Tag Archives: Nats

Posts about the Washington Nationals baseball team dating back to 2004. I was one of the original Nats bloggers.

While it’s still up, watch Brothers in Exile about Livan and Orlando Hernandez

I finally caught “Brothers in Exile” the ESPN 30 for 30 on Livan and Orlando Hernandez. It mostly covers their defections from Cuba and first seasons in the majors which culminated in World Series championships for the Florida Marlins and New York Yankees, respectively. The rest of their careers are ignored, but ¡LIVAN! is wearing his Washington Nationals BP uniform.

Do you remember when El Duque signed with the Nats?

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Nats: Angelos/Orioles delay MASN trial into 2015

The Washington Nationals grievances against Peter Angelos and the Baltimore Orioles will have to wait until March to get addressed in court, according to a report from The PostMASN hearing pushed to March after discovery dispute entangles Commissioner Rob Manfred

The legal saga between the Nationals and the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network will drag for months longer than previously expected after a skirmish over discovery bumped a pivotal trial date from December to March and entangled incoming commissioner Rob Manfred. The delay ensures the Nationals will not receive a potential financial windfall until after this offseason.

We won’t know until March at the earliest whether there is anything to this and if there is, whether it was deliberate incompetence by MLB or just the standard variety. Nonetheless, it’s bad news for the Nats, who will continue to be low-balled on television revenue.

It’s probably also a loss for the Orioles franchise and their fans.

The corrupt bargain MLB imposed on the Nats and their fans states that both franchises receive the same broadcast fees, so the business side of the Baltimore franchise is also being short-changed. Angelos owns roughly 80% of MASN, so he pockets most of the profits personally. Now, perhaps there is some trickle-down from him, but that seems rather unlikely. Avarice and spite are his ethos, though I cannot say which is stronger.

Should the Nats ultimately prevail in this round, it will not be much of a victory. To summarize, here is how the arrangement has worked using the bully in the cafeteria model.

In 2004, the Orioles were the bully who wasn’t even letting the Nats into the school cafeteria. In 2005, the bully grudgingly acquiesced to let the Nats in, but they weren’t allowed to sit at a table. At the end of 2006, the bully let the Nats have some table scraps and a chair and acted like he was doing the Nats a favor. The principal went along with it and told the Nats they should be thankful. In 2012, the principal thought that maybe the Nats deserved a seat and some more lunch, but wouldn’t say so directly, appointing three other students to make the decision. The bully did not accept the decision and was willing to have a smaller lunch, just so that the Nats would have a smaller lunch too. The principal retired, leaving behind the vice principal who may have not followed school policy.

It’s a mess and it puts the Nats in a tougher spot moving forward, as illustrated in last week’s WTOP story The Nationals’ financial dilemma. The author, sports editor Noah Frank, formerly worked for the Nats and thus has more of an insider understanding and hometown bias which I welcome given the Baltimore bias much of the DC sports media.

Overall, the Nats are losing this war and the Lerner family is just battling to improve the terms of the occupation.

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2014 Washington Nationals: Denouement

Last month, the Washington Nationals of 2014 completed the 4th best season in DC baseball history, but a second division title — they ran away with the National League East still yielded a first round exit. In the NLDS, they faced the San Francisco Giants, winners of the play-in game and lowest seeded team in NL, but eventual world champions. Four games later, the Nats were eliminated, despite strong pitching. Some strange mental errors and an opportunistic Giants squad overtook the Nats for two reasons:

The Nats bats with four days off did not hit. Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper, the two youngest hitters on the team, were able to handle being pitched to low and a way. The rest of the lineup was largely helpless and the manager of the Nats, Matt Williams made no adjustments to the lineup, leaving Harper at 6th throughout the whole series. Questions about that decision-making as well as hitting coach Rick Shu are there to be asked.

Williams decision making has been fairly scrutinized. I don’t mind that he pulled Jordan Zimmermann in Game 2 with two outs in the ninth after yielding a walk. Facing Buster Posey for a fourth time with a tired arm wasn’t ideal. It just didn’t work out that Drew Storen did not get it done.

Game 4 proved to be much more baffling as Williams inserted Aaron Barrett into the 7th inning of an elimination game on the road instead of Tyler Clippard or Drew Storen. Stephen Strasburg, who had a decent Game 1 start, was also available, but my view is the best relievers available were the best choice. Williams never called for them and the Nats fell.

Was Williams management of the NLDS a fireable offense? Probably not, but I’m not saying I’d be disappointed; I could get used to spelling “Weird Wuss” with curly Ws, I think. His peers voted him NL Manager of the Year, perhaps in the way that I would suggest Hunter Strickland needs a larger stage, like closer on an NL East team. The Nats were not ready for playoff baseball, likely in part due to their success in the last month of season where the dominated weak NL East teams in the New York Mets and Miami Marlins. That schedule can’t be helped – it’s just the way it worked out. However, sticking to a lineup that wasn’t producing and sticking to bullpen roles rather than game situations is hardly unique to Williams.

Or maybe it was the red jerseys.

Now, let’s review the roster:

THE LINEUP

Denard Span‘s NLDS was a microcosm of the Nats year — when he hit, they tended to win. When he didn’t, they lost. 2014 was his most productive season, setting a modern DC hits record. Unfortunately, he only hit in game 3.

Anthony Rendon put up superstar numbers, led the NL in runs and played third base well. He also hit in the NLDS, going 7 for 20.

Adam LaRoche had a typical streaky season, but still played 140 games, had a .362 OBP, hit 26 homers and drove in 92 runs. He also hit a walk-off against the Arizona Diamonbacks in extra innings. He is done in D.C. as there will be no spot for him with Ryan Zimmerman headed to 1st.

Jayson Werth had another strong season at the plate (.292/.394/.455), but was useless in the NLDS. Really useless. His defense is starting to slip, so perhaps a move to left is in order. He also drives too fast.

Bryce Harper garnered more controversy than he deserved and miss significant chunks of time, but after he returned he was pretty much the same outstanding player he’s been his whole career. He also hit three homers in the NLDS. When he’s healthy he’s awesome.

Ryan Zimmerman
couldn’t stay healthy, first injuring his thumb and then tearing his hamstring. He’s done playing third base on a regular basis due to his arthritic shoulder and will probably move to first next season. He’s still a great hitter and not playing third may keep him in the lineup, though he got injured on the basepaths. He continues to be a consummate professional.

Ian Desmond strikes out a ton and tends to make more errors than he should, especially early in the season. He’s in a contract year and with no viable second baseman on the roster, he’ll probably be resigned and continue to put up 20-20 numbers for a few more seasons, but strike out a ton.

Wilson Ramos stared the season batting cleanup, couldn’t make it out of the first game without a trip the DL. He only played 88 games and runs very slowly. Aside from the WILLLLLL-SSSSSSON chant, a forgettable year in several respects. It’s still worth mentioning that the Nats traded Matt Capps for him.

Asdrubal Cabrera was solid at second base for the most part after being acquired from Cleveland for the stretch run and even had a decent NLDS compared to other Nats hitters (ejection notwithstanding) but is probably on his way out. A decent acquisition though, if only to keep Danny Espinosa out of the lineup.

THE ROTATION

Stephen Strasburg tried to hard to make a slider work, but in an up and down season still tied for the NL lead in strikeouts, pitched 30 more innings and walked fewer. He gave up more hits, but locked in during the stretch. His postseason debut was okay, but poor defense helped lead to an early departure.

Doug Fister
got traded for Robbie Ray and hero to fans of a certain age Steve Lombardozi. Fister went 16-6 in 25 starts with only 24 walks and no stolen bases. He also won Game 3. Good trade Mike Rizzo.

Jordan Zimmermann had a very strong 2014, earning an All-Star bid, being arguably the Nats best pitcher and throwing the first no-hitter in D.C. since the Hoover administration. He had an unflappable demeanor and came within one out of a complete game shutout in Game 2, but he walked Joe Panik when umpire ___ squeezed the zone a bit and got lifted. So close…2015 will likely be his final year in D.C. as he is a free agent after the season and indications are he’s ready for a change of scenary.

Gio Gonzalez can be an outstanding pitcher when he’s trusting his curve ball. When he isn’t, he runs into trouble. Always known for a high pitch count, Gonzalez has had trouble in three starts over two postseasons and is prone to brutal fielding lapses. He’s signed the longest of anyone in the rotation.

Tanner Roark was the player the Nats got for the Cristain Guzman rental. If he never pitches another game, it was robbery. Thirty-one starts, 2.85 ERA, 15 wins. That’s after going 7-1 in 2013.

THE BULLPEN

Tyler Clippard, while pigeon-holed into the 8th inning with a lead spot, continued to be a reliable, durable reliever. He did not fare well when sent into close, but overall remained the most consistent fireman on the team AND WHY WOULDN’T YOU USE HIM IN AN ELIMINATION GAME, MATT WILLIAMS?

Drew Storen had a bounceback regular season that had him return to closing late, but that is overshadowed by his giving up the tying run in Game 1 and even giving up a run in Game 3. Seemingly, he’s next year’s closer though Clippard should get a shot.

Rafael Soriano had a strong first half as closer, but fell off the table and almost off the roster in the playoffs. He’s not coming back.

Aaron Barret – Joe West broke him. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. He shouldn’t have been brought in late in an elimination game.

Jerry Blevins was great against lefties. And only lefties. Why do I know this and #9 doesn’t?

Craig Stammen had some big long relief appearances and continiued to be solid.

Ross Detwiler did not make the playoff roster and did not have the faith of the management. It’s a far cry from 2012 when he made the best start of the playoffs that year. He’s headed out of town.

There is some discussion that next year will be a last shot with the current core as Zimmermann and Desmond are in the final years of their contracts. I expect Desmond will be signed and Zimmermann will follow the money to a city not too far from a rural area. Span’s option has got to be picked up because he provides value on the field or as a trade piece. Who plays second base is undetermined. Werth is showing his age in right and will be hard pressed to match those numbers again. Maybe switch him and Harper in the outfield. An extension for Fister wouldn’t upset me and I’m okay with dangling Gio out to other teams. THe NL East should be more challenging as the Marlins and Mets are showing signs of ascendency. The Phillies are not a factor and the Braves stayed in it longer than they really should have in 2014. More divisional competition may help the Nats out and keep them sharp too.

It’s been over two weeks since the season ended and I still miss it. We’ve got the hot stove, winter meetings and of course the court figths with the Baltimore Orioles ahead, but that’s just not the same being able to turn on Charlie & Dave and listen to a game 5 nights a week.

It’s 152 days until Opening Day.

HIGHLIGHTS

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NLDS Game 3: Nats 4 SF GIANTS 1

The 2014 Washington Nationals will play for at least one more night. They kept their season alive with a 4-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park, the first game decided by more than one run in the series.

Doug Fister saved the day, making this reaction (Red Porch Report) to his trade all the more funny. Seven innings of shutout baseball. His opposite number, Madison Bumgarner, made a strange decision on a Wilson Ramos two-strike bunt that led to two runs:

It was crazy to listen to on the radio (I was taking my oldest to a Cub Scouts meeting) and weirder to watch later. That’s two games in this series decided largely in part by poor fielding on bunts. Ramos advanced to second too.

Asdrubal Cabrera knocked Ramos in with a double too.

Bryce Harper had a big day in the field and at bat:

This was after the Natmosphere (including me) was convinced Harper was going to be benched yesterday.

Drew Storen couldn’t keep the shutout in the ninth, giving up a run, but still closed the game. Phew.

A great turnaround for the Nats after the 18-inning game that was longer than a flight from San Francisco to Dulles on Saturday night. Tonight’s game is at 9:07 p.m. on FOX Sports 1, 106.7 FM/1500 AM and of course, MLB Audio.

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Game 2: NATS 1 SF Giants 2

The Washington Nationals 18-inning loss to the San Francisco Giants on Saturday night has their season on the brink. Win the next game or go home. In the best case scenario, that happens at least three times.

The Nats were one out away from a 1-0 victory, but Jordan Zimmermann walked Joe Panik on some questionable balls. Matt Williams replaced Zimmermann with closer Drew Storen. It wasn’t a bad decision, it just did not work. Storen gave up two hits, a single to Buster Posey and a double to Pablo Sandoval, not exactly scrubs Posey was thrown out trying to score, setting up the longest game in MLB postseason history. Not wanting a tired Zimmermann to face Posey a fourth time is a reasonable position.

It became fashionable to dump on Nats fans for leaving their seats during the 6:23 long game. Some surely went home, while others went to the concourse. Apparently, in the eyes of some out-of-market baseball scribes, this was a moral failing. The temperatures dropped at least 20 degrees since the beginning of the game and the wind picked up. By 10:00 it was quite cold, even more so if you were in the exposed upper deck dealing with the heavy winds.

The game was literally longer than a flight from San Francisco to D.C.:

Maybe the older writers just miss their annual treks to rue Sainte-Catherine in Montreal. I hear it isn’t what it was though.

The Nats primary problem, having given up 5 runs (4 earned) over 27 innings pretty clear — they aren’t hitting. Bryce Harper had two hits in game 1. Anthony Redon had 5 hits in game 2. That’s about it. Nothing from the leadoff hitter Denard Span and little from either Jayson Werth or Adam LaRoche. When you don’t get baserunners, the ump show that grants the opposition more strikes on pitches out of the zone is magnified. Not hitting is the problem. That’s why the Nats are on the brink of elimination.

Game 3 is at 5:07 p.m. Doug Fister vs. Madison Bumgarner on MLB Network as well 106.7 FM/1500 AM and MLB Audio.

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Game 1 NLDS: SF Giants 3 Nats 2

San Francisco Giants 3 WASHINGTON NATIONALS 2

I blame the red jerseys. It’s the playoff opener, wear the home whites!

A few mental mistakes too, like trying to get the lead runner on Jake Peavy’s bunt. Peavy pitched better than Stephen Strasburg, who wasn’t lights out, but didn’t lose the game for the Nats either.

There isn’t an embedded video of the game recap, so we’ll just have to post the highlight:



Bryce Harper
hit that home run farther than any other in his career. Sadly, it wasn’t one batter earlier in the previous inning when the bases were loaded. Ian Desmond struck out. He did it again in the 8th.

Harper also had the Nats first hit.

I listened most of the game and watched the last few innings after I got home from work.

Adam Kilgore had a good gamer in The Post:

Thomas Boswell’s column wasn’t good.

I said Nats in 4 and that’s already the best case scenario. Game 2 is at 5:37 p.m. on FOX Sports 1 or 106.7 FM/1500 AM. Jordan Zimmermann vs. Nats-biller, Tim Hudson.

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NLDS: Nats vs. SF Giants prediction

The afterglow of Jordan Zimmermann‘s no hitter last a few days and gave a brief respite for the anxiety of postseason baseball. Thanks J-Zimm. Another welcome distraction from all of this is the discovery of 1924 World Series footage – Watch rare footage of the Senators beating the Giants in the 1924 World Series (DC Sports Bog) | Film of the Washington Senators Winning the 1924 World Series Found! (Library of Congress)

That’s just outstanding stuff. Walter Johnson, the winning run in the only World Series title to date.

There has also been more wonderful Nats coverage than I can keep up with of late.

Today, at 3:07 p.m. on FOX Sport 1 or in my case, MLB Audio, the Washington Nationals host the San
Francisco Giants, who whipped the Pittsburgh Pirates in the play-in game on Wednesday night. The Nats have Stephen Strasburg starting his first playoff game while Jake Peavy starts for the Giants.

I was hoping for the Giants and told my friend David in San Francisco as much which might be hubris. I think it’s the best possible matchup in the playoffs for DC. David offered this in an email:

It is amazing what a big win will do to your attitude. I still believe that the Nationals and the Dodgers are the two best teams in the National League. But I also will note that the Giants played great last night and a 5 game series is short enough for randomness to trump averages. I suspect the Giants will use Bumgarner for Game 3, which means they will get him only once. Although you speak highly of Hudson, he has been lousy over the past month. At 38, end-of-season fatigue is a real thing. His pitches are elevating on him (typical sign of fatigue) and he’s been crushed for it. The best I’m hoping for from him is that he puts in 5 solid innings, gives up less than 2 runs and then Bochy goes to the bullpen. That will be taxing meaning that Peavy and the other likely starter (maybe Petit, maybe Vogelsong) will need to give a solid performance. But it means we get a travel day after going to the bullpen early.

In our favor, I like that Matt Williams has no post-season coaching experience and the Nationals’ last trip to the postseason ended in humiliating disaster. That is something that might creep into the minds of players that remember it. An ESPN analyst last night had a nice quip. He said the Pirates came into the game last night full of excitement and emotion and the Giants came in workmen-like fashion and the result showed. I thought in the 5th inning when McCutchen was stranded at second to end the inning his body language said he (the best player on their team) was a defeated player. I typically discount all the bluster of “playoff experience.” For instance, the most important players in the Giants 2010 championship, such as Posey, Lincecum, Bumgarner, Romo and Brian Wilson had zero playoff experience combined. Juan Uribe, Aaron Rowand and Edgar Renteria were the only players that had significant playoff experience and their contributions were mixed. Renteria was amazing and a vital component of their success, Uribe played well and Rowand was a total non-factor. But I really do like the fact that so many players on this team have experience winning elimination games–particularly multiple elimination game scenarios. They have the moxie to lose two games in Washington and come home and play their best ball and force a game 5. Some teams don’t have that–the A’s for instance.

Some other things to put in the doom category: Matt Williams (former San Francisco Giants star) quoted “we have miles to go before we sleep.” You know who else says that a lot? Ted Leonsis, who has never owned a team that advanced past the second round.

There is also the concern that the cowardly, subsidized Baltimore Orioles will exceed the Nats this and any season. And then we’ll have to hear about it from the fanboys in the DC media who uncritically cover a Baltimore team as if it were in DC. Even the ones who aren’t openly in the tank for Baltimore are apologists who ignore that the Orioles and their owner Peter Angelos are currently in default to the Nats. It’s a bad situation made worse.

Memories of the 2012 Nats collapse aren’t far away either. They had the Cardinals down 6-0 and lost 9-7, a bitter defeat as any in DC sports history. At least in my lifetime.

I had a bit of an epiphany this morning though. Back in 2004, I decided to ignore my cynicism and get emotionally attached to the idea that baseball would finally return to The District. Then it did.

Nats in 4.

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Jordan Zimmermann throws first DC no-hitter since 1931 in Nats final regular season game

Monday is the 10th anniversary of the announcement that baseball was returning to D.C. What happened on Sunday morning might be one of top three highlights of that decade — Jordan Zimmermann pitching a no-hitter for the Washington Nationals:

103 pitches, 10 strikeouts, 1 walk, 1 runner advanced to first on a wild-pitch strike three and then got promptly picked off. Here is the final out, a diving catch by defensive replacement, LF Steven Souza, Jr., as told by four different broadcasters:

That’s a really good call by Bob Carpenter. It was thrilling to watch.

Zimmermann recorded just the third 9-inning no-hitter in D.C. history. Other no hitters (as seen on Washington D.C. Baseball History Facebook group):

Walter Johnson – July 1, 1920 / 9 innings
Walter Johnson – August 25, 1924 / 7 innings, game was called due to rain.
Bobby Burke – August 8, 1931 / 9 innings
Jordan Zimmermann – September 28, 2014 / 9 innings

Ian Desmond hit a second inning homer and that was all Zimmermann needed for run support.

A great game deserves a great gamer:

Thomas Boswell finally saw a no-hitter:

The only two moments that compare to this — Ryan Zimmerman’s Nationals Park Opening Night Walkoff in 2008 and Jayson Werth’s Game 4 walkoff in 2012.

So far.

This was an exclamation point to a 96-win season with home field advantage in the NL playoffs. Zimmermann’s performance gives Nats fans a roaring crescendo to the regular season. The tension of the playoffs can wait for several days as it will surely happen, particularly when the opponent is determined by the NL Wild Card play-in game.

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Remember when a Nats exec leaked the Capitals’ Winter Classic to Nationals Park news?

About three weeks @VCamillo_Nats, the twitter account of Washington Nationals Chief Revenue & Marketing Officer Valerie Camillo sent out a tweet with a this photograph:

Untitled

I surmised that she had just leaked that the NHL Winter Classic would be at Nationals Park:

The tweet was quickly deleted, but got several retweets, though none from some of the MSM folks that follow me.

A week later, it was finally made official that the 2015 Winter Classic between the hometown Capitals and the visiting Chicago Blackhawks (washingtoncaps.com) would take place at Nationals Park.

A few thoughts:

Nationals Park which is literally just 15 blocks from the U.S. Capitol was the obvious choice from the beginning. I criticized the NHL and the Caps/Ted Leonsis for not picking the venue outright. Baltimore venues were even under consideration which would have been completely unacceptable. They finally got it right, but it took much too long.

It isn’t unreasonable to suggest that the 2011 Winter Classic in Pittsburgh is the high-water mark of the Alex Ovechkin era. They beat the arch nemesis Penguins in the rain that night, but shortly thereafter, Bruce Boudreau was fired as coach. Though the reached the second round under both Dale Hunter and Adam Oates, it seems like the last time the Caps did well on a big stage. Last season, they didn’t even make the playoffs.

The choice of the Blackhawks seems like an effort to get President Obama to a game, but the Chicagoan goes to Hawaii for the holidays, doesn’t he?

The logo for the Caps appears to have leaked today (Russian Machine Never Breaks) and it’s a surprise. A fairly simple W and three stars; a fauxback seemingly to a time well before the Caps existed. It looks more like something out of the Washington Senators history than the Caps. We’ll find out on Tuesday with tomorrow’s event when the uniforms are unveiled.

This is the Caps 40th anniversary season which makes you feel old.

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DC is division champions – Nats win second NL East in 3 seasons

Almost ten years after baseball returned to the nation’s capital, the Washington Nationals have won the National League East title for the second time.

The win not only clinched another division title but rubbed it in the face of their season-long challenger, the Atlanta Braves, clinching at Turner Field.

Ian Desmond, who was on the roster for that cold RFK Stadium exhibition game in March 2005, was the star of the night with a 2-run blast and another run scored on a wild pitch.

HOW THEY GOT HERE

The last milestone is home field advantage throughout the playoffs. They’ll probably go for that tomorrow with a lineup of September call-ups as they look to sweep the Braves.

FURTHER READING
Washington Nationals clinch NL East title with 3-0 victory over the Atlanta BravesThe Post

On Baseball: Washington Nationals can celebrate the present — and their futureThe Post
Barry Svrluga, original Nats beat writer:

Think about that for a moment. This good foundation, this good franchise, from where there was — rather recently — nothing. Maybe this is a good time to remind everyone that 10 years ago this very night, Washington did not yet have a baseball team. And that in the winter of 2004-05, the franchise had its accounting operations in Montreal, its baseball operations in Florida, its upper management at a Georgetown law firm and the guts of a fly-by-night, do-everything staff in trailers in the parking lots of RFK Stadium. Until now, the idea of sustained baseball success in Washington was somewhere between a blind hope and an abstract theory, with obstacles to overcome that should not soon be forgotten.

Did I hear Battle Hymn of the Republic playing as I read that column?

The best Nats selfies from the NL East celebrationThe Post

Nats are NL East champions again, eliminating Braves in AtlantaThe Wash. Times

Nationals clinch NL East with victory in AtlantaCSN Washington

Nationals players react to winning NL East on Twitter CSN Washington

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