Category Archives: Nats/MLB 2013

Nats: Bob Carpenter is going to be saying “Fister” a lot in 2014

The Washington Nationals completed a seemingly lopsided trade for Detroit Tigers for Doug Fister. From the press release:

In 33 games/32 starts in 2013, the 29-year-old went 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA and ranked among American League leaders in GDPs induced (tied first, 26), home runs allowed per 9.0 innings (2nd, 0.60), ground ball-to-fly ball ratio (3rd, 2.17/1), walks per 9.0 innings (4th, 1.90), fielding independent pitching (6th, 3.32), wins (tied 8th), strikeout-to-walk ratio (9th, 3.61/1) and quality starts (tied 9th, 22) in his last of three seasons with Detroit.

Fister joins the Nationals after going 32-20 with a 3.29 ERA in two-plus seasons (Aug. 2011-2013) with the Tigers. Fister is 3-2 with a 2.98 ERA in eight postseason games/seven starts, all with the Tigers, who won six of Fister’s seven playoff starting assignments (2-0 in 2013, 2-1 in ’12, 2-0 in ’11).

Utility infielder Steve Lombardozzi, LHP Ian Krol and minor leaguer LHP Robbie Ray. It looks like highway robbery by DC GM Mike Rizzo.

NATMOSPHERE REACTIONS

WHAT ARE THE TIGERS THINKING?

My friend J.J. from Michigan says: Sure does seem like a steal for your Nats! Doug Fister is a great pitcher and I have no idea why the tigers would make such a trade! Congrats I guess ..

Reformed newspaperman Vince Guerrieri is a Cleveland fan, but he lives closer to Detroit and follows the teams up there a bit:

Fister came in a mid season deal with Seattle in 2011. He was 3-12 for the Mariners, but went 8-1 down the stretch as the Tigers pulled away from the Indians to take the Central.

His contributions to the rotation were overshadowed by a pair of Cy Young winners, Justin Verlander in 2011 and Max Scherzer this year, but he was always a dependable starter.

The bigger picture is the remaking of the Tigers roster. Scherzer and Prince Fielder have been dealt and Jhonny Peralta left via free agency. Also, Jim Leyland retired. The Indians are facing question marks with their rotation, but my Tribe fan friends are positively giddy. It could be a wide-open division next year.

SB Nation Tigers blog Bless You Boys: Doug Fister trade is a terrible deal for the Tigers

BEAT WRITER REACTION

Nationals acquire Doug Fister for Steve Lombardozzi, Ian Krol, Robbie RayThe Post

Nats acquire Fister in 4-player trade with Tigers
CSN Washington

A THEORY

If there are fans who want Nationals Park to have a roof, the Venn diagram of them and fans upset that Lombo is gone, are concentric circles.

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1950s prototype Washington Nationals jersey discovered

gilmourNationals 016.jpg
Wednesday’s Uni Watch, showed several photos of a prototype 1950 Washington Nationals road jersey from the collection of Tony Cocchi. Apparently, after many years of wearing a block W, there was talk of putting the official team name on the jersey. Back then, Senators and Nationals were used interchangeably, but the former name had more currency than the latter. The original American League team became the Nationals in 1905 because Senators was a “hoodoo nickname.” You may recall the silly “ESTABLISHED 1905″ patch on the 2005 Nats. The 1905 and 1906 Nats jerseys also became the first to have the team name on them before adopting a W or “WASHINGTON” on their jerseys.

In 2004, Charlie Brotman explained to me that he found there was not a consensus on the name and he decided on Senators once and for all when he took over team PR in the mid-1950s. A few years later, in 1959, the jerseys were the first to have a team name in over 50 years — they said “Senators.” That continued the next year too, but then Calvin Griffith moved the team because he was a racist. The expansion Senators continued to use the Senators name on their home (and later road) jerseys until Bob Short moved them to, as Shirley Povich put it, “some jerk town with the single boast it is equidistant from Dallas and Fort Worth.”

I do not know why the “Nationals” jersey did not get used in 1950 — they stuck with a W on both the home and road jerseys, a fairly common look over the years of DC baseball. I wonder if there was a home prototype that looked similar.

When baseball returned to D.C., so did the Nationals nickname — these days, “Senators” might be too offensive. The current Nats pay homage to that on their home and alternate jerseys, but with a curly W over the left breast instead of a block one. For a few years, the current Nats also used a very similar script as the 1950 prototype in their “NatsTown” branding, but the “script curly N” has been replaced with a not-at-all curly N.

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Nats: The Matt Williams Era has begun

MattsTown - Washington Nationals - Matt WilliamsLast Friday, the Washington Nationals officially hired Matt Williams to be the fifth manager since baseball returned to The District. The move was expected. He has never managed before, other than in the Arizona Fall League. GM Mike Rizzo seems to have had his heart set on him based on their days in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.

What I think I like most about Williams so far is that he wants to focus more on defensive alignments and has brought on Mark Weidemaier (The Post), a former D-Backs scout, to be “defensive coordinator.” In theory this raises the opportunities to get outs, but could also keep the fielders a more focused which seems to be have been an issue in 2013.

I’m skeptical about RISP being his favorite stat though (DC Sports Bog, The Post).

Jim Lett is the only departure from the coaching staff. Matt LeCroy, best known for Frank Robinson’s tearful press conference after pulling the then-catcher, replaces Lett as bullpen coach. I guess Lett had trouble picking up the phone.

The big news is that Williams asked/was told to keep bench coach Randy Knorr. Is it just me or does Knorr, bench coach and candidate for the manager’s job, look extremely uncomfortable at about 2:40?

He doesn’t look quite as mortified as I thought he did during Friday’s presser, but still that’s not what I’d call enthusiasm. That’s an awkward spot for him having interviewed for the job. I think it’ll be good that he’s sticking around to help Williams, but I kind of wonder about him sticking around after being denied the job.

So, while we wonder if 2014 will be #MATTITUDE or #MattsTown, we can all rest assured that Rizzo got his man, the person we thought he’d get and not some ex-Baltimore player a dozen years a removed from day-to-day MLB. Speaking of, The Post has run all of two columns on the Williams hiring and they were both by Thomas Boswell: & Nationals Manager Matt Williams is a hire who values defense and finding advantages which is exactly as many as were written abouta non-candidate from Baltimore in a single day.

MORE COVERAGE
LOVERRO: Nats’ hiring of Matt Williams sends message that Rizzo, not players, makes the call

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MATTITUDE! Matt Williams expected to be named Nats manager

The buzz has been building for a while that Arizona Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams will be named the fifth permanent manager of the Washington Nationals. That looks to be the case:

After Rosenthal broke that, the Post put this together: Nationals to hire Matt Williams as manager (updated)

The official announcement should be after the World Series.

Seemingly the in-house favorite, Randy Knorr, may be retained as bench coach which is potentially weird. I can’t decide whether it’s great he wants to stick around or if it’s sad he will stick around if he’s not the choice.

Williams has managed in the Arizona Fall League and been a third base coach. He was a slugger who apparently used HGH late in his career. He’s a firery personality, but he’s mellowed as he’s aged and players love him. I most remember him from when he was with the San Francisco Giants and was hitting a lot of homers in 1994. After the strike, Sports Illustrated wrote a story about the improbable last two months of the season – the Chicago Cubs beat the Boston Red Sox in the World Series and Williams continued his chase on Roger Maris single season home run record. I remember a fake cover of Williams in that story. His grandfather, Bert Griffith, briefly played for the 1924 Washington Senators too, but was traded in July of that season.

D.C. media is probably heartbroken their preferred candidate wasn’t even interviewed. One radio host was going to discuss with fans whether they were disappointed that Baltimore player wasn’t the choice. Really. Sports radio is a sad salvation.

Oh and if you care about what the former manager thinks:

I wonder if the Post will have two columns on this hiring either tomorrow or the official announcement.

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Amanda Comak leaves Wash Times beat for Nats media relations

While I was calling out the Post for covering Cal Ripken, Jr. speculation so much, we learned what happened to a former beat writer. Amanda Comak, who covered the Washington Nationals for three seasons with The Wash. Times has moved out of journalism and into a media relations with the team.

From a technical standpoint, I have joined the Nationals as Director of Baseball Media Relations and New Media. So, in addition to working with the media, some of my responsibilities include overseeing our various social media channels.

So, she’s the Larry Michael of the Nats now, right? Oh, that’s probably harsh and unfair (I certainly hope so), maybe she is the Mike Vogel of the Nats.

Left unsaid in her Curly W Live introductory post is whether or not Bill “not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs” Ladson is still on the mlb.com beat for the Nats. He’s not mentioned at all, but that may be an example of the “church and state” separation. I’m not sure which is which in this case.

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While Post focuses on Ripken, Nats interview qualified managerial candidates

Apparently, after several weeks of doing nothing but watching the Post write stories, columns and run videos about some former Baltimore player’s potential interest in being manager, the Washington Nationals are actually interviewing real candidates to replace Davey Johnson.

Bench Randy Knorr and Arizona Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams and Brad Ausmus(?) of the San Diego Padres special assistant are among those who have interviewed. Nats third base coach Trent Jewitt may get an interview as well.

I don’t have a strong favorite other than I want the Nats to hire the guy who wins it all. What I don’t want is them to hire Cal Ripken, Jr., the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Famer that some Washingtonians and The Post in particular, try to claim as a D.C. sports legend. While it is annoying that these fanboys insist that somebody who never played a regular season game in the nation’s capital is a D.C. legend, it would be more annoying if the Nats hired somebody who hasn’t been a day-to-day part of MLB since before the first iPod was sold. Could he be a good manager? Maybe, but the current Nats are contenders, ever after last season’s underachievement, so managing them shouldn’t be a “let’s see how you like being back in the game” deal.

Last week the Ripken speculation led to something kind of extraordinary, something so rare it had not been seen since the day after Opening Day – two Post columnists writing about the Nats:*

As a Nats fan and a Washingtonian, this annoys me. The Baltimore Orioles and Peter Angelos treat D.C., the Nats and their fans like crap and the D.C. media still sees life does not see a problem with it. So, my solution for the D.C. media, The Post in particular, I offer this suggestion want to write about Ripken and the Nats manager job unless he’s actually interviewed:

1) wait 24 hours
2) then don’t report on Ripken

Instead, write about the ongoing delay of the Nats being compensated for their television rights that they were forced to give away to Peter Angelos in 2005. That’s a story that is under-reported. It may not be important to the video hosts or beat writers with Oriole Park in the background, but for Washingtonians who have been punished for the cowardice of Angelos/Orioles for years, it matters to us. If some of you love writing about the Orioles so much, write about something that means something to fans of the Washington baseball team — the corrupt bargain that hurts the Nats and kept most of the 2005-2006 seasons off most cable systems. It is certainly more responsible than your personal fanboy dreams.

*Sorry, I’m hitting the paywall, so I won’t link to those week old columns, but I will link to Eric Fingerhut‘s The Fingerman blog where you can get regular quality analysis of the Post’s editorial priorities.

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Are the Nats going with a two-tone BP jersey next year?

Washington Nationals 2014 batting practice jerseyI am going to briefly divert my attention from putting together a post-mortem on the 2013 Washington Nationals season to look ahead to next year. In his latest ESPN Uni Watch column, Paul Lukas reveals that the Washington Nationals may be going with a two-tone batting practice/spring training jersey next season.

In a move that’s sure to raise eyebrows (or maybe ruin eyeballs), seven teams — the Braves, Indians, Rockies, Royals, Marlins, Rays and Nationals — are going with two-tone designs, with one color on the front of the jersey and a different color on the back. (Interestingly, the Rangers, who can never seem to decide whether their primary color is blue or red, are sticking with one color — blue — on the front and back.)

That’s pending league approval, but I can’t imagine it not going through.

I can’t say I am fan of the two-tone jersey, but it’s just for BP anyway, so no big deal. It isn’t as bad as the awful Nats BP caps with the white panel, though.

ALSO SEE: New 2014 MLB BP Jerseys Leaked; “Split-Coloured” Designs Revealedsportslogos.net

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Day after elimination, Nats no-hit for 8 2/3 innings before Zimmerman breaks it up

A day after being eliminated, the Washington Nationals were no hit for 8⅔ innings by St. Louis Cardinals rookie righty Michael Wacha. #Natitude! Expect it! Let Yourself Go!

Ryan Zimmerman
, Mr. Walk-Off, was all that stood between Wacha and IMMORTALITY. Then, this happened:

Don’t apologize Ryan, it makes you look weak

The best part — Pete Q#@$%&-ing Kozma, destroyer of Nats dreams, could not get the throw to first, pulling the first baseman off the bag. Zimmerman was safe, an infield single secured and the tying run at bat. Nothing came of it, but at least the Nats didn’t get no-hit.

The “best fans in baseball” reaction to Kozma was often NSFW, so I won’t share those tweets here.

The series finale is at 1:45 with Jordan Zimmermann going for his 20th win of the season. The Nats are trying to win their first over St. Louis since Game 4 of last year’s NLDS.

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BUST: 2013 Nats eliminated

What was fait accompli in July became reality in late September — the Washington Nationals will not make the 2013 postseason. Last night’s Nats loss to the Cardinals in St. Louis and wins by the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates officially eliminated the Nats from even the play-in game. That makes two seasons in a row the Cardinals ended the Nats postseason hopes, though this year was much less agonizing than last year.

The Nats played below their talent level for much of the season, no more so than in July when they went 11-16. Injuries, a weak bench, a ill-prepared bullpen (no lefties), questionable managing and significant regression defensively combined with poor hitting through the first half to doom the squad. Even with all that, the Nats would not go quietly, raging for over a month in a half:

They reached this point after a desperate six weeks of trying to overcome the sluggish first four-and-a-half months of their season. They were 13-14 after April, 48-47 at the all-star break and 54-60 on Aug. 7. They have been the best team in baseball since, but they found their stride too late. They also faltered against top competition, going 14-29 against the five NL playoff teams.

Werth missed all of May except for two at-bats, and upon his return became one the best players in baseball. Harper began the year on an MVP course, then ran into two fences and either played hurt or not at all the rest of the way.

Nationals vs. Cardinals: Washington eliminated from playoff picture with 4-3 loss
The Post

Surely, some will suggest the Nats “needed” a season like this which is just nonsense. That being said, the team, the next manager and certainly the general manager need to learn from this season. A better bullpen, a better bench and more attention to details like playing defense in the future will hopefully top of mind. That and of course, HITTING which was the biggest problem for most of this season.

World Series of bust has been decided…BUST.

Read this if you can handle it: The Nationals and what could have beenThe Post

Chris Needham’s take: What We Learned

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