Sports Media Strikes Out

Last night’s game was exciting and was baseball at its best.  Baseball’s unpredictability is one of the main reasons we love the game.  I was happy to see StEvIE pitch the game of his life.  And now Mikey Taylor, the hitting hero, is leading the team with his .273 batting average.  The Nats showed heart and character (2 qualities that have been in short supply recently).

The after-game interview with StEviE made me laugh when he was asked about the ridiculous media circus (created by the media solely to sell their BS).  He basically said “what circus, I ignored it.”  And so did his teammates, according to other interviews.  Glad to see the Nats being so grounded in reality.

Tonight’s game 5 will be “must see!”

Stevie Says He Can’t Pitch Today

Stephen Strassburg says he is sick, due to mold exposure, and can’t pitch today.  The media and fans have gone ballistic.  We know Strass is fragile and many call him a head case.  I think there is some truth there.  But it is what it is, and Tanner Roark will pitch today and it’s do or die.  Both Gio and Max will be ready to come in from the bullpen.  So lets fasten our seatbelts!

Wish We Still had Clip and Stammen!

Very sorry to see Clip (Tyler Clippard for the “unwashed”) go to the Mets.  But I’m sure Mikey (as in Mike Rizzo) is still after a big back end of the bullpen arm.  That is the team’s biggest need RIGHT NOW!

To be honest Clip has only been having a “good” year (rather than a “great” one) at Oakland thus far in 2015.  And Kimbrell and Chapman are still out there for the asking.  There are others though, who can be had for less such as Juaquim Benoit for example.

One trade-piece I for one would put out there would be Stevie Strassburg. I’ve been trying to get him traded away for two years now, but I get the feeling Rizzo ain’t listening:)  Joe Ross RIGHT NOW looks better than SS to this humble Ponce Ball outfielder!

By the way, I am sorry I have not been posting here more frequently, but I’m busy moving North of the Mason Dixon line.

 

The Inside Scoop on Strassburg’s Struggles

I  just read a very detailed analysis of Stephen’s problems this year (by Dan Rozenson in Baseball Prospectus)..  It boils down to the fact the he has not been able to throw his off-speed pitches (curve and change-up) where he wants them.  Up until this year he has been able to do that, and that keeps hitters guessing and off-balance.  This year when he needs a strike he has been going to his fastball a lot more because he has to.  That is like giving candy to your 6 year old:).  All major League hitters can hit a fastball or they would not be in the major leagues.

The ability to locate pitches is essential to be successful as a pitcher.  And to do that consistently requires a tough mental makeup—call it “grit” or “determination”.   If you are not sure what that looks like, watch Max Scherzer pitch for 2 minutes:)

Those of you who have read a lot of my blog-posts know I have never been optimistic about Strassburg’s chances of having a successful career.  I now think he has already peaked and is on the downhill side of a short career in the major leagues.  This is a very tough pill to swallow for the Nats braintrust I’m sure.

Nats Notes

A footnote regarding my last article:  Boz has a great article on Stephen Strassburg in today’s Wash. Post.

Harper has more HRs in the month of May than two TEAMS:  the Phillies and Braves!

Max Scherzer’s own batting average (.200) is higher than that of all the hitters he has faced thus far in 2015 (.199).  I don’t think many pitchers can say that; maybe only Bumgarner.

The Time Has come!

Stephen Strassburg no longers fits in the Nats rotation.  Tanner Roark does.  I wrote about trading him last year; it didn’t happen.  When the team acquired Scherzer, that was another good time to unload Strass.  When Stephen fails twice to back up plays, something we all learn in High School, that’s another sign.  But the clearest signs are what we all see with his body-language and his mechanics when he is on the mound.  This year  Strass looks the “least comfortable” I have ever seen him.

The easiest move would be to send him to Syracuse, take the pressure off him and see if he can regain some “will to succeed.”  Right now he is a lost soul.  Honestly, I think trying to trade him could be difficult.

If the Nats are serious about getting to the post-season, this problem needs to be addressed NOW.

Zimmerman is Not Going Anywhere

The Cubs have approached the Nats about Jordan Zimmerman.  Neither team has said much publicly about the discussions.  It has been reported that the Nats have said it “would take a boatload” to pry JZimm away from Washington.  I would be shocked it the Cubs do manage to pull off a trade—I’d say the chances are about 1%.

What I would not be surprised about would be the Nats trading either Strass or Gio Gonzales.  They are the number 4 and 5 starters, tho the Nats have shied away from admitting that publicly.

The Nats need a second-baseman and some new bench players, along with a couple of new arms in the bullpen.  They may be looking for a new “designated closer.”

That’s about it in a nutshell:)

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.

The Starting Rotation

The Nats have not yet announced their starting ratation for the first round, beginning tomorrow.  But I will tell you what I’d do if I were Matt Williams:  Zimmermann, Fister, Strassburg, Gio Gonzales.  I say that having considered the most important factors such as “stuff,” heart, mind, body and recent outings of the past six weeks or so, plus the now knowing who the opponent is—The Giants:)

With Trip to Omaha at Stake, UVa Takes on Maryland

Last weekend, both UVA (ranked third in the country) and Maryland powered their way into the Super-regionals.  For Virginia, one of the premier programs in the country, this is the 5th time in 6 years they have got that far.  This weekend they meet in Charlottesville in a best-of-three series, which will surely be televised.  The winner gets a berth to the College World Series in Omaha.

Note:  I first saw Stephen Strasburg pitch in a CWS game where UVA beat him in the first round!  He gave up several runs in the first inning (sound familiar?).  That was in his last year at San Diego State, just before the Nats signed him.