Tag Archives: John Lannan

16 More Days

Sixteen days until opening day, and the Nats have looked pretty good so far this spring. While Bryce Harper has received much of the press surrounding the team this spring, their steady play and winning record have not garnered as much attention. There is more optimism surrounding this team than any I can recall since their initial spring of 2005.

I do think there are a good number of supporters who drank a lot of the Kool-Aid this year; that is to say they have been impressed with the team’s spring performance so far but seem to have forgotten that the Nats went 0 for 2 this offseason when trying to land a couple of top-flight starters to the mix. I do believe that starting pitching will remain their weakest point this season. Livan and Jordan Zimmermann have looked great so far this spring, but we need to keep in mind that JZimm has all of 4 wins in his major league career and that we can’t expect Livan to duplicate his impressive season from a year ago. I do expect Marquis to bounce back nicely since he appears to be healthy. No one knows which John Lannan will show up this year, but we all hope it’s the one who may be primed for a breakout season. On the offensive side, I love that Morse has had a great spring and seized the LF job. I’ve been impressed by him ever since we acquired him. I really hope Espinosa matures quickly as a major league hitter, and I’m hopeful that Ian Desmond is able to cut down on his errors so that we don’t lose his bat in the lineup. Center field could be a mess for awhile until someone separates themselves. Let’s hope it happens sooner rather than later.  I’m just trying to be optimistic but also realistic.  Go Nats!

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More on the Starting Five

Following up on my post from 4 days ago…since then, my fears about Olsen have been even more realized. Olsen is in for a rough year. While he feels that his arm is getting stronger, an 89 mph fastball is going to get pounded by major league hitters. He can’t pick corners like Lannan can at lower speeds. Mock and Martin just had bad outings. Riggleman is now saying that Stammen is a good bet to be in the rotation. I’m fine with this, per my previous post, but if both Olsen and Mock are in as he has said before, then Livo is the odd man out. After Hernandez’ second strong outing, I’m even more convinced that he needs to be in the rotation to start the season. He may get bumped later, but either Mock or Olsen needs to go to the bullpen. The only realistic scenario though is that Mock could be a long reliever if Livo sneaks into the rotation to start the season. No matter how bad Olsen looks, the Nats are going to give him a handful of starts to see if he can regain his form. I just hope they don’t give him too long of a string if his current trend continues.

Tightening the Rotation

Well, we’re 2 weeks from Opening Day, and the starting rotation is all but set. Lannan has looked great and will be on the mound Opening Day. Marquis has not looked sharp, but folks are optimistic that he’ll regain his form with a few more outings. Olsen has also been penciled in, which is a concern because he’s coming off injuries and his velocity, never high to begin with, is off. It appears that Mock and Livo will round out the rotation. While Mock has had great control this Spring, he still comes into the season as an unproven commodity at the major league level. Hernandez will likely be an innings-eater as usual, but can he keep his era under 5? He got a late start this spring, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for a guy who, when healthy, consistently pitches 200-inning seasons. Prediction here is that the top 2 guys will solidly anchor the rotation, and that Olsen will be given a long leash to prove that he is healthy and effective. If Mock is ineffective early and/or Livo’s arm tired midway through the season, look for Martin or Stammen to come in and get another crack. One of them will likely already be on the opening day roster as a long reliever.

Strasburg Tracker

Strasburg Tracker

Members of the Nats Nation (ha, I realize this doesn’t exist for teams that lose 103 games) will undoubtedly be talking over the next few weeks about Strasburg’s results in the AFL and his potential to be part of the rotation next season.  Yesterday’s result proved that he is human, allowing 8 earned runs in his second start.  As the eternal optimist, I’m thinking that perhaps this was a good thing.  It eliminates the false hope that he is going to come in and be a 15 game winner in his rookie season.  I’m not knocking his potential, but these were double A hitters that blew him up, so at least everyone realizes that he has work to do to become a major league pitcher.  More importantly, hopefully the Nats’ front office will not try and pencil him in as part of the 2010 rotation already, which would be an easy excuse not to sign as much starting pitching from the free agent market.

If we want to be decent next year, I still believe we need to sign a #1 and a #3 starter for our rotation.  Plug Lannan in at #2, Olsen at #4, and pick the #5 guy from whichever of this group rises to the top during spring training: Martin, Martis, Mock, Stammen, Balester, Detwiler and perhaps Chico.  Zimmermann likely will not pitch at all next season in the big leagues.  When the injury bug bites, another one of them will probably end up back in the rotation.  2-3 of the guys in that group should make the roster as relievers.  That being said, we still need at least 2 new quality, proven arms in the bullpen, which we need to find in the offseason.

Like A Record On Repeat

What I’m talking about is yesterday’s article on the Nats’ website that I read that covers Tuesday’s trade, and basically comments on the rest of the Nats’ roster.  Let’s dissect a few things that were said on there:

“The Nationals have been unhappy with their outfielders for quite some time. They have come to the conclusion that Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham belong in the American League as designated hitters, and Elijah Dukes makes too many fundamental mistakes.”

Wait, the Nationals have long acknowledged Dunn’s defensive shortcomings, and they signed him for his power and RBI potential, which they have raved about all season until now.  And he has played his entire career in the National league, and now the Nationals are going to be the ones saying he belongs as a DH in the AL?  Absurd.  They were also recently raving about Willingham’s bat and now they hate him?  And Dukes, who earlier this year was being referred to as the Nats’ best all-around player?

“The Nationals see Morgan as a center fielder/leadoff hitter. Washington also likes his hockey attitude. He once played with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League during the 1999-2000 season. “

They like his hockey attitude?  Not sure what to make of that.

“We have a great character guy in Morgan. We have our center fielder.”

I’m all for a good character guy, but haven’t they said that about Kearns for a long time, and we’ve seen how that has worked out.  In terms of “we have our center fielder”, see Milledge, Lastings, Maxwell, Justin, and Bernadina, Roger.  We’ve heard this all before.  How long until they give up on Morgan?

“Hanrahan and Milledge did not fit in the team’s long-term plans.“

Correct me if I’m wrong, but coming out of spring training, the team talked at length about how both of these guys has locks on their positions, and that they would be future building blocks of the team.  I have no problem with getting rid of guys that don’t produce.  But let’s stop making ridiculous pronouncements only to back off them and look silly.  (See a few days ago where Willie Harris was proclaimed to be the new sparkplug at the top of the lineup, then quickly benched again).

“[Rizzo] is looking for a starting shortstop. The Nationals feel that Cristian Guzman, who is on the trading block, has lost a few steps with his glove.”

The absurdity continues.  This guy was basically leading the league in hitting a few weeks ago and now they are giving up on him because of his glove?  Work with him on this, don’t use that as a cover story to trade away a solid veteran for even more unproven prospects.  This is starting to feel like the movie Major League.  The team is looking for a starting shortstop?  Are you kidding?

“Washington wants young starting pitching in return for Guzman, who has one year left on his contract. “

How many more young starters do you want?  I can’t believe I am reading this.  The team needs to sign a true #1 starter, have Lannan at #2, sign a solid #3, and let the best of the rest of their young pitching corps battle it out for final 2 spots.  More young starting pitching is what we don’t need, unless we are talking about someone like Tim Lincecum

“The team is also looking to trade Dukes, and that may be hard to do because he comes with a lot of off-the-field baggage. Whom the club wants for Dukes is not known.”

I’ll make this my last comment before I vomit.  The Nats knew full well about Dukes before they signed him, and other than his child-support troubles, he has been much better in his off-the-field behavior for the Nats than he was before.  Please don’t whine about how hard it would be to trade him because of this.

Right now it looks like the team admitting that the last 5 years of rebuilding the franchise hasn’t worked, and they’re going to basically start over again?  If you thought the dropoff in ticket sales this season was bad, wait until next year if they keep this up.  The people that do still go to most of the games, myself included, appreciate the players trying hard every game even if they are losing.  What we are tired of is the front office spinning its wheels, not making much progress, changing its story, giving up on players it recently called building blocks, and refusing to spend money on free agents.  Maybe they need more sleep or a vacation to clear their heads.  Because what’s happening right now isn’t working.

Long Homestand Begins Tomorrow

Looking forward to the long homestand beginning tomorrow night, but I’m sure the Nationals front office is pretty bummed the streak didn’t last just a few more days.  They probably would have sold another 5,000-10,000 more seats per game during the streak,  as it would have given people an added incentive to come to the ballpark.

If Lannan can come up with another solid outing tomorrow night and get to .500, I’ll feel really good about he and Martis anchoring our rotation for the rest of the season.  We still need more consistency from Olsen’s outings.  What will the Nats do with Cabrera?  It’s probably still too early to say.  They need him to eat some innings for now.  He’s too wild to send to the bullpen.  But we’re paying him a decent chunk of change and I don’t think we want to rush any more of our young guys to the bigs just yet.  Maybe by Monday we’ll start having some games without rain continuously in the forecast…we can only hope.

Let’s Steal Some Bases

Great outing last night by Lannan; too bad our bats and bullpen could not get it done. After a great performance by Jurrgens, Mike Gonzalez ended up getting the win for Atlanta after throwing only 1/3 of an inning. While this is somewhat of an oddity statistics-wise, it does not compare to former National Bill Bray, who a couple seasons ago threw exactly 1 pitch in a game and got his first Major League victory. That is about as rare as they come.

With Dukes playing so well and with the defensive combination of him and Justin Maxwell in center field, it’s hard to imagine Milledge coming back up to the bigs for a while. If and when he does come back, he needs to play a corner outfield spot and bat lower in the lineup. It was painful watching him pay out of position and hit out of position in the batting order as well. Someday soon I really would love to have true base-stealer at the top of the lineup. It really makes the game so much more exciting to watch. And there is an immeasurable effect on opposing pitchers, who always have to be cognizant of what’s going on when they are on base, which in turn distracts their focus from pitching and helps out our hitters. Anyone have an injury update on Roger Bernadina?