Editor’s note: feel free to stop reading now if you don’t want to read 4,400+ words on my fantasy baseball team. I won’t blame you for it. For those of you who do play fantasy, as I made picks I wrote down who I was considering and who was available per each pick to try to give some context for the pick. I’ll insert a “jump” line here so that RSS readers don’t have to see this whole massive post
Archive for the ‘Nats in General’ Category
I read all my sports news via RSS Feeds, which I’ve read into Google Reader for years. If you’re like me, you were probably highly irritated when finding out that Google is summarily ending the Reader service. I’ve done a bit of research on where to transfer my RSS feeds and “Feedly” seems to be the way to go. (Tangent: if you’re a big RSS reader, where are you moving your RSS feeds to, or what do you use as an alternative to Google Reader? I’m leading towards Feedly)
Anyway, while thinking about my Google RSS feed future, I happened to take a look at the two categories of Nationals RSS feeds that I have listed and was astonished to see the number of Nationals links I now have. I count at least Eighty (80) Nationals related blogs and another Thirty (30) Nationals “Official” feed links (official meaning Team sites, beat reporters, or Masn feeds).
Can you believe there are (or were) eighty blogs out there about the Washington Nationals?? And in reality that number may be a bit low, because I’m always finding out about new Nationals blogs that pop up. A great number of these blogs are now dormant (read onwards), but there’s still quite a few near daily blogs pumping out nearly as much content as the paid Beat Reporters.
Anyway; I thought it would be of great service to list all these various Blog links for the general Nats readership. And of course if you see a blog out there that I don’t have, I’d love to grab it. I also took this opportunity to clean up my own links section along the right-hand side to prune away obsoleted blogs and add in the currently active blogs. Lastly: if your site doesn’t have an Nats-specific RSS feed, then I don’t have it here.
I’ll divide these blogs into various categories. The links for each Blog are the RSS feeds, not the actual blog site. But if you want to go to the blog site it is usually straight forward enough to figure out from the URL or from a bit of google work.
Highly Active Nats Blogs (Daily posts or close)
- D.C. Baseball History: Daily “This Day in…” Washington Baseball history posts from Art Audley, Mark Hornbaker, and Marty Niland along with other content by a host of writers.
- DCNatitude: author Adam Bitely has this newer blog (well, newer to me; just found it while doing this post).
- District on Deck; primary authors Flax, Book and Somers are now part of Si.com’s Fansided Network.
- Federal Baseball; primary author Patrick Reddington and others are now part of SBNation
- Lady and the Nats: by anonymous author “NatsLady.”
- Let Teddy Win! Washington Nationals Presidents Race: “Presidents Race Fan” Scott Abelman keeps everyone up-to-date on the Racing Presidents.
- mlb trade rumors – Washington Nationals Feed: MLB Rumors – MLBTradeRumors.com: not officially a “Nats Blog” but this well-known baseball blog has a Washington-only feed of rumors and stories that serves as a great way to keep on top of Nats dealings.
- Nationals 101: Frank & Susan Lattuca also host a podcast.
- Nationals Arm Race: what you’re reading now
- Nationals Baseball: author Harper Gordek posts interesting opinion pieces and gets good discussions.
- Nationals Home Plate: newer blog that I just found doing this post.
- Nationals Inquisition: author Drew Kinback posts photo-heavy pieces with a good humor slant.
- NationalsProspects.com: author Luke Erickson took over for Brian Oliver’s old NatsFarmAuthority and keeps the flag flying for Nats Prospects and Farm System updates.
- Nats Enquirer author “CK” is now part of the YardBarker network.
- Nats Nation (as viewed from Section 138 and beyond). Lots of fun with screen grabs, photoshop and embedded video links. Oh and his leading picture is of Luis Ayala.
- NatsGM; author Ryan Sullivan posts good opinion pieces and makes for good reading and discussion.
- Red Porch Report: Nationals Podcast and Blog which is part of the Ball Hogs Radio Network. Kevin Eaton and Ryan Sullivan.
- Sharkadina: Roger Bernadina’s #1 fan Terry Gangelosi and friends.
- The Nationals Review by author Charlie Fliegel, who also hosts a Podcast periodically.
- The Nats Blog, by multiple authors (Joe Drugan, Wil Yoder, Ted Youngling, et al). Now part of the Bloguin Network.
- The Zimmerman(n) Telegram: multiple authors led by Ben Devin with great reporting on the WBC over the past month.
- Nationals Locker: author Joe Lapinski’s blog is part of the BlogLockers.com blog network.
- Washington NationLOLs; great fun with images and photoshop’d captions.
- http://www.CitizensofNatstown.com: a new project with some of the familiar names in the Nats blogosphere (Sean Hogan, Dave Huzzard, and others). No RSS feed?
- http://www.NationalsObsession.com (launches on Opening Day)
- http://thenationalsarchive.com; brand new Mar 2013 (no RSS?)
Less Active but not Dormant Nats Blogs (sporadic posts)
- 2011 Nationals Draft Info: Sean Hogan’s 2011 Draft blog; listed here since its part of a series (see next).
- 2012 Nationals Draft Info: Sean Hogan’s 2012 Draft blog
- Bang! Zoom!: last post 2/11/2013. before that Nov 2012. Not sure what’s happened to Kirk Raymond but I hope he returns.
- Center Field Gate: last post 1/20/13: was highly active in-season so we’ll hope for a return.
- DC is for Baseball: last post 1/31/13: Sean Hogan’s main site; his interest lays more in prospects and the draft, so he gets busier around the Rule 4 draft and has the per-year detailed Draft blogs (see below).
- First Ladies of Baseball: last post Oct 11, 2012, may not actually be dormant; we’ll see if the authors Ashley Warlick and Maggie Keller pop back up when the 2013 starts.
- For Love of the Nationals: Last post Jan 2013: despite posting recently, Dave Lint only has posted a handful of times in the last 3 years, so we’re calling this site dormant for now.
- Internet Baseball Writers Association: Washington, D.C. Chapter; home site for Dave Nichols-led DC-IBWA where Nats bloggers emulate the BBWAA and vote on things. Coincidentally the membership rolls of DC-IBWA mirror this blog posting in terms of listing Nats bloggers.
- Nats Noodles; last post 1/15/13: author “Nat Anacostia” has been sporadic this off-season.
- Nats Triple Play: last post 1/29/13: only a handful of posts in the last year; may be dormant.
- Natsfangirl; last post 10/4/12: author Jenn Jenson posts beautiful photography on this blog, which seems to have taken the off-season off. I hope she’s back for opening day 2013.
- Natstradamus last post 3/7/13: periodic intelligent pieces with heavy Sabre-lants from author Luigi De Guzman (aka ”Ouij”).
- Dick Heller: last post 2/21/13 by namesake author Dick Heller.
- Win for Teddy: last post Sept 2012: very active last season, hope to see them come back.
Dormant, Obsolete or Abandoned Nats Blogs
- Ball-Wonk: last post Dec 2010
- Capitol Baseball: last post July 2012: not sure what happened here; the author was posting nearly daily in-season 2012.
- Capitol Punishment: Last post Sept 2012. Chris Needham’s infamous Nats blog, one of the first and one of the most vociferious about the state of the early Nats, which he “quit” a couple years ago but to which he continues to post sporadically.
- DC Double Play: last post Jan 2012.
- DC Sports Plus: last post Nov 2012. Sean Hogan’s previous blog, essentially ended May 2011.
- De civitate sabermetricarum: last post 5/29/12: was doing near daily posts and then suddenly stopped.
- Distinguished Senators: Last post May 2011.
- FJB: last post Apr 2012: like Needham, Steven Biel sometimes pops back up on this blog and posts about the team, despite the title of the blog (Fire Jim Bowden) long since being obsoleted.
- F*ck Yeah Stephen Strasburg: last post Jan 2012: yes indeed there’s a site with this title.
- Half Street Blues; last post May 2010
- I Miss RFK; last post July 2009.
- Just A Nats Fan; last post July 2011.
- Life is Better With Baseball; signed off Aug 2011.
- National Record; last post Feb 2012.
- Nationals 360: last real post Jan 2011, now taken over by an Electronic Cigarette company?
- Nationals Daily News: last post Dec 2011, this was Mark Hornbaker’s former site before starting the DC Baseball History site above.
- Nationals Fangirls moved to just Nationals FanGirl (singular), but www.nationalsfangirl.com currently says that its “Account is Suspended.” Oh well.
- Nationals Farm Authority: Brian Oliver’s fantastic farm system tracking site, who signed off Sept 1 2010 to start a new career. NationalsProspects.com has picked up where Oliver left off.
- NATIONALS NEWS NETWORK: Dave Nichols closed this to join it with the larger District Sports Page, which reports on all Washington Sports in one location. Unfortunately he has no Nats-specific RSS feed, so I don’t regular read the site (I don’t really care about random Redskins, Wizards or Capitals stories).
- NATIONALS NEWS NETWORK: Off The Field; last post Sept 2011. Cheryl Nichols also moved to the District Sports page.
- Nationals Review; last post May 2012.
- NationalsDailyNews.com Teamwire: last post July 2010
- NationalsFanboyLooser: last post June 2011. Former blog by Mike Harris, who then took over as Sports Editor of The Washington Times after they re-introduced Sports to the paper after a 2 year hiatus.
- NationalsPride.com: last post: April 2010. Authors Bergin and Henderson suddenly stopped writing.
- Nats Doggerel last post Mar 2010: short lived blog that posted quick poems about the Nats. I’m not kidding.
- Nats320 — A Washington Nationals Blog: Jeff Saffelle’s photography-heavy blog which suddenly went off the air in July 2011. There’s a story there but last time I saw Jeff we didn’t get into it. I think the loss of this blog, one of the absolute first Nats blogs, is a real shame. Jeff took a lot of heat on the blogosphere/twitter for being “too friendly” to the Nats cause; to that I say “this is a free country; you’re free not to read what you don’t like.” Too many haters in this world.
- NatsStats: last post Aug 2010.
- Nats of the Round Table: last post Oct 2008, may have morphed into Nationals Baseball above.
- NBTN: last post July 2009, now the page renders in Japanese. Weird.
- Passing Time Between Wil Nieves’ Bombs… last post March 2012.
- Past a Diving Vidro: last post May 2011.
- Planetary Nats Blog: last post Dec 2010
- Pulp Nationals: last post Mar 2010.
- Senators Fans Unite: Will Bentzel signed off Jan 1 2010.
- StephenJWalker.com: last post Oct 2011.
- Swatting Nats; last post Oct 2010.
- The Half Street Highrise: last post Apr 2010, author Banneker moved to The Nats Blog.
- The Nats Report: last post Nov 2010.
- Washington Nationals; last post Nov 2010, domain now gone.
- We’ve Got Heart; last post Apr 2010.
- YOU DEAD DAWG: last post Nov 2011.
Not entirely about the Nats but of Interest to Nats Fans
- Are the Hagerstown Suns relocating to Winchester?: Collection of news articles about the seemingly dead possibility of the Suns moving to Winchester, VA.
- Search Results – AuburnPub.com: Auburn DoubleDays link with some Nats-relevant content.
- (Am I missing RSS feeds about the rest of our farm system? I used to have a Potomac Nationals feed but it seems broken).
Nats Beat Reporters
- All Nats All the Time: official blog feed of MLB.com Nats beat reporter Bill Ladson.
- Byron Kerr: MASN Nats beat reporter Byron Kerr’s official blog feed.
- Latest entries for Nationals Watch: from Washington Times beat reporter Amanda Comak.
- MASNsports.com’s Nats Beat Reporter Pete Kerzel’s blog feed.
- Nationals Journal; Washington Post Nats Beat reporters Adam Kilgore and James Wagner’s official blog. The NatsJournal is one of the longest running blogs out there and is very widely read.
- NATS INSIDER; Comcast Sports Net’s Mark Zuckerman’s blog, probably which has the widest readership of any link on this page.
Other links for Members of the Press
- Bob Carpenter: MASN TV broadcaster Bob Carpenter’s official blog feed.
- Examiner Beanballs RSS: Washington Examiner Beanballs feed, Nats specific but very sporadic.
- Examiner MLB RSS: Washington Examiner MLB feed, but seems Nats specific. Sometimes picks up Tom Loverro’s stuff.
- Washington Nationals News: official MLB feed for the team, mostly written by Ladson as well.
- Thomas Boswell (washingtonpost.com): Washington Post National writer Tom Boswell’s rss feed. He doesn’t write exclusively on the Nats, but there’s plenty of baseball content.
Nats “Official” Blogs; these are from the team, from players, etc.
- The Backfield Diaries: Ryan Tatusko’s blog, moved to http://www.ryantatusko.wordpress.com, which has a broken RSS feed. Grr. I cannot find a blog by any other Nats player, majors or minors.
- Mike Rizzo’s official MASN blog.
- Notes from NatsTown: the official blog of the Team; sometimes the owners will blog here.
Obsolete “Official” Nats blogs and links
- CSN Washington: Miss Chatter: last post Jan 2011: I guess Miss Chatter stopped being chatty.
- Ben Goessling on MASNsports.com: left the beat April 2010.
- CSN Washington: Main; the CSN feed may be broken, last updated Mar 2012.
- Debbi Taylor: replaced as the Nats sideline reporter after the 2011 season.
- Jim Riggleman: last post June 2011, just before his bluff was called and he quit.
- Johnny Holliday; last post Dec 2011.
- Phil Wood on MASNsports.com; last post Apr 2010.
- Ray Knight: last post Sept 2010: I guess we don’t ask the TV guys to do much writing.
- Screech’s Blog: last post Apr 2012: the Presidents must get more press.
- The Washington Times Blogs: ‘Chatter’: the previous incarnation of the Washington Times sports nats blog, obsoleted when the paper dropped sports on 12/31/2009. Luckily Mark Zuckerman picked up where he left off on the NatsInsider blog and by freelanching for a year or so.
Known Nats News items on the Net not listed above
- Mr Irrelevant: Jamie & Chris Mottram has a DC-sports heavy blog, but not Nats specific.
- I’m not entirely sure i’m getting all the content The Washington Examiner offers via the above links (which is a shame if true, because I like the writing of Tom Loverro)
- District Sports Page, what grew out of Nationals News Network and Dave Nichols, doesn’t have a Nats-specific feed, just an all-Washington sports feed, and (frankly) I can’t stand the overexposure the Washington Redskins get in this town.
- DC Sports Bog features the always-entertaining writing of Dan Steinberg but isn’t entirely Nats focused.
- William World News from William Yurasko is in the same boat; some Nats posts, not entirely Nats related. Lots of DC-area items of interest though.
- We Love DC; as with others in this section, lots about DC, some about the Nats. Editor: Tom Bridge with Nats specialist Rachel Levitin.
- DC Pro Sports Report: like with District Sports Page; all DC sports, no Nats-specific feed that I can find. Update: Nichols provided this link: districtsportspage.com/category/nationalsmlb
- Baseball News Hound: authored by Ryan Kelley, who also contributes to Bleacher Report. Lots of Nats stuff but not exclusively so.
- Seamheads.com: more of a generic baseball blog but does have some DC-centric guys like Ted Leavengood who guest-blogs for MASN.
If you have updates, corrections or additions to anything above, please comment and let me know. I know I may have some of the names for these blogs wrong, or am missing major contributors to sites whose author rolls change quickly. I apologize in advance for any errors or mistakes.
Great news 3/25/13: the Nats exposed Carlos Rivero to waivers, got no takers and he was outrighted to AAA Syracuse over the weekend.
I know he didn’t have the greatest numbers this spring (8-for-47 for a meager .170 BA), but he seems like he could be a valuable utility guy in a pinch, able to play multiple positions both in the infield and outfield. I liked what I saw from him in limited TV time this spring. I’m glad he made it through waivers and remains an option in our farm system for at least this year.
He also clears a spot off the 40 man, leaving us sitting at 38/40. Plenty of room to make moves if need be. But not a ton of manuverability; of the 38 guys remaining, you can only really make a case for Corey Brown as being relatively expendible/likely to pass through waivers. If we get a slew of injuries like last season that cause us to do mass call-ups, we may have to heavily depend on the 60-day DL.
Meanwhile, another year of Rule-5 complaining (see here and here) has essentially proven once again to be wasted breath; both Jeff Kobernus and Danny Rosenbaum have been returned to the team. Kobernus still seemingly sits behind Steve Lombardozzi, Anthony Rendon and Wil Rhymes on the team’s 2nd base depth chart, meaning we’d have to have a pretty bad slate of injuries for him to sniff the majors this year. But, it is nice to have him back, considering his draft pedigree and bonus money investment. Rosenbaum was our AA Ace last year and started out with ace-like stuff, but struggled in the 2nd half. Given that the team suddenly has a slew of starter arms in AAA (especially if Chris Young sticks around, though he probably walks), perhaps we’ll see Rosenbaum starting in AA again. Not likely though; would you rather challenge Rosenbaum in AAA or give another year of starts to someone like Tanner Roark at this point?
(Don’t you hate it when a pro writer totally scoops your blog post, and you find out 5 minutes before you go to post it? Tom Boswell wrote on this exact topic in today’s Washington Post).
James Wagner of the The Washington Post touched on it in a 3/13/13 article, but I’ll repeat it here; we’re seeing both Gio Gonzalez and Ross Detwiler compete, and compete well, for Team USA right now. Gonzalez threw 5 scoreless innings in the Round 2 opener against a tough Puerto Rico side, and Detwiler finished up the do-or-die win against surprising Italy by throwing 4 innings of 1 hit ball and earning the save (and the game ball; what a fantastic souvenir).
Now, I’m on record stating that having our pitchers (specifically) in the WBC is bad, both anecdotally from past experiences and statistically (see the linked post for statistical studies showing across-the-board regression among WBC pitchers). However I wonder if there’s an upside to having (specifically) Gonzalez pitching in this competition. I wonder if we aren’t getting some free “seasoning” of Gonzalez by exposing him to the same playoff atmosphere that he failed in last off-season.
Gonzalez may not have factored into either decision in last year’s NLDS, but nobody would argue that he pitched well. In two starts he only lasted 10 total innings, had 11 walks, a 1.70 whip and was just wild. 110 pitches to get through 5ip in game 1, 99 in game5. Cardinals players were quoted as saying he “looked scared” on the mound. Is it all because it was his first time in the limelight? Did the pressure get to him?
Well, the pressure didn’t get to him against Puerto Rico. If Gonzalez has “grown up” a bit because of the WBC and can go back to being the Ace/Cy Young candidate in 2013’s playoffs, the Nats will be far better positioned to advance.
I just finished re-reading The Duke of Havana, a great book about the back story of Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, his rise to the top (and subsequent political fall from grace) in Cuban professional baseball, his escape from his home-land, his rise with the 1998 New York Yankees, and the general politics/life of typical Cubans in the post-USSR era. Despite the crushing effects of the Fidel Castro regime in Cuba over the last 40 years, the island continues to produce MLB-quality baseball players. Of course, thanks to the lack of diplomatic relations between the two countries, when it comes time for the World Baseball Classic, we can’t see a unified Cuban team. Cubans who have escaped to play in America can never go back, and (as detailed in the book), often times leave behind wives, children and family who are subsequently pressured politically by Castro’s hacks.
I wondered what could an all-Cuba team really look like, if MLB players and other expatriots were allowed to re-unite with the current set of known Cuban amateur stars? Using some of the same methods as in my “All Virginia” post, by searching for those born in Cuba along with some well-known Cuban Americans (per the politics link above), here’s a possible WBC roster of maximum strength for Team Cuba:
Manager: Fredi Gonzalez of the Atlanta Braves. We’d get Cuban hall-of-famer Tony Perez out of semi-retirement (he was coaching at a small college in Georgia recently).
- C: Yasmani Grandal or J.P. Arencibia
- 1B: Kendrys Morales or Gaby Sanchez
- 2B: Yunel Escobar or Sean Rodriguez
- 3B: Yonder Alonso
- SS: Yuniesky Betancourt or Alexei Ramirez (2006 WBC Team Cuba member)
- LF: Yoenis Cespedes (2009 WBC team member)
- CF: John Jay (parents born in Cuba, emigrated to US before birth)
- RF: Leonys Martin (2009 WBC team member) or Dayan Viciedo
Reserves: Yasiel Puig, Jorge Soler, Alberto Castillo, Jose Iglesias, Juan Miranda, Adeiny Hechavarria, Brayan Pena, Eddy Rodriguez
Best Cuban amateurs (aka, the leading defection candidates): Alfredo Despaigne (just named MVP of round 1 of pool play), Alexei Bell, Yulieski Gourriel, Jose Abreu (the consensus #1 Cuban amateur prospect right now).
Thoughts: There’s some talent in this lineup; Cuba has developed some power hitters over the past few years but seems to specialize more in middle infielders (most of these reserves are middle infield prospects). But a potential 3-4-5 of Morales-Cespedes-Alonso is nothing to shake a stick at. I think this team could score some runs and would be excellent defensively.
- Gio Gonzalez
- Jose Contreras
- Livan Hernandez
- Yunesky Maya (2006 and 2009 WBC team member)
- Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez we’ll get him out of retirement; i’m sure he can still throw)
- Aroldis Chapman (2009 WBC team member)
- Francisely Bueno
- Raul Valdez
- Danys Baez (retired in 2011)
Thoughts: So, we’re a little light on pitching, it seems. We make use of Gonzalez’ first generation in USA status to steal him away from Team USA. But after him the starting pitching gets light (even if you push Chapman into a starting role as Cincinnati is looking to do in 2013). Contreras is a career 101 ERA+ guy, Livan may not have a job in 2013 and all nats fans can speak to what Maya brings to the table at this point. I threw in El Duque despite him probably being close to 50 at this point (B-R lists his birthday in 1965); he was always in great shape and probably could throw a few junk balls up there right now.
I have to admit, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the two Nats spring training games that managed to find their way to MLB Network TV thus far (NatsJournal live blogs for the 2/23 game here and 2/25 game here). Not so much because we got to see Harper, Strasburg and Gonzalez … we all know what these guys can do. No; I’m interested in seeing the young guys, the guys who we rarely get to see play. This year’s spring training is a week longer, meaning that there’s going to be an awful lot of playing time devoted to these AA and AAA guys who got spring training invites, and that’s many more looks at the likes of Matt Skole, Chris Marrero, and Carlos Rivero.
It is also good to see some of these arm prospects that we’ve been hearing so much about, and it has been instructive to see some of the minor league veterans invited to spring training. Some observations on our guys (arms then bats):
- Stephen Strasburg’s first 7 pitches on 2/23/13; all fastballs, all 96-97. Clearly he was working on his spots. I’m not sure he threw a change-up the entire outing. As is always the case in spring training, guys work on pitches, work on location, and stats are meaningless. He gave up a wind-aided homer to a guy who’s hit like 1 his entire career; no cause for concern.
- Gio Gonzalez was amped up; he over threw his fastball in the first and (if you believe the broadcast) reached 97 in the second. He struggled with his release point clearly. However, his curve looked in mid-season form, breaking sharply and serving as a nice out pitch against the few regulars that the Mets did bat on 2/25/13.
- Bill Bray looked, well, awful. His mechanics were always odd-looking, but he got hit hard by the Mets lineup of rag-tag regulars. Not a good start for Bray’s spring.
- Cole Kimball back on the hill …. where was his fastball? It generally was coming in 90-91. That’s clearly a step back from 2011, when he was averaging 93 and peaking at 95.8. Lets hope this is Kimball working himself in slowly and not a permament velocity loss from his shoulder surgery. Either way, he’s not going to displace his RHP competitors for the bullpen spots unless he can hump it up a bit more.
- Pat McCoy was scheduled to throw 2/23, and I would really have liked to see him, but the Mets were ahead in the 9th and didn’t need to bat. I’m convinced that McCoy could be a sleeper candidate for a left-handed specialist in this organization, if the cattle-call of guys we’ve signed to ML deals falls through.
- Ross Ohlendorf put in two clean innings, but I don’t like what I see from him necessarily. Not a lot of velocity (90-91) but a big guy (6′4″) who gets downward plane on his fastball. But he just seems very “hittable.” His numbers from the last two years in the majors show it; ERAs of 8.15 and 7.77 in 18 starts. Not good.
- Nathan Karns: the beat reporters raved about his performance overall; 2 innings, 3 Ks against a MLB-heavy part of the Mets order. It was great to finally see Karns throw; he has easy arm action, runs the ball in 94-95, and spotted the ball on the corners well. What I didn’t see was anything resembling a quality second pitch. He attempted a number of sliders (I’m guessing sliders; they were generally 84-86, which would be a very hard curve) and he couldn’t get over-top of them at all. He did throw one particular breaking pitch that was sharp and nasty. I didn’t see anything resembling a 3rd or 4th pitch though. Is he destined for the bullpen? That’s not the worst thing in the world; to be the next Ryan Mattheus, a hard-throwing 7th inning right hander.
Now for thoughts on our minor league hitters:
- Eury Perez is, well, really fast. If he turns out to be anything close to a servicable hitter, he’s got leadoff/center fielder written all over him. The question could become; which speedy CF prospect do we hope for more; Perez or Brian Goodwin? Denard Span’s contract has a convenient option for 2015, just about the time that Goodwin is likely ready for the majors on a full-time basis. Of course, that being said Perez is further along than Goodwin (who likely starts 2013 at AA). Goodwin has power to go with his speed, while Perez seems to have very little power. Which would you prefer to be the longer-term CF solution?
- I like Matt Skole; sweet swing, not overpowered by facing MLB pitching. It makes you wonder about scouting sometimes; how come guys like Skole and Tyler Moore get no love from scouts? Its like a 30-home run minor league guy is somehow a liability. Of course, Skole’s problem is the same as Anthony Rendon’s; positional blockage at 3B. Yes Skole was playing low-A as a college junior when he hit 27 homers … but if you’ve seen Hagertown’s stadium, you know its a monster park to hit balls out of. 27 homers is no mean feat down there. I’ll be curious to see if Skole can hit with that kind of power at High-A or AA (wherever he starts 2013).
- Chris Marrero has looked pretty good, making good solid contact a number of times. I don’t like his haircut though .
- Carlos Rivero is impressing me; he’s playing the outfield (after having played first SS and then 3B in the minors). He has good hands, is a big guy, and seems like he can be a servicable backup utility guy who can fill in at any corner. He’d be more flexible Moore or Chad Tracy in this respect (when judging our projected utility guys) but of course needs to show he can hit at the same levels. Still, he is likely to be a numbers game victim unless someone like Bernadina gets hurt this spring.
With the first couple of Spring Training games in the books, its fitting that Tom Boswell did a Monday morning chat on 2/25/13.
Here’s how I’d have responded to the Baseball-specific questions he took. As always, questions are edited for clarity and I write here before reading his response so as not to “color” my answer.
Q: Given that the Nats know almost every player making the roster out of Spring Training, do the players/coaches approach the 6 weeks differently?
A: Good question; I was taking with someone about this exact topic this weekend. The 25-man roster is essentially already solidifed; perhaps the only question remaining is whether or not Henry Rodriguez makes it onto the team or does the team carry a second lefty reliever (Bill Bray?). So I think the answer has to do with looking more at the AAA talent, looking at minor league FA signings like Micah Owings and Chris Snyder to see if they’re going to be better options than the guys we already had slated at AAA. And the coaching staff gets to look at up-and-coming guys like Anthony Rendon, Zach Walters, and the like. Boswell reiterates what I said here, naming other ML signings of interest like Chris Young, but also says that this ST has a lot of “wasted time.”
Q: I’ve spent the offseason reading Ball Four to help get my baseball fix. Do you have a sense about how different things are now?
A: It has been a while since I read Jim Bouton’s seminal baseball book Ball Four. But the season he chronicles (1969) happened before a number of rather important moments in Baseball history. Expansion, divisional play, the Designated Hitter, the aftermath of the Curtis Flood and Andy Messersmith decisions (aka, Free Agency) and of course the massive increase of money in the game (both from a revenue stand point and from a player salary stand point). One thing that seems certain to have changed; players can now earn enough in a season to be set financially for life. And, the players union’s power is now such that players have the upper hand in a lot of negotiations with the league and the owners when it comes to labor unions. Boswell notes that managers, coaches and GMs are far “smarter” now than they were in the Bouton era.
Q: How the Nats will do at the gate this year?
A: The season ticket base is back to where it was in 2005 apparently, broaching 20,000 season tickets. The team averaged 29,269 fans last year. Clearly the attendance seems set to rise significantly. I think they’ll average 35,000 a night if they continue to be a first-place club. Boswell agrees, noting that the team also has a couple of very marketable stars to help with attendance.
Q: Other than obvious injuries, are there any things that can happen in the first quarter of the year that you would find to be troubling?
A: I’d be troubled if Danny Espinosa started off slow. I’d also be concerned if we saw significant regression out of our WBC participants Gio Gonzalez and Ross Detwiler, confirming my fears. But the most important factor may be the performance of Dan Haren: is he the 2012 Haren or the 2009 Haren? If he approaches 2009 version, this team may be set for the season. Boswell notes they have a tough early schedule, that winning 98 games is tough, and that we should be patient.
Q: Gio Gonzalez; did he or didn’t he?
A: I think the prevailing opinion in the sport now seems to be that he did NOT take or receive PEDs from the Miami clinic, and that he was an unfortunate bystander. His passing a surprise PED test given two days after the scandal seems to have also bolstered his case. Boswell agrees.
Q: Are the Nats a 98 win team again, or was last year a fluke?
A: Barring a significant injury in the rotation, I think the Nats are easily a 98-win team and perhaps better in 2013. Statistical WAR “proof” offered in this space back in January, and that was before the LaRoche re-signing and the Soriano pickup, both of which marginally should improve the team a few wins. Most national pundits that I’ve read think the same thing, that this team could win 103 games. The various estimator stats out there (Zips, Pecota, etc) the team much closer to 90 wins, but those predictors are by and large incredibly conservative. Boswell also says it comes down to health of the rotation.
Q: How would you rate the Nats starting rotation, spot by spot, compared to the rest of the Major Leagues?
A: Spot by Spot, its hard not to think that each of our guys are each at least in the top 5 by position in the league. Drawing from my Rotational Rankings post from January 7th, 2013, I’d say that:
- Strasburg is clearly among the best arms in the game (in the discussion along with Verlander, Kershaw, and Hernandez). He’s not as accomplished as this group of course, but his talent is unquestionable.
- Gonzalez matches up as a top 5 number two starter (other candidates: Greinke, Hamels, Lincecum or Cain, depending on who you think SF’s “ace” is).
- Zimmermann is traditionally underrated but is at least a top 5 number three starter (along with Scherzer, Johnson/Morrow, Bumgarner, Lee and Moore).
- Haren on potential could be the best number four starter in the game, though Buehrle, Miley, and Lynn could also fit in here.
- Detwiler is often mentioned as being the best number five starter out there, and its hard to find competitors (best options: Zito, Romero, Garcia, and whoever Oakland and St. Louis settle upon for their #5 starters).
Boswell seems worried that these five guys can handle the workload all year, only really trusting Gonzalez in terms of repeatability.
Q: What future do you see for Anthony Rendon, and when will he debut in the majors?
A: I have been of the belief that Zimmerman should move to 1B for Rendon at some point. But with LaRoche signed for two years, that won’t happen for a while (2 years, perhaps 3 if we pick up his 2015 option). So now i’m starting to come around to the the possibility of Rendon pushing someone else off their position. The most likely candidate seems to be Espinosa at 2B. Despite having Lombardozzi on the 25-man, Rendon is a higher-potential player. If Espinosa starts slow, and Rendon starts fast, I could see Rendon getting called up in June and starting to get reps at 2nd while Espinosa goes on the DL for his shoulder. Otherwise, a Sept 1 call-up seems in order. Boswell predicts a post-all star game call-up.
Q: Is there any way the Nats can stop Detwiler and Gio from pitching in that baseball ‘classic’? I see a disaster waiting to happen. Luis Ayala was never the same after getting hurt pitching in that thing.
A: There’s no way legally the team can prevent either guy from pitching, since neither suffered any injuries in 2012. And yes I agree (as discussed in this space on 2/11/13) this is bad news for the Nats. Washington has never had a pitcher play in the WBC who didn’t regress badly, and the stats seem to show that most every pitcher who does participate in the WBC pitches poorly the next two seasons (links in my post). Boswell says cross your fingers.
Q: Do you think Bryce has it in him to be National League mvp?
A: Yes I do. MVP voting generally starts with the “Best Player” on the “Best Teams” and creates a short list from there. It is why it is relatively easy to predict the MVPs. If Washington is the best team in the league and makes the playoffs again, and Bryce Harper has a break out season, it won’t be hard to see him getting serious MVP consideration. Now, let me also say that a “Harper for MVP” prediction is NOT the same as predicting that Harper is set to become the best player in the game. That’s not what the MVP measures. If the question was, “Is Harper set to become the best player in the National League” i’d then say, “No, he’s a few years away from that distinction.” Boswell thinks it may be a bit early.
Q: How many wins per year would you estimate a a stellar defense adds to a teams win total over the course of a season?
A: I’m sure there’s a good statistical answer for this, based on the percentage of WAR added by defense. But it seems like a very difficult answer to come by. Boswell says “a few.”
Q: Any reason to think he’s NOT going to be the GM for a long time? Because I can’t think of many others who have done as good a job in all of baseball.
A: I can see no reason for Rizzo not to be the GM for at least the next 4 years. His next big challenge will be dealing with the inevitable payroll demands of Harper and Strasburg (both of whom project to be $25M players) while also keeping a competitive team on the field. 2017 could be an interesting year for this team; Strasburg projects to hit Free Agency that year, and Harper should be in his 4th arbitration year. They already have Zimmerman and Werth at $14M and $21M respectively in the 2017 year, with possibly another $40-$45M out the door to keep Harper and Strasburg. They better start working on the farm system again. Boswell didn’t really answer the question, just mentioned how Rizzo’s options have yet to be picked up.
Q: How is Ramos looking thus far? 100%? Suzuki is a professional and seems to be a good guy, do you get a feel for how well he and Ramos interact? How great would it be to generate some power/runs from the catcher spot this year.
A: I’ve been assuming that the catcher job is Suzuki’s to lose for now; its still early but no word has come out negatively on Ramos‘ recovery. Either way, yes it would be nice to get some production out of the #8 hole. Suzuki was pretty good after he came over here, but Ramos healthy was a middle-of-the-order bat. Boswell suggests that Ramos stop blocking the plate.
Q: If Rendon tears it up after September call-up, what does the Nats 2014 infield look like?
A: Wow; hard not to say Rendon replaces Espinosa like-for-like right now. But, just as Desmond broke out in his 3rd full time season, so could Espinosa. It could make for a log jam. Lets hope for the best, hope for a rebound Espinosa season and a good-problem-to-have situation of having to trade a strength to make way for another strength. Boswell has no idea where Rendon will play if he merits a call-up.
Q: I think the Nats, and Danny Espinosa are whistling past the graveyard if they think a completely torn left rotator cuff will not seriously affect Danny’s play. Your take?
A: A fair assessment. I too believe a torn rotator cuff absolutely has to be affecting his swing, especially from the right side. I think Espinosa should have gotten the thing surgically repaired in the off-season. I wonder how much the team knew of the injury, because when it was reported in the off-season it sure seemed like a surprise. Boswell says its a concern and that Espinosa should take more days off.
Q: Is McCatty working with Strasburg on correcting his inverted W delivery? Strasburg also has footstrike issues, as he tends to plant his foot and then whip his arm, which puts a ton of strain on his shoulder. I’m concerned if he doesn’t correct this, his shoulder will give out this season or next. Are the Nats worried about this? Are they working on cleaning up his delivery at all?
A: I’m beginning to think that this whole “Inverted W” thing is a bunch of BS. Keith Law stated as much when prompted in a chat recently; he says that the problem with the Inverted W theory is that its difficult to “state” with authority that certain pitchers do or don’t have the phenomena. And its true; if you see some shots of Strasburg he has it, in others his arms are more bent behind his back. Its the same with Gio Gonzalez (I can show you stills of him landing with his arms clearly in an “inverted W” position and you don’t hear anyone talking about Gonzalez’s mechanics. The leading inverted-W site on the internet (Chris O’Leary’s page linked here) uses an opportunisitic example set of pitchers with that motion, but I can find plenty of examples of guys who have similar mechanics but zero soft-tissue injury history (on the Nats two quick examples are Drew Storen and Craig Stammen). Meanwhile one of his examples was John Smoltz … who only threw 3400 MLB innings in his career and basically didn’t miss a start until he was 32. Not the best example of proof that his mechanics were somehow “awful.” I think the entire phenomenon is an observation of coincidence, that pitchers get injuries all the time no matter what their mechanics, and that we need to move onwards. Wow; Boswell thinks exactly what i think; these proofs are nonesense.
(Editor’s note: I thought I published this when Soriano’s Visa issues came out before)
Welcome to spring training! And along with a slew of “he’s in the best shape of his life” comments around the game, there’s the inevitable “Delayed by Visa Issue” stories. Including, as it turns out our own Rafael Soriano.
Ok, here’s what I don’t get. It isn’t as if the Report Date to spring training is a surprise to these guys. It’s pretty well publicized months in advance. How is it that every year, year after year, there’s Visa issues?? Why can’t these guys get their acts together and get these things handled in a timely manner?
A bit of googling finds this 2011 New York Times reporter (Dave Seminara) who asked and answered some of the same questions I have. But in nearly every case of a delay, the conclusion seems to either be ethical issues (delays due to brushes with the law) or paper work issues (badly filled out paperwork). Neither looks good for the player frankly. If you know you’re going to be delayed, then why not start the process early?
More reading apparently shows that getting paperwork done in a timely manner in the Dominican Republic (where the large majority of foreign-born players reside) is impossible, and that most of these delay issues are not necessarily the fault of the player. Fair enough.
(side note: read this NY Times article; did you know that Rangers hurler Alexi Ogando was banned from entering the US for 5 years as part of a Human Trafficking charge? I didn’t. That’ll explain some serious Visa delays)
As announced early on January 29th, 2013, an anti-aging clinic in Miami run by Anthony Bosch has been accused of being a PED factory and the Miami New Times has published an extensive report after reviewing documents, spreadsheets and hand-written customer notes that were obtained by the newspaper from a former employee.
The relevance to the Nationals? Gio Gonzalez appears in the documentation multiple times, along with his father. And while the evidence directly linking Gonzalez to specific orders for HGH, Testosterone or Anabolic steroids is non-existant (unless the code “1.c.1 with Zinc/MIC” can be proven to mean a banned substance), generally speaking where there’s smoke, there’s fire with respect to PEDs and baseball players these days. In James Wagner’s WP article today on the topic, he found a doctor who speculated that MIC may stand for a combination of three compounds that are used frequently in weight loss routines, and definitely NOT illegal.
Even if Gonzalez is completely innocent, this report automatically besmirches his career. Which is either a shame or will be justice. Time will tell. At least there doesn’t seem to be direct, provable evidence that Gonzalez (or his relations) purchased illegal products, a small light for Nats fans at the end of this particular tunnel.
Of immediate importance to the team; is this going to lead to a suspension? Doubtful, based on evidence seen so far. But certainly this should give players pause; what is the reputation of the clinics that I use? Tom Verducci’s immediate reaction is that this is a “severe” incident and notes that the new CBA allows suspensions even without positive tests.
The bigger scalp of course belongs to Alex Rodriguez, who the evidence seems to show bought HGH as recently as 2012. *sigh* He’s stated that he quit PEDs in 2003. The report makes him look really, really bad. For the slugger, at this point in his career and with the statements he’s already made on PED usage, to get caught again would be nothing short of amazing to me (he’s denied it, of course). The arrogance and stupidity of his getting caught again would be the absolute nail in his public relations coffin. At least the career HR record that Rodriguez once seems an absolute shoe-in to capture now seems safe; he likely misses most of his season with hip surgery (his age 37 year) and he’s averaged just 110 games and 17 homers the last two seasons. The likelihood of his hitting 116 more home runs at this point seems nil. I’m not going to go as far as some national writers though, who are saying they think Rodriguez’s career is over (David Schoenfield in particular).
Some pundits are already predicting that this will be the next Balco. I think i’ve got PED fatigue.
Is William Taft a more random choice for the 5th racing president? Who here, prior to today, would have even named Taft as a short-list candidate?
Aside from the fact that, last time I checked, there was still only four presidents on Mt. Rushmore, did we really need a 5th racing president? Does this mean we’ll be introducing a new president every few years from now on? Does this mean that eventually we’ll have a dozen charicatures of former statesman “racing” to the finish line (inexplicably greeted by a giant felt Lizard, to pay homage to the ever present commercialism rampant in today’s game)?
I will say that after reading Dan Steinberg’s article in the Saturday Washington Post, that I understand the selection a bit more. I fully admit that I had no recollection of Taft’s presidency in general, nor did I remember that he and Teddy Roosevelt had a massive argument (which of course is now ripe for mocking during every race), nor that Taft is apparently responsible for both throwing out the first pitch and (by urban legend) establishing the 7th inning stretch. I’m a bit more on-board now.
However, had I known that making a change was in the works, I think I would have gone in a different direction. I would have either selected arguably the last remaining inarguable “great” president this country has had (Franklin Roosevelt), or I would have dumped all four of our existing presidents and simply created characatures of the last four sitting presidents to do the racing. Imagine a race with Barack Obama, the younger George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and the older George Bush. How funny could that be? On a nightly basis you could have each president’s predecessor messing with his successor, or you could play off of each president’s nuances. There’s equal balance between Republicans and Democrats here, and I’m sure that W. wouldn’t mind being the “Teddy Roosevelt” lovable loser of the group