Life Throws a Curveball at Jim Palmer

When I was growing up in Arizona I played a lot of baseball.  While in high school Jim Palmer was rising to legendary stardom at a neighboring school.  He had an electric fastball that my brother and I could not catch up to:)))  Later in life (before the Washington Nationals debut) I drove up to Baltimore many times to watch him pitch (and drive Earl Weaver around the bend).  The Orioles were the only game in town for us ball-players in The Washington, D.C. area.

Check out this unusual story about Jim Palmer

Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer long wondered if he’s related to JFK. At 72, he learned the truth.

Maxie’s Hamstring Takes Center Stage!

Max Scherzer is on  the mound today and nobody (including Max) knows if he will be able to throw more than 5-10 pitches.  And THAT explains the fortunes of the Washington Nationals in this post-season, in 25 words or less:)))

I am a “baseball lifer” and am still playing the game we love.  Therefore I too have encountered “hamstring problems.”  Solving them can take as long as several months; Max is trying to pitch today only 10 days or so after “tweaking” his hamstring!  If Max can’t pitch his usual 7 strong innings, the Nats have almost no chance of getting past the Chicago Cubbies to the National League Championship series of the 2017 playoffs.

The game begins at 4pm; enjoy it:))

 

 

75 Wins if Nats are Lucky

I wonder how the season ticket sales are going.  As the roster stands today the Nationals will be a mediocre team.  What do they need?

A Closer.  And they are weak up the middle.  The combination of Danny at SS and Trea Turner at 2B would be fine defensively but pitchers would love seeing them coming up to bat:)  And they need a power-hitting left-handed outfielder for either CF or LF not named Cespedes.  Gordon would be great, but there are several others out there still.  The current lack of rumors could mean Rizzo is close to a deal.  But his problem is not money, but the fact that few want to play for the Nationals.  The reasons are obvious to all by now.

To me the rotation looks……………………………….questionable.  Sure, we expect Scherzer to bounce back, but I’ll believe that when I actually see it. Same with Strasburg, who was great over the last six weeks of the 2015 season.  Then we get to the real big “ifs.”  Gio, Roark and Ross.

About the only real good news is that like the Giants, the Nats seem to play well in even-numbered years!  I hope 2012 and 2014 don’t turn out to be their high-water marks.

Why not Mattingly?

Don Mattingly is looking for a job, since he was let go in LA.  Even though I’m sure he knows about the Nats toxic clubhouse, he was a success with the Dodgers.  Apparently he may be interested in the Marlins manager position, one that to me looks even less desireable than coming to Washington.  The owner, Jeffrey Loria, seems to like changing managers as often as he brushes his teeth!  And he also has a penchant for selling off half the team every time they make the playoffs.  Anyhow, on the off-chance that “Donny Ballgame” doesn’t really want to commit career suicide by going to the Marlins, the Nats ought to invite him for an interview.

He would be better than Dusty Baker, and as good as Bud Black.  He lead the Dodgers to 3 straight post-seasons.

Finding the Next Manager May not be Easy

I am wondering how many experienced MLB managers, such as Bud Black or Ron Gardenhire, would jump at the chance to be the Nats next manager.  I’m thinking the search may be a tough-sell for Mike Rizzo and the Lerners.

I don’t see the Nats being winners for at least two years.  I predict they are facing major problems re-constructing a viable contender given the looming departures, the fact that the bullpen needs at least FIVE new members, the shakey state of RZimm’s health, Werth’s declining skills, Escobar’s limited defensive skills and low interest in playing 2B, etc., etc.  Even the rotation is not likely to be as good as it has been over the past 2-3 years.  They will be lucky to win 75 games in 2016.

Given how poorly Rizzo has proven to be as a GM (with no prior managing experience, by the way), and the depleted roster, I would think twice about accepting the offer to be the Nats next manager, if I were an experienced hand such as the two I mentioned above.

Clean Sweep!

So they have fired not only Williams but the entire coaching staff.  The consensus in the Nats fan world appears to be that Mike Rizzo ought to go too; I agree.  Please close the door on your way out.

Rizzo’s bad moves are too many for a short thing, but the list starts with Papelbon!  This was such a ridiculoudly bad move that it ought to be enough to demand his head.  But then there was paying McClouth about $10-11 mill a year to do nothing.  Telling (not asking) Escobar to play 2B and playing Rendon where he should be, 3B!  Putting together a woefully bad bullpen.  I could go on but now I must go deal with the real world:)

The 11 That Got Away

First, we have to marvel at the game Scherzer pitched last night!  I want a DVD of this gem.  Striking out 9 straight the third time thru the Mets batting order was the frosting on the cake!  In both no-nos Max was one fluke play away from a perfect game.  And I think he had three one-hitters this season too.

The Post has a great article today (by James Wagner) about the 11 games the Nats should have won but didn’t.  The main culprit was their bullpen, constructed by Mike Rizzo and mis-managed by Matt Williams.  These games made the difference between winning the division and not even making the playoffs.

Another thing for us to ponder is this:  If the Nats had not spent a small fortune on Scherzer, they would have had money around the date of the trade deadline to shore up the bullpen (and would not have acquired Mr. Pap-smear).  They could have got either Chapman or Kimbrel instead, plus one or two others.

What if?

More Nats Info at the End of the Season

The scuttlebutt and rumors are now building on Matt Williams’ departure.  He will be gone very soon.  Papelbon should go with the same speed, but his contractual details may take the lawyers a bit more time.

The acquisition of Pap clearly really upset team chemistry, which had always been pretty good.  But the worst effect was clearly on Drew Storen, who was having a great season with 29 saves up to that point.  He may now be “un-salvageable.”  So the Nats may be faced with having to find another closer for 2016, and THAT is always very difficult.

Thursday’s Washington Post (9/30) had two great articles.  One was about how the trade for Pap, and Williams’ bad running of the bullpen, along with his poor communications with the players all combined to send the Nats into their season-ending tailspin.  Barry Svrluga wrote this article, based on a whole season of talking with the players.  His best quote was when Jason Werth said to Matt Williams “When do you think you lost this team.”  I tried to import a link to the article but apparently the Post has made that impossible to do.

The second article (same date by Kevin Blackistone) is about how Bryce Harper was quoted, commenting on Papelbon’s beaning of Manny Machado), essentially saying it is time for pitchers to stop intentionally hitting batters who had show-boated a little after hitting a homer.  This has long been one of baseball’s “unwritten rules.”  What made Papelbon’s  act so reprehensible was that he threw AT MACHADO’S HEAD!  I applaud Harper for having the maturity at the tender age of 22 to stand up against  a “rule” that needs to go away.

The Nats will have a lot of work to do during the off-season if they want to be a contender in 2016.

 

Crying in Baseball?

Craig Stammen says “every year there are one or two games that make me cry all night.”  Craig (one of the stalwarts of the Nats bull-pen over the years) has been out all year due to injury.  He (and Tyler Clippard) have been much-missed all this long season!

I’ve got to say,……….the Mets are a very good team, and are fun to watch.  They fight til the “Fat lady sings.”  When a team can come back from a late-inning deficit night after night one knows that he/she is watching a team that ought to be playing in October.

Ripped the Shirt Off Fister’s Back!

Most of you have already heard how “Mr. ME” (otherwise known as Jonathan Papelbon) made another demand; this latest selfish act was getting Doug Fister’s number, which Doug has had since he became a pro player.  Last night Fister was the starting (and winning) pitcher and he has a new number-33- I think it was.

Meanwhile The Philadelphia newspapers were full of stories about how glad that city is to see the last of Papel-jerk.  I tried to import one here, but had to give up after 30 minutes.

Mike Rizzo likes to brag about how much he and the owners value “character” when they evaluate potential new players.  Sadly, that is clearly not the case, if it ever was.