one in his black glove. He refers to Nats players like he would school recess buddies: Desi, Zim, Bryce, J-dub.
One day last Spring the Nats were out jogging and playing catch on a day that was unusually cold for Florida. A couple of the veterans came up with a novel solution to this “problem.” They asked Drake to represent the team’s wishes by going to then-manager Davey Johnson and persuading him to let the team do indoor workouts that day. Drake took on the task calmly and convinced Johnson to bring the team in out of the cold! Later, when a reporter heard the story, he pulled Davey aside and asked him how “the kid’ had pulled off the feat. Davey chuckled as he replied “the kid should be the team’s representative to the Players Association; he gave me no
On the day in Sept. 2012 that the Nats clinched the National League East title, while most of the team was guzzling beer, Drake was in the corner with the other underage kid in the clubhouse, Bryce Harper, sipping apple cider.
Adam Laroche himself grew up in big league clubhouses. His father Dave pitched in the majors until Adam was 4, and then became a coach with the Chicago White Sox.
Compared to the 2012 Nats, the 2013 team was a disappointment. They won the most games in the majors in 2012, but 12 fewer last season. What’s worse, they did not get to the playoffs. Former manager Davey Johnson, who retired just after the 2013 season (and is a Trinity University grad), predicted before the season that the Nats would get to the World Series. I think this created needless pressure on the players, and led to the offense taking almost half the season to really get rolling. (Note: The most important thing that affects batting is being very RELAXED! I’ve been playing this game for 60 years and it has taken me a big chunk of that to be truly relaxed at the plate.)
They aim to improve in 2014. Matt Williams
, the new manager, appears to be an exciting upgrade. Though this is his first crack at managing, I think the team could not have made a better choice. Matt is a no-nonsense, hands-on type. As a player (and I watched him play frequently) he worked hard to excel, setting the bar pretty high for himself, and he is likely to expect the Nats to do the same.
Going into the 2014 season, the team needed a better no. 4 starting pitcher, a better “bench” and a better bull-pen (especially left-handers). They recently acquired Doug Fister
from the Detroit Tigers as the 4th
starter. He is likely to be more effective than Dan Haren, last year’s 4th
starter. Doug is young, did well in Detroit, and has the potential to get even better with time. Tyler Roark and Ross Detwiler will likely compete for the 5th
starter spot. There is a chance Ross could be used as another lefty in the bullpen too.
The Nats also acquired Nate McLouth
, a very capable, fast outfielder from Baltimore to bolster the bench. The fact that Nate bats from the left side is good as the other bench outfielder, Scott Hairston, bats right-handed. Nate is also a potent base-stealer, so he could do lots of pinch-running! The Nats still need at least one more backup infielder. They lost Steve Lombardozzi in the Fister trade, and he will be greatly missed, I predict. In a “stealth signing” just before Christmas, the Nats picked up veteran infielder Emmanuel Burris
. He grew up and played high school ball here in the nation’s capital.
The bull-pen has added one new left hander, Blevins, but needs one more. They also need to replace Ryan Mattheus, who was not very effective last year.
The coaching staff so far has not changed much from last year, but the new manager has added a new position, that of defensive coordinator, staffed by Mark Weidemaier
. I think this is a great idea.
Besides the remaining moves I have recommended, another issue Matt Williams needs to address in Spring Training is the glaring inability of the team’s pitchers to hold runners on base–this is simply unacceptable in the major leagues.
I predict the Nats will win 88-92 wins, depending on what additional moves they make. Two very significant things that happened last season are reasons for optimism: (1) the Nats were the best team in baseball over the last 6-8 weeks of the season (they almost made the playoffs); and (2) the new hitting coach, Dick Schu
, who was hired mid-season in 2013. He likely was one of the reasons Jayson Werth almost won the national League batting title!