Tag Archives: Michael Morse

LaRoche finally realizes he’s not getting better than a 2 year deal, signs with Nats; Morse now tradebait

I go out to get my wife a birthday present and find out that Adam LaRoche has signed a 2 year deal to remain with the Washington Nationals. The first baseman had a strong 2012 after an injury-filled, shortened 2011 season.

Hey, a local Nats beat writer even broke the news!

Here’s Adam Kilgore’s first take for The Post: Adam LaRoche, Nationals agree to terms

The final contract details are not yet known. The original offer LaRoche was weighing was believed to be roughly $25 million.

LaRoche wanted a 3-year deal, but there wasn’t one out there. His consolation is playing on the reigning NL East champions and not having to relocated. Oh and $25 million.

Good signing by the Nats.

The LaRoche signing likely ends the tenure of OF/1B Michael Morse whose best defensive position is DH. Morse still has a year left on his contract and should bring something valuable back in a trade. However, the Nats would be unwise to unload him any time soon since they don’t run out of a place to play him until April 1. The outfield is set with Bryce Harper, newly acquired Denard Span and Jayson Werth, but I think GM Mike Rizzo and manager Davey Johnson will keep Morse around through a good chunk of spring training. Any injury to LaRoche or the three outfielders makes Morse pretty valuable. Morse will probably find a new home around March 25 or so.

Speaking of Harper, I had to unfollow him on Twitter. Following a pro athlete is kind of silly since half the tweets end with “ha ha ha” or “LOL” but especially so when he’s asking everybody to pump up his chance to be on a video game cover.

83 days until Opening Day

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I’m not taking the Nats elimination too hard (maybe I should be?)

The end of the Washington Nationals 2012 season in the final game of the NLDS was sudden and cruel for the team and fans. An early 6-0 lead powered by a Jayson Werth lead-off double, a Bryce Harper triple and later a home run, along with homers from Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse had the Nats leading the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals with 18 outs to go and a visit from the San Francisco Giants for the NLCS looming.

The Nats slowly came undone — as described so expertly be Barry Svrluga in The Post. While not an all out sense of dread, the mind wandering to thoughts of a “mayor’s bet” with a friend in San Francisco fought with the the insecurity of a 6-0 lead, then a 6-3 lead and so on. It was a group loss with pitching breaking down from starter Gio Gonzalez to closer Drew Storen and just about everybody in-between. A double-play ball yielding only an out here and there as the Cardinals pecked away at the Nats lead. An insurance run in the bottom of the eighth wasn’t enough either. Storen had the Cardinals down to their last strike over and over again, but couldn’t seal the deal. The loss is his according to the record books, but he’s not on an island. Davey Johnson’s managing was curious, not terribly engaged late and his decision to put in Edwin Jackson seemed like he was trying to hard. Why put in a starter coming off of two subpar outings after a couple of days of rest? I really wonder if Davey was too tired in the dugout. At 69 years old, having dealt with serious health problems too, the late start may have taken a toll. Nobody in the bullpen retired the first batter of an inning either, just brutal.

The loss, not inevitable, but not surprising as the game went on was tough. The 12:29 a.m. finish wore me out and the next morning came quickly. I hardly had time to pout though – an energetic 4 year old bouncing off the walls, floors and parents prevents that. He cared not that the Nats loss, though he had celebrated the walk-off win the night before. Perhaps he had the right idea and whether by design or as a way of coping, I pretty much went along with it. There is another factor too – the events at my alma mater over the last year or so have forced a perspective on mere wins and loses and how much they matter. Trust me, I’d gladly be in the position of other Nats fans who are still hurting over a shocking elimination. Maybe I’m still in the “derrrrrp, we have a team mode” and need to get over it too.

In the end, the Nats had an astonishing regular season, beating my wins prediction by 12. They were in first place most of the year, but ran out of gas late. Nationals Park came alive and BeltwayLand embraced the team more than ever. Being “the Nats guy” in the office was fun and an icebreaker for the first time. It is never easy going into as Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler say, “the season of silence” (particularly with the Capitals locked out) but the good overwhelmingly outweighed the bad.

Spring training is about four months away, Opening Day, less than six…

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Nats face elimination by Cardinals after 8-0 debacle in Game 3

So, all Washington Nationals are washing finding their lucky t-shirts, eating and drinking the same thing as they did on Sunday, right? In this 5-game series, a 2-1 deficit seems like one that cannot be conquered, right? Particularly after giving up 20 runs in two games to the defending world champions, the St. Louis Cardinals. DOOM had descended on Natstown. Bad Natitudes seem rampant on Twitter.

Ross Detwiler, a Missouri native, is the starter for D.C. He’s not been good lately. Against the Cardinals too. Jordan Zimmermann may be called in if Detwiler falters. Because he pitched so well in game 2?…..

On the bright side, this is a real elimination game instead of the ones that used to happen in September and August. Maybe July.

HATERADE

Apparently, Mike Rizzo shutting down Stephen Strasburg has made the Washington Nationals the most-hated team in MLB (USA Today). Interesting. Other GMs aren’t really happy that Rizzo put the player’s/agent’s future ahead of the game. In the short-term, they ought to be happy the Nats aren’t at all full strength. Of course, even a rank amateur fan is aware that if you don’t score, you can’t win and that was the the Nats problem yesterday too. About a dozen runners were left on base yesterday. Ouch.

LEAST MODE

Michael Morse left five runners on base in his first two at bats. That’s painful. Lots of questioning of his future on Twitter.

HONDO

Frank Howard is throwing out the first pitch today. Hopefully the Nats bring him aboard in some capacity moving forward.

WELL PLAYED CARDINAL BANK, WELL PLAYED

Cardinal Bank revises Metro ad – DC Sports Bog, The Post

DON’T WORRY, CHICKEN MAN IS ON IT



PLAY BY PLAY

I think I’m happy to have Dick Stockton’s 1-2 errors an inning over the strange Long Island/Midwest hokum of Bob Costas. Game time is 4:07 p.m.

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Zimmermann, Morse lead Nats win to finish Astros sweep

While the Houston Astros are terrible, I still feel pretty good about the Washington Nationals sweep of them. That goofy ballpark has been a house of horrors for the Nats, so getting through there without a loss is still a big deal. The Nats don’t have to go there for several years now — maybe that’s bad since the Astros are so bad and the Nats finally figured out how to win there.

Jordan Zimmermann had 11 strikeouts over 6 innings. He was excellent (mlb.com video) — probably could have stayed in though. He’s really progressed this season and seeems to be a sleeper for Cy Young.

Michael Morse is in the zone. He’s got an 18 game hitting streak and then this:

That 415 feet shot had a ways to go, but an outfield sign got in the way. That might have landed on N Street if it was hit at Nationals Park. Big night for Morse with 2 homers and a sacrifice RBI.

Other intelligent remarks:

Meanwhile, down in Potomac Woodbridge:

Have fun!
My twitter feed was much “cleaner” than yesterday morning. :)

Lastly

REDSKINZ R GOIN TO TEH SUPERBOWL1!!!1!!1

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Nats Opening Day Eve: 2012 preview and prediction

The first pitch of the Washington Nationals season is 24 hours away in Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs. Here is my preview and season prediction…

FROM SLEEPER TO TRENDY PICK IN ONE SPRING TRAINING
Experts predicting the Nats make the World Series – DC Sports Bog, The Post
Maybe it was always happening and I never noticed it before, but of late it seems a sleeper team gets trendy awfully quickly. I first noticed this with the San Francisco 49ers. It seemed like for 3 seasons, they were a popular sleeper team to break through into the playoffs. Were they really a sleeper if everybody was picking them in that role? They finally broke through after being on the cusp of contention in season 3. Now, the Nats are getting popular to pick as a playoff team, but I believe pundits are picking them for the playoffs just to be able to say “I told you” rather than basing it on actual analysis. The expectations are being raised a bit too high and if fans really buy into them, they are going to be really disappointed by what should be a fun, breakthrough season. I’m not arguing that contending for a playoff spot is an important expectation for the team, but I do not think they have enough offense.

MY TAKE

Let’s see, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa are the 1-2 in the batting order. There is nothing that shows me Desmond is up to that task, but I wish him well. I give him until Father’s Day to get his prove himself. If he hasn’t, let’s see what Steve Lombardozzi can do. Espinosa needs to get over things like small batter’s eyes in spring training. He was great in the first half last year, but awful in the second. Somewhere in between would be okay, but he’s probably capable of what he did last spring.

Ryan Zimmerman
probably won’t get to drive in as many runs as he could because of the guys in front of him, but then again, he’s never had much in front of him. I wonder if he’ll win the gold glove at third this season. LF/1B Michael Morse has to get healthy (figure mid-April) so we can see if he’s really a .300/30 HR hitter who doesn’t ever walk. 1B Adam LaRoche did nothing last year, so any production out of him is helpful. Mark DeRosa will also see some time at first, but he’s old. I expect Jayson Werth to bounce back closer to his numbers from the Philadelphia years. Wilson Ramos is probably going to be a star with Jesus Flores as a really solid backup behind the plate.

Rick Ankiel (on the DL), Roger Bernadina and Xavier Nady aren’t exactly something to get excited about in the outfield or on the bench.

Pitching should improve upon last year when it was a team strength. 160 innings of Stephen Strasburg off of Tommy John surgery, plus Jordan Zimmermann with new additions Gio Gonzalez (acquired for 4 prospects from Oakland) and Edwin Jackson on a 1-year rental should be solid. Ross Detwiler beat out John Lannan for the 5 spot despite the latter being solid for most of 4 years and making $5 million. Tough break for Lannan, who may be done in D.C. Chein Ming Wang is on the DL with a hamstring injury.

The bullpen should be strong still, provided Tyler Clippard‘s arm doesn’t finally fall off. The All-Star set-up man has been lights out. Henry Rodriguez had a great spring (at least until yesterday against the Red Sox) while Brad Lidge brings the experience of a World Series champion closer. Those two will take care of closing until Drew Storen hopefully returns from elbow inflammation. Craig Stammen earned a job again too. Sean Burnett is still around as well, but for how long?

Looking at all of this, I see a team that with the right breaks could win at least 90, but I don’t see that happening. With excellent health and career averages from the heart of the order, I could see it, but I can’t get around the top of the order. I just don’t see Desmond and Espinosa getting on base enough to get the Nats over the playoff hunt. Also, Strasburg’s innings limit will hurt late in the season. I think the Nats will be close and have a shot in September to make the playoffs, but just fall short. Manager Davey Johnson has himself a pretty good ballclub, but they are a year away.

86-76

3rd place in the NL East. I think the Phillies will overcome a lack of an infield early on to win the division late. The Marlins will either be winners or a trainwreck, so they’ll be 2nd of 4th, can’t make up my mind. I figure the Braves will be opposite the Marlins. The Mets will be last.

MSM PREVIEWS

A PDF? Come on Wash. Times, it isn’t 2001 anymore. Fine, I’ll buy the dead-tree version. If I can find it.

I’ll also bought the Post, which isn’t that organized online either. Am I rewarding bad behavior or just unimaginative ad reps who couldn’t see the online side? They probably had print guys pitching it.

CSN Washington has a video preview:

PLAY BALL!

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Nats: Strasburg for Opening Day, Harper sent down and more

Per Twitter, the first of Stephen Strasburg‘s 160 innings is scheduled for Opening Day when the Washington Nationals open at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs. It looks like Gio Gonzalez. The rest of the rotation is undetermined, so we don’t know when Strasburg will pitch in D.C. Figure Jordan Zimmermann being #3 and Edwin Jackson #4. Will they start with a five-man rotation? Don’t be surprised if Gonzalez gets the home opener.

Bryce Harper got sent down. He’s more myth than reality at this point. He needs to learn to hit lefties and how to play centerfield which has Thomas Boswell’s (The Post) support.

Bos also wrote a column about how the Philadelphia Phillies are getting old. It is a great column to write because if the Phillies falter in the next 2 or 3 seasons, Bos gets to say “hey, I told you so.” I’m not going to write off the Fleas just yet, but they have problems like only 1 regular infielder being healthy.

Tickets for “Take Back the Park” games against the Phillies are coming in unadorned envelopes according to @jdland.

Speaking of JD Land, here is a preview of the ballpark and neighborhood for 2012. The neighborhood is finally heading towards critical mass after the economic downturn (The Post). Moving forward, let’s start referring to the Nats home and neighborhood by its historical name — Blood Field (Greater Greater Washington).

The Nats like Bikram Yoga (The Wash. Times).

Michael Morse (Nats Enquirer) and >Adam LaRoche (The Wash. Times) are both hurting this spring training. That leaves first base for? Of course, neither was a factor last April and the Nats still won 80 games…

The Miami Marlins made more headlines in the offseason, but the Nats probably made more progressGrantland

I’ll see those Marlins at my friend’s bachelor party in April. If there is a better bachelor party than a ballgame, I don’t know it. Fogo de Chao was pretty good though.

Fort Myers, on the Gulf Coast in Lee County, can now openly court the Nats to move spring training there, but Viera wants to keep them though (Florida Today). Can Lee County afford a third team though (Fort Myers News-Press)? I have never been to spring training, so I don’t have much of an opinion. Viera has taken its knocks, but it is a straight (looooong) shot down I-95 and close to the Atlantic Ocean. Ft. Myers would have easier travel for the team. The downside — the minor league complex is separated by a few miles. I have already addressed the most important factor any move to Ft. Myers — proxmity of Panera.

I’m going to try and get back to more regular updates.

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Nats all-time stats will blow your mind (not in a good way for the most part)

The Nats’ (updated) all-time stat leadersNats Insider
Going all the way back to 2005, Mark Zuckerman compiled the Washington Nationals all-time statistical leaders. He provided this warning:

WARNING: Reading these lists will elicit a wide range of emotions, from smiles to frowns to laughter to tears to sheer dumbfoundedness (and yes, I know that’s not a real word, but trust me, it will apply to a few of these names)…

To qualify, a player needed at least a full season with the team.

  • Perennially injured Nick Johnson has the third most games
  • Michael Morse is already 3rd on the home run list
  • Ryan Zimmerman has 283 more RBI than the next closest Nat — Johnson
  • Zimmerman has 366 more hits than the next closest — Cristian Guzmán
  • Dmitri Young is the only player with a batting average over .300. Morse is in second place with .295.
  • Reliever Tyler Clippard has the 3rd most wins with 19
  • Livan Hernandez and John Lannan are the only pitchers with more than 100 starts with 129 and 128, respectively
  • Nyjer Morgan is the leader in stolen bases.
  • Errors committed was not included
  • Neither were managerial wins/winning percentage

The Nats really have been as awful as people said. Thanks to Zuckerman for compiling this it had to have been depressing.

I’d love to see the all-time D.C. stats with both incarnations of the Senators included as well.

UPDATE: Here they are from the blog D.C. Baseball History – D.C. Baseball Yesterday and Today Hitting | Pitching. Not a lot of modern Nats on those lists yet. Chad Cordero is the all-time saves leader though. It is safe to say most of the pitching records will never be broken.

Pitchers and catchers report one month from today.

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Nats: Arbitration and ESPN Sunday Night Baseball

Arbitration run-down: everybody eligible except John Lannan and Michael Morse (Nationals Journal, The Post) have agreed to contracts. Payroll is up above $70 million. Neither of those guys needs to be locked-up long-term in my mind.

Tyler Clippard returns with a one year deal. (Nats Insider)

Newly acquired Gio Gonzalez will get $42 million through 2016 with options for 2017, 2018 that could push him to $65 million. Hopefully, he’ll be good and this just isn’t GM Mike Rizzo falling in love with one of his trades. (Nationals Journal, The Post)

Jordan Zimmermann and Tom Gorzelanny also avoided arbitration. Gorzelanny is probably done as a starter and has competition as long-man/spot starter from Ross Detwiler and John Lannan. Zimmermann should be looking for a contract extension like Gonzalez next year if he continues to develop. (Nats Insider)

#2 catcher Jesus Flores signed too. (Nats Insider)

The Nats return to ESPN Sunday Night Baseball since Opening Night 2008 which worked out okay. They host the Phillies on Sunday, May 6 and visit the Atlanta Braves on Sunday, May 27. Having the Phillies hear on a Sunday night may decrease the number of charter buses coming to Nationals Park.

I prefer baseball be played in the sunshine on Sundays, but this does show an improved perception of the team nationally.

Still no centerfielder and/or leadoff man for the Nats. I still don’t think Price Fielder is a good idea.

Still no fanfest. Sigh.

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Nats beat Marlins on Morse’s 30th homer, clinch third place

Michael Morse’s three-run homer in ninth lifts Nationals over MarlinsThe Post
Michael Morse’s 3-run, 9th-inning HR gives Nats 6-4 comeback win over MarlinsThe Wash. Times
The Washington Nationals kept the dream of a winning season alive with a 3-run Michael Morse homer in the top of the 9th inning, beating the Florida Marlins 6-4. The Nats now have a 79-80 record with two games left. They need to sweep the Marlins to get that elusive first winning record since the return of baseball to D.C. and first overall since the 1969 Washington Senators.

The Nats win and the New York Mets loss last night clinched 3rd place for Washington, the highest showing since divisional play began in 1969.

Can you believe CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman didn’t make the final trip to Joe Robbie/Pro Player/Dolphin/Dolphins/Land Shark/Sun Life Stadium?

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