Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

“Those guys can kiss my *ss!”

22 comments

Jayson Werth, right, gave MASN’s Dan Kolko a joyous earful. (Alex Brandon/AP)

Jayson Werth, right, gave MASN’s Dan Kolko a joyous earful. (Alex Brandon/AP)

I “watched” the Nats-Cubs game in the most “2016” way possible yesterday.  I followed along at nationals.com initially, then was glancing at my MLB app on my phone into the later innings, then caught exciting 9th inning and the potentially gut-punch top 12th on the way home in the car on 106.7, arriving home just after Anthony Rendon was tossed for not saying anything after taking a called third strike (which, per Pitch F/X, was low and outside, but was in the zone).

It was there that I saw the fantastic end of the game live on MASN.  Danny Espinosa getting a HBP and subsequently stealing second easily.  Michael Taylor slapping a single to drive him in and tie the game again.  And then Jayson Werth‘s 2nd walk off hit this week, nearly a walk-off homer (he certainly thought it was out at first glance), and a fantastic ending to the most well attended game at Nats park in a while (42,000 announced attendance).

Instant classic and instant addition to “greatest games” honorable mention list.  Nats win 4-3 to take the series 2-1 against the perhaps the best team we’ve seen since the 116 win 2001 Seattle team.

Box Score link.  Bill Ladson‘s great game summary.

But … for me the best part was the on-field post-game interview.  It was laugh out loud funny live and its even funnier in the clips.  If you havn’t seen them, you have to listen.  NSFW obviously.  But fantastic.

Yeah those guys can kiss my *ss!

Its like Werth is the lead singer at a rock concert playing to his crowd during an encore.  And his hair completely supports that simile :-)

Great win; great series.  This team is legit.  I know they lost four straight to these Cubs and lost the season series by the ugly line of 2-5, but some of those Chicago games were closer than a 4-game sweep would indicate.  And i’m starting to see national writers dreaming on a Washington-Chicago NLCS.  Wouldn’t that be great.

 

Written by Todd Boss

June 16th, 2016 at 8:35 am

22 Responses to '“Those guys can kiss my *ss!”'

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  1. That’s funny, I had a similar 2016 viewing. I listened to the first inning in the car on the way home. Then had my son’s little league game. So I kept checking MLB AB throughout. Me and one of kids umping were sharing updates throughout the game. It was over before my son’s game was, so I didn’t see anything live.

    Agree that the interview was great and I’m one of those that has to pucker up for Werth, since I’ve thought he was over the hill. But he has more memorable hits than anyone in a Nat uniform ever, including mr walk off. Even though he isn One of the top 3 or 4 hitters, he is probably the guy you want up in the big spot. Nerves of steel.

    Wally

    16 Jun 16 at 10:23 am

  2. Werth isn’t a 5-win player anymore for sure, but he’s holding his own so far this year. 0.7 fWAR, a 103 wrc+. So he’s inarguably adding value. And that WAR would be a ton higher if he wasn’t costing the team defensively (negative UZR/150). You can’t ask much more from a guy in his age 37 year playing in the NL honestly. If he was AL, he’d be a 2+ win player less than halfway through the year batting only and he’d be in the same discussion as David Ortiz (current fWAR 2.8) as an older player going through a career year at the plate.

    More concerning for me right now is Zimmerman. Yikes. Sub .300 OBP. 89 wrc+. Here’s my new working theory: Nats are waiting to call up Turner for that inevitable time where they sit down Zimmerman and tell him he has an oblique injury and needs to hit the d/L. Then they call up Turner, move Espinosa to 2nd, Murphy to 1st. I’d like that lineup, especially with how hot Espinosa has been lately.

    Todd Boss

    16 Jun 16 at 10:50 am

  3. I am less worried about Zim than most. He’s always been a streaky hitter. He’s been scuffling his last 20-30 at bats, but had been on a tear before he went on paternity leave (enough to get his season splits up to .250/.313/.451/.763). Looking back over the past year, in 95 games Zim has put up a .263/.324/.509/.833 split with 20 HRs. His four hits in eight games since he came off of paternity leave don’t wipe out the previous record.

    And it’s not just me; Zim’s quality of contact is good, as noted in an article this week on Fangraphs (not specifically about Zim, but analyzing quality of contact by all MLB 1b/DH types):

    “So who has the highest average exit speed among first basemen and DHs? How about Ryan Zimmerman. He crushes the ball in the air, on a line and on the ground. His limiting factors are a grounder-heavy BIP mix, also featuring a low liner rate, which should regress. He retains the athleticism to get his share of leg hits, and uses the field enough to avoid overshifts. He’s just a few more elevated baseballs away from being a high achiever at his position.”

    Cite: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/hitter-contact-quality-report-first-base-and-dh/

    So there’s no real reason to be hasty with Zim at this point. If he’s healthy, he should be fine. If he gets hurt (always a concern) then they should call up Turner and move Murphy to first. But I’d slide Turner into 2b at that point and leave Espinosa at SS.

    John C.

    16 Jun 16 at 11:26 am

  4. I’m not sure that Turner would be the huge offensive upgrade everyone expects. He has tailed off quite a bit at Syracuse after a very hot start, and his line in 10 games since he returned there after being called up is .214/.267/.286. Small sample size I know, but as John C. points out Zimmerman has been streaky this year and when gets on another hot streak he may well hit a couple of walk offs himself.

    I also wouldn’t want to mess with the chemistry of this team right now. To me, this biggest positive in winning the Cubs series is that they did it despite Harper continuing his long power outage. Harper’s OPS in the 14 games since he hit his last home run is only .656, yet the Nats are 10-4 in those games. Last year, they would have been lucky to go 4-10 with him in such a funk.

    Karl Kolchack

    16 Jun 16 at 12:33 pm

  5. I made it home for the 12th, and the postgame. Ray Knight had turned Nats red from laughing so hard. Johnny looked like he wasn’t sure that Ray would be able to talk.

    Barely mentioned in most places but hinted at here: the Nats took two out of three from the Cubs with their 3-4-5 hitters really scuffling. Mentioned too often, particularly by the national media: the Nats missed Arrieta and Lester . . . ignoring completely that the Cubs missed the undefeated Mr. Strasburg in Wrigley and that Arrieta got knocked around and outpitched by the Nats’ #5 (Roark) in that series.

    Let’s just stay that there are some chinks in the Cubbie cloak of invincibility. Their defense was awful at times, particularly on Monday. Their bullpen may be shakier than ours. Their 3-5 starters are all way, way above career norms and due for regression. And little that Maddon did smacked of genius. They’re a very, very good team, with an offense built to exploit their bandbox, but in close games in the postseason with that bullpen and that defense . . .

    Anyway, back to reality, the Mets have seven of their next ten with the rookie-league team in ATL, so the Nats had better shake their celebration hangover quickly and take care of business on the road trip. And figure out what they’re going to do with the back end of their bullpen . . .

    KW

    16 Jun 16 at 12:47 pm

  6. Totally agree with the Chemistry component.

    Keith Law and Buster Olney spoke on ESPN’s baseball daily podcast about how the Cubs “embarassed” the Nats in the Chicago series. Am I just mis-remembering? http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/WSN/2016-schedule-scores.shtml
    Four games: L 2-5, L 6-8, L 5-8 and L 3-4. Game by Game:
    – Nats Loss 2-5; they were down 2-0 til the 8th, when the Cubs scored 3 runs off of Rivero before Nats got 2 back in the 9th. Not a “blowout” by any means; Nats couldn’t do anything with Kyle Hendricks and Joe Ross gave up 2 runs in 6+.
    – Nats lose 6-8: Nats up 2-0 early, Cubs tie it early and its 4-2 heading into the 5th when they tag Scherzer for an additional 3 runs to make it a 7-2 game. nats get 4 back in the 8th to make it respectable, but the game was well in hand.
    – Nats lose 5-8: nats up 4-2 in the 6th when Gio and Solis start leaking runs; they tie it in the 7th 5-5. Not exactly a “blow out.”
    – Nats Lose 3-4 in the 13th when the Cubs scored 2 in the 7th to tie it and Treinen gives up a walk-off homer.

    So, by cumulative score over 4 games the Cubs win 25-16, but three of the four games were closer or tied late into the game. How do you characterize this series as a “blowout?”

    Todd Boss

    16 Jun 16 at 12:47 pm

  7. Todd–take it for what it is, the national media are absolutely Jonesing for a Cubs World Series appearance. Despite the fact that the Expos/Nats franchise has been even more futile during their existence and the fact that the Cubs horrible owner ruined Wrigley Field and overpaid to buy every free agent in sight this past offseason, they are still going to be portrayed as the “loveable underdogs” whose time has come.

    I say let the media have their stupid, inaccurate narratives. Let them continue to underrate the Nats. And remember that the last time the Cubs got so overconfident was back in 2003 when all it took was poor Bartman to knock them off their pedestal.

    Karl Kolchack

    16 Jun 16 at 1:07 pm

  8. Gotta love Werth right now. And it’s exciting to see the team perform well despite Harper’s looking totally confused at the plate over the last 5-6 weeks. If Harp and Zim start performing up their potential, this team will go far. Baker is pushing all the right buttons.

    By the way, I have no hope for the media ever warming up the Nats.

    old man

    16 Jun 16 at 2:00 pm

  9. My memory of the May series, at the time, was thinking that the games themselves were much closer than will be remembered. The Nats had their chances in every game.

    I completely agree with let’s-stay-the-underdog. Being the frontrunner in ’12 and ’14 put a lot of unnecessary pressure on the team. As things stand now, the Cubs would get the wildcard winner in the first round, which would probably be the Mets, unless they get Kershaw’d or too many of their arms fall off before then. I’d rather face the Giants’ staff in the first round than the Mets’. Of course I thought we were in good shape facing the Giants’ staff in ’14 . . .

    Think Dusty might enjoy beating the Giants AND the Cubs on the way to the WS? Just a little?

    One thing at a time. Smack around the Padres.

    KW

    16 Jun 16 at 2:25 pm

  10. What was odd to me about t his particular pod cast was that it was Keith Law making that statement; he’s normally very reasoned, very stat driven. That comment was very Narrative driven, out of character for him.

    If playoffs started today: your NL field is (in order) Chicago, Washington, San Francisco with the Mets and St. Louis as the wild cards. Not too far off what someone might have guessed before the season started. But this also seems like a likely scenario where the Nats end up playing the Giants yet again in the playoffs.

    Todd Boss

    16 Jun 16 at 2:47 pm

  11. Kieboom for slightly less than slot:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/nationals-journal/wp/2016/06/16/nationals-sign-28th-overall-pick-carter-kieboom-for-2-million/

    That surprises me a bit. Trammell and Wentz were picked later and got over a million more apiece. Anyway, more good work by the Nats’ front office.

    KW

    16 Jun 16 at 3:24 pm

  12. Had Kieboom been drafted where he was projected, he’d have only been slotted to receive about $1.4 million, which might not have been enough to lure him away from college.

    In the MLB draft it’s the bonus amount that really matters. In fact, once the signing period is over, those who have come into the fold should be re-ranked based on how much they received. For example, last year 13th rounder Schrock got a bigger bonus than 4th rounder Rivera–and this year he’s playing much better.

    For those who don’t know, this link is a great one stop resource to see how much various past Nats draft picks have received in bonuses:

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1pZpAxtq3K6SxrHb6YSe3_NF6Cay0MkeYwW1Dc2_KHrE/edit?hl=en#gid=0

    Karl Kolchack

    16 Jun 16 at 4:05 pm

  13. It’s getting time to get nervous about Harper. He has been out of balance for a very long time now. A lot like his pre 2015 years. Never saw him this bad last year. Which is one thing I gave Matt Williams some props for last year. He got Harper locked in virtually all season.

    On the other side, Ramos has just been fantastic. What a turnaround for him. Don’t you think he’s next very important guy to sign long term?

    Marty C

    16 Jun 16 at 6:15 pm

  14. Nick Banks and Tres Barrera twitters say signed.

    forensicane

    16 Jun 16 at 7:04 pm

  15. .@Nationals signed 5th-rd OF Daniel Johnson from @NMStateBaseball for $325K (Pick 154 value=$354,300). Toolsy and raw. @MLBDraft

    Wally

    16 Jun 16 at 7:43 pm

  16. Pannacione’s Twitter suggests he signed too. Neuse is the only significant one that hasn’t indicated what he is doing.

    I read through those twitter accounts you posted in the last thread, and its heartwarming to see how much getting drafted means to these kids. It’s easy to forget that sometimes.

    Wally

    16 Jun 16 at 8:57 pm

  17. Thanks, fore & Wally, you guys are great
    The Nats front office’s role model is the CIA so they delay any information as long as they can.

    The kids are so excited they can’t wait to tell the world. Bless ’em for that.

    Can somebody drop a line to Springfield Fan @ Luke’s site so they can update. Thanks.

    Mark L

    16 Jun 16 at 11:11 pm

  18. Marty, thanks for calling out Harper! We’ll credit you with the HR. I believe you called out Rendon a few weeks ago, just before he got hot. You seem to have the magic touch.

    It sure looks like Dusty “gets it” on such things, too, with Zim and Murphy sitting last night. But I do agree with Marty that at least in Harper’s case (and perhaps only in Harper’s case), Matt Williams did do a lot for him in helping him think through at-bats and adjustments during games. MW wasn’t there this April, though, so Harp knows what to do. He’s just got to work out the kinks.

    KW

    17 Jun 16 at 7:41 am

  19. I don’t know that draft quality can be sorted by bonuses, perhaps all the more so with this one, where its strength was its depth, but not necessarily the quality at the top. There were a lot of closely ranked players, so teams without a lot of bonus money (including the Nats) took guys who would sign. I’ll bet 50 cents right now that Kieboom turns out better than Trammell, who got $1M more from a bad team with a lot of slot money. But I make no MLB guarantees on any of the high schoolers; they’re all lottery tickets. That said, they were supposed to be the strength of this draft, and the Nats bought into that narrative.

    If this were the NFL draft, I felt like the Nats would have traded out of one or both of their comp picks, as they could have probably traded down and still gotten the guys they wanted. But in MLB, you can’t trade those picks, plus your bonus money would take a hit even if you were able to move down. They might have traded down to pick Neuse as well. As it was, though, they balanced the scale of quality/signability/fair price. And the guy they took at #124 may turn out better than the ones they picked nearly 100 slots higher.

    KW

    17 Jun 16 at 7:54 am

  20. Hey Marty! Bryce reads the blog, heard you were nervous and thus blasted a homer opposite field for you last night :-)

    Oh also, Danny reads the blog and knows you were pissed about his performance, so he’s been like in the top 5 of the entire majors in terms of performance for the last few weeks.

    I think you need to talk about how frustrated you’ve been with Ben Revere or Ryan Zimmerman next.

    Todd Boss

    17 Jun 16 at 8:43 am

  21. KW; agree; the bonus money can’t really be used to “order” the talent. For example, Groome IMHO was the best player in this draft, but because of circumstances he falls to Boston at #12. Well he ain’t getting $6M there. He may get $4M, closer to a 6th overall slot. But the thing is this; if he gets offered $4M, he’d be a fool to pass it up b/c he de-committed from Vanderbilt to go to Juco, and if he comes out next year the 2017 draft is significantly deeper and he’d already be behind several college arms (Lange, Faedo, Bukauskas, Houck, Beck, Wright and maybe even Schmidt). Who would you rather take? A guy like Faedo or Bukauskas, who’s got 3 years of history going in the ACC and SEC, or a 19-yr old with makeup questions who just pitched a year in a juco league?

    Todd Boss

    17 Jun 16 at 8:50 am

  22. I should clarify that when I mentioned reordering draft picks by bonus money, I meant just for the Nats’ players only and not the whole draft. Obviously, every team has a different strategy, and it is apples and oranges to compare what each organization did with their bonus money.

    Karl Kolchack

    17 Jun 16 at 9:53 am

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