The 2012 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants…

Good evening, Nats fans!

Hopefully Hurricane Sandy hasn’t been too bad for any of you, I did lose power for a few hours today, personally, but you don’t really care about that! I’m here to talk about the team who won the World Series last night: The San Francisco Giants. They are somewhat of a baseball chameleon, having won 2 World Series Titles in the past 3 seasons. The crazy part? Look at their roster:

2010 San Francisco Giants (Beat TEX 4-1)

41 Jeremy Affeldt 6-04 230 Left Left 1979-06-06
53 Denny Bautista 6-05 170 Right Right 1980-08-23
40 Madison Bumgarner 6-05 235 Left Right 1989-08-01
18 Matt Cain 6-03 230 Right Right 1984-10-01
46 Santiago Casilla 6-00 220 Right Right 1980-07-25
60 Waldis Joaquin 6-02 235 Right Right 1986-12-25
55 Tim Lincecum 5-11 175 Right Left 1984-06-15
49 Javier Lopez 6-04 220 Left Left 1977-07-11
49 Joe Martinez 6-02 195 Right Left 1983-02-26
52 Brandon Medders 6-01 190 Right Right 1980-01-26
59 Guillermo Mota 6-04 240 Right Right 1973-07-25
52 Ramon Ramirez 5-11 200 Right Right 1981-08-31
47 Chris Ray 6-03 200 Right Right 1982-01-12
54 Sergio Romo 5-10 185 Right Right 1983-03-04
45 Dan Runzler 6-04 235 Left Left 1985-03-30
57 Jonathan Sanchez 6-00 200 Left Left 1982-11-19
37 Todd Wellemeyer 6-03 205 Right Right 1978-08-30
38 Brian Wilson 6-02 205 Right Right 1982-03-16
75 Barry Zito 6-02 205 Left Left 1978-05-13
# Catchers Height Weight Throws Bats Date Of Birth
1 Bengie Molina 5-11 225 Right Right 1974-07-20
28 Buster Posey 6-01 220 Right Right 1987-03-27
22 Eli Whiteside 6-02 220 Right Right 1979-10-22
# Infielders Height Weight Throws Bats Date Of Birth
2 Emmanuel Burriss 6-00 205 Right Both 1985-01-17
34 Matt Downs 6-01 190 Right Right 1984-03-19
14 Mike Fontenot 5-08 165 Right Left 1980-06-09
17 Aubrey Huff 6-04 225 Right Left 1976-12-20
10 Travis Ishikawa 6-03 225 Left Left 1983-09-24
16 Edgar Renteria 6-01 200 Right Right 1975-08-07
29 Ryan Rohlinger 6-01 195 Right Right 1983-10-07
21 Freddy Sanchez 5-11 185 Right Right 1977-12-21
48 Pablo Sandoval 5-11 240 Right Both 1986-08-11
5 Juan Uribe 6-00 240 Right Right 1979-03-22
# Outfielders Height Weight Throws Bats Date Of Birth
20 John Bowker 6-01 205 Left Left 1983-07-08
9 Pat Burrell 6-04 235 Right Right 1976-10-10
7 Mark DeRosa 6-01 215 Right Right 1975-02-26
34 Darren Ford 5-09 190 Right Right 1985-10-01
1, 6 Jose Guillen 5-11 165 Right Right 1976-05-17
13 Cody Ross 5-10 195 Left Right 1980-12-23
33 Aaron Rowand 6-01 200 Right Right 1977-08-29
12 Nate Schierholtz 6-01 205 Right Left 1984-02-15
56 Andres Torres 5-10 195 Right Both 1978-01-26
8 Eugenio Velez 6-01 160 Right Both 1982-05-16

 

2012 San Francisco Giants (Beat DET 4-0)

41 Jeremy Affeldt 6-04 230 Left Left 1979-06-06
56 Travis Blackley 6-03 205 Left Left 1982-11-04
40 Madison Bumgarner 6-05 235 Left Right 1989-08-01
18 Matt Cain 6-03 230 Right Right 1984-10-01
46 Santiago Casilla 6-00 220 Right Right 1980-07-25
65 Steven Edlefsen 6-02 195 Right Both 1985-06-27
51, 52 Eric Hacker 6-01 230 Right Both 1983-03-26
34 Clay Hensley 5-11 190 Right Right 1979-08-31
70 George Kontos 6-03 225 Right Right 1985-06-12
55 Tim Lincecum 5-11 175 Right Left 1984-06-15
49 Javier Lopez 6-04 220 Left Left 1977-07-11
61 Shane Loux 6-02 225 Right Right 1979-08-31
79, 63 Jean Machi 6-00 260 Right Right 1982-02-01
50 Jose Mijares 6-00 230 Left Left 1984-10-29
59 Guillermo Mota 6-04 240 Right Right 1973-07-25
87, 37, 43 Dan Otero 6-03 215 Right Right 1985-02-19
31 Brad Penny 6-04 230 Right Right 1978-05-24
52 Yusmeiro Petit 6-00 180 Right Right 1984-11-22
54 Sergio Romo 5-10 185 Right Right 1983-03-04
45 Dan Runzler 6-04 235 Left Left 1985-03-30
32 Ryan Vogelsong 6-04 215 Right Right 1977-07-22
38 Brian Wilson 6-02 205 Right Right 1982-03-16
75 Barry Zito 6-02 205 Left Left 1978-05-13
# Catchers Height Weight Throws Bats Date Of Birth
28 Buster Posey 6-01 220 Right Right 1987-03-27
29 Hector Sanchez 5-11 225 Right Both 1989-11-17
22 Eli Whiteside 6-02 220 Right Right 1979-10-22
# Infielders Height Weight Throws Bats Date Of Birth
13 Joaquin Arias 6-01 170 Right Right 1984-09-21
9 Brandon Belt 6-05 220 Left Left 1988-04-20
2 Emmanuel Burriss 6-00 205 Right Both 1985-01-17
35 Brandon Crawford 6-02 215 Right Left 1987-01-21
33 Charlie Culberson 6-01 200 Right Right 1989-04-10
50 Conor Gillaspie 6-01 200 Right Left 1987-07-18
17 Aubrey Huff 6-04 225 Right Left 1976-12-20
6 Brett Pill 6-04 225 Right Right 1984-09-09
48 Pablo Sandoval 5-11 240 Right Both 1986-08-11
19 Marco Scutaro 5-10 185 Right Right 1975-10-30
5 Ryan Theriot 5-11 185 Right Right 1979-12-07
# Outfielders Height Weight Throws Bats Date Of Birth
7 Gregor Blanco 5-11 185 Left Left 1983-12-24
53 Melky Cabrera 6-00 200 Left Both 1984-08-11
51 Justin Christian 6-01 195 Right Right 1980-04-03
68, 13 Xavier Nady 6-00 215 Right Right 1978-11-14
16 Angel Pagan 6-02 200 Right Both 1981-07-02
57, 14 Francisco Peguero 5-11 195 Right Right 1988-06-01
8 Hunter Pence 6-04 220 Right Right 1983-04-13
12 Nate Schierholtz 6-01 205 Right Left 1984-02-15

Pretty crazy to see how much turnover there was in only 2 years, with Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval being the only two players starting in both Fall Classics. One would think a team does NOT win that way.

What does this have to do with the Nats, you ask? Mike Rizzo and Co. cannot, I repeat, CANNOT be afraid of change, in the right places. Brian Sabean has been able to make a lot of changes, but with a few core values: continuity in the Coaching Staff, and always focus on pitching. Strong bullpen, Strong Rotation. The Depth that the Giants displayed this season and postseason, with Sergio Romo’s emergence as a Closer, Tim Lincecum’s emergence as a presence in the bullpen (albeit for $20MM), shows us that TEAMS truly win Championships. That, to me, is the beauty of baseball. TEAMS win. That never happens in Football, look at the Colts. They lose Peyton Manning and my High School Football team could have beaten them. Basketball? Forget it! If your team does not have a star player, you may as well not show up. Hockey, maybe, although you can win with good goaltending, winning a lot of games 1-0. The beauty of baseball is that it truly takes 25 men in a clubhouse to win. That’s what the Giants have built, and proven. Hopefully, the Nats can follow in the Giants footsteps in that respect!

Congrats to the Giants and GO NATS!!!

-Nick

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The Nats Offseason Outlook…

Hello Nats fans, how have you been?

Well, it’s been a magical season. The Nats arrived, and are here to stay, at least for the forseeable future. They learned a lot in the playoffs, and I don’t see a series like that happening again. The NL East is gonna be much tougher in 2013. Mark it down, the Phillies WILL be better next year, as will the Braves, Marlins, and Mets. This was the ideal year for the Nats to try and take the division, because the next few years will not be easy.

Alas, we must reluctantly look ahead to the offseason, and who will still be rocking the Curly W in 2013. I do believe that there will be a new face or two in DC next year, but it should be a pretty similar lineup. Here is the list of players we may see move starting with…

Gone: Players I do NOT see returning…
1.) Chien-Ming Wang: The emergence of Ross Detwiler and the prospect of Edwin Jackson returning pushes Wang out. I mean, he’s a sinkerballer who couldn’t find the right arm angle. Let him go, Rizzo…

2.) John Lannan: He got paid $5MM pitching in Syracuse this past year and requested a trade after he was optioned at the end of Spring Training. He’s a dependable sinkerballer that is 28 and has proven he can get Major League hitters out. I’ll miss him, but he’ll land on his feet.

3.) Jesus Flores: When Wilson Ramos went down, he proved he isn’t the everyday Catcher people thought he could be. Enter Kurt Suzuki. That’s pretty much all you need to know.

4.) Henry Rodriguez: Yeah, you read that right. The reason? Christian Garcia. Plus, I don’t think the Nats like when a Pitcher keeps an injury like his from them.

5.) Tom Gorzelanny: I don’t think he considers himself a reliever, and I believe a team will give him a shot at starting. Otherwise, maybe he does come back in the same role.

Staying: Players I see returning…
1.) Mark DeRosa: I do think he will return, if only for the clubhouse aspect of it. He could retire though, so I’m not guaranteeing anything.

2.) Davey Johnson: I do not, for ten centillas of a second, believe he’s going to walk out like this. He’s a consultant for Mike Rizzo in 2013, and he’ll consult that he’s the man for the job.

3.) Danny Espinosa: I don’t believe the Nats are going to trade him or give Lombardozzi the job at second. He’s a much more dynamic hitter to me than Lombardozzi is.

Could go either way…
1.) Adam LaRoche: $13MM option, $1MM buyout. They have a younger (and cheaper) heir apparent in Mike Morse. The Nats could really use his lefty balance in a very right handed lineup.

2.) Edwin Jackson: I don’t think he’ll get the contract he wants after the year he had (10-11, 4.03 ERA), but he didn’t get much run support and has shown some real flashes of brilliance. Wouldn’t mind him back, but he won’t be cheap.

Now, up next I will list the Free Agents I would like to see the Nats pursue in the offseason, based on other moves the team may or may not make.

Pitchers:

1) Zack Greinke, Brewers/Angels (28): 2012 Final Stats: 15-5/3.48 ERA/212 1/3 IP/1.19 WHIP

We know that Mike Rizzo almost reeled in Mr. Greinke for Kansas City in 2010….until Greinke decided to deny the trade, claiming he wanted to go to a ‘Winner.’ So, he opted for the Brewers, never signed an extension, and was traded again, this time to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, otherwise known as the most expensive disappointment of 2012. He may re-sign there, but I don’t know if he will, based on the Angels finish and mild disfunction, with Owner Arte Moreno demanding GM Jerry DiPoto and Manager Mike Scioscia get along. Adding Greinke would give the Nats a 1 in Strasburg, 1A in Greinke, and a 1AA in Gio. Easily best rotation in baseball.

2) Dan Haren, Angels (32): 2012 Final Stats: 12-13/4.33 ERA/176 2/3 IP/1.29 WHIP

Haren has a $15.5MM Team Option for 2013, but there has been some word that the Angels may buy him out ($3.5MM) in an effort to lock up Greinke long term. At 32, Haren could easily net a 4 year deal, with perhaps a 5th year option, on the open market, even if he is coming off the year he’s coming off of. He would be a great Veteran for the Nats rotation, and has experience in the NL (43-36/3.78 ERA/705IP/1.18 WHIP) so it’s not new to him.

3) Shaun Marcum, Brewers(30): 2012 Final Stats: 7-4/3.70 ERA/124 IP/1.26 WHIP

Marcum probably will get a sizeable contract, at least a 3 year deal. He is coming off an injury shortened season, so there may be a team out there looking to buy low. He would not be a bad addition to the Nats rotation, but not near the quality of the other two guys.

4) Jake Peavy, White Sox(31): 2012 Final Stats: 11-12/3.37 ERA/219 IP/1.17 WHIP

Peavy is finally healthy, and the White Sox have said they will decline his $22MM option for 2013, but Peavy is open to re-signing in Chicago. Peavy could get somewhat comparable money on the open market because he does finally seem healthy, he’s still on 31, and he still seems to have plenty left in the tank. His Lat problem may steer some teams away, but he does have the swing and miss stuff Mike Rizzo is always looking for.

5) Anibal Sanchez, Marlins/Tigers(28): 2012 Final Stats: 9-13/3.86 ERA/195 2/3 IP/1.26 WHIP

Sanchez is an absolute Nats KILLER when he pitches against them, so there’s also a motivation to keep him away from anyone else in the NL East looking to sign him. He’s a solid young guy who has thrown a couple No Hitters and is more than capable of winning 15+ games. He could re-up with Detroit, and is in his 3rd arbitration year, but may not be tendered a contract.

What ifs…– Here, I am going to talk about some different scenarios with specific players…

If the Nats re-sign Adam LaRoche
…Michael Morse will be traded. Why? Because I really do not believe Mike Rizzo considers Bryce Harper as the Nats Center Fielder of the future. Harper is way too valuable of a piece, although he certainly can handle the position. Morse will definitely draw considerable interest. He is cost controlled (owed $6.75MM for 2013), hit .291/.321/.470 with 18 HR and 62 RBI in 406 AB (102 G). For that kind of Money and production, plenty of teams should want him. Personally, I think he’s perfect for a team like Tampa Bay. He is cost controlled, knows how to hit, gets on base. Also, I think there could be quite a return for him.

…Nats will sign a Center Fielder. Josh Hamilton? Michael Bourn? BJ Upton? Shane Victorino? I think the Nats may be a dark horse for Hamilton, partially because of how they handled Stephen Strasburg. If Mike Rizzo was willing to do what he did with Strasburg, he would be more than doing what needs to be done to help Hamilton in his ongoing recovery. I believe that the Nats will be going for someone they have been trying to acquire since Nyjer Morgan was traded: a leadoff hitting Center Fielder. Jayson Werth is not going to be the 2013 leadoff hitter, and unless they trade Danny Espinosa, they don’t have anybody who is going to be in their Starting Lineup who is a natural leadoff hitter. I definitely think there will be a new Center Fielder in Spring Training, one who was not on the team in 2012.

If the Nats let Adam LaRoche walk…
…Mike Morse takes 1B. We know Morse can handle first. He’s younger and will be considerably cheaper, at least for 2013. A key to the Nats season was having that Righty/Lefty power balance that LaRoche provided. Sure, the Nats have Bryce Harper, who could easily become the bat to split up Morse/Desmond/Zimmerman, and you could have Werth in the 2 hole, and Danny Espinosa, but if Espinosa has proven nothing else in his first two years in DC, it’s that he’s as streaky as they come (of course, we said the same thing about Ian Desmond before year 3, didn’t we?), but LaRoche was a hitter other teams HAD to respect, and Espinosa and Harper aren’t at that point yet. Yes, I realize Espinosa is a switch hitter, but for the most part, he’s a lefty hitter. Again, this outcome also requires Nats to pursue a Center Fielder, which I believe is a foregone conclusion that the Nats will acquire.

Bottom line: The Nats are going to A) Sign a CF/leadoff hitter and B) Sign/Acquire a Starter via trade, along with some other smaller scale moves that always occur every offseason.

The offseason is going to be a lot of fan. The Nats have established themselves as a team that is a contender in every sense of the word. Players are (conceivably) going to WANT to sign here long term. Even if unnamed executives hate the Nats because they put their players health before “winning”

GO NATS!!

-Nick

The Trade Deadline, and a delayed deal.

Good morning, Nats fans!

I come to you with the Nats coming off a 3-0 win over the Phillies, where we saw the triumphant return of Jayson Werth and his beard, which looked glorious, as usual. He was 1-3 with a single and a walk, and looked as though he hasn’t missed a beat. Adam LaRoche continued his very big season with homer number 20, and a 3-4 night, with 2 RBI and a strikeout. Ross Detwiler continued to shine, as he went 7 shutout innings for his 6th win of the season. I don’t care how Chien-Ming Wang rehabs, there is no way Detwiler can lose his rotation spot now. I also come to you with the Nats coming off a split of a doubleheader, where John Lannan once again shined, and did one of two things: further stated his case to be the man to take over the #5 spot when Stephen Strasburg is shut down, or boosted his value as an August trade package candidate. Regardless, he seems to turn it on when he gets up here, then go down and go through the motions almost, as though he WANTS to be the guy to spell Strasburg in this rotation, and doesn’t want to be traded.

With that said, the Nats stood pat at the trade deadline, opting against making any deals with the knowledge of Werth and Chad Tracy’s return, as those two are big acquisitions within themselves. This is something that a lot of people have underrated and, at times, ignored. The Nats currently have an incredibly crowded Outfield (Moore, Morse, Harper, Werth, Brown) as far as bodies are concerned, and they still need an everyday Center Fielder who can also lead off. With that said, they are obviously expected to make a big push for Michael Bourn in the offseason. In my opinion, for them to do that, one of two scenarios have to play out:

1) The Nats do not pick up Adam LaRoche’s contract option, and they open up First Base for Michael Morse, an infielder by trade. (Chances that happens: 60%)

2) Michael Morse is dealt for pitching, and Adam LaRoche is extended, or the contract option is picked up for one more year at the least (Chances that happens: 40%)

Now, that talk is quite a few months away, so we shall cork that for a while. But, today, we talk about a trade the Nats made the day or two AFTER the trade deadline, where the Nats acquired Catcher Kurt Suzuki from the Oakland Athletics for Class A Catcher David Frietas. Jesus Flores is without question a full-time backup Catcher, being way too streaky as a hitter to be able to crack an everyday lineup. Suzuki is a better defender, and is a hitter with 15 HR potential. Yes, he is having a down year, but there is nobody, I repeat, NOBODY, breathing down his neck for the starting Catcher’s job, so maybe the change of scenery will help him. Another interesting wrinkle is that Suzuki basically has 2 more years on his contract, next year beijg guaranteed and the year after being an option year.

To me, this deal officially ends the Jesus Flores era in DC, and you ca make the argument it was an era that never really started because of a really bad shoulder injury. Plus, the Nats could easily have the best Catching Tandem in the Majors for the next couple years in Wilson Ramos and Kurt Suzuki, two Catchers capable of starting everyday for most teams in the Majors. Suzuki also caught Gio Gonzalez in Oakland, and it also seems like him and Flores don’t get along, or at least have a difference in interests. If you watched Gio’s body language his last few starts, it almost seemed like he didn’t want the pitches Flores was calling. I may be trying to make something more than it is (and I probably am) but it’s worth noting.

Suzuki is due to be in DC today, and it is the start of a new era. Rizzo, once again, gets his “man:” a veteran Catcher who can also be a leader.

GO NATS

-Nick

It’s the most frustrating time of the year (ding dong ding dong)

Good morning Nats fans!!

Well, just like that, we have endured the excrutiating 4 day All-Star Break, and have moved on to the excrutiating Trade Deadline. The Nats have a 3.5 game lead over the Atlanta Braves, coming off a win, but a series loss to the San Francisco Giants, who look like they could end up back in the World Series if Big Time Timmy Jim ever gets straightened out. The Nats and Braves are set to clash tonight in the beginning of a 4 game set for essentially NL East Supremacy, with Stephen Strasburg (10-4, 2.66 ERA) faces Tommy Hanson (10-5, 4.02 ERA) on Strasburg’s 24th birthday. But that is not why I am gracing your eyes with my blogging presence today. Today is all about that fun and crazy trade deadline.

If you have seen my blogs or know me, you know that I have been saying all year that Mike Rizzo is not stupid. If he is serious about shutting down Stephen Strasburg, and all signs point to yes, he will, he is going to have to trade for someone to “replace” Strasburg in the rotation. Obviously, every pitcher is going to move up a spot, and Jordan Zimmermann seems like hes a-ok with being the leader of the best rotation in the league, but the Nats don’t (or, don’t THINK they have someone) waiting in the wings to take the #5 spot in the rotation, although they’re calling up John Lannan to start a game of the Saturday Doubleheader, but that just seems to be a means of keeping the rotation on regular rest I would think.

So with all this said, Rizzo has gone on record saying he is looking for “long term solutions” at the trade deadline, along with the Owners saying that they are willing to add money at the trade deadline. So, I have put together a list of some starters I believe the Nats should try for, if the price is right. We all need to keep in mind that the Natas may not have the pieces for every deal after the Gio Gonzalez trade.

James Shields- Tampa Bay:
8-6/4.44 ERA/123.2 IP/146H/37BB/114K/.290 BAA

“Big Game” James has been a little bit less than big for the Rays this year, and a lot of people seem to think a change of scenery may be good for him. The Rays are rumored to want a young Catcher in any deal, and there has also been a rumor of a Mike Morse for BJ Upton trade. I’m not so sure I would do that, but if you throw in maybe Sandy Leon or Jesus Flores or Johnotan Solano, maybe Upton and James Shields wouldn’t be too bad a deal.

Zack Greinke- Milwaukee Brewers:
9-3/3.57 ERA/116 IP/117 H/28 BB/117 K/.261 BAA

Now, I realize Greinke has a medical issue, after having to miss a portion of the 2006 season with Social Anxiety Disorder and Depression, but, to me, he comes off as a bit of a primadonna, and the Brewers shut him down for about a week or so. He is a considerably better home Pitcher than a road Pitcher (4-0/2.56 vs. 5-3/4.41) but there is no denying Greinke is a great young pitcher at only 28 years old, and is primed for a nice big payday. The Nats probably would need an extension to be in place if they got him, but I think he’s worth it.

Matt Garza- Chicago Cubs:
5-7/4.02 ERA/100.2 IP/88 H/30 BB/93 K/.236 BAA

I think of adding Garza to this team, and I salivate. He’s young (28), he’s controllable, and if he was on a better team, his stats would reflect that. Plus, he’s most likely going to be a bottom of the rotation guy this season. He’s another guy who probably needs an extension as well, but he would be well worth it as well.

Ryan Dempster- Chicago Cubs:
5-3/1.86 ERA/92 IP/69 H/25 BB/75 K/.204 BAA

Dempster is easily having his best seaon, and at 35, no less. He is owed $14M this year, and i’m sure the Cubs would be willing to eat most of that. I am not entirely sure how he could fit as a “long term” solution in Rizzo’s plan, but if his stats dictate anything, it could mean a 2 year extension wouldn’t hurt. Mike Rizzo did say, however, he is interested in adding a player with playoff experience, so Dempster could fit that bill. In lieu of prospects, maybe the Nats could take on more salary?

Francisco Liriano- Minnesota Twins:
3-8/4.93 ERA/91.1 IP/78 H/51 BB/97 K/.233 BAA

Liriano is what some people believe to be an incredibly frustrating acquisition. When he is on, he can be fantastic (see 15 K in a loss where he allowed 4 runs). He has been pretty good recently, with a sub 3 ERA, but you have to take the good with the bad. The Nats could sign him to a cheap, incentive laden 2 or 3 year extension, and make him earn his camp, compared to what Greinke or Garza would demand.

These are, in my opinion, some of the top guys on the market that I believe the Nats should try to acquire. It’s not in any order, but most of them have playoff experience and I personally would love Ryan Dempster. He seems like a great clubhouse guy and just the veteran presence along with Werth and LaRoche and Zimmerman for this team. Plus, him as your #4/#5 guy would be fantastic.

The Nats are finally buyers, and I could not be happier.

GO NATS!!!!

Follow me on twitter: @NickNats90

-Nick

The Second Half

Good morning Nats fans!!!

Well, we are finally through easily the hardest 4 days I have endured all season. Don’t get me wrong, i’m not complaining, because normally i’ve viewed the All-Star Break as a, well, break from Nats baseball for a myriad of reasons, although I have always loved them. Now, I am incredibly excited for the second half to begin, and there is no shortage of storylines going into the second half. This team has proven itself in the first half that they are going to be around, if not on top, for the long haul. Here are some big storylines for the Nats as they are set to face the Marlins in a 4 game wrap around set tonight, with Jordan Zimmermann facing Josh Johnson:

Drew Storen: The Nats 43 Save Closer of last season is going to make his return from Bone Chip surgery in a day or so. Davey has been on record saying he may not automatically make the flip-flop of Tyler Clippard and him. Davey is a big continuity guy, so I cannot say I am surprised Davey said that. The key is going to be how Storen is when he returns. If his rehab stats are any indication, it looks like he’s going to be just fine.

Jayson Werth: The Nats big money Right Fielder will be returning in roughly a month, maybe less. These moves are going to force the Nats to make some tough decisions with players. Does Tyler Moore get demoted, or does he take Xavier Nady’s spot as the Righty Bat off the bench? Another interesting move is going to be where Davey bats him. Bryce Harper could be moved down to maybe 5 or 6 and Werth could be their 2 hitter with Morse and LaRoche healthy, which is probably what i would do. If i’m Davey, my card probably looks like this:

1) Espinosa 2B
2) Werth RF
3) Zimmerman 3B
4) LaRoche 1B
5) Morse LF
6) Harper CF
7) Desmond SS
8) Flores/Solano C
9) Pitcher

Imagine that lineup, especially with the way Desmond is hitting, batting him 7th? Wow, that would be fun. Of course, I prefer a righty/lefty balance, and Davey could go with the hot hand with Desi in the middle. Hell, Davey could bat LaRoche 6 and Harper 5. It’s a fun issue  to have.

Trade Deadline: Does Mike Rizzo deal for another Starter to take the place of Stephen Strasburg once shut down, and would later take the place of Edwin Jackson if he decides to sign elsewhere, or does he call someone up, like a John Lannan or maybe hope Chien-Ming Wang puts it together? Personally, I don’t believe Rizzo wants to bring up Lannan, and I think he wants to deal the two guys I just mentioned, and with the prospect of guys like Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Zack Greinke, Wandy Rodriguez, along with some second tier Starters available, I think Rizzo believes he has some better options out there, with an idea of what he would have to part with.

Bench Players: Chad Tracy and Xavier Nady will be returning as well, and will (hopefully) be 100%. Tracy was a very good Left Handed Bat off the bench when he was healthy, and him and Bernadina is a nice combo of power and speed guys to have. Nady’s wrist has been  barking, so if he gets that taken care of he could provide a nice boost along with Tyler Moore.

The Nats start a stretch tonight of 13 straight games against Miami (4),  New York (3), Atlanta (3), and New York (3) again. The Nats have to pick it up against the Marlins, since they were swept the last series they played them, and they need to continue their play against Atlanta and they need to take advantage of the incredibly unfortunate New York Mets, whom I only root against when they play the Nats. Otherwise, I want the Mets to continue proving me right, as they have all year.

This is an important stretch for the Nats, and they need to realize that and capitalize on it.

I have all the faith in the world that they will.

GO NATS!!!!

-Nick

Some end of June Nats Analysis…

Good Afternoon, Nats Fans

I come to you with the Nats finishing probably what will be the toughest month of their young season. They have just finished up a much talked about 32 game stretch where they played nothing but NL East teams and AL East teams. They finished 18-14. They were 10-8 in interleague play, the best record in their division [Mets (8-7), Braves (8-10), Marlins (5-13), Phillies (5-10)] by a bit. The Nats swept the Blue Jays and Red Sox on the road, and took 2 of 3 from the Tampa Bay Rays at home. The Nats always got swept 3 games by the Yankees, bad call aside, they hung tough and it was a very competitive series, except for the Friday night game, where Desmond’s error proved costly. With all that said, the Nats proved to us something very important in what has been a fun season thus far.

This team is a contender, plain and simple.

For months now, the Nats have been called one of baseball’s ‘surprise teams’ along with the New York Mets (who I continue to be proved right about.), the LA Dodgers, the Chicago White Sox, and the Baltimore Orioles. Those teams were a combined 307-340, an average of 76-85. The Dodgers had the most wins amongst them at 82, with the Orioles having the most losses at 93. Most of these teams made some lower scale moves, such as the Dodgers signing Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang, or the Orioles trading Jeremy Guthrie and signing Wei-Yin Chen. The White Sox hired a new Manager, Robin Ventura, who had absolutely zero managing experience before being hired. All these teams have gotten very good pitching from guys such as Jason Hammel, Jake Peavy, Clayton Kershaw, etc. The Nats made big moves: They traded for Gio Gonzalez and signed Edwin Jackson.

This team is not a surprise team, this was to be expected. They’re taking advantage of the Phillies, Braves and Marlins inconsistency, and they’re playing good divisional baseball (14-8) and have lost just 6 of 24 series, which is pretty darn absurd in my opinion, with 3 sweeps and some impressive series wins. Did I think this team was going to be in first place on June 25th by 3.5 games at 41-29, lead the entire Major Leagues in ERA at 2.97, and have 4 of their 5 Pitchers with an ERA below 3.00? Not a shot in hell did I think that. But, if you had told me that this team would have all those statistics, lead their division by 3.5 games…and not have Jayson Werth and have Ryan Zimmerman bat .223, and have Ian Desmond as their best, most consistent hitter? I would take that in a heartbeat, 8 days a week, twice on Sunday. It’s getting into July, and this team is 12 games over .500, and have a + .500 record in every stat split except for vs the NL West, at 5-6. The trade Deadline is coming up, and they’re gonna need to make a deal or two. Personally, I believe they need to try and swing a deal for another starter, because if they really are serious about shutting down Strasburg at 160 or so innings, they need to add a starter to compensate for that, like a Matt Garza or Ryan Dempster or maybe a Zack Grienke type guy to help the rotation, because I do not believe Mike Rizzo is going to just let this team drop out of the Division race for the ‘future.’ If this team is still hanging around the end of July, which I believe they will be, then Rizzo is gonna have to make a deal.

This Nats team is competitive, and going to be all year. All they need to do is make a deal or two to solidify it, and once Storen and Werth come back, oh boy, will this summer be fun. All they need to do is continue their solid play, starting tonight with the Rockies, whom they should sweep, what with their league worst ERA (5.33) and their 4 man/75 pitch rotation.

GO NATS!!!

-Nick

Random Thoughts: Yanks, Zim, Morse,etc.

Good Morning Nats Fans!

I come to you probably about as happy as Nats fan can be after a 3 game sweep at the hands of the scorching hot New York Yankees, who have won 9 straight games and have had 4 of their five starters submit an ERA below 3 in the month of June. The Nats, who did not have the best series of the year, still sit atop the NL East at 38-26 and 4 games over the 35-31 Atlanta Braves and 4.5 over the 35-32 New York Mets, who continue to prove me right. Needless to say, the Nats were incredibly lucky this weekend, as every time the Nats lost, everybody else in the division seemed to be against gaining ground, and lost. As a matter of fact, yesterday, every team in the NL East lost.

In my opinion, this series is not the end of the world.

Sure, you can make the argument: “Well, they could be playing them next year too, and it will matter more” and all that, but the fact is, this is 2012, not 2013, and this year, it does not mean as much. With that said, the Nats STILL have won 6 of their last 9 against the NL East, with back to back road sweeps of the Red Sox and Blue Jays. They don’t have Morse and Zimmerman going, and do not have Jayson Werth back yet. This team has still performed admirably in a very rough patch of their schedule, and are not at full strength.

To me, there are 5 key things the Nats have to do to get back on track:

1. Get Ryan Zimmerman going: the Franchise has not been himself this year, and seems to really miss having Adam Dunn behind him in the lineup. That being said, if his shoulder is the problem, then he needs to straighten that out. I would be more than willing to have Zim on the DL for the betterment of him and the Team NOW than have him go on the DL in, say, August, when he can’t battle through it anymore. He’s too valuable.

2. Leave Ian Desmond in the middle of the lineup: Desmond is having  a career year, and has already matched his fareer high for Homers (10) and will certainly surpass his career high for RBI (65) if he continues to hit the way he is. He’s definitely  a middle of the order bat, and the best hitter the Nats have right now.

3. Put the Yankees series behind them: In the past, a series like this would have led to a long losing streak for the Nats. This cannot be the case this year. The Nats need to put this series in the rearview mirror, and continue their strong play.

4. Win the Rays and Orioles series: I liked the Rays to win the AL East this year. Right now, they’re not scoring runs, but are throwing their 1-2-3 at the Nats this week. The Nats need to pitch well, and if the Nats can put 3 or 4 runs on the board, they can win this series. The Orioles have been hitting well, and the Nats need to hang tough and play their game.

5. Get healthy: The Nats are close to getting back Drew Storen back, which is going to be huge. Mark DeRosa is also due to be back soon, after his rehab games and bereavement leave. Henry Rodriguez is also due to return as well, and after that we will see the return of Jayson Werth and his beard.

The Nats are gonna be alright, people. One series does not make an entire season, and the Nats are a better team than what we saw this weekend.

GO NATS!!

-Nick